SEO

Yoast SEO


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Yoast SEO review
19th May, 2018

Yoast SEO
By Team Yoast

Yoast SEO is currently the most widely used SEO plugin for WordPress. Lets see how it stacks up against the competition.

Functionality chevron-down

Yoast SEO is pretty much the de facto SEO plugin for WordPress. In case you don’t know what this plugin does – it boosts the search engine rankings for your site.

However, it won’t automatically do that. You need to setup the plugin first which can take some time depending on your setup.

Yoast SEO dashboard
Yoast SEO dashboard

Luckily, Yoast gives users a walkthrough guide.

Yoast SEO setup wizard
Yoast SEO setup wizard

Setting up Yoast is beyond the contents of this post however I found a very useful guide which may be helpful.

Even then, many people find this plugin to be confusing and pontentially dangerous to use. It doesn’t mean Yoast SEO is a bad plugin, its just not aimed at newbies.


Yoast comes with some useful features out of the box:

  • XML sitemap creation. You can also exclude/include custom taxonomies and custom post types
  • Google webmaster integration. This shows up as Google search console in the Yoast sidebar menu. Basically, it displays all the crawl errors googlebot encountered while crawling your site.
  • Yoast approved breadcrumb code. Useful for implementing breadcrumb code in your site.
  • Google knowledge graph integration. If you complete setting up Yoast, it will add your site information with the Google knowledge graph. This will let Google show your business information when someone searches for your site on Google.

Gotchas chevron-down

Many people have criticized the bloat that comes with Yoast SEO. Indeed, it seems like Yoast is very good at self promoting. It even adds comments to the head of your site. Now that doesn’t seem so bad except if you’ve taken steps to hide the WordPress server signature, malicious users can still determine whether you’re using wordpress and potentially which version of WordPress are you on based on the output of the Yoast comment.

Comment added by Yoast in the header
Comment added by Yoast in the header

This doesn’t affect SEO but it may be used to potentially determine WordPress version by wannabe hackers.

Yoast doesn’t stop at there. It will add upsells to the sidebar, and when updating they show you a large update screen similar to what you see when you update your WordPress installation.

Normally this is fine, however Yoast is known for making small incremental updates frequently which can be annoying.

For developers chevron-down

Yoast has has exposed a bunch of actions and filters through which you can change quite a bit of the functionality provided. This is especially useful when you’re making a custom built website using things like cpt, acf, etc.

Out of the box Yoast won’t recognize ACF fields and as such, won’t analyze their content. To make Yoast work for acf, there are other plugins like this one which can make Yoast work with acf. They may be a bit hit and miss depending on how you’ve set up your site – we’re using the same combo on this website and its not exactly accurate.

For Content writers chevron-down

Yoast adds a SEO metabox below every post. If you have any custom post types, the metabox will be shown even there.

This metabox is useful in editing the meta information of your posts. You can edit the meta title, description and set a focus keyword useful for targeting a specific keyword in your post. When a focus keyword is added, Yoast will compare the content of your post and a couple of other things like the slug, title, meta title, description, etc against the keyword and will assign a score depending on how many times you’ve mentioned the keyword as well as a couple of other things.

Normally this works as intended however you should take the score given by Yoast with a pinch of salt as it isn’t accurate especially for a custom built website.

Pricing chevron-down

Yoast SEO is completely free but they offer more features in the Premium version. This version has extra functionality such as:

  • You can select more than 1 keyword(important) to optimize for inside pages/posts
  • Google, Facebook, etc previews
  • Redirect manager

..among other features. One thing to note is that some features which were previous available in the free version are now only available in the premium version.

The premium version retails for $89 with 1 year of updates. Yoast does offers incremental discounts if you purchase in bulk.

TLDR chevron-down

Yoast has some warts but its main strength is its popularity within the WordPress community. Lots of Content writers, devs, etc already know how to use Yoast.

However, keep in mind that Yoast is not a magic bullet for SEO – nor is any other WordPress SEO plugin.

Its best to do your research, setup your site to be easily readable for search engines, do keyword research and use Yoast to setup your blog posts with the proper meta information.

Technical Report chevron-down

Lines of code 35,016
Cyclometric complexity(CC) 9.31
Code violations

(0 criticals, 63 errors) - 141

Uses custom Db table? Yes
CC Chart

Yoast SEO does fairly good considering how many people complain about its ‘bloat’. I reckon most people have that perception due to the upsells Yoast adds in the admin sidebars. Also, the cheesy cartoon characterizations don’t help their case. In any case, it still is fairly bigger than your average WordPress plugin at 35016 lines of code. I suspect this is because Yoast is including a lot of dependencies in their code.

Strangely, the folder name for this plugin is named wordpress-seo. I reckon they must have started with this name and later on rebranded themselves as Yoast SEO.

Yoast creates yoast_seo_links and yoat_seo_meta database tables. However it stores the post metadata inside the postmeta table.

Data generated from Phpmetrics. Although the data found through our research has been produced and processed from sources believed to be reliable, no warranty, expressed or implied, is made regarding accuracy, adequacy, legality or reliability of any information.

Features

JSON-LD support Yes - will generate organization, website and person json-ld but you'll still need to make one yourself for post and custom post types.
Robots.txt settings Yes - you can edit indexing rules for each page/post or for all of them inside settings.
ACF compatible No - Not a big deal but Yoast can't read ACF fields by default.
Social media settings Yes - You can set title, banner image, etc for each page/post

Verdict

Yoast SEO falls for some stupid reasons, however its popularity is undisputed. If you’re starting out with WordPress and are a not technically inclined, Yoast is the way to go.

  • Complete control of meta title, description, etc for all posts

  • Come with a handy guide for setting up the plugin

  • Visually unappealing styling. Frequently adds upsells on the sidebar(only on the free version)

4/5

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Helpful disclosure

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when readers choose to purchase a plugin based our reviews.

2 responses to “Yoast SEO

  1. One note: The reason why Yoast does small incremental updates frequently is SEO itself: More recent versions of WordPress plugins help in search result ranking on the WordPress Plugins pages (next to downloads). So when a plugin gets updated frequently, even if the update is just a single line of code, it already helps in search visibility on WordPress.com

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