Yoast is one of the best-known optimization tools in the SEO scene. The tool, which you can add to your WordPress account, makes it super easy to get your blog posts ready for the search engines before sending them out for public consumption.
Between making sure your meta tags are in tip-top shape to reminding you that your blog content should be easy to read, the platform does take a lot of the guesswork out of SEO—at least some of the easier tasks.
Still, there are some things that we—and other bloggers and content types—don’t fully embrace. It’s not the best tool for ensuring that content is optimized. For example, some of the recommendations don’t make for the best posts.
But, with all of its faults—and many benefits—there’s a reason that Yoast is the only name that most of us think of when it comes to optimizing what goes through your WordPress account.
Below, we’ll look at how Yoast stacks up against its competitors in the conversion rate optimization game.
What is Yoast?
Yoast is a popular WordPress plugin used to help people optimize their posts for SEO. The platform is widely used by bloggers and marketers—primarily those with WordPress accounts. That said, the SaaS solution does exist on its own website, too.
But, they also provide an excellent resource for those who wish to optimize conversion rates—simply by helping you rank for the right keywords and improve your overall approach to SEO.
One Year of 24/7 Support
Available to premium users only, Yoast will give you a full year of support with your subscription. Email the team with questions about the plugin or ask for help getting started.
Helps You Attract More Visitors
Yoast indirectly can help you get more traffic to your site. When you post content, the plugin looks at factors like keyword density, metadata, and image tags. They also help you make sure Google indexes new content as it comes in.
While Yoast won’t necessarily help you collect leads, they will help you boost your search rankings. That said, you’ll need to create optimized landing pages, paid ads, and a social following, too.
Regular Updates for Google Algorithm
Who can keep up with Google and its constant and inconsistent updates? Google makes up to 600 minor algorithm changes per year, and Yoast keeps on top of this by updating the tool every two weeks.
The benefit here is, you’re not optimizing for rules that no longer exist.
Define Your Site’s Cornerstone Content
Cornerstone content pieces are articles that you want to showcase most. They might be pieces that are a cut above the rest of the offerings on the page or something like an evergreen guide or explainer.
Ideally, you should come up with four or so pieces that fit the bill. When you do, you’re able to indicate which articles are cornerstone pieces. Under the focus keyword box, there’s a little checkmark you can click to make the distinction.
While many of us are already familiar with Yoast’s ability to tell us how many uses of passive voice are dragging down our readability score, there are some technical features that Yoast takes care of, sight (almost) unseen.
Most users don’t know about stuff like robots.txt, htaccess files, and other technical elements that come into play. Yoast makes sure that your configurations are good to go before you hit publish.
The snippet editor allows you to see your blog post how a Google user would—both on mobile and on desktop. The free version comes with Google previews, while the paid option adds in Facebook and Twitter, too.
Yoast provides users with a short SEO checklist that you can use to see if your article is fit to post. You’ll get started by adding a focus keyword for each page; you can add synonyms for keywords with the premium plan.
The site gives you an SEO score ranging from “needs improvement” to “good.” The score is dependent on keyword density, as well as SEO title, meta-description, and more.
Here’s a look at the report you’ll get:
Select a keyword by adding it to a column underneath your blog post. The free plan allows you to add just one keyword while upgrading to the premium plan allows you to optimize for additional keywords and related search terms.
Additionally, you can optimize for synonyms or other related keywords, making it easy for users to find you, even if they don’t use the same language you might use.
Checks for Duplicate Content
Your website can show the same content across various URLs, which confuses Google. A duplicate content issue can weaken your presence in the search rankings, as it spreads authority over both posts.
With Yoast SEO, you can uncover any potential duplicates and label the original as a canonical link. Yoast also makes it easy to ensure that the content you’re posting is found under the URL where you want it to be found.
Internal Linking Suggestions
Yoast will highlight linking opportunities based context. Internal linking does more than prompt users to explore your site. It’s an essential element of SEO, as the process allows Google to understand just how, exactly, your site fits together.
The site analyzes your text and makes suggestions, eliminating the need to add links by hand, a tedious process very familiar to anyone familiar with the posting process.
Yoast scans your content to reveal the five words and phrases you’ve used most on the page. This allows you to see if you’ve effectively used relevant keywords in your content, or if it’s time to revisit your keyword research.
Yoast isn’t designed to teach you how to write or correct your grammar. Try Grammarly for that.
But, they do look for content that is structured for the web and seek out things like whether you’re using short sentences, transition words, and passive voice.
Focus Keyword Export
This feature is offered exclusively in Yoast premium. The focus keyword export allows you to download an overview of all of the focus keywords you’ve used to far, as well as the pages that need some extra attention. You can even add pages with multiple keywords to the report.
Customize your report by selecting the data you’d like to see. Options include keywords, URL, readability score, and titles. You can download reports to a CSV file for easy access later on.
If your site has been around for a long time, chances are you have a ton of content. And with old content comes hidden 404 errors. Yoast helps you find old pages and set up redirects to new content so that customers don’t see “404 Not Found Error” upon entry.
The redirect manager allows you to choose what you want to do with URLs that connect to deleted content and keeps an ongoing record of redirected pages. You can even set up what’s called REGEX redirects which lets you assign URLs containing certain words or phrases to a specific page.
Because online readers scan more than they pore over every last word, writing for the internet means you’re writing with clarity in mind—not so much showing off those SAT words.
Yoast (premium) does with a built-in Fleisch Reading Ease score, which ranks your content based on how easily readers can consume your content. The goal is to write short sentences, eliminate most uses of passive voice, and use subheadings and connecting words.
And if you think that sounds complicated, it’s not. You can click on the Yoast eyeball in the readability section, and it’ll highlight where you can improve your score.
Manage Site Maps
One of the better features included in the Yoast suite is that it makes it very easy to manage your sitemaps. You can choose to enable the XML sitemap function, and Yoast will automatically generate a sitemap.
The map updates each time you add new content and lets search engines know when there’s something new on your site.
This process ensures that your content is automatically indexed with Google, improving your rankings over time.
Once you’ve set up your focus keyword in the general tab, you can save your draft and look at the page analysis tab.
This gives you a look at Yoast’s feedback on how to better optimize your content. The tool highlights things like whether or not you’re using your keywords enough or adding internal and external links.
Yoast comes in two versions—free and premium. The free version doesn’t give you a whole lot of features. For example, it only allows you to optimize for one keyword at a time.
The premium plan is only $89 per year and brings a ton of insights to the table, all of which work together to help you make your content better in every way.
Downloading and Installation
To get started with Yoast, you’ll head over to your website’s dashboard and select, “add new” from the Plugins menu. Click the button, and you’ll enter a page with a selection of popular add-ons. From there, add Yoast and click “install now.”
You Need to Be Self-Hosted
You can install Yoast SEO on any self-hosted WordPress site. Meaning, if you’re using the free version, you’ll need to upgrade to take full advantage of the platform.
Anyone can download Yoast for free, and you’ll have the option to upgrade if you’d like to access the premium features.
For a primarily focused on SEO, readability, optimization, Yoast’s very own website is not exactly the prettiest site out there. Which is fine, we suppose, but it’s a little hard to navigate through the information for the full breakdown on what they really offer.
Additionally, it’s worth pointing out that the Yoast team doesn’t exactly offer active support for the Yoast SEO plug-in, though that’s likely the main use for most consumers.
One-on-one support is available only to those users who purchased a Yoast premium membership. Here’s a look at what they provide on their official website:
The Yoast blog covers the full spectrum of SEO considerations, from analytics to social media, content, and beyond. You can read more about using WordPress or about technical SEO. In all, the site is kind of an eyesore, but they provide some solid advice. It’s worth a look, especially if you’re new to SEO.
Yoast provides users with online training courses you can take in order or cherry pick, as needed. They’re not free, though. The plugin training is $39, while the SEO starter pack is $299. The most expensive offering is a $499 bundle of all SEO courses.
It’s not that the pricing is unfair, but this information is available for free from other sites like HubSpot, Google, and others. Countless blogs cover SEO and copywriting best practices, so these paid courses seem like a cash grab for those who might not know where else to seek out this information.
If your workplace is covering the courses, great. Otherwise, just search for this information.
Conclusion: Is Yoast Premium Worth It?
Honestly, we were a little taken aback by all of the negative reviews people posted about Yoast. In general, despite its faults, Yoast is a pretty decent tool, one well-known for its ability to help bloggers and website owners make sure most SEO details don’t slip through the cracks.
As a conversion rate optimization tool, we will admit, it’s a bit hard to prove a direct correlation between using Yoast and getting more people to fork over their email address or buy something from your website.
That said, SEO is a huge factor when it comes to conversions. Using the wrong keywords or failing to optimize for keywords at all means you’ll have a hard time reaching your target audience. And without that reach, it’ll be a real challenge to make sales.
It’s important to remember that several elements factor into conversion rate optimization. You can’t just check off all of the green lights in Yoast and expect a transformation.
Instead, you need to remember that this on page SEO is just one piece of the puzzle. You’ll need landing pages and popups, email marketing and social media—as well as all of the insights that track performance.