Recently I saw a discussion about the Yoast SEO plugin at a forum. The person who started the thread complained that the Yoast plugin was abusive. He spent hours rewriting sentences in hopes of getting approval from Yoast. Passive voice, transitional phrases, too many words, too few words — Yoast was constantly badgering him about his writing.
Yoast bedeviled this individual to the point that he felt his content was practically unreadable and certainly not natural.
If you are wondering what kind of horrible plugin we’re talking about here, you may need a quick introduction to Yoast, the most popular SEO plugin for WordPress websites. This free plugin (with a premium version, too) judges the readability and search engine optimization of your post, giving you red or orange or green dots to show the quality of your work. It also gives suggestions on how to improve your post or page.
If for some reason you are writing your own blog, Yoast can help you get into the habit of writing readable, well-optimized text.
Yoast is not magic. You can get a green light for boring, repetitive content filled with false information. But we think that it is helpful. We install it in nearly every website we build, and we use it ourselves.
So — is Yoast abusive?
Yoast is the name of a person, but in this context it is the name of the plugin. We don’t think either Yoast or the Yoast plugin is abusive.
We can write posts, put the keyword in the Yoast form, and get green lights 99.9% of the time. If we get an orange dot, we can make a couple of quick changes and get the desired green light.
Naturally, we don’t feel bullied or mistreated. And I don’t think that we’re unusually thin skinned either. Yoast may be wrong about the use of passive voice in your particular field, or you might be reaching out to a highly educated audience, so there may be times when your human judgement should overrule Yoast.
However, I think that any good web content writer can get green lights from Yoast.
Should you use Yoast?
Yoast isn’t magic. If you have trouble getting a green light, and spend multiple hours working for Yoast’s approval, the plugin is not your problem.
Not everyone can write well. Some people who write well aren’t good at SEO. In fact, good SEO writers are fairly thin upon the ground. If Yoast makes you feel bad, you should ask yourself why you are writing your blog.
If you own a website for your practice or your business, you have a job. If you have a job and you spend hours wrestling with your blog, you have made a bad business decision. Hire a good blogger so you can focus on doing your job well.
It’s really that simple.