Deleting Yoast Plugin Increases SEO Traffic?

CCarter

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Well this is interesting, a number of people are reporting that deleting the Yoast WordPress plugin has resulted in an increase in SEO traffic... I never use that plugin but it's perhaps worth a shot:

Sauce: https://twitter.com/NellyDogman/status/1102673077576581120





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I have to wonder if people have the plugin not configured correctly for this to happen. But then again several of these people are the more advanced SEOs I know in the industry.
 
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I never needed Yoast. Bloated for noobs.

Platinum SEO/All in One SEO does the trick.
 

Ryuzaki

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It absolutely sounds like a configuration problem. The entirety of Yoast is basically choosing what gets indexed or not and over-writing meta titles and meta descriptions. Anything else is just schema chucked into the <head> or sitemap generation.

If any of this is true, I'd chalk it up to user error or coincidence. With the way Google is updating significantly every 5-7 days since August 2018 (not that they don't push tiny updates every day), coincidence sounds likely too.
 
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It still amazes me people are using anything other than The SEO Framework. So damn lightweight it's not funny.
 

turbin3

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It absolutely sounds like a configuration problem. The entirety of Yoast is basically choosing what gets indexed or not and over-writing meta titles and meta descriptions. Anything else is just schema chucked into the <head> or sitemap generation.

If any of this is true, I'd chalk it up to user error or coincidence. With the way Google is updating significantly every 5-7 days since August 2018 (not that they don't push tiny updates every day), coincidence sounds likely too.
THIS. Just fear mongering or plugin shilling.

We already know about rank transitions, so it's all kind of invalid until we're talking about results beyond 90 days anyways.

Beyond that, it's exactly as Ryuzaki stated. Yoast simply configures the site. All anyone has to do is look at the source code on their pages. Look at their XML sitemaps. Look at the crawling/indexing behavior of their site. There's no magic to it.

All things considered, if you remove the Yoast comments in your source code... what does Google even know or care about what "plugin" may or may not be used to configure your site.

What's more likely is significant structural changes or deficiencies as a result of people not understanding the technical architecture of their site, information architecture, or concerns related to optimizing for crawling, rendering, and indexing content.
 

BCN

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I add in a few custom fields to my theme for seo meta and just do all the index/no-index outside of wp or in the template files.
 
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Strange that of all these experts no one seems to be able to actually pinpoint what it is that Rank Math does different. Should be fairly obvious I would have thought (if indeed it does anything). Tweets at the top all sound like paid shills when put like that together TBH. Show the source code differences or this is all BS or just Google algo changes.
 
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Digital Marketing Curmudgeon tried to ask in his tweet like, say you have everything set up in best practice form in Yoast already, and then switched but kept the same best practice settings, what could cause a ranking increase. Don't feel there was a clear response.

Rank Math has a page where they do make Yoast look a bit bloated in terms of number of plugin files, number of lines of code, and total plugin size in MB. (https://rankmath.com/yoast-alternative/)

Is the above enough to explain big traffic gains? I myself am dubious. Nonetheless I figured might as well see for myself so I swapped Yoast for Rank Math on one of my sites Wednesday night. Now monitoring. Will report back.
 

mj22

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Strange that of all these experts no one seems to be able to actually pinpoint what it is that Rank Math does different. Should be fairly obvious I would have thought (if indeed it does anything). Tweets at the top all sound like paid shills when put like that together TBH. Show the source code differences or this is all BS or just Google algo changes.
When grindstone says something I pay attention. I been doing SEO since 2006-2007 successfully for a living, dude has helped me a lot (via being able to bounce ideas off of and ask questions ect) and 9/10 times he's hott on dat ass. Ill have to check these plugins out I guess.

Edit: I don't know shit about coding or w/e
 

animalstyle

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Not sure if I am the norm, but I configure my free Yoast implementation by hand and have it running on many sites. I just use it for sitemap, meta title/desc, noindex, social data, organization data. I don't connect search console, use it for breadcumbs, or use premium. Using it in this way, I can and do verify the resulting code on the pages.

As many have said, it seems like this could be a configuration issue, or maybe the bloat is bogging down weaker servers and increasing site load time, having an impact that way.

The issue is that this whole twitter convo is it doesn't give enough context. To what extent was the Yoast plugin used, other changes on the site, timing of other SEO efforts, site speed impacts... the list goes on and as we know there are really too many factors at play constantly to really pinpoint anything.

The unspoken idea this places in your head is that there is an unknown, fundamental issue with Yoast or that Google silently governs sites using the plugin. This obviously it catches our attention in a significant way - as all good marketing should....

Rankmath is mentioned a lot. This whole thing easily feels like it could be a marketing pull to capture a user base on a product before moving from free to paid. Where are the targets? Over on Yoast and fear is a powerful motivator. Not pointing fingers, but as an outsider that's what I see.

I'll continue cross my t's and check my config, understand the fundamentals of how these things work, and make my decisions based on the data. If there is a documented, measurable, repeatable issue with the plugin then I'll be listening.
 
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It’s not just yoast.


Googles got some nasty profiling and footprinting engines building special index’s.


Guess what indexes things like yoast get u put in.....

We discontinued our blogxen product and went totally dark for a reason.
Act like a webmaster that’s trying to do seo.
Get treated like a webmaster that’s trying to do seo.
 
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Welp, it's been a week since I said goodbye to Yoast and hello to Rank Math and I can say my traffic and rankings have remained relatively steady.
 
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Welp, it's been a week since I said goodbye to Yoast and hello to Rank Math and I can say my traffic and rankings have remained relatively steady.
Same here.

Well, I did see new highs for organics, but nothing out of the ordinary. I was growing with Yoast as well.

That said, I still like Rank Math better - more options with fewer plugins. And I wanted to change Yoast anyway, because they fucked up in August 2018.
 
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Same here.

Well, I did see new highs for organics, but nothing out of the ordinary. I was growing with Yoast as well.

That said, I still like Rank Math better - more options with fewer plugins. And I wanted to change Yoast anyway, because they fucked up in August 2018.
Are you seeing any difference is terms of spred, requests per page and such?
 
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Are you seeing any difference is terms of spred, requests per page and such?
Yoast would only effect speed in any way if you aren't using caching. If you aren't, then the speed impact will still be negligible. It also doesn't add any HTML requests to the page, at all.

With that being said, I still don't like Yoast for all the nagware and annoying notifications and extra menu items everywhere. I've removed it all but I'm still salty that it's there. Joost is also an absolute adult child complete with the temper tantrums.

But still, the only bloat you find with Yoast is on the backend.
 

Golan

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I never used Yoast, since my very first sites.
The entirety of Yoast is basically choosing what gets indexed or not and over-writing meta titles and meta descriptions.
All this i do with tiny free plugins.
 
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I know where everything is in Yoast, I know it covers all the bases I need and I run a cache. I see zero reason to change.
 
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Shill here, can someone plz teach me how to set up Yoast properly?

FWIW, the site I was testing Rank Math on I ended up going a different direction, because I wanted the ability to <prev> <next> some monster content pieces without causing people to scroll forever. Or having to hack my theme folder that I would ultimately forget about and overwrite...

Also, for the record, the sites I was talking about in my original tweets went from Yoast to SEOPress Pro. I swapped out of Yoast on one site based on an idea that @secretagentdad mentioned upthread and pushed more over when I saw the results. Plus Jono and Joost are massive douches so fuck contributing to their market share.
 

turbin3

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Shill here, can someone plz teach me how to set up Yoast properly?
Sure. Honestly, for most people's needs, almost all of the work you'd need to do in Yoast is in these 2 tabs/menus:
  • Search Appearance
  • Social
Search Appearance
This is where you'll do the bulk of configuring your site to manage crawling, indexing, and meta tags.

General Tab
Yoast general settings menu


You can set several base settings for the entire site here.

Title Separator
You can choose what title separator you want. Personally, I usually go for the "pipe" because I feel like it looks best to differentiate between things like the actual title vs. branding. This is entirely subjective, so don't worry.

e.g. "Guide To Building Like a Baller | Builder Society"

Homepage
Set the meta tags for your homepage here.

Knowledge Graph
These settings create a JSON-LD script tag of structured data to help identify your brand. Even if it's just an individual blog, this is still useful to help Google and others better understand you're an author.

Content Types Tab
Yoast content types tab


This menu controls various features for meta tags, indexing, and admin display of Yoast boxes.

By default, you should at least see 2 boxes here. One for Posts, and one for Pages. With things like custom post types, you may have other types of pages show up here as well.

Changing meta settings here can broadly affect metas for all of those page types. So if you want to do something like tweak your display of branding (e.g. switch from front to rear branding, etc.), you can potentially do that here.

For the metas, words of wisdom. Hardcoding metas here will create pain for you later. Make use of the "snippet variables" Yoast provides and save yourself the trouble.

Settings to consider:
  • Show Posts in search results?
    • You probably want to set this to YES.
    • Setting this to NO will set noindex on your posts and remove them from your XML sitemaps.
  • Date in snippet preview
    • This only changes whether the snippet preview, in the post editor, shows the date or not.
    • Typically, most people set YES for posts and NO for pages.
  • Yoast SEO Meta Box
    • Only controls whether you want the Yoast widget showing up in the post editor.
    • Useful if you have custom post types where you don't need to use Yoast.
Media Tab
Yoast media attachments tab


In most cases, just set this to YES. By default, when you upload images, it creates an actual webpage for that image. Those pages are crawlable and indexable by default.

Over time, this can lead to lots of thin/no content pages, slowly burning up your crawl budget. Setting this to YES will redirect those pages so you no longer have to worry about this.

Taxonomies Tab
Yoast taxonomies tab


This is where you'll do the bulk of the work to control crawling and indexing in Yoast.

It's just like the "Content Types" or "Archives" tabs. You can set metas here as well as an indexing option for each type.

Just like the other types of tabs mentioned, if you're using things like custom post types, you may see those types added here. By default, you should at least have options for Categories and Tags.

The first setting is for choosing whether to show Categories/Tags or custom post types in the search results. If you set this to NO, those types will have a meta robots noindex tag added, and will be removed from your XML sitemap.

In my case, I've entirely eliminated pagination on my Wordpress sites. I usually have focused categorization, usually not more than ~70-90 posts in 1 category, I set categories to display 9999 posts or so, and then I lazy load the post images.

What this does is create single category pages that show all of their posts. I then customize these category pages with templates to add optimized content and in-page navigation. For example, if it's a major category, I might display a card grid of all of the sub-categories within that major category.

So, considering my example above, for my use case I actually want to index my category pages. YMMV, and in some cases it might be detrimental for you to index yours.

The other settings are similar to the other tabs I've mentioned.

Category URLs
Yoast category urls setting


Personally, I almost always set this to REMOVE. This removes /category/ from your category URLs.

Generally, my strategy is to keep URLs keyword optimized, but as clear and concise as possible. I usually try to remove stop words, while maintaining readability. For me at least, I see "category" as extraneous and a waste of valuable space.

This really isn't that big of a deal. In the grand scheme of things, though, I don't care about the Pareto principle. People want to call 80% good and move on. That's fine, and maybe I'm naive, but I want 100% in ALL things.

  • ALL the speed
  • ALL the optimization
  • ALL the content
  • ALL the UX
  • etc
;-)

Archives Tab
Yoast author archives tab


Like the "Content Types" tab. Allows you to control indexing and metas for different archive types.

My current preferred settings:
  • Date archives DISABLED
    • YMMV. I find date archives, in most of my use cases... to be entirely useless and usually poor UX.
  • Author archives
    • DISABLED for several small sites, each with only 1 author.
    • ENABLED case 1
      • Show author archives in search results YES.
      • I use this for multi-author sites where authors have search volume.
      • Potentially you pick up ranks for their names.
    • Enabled case 2
      • Show author archives in search results NO.
      • For multi-author sites with "unknown" authors where their names have no search volume.
      • The thinking is, why burn up crawl/index budget for pages where there's no hope of ranks or traffic.
    • Show archives for authors without posts in search results?
      • I always set this to NO.
      • I can't think of any legit reason you'd ever want this set to YES
The important thing to note is, if you set any of these archive types to DISABLED, they will be redirected to the homepage. This can be very useful to minimize tons of thin/no content pages.

Breadcrumbs Tab
Setting this to ENABLED will add breadcrumbs to your site, including structured data for them.

Currently, I have mine set to DISABLED for the few Wordpress sites I'm still involved with. One thing to watch out for is, many themes have built in breadcrumb functionality. Yoast can interfere with this.

In some cases, a theme might already have well-designed breadcrumbs that keep with the site's design. For example, I'm a frequent user of Studiopress themes, using the Genesis framework. I've found I have fewer problems just using the built in breadcrumbs and disabling Yoast. YMMV.

RSS Tab
This will let you customize your RSS feed. Yoast gives you several variables to use, so you're not hardcoding anything.

Honestly, I never really customize this. I wouldn't worry about it, unless RSS feeds are a critical component for your marketing.

Social
This is where you'll setup structured data snippets for the various social platforms.

I'm not going into this in detail, as it's pretty self-explanatory. Basically, you can add the links to several social profiles here. You can also add a verification code for Pinterest.

For Facebook, you can add a fallback opengraph image for things like social shares. You can also add a Facebook App ID for things like enabling Facebook comments (you're on your own to code that one).

For Google+, be glad that it is dying a long overdue death. I would guess in a few months Yoast will remove that tab. ;-)