Is it worth paying for Yoast SEO Premium? Or can you get everything you need from the free Yoast SEO plugin? Find out in this honest review of Yoast SEO Premium.
Chances are, if you are a blogger, you’ve heard of the Yoast SEO plugin. Yoast SEO is a free plugin that you can use on self-hosted WordPress blogs (WordPress.org). It helps you to improve your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) in a variety of different ways.
If you don’t yet have a self-hosted WordPress blog, then I strongly advise you check out my post on hosted vs self-hosted: which is best for your blog? as you are almost certainly missing out on a lot of potential search engine traffic!
If you don’t know much about SEO, then I suggest you read my beginner’s guide to SEO first before reading this article.
I am a long-time user and a huge fan of the free Yoast SEO plugin, and I have written a couple of tutorials on this site which help you get the most out of the free version.
However, as well as the well-loved free Yoast SEO plugin, Yoast also offer a premium SEO plugin which offers extra features. I’ve been asked many times by readers and members of my Productive Blogging Community about whether the Yoast SEO Premium is worth the money, so at the start of 2019 I began using the premium version as a trial to find out more about it and discover for myself if it was worth the cost. This my honest view of the Yoast SEO Premium plugin…
What extra features do you get in Yoast SEO Premium?
First up, let’s take a closer look at what you actually get from the premium version. Yoast SEO Premium offers everything that you get from the free plugin plus…
- Better keyword optimization
- Social media previews
- Internal linking suggestions
- Orphaned content tool
- Stale cornerstone content tool
- Content insights tool
- Redirects manager
- Focus keyword export
- Free access to 24/7 support
- Ad-free experience
Let’s take a look at those premium features in detail…
Better keyword optimization
If you are familiar with the Yoast SEO plugin, then you will know all about the Yoast metabox which appears at the bottom of each post, when you are in the editing screen…
Yoast premium offers the same snippet preview, readability and focus keyphrase analysis as the free version, but with a few extra features in the focus keyphrase section.
Firstly, Yoast premium will detect when you use slight variations of your keyphrase – for example plurals, different verb forms, and your focus keyphrase used in a different order.
Secondly, Yoast premium offers you the opportunity to optimise more fully for synonyms and related terms.
Why is this helpful? Because Google is getting smarter at reading and understanding what we write. Google understands that when we write NATURALLY about a topic, we don’t just keep repeating the same word or phrase over and over again… we use synonyms, related phrases and variations of the key words etc. As a result, Google favours texts which seem naturally written (rich in synonyms and related terms) over texts where one keyword / keyphrase is just repeated over and over again in its algorithm.
Finally, Yoast premium offers a keyphrase density check – to make sure that you are using your keyphrase (and its synonyms) evenly throughout your blog post and not bunched up in one area. Again, this reflects how Google assesses a text, and gives you another way of improving your SEO.
Is it worth it?
These extra checks are very helpful to have when you are trying to optimise a blog post – they ensure that you don’t accidentally over-optimise your text by using your keyword too much in one area or in an unnatural way. They also serve as a useful reminder to use synonyms and related phrases, rather than repeating your keyphrase over and over again. However, as with all the other keyphrase analysis checks, they won’t ‘DO’ your SEO for you. This section of Yoast only gives you suggestions about how to improve your text. If you are good at SEO copywriting, you will do these things naturally anyway.
Social media previews
In the free version of Yoast, you are given the option to set the photograph, title and description that you would like to appear when the post is shared on social media, rather than relying on whatever Facebook, Twitter etc. decide to pick. You can set this in the Yoast meta box on the second tab…
Yoast premium takes this one better and allows you to see a preview of how your post will appear in social media.
Is it worth it?
This feature is obviously useful as it allows you to see how your post will look when it is shared on social media. However, you could simply share it to social media yourself to see how it will look! This is definitely a ‘nice to have’, but for me it wouldn’t be a reason on its own to get the premium version.
Internal linking suggestions
Internal linking is a hugely important part of SEO. (If you don’t know much about internal linking, I suggest you read my post on how to optimise your blog’s site structure, which explains this in more detail). The short version is that the more links a post or page has pointing to it (from your own site and from external sites), the more important it will appear to Google and so it will rank higher in search results.
By doing internal linking correctly you can help Google understand your site structure better, which in turn will mean your site will rank higher.
One of the ways you can help Google better understand your site structure is to create cornerstone content. This cornerstone content should be your best posts, but it should also be the posts with the most links pointing to them. This will send a clear message to Google about the main topics your website covers and the most important content on your blog.
Whenever you write a new blog post, you should link back to the main cornerstone post for that category as well as a selection of other closely related posts, your readers might be interested in reading next.
But remembering to link to the most appropriate cornerstone post and other related posts can be hard. Yoast Premium’s internal linking suggestions make it much easier. As you write your blog post, suggestions of other posts you might want to link to appear on the right-hand side. The links for these suggested posts can be copied and pasted into your text quickly and easily.
Is it worth it?
Yes and no. It’s a handy tool to have – it’s a great reminder to include relevant internal links and it often reminds me of a link I wouldn’t have thought of. However, it is a bit hit and miss. Sometimes the suggestions are absolutely brilliant. Sometimes they are a bit random! And it seems to work better on this blog than my food blog for some reason. Again, it’s a ‘nice to have’ – and I’d certainly miss it if I didn’t have it anymore, but you can manage perfectly well without it, so long as you are very familiar with your content and remember to include relevant internal links in every blog post.
Orphaned content tool
At the opposite end of the spectrum to cornerstone content, you have orphaned content. Orphaned content is posts and pages which don’t have any internal links pointing to them. This makes them hard to find and index (because search engine bots follow links to find new content) and search engines see orphaned content as less important. This is because search engines see the number of links a post has pointing to it as a measure of importance.
In the Yoast SEO Premium plugin, you can see your orphaned content all in one place by navigating to ALL POSTS in the left-hand menu bar and selecting the ‘orphaned content’ option at the top of the page. This is super helpful as you can then blitz through this list, ensuring you have linked to all your orphaned content.
Additionally, Yoast will remind you whenever you have orphaned content, via a notification on the first screen of the plugin.
This is particularly helpful as you might inadvertently create orphaned content when you are deleting or updating old blog posts. It also serves as a useful reminder to link TO your latest blog post.
Is it worth it?
I have to admit I love this feature! It makes identifying and tackling orphaned content much easier and means I don’t miss any orphaned posts or inadvertently create any.
Stale cornerstone content tool
If you want to do well at SEO, you should be keeping ALL of your blog posts up-to-date. But this is especially true of your cornerstone content. Cornerstone content should be your best and most up-to-date content. To help you remember to regularly update your cornerstone content, the Yoast Premium plugin has a stale cornerstone content tool. This tool prompts you to update any cornerstone articles that you haven’t touched in the last 6 months.
Is it worth it?
Again, I would have to say this is another ‘nice to have’ feature. If you keep good records, for example in your content calendar, and/or set up your own reminders in your calendar app, then this tool is not really necessary. However if you don’t keep great records, or if you just want to save yourself some time and effort, then this could come in very handy!
Content insights tool
Another feature of Yoast SEO premium is the content insights tool. This tool is located at the bottom of the Yoast SEO metabox and lists what plugin sees as the 5 most prominent words / phrases in the blog post.
This gives you a little bit of an insight into how Google sees your blog post. If the words and phrases that appear here include your keyphrase and some of its synonyms/related phrases, then you are clearly on the right track.
If the words and phrases here differ from your main topic, or if it includes some phrases which are not closely related to your keyphrase, it could be an indication that you need to revisit your blog post and make it more focused on the main keyphrase. This might mean using your keyphrase more often, but it might also mean cutting out parts of the text which are not relevant or including more synonyms and related phrases.
Is it worth it?
I think this depends a lot on how good you are at writing SEO friendly blog posts. If you are good at writing clear, well targeted, well optimised blog posts, I don’t think you are going to get a lot out of this tool. If, however, you struggle in this area, you might find the content insights tool rather handy.
This particular Yoast premium tool is very handy. You can set up any redirect you want in the Redirects Manager section of the plugin…
…but it will also prompt you to make a redirect whenever you delete a post (or page/category/tag etc.). This is a particularly useful feature, as it means you won’t forget to make a redirect!
Better still, if you change the URL of a particular post, or if you rename a category/tag, the redirects tool will automatically create a redirect from the old URL to the new URL, without you having to do anything to make it happen! (Though there is always an option to undo the redirect, if that’s not what you wanted to happen.)
You can also use the redirects tool in the search console part of the Yoast plugin. You can look at each crawl error and use the tool to decide whether to mark that URL as permanently deleted (410) or use a 301 redirect to redirect it to another post.
You can also use the redirects manager section of the plugin to view all your current redirects and make any necessary changes to your redirects.
If you have used another redirects plugin in the past, you can also use this feature to import all your redirects into the Yoast plugin.
Finally, if you know what you are doing you can use Regex redirects to move an entire group of URLs containing a specified word or phrase to a new location. (N.B. You should only use Regex redirects if you know what you’re doing because they can easily break your site!)
Is it worth it?
I personally love this feature! It has saved me a lot of time and hassle. There are, however, other redirects plugins available – some of which are free or low cost, which may be worth considering if you are only interested in this feature.
Focus keyword export
This allows you to export a spreadsheet file (CSV) of your keywords, together with other details of those posts such as titles and URLs. It also allows you to include your keyphrase and readability scores. This could be really useful if you want to create an action plan of blog posts that need optimising or improving on. It could also help you identify overlaps (AKA keyword canibalisation – where you try to optimise more than one post for the same keyword) and gaps, which are opportunities for new content.
Is it worth it?
Again, this is a ‘nice to have’. How useful you find this will depend at how good you are at keeping your own records of blog posts and keywords. If you have a well organised, up to date content calendar, you may find you already have most of this information in spreadsheet form already. If not, you can get all this information from POSTS => ALL POSTS, albeit not in handy downloadable spreadsheet form.
Free access to 24/7 support
With Yoast premium comes free, round the clock access to Yoast’s support team. I must confess I’ve only used this once. But when I did, I found it to be very good: the replies were quick and helpful, and I felt like a valued customer.
Is it worth it?
Yes and no. I guess if you ever have a real problem, then this feature would be invaluable. However, the Yoast plugin is a very good plugin and in all my years of blogging I’ve only had one small question that couldn’t be answered either by searching for it on Yoast’s website or a quick Google search! But knowing I do have 24/7 access does give me peace of mind that, should I have an issue, I can actually have a real human being help me out. And if you are the sort of person who prefers to ask a real human being rather than try and find the answer on your own, then you’ll probably get a lot more out of this feature than me!
The final perk of the Yoast SEO Premium plugin is that, once you have it installed, you no longer see ads for Yoast’s products within the plugin.
Is it worth it?
This very much depends on how annoyed you get by the ads you see in the Yoast plugin. I stare at computer screens full of ads all day long and so I have developed a large degree of ‘ad blindness’! I think the first time I noticed Yoast had ads was when I first started to look into getting Yoast Premium – I had to check the plugin to see what they were on about with that ‘ad free’ feature! I had certainly never found them annoying or intrusive. However, if you are someone who really hates the ads, then I guess you would find some value in this feature!
How much does Yoast SEO Premium cost?
Yoast SEO Premium currently costs £79 in the UK and $89 in the US**. There is a small discount if you buy multiple licenses (you need one license per website). It’s important to note that this price is for 1 year, so if you want to be able to continue using the features of Yoast Premium, you will have to pay that £79 every year.
Conclusion: Is Yoast SEO Premium worth paying for?
So, is Yoast SEO Premium worth the money? Well, it depends…
The first thing to say is that you definitely don’t NEED Yoast SEO Premium to be good at SEO. And it’s definitely NOT going to magically make your SEO better with no extra effort from you!
If you want to get good at SEO, then honestly, the best thing you can do right now is read and put into action all my SEO related blog posts. Especially these four…
- A beginner’s guide to SEO
- How to set up the Yoast SEO plugin PROPERLY!
- How to optimise your blog’s site structure for SEO
- How to use cornerstone content to increase blog traffic
I also think that if you only have £79 to spend, there are other things you should definitely buy first. For example:
- Better hosting
- A professional theme
- A better email service provider
- A decent camera*
- WP Recipe Maker (if you are a food blogger)*
However, if you already have all these things and still have a spare £79, then I do think Yoast Premium is worth the money. Sure, you can do all the things it does with free plugins and/or manually. But that’s going to take longer and cause you more hassle down the line (because the more plugins you have = more to go wrong, and having lots of plugins will also slow your site down). And hey, if you are reading Productive Blogging, then you are surely looking for ways to save yourself time and make your life easier, right?
Yoast SEO Premium will definitely save you some time, make your life a touch simpler and will help you put a little extra polish on your SEO efforts. If you think that’s worth £79, then go for it!
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*This blog post contains affiliate links, this means if you click on a link and go on to buy the product I recommend, I will get a small commission, but you will not be charged a penny more – thanks in advance! (Please note: Yoast SEO do not currently have an affiliate scheme so any links to Yoast and Yoast’s premium plugin in this blog post are NOT affiliate links.)
** prices correct as at 01/04/19