SEO can feel confusing and daunting at times. There are many things to remember when creating content to check all the boxes for robust on-page optimization.
Making the smallest error or forgetting to do something simple like adding an alt tag to an image, including LSI variations of your keywords, can cost you valuable opportunities to rank higher in the google search results.
So, what’s the best way to ensure you’re publishing content with the best possible SEO?
Of the different tools that come to mind, one of the most important of the universally used SEO tools is a WordPress plugin called Yoast SEO.
What Is The Yoast SEO Plugin?
To cover the basics for anyone new to using WordPress and SEO. A plugin is a piece of software that you can download to the backend of your site.
There are literally thousands upon thousands of different plugins already in existence. Each plugin is capable of performing multiple tasks and provides you with some added functionality.
Like Yoast SEO, some are used by almost every webmaster as they’re crucial to a website’s performance.
Yoast is essentially an all-in-one SEO helper. It adds a number of boxes and helpful sections to the backend of your site to ensure you’re following SEO best practices.
Yoast SEO Features and Benefits
The Yoast SEO plugin has a bunch of features that will not only improve your SEO; most will save you time and make your life easier.
I’ll point out that there are free and paid versions. In this article, I’m covering all the features of the free version, which, in my opinion, is sufficient for most users.
Here are some of the main benefits of using this plugin:
Keyword Optimization – You enter the “focus keywords” you want to optimize your blog post for, and the plugin populates a list of criteria you need to meet.
- The recommended number of times you should use the keyword
- Where you should place the keyword in your content
- If your images have alt tags
- How to optimize your titles and meta descriptions
- And much more
Readability Checker – Yoast evaluates the readability of your content for search engines. Looking at its Flesch score, the tone you’ve used, sentence length, and more.
Upload Sitemaps – If you need to upload an XML sitemap, search engines have the latest and most complete map of your site; you can do this with just a few clicks.
Technical Features – There are loads of technical features that Yoast makes easily accessible. You can opt to block search engines from crawling a page, synchronize publishing across your social media accounts, block snippets, and loads more.
These are the best features, but it’s still just scratching the surface. I recommend installing Yoast and taking a deeper dive into everything it has to offer.
Other SEO Tools to Consider
Yoast may be the best SEO plugin for WordPress users, but it has its limitations.
There are a number of advanced SEO techniques and tactics you’ll want to apply to your site that Yoast just doesn’t cover.
For a more complete on-page and off-page SEO strategy, I recommend looking into the following tools too:
SEMRush is an all-in-one SEO suite of tools covering all of the external SEO elements that Yoast does not.
It has some useful and powerful tools, such as:
Keyword Explorer – While you need to tell Yoast what your keywords are, the important thing is finding valuable keywords to improve your ranking.
SEMRush will help you find hundreds, even thousands of relevant keywords. Additionally, it also applies a score to indicate how difficult the keywords will be able to rank.
Audit Your Site (and your competitors) – SEMRush has several tools to audit how well any site performs. It highlights areas where you can improve your SEO, errors that need fixing, and more.
Backlink Analysis – Tools like SEMRush are the only way to see a competitor’s backlink profile. This process is vital when analyzing the strength of keywords, domains, and an essential factor when considering how competitive a SERP is.
Again, these few tools barely touch on the capabilities of SEMRush. It’s one of, if not the most complete SEO tools on the market.
Ahrefs is the main competitor to SEMRush. It does almost everything SEMRush does, so I will not go over all the individual features and benefits.
Instead, I will highlight some of the differences between the two tools, which will help if you’re trying to decide which is best for you:
- Ahrefs is generally more user-friendly. It has a cleaner interface, the reporting options are better, and you can glance at more critical data.
- It’s more backlink-focused, which is one of the most crucial SEO ranking factors.
- You get better value on the basic plans. Ahrefs unlock more of their features than SEMRush at a lower price point.
- They have a very active and popular YouTube channel demonstrating how to use their tools advanced features and providing SEO tips.