As a full-time WordPress SEO blogger, it’s my duty to have Yoast SEO Premium.
But to be honest, I wouldn’t have Yoast premium it if I didn’t do WordPress SEO for a living. Yoast’s SEO analysis becomes useless when targeting multiple focus keywords, there are plenty of free redirect plugins out there, and I don’t need the content insights feature telling me what words I use most on a page. And if you need internal link suggestions, you should get to know your content better and what readers will find helpful – not have a tool do it for you.
I do like how the premium version automatically creates a redirects when I change permalinks (something most other redirect plugins don’t do) but that’s literally the only premium feature I use. Otherwise this premium plugin sits in my WordPress dashboard, barely used, collecting my $89/year while I write this review about how I don’t like Yoast premium. The irony of it all :/
I respect Yoast since their free SEO plugin has the majority of things you need, but the premium version just isn’t worth it for me. I will show you what each feature actually does so you can make a decision for yourself. Feel free to leave me a comment if you have questions.
1. Keyword Optimization
Yoast SEO Premium allows you to set multiple focus keywords (up to 5) but there is a SPECIFIC STRATEGY for doing this. When you Google both keywords, the search results should be nearly identical (same search intent). To optimize for both, your primary keyword should usually be used as an exact match while your secondary keyword should be a partial match. See the example below… the trick is to sprinkle individual words from your secondary phrase in your content (specifically in your page title, Yoast SEO title, and meta description).
Since you will only be using partial matches for your secondary keyword (and Yoast only detects exact keyword matches), many of your bullets will not be green in Yoast’s SEO analysis. This is 100% normal when targeting secondary keywords, so you can ignore them.
I rank #1 for both keywords using this strategy…
Remember to research both your primary and secondary keyword so you know they’re being searched (using Google Autocomplete) and make sure they aren’t too competitive (using Moz Bar). These are just the most basic strategies for keyword research and I suggest reading my guide on Yoast focus keywords if you want to make sure you’re selecting the best keywords.
Tips On Targeting Multiple Focus Keywords
- Secondary keywords must be researched (just like your primary)
- Secondary keywords must have same search intent as the primary keyword
- Craft your headline, SEO title, meta description to read well and include keywords
- Partial matches for secondary keywords prevents spammy keyword stuffing
- Ignore the SEO analysis for secondary keywords since partial matches are used
Conclusion: Yoast’s bullets only turn green when you use exact focus keywords (secondary keywords are usually used as partial matches) so the SEO analysis becomes useless for secondary keywords. It’s good for keeping track of them, not for helping optimize content.
2. Preview Of Your Page
Social previews show you how a page/post looks when shared on Facebook and Twitter. Yoast (the free version) allows you to upload custom images (which you will need to create) so your image looks nice when shared on these networks. As long as you’re creating these images and uploading them using Yoast, there is no need to preview the image as it will format just fine.
In the Yoast “Social” settings, enable Facebook and Twitter meta data…
When you edit a page or post, scroll down to Yoast and click the “share” option and you’ll see the default image probably doesn’t look good. You will see an option to upload a custom image for Facebook and Twitter – and Yoast will tell you the correct dimensions. Facebook is (1200 x 630px), Twitter is (1024 x 512px). Once you upload these images, it will look much, much nicer.
How it looks when I share this post on Facebook…
Conclusion: as long as you’re uploading custom images to each page/post in Yoast’s social tab (using the “share” icon in the SEO analysis) with the correct dimensions for Facebook (1200 x 628px) and Twitter (1024 x 512px), your content will format perfectly on these social networks. There is no need to preview what the content/image looks like. But if you still want to see a preview, copy that page’s URL and paste it into a Facebook/Twitter status.
3. Readability Check
Readabiliy check tells you whether your sentences/paragraphs are too short, long, whether you’re using transition words, and grades you on how “well” you’re writing. Of course you shouldn’t write super long paragraphs with typos, but a tool cannot properly grade you’re writing! I never use it, and don’t find the readability analysis or flesch reading east test helpful.
Some features of Yoast premium you can turn on under SEO > General > Features…
4. Full Control Over Your Breadcrumbs
If you need a breadcrumb manager plugin, there are plenty out there. Most allow you to do what Yoast premium does, set a primary category for your post and determine the taxonomy.
5. No Duplicate Content
Siteliner is the easiest way to find duplicate content and is usually because you’re indexing tags/categories in your Yoast settings (for the most part, I recommend not showing these in search results). Yoast does not actually check for duplicate content – it simply lets you set a canonical URL if you have 2 URLs that show the same content (which most people don’t).
6. Technical Stuff In The Background
With Yoast SEO Premium you can:
- Edit robots.txt
- Edit .htaccess files
- Clean up URLs
- Generate and update your sitemaps
You used to be able to do most of this with the free version of Yoast SEO, but now they made these a premium feature. For example, you used to be able to control which content is included in your sitemap (pages, posts, categories, tags, etc) but now Yoast makes you pay for it :/
7. Automatic Updates And Upgrades
We update the Yoast SEO plugin every 2 weeks. That way you’re sure that your website is optimized for Google’s most recent version of its algorithm.
It is completely ridiculous to think an SEO plugin will keep your website optimized when a new Google updates rolls out. For the most part, Panda/Penguin simply reward websites with high quality content/links. Yoast doesn’t analyze links to your site and (besides telling you your content is too short or has a low readability score) it also can’t say if you’re content is good. Including a video or infographic can make ALL the difference in the world when it comes to on-page SEO, yet Yoast can’t detect these. While I don’t expect any SEO plugin to detect them, it’s a bold statement to say Yoast will protect you from Google updates when clearly, this is false.
8. Internal Linking Suggestions
When you edit a post, Yoast Premium will show internal link suggestions on the right of the dashboard. I never use this and insert all my links manually – I’m not going to inject links just for the sake of SEO – I only use them when my readers need clarification info from a tutorial I’ve written. For this reason, I don’t use it. This feature also consumes CPU which can slow down your website/dashboard since every time you edit a page/post, Yoast pulls suggestions.
Conclusion: internal links are great for SEO, but don’t inject them if they’re not helpful to readers. Since Yoast will check for relevant internal links each time you edit a page/post, this will increase CPU consumption. I prefer to insert links manually as it’s more personalized.
9. Content Insights
Content Insights show you which words you used most on a page. Keyword density barely matters, and Yoast already counts how many times you used your focus keyword in the content (the keyword density part of the SEO analysis), so why would you need this? You don’t.
Conclusion: do you really need to know which words you used most on a page? Keyword density barely matters and you will probably naturally talk about your topic (keyword).
10. Redirect Manager
Yoast SEO Premium comes with a redirect manager so you can fix crawl errors (broken URLs caused by changing permalinks, deleting pages, etc). Many websites often have 100s of these.
- Verify Google Search Console with Yoast under SEO → General → Webmaster Tools
- Authenticate Yoast with Google Search Console under SEO → Search Console
- Wait a few days for the data to populate (full population often takes several weeks)
- Fix all crawl errors in the Search Console section using Yoast’s redirect manager
Redirect Types – 301 (permanent) redirect is the default, but Yoast has other options too:
Automatic Redirects – If you change permalinks, Yoast will now automatically create a redirect which is hands-down the best feature of the redirect manager. This does not work if you launch a new website with new permalinks, just when you change them in your dashboard.
Import Existing Redirects – if you already setup redirects through the Redirection Plugin or .htaccess, you can import these into Yoast. For the Redirection Plugin you will see an option under SEO → Tools → Import/Export → Import From Other SEO Plugins. then select the “Important From Redirection” (see below). For .htaccess follow Yoast’s redirect instructions.
Yoast Redirect Manager vs. Free Redirect Plugin
If you’re just looking for a simple way to fix crawl errors, you can use the free Quick Page/Post Redirect Plugin. Yoast only allows you to create 1 redirect at a time while this free plugin allows 3. This can save you save a lot of time especially if you have hundreds of crawl errors.
Conclusion: there are plenty of free redirect plugins out there, like the Quick Page/Post Redirect plugin that is easy and does a fantastic job. The only major benefit of Yoast’s, is that if you change a page’s permalink, they will automatically create a redirect to the new URL. But if you need to setup a lot of them, Yoast’s redirect manager only lets you do 1 at a time.
Redirect Manager Pros
- Allows you to import redirects from Redirection Plugin and .htaccess
- Comes with multiple redirect options: 301 (default), 302, 307, 410, 451
Redirect Manager Cons
- Existing redirects from other plugins must be added manually
- You can only setup 1 redirect at a time
- If you have to import redirects manually, you get a notification every time you add a redirect (gets annoying)
11. Focus Keyword Export
Gives you an extra option in the Yoast settings (Tools > Import and Export) to export all your focus keywords, each page’s SEO/readability score, and some additional SEO information.
Conclusion: if you’re doing an SEO audit and want to review your entire keyword list, this can save time. Otherwise you can simply go through each page and review it’s keyword(s).
12. 1 Year Free Access To 24/7 Support
Conclusion: I admit to never having used Yoast’s premium support, but have heard mixed opinions and that many times, they just refer you to tutorials they’ve written. They won’t configure the plugin for you or review your website – these are all paid service they offer. But if you need a tutorial that breaks Yoast down into the 3 major steps (configuring the settings, researching focus keywords, content optimization), I have a solid tutorial for that.
Conclusion – You Might Want It, But Don’t Need It
Installing any SEO plugin won’t automatically improve your SEO – this is the same with Yoast SEO premium. Yes, it gives you extra features, but will you actually use them??? Besides their redirect manager (which I can easily use another redirect plugin for), I don’t. Most people do not get the fundamentals of SEO down, so instead of thinking about extra features, focus on what actually matters. Below are the 3 major steps to properly using Yoast’s FREE SEO plugin.
- Configure Yoast’s settings
- Research keywords
- Content optimization
My Yoast tutorial walks you through all this, and you don’t need the premium version to do it. It has 500+ comments and has been used by 150,000+ people – I would definitely read it.
Do you agree? Let me know if you have questions 🙂