Let me start by saying that I use Yoast myself and as a tool, it does a good job of making some aspects of your SEO efforts easy. It also isn’t the only option out there, but that is something for another time.

The issue is, that there seem to be an increasing number of users who are falling foul of the little green bullet. That is to say, they are installing Yoast and doing everything by the numbers. This, as an SEO practice, could be damaging to your site and future efforts to be found in Google.

Why? Because Yoast isn’t saying that you should follow all of these rules for success, but it also doesn’t say that if you do this wrong, then you could be in hot water with Google. Remember that Yoast is only looking at things from its own data and should never be taken as anything more than a suggestion. Don’t feel like you need to take everything to heart and if it doesn’t make sense, then don’t do it.

Lets have a look at what all the fuss is about…

Yoast Bullets

See those little round buggers on the left? They ‘tell’ you if you have done everything right – or do they?

Content Length

300 words… 300 words is considered to be the minimum you should add, and then the little bullet turns green and suddenly everything is great? 297 words at this point, and there we have it – 300 words and that is enough. I have reached the level required to send the bullet green and move it down the list to make way for the next elements that need work. I HAVE PASSED!

First of all, is 300 words enough? Is it too much? Are non-seo savvy site owners trying to meet this with the wrong sort of content? Are they adding filler content to try and make up the numbers? I have spoken to many site owners over the years who are using WordPress with Yoast and there certainly are some that think that a green means you have passed and can leave it alone.

There is so much more to content than the length alone as many of us will know. The worrying thing here, is that Google have said that Content and Links are their two biggest signals, yet this glazes over the fact and leaves you thinking you have done enough.

If I were Yoast, I would be adding some development for this – and don’t even get me started on keyword density… That went out with the SEO Ark!

Page Titles

Back in 2014, Google change tact and removed the way they measured a page title. Rather than using characters, they now use pixels and they give you somewhere between 511 and 515 pixels to play with.

Yoast actually contradict themselves a bit here because they provide you with a preview of your page title (this is the one you should take notice of) but then give you a green bullet if you are somewhere between 35 and 65 characters. It is estimated  that you will have no more than 54-56 characters to stay within the limits that Google now set, but don’t base your page title on the characters at all. If it is too long, it will be truncated. That can mean the difference between a title making sense, and one that misses off an important point. That can have a direct impact on CTR.

Page Titles Pt. II

Move your chosen word to the beginning of the page title… So many people take this as gospel and suddenly, it makes no sense. Only add a keyword at the start if it belongs there. Google said recently that they do use page titles as a ranking score, it just isn’t a major factor. They much prefer to see something that makes sense to the query, so put common sense before keywords and avoid any stuffing or mis-placed words.

Page Copy Score

I passed! It’s green! But is that good? Probably in this case, but not in all cases. An easier read basing on the Flesch redability score shows it isn’t a technical document, which this isn’t. However, if you were writing a technical document, you might be trying to keep your score high (higher = easier to read) which is actually the opposite of what you want to do. You would expect a technical document to use big words that would lower the score.

The takeaway from this is base your scores loosely on where you think it should be posititioned for your target audience. Write a techical article for a bunch of professors and they would expect it to be technical and full of formulas and big words… so would Google.

These are what I would say are the main issues for those who follow everything to a tee. It can be dangerous if you really aren’t sure.

It isn’t all bad news though – Yoast SEO does make many elements easier to manage for those working on WordPress. My advice, if you aren’t sure, ask someone first. Running blindly to make all of those bullets green, can do you a lot more harm than good.