This question comes up a lot and comes from a misunderstanding about what SEO really is. If you’re wondering this as well, keep reading and we’ll illuminate.
It’s understandable to think that having a plugin that refers to itself as, “The first true all in one SEO plugin” in Yoast’s case, or other plugins literally called All In One SEO, that it’d be a set and forget kind of solution.
The reality is that while these plugins can be helpful for doing your SEO, all they’re doing is helping with the foundational aspects of SEO. For instance, an SEO plugin might help you write meta titles and descriptions for your pages and blog posts, and that helps.
But the actual content in those pages and posts is even more important, and if you’re relying on a plugin you’re probably not addressing this part nearly enough.
Google is working tirelessly each day to refine its algorithms and get more accurate about making decisions for which sites to display when people search for various topics. If SEO were as simple as installing a plugin, basically every website there is would have “great SEO” and then how would Google decide between any of them?
There’s a lot more to it than meta titles and descriptions, and more to it than some basic canonical settings that plugins like Yoast offer.
That’s not a knock against Yoast; it does what it sets out to do well enough.
But at a glance, SEO is a collection of the following things that play into how well your site ranks:
- How much content your site has about given topics and how well the content answers user questions
- How clear it is that that content is actually about those topics (optimization)
- Media-rich bits like images and videos for engagement
- Website load speeds (the slower your site loads, the worse you’ll rank) since slow speeds create a worse user experience and Google doesn’t want that
- How long users spend on your site and whether they click through to other pages or abruptly leave
- What other sites are linking to you (how many, and how reputable)
- Mentions, shares, and overall engagement on associated social media channels
- Brand consistency across networks, directories, etc.
- Schema data to identify your business niche, location, and content types
From this you can probably understand why it’s frustrating as a marketing pro to hear commercials for website builder platforms that depict someone filling out a meta title and the voiceover says, “Everything you need to do powerful SEO!”
The target person those commercials are aimed at are the very people that don’t know better, and it hurts the industry and leads to a lot of unnecessary frustration for business owners. They’ll put a site together and think they’ve done everything for SEO and end up confused why they don’t rank.
Anyway, to circle back to the initial question in summary this is the ultimate takeaway:
SEO is more than just a plugin, and a plugin can’t solve the doing parts of SEO beyond helping you lay a good foundation for your site.