Yoast SEO is arguably the most popular SEO plugins (for WordPress users anyway). It’s the plugin that everybody loves but also loves to hate. An SEO plugin is arguable essential to boosting your SEO (unless you’re an expert, obviously) and Yoast SEO is undeniably helpful. However, some people think that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be and if you’re new to this whole SEO business, it can be misleading and actually lead to damaging SEO tactics such as keyword stuffing. So we’re here to contribute to the discussion with our thoughts on Yoast SEO.
So first of all, what does Yoast SEO do? If you’re thinking about downloading the plugin, you obviously want to know what it does and how this can help you. Some of the features include the following tools:
- Content optimisation
- XML sitemaps
- Canonical URL
- Meta data (meta title, meta description)
- Snippet preview
- Readability analysis
- Focus keyword
- Meta robots tags
- Social tabs but without preview
- Internal and external link check
- Text length etc.
See an example of Yoast SEO’s content optimisation tools.
These tools help to optimise your content and pages for search engines to help you rank higher. The different tools contribute to the important elements of on-site optimisation for SEO such as link building and keywords. Confused? Read our ‘what is SEO?’ blog for the down-low on all things search engine optimisation.
The premium version (which costs £79 ex VAT) has a few extra features which include:
- Multiple keywords
- Google/Facebook/Twitter snippets
- Internal linking suggestions
- Content insights
- Redirect manager
- CSV export of focus keywords
- Orphaned content filter
In our opinion, the two most beneficial factors of Yoast SEO premium is the option for multiple keywords and the orphaned content filter which allows you to see if any of your content has no internal links pointing towards it. However, the free version is more than sufficient for all the basics and shall be the focus of the rest of the review. If you’d like to compare the differences between the free and premium versions, read these in-depth reviews:
Our thoughts on Yoast SEO
It is an essential tool
Yoast SEO is an essential plugin for your WordPress website. While there’s much more to SEO than just this plug-in, Yoast SEO gives you the best start – giving you tonnes of options in setting up titles, meta descriptions, and social sharing information on a per-post basis. One of the best beginner friendly features is content analysis which helps a lot of beginners understand how they should write post titles, descriptions, and use keywords in their content.
This pretty much summarises our opinions and thoughts. It’s a great beginner tool and can be extremely beneficial to any website copy, if not essential to any WordPress site, like Stuart has said.
It shouldn’t be used alone
However, there are some things you need to be aware of:
- First of all, it gives you a great indication of whether your content is optimised enough or not but it is not the holy grail of SEO and can’t tell you how your content is going to rank (because obviously this depends on many, many factors). It can give an indication but only an indication of any areas you need to work on. Plus, if the same issues are reoccuring, it can point you in the right direction to elements you need to work on generally.
- Also, for us, it acts as a good checklist once we’ve written our content but we don’t write purposely to tick all the boxes. We generally use the tool right before we publish content to check that we haven’t missed anything (i.e. alt image tags). It is important not to write FOR Yoast SEO but rather use it once you have written your copy.
The best Yoast tool
“The snippet tools are extremely useful for ensuring your snippets look exactly how you want them to. Your CTR will be much lower if your snippet doesn’t make sense and your bounce rate will be higher if its actually irrelevant so this tool is extremely useful.”
Other SEO tools
Basically, Yoast SEO is great, it’s useful and worth having, especially the free version because well, it’s free. But, it cannot be used alone you need extra knowledge and extra tools in order to fully optimise your site. If Yoast SEO is the only tool you are using to improve your SEO, you’re not going to get anywhere. You also need to improve your off-site optimisation and your technical SEO for your site. You need to build your backlinks, work on your page speed, and much more to make a dent in your search engine rankings. So, don’t be fooled by the message that Yoast SEO makes SEO easy for everyone, it makes on-site optimisation, easiER but you need to use other tools too.
Our biggest piece of advice with regards to Yoast SEO is that the best thing you can do to improve your rankings is produce good, high-quality content. Sometimes the tool might suggest that you keyword density is too low, but unless you can improve this naturally, it might be better to avoid writing awkward sentences just to shove your keyword in a few more times. Plus, Yoast SEO isn’t great with synonyms and slight variations of your keyword (from our experience anyway) and Google is much better. So, your Yoast SEO might be giving you an unfair score.
So to summarize, we think Yoast SEO is great but:
Use Yoast SEO but use it as a guideline and a checklist.
If you want to download and use the tool for your own WordPress site you can do so here: