Well, it just may be!
Laura Huer and I did some research to investigate Yoast and share with you our thoughts on what we think is great & not so hot.
Eileen: Without a doubt, there is a lot in this dashboard.
Laura: Not just the dashboard but in the general settings there is a host of options that in itself can bring on some great wows or HOWs? I do believe there is a learning curve here but once learned it will prove well worth the time and effort. Taxonomies, Ngg tag, a little help?
- Titles – You can set the default Page and Posts titles here. While this is a good idea in theory, the benefit to each new page and post is to give the search engines (and your readers) fresh content. Search engines won't know this page|post is new if you don't give it a custom title. My suggestion is to not worry about this section.
- From within the dashboard you may enable XML Sitemaps, which saves you from adding another plugin. This feature will also auto-XML sitemap submission. In other words, you don't "need" to submit a regular sitemap to Google or Bing because every time you change your content, add page/post, etc. it automatically pings Google and Yahoo with a new XML sitemap.
- You can customize your Permalink Settings with more detail than from within your WordPress Dashboard Settings. Permalink structures can be tricky, I advise using this section with caution unless you really understand what you are digging into.
- Webmaster tools – I think this is a great feature, which some WordPress themes already have built in; however what you do is grab the site verification code from Google & Bing's Webmaster Tools, or Yahoo Site Explorer, paste them into the designated area and click save. This is easy to understand and execute!
- Indexation – This isn't for everyone, yet I can see the value. There are explanations beneath each option, but I don't know if someone new to SEO will fully understand what will benefit them and what won't. For example, "Prevent the search engines from indexing (not from crawling and following the links) your taxonomies & archives subpages." My bet is that the majority of WordPress users don't know what taxonomies are and if this applies to them. However, if you are concerned with grouping mechanisms, then Yoast has got your back big time!
- Content of your RSS feed is a cool option. It is used to "automatically add content to your RSS, more specifically, it's meant to add links back to your blog and your blog posts, so dumb scrapers will automatically add these links too, helping search engines identify you as the original source of the content." I doubt "dumb" will last forever, but why not give it a go while you can!
- Import & Export – I LOVE this. If you decide that you want to move to Yoast from either HeadSpce2 or All-In-One SEO, it can be done with a couple of clicks, same thing for exporting!
- Edit Files – if your skill set doesn't include knowledge of .htaccess, skip this page.
Once you are inside of a page or post the real fun can begin.
WordPress Post Optimization
Eileen: I think this is very helpful, yet I wish I could see actual data supporting the keyword selections. I still had to pop over to Google Keyword Tools to make sure what was suggested made sense for my article.
Laura: I too found this very helpful. I seem to jump from idea to idea and just having this focus keyword tool really helps focus the whole post .
Eileen: I loved this, great reminder to get your keyword in the title!
Laura: First try at this I could not believe I forgot to put my keyword in the title!
Eileen: Great. The counter beneath the text box helps keep you focused and the grading system is a painfully obvious reminder as to weather or not you are hitting your goals.
Laura: Adding Yoast to a post certainly helps but it does of course adds a bit of time to creating your article.
Eileen: This part can be a bit of a bummer, after writing a post that you may feel is terrific work, this can feel like a slap in the face; however, what is the point of putting a first draft effort out for the world to see, right?
In order to give these features a realistic test I took a blog post that I had posted on my own website, which ranked of 58 for "Facebook SSL requirement". I modified the title, description, and text based on the results from Yoast's suggestions. Ten days later I ranked 26 for that same phrase, so thumbs up from me!
Laura: A toast to Yoast. A plugin that really makes sense of hands-on SEO. It has a lttile bit of a learning curve and I need to learn a bit more before feeling real comfortable using this robust plugin but once I do I believe it will be beneficial.
(* Laura Heur is the owner of Green Castle Web Design, a WordPress based web design company with a focus on SEO)
How To Setup The Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin