In this knowledge base tutorial, we are going to learn about the General Settings in Rank Math. The general options affect your overall website; therefore it’s important to understand what each of them does.
Please note that few of the General Settings might already have been covered in the Rank Math Setup KB, and we will briefly touch upon them. For a more detailed explanation of those settings, you can refer to the Rank Math Setup KB.
To reach the general settings, hover over Rank Math’s menu entry in the WordPress menu. In the child menu that appears, click “General Settings”.
You’ll reach the General Options page. Immediately, you’ll notice that all the general settings are organized in tabs for better understanding.
Here is a list of all the tabs in the General Settings.
- Webmaster Tools
- Edit robots.txt
- Edit .htaccess
- 404 Monitor
- Search Console
We shall cover each of the tabs, and the settings present in each of the tabs, one by one. Let us begin with the Links Tab.
The Links tab is the first tab in the general settings and contains all the settings that modify the behavior of links on your website. Here is a complete view of all the settings in the Links Tab.
If you notice, then you’ll realize that we already configured few of these settings in the setup wizard. Let’s understand each of the settings.
Default post URLs in WordPress contain the category name as well. For example:
www.website.com/cateogry/post. Enabling this setting removes the category name from the URL, resulting in cleaner URLs. Turning this setting on is not mandatory, but you can enable it if you prefer URLs without the category base.
Enabling this setting redirects URLs of your attachments to the post that are used in. For example, a URL for an image
website.com/postname/image-name-containing-image-only/ will be redirected to the post that this image is posted in. We recommend that you enable this setting for SEO benefits.
This setting controls the redirect code that is used while redirecting attachments to their parent post. We recommend that you keep it at 301 Permanent. 301 means permanently redirected and 302 means temporarily redirected.
This setting redirects Orphan Media (media that is not used on any post) to the URL of your choice. We recommend that you enter your homepage URL here.
This option removes stopwords like (a, and, the) from the post URL WordPress creates. This results in clean, better-looking URLs which are better for SEO. Please note that this option will only affect the URLs of the new posts that you create. We recommend that you enable this setting.
This option automatically no-follows external URLs on all your posts, preserving the SEO value of your website. We recommend that you enable this setting.
This option automatically no-follows links from images. We recommend that you enable this setting.
This option applies the
target = “_blank” attribute to external links which opens them in new tabs or windows. We recommend that you enable this setting.
This concludes all the settings in the Links Tab. Let’s move on to the next tab, Images.
The images contain some additional settings for images. Once you open the images tab, you’ll see that it contains only 2 settings.
Let’s understand each of the settings.
This setting helps you automatically add ALT tags to your images which help search engines understand what the image is about. We recommend that you turn on this setting.
As you enable this setting, another setting called Alt Attribute Format will appear.
This setting helps you create a format using which the image ALT attribute will be created. A sample format is pre-created and visible in the image below.
If you noticed, the sample format used a few variables to create the format. Similar to that, there are many other variables available to create the ALT attribute format. To see all the variables available, click the drop-down arrow. To help find variables effectively, we’ve also included a search option on the top.
There are no recommended settings for this option, as it will vary depending on a lot of factors specific to your website.
This option automatically adds the Title attributes to the images without a title. A title also helps search engines understand your images better, and we recommend that you enable this setting.
Similar to the Alt attribute setting, when you enable this, another setting will appear below it.
This is similar to the Alt Attribute Format discussed above, and it lets you create a format for the Title tags using variables.
Similar, to the ALT attribute, you can use the available variables to create the Title Format of your choice.
This covers all the settings in the Image tab, let’s move on to the Breadcrumbs Tab.
In the Breadcrumbs tab, you’ll notice that it has only one setting.
This setting enables breadcrumbs on your website. Breadcrumbs help users navigate your website and also helps search engines index your content efficiently. We recommend that you enable this setting.
Once you enable the setting, a lot of related settings will appear below it. Here is a preview of all the settings that will be available.
Let’s understand all the options briefly.
This option helps you set a Separator Character for your breadcrumbs. There are many options available, so choose the one you prefer.
Enable this option if you want to include the homepage in the breadcrumbs. This is a personal preference, and there is no recommended setting.
This option lets you set a prefix for your breadcrumbs.
This option lets you set a breadcrumb format for the archive pages.
This option lets you set a breadcrumb format for search result pages.
This option lets you set a breadcrumb format for your 404 pages.
This option enables ancestor categories in the breadcrumbs. What that does is that if your current post is part of a child category, then the breadcrumb will include the parent categories as well. We recommend that you keep this disabled to keep your breadcrumbs small and precise.
This covers all the settings in the Breadcrumbs tab. Let us move on to the next tab, the Webmaster Tools.
The Webmaster Tools tab is where you can get your website verified with the various search engine tools. Here is an image showing all the search engines and tools you can get your website verified with.
You don’t have to verify your website with all the above services and tools, but we recommend that you at-least verify your website with Google Search Console to gather important information about your website.
To verify your website with Google Search Console, enter the verification HTML in the designated field. If you don’t have the verification HTML, click the “Search Console Verification Page” link to go to Google Search Console. The link opens in a new tab by default.
The Search Console interface will open, and you will see all your verified properties. From here, there are 2 possibilities.
- Your website is already verified
- Your website is not verified
If your website is verified with Google Search Console, you will see it listed in the properties area. Click the verification details of the property.
This will open up the history and the other verification details of the property. Just at the top of the page, you’ll see the method you’ve used to verify your website. Click the details button to see verification details.
Copy the meta tag to your clipboard. You’ll need to paste it inside Rank Math.
Note: Your website might already be verified with Google Search Console, but you might not have used the meta tag feature to verify it. In that case, follow the instructions in the next step.
If your website is not verified (or verified using any method other than meta tag), click the “Add a property” button. A small window will appear, enter your homepage URL there, and click continue.
The verification page will appear. Click the Alternate methods tab to see all methods for verification.
From the Alternate Methods, click the HTML Tag option.
The meta tag to verify your website will appear. Copy the meta tag to your clipboard.
Go back to Rank Math and paste the meta tag in the Google Search Console setting. After that, save your settings.
Once the settings are saved, head back to the Google Search Console Page and click the “Verify” button.
Verifying for other Platforms
The verification process for other services should be similar. Once you have the verification meta tag for those services, you can paste them in the settings just as you did for the Google Search Console verification tag.
This covers all the settings in the Webmaster Tools Tab. Let us move on to the “Edit robots.txt”.
Once you open the Edit robots.txt tab, you’ll see that it has only one setting.
In the text area, you can configure your virtual robots.txt file.
If you don’t know, robots.txt is a text file present in the root of your website which helps search engines understand which parts of your website you want them to crawl and index. For example, you wouldn’t want Google to index your website’s admin area, right? You can set this up in the robots.txt file.
We mentioned that you could edit your virtual robots.txt file here. We say virtual because here you are not editing your actual robots.txt file, but a virtual one.
Any changes you make to the virtual file will not have any effect on your site if the actual robots.txt file already exists. In that case, you will have to edit the file manually using FTP or other methods.
The .htaccess file is a configuration file that helps in users and search engines navigate your website. Often, changes or updates are needed to be made to the .htaccess file, for which you can use this section.
Inside the section, you will see that there is a single text area which can be used to edit the .htaccess file. The important thing to note is the warning above the text area.
The notice warns you that changing the .htacess file can break your website. Even if you are technically capable, mistakes can happen. To prevent issues, Rank Math automatically backs up your .htacess before you modify it.
So, if you accidentally make any changes that mess up your site, you can roll the changes back using the backup. But remember, the backup will only contain the last save. That means if you make multiple changes that cause problems, then the backup will not help you. Proceed with caution.
If you understand the risks and want to edit the .htacess file, then click the checkbox below the text. The text area below will become active, and you can then change your .htacess file.
A 404 error occurs when the user tries to access a URL that is not present anymore. Every website will have a few 404 errors, but the important thing is to find them and resolve them actively. Rank Math’s 404 monitor helps with exactly that. Here are all the options available in the 404 Monitor.
Let’s look at all the options one by one.
The 404 Monitor has 2 modes. Simple and Advanced. The Simple monitor records only the URL where the error occurred and the time of the error. The Advanced Monitor captures a lot of additional information such as the referring URL of the URL with the error.
We recommend that you use the Advanced Monitor as the additional data will help you understand patterns and solve recurring issues.
This setting controls the maximum number of rows that the monitor will generate. The default setting of 100 is good enough for most sites, and you can increase or decrease the number depending on your website. For example, for a large ecommerce website with thousands of products, you can turn off the limit by setting it to 0.
If you’re making few changes to your website, then the 404 monitor can fill the up the log with un-important URLs while the real errors get buried. To avoid this from happening, you can set exclusions where the 404 monitor will not check for errors.
The exclusion tool is versatile and offers plenty of options to set up an exclusion path. You can also set more than one exclusion rule for the most control. Check the image below for more details.
This option controls whether the 404 monitor ignores the query parameters when logging the 404 errors. Whether you should enable or disable this setting will depend on your website. We recommend that you keep this disabled at first, then enable it if you see a lot of errors in the log file that have the same URL but different query parameters.
Rank Math has a built-in redirection manager that helps you get rid of 404 and other errors. The redirection tab has a few settings that control how the redirections take place. Here is a preview of all the settings in this tab.
Let us see what each of these settings accomplish.
The 2 most common types of redirection are 301 (Permanent) and 302 (Temporary). This setting lets you choose which type of redirections should Rank Math create. We recommend that you select the 301 (Permanent) redirections in this setting.
Enabling this setting gives website administrators additional information about the redirection and the error URL before each redirection is created by Rank Math. If you are consistently getting a high number of errors that you have to redirect, then you should enable this error to find out more about the issue.
The last tab is the Search Console Tab. Here are all the options in the tab.
You might think that you already covered the Search Console option in the Webmaster Tab. But that is not the case.
In the Webmaster tab, we added the HTML tag to verify your website with Search Console. In this tab, we will authorize Rank Math to connect with Google Search Console and fetch data from it.
In the Search Console option, we will authorize Rank Math to fetch data from Google Search Console. If you followed Rank Math’s Setup, then you’ll remember that we did the same process there as well. For people who didn’t connect Rank Math with Google Search Console, here are the steps again.
Click the “Get Authorization Code” button.
Google OAuth window will open. Select and click the account with which you have verified your website with.
You will see a confirmation screen. Click “Allow” to connect Rank Math with Google Search Console.
Google will share an authorization code on the screen. Copy the code to your clipboard. We’ve blurred parts of the code for security reasons.
Paste the code in the Search Console setting and click “Authorize”.
Rank Math will take a few seconds to verify the code, after which your screen should look like this.
Your Search Console profile can have more than one website in it. To make sure Rank Math is pulling data for the correct property, select your website from the drop-down menu.
The cache limit is where you set the number of days that the Search Console data will be stored for.
Rank Math will automatically fetch data from Search Console at a defined interval, but you can also fetch the data manually.
The warning on top can be safely ignored. It is just to bring attention to the fact that Rank Math’s cache of Google Search Console data is empty, which will obviously be the case as you’ve just installed Rank Math. Once a dataset is fetched (manually or automatically), that warning will disappear.
If you would like to receive updates on the progress of your website from an SEO perspective, enter your email ID in the field to receive weekly emails.
The Others option has some interesting options in it. Here is a list of all the options.
If you’d like to help us improve Rank Math, you can enable the Usage Tracking option. If you enable this, we will receive non-sensitive data about your Rank Math’s usage.
Enabling this is totally upto you, but we encourage you to do so.
This option lets you add additional content at the beginning of your RSS feed. You can enter any content in the text field.
Apart from adding regular text, you can also add some data about your site from the provided variables. Here is a list of all the variables supported for RSS before text.
This option lets you add content after your RSS feed. You can use the same variables as in the before content option. A sample text has also been added, which you can modify or remove.
Here is a list of all the variables once again.
Saving Your Changes
Once you’ve made all the changes to the General Settings, it’s important that you save your settings. If you accidentally navigate away or refresh the page, then all your hard work in configuring Rank Math will go poof.
To save your settings, click the “Save Changes” button that is present in the bottom right of the screen.
It might take a couple of seconds, but the page will refresh, and your settings will be saved. You will also see a confirmation message on the screen.
Finally, we’ve covered all the sections in the General Settings in Rank Math. There were a lot of settings, so we hope that you’ve understood them all. If you haven’t, go back to that section again. If you still have doubts or have issues while using Rank Math, feel free to open a support ticket and the support team will help you out in the best way they can.