Optimizing your website and blog for SEO is essential if you want to be found in the search engines.
We do a lot to try to optimize for SEO, and finding quick solutions to help improve our pages and content effectively can be a game-changer. Luckily, there are multiple tools, including the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin, that can make the task less daunting.
Yoast SEO is one of the most popular WordPress plugins designed to optimize for SEO… but can it actually do what it says?
In this post, we’re going to dive deep with a Yoast SEO WordPress plugin review to share my experience with it as a content marketer. We’re going to look at what it does and what it can’t, and whether or not you should use it for your business.
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Table of Contents
What is The Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin?
The Yoast SEO WordPress plugin is a tool that helps WordPress users optimize their blog posts’ SEO, particularly when it comes to keywords.
Yoast boasts multiple features that both improve and analyze a post’s SEO and are meant to help users boost their search engine rankings. In particular, Yoast positions itself as a tool that allows for ease of SEO optimization, which can feel complicated for users who are new to the concept.
What Yoast SEO Can Tell You
The free Yoast SEO plugin features an array of tools that help you get your blog posts in good shape for Google. Let’s take a look at what those are, and what you can learn from them.
SEO Keyword Analysis
After you’ve researched and chosen your keywords for the blog post you’re working on, it’s time to put them to good use. You can plug your primary keyword of choice into Yoast, which will then give you an array of suggestions for how to best utilize it within your text.
Yoast looks at the keyword itself, whether it appears in the URL slug, title, and subsequent headings, and how often it shows up in the body of the post.
The plugin also provides a place to enter your SEO-optimized URL slug and meta description. As an added bonus, you can see a preview of how your site will appear in Google search results.
In your SEO breakdown, you’ll see suggestions to add outbound links, images, and internal links to improve Yoast’s score. Other factors the plugin considers are the length of your keyphrase, text, and meta description, plus SEO title width.
A Breakdown of Your Blog’s Readability
Yoast features a Readability tool that offers up automated tips on how to make your post easier to read and comprehend. It rates your posts according to Flesch Reading Ease and offers guidance on how to make them easier to read.
You’ll also get prompts and feedback on aspects of your writing such as passive voice, consecutive sentences, transition words, distribution of subheadings, paragraph length, and sentence length.
In some cases, the Readability tool will highlight specific issues you need to address in the text. Click the eye icon beside the listed problem (in this case, transition words) to see what the plugin wants you to fix.
You’ll then see problem areas of your text highlighted within the WordPress editor itself. Take a look.
SEO Optimization Beyond Your Blog
Aside from helping you optimize your blog alone, Yoast aims to help improve the SEO on a user’s entire website. The plugin automates aspects of technical SEO so your site itself will stand a greater chance of ranking higher on Google.
Here are a few of the website SEO features Yoast offers:
- Templates for meta descriptions and titles
- Automated meta tags and canonical URLs
- Sitemaps that keep Google informed as to how your website is structured
- Schema blocks in your block editor (including how-to, FAQ, and breadcrumbs), plus integration with Schema.org
- Improved website load times, which naturally helps reduce bounce rate from your site
Paid vs. Free Yoast WordPress Plugin
While the free Yoast WordPress plugin offers many features, users can take it up a notch with a paid subscription. (At the time of this writing, the price was $89 per year.)
Premium users get a more detailed analysis of the improvements they can make to their content to optimize it further. Some features include:
- Internal linking blocks and
- Automated internal linking suggestions
- Social media previews
- Synonyms and keywords related to your focus keyword
- Optimization for word forms of your primary keyword
- Orphaned content filter
- Additional SEO workflows to help you further optimize your site
Does Yoast SEO Actually Work?
Yoast effectively gives you a place to designate your focus keyword and your meta description.
It also provides quick and easy suggestions for how to potentially improve your ranking with direct, actionable tips like “Include your keyword two more times in the text” or “Add alt text to your images that contain the keyword.”
While those are helpful tools for quickly getting some important components of good SEO in place, the plugin isn’t foolproof.
It does serve these purposes, but it does have its limits.
Yoast doesn’t do much in terms of secondary or tertiary keywords. It doesn’t help you determine which you should use, or give you information about how you should use the ones that you’ve selected. It focuses exclusively on the primary keyword; it’s a good start, but not enough to truly excel for a keyword.
It’s also deeply formulaic. It recommends a specific word count for all post types, but that’s also not realistic. It makes no sense for this review to be 2000 words just because some best practice somewhere said so— this post will be 1,000 words because that’s all that’s needed to effectively answer the user’s search intent.
It also doesn’t take certain SEO-crucial ranking factors into consideration. It doesn’t assess factors like site loading speed, whether or not your images are compressed properly, or any technical back-end SEO optimization practices that can make an impact on your SERP potential.
Final Thoughts: Is Yoast SEO Worth It?
Yoast SEO does work for its basic purpose: It can provide quick and actionable tips to help you increase your ranking potential.
That’s all, though. It’s not an all-inclusive tool that provides secondary keyword recommendations, that accounts for search intent or competitor analysis, or that goes beyond a basic formulaic approach. It’s nice as a quick check, but that’s about it.
For the record— I do use Yoast SEO for my own site, and I recommend that my WordPress clients do the same, even if it’s just to input your target keyword. It’s just essential to know where its usefulness ends so that the content creator and/or strategist can fill in the blanks.
Want to learn more about different content marketing tools and strategies that can help you get the results you want? Check out our downloadable SEO checklist and blog post here!