The Yoast SEO plugin is one of the most common plugins used by bloggers. And although it does serve to help you with SEO, there are a lot of misconceptions about what it does and doesn't do.
One of the most common things I hear from new Christian bloggers when I ask them if they understand SEO is that they do because they “got the green light” with the Yoast plugin. I'm hoping to clarify a few things by helping you to really understand the importance of SEO and the truth about the Yoast plugin.
And also to explain the difference between Yoast and Rank Math and which one is better (and why).
This post may contain affiliate links. Read our full disclosure here.
The Importance of SEO
SEO is short for “search engine optimization” which is a really fancy way of saying “how to get your content found in search results.” Not learning and using SEO is the equivalent of writing a book and storing it away in a locked box under your bed.
Without SEO, you won't be able to generate organic traffic from search engines. Yes, you can share your blog posts on social media and hope your friends read them, but that isn't as productive as having people find your posts because they were actually searching for that particular content in a search engine (like Google).
SEO involves doing keyword research to find the best keywords that satisfy a search query so your post will rank for in search engine results. It also involves using a variety of keywords and variables in certain places throughout your post so that search engine crawlers can read it and make a decision on how to rank your page for that keyword.
SEO is not an exact science and each search engine has its own specific algorithm in which the crawlers make their ranking decisions. Read more about the benefits of SEO and how exactly to begin implementing your own SEO strategies for your Christian blog.
Truth About the Yoast Plugin
The truth about the Yoast plugin is that it takes much more than simply “getting the green light” for your post to be found in search results. Don't get me wrong – the Yoast plugin IS helpful, but it is only as productive as the information that is entered into it.
So many bloggers think they are doing well with SEO for their posts because they got the green light. It would be nice if these plugins gave a bit more information on how exactly to get the best use out of the plugin, but unfortunately, they don't.
What the Yoast Plugin Does NOT Do
Contrary to popular belief, the Yoast plugin does not guarantee that your post will show up in search results. Getting the green light simply means that you placed your chosen keyword into the “basic” places that crawlers will crawl. It is important to keep in mind that the algorithm for each search engine is different.
Although they all use the same basic information to give a page it's ranking, the weight of each part varies between different search engines. As such, getting the green light only means you entered your keyword in the most basic places. Consider that you are likely trying to rank for a topic that possibly thousands of others have created content about, do you really think doing the bare minimum will get you the results you are hoping for?
The Yoast plugin does NOT help you choose your keyword (which is actually the most important step). You could write a post about dogs and use the keyword “tree” enough times to get the green light. The key to finding yourself in a Google search query is to write content that satisfies a search query and use variations of keywords related to that search query.
To be quite honest, I have a red (failing grade) for several of my top-ranking blog posts. Ranking on page one of search results doesn't happen by making the Yoast plugin happy (green). It happens when you write solid content that is fully optimized to satisfy the search query of the person looking for it.
What the Yoast Plugin DOES Do
Now that we discussed what the Yoast plugin doesn't do, let's talk about what it DOES do.
It is great for getting your Backend SEO settings in place. This is actually the first step in getting that SEO juice going for your site. This is what enables your blog to show up when someone searches for it directly and that it gives a proper description of what the site offers or is about.
- Homepage meta
- Categories and Blog Structure
Is it Worth it to Upgrade to Yoast Premium?
Paying for the premium version of Yoast is an absolute waste of your money. You can grow your SEO traffic with just the free version. Plus, if you aren't on WordPress, you can grow your SEO traffic without a plugin at all.
The Premium version of Yoast offers additional features such as “being able to rank for additional keywords” but you can do this by simply writing great content that utilizes those additional keywords. You do not need a plugin to rank for multiple keywords!!
If your content incorporates a variety (variables) of the main concept of the post, you will eventually rank for them as well (by default).
Instead of paying for Yoast Premium, you can invest that money into Keyword Research tools such as Keywords Everywhere. These tools enable you to fully research topics and keywords to ensure you are writing about topics people are actually searching for as well as compiling additional and related keywords to include in the post.
The truth about the Yoast plugin is that it is a great tool to help you with getting your backend SEO settings in place! But for writing actual blog posts, that green light can really get you fussing over unnecessary stuff when all you need to do is write great content.
The truth is that a green light does not mean your content is worthy of ranking on Page One. And a red light does not mean your content won't rank. I actually have several posts on my site that have a red (failing) score and are on page one for a variety of keywords and that get 1000's of sessions from Google every month.
Understanding how to pick the right topics to write about and learning how to format your content are the keys to ranking on page one. The plugin you choose to use has no actual impact on rankability.
Is Rank Math a Better SEO Plugin?
Now that you understand that an SEO plugin does NOT help your content rank in search results, let's talk about whether you should use the Yoast or Rank Math plugin.
Personally, I love the Rank Math plugin over Yoast. Rank Math has redirection built-in and comes with the free version of the plugin. It also offers better schema mark-up options if you write content other than simple blog posts (such as recipes, etc).
You can see the side-by-side comparison of the two plugins on this chart.
If you are currently using Yoast, you can import all of your current settings into Rank Math in one simple step!
So, long story short. SEO plugins can be a bit misleading in helping you to understand how to write content that will rank in search engines. At the end of the day, these plugins do serve a backend purpose but you understanding the dynamics of how people search for content and how Google indexed content will help you learn how to write content (regardless of which SEO plugin you are using) that ranks on Page One search results.