Looking for the best SEO plugin for your WordPress site? The Yoast SEO plugin is regarded as one of the best out there – certainly it’s the most popular. Let’s take a look at what makes it so many digital marketers and website owners tool of choice when it comes to on page optimisation for your blog.
First let’s look at the problem that Yoast SEO solves – on page optimisation. Actually the plugin does a whole lot more than just on page SEO, but why is it necessary to have such functionality at all?
Search engines love WordPress already. It ticks all the boxes for the average Google bot – so why does it need improving at all?
It’s being able to control the various automatically generated metas and titles, plus the assistance with optimising content creation makes the plugin necessary. It gives you the capacity to change all elements en masse or individually, and gives optimisation feedback on the fly.
Whats so special about that – well it’s all to do with competition, and gaining the edge. By placing keywords in the optimum position the plugin can make that miniscule difference that might mean the difference between position 1 and position 2 in Google’s search engine results pages (SERPS).
You can tweak and adjust the titles and metas of your site – either universally for categories and archives, and individually for posts and pages.
Here’s a quick list of some of the features:
The ability to set categories and archives to no-index, plus pages that might have thin content or you just might not want to be indexed, is very useful to prevent duplicate content issues when blog feeds show and excerpt from the post.
Custom meta descriptions can make sure you have keywords and derivatives in the SERPS pages and allow you to make you listing more enticing than simply having the first 150 odd characters from the post. I always like to get a call to action, such as “Call now…” and the phone number. Same goes with titles, it’s useful to tweak them to include keywords and you can apply some universal automatic settings as well, even to the point of choosing which separator you want!
Yoast SEO helps you write your pages and posts by giving you an on-the-fly grading with a simple traffic light system. It will let you know if you have included the keywords too many or too few times, whether you have remembered to include the keywords in the titles, metas, page name and image alt tags. It also gives a readability score which is as annoying as it is useful, especially for someone like me who likes to write like I talk and I do tend to construct long, if terribly witty, sentences with lots of humorous asides. I call it the ‘No fun’ test, as it tends to drain the humour out of my writing – maybe I need to learn to be witty and to the point at the same time.
The Yoast plugin will create XML sitemaps for you so you can submit them to search engines. Once created they automatically update. Sitemaps help search engines with indexing your site, so you really want to help them with this by creating and submitting sitemaps. You can read more on sitemaps here.
There’s lots of other useful things in Yoast that can help with making your site more Googlebot friendly, such as adding metadata for Google Knowledge Graph. You can also write different descriptions for posts and pages for social posting, and have a different featured image if you like.
There is extensive documentation on how to set up Yoast and what it all means, not least of which on the Yoast website itself. They have taken a great deal of care to cover all the bases in their knowledgebase. You can access the information here. Yoast also provide support, starting from $69 per year, but as the knowledgebase is so extensive I’ve never even considered taking out a subscription. I’ve provided you with a handy quick setup guide to help you get up and running with Yoast SEO plugin quickly, courtesy of my good friend Guy Tomlinson over at SEO-Copilot.
Well, yes and no. I install it on all my clients site and it does a brilliant job, reliable and no complaints. However, on my own personal sites (like here) I like Squirrly SEO Plugin. It does with everything that Yoast does, with some extras on top. It has a basic keyword research tool, helps with sitewide seo, even allows you to update your favicon. The pro version provides a range of images that you can import into your posts, and even add snippets of quotes from other pages and blog posts as supporting items and hands outbound links.
So its an either or situation, but the fact that Yoast SEO has much more support and documentation, and will be around for ever, then it makes sense to use the biggest player on the block for client’s sites, and you might have to pass them on to other SEO providers at some point (hopefully not!). But for my sites, I like Squirrly with the time saving bells and whistles. Your call.
Click here to download the Yoast SEO Plugin for your self.