The number of good WordPress SEO Plugins is manageable. When researching search engine optimization (SEO) tools, one almost always comes across Yoast SEO - currently the most popular solution when it comes to SEO optimization of WordPress . But recently, there is a new competitor that has been able to build a huge community within a very short period of time: Rank Math.
Which plugin is the better solution for the search engine optimization of your website? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each tool? Our WordPress comparison of Rank Math vs. Yoast SEO.
What does an SEO plugin do?
Before we get to the showdown between the two plugins, I'd like to dispel a myth I hear all too often from new customers:
A SEO plugin helps you optimize your website. But neither Yoast SEO nor Rank Math can be the perfect "jack of all trades".
There is so much more to search engine optimization. Starting with the speed of your website, keyword research or your content. You want to learn which measures have an actual effect on your website? Then check out my tutorial "How to perform an SEO audit ".
Remember: a plugin alone is never enough
The installation of a SEO plugin alone is not enough! Even if some extensions and experience reports on the market want to give you that feeling. Changing to another plugin will almost NEVER magically double your traffic.
The typical tasks of an SEO plugin include:
- Giving the search engines instructions on which content/URLs may be crawled
- Providing instructions in the robots.txt
- Generating a sitemap
- Analysis of your posts and pages including SEO recommendations for action
- Management of your redirects
- Providing structured data
But no single solution works straight out of the box. What you do with the recommendations, how you write your content and how you configure the plugin - all these responsibilites lie with you.
Yoast SEO is the most widely used SEO Plugin and is currently used on over 5 million active WordPress websites. In addition, Yoast SEO is committed to the further development of WordPress and regularly participates as a speaker at WordPress conferences.
Yoast SEO has been on the market since 2010 and is based in the Netherlands. According to its own information, more than 80 employees are currently working on the Plugin.
Functions of Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is available in a free and a premium version. Overall, this plugin works perfectly in the free version. As a premium user, you can activate a few additional functions and reduce the need for additional plugins. Here's an overview of the two versions:
Setup (setup manager)
Yoast SEO comes with a setup manager. This tool is designed to help newcomers make the right choices in the settings. The manager may look solid at first glance but it has several weaknesses. Many options are simply left out of this manager despite being extrememly important settings, e.g. the indexing of categories and keywords.
What should happen with taxonomies, you can decide afterwards only in the advanced settings. I find this critical, because many WordPress users use keywords and categories incorrectly - and therefore create unnecessary or duplicate urls or even duplicate content.
In 90 percent of all optimizations for new customers, I first have to clean up the taxonomies because they were previously used incorrectly. The Setup Wizard has not convinced me here.
The biggest and most useful feature are the recommendations for keyword optimization. Especially for beginners, these recommendations give quite a few hints on what you should pay attention to when optimizing your content for search engines.
Keyword research guide
The research of suitable keywords is an important SEO lever. I'll guide you step by step through the entire process: Tutorial on keyword research. Including recommendations, examples and tools.
And here we also come to one of the biggest weaknesses of Yoast SEO. It suggests good rankings by bringing the recommendations into the green area. Especially when optimizing the focus keyword, it can quickly come to an over-optimization, because the tool does not recognize synonyms accurately.
Overall, Yoast's recommendations for action are good. However, some of these tips will have very little effect on your rankings. By this I mean: The recommendation is still important, but maybe you could invest the time better in other weaknesses of the website. New users tend to over-optimize here as well.
In addition to the recommendations for action, you can customize the meta description and meta title of your sites. They form that important text preview that will later be visible in the search results of Google
In addition to the keyword optimization, users get access to the readability index. The Flesch calculation determines how "easy" your text is to read. Based on the analysis, Yoast creates recommendations on how you can simplify your text.
Personally, I don't use the tool at all, because I always have the impression that the tool pushes me to keyword stuffing or to make big changes to my texts. Therefore, I only occasionally take a look at the analysis - and follow the recommendations if I think they make sense. Again, green lights will not necessarily lead to better rankings.
Structured data is used to provide search engines with additional information about your website or content. The importance of structured data for search engine optimization has been growing steadily in recent years. See my SEO Guide for 2020 for an explanation.
In most cases, you can use Schema Code to enable additional display options in the search results. For example, the display of review stars:
If you have made all the settings, then the Plugin generates structured data from your information (for example, from your company name), which can later be read by search engines. This can be information about the website, such as the company or your blog. Or which social channels belong to your website. Evaluated by the Structured Data Tester, it looks something like this:
In addition, the Gutenberg editor allows you to easily add two more schema types - the How-To and FAQ boxes. You can create these directly in the editor of Gutenberg :
Here is an example of how such a FAQ box is displayed in Google's search results:
To be fair though, there are countless other schema variations (for example rich cards, reviews, events) that are not supported by Yoast SEO.
With the slogan "Always updated for Google's algorithm" Yoast SEO advertises to always be optimized for the latest algorithm. This is nonsense, of course, because Yoast has as little insight into this as any other person in the public.
However, the Plugin is updated every 14 days. This promises that the Plugin works as flawlessly as possible with current versions of WordPress . And that possible security holes are also removed at regular intervals.
Redirect Manager (Premium)
One reason to switch to the premium version is Yoast's Redirect Manager. The interface is very user-friendly and easy to use.
In addition, when deleting or editing posts, users are asked whether they want to set a 301 redirect. Especially in large teams or with inexperienced colleagues, these security questions can prevent serious traffic losses.
Advantages and disadvantages of Yoast SEO
The biggest advantage of Yoast SEO is its compatibility with other WordPress Themes and Plugins. This is because the Plugin is one of the most widely used SEO Plugins . And after 10 years of its release, it can also be confidently said that the Plugin does its job on the majority of the websites without any problem.
Updates are made regularly and the Yoast team also responds to support requests promptly. However, premium users have absolute priority here. This means that you may have to wait a little longer as a user of the free version - or that the answer only refers to previous tutorials. This is a reason to think about buying the premium version.
Many developers often criticize that the code and the Plugin is overloaded with too many functions. This can lead to complications, vulnerabilities in the security of your website or slow loading times. Partly I have to agree with this. For example, some features that are included in Plugin are simply useless. For example, the integration of Ryte in Yoast SEO offers no added value and could be removed in my opinion:
In addition, there have been complications in the updates in the past that have led to indexing problems or security vulnerabilities.
Rank Math comes from the makers of "MyThemeShop". RankMath is according to WordPress .org RankMath is currently used on over 200,000 active WordPress websites. There is hardly any information about the company itself. Also not to the persons, who support the project substantially. Background might be that the company has its origin in India.
I first came into contact with Rank Math in July 2017 - when MyThemeShop asked me if I wanted to participate in the closed beta testing. Then, in November 2019, the official release happened. And thus only two months after the feedback of the closed beta. I felt this timing was too early.
Functions of Rank Math
The Plugin is free in all its previous functions. The developers have already admitted several times that the Plugin will later receive a premium variant. Existing functions are nevertheless to remain free of charge. Experience has shown that there is always a risk that such statements will not be kept.
However, I am curious which functions the developers still want to integrate into the Plugin . Because the majority of all SEO-relevant settings are already included in Plugin . At the moment, the Rank Math team is probably considering using automations to create further incentives for a premium version.
Setup (setup manager)
Already in the setup manager you can see that the Plugin is strongly oriented towards Yoast SEO. Nevertheless, the setup process is more detailed and better described. Even advanced settings like taxonomies, NoFollow, sitemaps etc. are included. For example, you can automatically assign the "NoIndex" tag to categories that do not yet contain URLs:
What is striking is the possibility to take over all previous settings from the Yoast SEO Plugin . A function that worked amazingly well in the test! Even the status codes of previous redirects were transferred without any problems. However, this import only works in one direction. A return from Rank Math to Yoast SEO is not possible automatically. You should keep that in mind during the installation.
I find it critical that the Setup Manager requires registration. According to support, this can be skipped via "Cancel", but this is not clear. In addition, it is not explained why a registration should be necessary. Only via the forum of WordPress one receives corresponding information:
I would like to see more transparency here.
Test Rank Math
At https://demo.rankmat h.com you can test the interface of WordPress Plugins - without having to install it on your own site . For example to compare it with Yoast SEO.
The keyword analysis is also strongly oriented towards Yoast SEO. You can find it in the sidebar of the Gutenberg editor. On the positive side: You can add as many synonyms as you like. Nevertheless, the analysis by Yoast SEO is more detailed. For example, Rank Math does not take ALT tags into account, the readability index (Flesch Test) does not currently include european language. In addition, Yoast has hired its own linguist for this feature, so Yoast has a significant head start here.
In addition to keyword analysis, Rank Math has another tool that I find very interesting as a search engine optimizer. An integrated, general SEO analysis:
This tool is well suited for beginners. The analysis takes only a few seconds and returns a superficial evaluation of the website. For example, you will be informed whether your website is crawlable, whether meta descriptions are available or how the website performs in a SpeedTest.
For beginners this test may be very good. Whereby I must criticize that many of the suggestions (auto updates, visibility of Plugins) are not SEO-relevant. In addition, the test does not say much about which sites of the domain are optimized below average. Therefore, the add-on is only worthwhile for the one-time use - you can then deactivate it again.
Those who know MyThemeShop know that the company has years of experience in the integration of schema data. RankMath has made use of this experience from its own Themes . So you can choose in the Gutenberg editor which structured data should be used for the post. This makes it easy to generate rich cards from a post, for example for events, people or recipes:
Yoast, on the other hand, only supports structured data for FAQ & How-To boxes. These are now even included in Rank Math. So Rank Math wins this comparison. Additionally, the settings in the backend generate structured data for companies, people or organizations. Just like Yoast.
The biggest advantage that speaks for Rank Math: The plugin's code is supposedly much less overloaded than the Yoast code. This is achieved on the one hand by the fact that the plugin is modular. Additional options can be easily deactivated in the backend and are then no longer used by the plugin's backend. This way you can tailor your SEO plugin to the way you need it.
According to Rank Math, it consists of about 30,000 lines of code, whereas other tools manage an average of 50,000 lines of code. Lean source code brings advantages. Not only does less code and thus fewer queries have a better impact on the performance of your site , they also allow fewer entry points for hackers. On the other hand, there are hardly any independent test values on the web that compare the actual impact on load time.
When it comes to the feature set of both Plugins , Rank Math is the clear winner in this comparison. In the add-on section, you can activate or deactivate the following additional functions as desired:
- 404 Monitor
- Advanced Custom Fields & AMP
- bbPress, buddyPress
- Link Counter, Local SEO & Google Knowledge Graph
- Redirects, Schema Structured Data
- Role Manager, Search Console, SEO Analysis, Sitemap
Advantages and disadvantages of Rank Math
Although this plugin is free, the support seems to be very good. It responds to requests within 24 hours. There is both a forum and a Facebook group where support requests or questions can be asked. The scope of services outshines any other free SEO plugin. And the interface is both easy to understand and very sophisticated.
Disadvantages include a lack of transparency about the developers or vendors behind Plugin , as well as reports of fake reviews being created on WordPress .org. When joining the Facebook group or using Google search, there are almost exclusively positive reports. And even in my one-year membership in the beta community, I often had the impression that the Plugin was praised too much to the skies by other users.
Or that prospective customers are urged to absolutely perform a migration from Yoast SEO to Rank Math. Such a migration of the settings is possible, but not from Rank Math to Yoast. I don't want to badmouth the Plugin or the community, but it doesn't seem quite clean to me.
Rank Math vs Yoast SEO - Who Wins?
For me, Yoast SEO is the winner. Rank Math is cool, without question. And it's also ahead in terms of interface, feature set, and the idea behind it. But one look at the support forum is enough and you quickly realize that Plugin is still in its infancy.
Here Yoast SEO has the longer experience and the larger team clearly ahead. Yoast SEO is compatible with several WordPress Plugins and Themes . And with the huge spread, many other programmers have also adapted their Plugins and Themes to Yoast SEO. For example, in some Themes/frameworks, Yoast SEO breadcrumbs can be used instead of Theme breadcrumbs. And all this without interfering with the code. By the way, this is also the reason why I haven't switched to Rank Math yet.
Therefore, I stick to my conclusion: Rank Math is better than Yoast SEO in terms of functionality. But for WordPress beginners, I would rather go for Yoast SEO just because of the greater compatibility - and save myself potential problems. Still, Rank Math is an interesting approach to keep watching.
Should you switch from Yoast SEO to RankMath?
I'd advise against it. Unless you know 100% of what you're doing. A new SEO plugin doesn't automatically mean better rankings. Neither yoast SEO nor RankMath can assure you of that. There is a much higher chance that problems will occur during the change and that the changes will have a negative effect on your traffic.
Rather invest your time in topics that really have to do with search engine optimization: An SEO audit, the content of your website and the user experience. Then you'll benefit from higher conversions or faster loading times. See my SEO Guide 2020 for more tips.
Do I need Yoast SEO Premium as a RAIDBOXES customer?
If features like "internal link recommendations", "content insights" or "ad-free" are important to you - then yes. However, the most important selling point for Yoast SEO is the Redirect Manager. However, you can also create temporary or permanent manual redirects in your BOXES from RAIDBOXES , including rules (Rewrite Rules):
Then you can also use Yoast SEO in the free version without any problems - and are therefore not dependent on this feature.
For whom is Rank Math suitable?
For any new installation or website with WordPress , that has not used an SEO tool before. Since the Plugin is still in its infancy: I recommend the Plugin more for people who have time to deal with support in case of emergency. Or who have programming skills to solve any problems themselves.
Rank Math is a very interesting tool in terms of functions Plugin. But to switch from another SEO Plugin solely because of this can also have a negative effect.