Pretty much any of the people or places I go to for reliable WordPress website tips recommend the Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin as the plugin to resolve your basic onsite SEO needs. So I was surprised to find that when I needed to update several blog posts for a client in a target niche that I was so handicapped by the way that the plugin was set up.
It’s not that there is a lack of options. If you use the built-in plugin tour or use any number of YouTube videos or blog post guides out there, you will find that there are TONS of settings. But a lot of them seem to just be there for show. Sometimes they even write a comment next to an option indicating as much.
This isn’t the first time and it won’t be the last time that a plugin has unnecessary options that clutter up the Settings. But what really gets me riled up is the core of the Plugin itself, it’s on-page optimization. It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to use it properly when creating several posts or pages with a very specific target.
If we take for example a website of a business in Akron, Ohio, that specializes in picture framing, our target search phrases might look something like this:
- picture frames in akron
- picture framing akron
- best picture frames akron
- akron, ohio picture frame
and so on.
How to Target Those Phrases
The problem is that while these phrases are something that a person would naturally type into a search engine, not all of them are natural phrases of text to read nor write. Try to compose a sentence that includes the exact phrase “best picture frames akron” (even if you capitalize properly). Good luck. The key here is exact phrase, because that is what the Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin is optimizing for.
Although Google search bots can understand that a website containing text like “the best picture frames in Akron” is a good match for a search like “best picture frames akron”, the Yoast SEO Plugin is not. If the SEO Title you have entered in this example is not an exact match, it will tell you that your focus keyword was not found. The same goes for content inside your post or page, meta description, and so on. In other words, it’s impossible to get the endorphin rush of seeing the green light unless you are working with certain complete phrases, or short-tail keywords.
The Problem With Short-Tail
The problem with optimizing only for short-tail keywords, such as “picture frames” in our example, is twofold. Not only will a user searching for “picture frames” potentially be located in Pheonix, Arizona, and therefore very uninterested in getting a search result from a picture framing store located in Akron, Ohio, but it is also going to be impossible for this one little store to compete with all of the picture framing stores everywhere who are competing for this search term. If they compete only in their local market, their job becomes much easier. And this translates into monetary savings too when you are talking about paid advertising such as PPC ads targeting specific search terms.
Joe White at whenbluedogssmile.com summarizes the point very nicely, and adds that Google probably actually penalizes posts that are overtly targeting specific phrases.
I mean, how many times can you write “best picture frames akron” without your website looking spammy?
Looking for Answers
With all of the rave reviews for the Yoast Plugin, I feel like I must be missing something big. What is it that I’m not seeing? Is there another plugin you can recommend that doesn’t present this problem?
Oh yeah, and this post got only a yellow light.