Even a WordPress SEO expert can be easily frustrated by Yoast. But before I explain why, let me add a disclaimer: Yoast is the absolute best SEO plugin for WordPress and it’s not even close. I owe Yoast for not only improving the bottom line of companies I’ve worked for, but also making me a better SEO trainer and consultant.
Ok, so then what am I writing this article for? Because the Yoast plugin has not caught up with Google’s understanding of language. Here’s an example – let’s say you want to target the phrases”meditation classes” and “meditation course” in a single web page.
It used to be you needed 2 web pages to get on page 1 for both phrases, but ever since Google’s Humming Bird update in 2013, the algorithm will hardly distinguish between the two queries. Google will return mostly the same web pages regardless of which phrase the searcher uses.
This is true for things like “seo training” and “seo classes” – Google will assume the users are searching for essentially the same thing.
The Problem Of Targeting Like Phrases with Yoast
The problem with the strategy of trying to kill two birds with one stone while you’re using Yoast is that you can only plug one target phrase into the tool. See the screenshot below.
It uses the single phrase you select to grade your post or page’s overall SEO. And that’s why you’re often stuck with tons of red lights even though you’ve added synonyms of the phrase.
Google actually loves when you add synonyms because it makes it easier to understand what you’re talking about. Google can only do so much when a phrase is repeated over and over – it helps to diversify your language a little bit for the crawlers. Of course, it also helps you rank for multiple phrases using a single blog or web page and thus saving you from more work.
Should You Ignore Some of Yoast’s Red Lights?
You should, but not if you can avoid it. For something like alt text, add both phrases you want to target. For your headers, try rotating the like phrases for each header you add. You can also weave the focus keyword into your text with minimal effort.
Red lights are no reason to hold off publishing your blog or web page. And now that you know Google understand sysnonyms, you can ignore some of Yoast’s warnings and kill two birds with one stone.
Thanks for reading and if you have more WordPress questions, feel free to fill out the form below and I’ll get in touch with you.