Yoast SEO is a great free plugin that makes it fairly easy to optimise your site.
When you first install it you'll be offered a Configuration wizard.
"Need help determining your settings? Configure Yoast SEO step-by-step."
Since I'm a wizard myself, I don't do that, but there's no harm in you going through the steps. Just be aware that it's as much about Yoast optimising YOU to buy their upgrades than it is about optimising your site. If you want to skip right to the 'correct' setup, here's how.
The readability analysis is extremely stupid and pointless. My writing flows like the very rivers of Babylon, is as sweet as the honeyed words of a gigolo, and my metaphors are as somethingly vivid as something. Yet Yoast always complains about the 'readability'. A stupid distraction. OFF.
The advanced settings needs to be ON. That's the best thing about Yoast - it's where the juiciest tools are hidden.
The Admin bar menu seems to give notifications about things you can buy from Yoast, but maybe you'll find more use for it than me.
Ditto cornerstone content. I know what my important articles are, and so will you.
When you save those changes, new options will appear in the Yoast menu.
Titles and Metas
I suggest choosing the tiny dash or a vertical line. What's the difference? Nothing in particular, but the vertical line takes less space, which I suspect is fractionally better.
The next tab lets you change the homepage title - but we will (probably) override this option when we create our static homepage so we'll ignore that for now.
What we can do here is change sitename to 'May 2017'. At the start of every month we update that.
The benefit is that ALL pages and posts (except the homepage) will display 'May 2017' after the title, both in the browser and in the search results. (Hundreds of reviews and guides updated instantly. Not bad, eh?)
Which of these would you click on?
The first one there probably has their Yoast set up with:
May 2017 %%sitename%%
But the sitename is already in the URL so why repeat it? Anyway, I hope the value of the May 2017 thing is clear.
Taxonomies, Archives, Other
We want to set all of these to no-index. Explanation is not important now.
Yoast automatically creates a sitemap, so you don't have to do anything technical. However, you can tell Google Webmaster Tools (now called Search Console) where to find it.
Basically go to that Sitemaps section, do a test for sitemap_index.xml and as long as it says 'found 2 pages' or whatever then submit it. Easy.
That's it for the basic Yoast setup. We'll see more Yoast features when we look at posting articles.