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Is Yoast the Best SEO Plugin for WordPress?

by | Mar 28, 2019 | On-Page, SEO, Wordpress

What the best WordPress plugin for SEO is has been a hot-button issue in the community, and there doesn’t seem to be any kind of consensus from one professional to the next as far as which one reigns supreme.

If you’re a member of any SEO group on Facebook, you’ve more than likely seen polls and comment sections on this topic that provide no real conclusions no matter how opinionated and insistent some supporters may be.

Yoast SEO, All-In-One SEO Pack, SEOPress, The SEO Framework, and Rank Math are the most popular SEO plugins right now and are the plugins that we’ll be discussing today.

Although choice of SEO plugin doesn’t matter much for the large majority (what?!) of people, we’ll be walking you through some differences and options to help make your choice a bit easier.

Why Your Choice of SEO Plugin Doesn’t Matter

Your choice of SEO plugin, for most people, doesn’t matter because the free versions of each plugin offer more or less the same things.

Some useful features included by the free versions are:

  • XML sitemaps
  • the ability to edit the page’s SEO title/meta description/inner URL slug, social media information
  • a little bit of schema
  • breadcrumb management

Many of the plugins also offer some features we advise you to never use – anything that has to do with keywords and linking recommendations. Even if you are very new to SEO, you would be much better off spending an hour learning on-page SEO and doing it yourself.

By doing this, you’ll get better results and save time by not making optimizations that are irrelevant or ineffective. The concept of a free SEO plugin telling you how to best optimize your pages is awesome, but they still have a long way to come before being usable.

The majority of what is different about the top plugins for SEO lies in pricing of the paid options. Again, the paid options usually include the same things like:

  • redirects
  • e-com options
  • video options
  • some extra local options

Like mentioned previously, the large majority of people do not need these options and would be better off going with the free versions.

For the rest of this article we’ll be going over the actual differences between the plugins, the differences in paid-option pricing, and our thoughts on teach.

Yoast SEO

Yoast is currently the market leader and have been for a long time. They have over 5 million active installs and almost 25,000 five-star reviews, with it being heralded by many as the best SEO plugin for WordPress.

Is Yoast dead? Absolutely not.

We use Yoast on almost every site we have without a second thought. This is because we only need the free version and are creatures of habit. We’ve been using Yoast’s plugin for a long time, and there aren’t any reasons big enough for us to make the switch to another plugin.

There are three issues with Yoast that need to be talked about which may be dealbreakers for some.

Yoast Caused Major Problems in Early 2018

In February 2018, a Yoast update caused major ranking losses for many sites it was installed on. It took them over 2 months to fix the issue despite being talked about everywhere. They eventually fixed it with an update and haven’t had any problems since then.

For some people, this could be enough to choose an alternative to Yoast. Others, like us, have decided to stay.

We hope that Yoast has learned lessons from this experience and steps have been taken to prevent such problems in the future. Another huge issue like this would probably be enough for us to jump ship.

Yoast is Bloated

Complaining about Yoast being a bloated plugin that slows down your site is very popular with people who spend hours arguing about the best WordPress plugins in comment sections.

Page speed does slightly influence rankings as discussed in our on-page guide, but we’ve determined that the speed loss from Yoast’s bloat is negligible and does not influence rankings in any way.

This might be important to a few people, but it’s not something we’re even slightly concerned about – and most of you shouldn’t be either.

Yoast’s Paid Options are Expensive

This is the main issue with Yoast that carries any weight. With Yoast’s paid options, you will be paying a pretty high price on a per-site basis. Many of the other plugins simply blow their prices away while offering the same features.

We don’t use the paid version of any WordPress plugin, so it’s still a non-issue for us. However, if you’ve determined that you need the paid features on multiple sites, you’ll want to look at the following Yoast alternatives.

All-In-One SEO Pack

As far as popularity for WordPress SEO plugins goes, we have All-In-One SEO Pack at number two. With over 2 million active installs and 300+ five-star ratings, they are doing quite well for themselves.

Many SEOs have been using this plugin for a very long time, so All-In-One has amassed a large amount of loyal followers.

All-In-One boasts to have the only free integration for e-commerce sites out of all the other plugins on the market. Many also prefer the interface and usability of All-In-One SEO Pack over Yoast, but it’s ultimately a matter of preference.

All-In-One SEO Pack makes a good Yoast alternative because it offers the exact same things.

However, if you need the paid version (especially if you need it for more than 1 site), then you could save a lot of money with All-In-One SEO Pack over Yoast. Their prices are quite a bit lower, and they have packages for 10 sites and unlimited sites.

It’s worth mentioning that this plugin does not have the same keyword and link suggestions as Yoast. But like we mentioned before, we strongly believe you should not be using these suggestions to optimize your websites.

SEOPress

Next up, we have an excellent plugin with over 40,000 active installs and almost 300 five-star ratings. SEOPress is more of a newcomer to the market, but they are making waves and it’s easy to see why.

The biggest factor for going with SEOPress is the price for their paid version (if you need it).

For $39 you can install it on unlimited sites, which absolutely demolishes the pricing of both Yoast and All-In-One SEO Pack.

The price is rumored to be going up in the future, but even if it goes up significantly, it’s still a much better deal.

People also like SEOPress for it’s minimal, easy to use design and it’s speed. Yes, it’s supposed to be faster than Yoast. No, we can’t tell the difference.

This plugin is absolutely worth a shot – especially if you are going to be installing the premium version on many sites.

The SEO Framework

The SEO Framework plugin was designed with minimalism and developers in mind. It’s an extremely clean and fast plugin with much the same functionality as the others. It currently has over 90,000 active installs and almost 200 five-star reviews.

It’s fast, minimal design is a dream come true for many users. It just works and gets out of your way. Some users, however, have complained it’s not very intuitive. You’ll have to make that judgement for yourself.

The pricing for the premium options is more in line with All-In-One SEO than Yoast or SEOPress. It falls somewhere in the middle of the pack, making it a significantly better deal than Yoast but not quite the absolute steal that is SEOPress.

So, if you’re looking for a clean, simple, unbloated alternative to Yoast, this could be the option for you. Many people would congratulate you on finally making the switch.

Rank Math

Rank Math is the newest major SEO plugin of the bunch. It currently has over 20,000 active installs and almost 200 five-star reviews, and many SEOs are calling it the best free SEO plugin for WordPress.

So what’s all the fuss about? The fuss is that Rank Math currently gives you everything the other plugins give you in their premium versions (and sometimes more)… for free.

However, Rank Math is also the only plugin on this list that we can’t endorse right now. There are a few reasons for this:

  • There has been chatter on Facebook, Reddit, and Blackhatworld that Rank Math is spyware.
  • Because it’s so new, there are still lots of bugs and issues being reported.
  • Reports of very heavy and deceptive marketing tactics from fake reviews to paid posts.

We advise you read into all of the above issues so that you can make your own educated decision about this plugin. There is no doubting the appeal of Rank Math, and if you can look past the above issues, this could be the one for you.

Conclusion

Four out of five of these all-around SEO plugins get our endorsement, and all five could potentially be just what you’re looking for.

That being said, we firmly believe that your choice of plugin for most people will really not make a difference. None of these plugins will make you rank better, but some could be easier to use and cost less if you need the premium options (but most people don’t).

For better rankings, you need to be concentrating on the stuff that really matters: on-page SEO and solid backlinks. Never count on a plugin to do the heavy work for you.

Have any questions or comments? Leave them below!

Chris Tzitzis

Chris Tzitzis

Co-Founder

Chris Tzitzis is an SEO and a Co-Founder of SirLinksalot.co. He has extensive experience with Affiliate SEO and running an SEO Agency.

Chris Tzitzis

Chris Tzitzis

Co-Founder

Chris Tzitzis is an SEO and a Co-Founder of SirLinksalot.co. He has extensive experience with Affiliate SEO and running an SEO Agency.

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6 Comments

  1. Christian

    Great review Chris and interesting you mention the rumors about Rank Math’ tactics. Do you maybe have some links to reddit about that topic?

    Totally agree about the fact that a tool will not directly help your SEO. I’ve encounterd some prblems with Yoast. Which plugin would you recommend to test it out as a possible replacement?

    Reply
    • Chris Tzitzis

      Hey Christian –

      Here is one reddit thread about it. I encourage people to do their own research, though. There’s also been a good amount of chatter in the Facebook groups lately regarding it still being really buggy as well.

      We’ve had problems with Yoast too, but nothing major and not enough for us to make the switch. We’re just too used to it – it’s not that we really think it’s better than the rest. If I had to go with one of the others it would probably be either All-In-One SEO (large amount of active installs so they should be on top of updates) or SEO Framework (fan of it’s light-weight, minimalistic approach).

      Hope this helps!

      Reply
      • Pierre LeBaux

        Thank you for the shout out for TSF! I’m one of the devs, and we are always happy to see critical and granular reviews.

        Since you talked about the pricing of SEO plugins a fair bit, I just want to clarify a bit. We priced TSF premium sanely to make a living and we had to include 3rd. party API costs (they are not insignificant). If you look at our support forums, we spend hours answering support queries in detail, often going beyond the question. This is absolutely insane cost.

        Undercutting prices and offering unlimited licences per flat fee is an unstable business model, but it seems to work on a big chunk of users. It is a valid marketing strategy, although bit shady and may lead to bait-and-switch. And you also get what you paid for, the code quality of some cheap plugins is subpar… but users can’t evaluate that, so people who are primarily after money rather focus on bloating the plugin with features to appear better. And it works.

        Our main goal is to be straight with people and fair. We do not want to pull any shenanigans down the road. We believe our price is fair and it also reflects in code quality. A big chunk of money is going towards free plugin development itself. Last week we released The SEO Framework 4.0 making it the undisputably fastest SEO plugin on both frontend and backend. We just optimized every file, function and geared towards HTTP2 and PHP 7. We also focus on accessibility, stuff that does not really sell. We wrote more about the process on our blog if you do have time check it out.

        We now consider TSF complete (base plugin). It is the only white-hat SEO plugin strictly following search engine and WordPress guidelines. Anyway, enough with self-promotion.

        I will give you some never shared tidbit about us and our future. Since the fight for the end-user is relentless and flawed as I described above, we are going to focus on SEO professionals, like yourself. The base plugin is enough for everyday Joe, but we want to make our premium extensions desired.

        If you have a specific wish for SEO plugin, please tell me. You can reply here, or reach me everywhere as @lebaux, ideally, twitter or gmail. I am also available to talk if that is your preference. Or just use our contact form. My goal is to be partners to our users. While other companies focus on automating everything and writing chatbots, I want to be available.

        Last 2 years we found many free users who love us, but now we need to focus on money. It is not greed, it is just the very nature of existing on the planet Earth is expensive.

        Thank you again for the positive mention and I hope my comment brought some clarity!

        Have a nice day, Pierre.

        Reply
        • Chris Tzitzis

          Hey Pierre –

          Thanks for the long and thoughtful reply. Always great to see devs stand by their work and principles. Going to leave this comment here for anyone who’d like to give you their suggestions, feedback, or a piece of their mind!

          Cheers

          Reply
  2. Kiwi

    I tested Both plugins and i can see Rank math is easy to setup, make things easy to newbie, by how quickly setup his own blog.

    In the other hand what i don’t like in Yoast every time i open my dashboard there is an update for it and even and there is no a complete documentation for it.

    If you want a good setting you need to buy their service. and even i think yoast developer’s they don’t understand how google work by using the old method by focus on meta (title + description and focus keyword). and keyword ratio.

    Now we need something follow google update and advice us how we can setting a good article or page structure and gain google trust.

    This is just my view about the both plugins

    Regards

    Badr

    Reply
    • Chris Tzitzis

      Hey Badr –

      Everyone does have their personal preferences and like certain plugins more than others. However, we don’t advise that you follow the suggestions that any of these SEO plugins give you in relation to your content or page structure – Yoast, Rank Math, or any of the others. They aren’t any good, so we recommend learning on-page SEO yourself – you’ll get much better results and it’s easy.

      What settings are you talking about with the paid version of Yoast? The most important part of these plugins is the ability to quickly and easily edit your URLs/titles/metas and add XML sitemaps, which every one of these plugins does for free. 95% of people do not need any of the paid options for any of these plugins, Yoast included.

      Reply

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