What is the best WordPress SEO plugin? We’ve used quite a few over the years, and have a lot of experience with the three that we would consider the most popular WordPress SEO plugins: RankMath, Yoast, and SEOPress. Here’s how they stack up against each other… and the one we’ve decided to use going forward.
WordPress SEO plugins are tools that you can add to your website to help you optimize it for search engines. In other words, a WordPress SEO plugin can help get your website to rank higher when someone searches keywords that you’re targeting.
Note: These plugins only work for WordPress websites. They may also work for Showit websites with WordPress blogs, but you will need to have Showit’s advanced blog plan in order to install your own choice of plugins (the basic blog plan comes pre-installed with the free version of Yoast).
It’s important to realize that there’s nothing magical about an SEO plugin. You’re likely not going to rank higher or gain greater search visibility merely by installing an SEO plugin. These are just tools that help you optimize the content on your website. If you’re creating low quality content, an SEO plugin is not going to fix that for you. It will, however, alert you when a page or post is missing key elements that could help in your ranking efforts.
If you’re currently using one of these three plugins and getting good results, we wouldn’t necessarily recommend switching things up. All three of plugins being reviewed in this article are reputable. However, if you’re just getting started, feel like there’s something lacking in your current SEO plugin, or want to make a switch due to the cost of your current plugin, then read on!
SEO Plugin Similarities
All three of these plugins share a similar goal: to help you optimize a website for search engines. So, you’ll find that the feature set between each of the plugins is fairly similar. Each plugin…
- Allows you to update basic SEO settings for each of your pages and posts such as setting page titles and meta descriptions.
- Integrates with Google on some level—either with Google Search Console or Google Analytics—which can be helpful in getting an accurate picture of data. Additionally each plugin makes it easy to generate XML sitemaps that can be loaded in Google Search Console.
- Adds schema mark-up to you website.
- Has the potential help you optimize for local searches and/or optimize your WooCommerce shop.
- Uses some sort of rubric on pages and posts to let you know what is left to optimize (in Yoast, for instance, these are green, yellow, and red lights).
- Has a free version of their plugin that has a limited feature set.
SEO Plugin Key Differences
Many of the key differences come down to things like value—what you get for your money—how many plugins it’s going to take for you to optimize your website, and the trajectory of the company. Some of those differences include…
- How many plugins it requires to optimize your website: Yoast, for instance, requires separate add-on plugins for local, WooCommerce, etc.
- The cost of each plugin (and required add-ons).
- The user-interface and set-up of each plugin: Mostly personal preference, but important.
- Ability to add schema mark-up.
- Rank tracking and backlink counting.
With all that mentioned, let’s take a closer look at each plugin.
Let’s start with the OG SEO plugin and that’s Yoast SEO. Yoast used to be the only game in town when it came to WordPress SEO optimization. Yeah there were other plugins, but Yoast was the most popular.
One downside about Yoast is that it could potentially take multiple SEO plugins to optimize your site. If you have a Woocommerce site, they have a separate add-on you’ll need for that. If you’re a local business, there’s another add-on you’ll likely want to optimize for local searches.
This means is that you’ll likely end up dropping over $100/year to optimize your website, and you’ll have to use more than one plugin to do so. Keep in mind that each plugin that you add to your website can impact performance and make troubleshooting plugin conflicts that much more tedious.
Something that might make this price a bit more bearable is that Yoast also provides access to their SEO Academy, and we’ve always found their resources to be top-notch. Historically, Yoast has always seemed like the kind of company that prioritized “giving back” to the community in the form of education, which is admirable.
However, one reason to hesitate before purchasing Yoast is it was just acquired. We’ll let you do your own research and come to your own conclusions about whether that’s a good thing or bad thing. Spoiler: We don’t think it’s great news.
We used Yoast on all of our websites for years, and then we stumbled upon a lifetime deal for SEOPress. So, we gave that a shot on one of our websites.
There are quite a few things I love about SEOPress:
- The dashboard was easy to navigate and super simple to set-up. Out of the three plugins we’re reviewing, I think SEOPress has the best dashboard, but we understand that this is mostly personal preference.
- It seems to have all the features that Yoast has and more (at least of the features I cared about).
- We get access to all of those features in ONE plugin. Instead of having to use Yoast’s SEO plugin and WooCommerce add-on, I just had to install SEOPress’s one plugin to optimize my website.
Something else that’s awesome about SEOPress: It’s $39/year and you can use it on unlimited websites. That’s far less expensive than what I was paying for Yoast. As far as I know, this makes SEOPress the best, least expensive option out there.
Not long after I started using SEOPress, they rolled out with a second, complementary plugin called Insights, which allows you to track keywords and monitor links from within your WordPress dashboard. This is an awesome feature for people who do not want to pay for other SEO tools like SEMrush to track progress and monitor SEO, which often cost close to $100/month.
The downside of Insights is that it costs an additional $99 if you don’t have an SEOPress Pro subscription, and it does require you to install yet another plugin on your website. With that said, the upside is that if you don’t care about these features, you don’t have to use the plugin. Our guess is that by splitting these features into their own plugin, the SEOPress remains leaner. Since we have access to professional SEO tools like SEMRush and Ahrefs, we wouldn’t need the features that come up with Insights.
We’re big fans of SEOPress even though it’s not the plugin that we’re currently using.
We had heard for years about RankMath, the free SEO plugin that was supposedly better than all the rest. It wasn’t until we was putting together the latest version of our Showit SEO course that we decided to give it a shot. By then RankMath had rolled out a Pro version in addition to the free version of their plugin, so I tried the “pro” version.
A few things struck me right away:
- I think the free version of RankMath is the very best FREE SEO plugin available. If you don’t have the money to invest in the pro version of any of the plugins we just covered, check out RankMath.
- The pro version of RankMath contains pretty much everything in the last two plugins I mentioned… and only requires ONE plugin.
- You can track keyword progress (and other analytics) using the plugin.
- The set-up wizard makes it easy to get started, and makes it easy to switch from another plugin (even if you’re using multiple SEO-related plugins).
- There are far more schema mark-up options.
- The official Facebook group is active and support is fast.
Yes, it even gives you the ability to track keywords. Again, super helpful if you don’t have access to other costly professional tools but want to easily understand whether your content marketing efforts are working.
The set-up wizard makes it super easy to import data from other popular SEO plugins, including Yoast and SEOPress. It will automatically detect these other plugins and ask whether you want to import the data. We were anxious that moving from Yoast to RankMath would be a headache since we have nearly a decade of content on our website, but it ended up being easy.
The dashboard is easy to use and allows you to quickly toggle on-and-off different features within the plugin.
It also integrates directly with the Elementor, which is our WordPress pagebuilder of choice. It’s worth noting that SEOPress also integrates with Elementor (we have not used their Elementor integration yet because we had already switched to RankMath by then).
It does run a bit more expensive than SEOPress at $59 for a Pro License, but it’s still less expensive than Yoast SEO Pro. And like SEOPress, you can install on unlimited personal websites. They do list this as a “launch price” on their website, so it may increase in the near future.
One other note: The RankMath Facebook group is very active and RankMath appears to do a good job of responding to questions quickly.
We have since migrated all of our websites over to RankMath.
So what WordPress SEO plugin do we recommend?
Well, first things first: You need to ask yourself whether your current SEO plugin isn’t cutting it. If things are good, there’s no reason to fix something that’s not broken.
However, if you’re looking to install your first SEO plugin or your current SEO plugin isn’t cutting it, we recommend RankMath. Even if you go with the free version, it’s probably going to get you the most features, although we’ve found the Pro version to be worth it. RankMath Pro is what we use on all of our websites now. << Try RankMath >>
If you’re looking to save some money, our next recommendation would be SEOPress. << Try SEOPress >>
We no longer recommend Yoast.