The number of good WordPress SEO Plugins is manageable. When searching for tools for Search engine optimization (SEO) you almost always come across Yoast SEO - currently the most popular solution when it comes to SEO optimization of WordPress. But recently a new competitor has emerged who quite successfully built up a huge community within a very short time: Rank Math.
Which of the two plugins is the better solution for the search engine optimization of your website? What are the strengths and weaknesses? Our WordPress comparison between Rank Math vs. Yoast SEO.
What does a SEO plugin do?
Before the showdown of bothPlugins , I would like to straightforwardly dispel a myth about which I all too often have to educate new customers:
A SEO plugin helps you to 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 performance of your website,proper keyword research or your content. You want to learn which measures have an actual effect on your website? Then take a look at my tutorial "How to create a detailed SEO audit ".
Remember: This Plugin alone is not 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.
One of the typical tasks of a SEO plugin is:
- Giving the search engines instructions on which content/URLs may be crawled
- Providing instructions in the robots.txt
- Generating a sitemap
- Analysis of your contributions and sites including SEO recommendations for action
- Management of your redirects
- Provision of structured data
But no single solution works out of the box. What you do with the recommendations, how you write your content and how you configure the plugin – all this is your own responsibility.
Yoast SEO is the most used SEO plugin and is currently used on over 5 million WordPress websites. In addition, Yoast SEO is committed to the development of WordPress and regularly takes part in WordPress conferences (WordCamps) as a speaker, contributor and sponsor.
Yoast SEO has been on the market since 2010 and the company is based in the Netherlands. According to their website more than 80 employees currently work at yoast.
Functions of Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is available in a free and a premium version. In general it can be said that this plugin also works perfectly in the free version. As a premium user, you can activate a few additional functions and reduce the need for additional plugins, which is a plus. Here is an overview:
Setup (Setup Manager)
Yoast SEO comes with a setup manager. It should help newcomers to 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, even though some of these are extremely relevant settings – like the indexing of categories or keywords.
What should happen with taxonomies, you can only decide later 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 is the recommendations for action in keyword optimization. Especially for beginners, these recommendations give a lot of hints on what you should pay attention to when optimizing your content for search engines.
Instructions for keyword research
The research of suitable keywords is an important SEO lever. I will guide you step by step through the whole process in my keyword research tutorial. Including recommendations for action, examples and tools.
And here we come to one of the biggest weaknesses of Yoast SEO. It suggests good rankings by putting recommendations in the green zone. Especially when optimizing the focus keyword, over-optimization can happen so quickly 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. Via Flesch-calculation will determine how "easy" your text is to read. Based on the analysis, Yoast makes recommendations on how you can simplify your text.
I personally do not use the tool at all, because I always have the impression that it leads me towards keyword stuffing or pushes for major changes to my content. Therefore, I only occasionally take a look at the analysis – and follow the recommendations when 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 increasing steadily in recent years. See the explanation of my SEO Guide for 2020.
Usually you 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, this will generate structured data Plugin from your entries (for example, from your company name), which can later be read by search engines. This can be information about your website, for example about your company or your blog. Or about which social channels belong to your website. Evaluated by the structured data tester it looks something like this:
In addition, the Gutenberg Editor easily add two additional schema types - the How-To and FAQ boxes. You can create them 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, however, it must also be said that there are countless other scheme variants (for example rich cardsreviews, events) that are not supported by Yoast SEO.
With the slogan "Always updated for Google's algorithm" Yoast SEO advertises that it is always optimized for the latest algorithm. This is of course nonsense, because Yoast has as little insight into it as any other person in the public.
However, this is updated Plugin every 14 days. This promises that it will WordPress work as smoothly as Plugin possible with current versions of And that also possible security holes will be removed in regular intervals.
Redirect Manager (Premium)
One reason to switch to the premium version is the Redirect Manager from Yoast. The interface is very user-friendly and easy to operate.
In addition, when deleting or editing posts, users are asked if they want to set a 301 forwarding. Especially in large teams or with inexperienced colleagues, these security issues can prevent serious traffic losses.
Advantages and disadvantages of Yoast SEO
The biggest advantage of Yoast SEO is the compatibility with other WordPress Themes and Plugins. This is because it Plugin is one of the most widely used SEO Plugins And after 10 years of release, it is safe to say that it is doing a great job Plugin on the majority of websites.
Updates take place regularly and the Yoast team also reacts promptly to support requests. However, premium users have absolute priority here. So it may happen that you 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 is overloaded Plugin with too many functions. This can lead to complications, vulnerabilities in the security of your website or slow load times lead. I have to agree with some of that. So some of the functions Plugin contained in it are simply useless. For example, the integration of Ryte in Yoast SEO offers no added value at all and could be removed in my opinion:
In addition, there have been complications in the past with updates that have led to indexing problems or security vulnerabilities.
Rank Math comes from the creators of "MyThemeShop". RankMath is called WordPress .org currently used on over 200,000 active WordPress websites. There is hardly any information about the company itself. Nor about the people who support the project significantly. The reason for this is probably that the company has its origins in India.
I first came into contact with Rank Math in July 2017 - when MyThemeShop asked me if I wanted to participate in the tests for the closed beta. In November 2019 the official release took place. And thus only two months after the feedback of the Closed Beta. I felt that this was too early.
Functions of Rank Math
This Plugin is free in all its previous functions. The developers have already admitted several times that this will Plugin later receive a premium version. Existing functions should nevertheless remain free. Experience shows that there is always the risk that such statements are not kept.
But I'm curious which functions the developers still want to integrate into thisPlugin . Because the majority of all SEO-relevant settings are already Plugin included. At the moment the team of Rank Math is probably thinking about creating further incentives for a premium version by means of automation.
Setup (Setup Manager)
Already in the Setup Manager you can see that it is Plugin 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:
Remarkable is the possibility to take over all previous settings from Yoast SEOPlugin . A function that worked amazingly well in the test! Even the status codes of previous redirects were transferred without any problems. But this import only works in one direction. A return from Rank Math to Yoast SEO is not automatically possible. You should keep this in mind during installation.
I find it critical that the Setup Manager requires a registration. According to the support this can be skipped by clicking "Cancel", but this is not clear. Furthermore, it is not explained why a registration should be necessary. Only via the forum of WordPress you will get the corresponding information:
Here I would like to see more transparency.
Test Rank Math
On https://demo.rankmath.com you can WordPress Plugins test the interface of the - without having to site install it on your own. 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. Positive is:There you can add as many synonyms as you like. Nevertheless, the analysis by Yoast SEO is more detailed. For example, ALT tags are not taken into account in Rank Math, the readability index (Flesch Test) does not yet include a European language. Furthermore Yoast has a in-house linguist for this feature, so that Yoast can show a considerable lead here.
In addition to the keyword analysis there is another tool in Rank Math 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. You will be informed, for example, whether your website is crawlable, whether meta descriptions are available or how the website is presented in a SpeedTest performs.
For beginners this test may be very good. Whereby I have to criticize that many of the suggestions (Auto Updates, visibility of Plugins) are not SEO relevant. Furthermore, the test does not say much about which of sites the domains are optimized below average. Therefore the add-on is only worthwhile for a one-time use - you can deactivate it afterwards.
Who MyThemeShop who knows that the company has years of experience in the integration of schema data. This experience from their own Themes has been put to good use at RankMath. For example, in the Gutenberg editor, you can choose which structured data to use for the post. Thus, rich cards can be easily generated from a contribution, 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. In addition, structured data for companies, persons or organizations are generated by the settings in the backend. 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.
Rank Math consists, according to its own statements, of approximately 30,000 lines of codewhereas other tools can manage an average of 50,000 lines of code. Lean source code brings advantages. Not only does less code, and therefore fewer queries, have a better impact on your site performance, but it also allows fewer hackers to get in. On the other hand, there are hardly any independent test values on the net that compare the actual effect on loading time.
When it comes to the functionality of bothPlugins , Rank Math is the clear winner in this comparison. In the Add-On section, you can enable or disable the following additional functions as you wish:
- 404 Monitor
- Advanced Custom Fields & AMP
- bbPress, buddyPress
- Link Counter, Local SEO & Google Knowledge Graph
- Forwarding, Schema Structured Data
- Role Manager, Search Console, SEO Analysis, Sitemap
Many of these features are not included in Yoast SEO or can only be enabled through paid extensions. Yonas Tietgen has a lot of experience with many of the functions reported in his blog.
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.
The disadvantages include the lack of transparency about the developers or providers behind the Plugin and Reports about the creation of fake reviews on WordPress .org. If you join the Facebook group or use Google search, you will find almost exclusively positive reports. And also during my one year membership in the beta community I often had the impression that other users praised it Plugin too much.
Or that interested parties are being urged to absolutely migrate from Yoast SEO to Rank Math. Such a migration of settings is possible, but not from Rank Math to Yoast. I don't want to badmouth this 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, no question. And he's also ahead in terms of interface, functionality and the idea behind it. But one look at the support forum is enough to see that it's Plugin still in its infancy.
Here Yoast SEO is clearly ahead of the pack due to the longer experience and the larger team. Yoast SEO is compatible with several as WordPress Plugins well Themes as. And with the huge distribution, many other programmers have adapted theirs Plugins and Themes to Yoast SEO. For example, in some Themes/frameworks the breadcrumbs of Yoast SEO can be used instead of the Themebreadcrumbs. And all this without interfering with the code. This is also the reason why I haven't switched to Rank Math yet.
So I remain with 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 spare myself potential problems. Nevertheless, Rank Math is an interesting approach that should be kept in mind.
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.
It is better to invest your time in topics that really have to do with search engine optimization: A SEO auditthe contents of your website and the user experience. Then you profit from higher sales or through faster load times. See mine SEO Guide 2020 for more tips.
As a RAIDBOXES customer, do I need Yoast SEO Premium?
If features like "internal link recommendations", "content insights" or "advertising freedom" are important to you – then yes. But the most important selling point for Yoast SEO is the redirect manager. Having said that, in the RAIDBOXES dashboard you can also easily configure temporary or permanent redirects (including rewrite rules).
Then you can also use Yoast SEO in the free version without any problems - and therefore you are not dependent on this feature.
Who is Rank Math suitable for?
For any new installation or website that has WordPress not used any SEO tool so far. Since this Plugin is still in its infancy: I recommend this 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 Plugin. But changing from another SEO Plugin just because of that can also have negative effects.