The Benefits of the Plugin’s Free Version Are Pretty Awesome
We prefer to hardcode the majority of website functionality to mitigate cybersecurity risk, give our developers more control and, honestly, have fewer things to routinely update.
But there’s one free plugin that we always pull out of the bag when polishing off a site: Yoast SEO. And let us be the first to tell you: When it comes to the backend of a website, this little section gets more questions from clients than any other.
Why? Because Yoast can do a lot – even though it really shouldn’t. Let’s dig deeper.
What Does Yoast Do & Why Should You Use It?
Meta title and description optimization and customization. This is the primary function of this plugin. The little listings that show up when you search for something on Google? That’s what you can control when you download and unpack this plugin. Not only that, but you can get a preview of what your listing will look like on both mobile and desktop.
Yoast for Social Media Titles & Descriptions
When you navigate to the Yoast section on an individual page, category, blog post or custom post type, you’ll see a few tabs. “SEO” will be highlighted by default. Click into the Social tab. This section of the plugin allows you to customize the title and description of the article or page for Facebook and Twitter, along with a desired image.
Some folks like more control over their content and messaging, especially when it comes to their social media posts. In some cases, default meta titles and descriptions look clunky and automatically-pulled images aren’t pretty. Yoast is the solution for all of this!
Get the look you’re goin’ for.
The Limitations Of Yoast As An “SEO Page Grader” & Everything You Can Ignore
We cannot stress this enough: Keep it simple. Ignore everything else about the free version of this plugin. Ignore the notifications you get from it, outside of routine updates. There’s a whole tab dedicated to readability – ignore it. Why? Because SEO cannot be automated, nor should it be. Some of the controls within the plugin are too automatic, including word count thresholds and target keywords per page.
Speaking of which: Don’t “Add related keywords.” This will give you a ton of notifications, red warnings and anxiety that you really don’t need right now. The SEO analysis section? Don’t. Look. At. It!
The only analysis you should look at is the little orange and green bars at the bottom of the SEO title and meta description fields. Get them to green and don’t look back! (Or you’ll turn into a pillar of who knows what spice.)
How To Install the Yoast SEO Plugin On WordPress:
- Login to the backend of your WordPress site (www.YourURL.com/wp-admin).
- Head over to the Add Plugin section (www.YourURL.com/wp-admin/plugin-install.php).
- Type “Yoast” in the Search bar & hit enter.
- Click “Install Now” on Yoast SEO (by Team Yoast) and let it download.
- Click “Activate” (the plugin should automatically “unpack”).
- BOOM – you’re done! Start optimizing that meta information.
Should You Get Yoast Premium?
We don’t like to rely on plugins for functionality. But we sure do like Yoast. And if you like how easy it makes meta optimization, we fully endorse purchasing the premium version just to support a really great team. You really don’t need to buy the full version – everything you need is already included – but you should still support the developers if possible.
And there are some tasks that are made easier by the premium version of this plugin, such as 301 redirects, finding pages that aren’t linked anywhere else on the site and internal link recommendations. Again, if you’re fairly experienced with SEO, you won’t need this. Even if you have an entry-level knowledge of SEO, you won’t need this.
Is the Yoast Plugin Harmful?
No. This plugin is updated quite often to remain compliant and fully cooperative with themes, plugins and other updates. It’s a small plugin, so it shouldn’t have much impact on site speed. The thing has a 5-star rating from WordPress based on 27,162+ ratings. It ain’t hurtin’ nobody.
Our Conclusion: Download The Yoast Plugin. It’s a Good One.
As web design pros and digital marketing experts, we strongly endorse Yoast for its basic functionality. You should use it for your WordPress site! But remember to keep it as simple as possible. Have additional questions about how you can get the most of Yoast?