Search engine optimization is crucial to any website, so choosing the best WordPress SEO plugin to nail it is the way to go about it. In this honest Yoast SEO review, we will explore the Yoast SEO plugin to help you determine its effectiveness.
Most people tout Yoast SEO as the number one WordPress SEO plugin. Is this all hype and no substance? As we review the plugin, we will show you the major features of Yoast SEO and the tool’s downsides and upsides.
Let’s kick off 🥋 our Yoast SEO review by answering some basic questions.
What is Yoast SEO?
Yoast SEO is a robust WordPress plugin that helps your site rank higher in search engines like Google.
SEO expert Joost de Valk founded Yoast SEO back in 2008. Since then, the plugin has grown in leaps and bounds to become the most popular SEO plugin in the WordPress repository. Yoast SEO has over 13 million users and is closing in on 26k 5-star reviews on WordPress.org.
📅 In 2021, Yoast SEO was acquired by Newfold Digital, which is the same company behind some of the most popular WordPress hosts, including Bluehost and HostGator.
Yoast SEO review: six key aspects examined
Next, let’s get into the nitty gritty of our Yoast SEO review. We will examine six critical aspects of the plugin.
- Keyword and meta description optimization
- Content readability analysis
- Social media metadata and previews
- Technical SEO features
- Pricing and support
- Yoast SEO Review: Pros and cons
1. Keyword and meta description optimization ⌨️
First, we will look at keyword optimization in our Yoast SEO review.
Having a focal keyword and honing in on it throughout your content is the foundation of successful on-page SEO optimization. Yoast SEO helps you optimize for your keyword from your title to the conclusion.
To begin with, the tool alerts you if you didn’t include your exact match keyword in your title, introduction, or if the keyphrase is too long. The program also warns you if you don’t put your focal keyword at the beginning of the title, so search engines pick the relevance of your page straight away.
Yoast SEO also covers these aspects of keyword optimization:
- Checks the inclusion of the focal keyword in H1, H2, H3, and H4 tags.
- Gauges if you distributed your keyword evenly throughout the page.
- Assesses if you included your keyword and related phrases in the image alt text.
- Tells you if you met the keyword density threshold, i.e., the ideal number of times your keyword is mentioned on the page.
An optimized meta description is pivotal in boosting clickthroughs to your core website pages and content. Yoast SEO checks if you used your focus keyword in the meta description. You still get a red light if you over-optimize by repeatedly stuffing your keyword many times into your description. Also, the plugin analyzes if your meta description is of an ideal length (155 characters or shorter).
Additionally, you can preview how your meta description will look in the SERPs on both desktop and mobile devices.
2. Content readability analysis 📋
Next, our Yoast SEO review guide examines the content readability analysis feature. Content structure and readability are vital components of on-page SEO.
Search engines can easily pick the focus and intent of a page if it’s structured well. Moreover, users can tell if a page is relevant to their needs and quickly find what they want in easy-to-read pages.
Yoast SEO checks the following readability issues on your page:
- Subhead distribution. The tool notifies you if any sections of your page are over 300 words and don’t have subheadings.
- Paragraph length. Yoast recommends that paragraphs be 150 words or fewer and flags anything longer.
- Sentence length and consecutive sentences. Yoast highlights sentences over 20 words or three or more successive sentences starting with the same word.
- Passive voice. The algorithm encourages using the passive voice in less than 10% of your sentences.
- Transition words. To get a green light, 30% of your sentences must include a transition word/phrase.
- Word complexity. Yoast SEO tells you if your text has too many complex words.
Here’s how the readability analysis feature looks on the user interface.
3. Social media metadata and previews 📱
Another critical point in our Yoast SEO review is the social previews feature.
Content promotion is an integral part of a winning SEO strategy. The more your content spreads on social media platforms, the more traffic you generate to your site. What’s more, many social shares give your content viral potential.
Yoast SEO shows you Facebook and Twitter previews of your content.
You can change and optimize the Twitter or Facebook post:
- Image. Choose the image you want to appear alongside your post.
- Title. Customize your social post title to increase engagement.
- Description. Edit your Facebook or Twitter description to boost clicks.
Having complete control of how your social posts look helps you create eye-catching, clickworthy, and shareable content that increases traffic to your website. Plus, Yoast SEO provides many proven social appearance templates to choose from, so you don’t waste time creating them from scratch.
Crucially, the plugin automatically adds Open Graph tags to your Facebook and Twitter posts, saving you the hassle of doing it manually.
4. Technical SEO features ⚙️
Fourthly, our Yoast SEO review would be amiss if it skipped technical SEO.
One significant benefit of Yoast SEO is that the plugin automatically takes care of the technical aspects of search engine optimization. It does a lot of heavy lifting in the background for you. Therefore, you don’t have to crack your head about complex technical SEO issues.
The automation of vital aspects of technical SEO is perfect if you are a beginner. Things just get done without you getting your hands dirty with the intricacies or figuring out how they work.
Yoast handles the following technical SEO issues for you.
👉 Schema/Structured Data
As the competition in SERPs heats up, you need help to stay ahead.
Yoast SEO automatically adds Schema.org structured data code to your pages.
Structured data boosts your content’s visibility with search engines by including images and videos when it appears in rich results.
👉 XML sitemap
Yoast SEO auto-generates XML sitemaps for all content on your site. XML sitemaps list or index all website’s pages, making it easier for Google to find and crawl them. Yoast SEO allows you to limit the number of sitemap entries and add an external sitemap to the index.
To view your sitemap, go to Settings, navigate to the XML sitemaps section, and click View the XML sitemap.
If you need more advanced functionality, Yoast SEO also has premium extensions to help you create dedicated XML sitemaps for specific types of content, such as a video sitemap.
👉 Edit robots.txt file
The robots.txt file tells web crawlers which pages to crawl or exclude when visiting your website.
Pages you exclude do not appear in the search engine results pages. Excluding non-essential pages using the noindex tag is crucial as it allows you to maximize your crawl budget by focusing on vital pages only.
With Yoast SEO, you can easily edit your site’s robots.txt file right from your WordPress dashboard.
👉 Edit .htaccess file
Yoast SEO also empowers you to improve your website’s SEO performance by changing your site’s setup without editing the server.
You can manage crawling, create redirects, change HTTP headers, and more.
5. Pricing and support 💸
Our Yoast SEO review would be incomplete without covering pricing.
Yoast SEO has a free version with all the essentials from keyword optimization, Google SERP preview, readability analysis, and more.
If you want premium features, there’s a core premium version, as well as separate extensions for specific use cases such as local SEO, WooCommerce SEO, video SEO, and news SEO.
The core Yoast SEO Premium plugin has many advanced features like related keywords, internal links suggestions, more advanced structured data, optimization for multiple keywords, and more.
It costs $99 per year for use on a single site. Yoast SEO does not offer multi-site licenses – you’ll need a separate license for each site. However, you do get a volume discount based on the number of sites.
The other Yoast SEO extensions cost $79 each per year, with similar pricing for multiple sites. Or, you can purchase a bundle of a “Single Extension + Yoast SEO Premium” for $145 per year or “Every Extension + Yoast SEO Premium” for $229 per year.
Overall, the premium versions of Yoast SEO are generally more expensive than other WordPress SEO plugins such as Rank Math or SEOPress, which might be something to consider. This is especially true if you have multiple sites.
Still, most sites will be fine with just the free version of Yoast SEO, so this might not factor into your decision.
6. Yoast SEO Review: Pros and cons 👍👎
In this section of the Yoast SEO review, we will look at the upsides and downsides of the plugin.
Yoast SEO pros 📈
Below are a few advantages of Yoast SEO:
- The plugin does a great job of handling technical SEO, a headache for most beginners.
- Its schema/structured data feature is excellent and enhances your chances of appearing in rich results.
- It has a fairly easy-to-use interface even beginners can master quickly.
- You get real-time insights into your content’s SEO optimization score as you write.
- You can find dedicated extensions for specific use cases such as local SEO, WooCommerce SEO, and more.
Yoast SEO cons 📉
Here are some downsides of Yoast:
- The $99 cost for the premium version is expensive compared to Yoast alternatives.
- The free version allows you to optimize for only one focus keyphrase per page.
- There is a risk of accidental keyword stuffing in the free version since it only recognizes exact match keywords, not synonyms or related terms.
- You can find other free SEO plugins that offer more features (if you want those extra features), such as the free version of Rank Math.
Yoast SEO Review: Should you use it? 🤔🖱️
In short, that’s a wrap of our Yoast SEO review.
Yoast SEO is a superb tool 🔧 that does all the essentials well. The plugin’s technical prowess deserves special mention.
It automates many technical SEO tasks that are time-consuming and difficult for most newbies to do manually. Its user-friendly interface also makes it a fan favorite.
But its $99 price tag is higher than what most competitors charge. Also, optimizing for only one keyword per page on the free version is limiting.
If you just want a tool to implement basic on-page and technical SEO, you’ll probably be fine with the free version of Yoast SEO.
Let us know in the comment section if you have any questions about how to use Yoast SEO.
Yoast SEO is a WordPress plugin that helps you optimize your site for the search engines. Its set of features lets you tune up your technical SEO, on-page SEO, video SEO, social previews, schema markup, and also comes with dedicated extensions for specific use cases.
Superb at handling background technical SEO issues
Excellent schema/structured data feature
Helpful live insights into content's SEO optimization
Extensions for local SEO, WooCommerce SEO, and video SEO
You can only optimize each post for one keyword at a time in the free version
A bit pricey if you want to go for the pro version