So, you have decided to make your own website, whether for business, hobby, or some other purpose. That is an excellent first step to becoming a successful website owner, businessman, and a potential influencer.
Now that you have a site, and you, presumably, already started filling it with content, it is time to learn how to get yourself out there and allow people to find you and interact with you and your content.
The best way to do so is to use a WordPress plugin called Yoast SEO, or simply Yoast, for short. Yoast is probably the best-known WordPress plugin for SEO, and it is recommended to anyone who wishes for their site to emerge among the top during searches on Google, Bing, and Yandex.
Yoast will be able to help you even if you don’t know anything about SEO, and it is a perfect way for you to take the next step and start attracting visitors.
Of course, Yoast is not a magical solution, and you shouldn’t expect to have a top-ranking website within a week. However, Yoast is more than capable of helping you optimize for search engines, and improve your chances of getting a better rank. The rest is up to you, but using this plugin is the best way to start heading down that road.
With all of that in mind, we wanted to make a detailed Yoast SEO review and its features, and help all of the new website owners learn how to use this plugin, show them what it has to offer, and explain how it can help their site grow, and hopefully see a significant increase in traffic.
So, without further ado, let’s start.
Why do You need an SEO Plugin?
As you may know, WordPress is pretty SEO-friendly itself, thanks to its excellent coding practices, and the fact that it outputs clean standard-compliant HTML. With a situation like that, you may be wondering why should you use another plugin for SEO, at all?
Well, the fact is that your site is not the only one that uses WordPress. There are thousands of websites competing for ranking first for pretty much every single keyword that you can think of. This is why new websites are having a very tough time getting through, even if they have superior content — they often don’t take the necessary steps to make themselves visible.
This is why having a professional SEO plugin such as Yoast can significantly boost their chances, and let them become more visible. Yoast can help with some aspects that WordPress cannot, or simply doesn’t pay attention to.
WordPress will help your site from the coding perspective, but it will not do a thing to help you manage keywords, assess readability, and provide similar tools that would make your content superior.
Yoast SEO, on the other hand, does just that, thus making your content better, and helping you make it available to those who might search for it via a specific keyword on search engines.
Yoast SEO Pricing
Now that you know why you may need Yoast, it is time for us to start this review in earnest, and the best way to do so is to talk about the prices.
You will likely be very glad to hear that Yoast SEO offers a free version, as well as a premium one. The free version does come with some limitations, of course, but it is perfectly usable and competent, even as such.
As for the premium version, it will cost you €89 per year to use it. Of course, you might be wondering if it is worth the money, and the best way to respond to that is to compare the two.
Yoast SEO Free vs Premium
Both versions offer a large set of features, although the premium version also has some that the free one does not, so there’s the first difference between the two.
With Yoast SEO free, you get:
- Keyword optimization for 1 keyword or keyphrase
- It can tell Google what your page is about by adding schema.org data for faster indexing
- Yoast can keep an eye on your pages and ensure that there is no outdated content
- You can get a Google preview of your page
- Get readability check
- Control your breadcrumbs
- Get the ability to detect duplicate content
- Yoast SEO free works in both, classic and block editor
- Technical configuration and other similar stuff will go on in the background without the need for you to interact with it
- It will get regularly updated to keep track of new Google algorithms
And, that’s about it. On the other hand, if you go for the premium version, you get all of that, often in an advanced form — for example, you get page previews for Google, Twitter, and Facebook — plus more.
In other words, the premium version features everything mentioned above, plus:
- Internal linking suggestions
- Content insights, such as which words or phrases are used the most on your page
- Redirect manager, which redirects old URLs to new ones
- Focus keyword export, so you can have a clear overview of your focus keywords
- Free access to 24/7 customer support
- No ads
All of these additions can be very useful, especially when it comes to keeping your content up to date and relevant. Plus, the internal linking feature makes you create a web of your own in-site content, thus increasing the chances that your visitor will stay longer, and continue exploring your website.
You can do that with a free version as well, although you will have to do it all manually, without any suggestions, which will become rather difficult and complicated as your site continues to grow.
In the end, you need to decide on your own whether you want or need the premium version, but you should know that it is there and what it has to offer.
With that said, let’s take a deeper look at some of these features and see what exactly they do, and how you can use them to your advantage.
Yoast SEO Features
The first on the list is keyword optimization, and, as mentioned, Yoast’s free version only allows you to optimize your site against 1 keyword. The premium, on the other hand, lets you do it for multiple keywords, keyphrases, synonyms, and even related keywords, and more.
Once you add your keyword in the field “Focus keyphrase”, the plugin will return a good amount of useful data like keyword density, suggestion on where to add the keyword or remove it, related pages targeting the same keyword and more.
Already, from the keyword perspective, we can see that having a premium Yoast does have its advantages, By using multiple keywords — up to 5 at once — you can set up primary and secondary keywords for Google searches, which will make your content more visible.
There are many strategies on keyword research and optimization that can help you be more visible, so make sure to study those as well, as they will help you use Yoast to its full potential.
The next feature that requires some explaining is page preview, also sometimes called social preview. This is a way to see how your website page or post may look like once it is shared on the most popular social networks, which are currently Facebook and Twitter.
Both versions allow you to upload a custom image to have a nice-looking post when it gets shared. This is important as images attract attention, which is the first step to getting a new visitor to your website, so your post needs to look interesting and professional.
Next, there is a readability check tool, that allows you to determine how easy or difficult to read your posts may be. Yoast measures sentences, paragraphs, and similar aspects of the text, and measures whether they are too long, too short, and alike.
The tool can also determine if you are using enough transition words, and it grades your writing, telling you how you performed.
It is up to you to decide whether or not you wish to use it, but you should know that tools that check and grade your writing are not always accurate. Even so, you might still find it useful for shortening some super long paragraphs or sentences, checking your grammar, searching for typos, and alike.
As for the readability analysis itself, you can use it if you wish, but you can also ignore it without it having too big of an impact on your site’s overall performance.
One thing that you wish to avoid when it comes to filling your website is duplicate content. Having it is not as common as some other issues, but it has been known to happen from time to time.
Now, Yoast SEO does not actually check for duplicates, but it does allow you to set a canonical URL if you have two different URLs that feature pretty much the same thing.
Technical Processes in the Background
Another useful feature that comes with Yoast’s premium version is having greater control over some technical aspects of your site. Things like editing robots.txt, generating and updating your sitemaps, cleaning up URLs, and more.
Some time ago, this was also possible with the free Yoast version, but at one point, the team decided to change that. Now it is a premium feature, and while the users did not appreciate the change, this is how the plugin works right now.
Yoast SEO Sitemap
You will come to appreciate this feature very much. You can connect Yoast to your Google Search Console account and the plugin will automatically upload a fresh sitemap for you at regular intervals.
This is an important feature since the sitemap is critical to inform Google about your site structures, new content, and updates. You just need to go through the process of linking Yoast to your GSC account and you are done. The plugin will keep on uploading fresh sitemaps on your behalf.
Automatic Upgrades and Updates
As mentioned, Yoast claims that it pushes a new update on a regular occasion, around every two weeks, which is when it supposedly introduces new changes that will make your website optimized for the new changes introduced recently to Google.
However, this is a bit of a misleading statement, as many would likely agree. There are several reasons why this is the case.
For example, Yoast cannot keep your website optimized for the new version of the Google algorithm as soon as the algorithm rolls out. Most of it just comes down to rewarding sites that have links and content of high quality.
Yoast itself has a bit of a limited functionality when it comes to some things. For example, it does not deal with backlinking (it doesn’t analyze links that lead to your site elsewhere).
We have already concluded that it can tell you your readability score, but it cannot tell if your content is actually good.
It also doesn’t detect infographic or video content, which can make a big difference when it comes to ranking higher.
Of course, it wouldn’t be realistic to expect that an SEO plugin would be able to detect some of these things, which is why Yoast’s claim that it will protect its users from new changes to Google’s algorithms is a bit bold and misleading.
Internal Links Suggestions
Internal linking, sometimes called interlinking, is very useful for helping people explore your site while reading your content. As such, internal linking suggestions is one feature that is extremely useful, even though it is only available for Yoast premium users.
The way it works is rather simple — when you start editing a new post, the plugin will suggest adding links to other posts on your website. These suggestions will appear on the right of your Dashboard.
Now, obviously, you don’t want links to be inserted whenever there is a chance to do it. Your goal, first and foremost, is to make your content enjoyable to your readers, and while adding more links is SEO-friendly, it can be annoying if you overcrowd the text with links.
Also, you should keep in mind that the feature alone is pretty difficult to maintain, as it consumes a significant portion of the CPU, which can slow your website down whenever you start editing the plugin.
In other words, some users may find it useful, others may not, and it all depends on the type of content that you are creating. But, it is useful to know that you can simply turn it off if you don’t want it there anymore.
We have mentioned that you can choose several keywords for the general optimization of your site. However, Yoast also has another feature called content insights, that allows you to check whether your content is actually targeting those specific keywords.
What this feature does, is analyze your text and show you which words are used the most on the page. But, the usefulness of this is also a bit questionable, as Yoast already counts your focus keywords within your content.
This can be useful if you wish to find out if some other words have been particularly common, so that you may compare them to the most searched terms, and perhaps modify the keywords that you wish to target.
Some would say that this feature is unnecessary, but we will leave it up to you to decide on that.
Up next, we have a redirect manager feature, that allows you to redirect old URLs to new ones. This is useful for fixing expired links, as your visitors and readers might get annoyed if they try to follow a link only to end up on a 404 Error page.
Broken URLs often tend to happen when permalinks are changed, or when pages are deleted, and alike, which can be very difficult to manage manually, especially when your website starts to grow, and when you offer dozens, or even hundreds of articles.
Of course, a lot of websites often have many, many similar features, but if you get Yoast premium, you can get it as part of your Yoast, and not have to include another plugin, which is a good thing, although not unique.
Exporting Focus Keywords
This feature also comes as part of the premium version only, and it manifests itself as an additional option in the plugin’s settings. It pretty much does exactly what it says, and you can use it to export your focus keywords.
But also the readability score for each page, and some other SEO information, which can be good for when you wish to do an SEO audit and review your entire keyword list. If nothing else, it will save you a decent amount of time, so it is a useful thing to have.
24/7 Customer Support for One Year
Lastly, premium users also get free access to non-stop customer support for one year. However, there are mixed feelings about this feature within the Yoast users.
Some believe that this should be something that everyone should have access to, while others see customer support itself as unnecessary, as they don’t really help, other than sending you towards the existing tutorials.
In fact, customer support doesn’t really do much, at all. They do not review your website, nor will they configure the Yoast SEO plugin for you, at least not unless you pay extra. In other words, even the one-year free access to customer support is not very useful.
Do We Recommend Yoast SEO?
At the end of our Yoast SEO review, all in all, Yoast SEO is a great plugin to have in order to optimize your content and make it SEO-friendly. While there are many aspects that are determining how well you are going to rank, including the quality of the content itself — making your text SEO-friendly from a technical standpoint is a large part of the job.
For that, Yoast is one of the best options out there, and we recommend it without any hesitation.
Read More: 5 Best Yoast SEO Plugin Alternatives
With that said, it is still debatable whether or not you should actually use a premium version or a free one.
The premium one does come with a number of extra features, but many would argue that a lot of these extra features are unnecessary, easy to replace, or already included in some other way. In the end, it is up to you to make that choice.
The fact is that it is easier to have all the features in one place than to have it across multiple plugins. However, if you are not interested in paying the price for them, you might not mind having a few extra plugins to make up for what is missing. But, regardless of the version, Yoast will make it easier for you to create a readable, SEO-friendly text, and that’s all that matters.
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