Looking for an SEO plugin for your WordPress site?
Then you’re lucky for stumbling upon my Yoast SEO plugin review. Here you’ll learn what Yoast is; what it does and how it can help your site get more traffic from Google and other search engines.
Sounds exciting? I know it does, so let’s begin!
Bloated and confusing. It’s actual work just to remember where something is. I still make mistakes sometimes!
Yoast SEO remains a very popular SEO plugin for a reason: it’s loaded with features to help you get the most out of your WordPress site.
Some features are essential. But others are there to exist and be yet another thing you could use, but probably won’t.
At its very core, Yoast SEO helps you improve your organic rankings, and the plugin works very well in this department.
What is Yoast SEO Plugin?
Yoast is the world’s most popular SEO plugin. It has accrued over 135 million downloads and millions of WordPress sites across the web use it. Yoast is a recommended install for all new sites and blogs starting today.
It’s definitely the most popular SEO plugin. But is it the best?
More importantly, why have people soured on this tool?
That’s what my review will show, starting with Yoast SEO plugin features.
How Does Yoast SEO Plugin Work (Free Yoast Best Features Explained)?
WordPress as a CMS (Content Management System) is by default search engine friendly.
But, you can never do enough SEO and by using Yoast, you’re taking your already solid on site optimization and making it way better.
This will help your site to rank on SERPs faster.
Yoast is a feature rich plugin, and not all features will be equally valuable to you.
So I will not keep you here all day reading my review.
Instead, I will focus on the essential features that can help you the most.
#1- Basic Setup
The first feature worth talking about is, fittingly enough, found in the “Features” section of Yoast.
- SEO analysis: Shows the SEO score for your post and pages.
- Readability analysis: This report uses the Flesch scoring to measure the readability of your content.
- Cornerstone content: This feature lets you decide on pillar articles for your site. Your site stands on these pillar posts and all other posts orbit around them like planets orbit the Sun.
- Text link counter: This feature shows the number of internal text links pointing to your articles.
- XML sitemaps: Yoast automatically builds XML sitemaps for your blog. But you have to submit it to Google.
- Ryte integration: Ryte is not a part of Yoast. Instead, it’s a third-party service that’ll do a weekly check up of your site to see if it’s indexed in Google and if there are any problems.
- Admin bar menu: Enables Yoast’s SEO menu in your WordPress admin toolbar.
- Security: no advanced settings for authors: This hides advanced SEO settings from guest authors and freelancers you hire to write for you.
#2- Search Console(s) Verification
Yes, that’s plural.
Yoast lets you verify your site with:
- Google Search Console
- Bing Webmaster Tools
- Baidu Webmaster Tools (China’s biggest search engine)
- Yandex Webmaster Tools (Russia’s biggest search engine)
How to use Yoast to verify your site with the search engines?
Just get your verification code snippet from each search engine console and paste them in their respective fields. Click “save” and Voila- you’re verified.
Note: if you’re new to WordPress, this feature is a lifesaver. I remember how I verified my site manually by inserting code snippets into the header of my site;
It was a painful experience as I was a clueless newbie blogger setting up his first site.
#3- Setting Site-Wide Indexation Rules for All Content Types
This feature is valuable because not all content types are valuable and some can hurt your SEO if you let them in the SERPs.
I’ll talk more about this when I guide you through Yoast set-up. For now, know that it’s important.
#4- RSS Feed Setup
Content theft is an actual thing on the web today. So, scraper programs are often faster than Google bot. They visit your site, take your content and publish it on their site and Google indexes them first.
And now you have duplicate content because your content appeared first on their site.
It’s a pain. But also totally preventable.
Yoast by default set things up so that when a scraper takes your post, it comes with an embedded backlink that points to your site as the origin of the content.
This is so valuable.
I had content stolen from me before and it wasn’t pretty. And as your blog becomes popular and more people steal your stuff, you’ll be building links on autopilot.
Ah, if only other areas of SEO were so easy… 🙂
#5- Import/Export Settings
This feature is helpful if you used an SEO plugin before and now want to switch to Yoast. So import the data to Yoast to save all your SEO settings.
How to Buy Yoast SEO Premium and is it Worth Buying?
The free version Yoast already contains useful features, but if you want even more, you must pay for it.
To buy Yoast Premium, you need to go to their shop page and fill in the details and buy.
Afterwards, log in to your account and download Yoast premium.
Then replace regular Yoast you have with the Premium version.
I know it sounds like a lot of hassle but it took me 5m to do it.
Now, let’s discuss the features Yoast Premium boasts of, that the free version lacks.
#1- Internal link optimization
Yoast Premium has an excellent internal linking feature.
Basically, Yoast scans your posts and pages and suggests internal links to other content.
This is an excellent feature because internal links help a tonne with SEO and because manual internal linking gets cumbersome fast.
And it’s a real pain on enormous sites.
Sure, you need not use this if you have twenty posts in total and you know them all by heart.
But what if you have two hundred posts? Or two thousands?
Then this feature looks like a superhero that’s come to save you.
Note: alternative to Yoast is Link Whisper, the most advanced internal linking plugin on the market today.
Yoast lets you redirect URLs from its dashboard.
Very handy if you want to take multiple weak posts and merge them into one (also called the Cake technique);
or because there’s heavy content duplication;
or you have pages you no longer need.
Redirection is a useful feature. You should implement redirects when you need to, but… I recommend against using Yoast for redirections.
Because using Yoast for setting up redirects ties them to your SEO plugin, and that isn’t smart.
If you ever abandon Yoast for some other plugin, for example SEOPress, then your site will suffer with hundreds of broken links across the site.
The solution instead is to use a dedicated, independent and free redirection plugin.
#3- Multiple Keyword Optimization
Free Yoast allows you to optimize your posts for one keyword only. Premium version bulks up that number to five.
Whether that is really useful I’ll talk about in the Yoast Cons section.
How to Use Yoast SEO Premium
Here’s how to set up Yoast so it helps your site and doesn’t destroy your sanity with so many choices.
Once you’ve uploaded and activated Yoast Premium, you will see inside your WordPress dashboard a new “SEO” tab with Yoast’s logo on it.
Hover over it and go “General”.
Next, visit the “Features” section and switch these on.
- SEO analysis
- Readability analysis
- Cornerstone content
- Text link counter
- XML sitemaps
- Ryte integration
- Admin bar menu
- Security: no advanced settings for authors
I won’t go into detail what these mean here because I covered them above in the Yoast features sections.
Next, go to “Webmaster Tools” and add verification snippets various search engines gave you for your site.
- Google Search Console
- Bing Webmaster Tools
- Baidu Webmaster Tools
- Yandex Webmaster Tools
Now go to “Search Appearance” where you have a whole slew of options to play with.
First in the “General” section, I suggest you change nothing. Default settings are good for new sites and it’s easy to mess up if you aren’t sure what you’re doing.
Next, in the “Content Types” section, turn on these three options:
- Show posts in search results
- Show date in Google preview
- Yoast SEO meta box
In the “Media” section, leave is as is.
Here the only setting is to redirect attachment pages to the parent URL. It’s on by default, and that’s how it should be.
You don’t want Google spiders to index image attachments because they’re thin content that Google hates as it wastes their crawl budget (read: crawl budget= real $$$ to Google).
In the “Taxonomies” section I like to select categories to index/follow.
It’s because categories boosts my site’s relevancy for certain topics. And higher relevance means less authority needed to rank.
So indexing categories, as long as you don’t have hundreds of them, can boost your SEO a bit.
Note: I also toyed with the idea of indexing tags. Because they too can boost my relevancy scores. I decided against it as tags are pure duplicate content and I don’t want to have too much of it.
In the “Archives” section I suggest you enable only “Author” archives.
This is useful because if you ever allow guest posting on your site, you’ll want each author to have their dedicated Author page and archives.
However, don’t let search spiders index these as they’re duplicate content and will only bog down your site.
For everything else, leave it disabled.
Next we have the “Breadcrumbs” section. They are an excellent feature and I’m glad Yoast offers it for free.
However, I don’t use them as they are really only meaningful on large and complicated and hard-to-navigate websites.
My advice is that you don’t need to mess with breadcrumbs, at least in the early stages.of your blog’s growth.
Finally RSS settings is how Yoast protects you against content theft.
Default settings are fine so don’t touch a thing here
Yoast lets you have “rich” post sharing on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. This means that your shares won’t just be boring text snippets with links underneath, but will also come with pretty images.
You just need to enable open Graph Meta for Facebook and Twitter.
As for Pinterest, it uses Facebook’s open graph data, but you must verify your Pinterest account first.
Click the link below to learn how to verify your site with Pinterest.
When you have the snippet from Pinterest, paste it into Yoast here.
“Import and export” If you’re switching from another SEO plugin to Yoast, here you can import its settings into Yoast so you don’t lose your work.
“Bulk Editor” I never use this feature, as I like to add my metadata on a really granular level, post by post.
But, it’s a great thing to have the ability to bulk-edit SEO titles without clicking around your site and wasting time.
A huge timesaver on really enormous sites and while performing SEO audits.
Nothing to see here. Here are Yoast’s upsells where they try to sell you modules for:
- News site’s SEO
- Local SEO
- Video SEO
Unless your site is primarily video content, local shop or news publishing websites, you don’t need these.
Finally, “Redirects”. Like I said, don’t redirect with Yoast because if you ever want to uninstall Yoast it’ll take your redirects with it.
And that’d be a gigantic problem for you
How Much is Yoast?
Yoast offers two pricing tiers free and paid
Free plugin is free. It’s an excellent WordPress SEO plugin that does the job and does it well. With it you can significantly enhance your on-page SEO.
And when you speak the lingo Google understands, the results show up on Google.
Premium is a $89 yearly subscription and you get a year’s worth of updates.
Yoast SEO Review: Pros and Cons
PRO: Excellent SEO plugin
Despite its flaws, which I will cover below, Yoast is an excellent SEO plugin. With it, you can make your WordPress site SEO friendly and compliant to Google SEO best practices.
I’m talking about the Yoast free version which gives you 95% of what you need and most folks will never need to upgrade to premium.
CON: Bloated Plugin
I remember when I first installed Yoast a few years ago. Newbie as I was, and eager as I was to dive deep into the SEO thingy, the tool almost almost brought me to tears because of how complicated everything seemed.
I didn’t know where to turn first and what to click next.
It took me several hours of reading Yoast tutorials such as this one to understand enough to start using it.
PRO: You Can Learn Basic SEO With it
Don’t let the word “basic” fool you.
Basic SEO is on-page SEO, which is actually powerful. Placing your keywords in strategic places so Google understands your content better is an evergreen skill; and with it’s red/orange/green highlight system, Yoast helps you master the basics.
CON: Resource Intensive
Free version is pretty light on your site and won’t slow it down. But Premium brings with it features which eat through your CPU like starving mice eat through scanty cheese supplies.
Especially internal link suggestions which Yoast serves up whenever you enter that post’s editor.
It seriously bogged down my computer, and a few times my laptop shut down because it overheated.
PRO: Popular Plugin
Over 5 million websites use Yoast. This is good because popular plugins have many bloggers writing about them. This means that for all problems you might encounter, you can find answers to on the internet;
CON: Content Optimization Suggestions are Rigid and Dated
Yoast SEO scoring is old (they haven’t updated it in years) and it focuses too much on keyword density and repeating the exact key phrase in pre-defined places.
Google simply doesn’t work like that anymore, and by focusing on precise keyword usage, you often miss the point of content creation: to create content for humans that’s also optimized for Google bots.
PRO: Regularly Updated
Yoast updates their plugin once every two weeks, which is an excellent pace.
CON: Support is pretty basic
There is no support for free Yoast. Because millions of people use the free version of the plugin, it’d be impossible to cater to all of them for free.
Premium Yoast offers professional support. But because so many webmasters use their plugin, the waiting list for problem solving is pretty long; and even then they often refer you to tutorials they’ve written on your problem.
So they won’t go into your site and fix it.
PRO: XML Sitemaps
I admit I was hesitant to put this on the list.
It’s because I think XML sitemaps are pretty useless for smaller websites. Have them or not, Google will find and index your content just fine.
XML sitemaps are only super useful on huge websites with tens of thousands of pages that do not link to each other.
So, in that case, they can help direct Google to crawl specific posts or certain areas of the site.
However, Yoast automatically builds a XML sitemap for you, so you don’t have to do anything.
And it’s productive because it saves you the trouble of installing yet another plugin. And because as your site develops it’ll grow to the point of needing a sitemap.
So why not get it right away? It’s a free Yoast feature.
Yoast Alternatives- Can You Say Fierce Competition?
WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world. Hundreds of millions of websites use it and hundreds of millions of websites and their webmasters want and need an SEO plugin.
The market is gigantic and Yoast rules the field. However, many competitors have sprung up and some of them are good – REALLY good.
Below you’ll find an overview of three major Yoast competitors and how they stack up against it.
And since this is a Yoast review and not SEO plugins ultimate face-off, I’ll be brief and talk about stuff Yoast doesn’t have or does a poor job of.
SEOPress is an exceptional SEO plugin.
- lets you manage your metadata (titles, description, Open Graph, Twitter Card, meta robots…) globally or from each from each post
- Builds you an HTML, XML sitemap to improve your site’s crawl rate
- Lets you create Video sitemap (which is a paid feature with Yoast)
- Lets you connect with Google Analytics so you get precious data inside your dashboard.
- Monitors your site for 404 pages and dead links (helpful on big sites).
Finally, this plugin has a whole free module dedicated to WooCommerce. This is a paid feature with Yoast, so using SEOPress saves you money.
SEOPress is $39 per year, and for unlimited sites. In other words, it’s a bargain.
All in One SEO
All in One SEO is very beginner friendly. It’s set up in such a way that you don’t have to touch anything and your site is already very optimized for Google.
Once you get a hang of it you will want to go into the plugin’s interface and get maximum value from it.
What I like is that this plugin is opposite to Yoast in one area. It’s very simple to set up and all settings are on one long page so you don’t have to click around and waste time.
All in One SEO is a free plugin.
You can download it from your WP dashboard right now.
And free AIO SEO does the same job as free Yoast, so you’re not losing anything by picking it over Yoast.
However, they also offer a premium version which costs $97 per year and is valid for one site.
This license gives access to:
- Premium support
- Video SEO module
- Social media integration
SEOPressor powers over 23 million WordPress websites, so it’s the second most popular plugin, right after Yoast.
And there are many excellent reasons why.
I have a niche website that I optimize with SEOPressor and rankings have blasted the roof. Now, I’m not saying it’s because of SEO Pressor… or am I? 🙂
The feature I like most about SEOPressor is their internal link dashboard. It’s this outstanding feature where you can tell SEOPressor which keyword you want to optimize for a certain post
So, it will go and scan your site and find all mentions of that keyword and insert internal links pointing to the post you wish to rank.
This is highly valuable for SEO because it’s hard to overdo internal link optimization; and the more internal links pointing to a page with specific anchor text, better it ranks for that keyword.
SEOPressor is not free.
It costs $9 per month, but you can pay month over month, so there’s no obligation to purchase a yearly subscription.
Is Yoast SEO Worth it?
YOAST SEO REVIEW
I used to like Yoast a lot. In fact, I still do.
Maybe I’m just nostalgic. I remember it was the first plugin I really had to work hard on understanding how to use it. And it gave me great joy when I finally figured it out and set it up exactly as I wanted it to work.
But my nostalgia won’t prevent me from giving my honest opinion.
Is Yoast worth it for you?
The answer is that it depends.
On the one hand it’s a great plugin that will help you get your site in tit top shape.
On the other, it’s bloated, confusing and somewhat dated in its recommendations.
It also serves as a springboard for Yoast to pitch you their other products, which means it’s loaded with ads.
Honestly, right now in 2020 and beyond better SEO plugins exist. They’re popular, they do what Yoast does and they don’t shove ads in your face everywhere you click.
I’m split on this, so I’ll let you decide.
Get Yoast and you’ll get an excellent SEO plugin. Get another plugin like SEOPress and you won’t make a mistake but will end up with an excellent plugin too. And you won’t miss Yoast at all.