The Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress is one of the very first plugins I install on any new site I am setting up, whether it is for me or a client. Yoast SEO gives me complete control over many aspects of my on-site search engine optimization. However, with the release of my new SEO 2016 book I’ve been getting more and more questions about the plugin. You see, in the book (and on my site and in my courses), I suggest that you do not create keyword-focused content. My approach (since around 2005) has been to create theme-focused content, which mimics the kind of content that expert authors create naturally (you can read my “How I Write a Top Quality Article” post if you want to read more about that). The problem is that some people seem to equate the Yoast SEO plugin with keyword focused SEO, and that is why I am getting asked to explain this apparent conflict.
It’s true. The Yoast SEO plugin can help you optimize your page for a keyword phrase. But it’s also true that in 2015, optimizing this way will cause your page problems – low rankings, no rankings or penalties.
However, Yoast SEO offers so much more. If you ignore the keyword-focused optimization options within the plugin, there are plenty of other features that make this a must have SEO tool for WordPress.
I recorded a video to explain all of this, and show you what I use and what I don’t in Yoast SEO for WordPress.
It's a shame in many ways that to get to some really useful optimization tips (like advice on title length, or occurrence of h2 headers) that you have to enter a focus keyword. Entering a focus keyword sends the webmaster the wrong signals about modern SEO. It would be much better if Yoast would provide the optimization tips that were nothing to do with keywords, even to those who do not enter a focus keyword.
In the image below, you can see the Page Analysis that is only available AFTER entering a focus keyword. The ones I've highlighted are actually good SEO tips. It's a shame the plugin didn't give you these anyway.
The next screenshot shows the advice that is related to a specific keyword you are optimizing for, and these the items you need to be more careful about:
Are you using these keyword-focused tools in Yoast SEO? I’d love to see some examples of your rankings if you are.
Comments, ideas and suggestions in the comments section below please.