Plugin Review: WordPress SEO by Yoast

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See my review of Joost de Valk‘s awesome plugin, WordPress SEO by Yoast, which is quite simply one of the best free Wordpress plugins available for SEO.

# Full Post

In today’s article, we’ll be reviewing Joost de Valk‘s awesome plugin, WordPress SEO by Yoast. I decided to give it a try about a month ago when building a small website for one of my former clients.

I had previously been using the All-In-One SEO Pack which is a fine WordPress plugin, but I must tell you that WordPress SEO by Yoast really impressed me quite a bit with it’s capabilities.

This plugin will give you control over several major SEO elements including:

  1. Post Titles & Meta Descriptions
  2. Robots Meta Configuration
  3. Canonical
  4. Breadcrumbs
  5. Permalink Clean Up
  6. XML Sitemaps
  7. RSS Enhancements
  8. Robots.txt and .htaccess
  9. Clean Up of Head Section

WordPress SEO by Yoast: Likes & Dislikes

This plugin gives users a ton of control over their WordPress website’s SEO architecture, and while there are many things to like, there are also a few things that leave a little to be desired.

The Likes:

  • I haven’t yet encountered a WordPress SEO plugin that gives users this level of control. This plugin is head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to all the different SEO aspects you can manipulate.
  • Does a great job of giving you complete control over the title formats for all different types of pages on your site. From posts and pages, to categories and archives, you can control the way these are output in one fell swoop.
  • The XML Sitemap functionality is by far the best I’ve seen. Gives you the ability to control all aspects of what content will show on your XML sitemap.
  • Good permalink, canonical, and indexation controls. Allows you to format the URLs just the way you want them, as well as control their indexation and format.
  • The In-Post SEO is the best I’ve seen short of a paid plugin such as ScribeSEO. It allows you to enter a focus keyword, then the plugin evaluates your optimization level and provides tips on specific things you can do to optimize your post/page for that keyword. It also shows you a SERP preview as you’re writing your Title and Meta Tag among its other functionality.
  • It also works the Yoast Breadcrumbs plugin into it’s native functionality, which is convenient for usability and indexation purposes.
  • There is much much more that I like, but I have a goal to stay under 1,000 words when writing posts these days!

The Dislikes:

  • While the plugin gives users a lot of control, it is certainly built for people with a more extensive knowledge of SEO and website architecture and may take quite an effort to understand for a regular user. Definitely an advanced-level SEO plugin.
  • The In-Page analysis tool that helps you optimize your post/pages isn’t very intuitive. It does well when you’re only focusing on a single keyword. However, if you enter a phrase such as “collision repair,” it doesn’t do so well. For example, if you use the words “collision” and “repair” separately at different points in the page, the plugin will not pick those up as a focus keyword even though they can clearly be matched together by search engines. BUT, if you’re using the phrase exactly as you have it in the focus keyword menu, it does pretty well.
  • Focuses heavily on keyword density as a factor (which is fine), but it may tend to lead to some unnatural writing and poor copy (i.e. keyword stuffing) for inexperienced SEOs or users.
  • It also measures the readability level of your copy according to the Flesh Reading Ease Score, which can get pretty annoying if you’re not willing to dumb down your text so that middle school kids can understand it.

Please don’t let my dislikes sway you too much. This plugin is – in my opinion – the best free WordPress SEO plugin available on the market today. The good far outweighs the bad, and I’ll gladly put my stamp of approval on this gem!

Dashboard Screenshots

Here are some screenshots from the various dashboards of the plugin.

A short of the initial in-post SEO dashboard screen. I’m a huge fan of the snippet preview when it comes to writing title tags and meta descriptions, and the Focus keyword feature is incredibly helpful when it comes to making keyword choices and evaluating optimization levels.

Wordpress SEO by Yoast - In-Post Dashboard

Another shot of the In-Post dashboard. As you can see, you get some pretty specific suggestions for how to optimize your page based on your focus keyword thanks to Yoast’s collaboration with Linkdex.

Wordpress SEO by Yoast - In-Post Dashboard

Advanced In-Post controls to allow you to handle indexation, canonical tags, and sitemap settings on a page-by-page basis.

Wordpress SEO by Yoast - In-Post Dashboard

The main dashboard of the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin allows you to add meta verification tags as well as configure a few general settings related to meta, post types, and taxonomies.

Wordpress SEO by Yoast - Main Dashboard

The titles section of the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin allows you to configure title tag formats for the entire site, and separates out your homepage/front-page, posts, pages, etc.

Wordpress SEO by Yoast - Titles Dashboard

Allows for complete control over all indexation of your website. Allows you to add Facebook OpenGraph meta data, as well as control indexation for your site via nofollows, robots meta, and much more.

Wordpress SEO by Yoast - Indexation Dashboard

This WordPress plugin has one of the best XML Sitemap generators that I’ve seen. It allows you to have absolute control over what specific URLs will be included on your sitemap.

Wordpress SEO by Yoast - Sitemaps Dashboard

These are just some of the features that this fantastic WordPress plugin offers. If you’re looking for an comprehensive and advanced SEO solution for your WordPress blog or website, I would highly recommend that you consider trying out WordPress SEO by Yoast.

It is head and shoulders above any other free SEO plugin that I’ve come across.

Jacob Stoops

Jacob Stoops

Long-time SEO and podcast host. Senior Manager at Search Discovery. Husband. Dad. Mob movie aficionado. @jacobstoops