What is Yoast SEO?

Are you one of many researching ways to boost your SEO who eventually asks yourself “What is Yoast SEO?” You certainly aren’t alone. Yoast SEO has been around in different forms since 2010. Its basic function is to provide WordPress writers instant SEO feedback to help their sites appear higher in results on search engines. Much like how a life jacket helps a swimmer rise to the surface of the water, so too does Yoast SEO help a business rise to the top of the search results. This article is intended to help you know more about the company Yoast, understand the basics of the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin, and overall help you answer the question, “what is Yoast SEO?”

Who is Yoast?

Yoast is a small company, consisting of roughly 140 employees, based in Wijchen, Netherlands. Of the 140 employees, about 100 work at the location in the Netherlands while the other 40 or so are based all around the world. The company was founded in 2010 by Joost de Valk who was its only employee to start. In 2019, Marieke van de Rakt took over as CEO. Their reach and growth are impressive for a young company as their software is currently active on nearly 12 million web pages.

Aside from the general plugin, you might ask, what is Yoast SEO’s function? The company offers several other products and services for SEO customers. A variety of plugins can be purchased through their website, including:

Yoast SEO

This is the bread and butter for Yoast’s site. This plugin optimizes your content and SEO as you write and gives content suggestions in real time. There is a free version of this plugin that includes ads, but the premium version provides loads of additional features, such as previews and link suggestions as you write, as well as full access to Yoast Academy.

Video SEO 

This plugin is crafted to assist those who wish to see their videos higher in search results. Video SEO for WordPress also includes features like faster loading times for your videos, custom thumbnails for video results, responsive sizing, and support for major video platforms. If you are looking to make your video go viral, this plugin will surely be invaluable.

Local SEO

For small businesses that rely on local foot traffic in their stores, this is your type of plugin. The plugin does far more than bring your business to the top of local search results. It improves your contact page while also adding in an embedded Google map so people can get directions to your business instantly. If you own more than one location, the plugin also optimizes the SEO for the other locations as well. 

News SEO

If you run a news page and are looking to get your articles higher in the search results, this plugin can help you. It offers an XML News Sitemap that alerts Google to any new articles on your site ASAP. Other more complex XML News sitemap options, such as stock tickers, are optimized as well. One important thing to note, however, is that this plugin won’t submit your articles to Google News. You will have to do that on your own as long as your website is approved as a Google News site.

Yoast WooCommerce SEO

This is a plugin that is meant to maximize traffic to online stores and retailers. Optimization assistance is offered through the plugin. Upgraded social media cards (to be used on sites like Pinterest) and e-commerce SEO training is also available. Your online store is sure to see far heavier virtual foot traffic with the help of this plugin.

Does Yoast SEO Actually Work?

Yoast SEO currently has over 11 million downloads and is running on nearly 12 million sites, making it the top dog in the SEO plugin industry. But the question needs to be asked, does Yoast SEO actually work? The answer to that question is both simple and complex: it depends. 

The plugin has a 5-star rating on WordPress with over 26,000 votes total. The fact that the plugin has such a high rating on the very website it is designed for should not be overlooked. Yet, a high rating is not the only determining factor in deciding whether it is the right choice for you and your site. The words of thousands of customers speak to at least one thing, that the plugin has improved their WordPress SEO.

But is that what you would consider “working”? Overall, you need to decide what you need, expect, and want from an SEO plugin before it can be determined if this plugin really “works.” Once that is decided, it is best to research and compare other SEO plugins and see if they align with your needs. This may require some knowledge of SEO performance. While deciding whether Yoast SEO will work for you, there are some important factors to consider when choosing an SEO plugin:

Is the Plugin Popular?

Again, the support of crowds does not necessarily entail that something is good or properly functioning. However, if a lot of people have a good experience with a product, chances are you will have a good experience as well. If a plugin is used by many and those users are satisfied with it, the plugin likely does what most people expect it to do. In the case of Yoast’s plugin, it is considered by many to be one of the most popular plugins in the industry.

Is the Plugin Vetted by WordPress?

The support of a crowd can be backed up by the support of a popular and trustworthy business such as WordPress. If a plugin can be found on WordPress’s repository, it has gone through a critical examination and has been deemed worthy of the WordPress stamp of approval. What this means is that the plugin is likely safe and probably does its job. While this isn’t a system without a few gaps, it can be a good indicator if the plugin is worthy of your time. 

Does the Support Page Show the Plugin as Reliable?

The WordPress Repository has a support page for each plugin available. Within this support page is a list of issues that other users are running into with the plugin. This gives you a chance to see how many issues the plugin runs into and how often they come up. You can use this when weighing options for your plugins.

Is the Plugin Updated Regularly?

Seeing the date of the latest update will help you determine if a plugin has been abandoned or if it is still thriving. Obviously, any kind of program without regular updates should be avoided as numerous problems could arise. In addition, regular updates means the plugin support team is likely quick and helpful if you run into other issues.

Does the Plugin Overlap with an Existing Plugin?

This will only become a problem if you are using other plugins that accomplish an SEO purpose. The result likely won’t be catastrophic if two plugins overlap, but it can slow down your site’s server. Too many plugins can be harmful, which is why they should be used in moderation.

Understanding the Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin

While the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin is complex and intricate, a brief discussion of the basics is not impossible. There are four basic functions that the free version sets out to accomplish:

  • SEO Analysis: Using a system of red, orange, and green circles, the plugin rates your page’s SEO. It will give feedback on factors such as keyphrase density, use of links, and more. With this, you will be able to maximize your page’s SEO.
  • Readability Analysis: Using the same system of colored circles, the plugin offers suggestions on the actual readability of your page. Factors like sentence length, paragraph length, and use of passive voice all contribute to the readability of your site. This function will optimize your readability and keep people from closing out of your page early.
  • Google Preview Assistance: This function shows what your listings look like when they appear as a search result in Google. This gives you the chance to change anything before you actually post.
  • Schema Blocks Innovation: This allows your FAQ content to be shown in the search results and also adds a breadcrumb block for the benefit of your site users.

Using Yoast to Improve Your Website’s SEO

Yoast SEO could potentially be the difference between being at or near the top of search engine results, or not appearing at all. Although it is a small and somewhat young company, some might say it is worth a test drive. Still, it is important to do the necessary research before purchasing the premium version. The Yoast SEO plugin can be a great tool in your SEO toolbox. For other SEO questions, reach out to our team at SEO Design Chicago for a free consultation.


  • What is Yoast SEO?
  • How do I know if Yoast’s plugin is right for me?
  • What does the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin do?
  • Why should I use Yoast SEO?
  • What products does Yoast offer?

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