26 Jan The pros and cons of SEO tool Yoast
The concept sounds too good to be true: a tool that quickly analyzes your web content, after which you change a few words to have it 100% Search Engine Optimized. From now on, your website is guaranteed to be among the first Google Search results! But wait a minute – this article will explain why this is not going to happen.
SEO tools like Yoast are a great invention and can help you in many ways to optimize your website for the search engine. However, there’s a catch; they help you. The rest is up to you.
SEO is made up of multiple layers and factors, and not every layer can be approached with a tool. Below, I will explain in what ways Yoast can offer some guidance, and in what ways it cannot.
Titles and meta-descriptions
Yoast makes it easy to add the correct titles and meta-descriptions to your website. This way, your page will be shown correctly in the search results, which will increase your chances to be found.
Sitemap & other technical background
In order to be found by Google, Google must first know you exist. The internet consists of a network of hyperlinks, which Google uses to discover new webpages.
Yoast automatically creates a sitemap for your website. This way, Google’s web crawler does not have to go through your website’s complex navigational structure – instead, the pages are all neatly delivered to Google in one go. As a result, all of your pages will actually be shown in the search results.
Suggestions for internal links and the redirect manager (paid version)
Another useful feature of Yoast is that it will suggest internal links to other relevant pages while you are writing content. This makes it easier to guide visitors to even more valuable content. It will also redirect old URLs to new ones, to prevent your visitors from ever seeing a 404 not found error.
Now, this may well be the most complicated part of SEO: the copy.
When creating effective SEO copy, it’s all about the balance between two factors: using the right keywords and creating engaging and easy-to-read copy for your readers. After all, the goal of SEO is not just to be found, but to be read as well.
It is a common misconception that Yoast’s green and red lights guide the way to better SEO copy. In actuality, Yoast falls short with regard to both factors. Below, I will explain why.
1. The right keywords
Yoast’s advice regarding SEO copy is based on the number of keywords in your text. The tool allows you to indicate one or several keywords (depending on whether you use the free or paid version), which are subsequently analyzed on how frequently they appear in the copy.
With that said, Yoast does not consider any related keywords, synonyms, different versions of a word or other alternatives. When working with SEO, it’s important to not just use the most important keywords, but to use other relevant terms as well, because all kinds of terms are used to search in Google. Yoast is not able to include any of this, which can cost you a fortune in potential customers.
2. Engaging and easy-to-read copy
Your website is not meant to be read by robots, but by humans. They don’t want to find pages and pages of keywords and hyperlinks; they are looking for a pleasant experience. Which means you are going to need engaging and easy-to-read copy.
Yoast is a tool, a computer, and as such, it cannot judge either the readability or the attractiveness of a text. It can only analyze it in terms of structure and phrase length. However, good copy is much more complicated than that. What about language, creativity, persuasive techniques, storytelling, tone of voice, brand identity and emotion? These are all things Yoast knows nothing about.
This is why Yoast only takes factor 1 into account, and encourages you to stuff your copy with keywords. This results in unnatural copy full of keywords that are anything but engaging and easy to read.
Google is much smarter and recognizes this kind of poorly written copy. You see, Google analyzes your visitors’ behavior. If your visitors tend to leave your website soon after landing there (high bounce rate), your copy is either not relevant enough, not engaging enough, or completely unreadable. On the other hand, if your visitors stay and use internal links to visit more of your pages, your website is ranked much more favourably.
Therefore, unattractive and unreadable copy is not only damaging when it comes to attracting visitors, but also for your Google ranking. In sum, preventing this is of the utmost importance.
Tools like Yoast come with pros and cons. They are very useful as a guide and to check how you can improve your site from a technical point of view. But with regard to writing SEO copy; it always comes down to a combination of technique and feeling. And for that, you will always be better off hiring a copywriter.