When I first built this website in 2013, I installed the Yoast SEO plug-in. The little that I knew about SEO was from my job as a marketing director for an architecture & interior design firm, and that website had used Yoast, so I went with what was familiar.
I figured out the SEO for this site using Yoast, and for years it didn’t occur to me to change anything; Yoast worked fine, and it was comfortable. Sorta like a high school boyfriend — your parents like him enough and you have a solid date to prom, what else could you ask for?
But then about a year ago (because I’m deeply entrenched in the SEO world), I’d heard enough rumblings about a new SEO plug-in called Rank Math that I decided to give it a shot on a side hustle software review website I was building … and I was really impressed. It was like getting to college and realizing that your high school boyfriend was just puppy love; this guy can take you to Paris. (Ok, none of my college boyfriends could afford to fly to Paris … but we could have, and that makes a different.)
Once i saw Rank Math, I almost immediately also I’d also switched over the plug-in for this site, and I haven’t looked back. Let me explain what I saw:
What is the Rank Math SEO?
Rank Math is a free SEO plugin that has even more functionality to it than Yoast. At first glance, you may think, “Meg, they’re both SEO plugins, how can they be that different?” And it’s true, a lot of the things between the Yoast plugin and the Rank Math plugin are very similar:
Yoast & Rank Math similarities
They have the same rules that they follow because Google doesn’t change based on the plug in that you use. So things like how long is your SEO title or how to include alt tags, those types of things aren’t going to change regardless of what plugin you’re using. They both integrate with your Google Analytics or Google Search Console, you can set up your sitemap, the big difference in the interface that you’re going to see if you decide to move to Rank Math is instead of having that traffic light that Yoast has where you can be red, yellow, or green Rank Math uses a scoring system. So you’re going to have a score somewhere between zero and 100. Where zero is you haven’t touched it at all. And sometimes even when I don’t do anything, I still write in such a way that I can get like a 20 without doing any work, or 100 is you’ve done everything you possibly can to optimize this blog post. And I really prefer that because I feel like then it’s a little bit more nuanced of an approach and I can pick and choose whether or not I want to take certain activities and strategies into play. Instead of just feeling like I need to achieve some sort of artificial Greenlight.
4 ways Rank Math consistently outperforms Yoast
But there are things that Rank Math does better than Yoast:
1. Multiple focus keywords
Yoast only allows you to have one focus keyword in their free version, but Rank Math will let you include more than one keyword and this works with the approach that I take where you have keyword clusters where you have multiple phrases that mean the same thing, and you can integrate them in different ways. Rank Math is much more supportive of letting you use multiple keywords that mean the same things as synonyms.
2. Automatic 301 redirection
Yoast doesn’t automatically redirect things if you move them from one place to another in the free version, but Rank Math has a 301 redirection tool built right into it. So if you decide to change the permalink, or the slug on your blog post and you want to change, where it’s located on your website, Rank Math should automatically set that up to redirect it for you.
Yoast premium has internal link recommendations, but not in its free version; Rank Math does include that in its free version. So if you have a related blog post, Rank Math can do a pretty good job of prompting: “You’ve written about this before in this blog posts, let’s try to link those two blog posts together.”
4. SEO suggestions for local, video & e-commerce SEO
Yoast has 4 paid plug-in add-ons for $69/year each: Yoast Local SEO, Yoast Video SEO, Yoast News SEO and Yoast WooCommerce SEO. These will give you additional settings (like adding a Google Map route planner, making videos responsive, or providing specific prompts for products) to optimize your site.
Rank Math’s free version has toggles to turn on those additional settings & prompts, without the $69/year price tag.
5. Advanced Schema markup generator
Schema ****is a code you can put on your website that all search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc) all agreed to use as a shared vocabulary. It includes structured data for articles, FAQs, reviews & products, so that all of these show up looking great in search results. (Like if you include schema mark-up for a recipe, then search engines can pull images from your website to display in search results):
Yoast has a handful of schema types in the free version — and more in the paid add-ons for local, video & WooCommerce — but Rank Math supports over 800 different types of schema in the free version.
The Free version of Rank Math is better than the paid Yoast!
So when people ask me all the time, should I bother with the premium version of Yoast, I’m like, “No, just get the free version of Rank Math.” That’ll get you everything that you could need in terms of SEO.
6. Rank Math’s on-page scoring system
One of my favorite Rank Math upgrades is what SEO nerds call “on-page optimization,” aka the adjustments you can make to a specific post to boost its SEO.
Instead of Yoast’s traffic light system of red-yellow-green (which can feel a little arbitrary), Rank Math gives you a score of 0-100, which automatically adjusts as you make changes on the page:
The prompts are similar to Yoast, because the actual SEO principles haven’t changed:
It’s easy to move from Yoast to Rank Math
And if you already have Yoast installed on your site, and you’re like, “Oh my god, I don’t want to do one more thing, I don’t want to have to worry about moving everything over!” Rank Math does have a free migration tool, where you can move from Yoast to Rank Math in about five minutes. And it’ll just take all of your existing information that’s already in there and put it into its system. And then maybe you want to take a few minutes and go through and see what they’re ranking you for with their numerical assessment instead of the traffic light assessment, you may find some new ways to optimize your existing content and give it a little boost.