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Yoast is Toast?…

Analysis of Yoast SEO

Having moved one of our domains entirely to WordPress, we have recently spent some time at Evisible Towers assessing SEO plugins. Essentially our experiment was to decide whether the ubiquitous ‘Yoast’ or the old faithful ‘All in One SEO toolkit’ plugins best suited our needs.  We leaned a lot about the differences between the two, plus we made a further interesting discovery…

Some Background…

Essentially both plugins automate for WordPress some of the house keeping that goes in to optimising websites for Search Engines, from populating Meta titles to generating XML sitemaps.

The Experiment…

To assess each solution we set up a test bed of two identical WordPress installations containing exactly the same content and hosted on identical server environments, the only difference being the domain TLDs and that one carried the ‘Yoast’ plugin and the other ‘All in one SEO’.

We wanted to see the relative output of the two platforms and since they are both dedicated SEO tools, identify any thing that may effect search engine quality scores.

What we found…

The main difference between the two plugins is the depth of tag customisation, at a page or post level, Yoast offers a much greater range of tag formats as default, taking simple Meta Page Title and Description tags and converting to Twitter titles and descriptions as well as Facebook specific OG: tags.

Yoast also provides robots.txt notification at a page or post level.

We also wondered if these extra features effected page loading speed an important quality indicator for search engines… So we bench marked it…

We used popular speed test ‘Pingdom’ and found that over 20 different comparative tests, the version of the site using ‘All in One’ was consistently between 25% and 50% faster than the Yoast version.

Conclusions

While some users will find Yoast’s level of detail helpful and will likely also find useful the quality guidance that it offers, we questioned the need for some of the default settings, especially for websites that are not publishing huge amounts of content aimed at specific Social Media channels.

Although we would not go so far to say that Yoast actively disadvantages your website and further we do see the benefits of  automation of many traditionally manual tasks.  We just prefer the simplicity of ‘All in One’,  Search is a critical channel and we felt some concern that Yoast was actually bulking up scripts and headers slowing  load times so affecting quality scores and ultimately search engine rank.

Now, you could argue that the point is mute, as speed is not everything and Yoast’s very ubiquity levels the playing field, however our findings show that there is perhaps some opportunity to be found in streamlining SEO markup and breaking from the Yoast host.

 

 

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