You have to choose between Yoast SEO and Rank Math? The same agony of choice goes through many who use WordPress in the last two years. Because every WordPress website needs the right SEO plugin. We look at both plugins for you - which is definitely the better one?
For many years, people only talked about Yoast when they thought of an SEO plugin for WordPress and WooCommerce. With more than 5 million active installations, the extension has simply established itself as the standard. However, since June 2017, a new provider has been enjoying an increase in popularity - Rank Math. Since then, Rank Math has managed to establish itself as a strong alternative to Yoast SEO - and is building an ever-growing community.
In this post I would like to help you decide which SEO plugin is right for your WordPress websites. Who scores high in keywords and metadata, who in usability, where do you get the most for your money?
What Does an SEO Plugin Do ?
Before we get to the showdown of both plugins, I would like to dispel a myth about "SEO". Because it happens again and again that I meet with customers for an initial discussion and they are baffled about the many different measures that are part of search engine optimization.
In online marketing, many think that the installation of an SEO plugin is sufficient for optimization. Surely, such a solution helps you to position yourself better for Google & Co. But neither Yoast SEO nor Rank Math are all-rounders.
The providers of some SEO solutions out there bear some of the blame for this myth persisting to this day. Because they advertise that they can completely take over the search engine optimization of your WordPress website - RankMath and Yoast SEO are no exception.
But there is so much more to search engine optimization of your WordPress websites! Starting with the speed of your web pages, the keyword research or your content. An example for this diversity is the periodic table of ranking factors from Search Engine Land. Each element stands for a significant ranking factor:
For this, before you reach for an SEO plugin, read the following tutorials well:
- Step by Step Guide to Keyword Research
- 8 Steps for Better Rankings
- WordPress SEO & Text Optimization
- Make WordPress Faster
- More Success With the Right Content (ebook)
Because among them are optimization measures where SEO plugins do not support you at all or only insufficiently. So you should know about these in advance.
One SEO Plugin Alone is Not Enough
The installation of an SEO plugin alone will only help you to a limited extent. Even if some extensions and testimonials on the market want to convey the opposite. Switching to another plugin will almost never magically double your traffic.
The typical tasks of an SEO plugin include technical functions that take place in the background:
- Give the search engines instructions on what content or URLs on your website may be crawled.
- Providing instructions for crawlers in robots.txt
- Generating a sitemap with WordPress
- The keyword analysis of your posts including possible SEO action recommendations
- The management of your forwardings or redirects
- Provision of structured data, more on this later
But enough theory. Let's talk about the differences between Yoast SEO and Rank Math.
About Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO has been accompanying WordPress since 2008 and is based in the Netherlands. According to its own information, more than 140 employees currently work for the company. Founder Joost de Valk was replaced by Thjis de Valk at the end of 2021.
With over 5 million active WordPress installations, Yoast SEO is currently the most popular SEO plugin for WordPress. What I personally find very positive is that the team is involved in the promotion of WordPress, even away from their own product. This makes the company a part of constantly improving WordPress for all users.
There is a limited free version of the plugin. The premium upgrade of the plugin currently costs 99 Euros per year per WordPress website. In addition, the plugin can be supplemented with additional functions through paid extensions, for example in the area of Video SEO or Local SEO.
About Rank Math
Rank Math stems from the team behind "MyThemeShop". The plugin is currently used on over 1 million active WordPress websites according to WordPress.org.
Points of criticism in the past were the lack of transparency, for example in the connection to the Google account or API. Or with the question of who is behind the SEO plugin and supported the project significantly. The background to this is probably that the company originated in India. In the meantime, however, the provider no longer has to hide and is much more open about its origins.
I've been watching Rank Math since July 2017, when I was invited to the closed beta of the plugin. Since then, many features have been added to plugin . At that time, there was no premium variant of the plugin. The promise to leave all previous free features of the plugin even after the release of the premium variant was kept. A plus point for honesty.
The majority of the most important functions are free of charge. Compared to Yoast SEO, however, the monetization does without additional extensions. Upgrading to the premium version of the plugin gives access to all premium features. In addition, the plugin can be used on multiple websites.
The memberships are staggered as follows:
- Pro: Unlimited personal websites for currently $59 per year
- Business: Up to 100 commercial websites: $199/year
- Agency: Up to 500 commercial websites: $499/year
Comparison of the Free Functions
Both Rank Math and Yoast SEO come with all sorts of free features. Here is a complete overview. However, you should check the respective status again before your purchase, as the scope is continuously expanded:
|Function||Yoast SEO||Rank Math|
|Focus Keyword Optimization||x||x|
|General SEO Recommendations for Optimizing Posts||x||x|
|Help with Keyword Research||(Restricted - Semrush Integration)||(Fee Required - Based on Credits)|
|Adjustments & Preview of Meta Title and Meta Description||x||x|
|Crawlability and Indexing Settings for Different Areas of your Website (Posts, Pages, Categories)||x||x|
|Generate an XML Sitemap||x||x|
|Manual Adjustments in robots.txt||x||x|
|Manual Adjustments in the .htaccess||- –||x|
|Customizations in RSS Feed||x||x|
|Management of your redirects||(Paid Premium Version)||x|
|Generate a Table of Contents||x||- –|
|Structured Data (Breadcrumbs)||x||x|
|Structured Data (FAQ)||x||x|
|Structured Data (HowTo)||x||x|
|Structured Data (Recipes)||- –||x|
|Generate Structured Data for Images||x||x|
|Selection of Structured Data Types for a Post (e.g. Medical Content, Satirical Content).||x||x|
|Structured Data for Channels on Social Media||x||x|
|Optimization for Google Knowledge & Open Graph||x||x|
|Structured Data (Local Companies)||(Paid Extension)||x|
|Structured Data (WooCommerce)||(Paid Extension)||x|
|Structured Data (Google News)||(Paid Extension)||(Chargeable)|
|Structured Data (Google Video Search)||(Paid Extension)||(Chargeable)|
|Optimization for Google AMP Websites||(Free Extension)||x|
|Optimization for Google WebStories||- –||x|
|Optimization for BuddyPress||- –||x|
|Optimization for Advanced Custom Fields||(Free Extension)||x|
|SEO Additions for Uploaded Images||(Minimal)||(Minimal)|
|Google Analytics Integration||- –||x|
|Google Search Console Integration||- –||x|
|Google AdSense Integration||- –||x|
|Google Analytics Integration||- –||- –|
|Google Analytics 4 Integration||- –||x|
|Google Search Console Integration||- –||- –|
|Recommendations for Speed Optimization||- –||(Minimal)|
|Unnecessary Functions can be Disabled||x||x|
|Role Management for Registered Users||x||x|
|WordPress Rest API (Headless CMS)||x||x|
|Zapier Integration||(Paid Extension)||- –|
Now let's take a look at some of the functions of the plugins, also in direct comparison.
If you are interested in optimizing your posts for individual keywords, both Yoast SEO and Rank Math offer you some recommendations for action. However, these are only general SEO recommendations.
For example, how high the keyword density is for your selected search term. Or that images could improve your post. By choosing a focus keyword, the plugins assume that you already know exactly which keyword you want to optimize for.
Guide to Keyword Research
Researching suitable keywords is an important SEO lever. I guide you step by step through the entire process with my tutorial on keyword research. Including recommendations, examples and tools.
Recently, Yoast SEO goes one step further. If you activate the SEMrush integration in plugin, you will get ideas for additional keywords from the SEMrush database, including search volume, in the post editor. A practical thing.
With a free SEMrush account you can make up to 10 keyword queries per day. The suggested keywords can then supplement your focus keyword in the keyword evaluation. The goal of this function is to give you inspiration about which topics could be added to your post.
The Readability Index (Flesch Test) is also calculated by the plugin:
The premium version of the plugin also gives you recommendations for internal links. This helps to distribute the inbound link juice to other posts and keep users on your domain longer. However, I personally never found the advice really helpful.
Rank Math's keyword analysis is strongly oriented towards Yoast SEO. You can also find it in the sidebar of the Gutenberg editor:
The recommendations range from the usual general SEO recommendations (similar to Yoast) and a readability index to separate tips to improve the title of your website. This tip is quite nice, as a meaningful meta title will help you improve the CTR (click-through rate) of your posts in search results.
The selection field for the focus keyword, i.e. the keyword you want to optimize for, is worth highlighting. When typing in a keyword the plugin uses Google's Autocomplete feature. Especially SEO beginners get meaningful recommendations directly from Google's input mask. And as you know, these are sorted according to their search volume. Perfect!
In the keyword research, Rank Math goes a different way than Yoast SEO. And this one has it all! As an alternative to Semrush, Rank Math offers the Content AI Feature based on credits.
You will get the most benefit if you already know which keyword you want to optimize for. Preferably one with a high search volume. Content AI scans the web pages from the search results for your keyword and analyzes what minimum requirements your post must achieve to stand up to the competition.
In addition, the feature gives useful recommendations for related keywords or questions used in the competitor's content. This facilitates the competitor analysis enormously. The following video explains the functionality once again:
Please remember that these queries are made through a credit-based, paid system. You use one credit per query.
The conclusion in the keyword analysis: The general SEO recommendations are almost identical for both plugins. In the integrations (Semrush, ContentAI), both plugins go different ways. However, Rank Math's user interface has the edge and is a bit more beginner-friendly.
Meta Titles and Meta Descriptions
Both Rank Math and Yoast SEO allow you to customize the meta title and meta description of your posts in the Gutenberg editor. The user interface of Rank Math is once again very similar to Yoast SEO:
In addition, both plugins allow you to decide which parts of your website are allowed or excluded to be indexed by default.
Conclusion: Both plugins are so similar in user interfaces that there is a clear draw.
For many WordPress users "Structured Data" is still a foreign word. Structured data can - depending on the industry - make up a large part of your SEO strategy. The following video from Yoast SEO explains clearly what structured data is:
Structured data enhances your website or your content with information or activates suitable displays in the search results. You know the rating stars under the search results? These are displayed with the help of structured data. See also the List of Rich Snippets that Google supports in search results.
On the one hand, there is the technical site, which both SEO plugins automatically implement for you in the background. Each plugin scans your posts and automatically adds the structured data for headlines, images, etc. in the background.
This looks almost identical in both plugins. The difference lies in the number of recognized schema elements. Yoast SEO combines the different schema types into one coherent code. Yoast explains the functionality very well in the documentation:
Yoast SEO is the first WordPress plugin that automatically generates structured data as a single, interconnected graph instead of individual blobs of data. Let's look at an example: a post here on Yoast.com. This post is an Article. The article is the main "thing" of a WebPage, which is part of a Website. This Article is published by an Organization and written by an Author. Both the Author and the Organization have social profiles attached to them. These separate blocks are now all woven together: it's simply a nested structure.
To be fair, the solutions of both plugins are technically correct. However, the one from Yoast SEO is the more sensible solution in my opinion.
But that is only what happens in the background: To exploit the full potential of structured data, you need to take action yourself. For one thing, you should know whether there is structured data that could benefit your company:
For this purpose, Yoast SEO Gutenberg provides you with blocks(FAQ-Boxes and How-To). Also a Gutenberg block for atable of contents, which integrates seamlessly into the output structured data. A feature that Rank Math does not have yet.
Moreover, Yoast SEO offers the option to specify for each post what type of content it is:
A big disadvantage with Yoast SEO: Not all types of Rich Snippets are supported. Additional extensions for structured data Yoast SEO also has to pay dearly, via the add-ons for Local SEO, Video SEO and WooCommerce. An extension costs 79 Euros per year and per WordPress website. With Rank Math, on the other hand, many of these functions are free, for example to Local Business and WooCommerce.
Structured data for local businesses can be easily added in the Rank Math backend. And just like with Yoast, you can further specify the type of content.
At the same time, Rank Math has another point ahead of Yoast: the immense number of scheme types supported by Rank Math. Using the scheme generator, structured data can be easily added for each post.
In the Pro version of Rank Math, the Advanced Scheme Generator even allows you to generate your own scheme templates. An incredibly powerful tool, but more suitable for experts.
In addition, a FAQ block and HowTo block are included in the Gutenberg editor:
The conclusion: Rank Math is more comprehensive in the number of tools for structured data. However, Yoast SEO convinces with the better implementation.
404 Errors and Redirects
Redirects are one of the most important applications used in search engine optimization. URLs and content can change or even be permanently removed. And redirects tell a search engine what happened to the resources on your website.
If a URL changes and you don't tell the search engine where to find it, you lose the ranking you gained. It's as simple as that.
Especially new users who are not familiar with SEO change URLs or delete content regularly. That's why I always found it strange that Yoast SEO only offers this important function in the premium version plugin. In Rank Math, on the other hand, this option is already available in the free version.
Both plugins create an automatic redirect if you change the URL of a category, post, etc. for any reason. Be aware that with Yoast SEO this is only in the premium variant.
Rank Math has an additional extension, the 404 monitor. It detects when users or bots have called a non-existent URL. This can be a useful addition for webshops or large websites.
Let's say a large number of users are calling the domain "examplepage.com/t-shirt/" even though this URL does not exist within your domain. Instead of sending these users to a frustrating 404 site , you can now redirect them to the right place.
My conclusion with a clear winner: Rank Math.
Speed Optimization Tips
Content is important for search engine optimization. But so are speed and mobile-friendly websites. With Raidboxes as host you have already made a good choice. But you can push the optimization of your load times and thus the user experience even further.
That's why I find it a pity that both plugins hardly point out the optimization of loading times to their users. The Yoast SEO plugin doesn't give any hints on what to look for when optimizing the speed.
At least in the SEO plugin of Rank Math plugin there is, somewhat hidden in the tab SEO Analysis, a small hint on the loading times. Unfortunately, only the start page is examined here:
If you use the premium version of the plugin, you can see the PageSpeed value of each WordPress website under the admin bar. This is already a step in the right direction.
In my opinion, however, both plugins give away the potential to better educate their own users on this problem.
The conclusion: Both plugins don't give each other much here, but Rank Math has made a first step in the right direction.
What conclusion can be drawn between Yoast and Rank Math when it comes to search engine optimization of images on your website? In a nutshell: Neither plugin can brag about features here. That's because SEO for images is complex. Important optimization measures, such as compressing images, have to be retrofitted by other plugins.
Yoast SEO performs only two optimization actions in the search engine optimization of your images. First, Yoast adds the number of images used in the scheme code of your website (see the explanation above about Structured Data). This specifies whether an image is the logo or the part of a post.
And then Yoast SEO gives you the option to automatically redirect the attachment URLs generated by WordPress:
But what about the alt attributes that are so often forgotten by users? Yoast does point out missing attributes in the post editor, but that should be easier to do.
Rank Math has also recognized this. That's why the WordPress plugin automatically adds the alt attributes for all uploaded images based on the file name. So you only have to make sure that you name the image correctly before uploading it to the WordPress library. And this workflow can save quite a bit of time and error sources.
The conclusion: Unfortunately, both plugins only scratch the surface of what is possible and important with image SEO. Nevertheless, Rank Math wins for me here, even if only with a marginal lead.
My tip: In the Pro version of the plugin you can also add watermarks. However, this has absolutely no effect on search engine optimization.
Modular Plugin Structure
For a long time Rank Math had advertized that the code of the plugin should be significantly less cluttered, compared to the competition.
Options that you don't need can be easily disabled in the backend. This allows you to tailor the features in your SEO plugin the way you need it.
In the meantime, Yoast SEO has also caught up and allows you to deactivate unneeded functions in the backend. In addition, the Yoast SEO team has done a lot in the last two years to make their own plugin a bit more efficient. While this has made many things better, Rank Math is still ahead in terms of speed.
One development that I find negative with Rank Math. The plugin is taking the direction of an all-in-one marketing tool. There are many features integrated in plugin that have no or very little impact on the search engine optimization of your web pages. For example AdSense, statistics in the backend and watermarks for images.
Nevertheless, it is good to see that the competition between them leads to the fact that both plugins positively influence each other. The winner in this category is Rank Math.
Evaluations and Statistics
For beginners it may be a useful feature to be able to evaluate Search Console, PageSpeed and Analytics data in the WordPress backend. However, as an SEO expert, I try to keep such information out of my WordPress installation.
Yoast SEO does not offer any evaluations or statistics in its own plugin. With Rank Math, data from Search Console and Google Analytics can be evaluated in the WordPress backend.
In addition, you get an overview of which posts and pages generate clicks in the search results, or on which position they rank on average in the search results. And as in every SEO analysis, an evaluation of the keywords must not be missing.
A powerful feature takes a back seat - in the menu item "Index Status" you can check which of your posts and pages are indexed in the Google search results and whether they have passed the test for mobile devices.
In addition, Rank Math offers another function in the "SEO Analysis" menu to globally check your WordPress website for potential SEO errors. For those who do not want to install the plugin, there is an online version for testing.
However, I would be very careful in evaluating these results. For example, after analyzing the site, the plugin gives me the following results:
In the "Advanced SEO" tab, my test website even achieved 100 out of 100 points. The first impression: There is not much to do here. On closer inspection, however, it becomes clear that the results only refer to the home page.
Each individual sub-page should be examined for potential optimizations and errors. In addition, areas of a website are analyzed that are not relevant to search engines at all. For example, the recommendations in the "Security" section:
In my opinion, wrong conclusions may be drawn from this evaluation, especially by beginners. However, if statistics in the backend are important to you, Rank Math is the preferred choice.
Rank Math vs Yoast SEO - The Winner Is...
RankMath! At least in the feature set of the free plugin. In fact, it all boils down to what features you need and whether you are willing to purchase the paid version of the plugin. If you run a WooCommerce store or a local business, Rank Math can save you quite a bit of money, as the extension would be paid for in Yoast SEO.
Still, it makes sense to compare the features of both plugins and check which one plugin supports structured data for your industry.
When I first published this article in April 2020, Yoast SEO was the clear winner in this comparison. Rank Math was still very experimental and I advised against installing it. But in the meantime Rank Math has become a true alternative to Yoast SEO.
Are you starting with a new WordPress website? Or do you plan to run the SEO-plugin only in the free version? Then I recommend Rank Math just because of the variety of functions. Functions like "redirects" are essential for search engine optimization and should not be missing in any SEO-plugin .
The strongest argument against Rank Math is the sheer number of modules. The plugin currently offers 20 modules that can be activated or deactivated as desired. This leads to the fact that the interface quickly seems overloaded for beginners and you have to deal with the plugin more deeply.
However, there are also some points that speak for Yoast SEO:
The better integration of structured data, especially in terms of extensions. In addition, it must be emphasized that Yoast SEO has been offering its plugin since 2008. Due to the wide distribution of the plugin, many other themes and plugins are better adapted to Yoast SEO. This makes for fewer compatibility issues.
And sometimes developers of themes or plugins integrate the functions of Yoast SEO into their own plugin. So instead of the breadcrumbs in theme often the breadcrumbs from Yoast SEO can be used. In addition, Yoast also helps with the spread of WordPress, which ultimately benefits everyone who runs projects with WordPress.
Switch from Yoast SEO to Rank Math?
Whether you should switch from one plugin to the other depends entirely on the reason. If you are hoping to increase your rankings by switching, then I would advise against it. A new SEO plugin does not automatically ensure better rankings. Rather invest your time in optimizations that really have to do with search engine optimization. Find errors through your SEO audit, improve the content on your website and also the user experience.
However, if you're concerned about missing features, or Yoast SEO doesn't support your industry with the appropriate structured data, then you should consider switching. However, if your WordPress website is currently performing well in organic search, you should make a backup of your website to be on the safe side.
It is always possible that problems occur during the change from one plugin to another and that the changes have a negative impact on your traffic. In this case, you can switch back to the original plugin in an emergency, but this involves additional work. Therefore, you should always calculate whether the advantages you expect outweigh the disadvantages.