15 Min Read
When it comes to the best WordPress SEO plugins for 2021, there are 3 contenders; Yoast SEO, Rankmath and All In One SEO. For many years, Yoast SEO has been the king of the throne. In fact, there has not been an alternative that remotely comes close. However, is all that about to change with Rank Math? Is the king of SEO plugins about to be dethroned?
Find out as we compare Rank Math Vs Yoast SEO in this extensive review. Having used Yoast SEO for such a long time, the results of our Yoast SEO vs Rank Math comparison were somewhat shocking. If you’re short on time, navigate to the section that’s most appealing by clicking the links below.
Starting with SEO performance, neither tool will deliver stronger SEO results than the other. Although Rank Math delivers a greater array of features – theoretically delivering greater SEO performance – the results you can achieve by using either tool is solely down to your own input. Out of the box, both tools deliver core SEO fundamentals that make managing your on-page SEO seamless. Therefore, don’t assume that by switching to Rank Math you’re going to see immediate growth.
However, when it comes to plugin performance, RankMath is a clear winner here. As a lightweight, fast and well-coded plugin, Rank Math removes the bloat from Yoast SEO’s somewhat dated tool. The plugin itself is 3x smaller and there are 3x fewer lines of code. This means that your website will benefit from fewer PHP requests and subsequently will be faster. As a user, you most likely won’t notice the difference, however, every millisecond you can save counts.
You can learn more about website speed optimisation by clicking here.
When setting up Rank Math or Yoast SEO for the first time, both plugins offer step by step walkthroughs. The walkthroughs are easy to use and will automate the majority of your SEO requirements. That said, Rank Math takes setting up your website to the next level.
With Rank Math, not only can you set up the basics such as generated page titles and sitemaps, the initial setup process takes you through Facebook OpenGraph metadata, webmasters, organisational schema, ‘nofollow’ external links and much more. These are the types of settings that every SEO professional wants to take care of and not worry about again. It’s clear that Rank Math has thought hard about what is set and forget and what requires constant attention.
Contrarily, Yoast SEO skimps out on a few settings as it attempts to speed through the setup process; despite having more steps. There is no ability to connect webmasters, you cannot set rules for external links and most of the good stuff can be achieved once you’ve installed the plugin. In addition to this, there are minimal options to migrate data. Unlike RankMath where you can import data from other plugins such as Redirection and WP Schema, Yoast SEO currently caters for alternative SEO plugins such as All In One SEO and of course, RankMath. For those of you looking for a swiss-army knife SEO plugin, you’ll be disappointed here.
That said, Yoast SEO does contain a neat tutorial video when setting up the plugin which will be handy for first time SEO optimisers. However, it’s not enough in our opinion to win this round and Rank Math comes out on top for both ease of setup and flexibility.
As with any third-party tool you use with WordPress, the ability to seamlessly navigate around the user interface is important for your business. For us, the cleaner the interface the better. When a plugin developer understands it’s the audience and can decide between the things we want control over and the things we would rather leave up to automation, the outcome is superb.
In this regard, both plugins offer superb customisations. Delivering total control over the tools that are available, you will have no problem navigating your way around the features. However, as far as UI is concerned, Yoast SEO focusses primarily on functionality over aesthetics. Kind of like Windows compared to Apple, the true techies will appreciate Yoast SEO. For the standard user, you can still achieve everything you want to get done, however, the experience is bland, to say the least.
On the other hand, considering that Rank Math comprises of all of the features you need to pay a premium for with Yoast, the user interface is incredible. Not only is the dashboard visually attractive, it actually makes SEO fun. When you consider that SEO is primarily spreadsheets, content, processes and checklist ticking, anything remotely attractive is a pleasant surprise. The dashboard is modern, intuitive and displays key data expertly. Overall, it’s a far greater experience for most users.
For now, Rank Math is completely free. However, we do expect Rank Math to monetise the plugin via subscription in the future. As such, if you are thinking of switching to Rank Math then best to do this now. After all, it is highly likely that Rank Math will offer discounts to early adopters of the plugin when they do make that switch.
Conversely, Yoast SEO is a freemium plugin. While fundamental features with Yoast SEO are free, to unlock Yoast premium features that are currently free with Rank Math, you will be required to register for a subscription. In this regard, Rank Math delivers far greater value to your website than Yoast SEO.
Why pay $89 USD for Yoast’s premium version when Rank Math as an alternative plugin delivers these tools totally free? It’s a clear winner for Rank Math here and another indication that Yoast has fallen asleep.
For each page on your website, a focus keyword or series of focus keywords should be assigned as your primary targets. With both Yoast SEO and Rank Math, to access the wide range of on-page SEO recommendations, a focus keyword must be assigned. Without it, both plugins will be clueless as to what to recommend you change for a better-optimised page.
With the free version of Yoast SEO, you can assign one target keyword per page. However, with Rank Math, you are able to assign 5 keywords per page by simply registering to the website free of charge. Rank Math will then work its magic and provide both content and SEO recommendations for both your primary and supplementary keywords. This feature is possible within Yoast SEO, however, once again, you will need that coveted Yoast premium licence.
Keyword assignment is absolutely critical and we feel that Yoast SEO should offer much more than just 1 keyword free of charge. Not only does keyword assignment allow you to quickly identify content deficiencies, but it also ensures that you stay on top of your overarching sitemap. After all, Google will likely only index one page per keyword group and the last thing you need is keyword cannibalisation.
Once you have assigned keywords to a page, both tools will begin to display recommendations on how to best optimise your content. By optimising towards the green flag with Yoast SEO or anything above 80/100 on Rank Math, you can be sure that the content on your page follows best practice on-page SEO guidelines. The types of recommendations you can expect from both tools include:
Although almost identical in recommendations, over the years, the Yoast SEO tool has frustrated us at times. In particular, to achieve a perfect score, you are required to ensure that your keyword is within the first sentence of your content. When you consider that not every target keyword is easy to fit naturally into content, we feel that Yoast SEO has prioritised technical SEO over content legibility.
On the other hand, Rank Math requires you to place your target keyword within the first paragraph and not the first sentence. It’s commonly known that your keyword is not required in the first sentence to acquire position 1 rankings or featured snippets and therefore this is a clear indication that Rank Math has updated benchmarks compared to Yoast.
Overall, both plugins will get the job done. Yet, Rank Math clearly has more advanced recommendations that take other SEO factors into account and therefore wins this round.
Both Yoast and Rank Math plugins feature comprehensive on-page SEO rating systems. With Yoast, you have a cute set of red, orange or green smiley faces and with Rank Math, you have a more sophisticated scoring system which grades your pages from 0 to 100.
Now, while we have ranked many websites using Yoast SEO’s scoring system, since playing around with Rank Math we now find this slightly primitive. In one swift tweak, you can immediately jump from orange to green. High fives all round and a pat on the back to you. However, this is quite frankly misleading as your content is not completely optimised.
For example, when midway through writing this article, the below screenshot is screaming that we should publish. Yet, when we delve deeper into the recommendations, we have not added synonyms, there are no related keyphrases, our target keyword is too long, we are currently missing image alt tags and our keyword is not clearly identified at the start of the content.
To consider this article ready to go would be a big mistake.
For startup SEO professionals or casual webmasters, to assume that Yoast SEO is completely telling the truth here would be an error. Okay, so nothing is perfect, however, SEO is a two-way street and the more effort you put into your optimisation, the greater the results.
On the other hand, Rank Math really makes you work hard to achieve a positive rating. Small tweaks such as adding alt tags to your images will only score you a few measly points and therefore, to achieve a minimum of 80 out of 100, your content will be far better optimised. Go forth and conquer with a near-perfect article.
A major part of successful SEO is not only the ability to optimise your page content to align with best practices, but also to ensure your content is highly legible. Both Yoast SEO & Rank Math feature ‘readability’ and content analysis tools to assist you with this.
When comparing the two plugins, they are almost identical in this regard. However, Yoast SEO reigns superior and goes that extra mile. Not only does Yoast SEO check content against Flesch Kincaid Readability Tests, but it also uncovers extra content problems such as:
While currently minimal evidence to suggest that these test improve your overall SEO performance, you can be sure that covering them will make your content easier to read. For this, Yoast SEO triumphs over Rank Math and if you are a blogger that’s extremely proud of your content, Yoast SEO may be a better solution for you.
Although both Rank Math & Yoast SEO enable you to integrate with Google Search Console, the user experience is far superior with Rank Math. When setting up search console with Rank Math all you need to do is simply verify your GMAIL account, select your search console profile and away you go. In addition to this, Rank Math also pulls through necessary data directly from search consoles such as total keywords, average positions and clicks.
On the other hand, Yoast SEO’s integration with search console is functional but pretty basic. Not only are webmaster settings hidden deep into Yoast SEO’s control panel, but there is also very limited information that can be transported across. There is no clean dashboard to simply connect your account and honestly, it’s pretty useless. For anybody new to SEO, we cannot see any value they would receive from connecting Yoast SEO with search console given its limited data.
For XML Sitemaps, both tools offer great flexibility. The sitemap URL will be slightly different when switching between tools, however, this will not negatively affect your SEO results.
With both Rank Math and Yoast SEO, users have the ability to customise sitemaps, remove category types in bulk, and ‘noindex’ certain pages. XML sitemaps are not exactly beautiful on the eyes, however, both plugins have done their best to ensure clean looking sitemaps.
Overall, they both score good points here and it’s a draw.
SEO Tip: Do not forget to update your sitemap within Google Search Console should you do decide to switch plugins. It is also beneficial to add your sitemap to the bottom of your robots.txt file.
By aligning your website with Schema.org, you immediately unlock the ability to acquire rich snippets and featured content. Structured data, when aligned with great quality content, results with your content standing out on SERPs, your click-through rate increasing and a pretty little screenshot to add to your memorabilia. You did it champ, you conquered Google!
Now, the great thing about the Rank Math SEO plugin is that it offers full schema support for any content you might have on your website. From article schema to review, product and even book schema, structuring your data couldn’t be easier. Conversely, Yoast SEO completely skips on this functionality; forcing you to install another plugin.
Installing a single plugin that handles both your SEO and Schema requirements is far better than having to deal with two separate ones. This gives Rank Math yet another advantage over Yoast.
A big surprise for us was to see that Rank Math also supports WooCommerce SEO natively within the free version. Having utilised Yoast SEO’s premium version for WooCommerce SEO (which is very good by the way) to see that Rank Math delivers near-identical functionality free of charge was mind-blowing. Once again, it’s hard to believe all of this can be free of charge and we do expect a premium price tag at some stage. However, for the time being, switching over to Rank Math for WooCommrece SEO will save you a pretty penny.
WooCommerce is the most popular eCommerce plugin for WordPress. With this plugin installed, you can convert your website into a proper online store. Creating listings, adding products, configuring payment gateways, tracking your monthly revenues, and much more can be easily managed within WooCommerce plugin. When you back that up with a powerhouse WooCommerce SEO plugin such as Rank Math or Yoast SEO Premium, the results are phenomenal.
For this round, however, because Rank Math is delivering everything you will need for WooCommerce SEO free of charge, it’s a clear winner. Sorry Yoast, you really need to remove that price tag!
When pumping out regular content, it is common practice to assign ‘nofollow’ tags to certain external links that you do not want to pass authority from your website to the linked website. This ensures that web crawlers keep your website dis-associated with the external website. Of course, some links you will want to keep as ‘follow’ links but not every website is worthy of this association. You need to protect your own asset first.
With Rank Math, you have the option to set all external links as ‘nofollow’ by default or very quickly add a ‘nofollow’ tag when writing your content as shown by the screenshot below.
However, with Yoast SEO, the plugin completely skips out on this feature and does not include an intuitive tick box within the WordPress editor. This means that you have to manually add ‘nofollow’ to your HTML and if you are not comfortable with HTML this will cause some problems. As such, Rank Math once again has thought about the user base and made a very important tool accessible for everyone.
Eluded to earlier in this article, Rank Math comprises of a series of one-click migrations. If you are using the redirection plugin and a separate plugin for schema markup, chances are that Rank Math can seamlessly migrate this data with one click. This means you can delete the other two plugins and be on your way with a swiss-army knife SEO tool to manage all critical functions.
While Yoast does migrate data seamlessly from other SEO plugins such as All-In-One SEO, the list of compatible plugins is much shorter. In fact, Yoast currently does not migrate from anything other than alternative SEO Plugins. This results in your website becoming reliant on a series of other third-party plugins that Rank Math can deliver all by itself. For both security and page speed, this is a huge loss for Yoast SEO.
As Uber disrupted the Taxi commission, Rank Math has disrupted the SEO industry. It’s sad to see Yoast SEO fall so far behind, however, when you rest on your lorels for too long you are bound to be dethroned. If you couldn’t tell by now, Rank Math is a clear winner. From a cleaner interface to literally taking every single deficiency with Yoast SEO and finding a resolution, Rank Math has deployed the most well-considered SEO plugin we have ever seen. Not to mention that it’s totally free! For anybody serious about their WordPress SEO campaign, Rank Math is the way to go.
If you are looking at switching from Yoast SEO to Rank Math, you will be pleased to know that Rank Math seamlessly takes care of this for you. Making use of Rank Math’s easy one-click migration tools, you can quickly migrate from Yoast SEO, Redirection and WP Schema. This will also result in 2 fewer plugins on your website to worry about!
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