Support » Plugin: Yoast SEO » Good for SEO pros, may lead beginners astray

  • Yoast SEO does a great job at allowing you to make important changes and modifications to your site to improve SEO. For seasoned SEOs, it’s pretty much all you need. Beginning SEOs (and non-SEOs who are counting on Yoast to improve their sites) will likely waste time trying to improve their “score” on each page. Because the method of scoring pages is antiquated, focused too much on deprecated concepts like exact match keywords and keyword density, Yoast actually incentivizes content that may look spammy to Google’s most up-to-date algorithms. Plus, Yoast SEO sometimes struggles to score pages at all if you use themes with page builders and all its various ads, which are becoming more and more obnoxious in taking over the WP admin, decrease its value and UX.

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  • Plugin Support benvaassen


    Hi @sbeckman,

    We believe in a holistic SEO. What exactly is antiquated about this view? With our plugin, we not only try to help you write awesome content for your users, but we also take care of all the technical SEO for you. We actually prevent you from overoptimizing for specific keywords with our analysis.

    Yoast actually incentivizes content that may look spammy to Google’s most up-to-date algorithms. This is a pretty bold statement to make. Can you elaborate with links where you get your information?

    We read the native text block of WordPress. Is it really our fault when page builders make it impossible for us to read the text? 😉

    We’ve added functionality to disable entire parts of the plugin as well as notifications, to allow you to use only what you need. So, if you’re running the latest version, you shouldn’t see a lot of notifications at all.

    Thank you for your time.

    Holistic SEO is great, and I think Yoast does a pretty good job of identifying issues like missing image alt tags or hard-to-read content. However, its scoring is focused largely on the use of a specific, exact-match keyword throughout – the URL, headings, content, image alt tags, and even meta description (when Google doesn’t use the meta description for ranking at all and therefore doesn’t care if you put keywords there). I can use Yoast as I need to but beginning SEOs or non-SEOs would be led to think that using the exact match keyword they think they’re ranking a page in the meta description is a basic SEO requirement.

    In our post-Hummingbird world, Google increasingly thinks semantically, understanding the meaning of a search beyond the keywords used and as a result, ranking pages based on much more than use of an exact-match keyword. Using a specific keyword over and over, everywhere you can, may still provide some benefit for certain searches but everything I’ve heard from the SEO community, (particularly at the Internet Summit in Raleigh I attended last month), indicates that its actually better to use variations of keywords rather than an exact match one. This makes sense from a UX perspective – in many cases, searchers aren’t likely to use the exact keyword you think you’re targeting a page for and even if they do, using it throughout in headings, titles, etc… looks spammy and therefore decreases UX. You’re right that Yoast disincentivizes high keyword density, letting you know if you use the exact match keyword too often in your content, but it doesn’t take into account all the places beginner/non-SEOs are likely stuffing it into. The “keyword-focus” mentality is outdated and has been since Hummingbird. Better for SEOs to think (and their tools to score pages) based on larger, entity concepts.

    I also understand that Yoast reads the native text block of WordPress and I’m sure there are good reasons your developers chose to do that. If it’s possible, I imagine an SEO tool that could crawl the source code at the actual (or preview) URL to score it, allowing it to circumvent page builders and see the page’s actual content regardless of how the theme puts that content there, would be better.

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