Yoast SEO: A Review of the Readability Feature

Now that I’ve gotten Yoast SEO installed, finally, what does it actually DO? Here’s a quick review of the plug-in after a week of using it. I focus on its main feature: readability. Honestly, I didn’t think this one would matter much.  Actually, I’m finding its probably one of the best features.  And this readability feature is available in the FREE version!

What is Readability and Why Should We Care?

Readability is the amount of effort it takes for our readers to understand us.  As a recovering academic, I can easily write thick, difficult to comprehend prose that people can’t relate to. Other people need to polish up their writing.  If English isn’t one’s first language, then readability becomes very important.   In my earlier blogs, I had a huge problem with being clear and engaging in my writing.  When I started using this plug-in, it was a real eye-opener.

We all make mistakes, especially when we’re tired.  It can be hard to find them, too, especially if they’re small. Yoast SEO  flags issues that I would’ve missed–and since it’s integrated into the editor, it forces me to take a good hard look at my writing, trying to solve the problems it has flagged.  Thought I would hate it–actually, beginning to really like it.    Things like starting three sentences in a row using the same words–ai yi yi.  I apparently do this alot more than I thought.  If you’re blogging, a mom, holding a full-time job–well, it can be exhausting. I’m finding that readability feature is frustrating (as it always finds ways for me to improve.)  But when I see “GOOD” in the readability score?  That is a big confidence boost.  And it helps me learn to write better.

There are other ways to get this functionality.  There are lots of readability scoring engines out there. Here’s one that’s free and pretty easy to use if that’s a special concern of yours. But Yoast SEO makes it easy to find them in your text by offering you the opportunity to highlight them, one at a time and take a look.

Getting Started with the Yoast SEO dashboard

The Yoast SEO menu has tons of items, including a dashboard.  You’ll also get marketing messages from them, the clever clogs that they are as well as any notices about big updates on the part of Google and how they might impact your blog.

Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 6.59.03 PM

In future posts, I’ll break down some of these features.  The Dashboard is mostly a notification board.  Funnily enough, the very first message it sends is a begging note for a five-star rating.  (After that install? Heh.)  

Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 7.04.47 PM.png

It also makes a plea for you to install another plug-in, created by Yoast.  Um,  I don’t think I’m in a hurry to spend hours and hours de-conflicting the bugs and problems between the Amp plug-in and the Yoast SEO plug in.  Maybe another day.

The Readability Feature

I started out very skeptical that this plug-in was going to be worth 90 bucks.  I’m still not entirely convinced.   The readability feature I thought –for sure–was going to be more a nuisance than a help. After all, I taught English at the university level for four years.  What could a program teach me?  But instead I find that it’s been the key benefit of the plug-in so far.

The readability analysis is located at the end of the post, so it doesn’t bother me while I write.  It points out problems–and highlights where those problems are found.   Not all of the suggestions are spot-on, but I’d say that 90% of the time, the algorithm is pointing to an actual problem that I can easily fix — and I can tell right away that the readability is, indeed, improved by these edits.  Little tip: you have to be using the visual editor, not the HTML (or text) editor to see the highlights.

 

The “Good” list tells you what you’re doing right!  I love that little bump of encouragement.  Rather than just nagging about the bad stuff, the algorithm gives me actual statistics about what’s good–encouraging me to make those statistics even better.

And those Premium Features?  So far, they’re kind of meh.

The key premium features allow you to “edit your snippet” (the piece of the blog post that is published in a search engine return) and add additional keywords–which seems to be difficult to do without Yoast SEO.  Even WordPress.org sites seem to rely on this particular plug-in to provide additional keyword capability.  It is possible (as I knew from the Olden Days)–at least on self-hosted sites–to add keywords in the “meta” portions of the document–but it seems to be an involved process.   Most every help file and post I’ve found refers again and again to Yoast SEO as the answer to adding in many keywords.  

There are arguments among SEO experts about whether keywords matter.  So long as people are going to sell us bloggers these keyword products, well, it’s going to be difficult to say, decisively, just how much they matter.  We need more data.

Yoast SEO touts its content analysis and “cornerstone content” are the key features that make a difference–by being even more strict in its readability scoring.  The rest of the features–like checking for broken links and so forth–seem useful, but I’m not sure if they are 90-dollars-a-year-useful.

Final analysis:  I’m happy with the Yoast SEO plug-in.   I might even be 90 dollars a year happy, but I don’t know yet.  In a few months, we’ll revisit that. Perhaps I just don’t know enough yet.  But overall, the Yoast SEO plug-in is indeed, a must-have for me, at least the free version.

Thanks for dropping by. Hope it was helpful! Best, Lola

Author: Lola

Recovering academic, real-life, honest to cornflakes anthropologist (Ph.D. and fieldwork and everything), tech-head and social media researcher.

Leave a Reply