Yoast SEO Premium Review – Worth $99/yr? (I Would Use Rank Math Instead)

Yoast seo premium review

I was using Yoast SEO Premium years ago (just because I write SEO tutorials). Otherwise, I wouldn’t use it.

If you want an honest Yoast SEO Premium review, it’s not worth $99/year because nothing it does directly improves SEO. The SEO analysis is useless for targeting multiple focus keywords, there are free redirect plugins, and content insights is a poor attempt to measure keyword density which barely matters. Internal linking suggestions are only for people who don’t know their content and social previews just show how your content looks on Facebook + Twitter. Plus, everything in Yoast Premium can be done with Rank Math which is free and less bloated.

I do like how the premium version automatically creates a redirects when I change permalinks (something most other redirect plugins don’t do) but that’s literally the only premium feature I use. Otherwise this premium plugin sits in my WordPress dashboard, barely used, collecting my $99/year while I write this review about how I don’t like Yoast premium. The irony of it all :/



1. Keyword Optimization

Yoast SEO Premium allows you to set multiple focus keywords (up to 5) but there is a SPECIFIC STRATEGY for doing this. When you Google both keywords, the search results should be nearly identical (same search intent). To optimize for both, your primary keyword should usually be used as an exact match while your secondary keyword should be a partial match. See the example below… the trick is to sprinkle individual words from your secondary phrase in your content (specifically in your page title, Yoast SEO title, and meta description).

Since you will only be using partial matches for your secondary keyword (and Yoast only detects exact keyword matches), many of your bullets will not be green in Yoast’s SEO analysis. This is 100% normal when targeting secondary keywords, so you can ignore them.


I rank #1 for both keywords using this strategy…



Remember to research both your primary and secondary keyword so you know they’re being searched (using Google Autocomplete) and make sure they aren’t too competitive (using Moz Bar). These are just the most basic strategies for keyword research and I suggest reading my guide on Yoast focus keywords if you want to make sure you’re selecting the best keywords.

Secondary keywords

Secondary focus keyword

Tips On Targeting Multiple Focus Keywords

  • Secondary keywords must be researched (just like your primary)
  • Secondary keywords must have same search intent as the primary keyword
  • Craft your headline, SEO title, meta description to read well and include keywords
  • Partial matches for secondary keywords prevents spammy keyword stuffing
  • Ignore the SEO analysis for secondary keywords since partial matches are used

Conclusion: Yoast’s bullets only turn green when you use exact focus keywords (secondary keywords are usually used as partial matches) so the SEO analysis becomes useless for secondary keywords. It’s good for keeping track of them, not for helping optimize content.


2. Preview Of Your Page

Social previews show you how a page/post looks when shared on Facebook and Twitter. Yoast (the free version) allows you to upload custom images (which you will need to create) so your image looks nice when shared on these networks. As long as you’re creating these images and uploading them using Yoast, there is no need to preview the image as it will format just fine.

In the Yoast “Social” settings, enable Facebook and Twitter meta data…



When you edit a page or post, scroll down to Yoast and click the “share” option and you’ll see the default image probably doesn’t look good. You will see an option to upload a custom image for Facebook and Twitter – and Yoast will tell you the correct dimensions. Facebook is (1200 x 630px), Twitter is (1024 x 512px). Once you upload these images, it will look much, much nicer.


How it looks when I share this post on Facebook…


Conclusion: as long as you’re uploading custom images to each page/post in Yoast’s social tab (using the “share” icon in the SEO analysis) with the correct dimensions for Facebook (1200 x 630px) and Twitter (1024 x 512px), your content will format perfectly on these social networks. There is no need to preview what the content/image looks like. But if you still want to see a preview, copy that page’s URL and paste it into a Facebook/Twitter status.


3. Readability Check

Readabiliy check tells you whether your sentences/paragraphs are too short, long, whether you’re using transition words, and grades you on how “well” you’re writing. Of course you shouldn’t write super long paragraphs with typos, but a tool cannot properly grade you’re writing! I never use it, and don’t find the readability analysis or flesch reading east test helpful.


Some features of Yoast premium you can turn on under SEO > General > Features…



4. Full Control Over Your Breadcrumbs

If you need a breadcrumb manager plugin, there are plenty out there. Most allow you to do what Yoast premium does, set a primary category for your post and determine the taxonomy.


5. No Duplicate Content

Siteliner is the easiest way to find duplicate content and is usually because you’re indexing tags/categories in your Yoast settings (for the most part, I recommend not showing these in search results). Yoast does not actually check for duplicate content – it simply lets you set a canonical URL if you have 2 URLs that show the same content (which most people don’t).



6. Technical Stuff In The Background

With Yoast SEO Premium you can:

  • Edit robots.txt
  • Edit .htaccess files
  • Clean up URLs
  • Generate and update your sitemaps

You used to be able to do most of this with the free version of Yoast SEO, but now they made these a premium feature. For example, you used to be able to control which content is included in your sitemap (pages, posts, categories, tags, etc) but now Yoast makes you pay for it :/


7. Automatic Updates And Upgrades

Yoast says

We update the Yoast SEO plugin every 2 weeks. That way you’re sure that your website is optimized for Google’s most recent version of its algorithm.

It is completely ridiculous to think an SEO plugin will keep your website optimized when a new Google updates rolls out. For the most part, Panda/Penguin simply reward websites with high quality content/links. Yoast doesn’t analyze links to your site and (besides telling you your content is too short or has a low readability score) it also can’t say if you’re content is good. Including a video or infographic can make ALL the difference in the world when it comes to on-page SEO, yet Yoast can’t detect these. While I don’t expect any SEO plugin to detect them, it’s a bold statement to say Yoast will protect you from Google updates when clearly, this is false.


8. Internal Linking Suggestions

When you edit a post, Yoast Premium will show internal link suggestions on the right of the dashboard. I never use this and insert all my links manually – I’m not going to inject links just for the sake of SEO – I only use them when my readers need clarification info from a tutorial I’ve written. For this reason, I don’t use it. This feature also consumes CPU which can slow down your website/dashboard since every time you edit a page/post, Yoast pulls suggestions.


Conclusion: internal links are great for SEO, but don’t inject them if they’re not helpful to readers. Since Yoast will check for relevant internal links each time you edit a page/post, this will increase CPU consumption. I prefer to insert links manually as it’s more personalized.


9. Content Insights

Content Insights show you which words you used most on a page. Keyword density barely matters, and Yoast already counts how many times you used your focus keyword in the content (the keyword density part of the SEO analysis), so why would you need this? You don’t.


Conclusion: do you really need to know which words you used most on a page? Keyword density barely matters and you will probably naturally talk about your topic (keyword).


10. Redirect Manager

Yoast SEO Premium comes with a redirect manager so you can fix crawl errors (broken URLs caused by changing permalinks, deleting pages, etc). Many websites often have 100s of these.


  1. Verify Google Search Console with Yoast under SEO → General → Webmaster Tools
  2. Authenticate Yoast with Google Search Console under SEO → Search Console
  3. Wait a few days for the data to populate (full population often takes several weeks)
  4. Fix all crawl errors in the Search Console section using Yoast’s redirect manager



Redirect Types – 301 (permanent) redirect is the default, but Yoast has other options too:


Automatic Redirects – If you change permalinks, Yoast will now automatically create a redirect which is hands-down the best feature of the redirect manager. This does not work if you launch a new website with new permalinks, just when you change them in your dashboard.


Import Existing Redirects – if you already setup redirects through the Redirection Plugin or .htaccess, you can import these into Yoast. For the Redirection Plugin you will see an option under SEO → Tools → Import/Export → Import From Other SEO Plugins. then select the “Important From Redirection” (see below). For .htaccess follow Yoast’s redirect instructions.


Yoast Redirect Manager vs. Free Redirect Plugin
If you’re just looking for a simple way to fix crawl errors, you can use the free Quick Page/Post Redirect Plugin. Yoast only allows you to create 1 redirect at a time while this free plugin allows 3. This can save you save a lot of time especially if you have hundreds of crawl errors.

301 redirect example

Conclusion: there are plenty of free redirect plugins out there, like the Quick Page/Post Redirect plugin that is easy and does a fantastic job. The only major benefit of Yoast’s, is that if you change a page’s permalink, they will automatically create a redirect to the new URL. But if you need to setup a lot of them, Yoast’s redirect manager only lets you do 1 at a time.

Redirect Manager Pros

  • Allows you to import redirects from Redirection Plugin and .htaccess
  • Comes with multiple redirect options: 301 (default), 302, 307, 410, 451

Redirect Manager Cons

  • Existing redirects from other plugins must be added manually
  • You can only setup 1 redirect at a time
  • If you have to import redirects manually, you get a notification every time you add a redirect (gets annoying)


11. Focus Keyword Export

Gives you an extra option in the Yoast settings (Tools > Import and Export) to export all your focus keywords, each page’s SEO/readability score, and some additional SEO information.


Conclusion: if you’re doing an SEO audit and want to review your entire keyword list, this can save time. Otherwise you can simply go through each page and review it’s keyword(s).


12. 1 Year Free Access To 24/7 Support

Conclusion: I admit to never having used Yoast’s premium support, but have heard mixed opinions and that many times, they just refer you to tutorials they’ve written. They won’t configure the plugin for you or review your website – these are all paid services they offer. But if you need a tutorial that breaks Yoast down into the 3 major steps (configuring the settings, researching focus keywords, content optimization), I have a solid tutorial for that.


Conclusion – You Might Want It, But Don’t Need It

Installing any SEO plugin won’t automatically improve your SEO – this is the same with Yoast SEO premium. Yes, it gives you extra features, but will you actually use them??? Besides their redirect manager (which I can easily use another redirect plugin for), I don’t. Most people do not get the fundamentals of SEO down, so instead of thinking about extra features, focus on what actually matters. Below are the 3 major steps to properly using Yoast’s FREE SEO plugin.

  1. Configure Yoast’s settings
  2. Research keywords
  3. Content optimization

My Yoast tutorial walks you through all this, and you don’t need the premium version to do it. It has 500+ comments and has been used by 150,000+ people – I would definitely read it.


23. Frequently Asked Questions

Is Yoast SEO Premium worth it?

No, it is not. The multiple focus keywords feature is pretty much useless, redirects can be setup using free redirect plugins, and nothing in Yoast Premium directly improves your SEO. It's not worth $99/year. I only have it because I write SEO reviews/guides for a living.

Is the multiple keywords options helpful?

No, it's not helpful because secondary keywords are usually used as partial matches and Yoast won't detect these, so the SEO analysis becomes useless for secondary keywords.

Can redirects be setup using a free plugin?

They sure can. Redirection or Quick Page/Post Redirect are two (free) plugins that can be used to setup redirects, or use .htaccess so you don't even need a plugin.

Does Yoast Premium keep your site updated for Google's algorithm?

Not in the least. It's crazy they make this claim because Yoast has nothing to do with the quality of your links, thin content, or even selecting good keywords. There are many factors in Google's updates and to think Yoast somehow protects you from these updates is entirely untrue. This claim by Yoast is false.

Is the internal linking feature useful?

I have Yoast Premium (only because I write reviews for a living) and don't use their internal linking feature. As long as you remember to add internal links to your content (which you should anyway), counting internal links on every single post is a little obsessive.

Is Yoast's premium support good?

They not will review, login, or help you optimize your site. They will mainly just refer you to tutorials they have written. I wouldn't buy Yoast Premium for that, or at all.

Do you agree? Let me know if you have questions :)


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  1. In 2020 I would have disagreed with this article, because I did find yoast to be more helpful than rank math or any of the others. However, today I completely concur. Yoast has gone down the crapper. The plug-in glitches A LOT and they offer absolutely horrible customer service. Rank math it is!

    • Yeah, since they got bought out by EIG the plugin has been going downhill years ago. Happens to a lot of plugins/hosts, etc. SEO Framework is also solid.

  2. Great Review!
    I was almost fooled into thinking I needed this tool.
    Thank you for the Indepth review and the suggestions for other tools.

    • Yeah, Yoast got bought out by Newfold Digital who is known for running companies into the ground. Rank Math and SEO Framework seem to be the most popular alternatives.

  3. I’m new to all of this and building my first affiliate marketing site. Without having the background most possess in SEO, Yoast has given me some insights. That said I found your article intriguing. Has does someone like me get it right the first time? Do you have any specific information I can review?

    Thank you.

    • First thing I would do is not listen to Yoast. Their recommendations are kind of “meh” and they also got bought out by Newfold Digitial (same company who owns Bluehost, HostGator, etc) who is known for running companies into the ground.

      Rank Math is much better especially the Pro version which comes with multiple schema types among other features. It’s a little dated and I need to revise it, but you can read my WordPress SEO guide which is still very relevant: https://onlinemediamasters.com/wordpress-seo/

      TLDR: configure Rank Math, use tools like Google Autocomplete or Keywords Everywhere to find long-tail keywords, target them with long form content (ideally with video or other forms of multimedia while making it super valuable and using Rank Math as a general guide), add a table of contents, focus on SEO titles/schema to increase click-through rates, etc. But most importantly, once you get the technical stuff down, focus pretty much all your time on content.

  4. Hey Tom,

    I really liked that you have directly told the users what the fact is at the beginning of the article. Your articles provide the proper and right information and this is really a big thing today.

  5. This is an awesome post! I agree with an older comment about the “fear factor” from Yoast trying to scare you into buying it. I try to use all of the features of the Free Yoast plan that seems to work well or at least gives me a little comfort thinking that it works ok. I am racking my brain on how to get better on-page SEO for a client of mine. If you have any other suggestions of free or low cost for SEO, I sure would appreciate it.

    • SEO is pretty much directly correlated with the time you invest in content, especially helpful content that gets links.

      But I think 2 less obvious suggestions are to take advantage of multiple schema types (review, software application, HowTo, video…or whatever schema is applicable to your site) and use a table of contents if you’re writing long posts.

  6. So happy I came across this review. I have the free toast and find that weird enough already! I hate the way it suggests to improve my readability etc and thought it was making crazy conservative comments. Also it keeps on saying my focus word isn’t in the title or the first paragraph when it is, mostly. So my stones putting it in the title ruins the quirky title I have so now at last I feel free to be me. I fell vindicated!

  7. Good post, I think that Yoast is a tool that plays more on peoples insecurities and lack of understanding that without it they will not do well on Google or anywhere else. Some of it is useful but overall I would question the true value of even the free version.

    • Very true, other than some basic settings and uploaded adding OG images I didn’t use it for much else. I ended up switching to Rank Math.

  8. Hey Tom,

    Great post about keyword focus!

    Can I ask you…

    Your post doesn’t mention the keyword variation feature. What tool do you recommend for finding keyword variations/synonyms to include in your posts?




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