Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for your blog or website is incredibly important if you want to get viewership from the major search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing. The two major plugins that are used by WordPress websites to increase their search engine visibility are Yoast, and the SEO Framework. I’ve used both on websites that I’ve run – so let’s talk about why I think The SEO Framework is the best SEO WordPress plugin.
What is The SEO Framework WordPress plugin
The SEO Framework is a free WordPress plugin that is developed by a team out of The Netherlands. It has no advertisements, no branding, and follows white-hat (ethical) SEO protocols that follow Google’s guidelines. It provides SEO tools and optimization that fit seamlessly into your site, and isn’t encumbered with SEO tools that don’t work or don’t provide value. The plugin also places a high value on security, transparency and privacy.
What SEO tools does The SEO Framework provide
The SEO Framework provides a lot of behind the scenes tweaks, code, and addons that help the general SEO of your website and the pages within it. Here’s a look at some of the more specific tools and features that The SEO Framework provides that can improve the presence of your site.
Making sure the meta titles of your pages are the proper length and formatting. The meta title can be used to determine the title for your page on search engines.
Meta Description Settings
Meta descriptions can be used to determine the text shown under a title on a search engine results page. You can either have these automatically generated, or write your own, making sure to follow best practice on length.
Social Meta Settings
Make sure your posts and pages output proper meta tags for social site integration and other third party services. Ensure that your pages show up with the correct images and titles on different social media sites.
Enabling and using Schema.org markup allows structured data markup to be represented within hidden scripts throughout the website. Search engines can use this structured data to better understand and index your content.
Robots and Indexing Settings
Robots.txt tells search engines what to (and what to not) index and read on your site. It’s an important part of your SEO practice, so The SEO Framework makes sure it’s generated correctly.
Like Robots.txt, a sitemap is an incredibly important part of how search engines crawl and map your website. The better that search engines understand the navigation and structure of your website, the better it can show results. Generate an optimized sitemap with The SEO Framework.
Yoast vs The SEO Framework: Why I prefer The SEO Framework
Most people who start on optimizing the SEO of their website will often start with Yoast SEO plugin. It’s the most widely used SEO plugin for WordPress, and I’ve used it in the past. Yoast has a free version, but save many of their tools for their paid premium version. Yoast provides many of the behind the scenes SEO code that The SEO Framework provides, but with some major downsides that have made me stop using it:
1. The incessant “green, yellow, red” lights
Yoast SEO provides the green, yellow, or red lights for every article or page’s SEO, a basic algorithm it uses to assess the SEO content on your page. It will give you suggestions on how to move your pages and posts into the green, and many people obsess over getting all of their content marked as green by Yoast. The problem with focusing on green lights, is that getting your page into the green can come at the cost of lowering the quality of your content, and at times, making your post or blog less readable. And the Yoast assessment is based on the keyword phrase that you define yourself as targeting – but what if you are targeting a bad keyword phrase? Then all of those green light dots are essentially useless.
Yoast themselves indicate that it’s a fools errand to try to get green lights on everything. While the suggestions by Yoast can at times be helpful, I find them distracting, and that trying to follow them consistently made my articles worse to read. I’d rather just not have them and focus on writing good content.
2. Advertising and annoying banners
Yoast is constantly trying to move any free users into the Premium subscription model. In every menu, it tells you that you should upgrade to the premium model, and locks a lot of features behind this paywall. Back in November 2019, there was a big controversy when users woke up to see a giant advertising banner in the WordPress admin section (see more here). This is in very stark contrast to The SEO Framework, that doesn’t even include their company name in their SEO menus and options. The SEO Framework does have some premium addons that can be purchased, but their free plugin is standalone and has all of the basic features that a user would need.
Step-By-Step Guide: How to install and setup The SEO Framework
If you’re still unsure of which SEO plugin you want to use, you can see the following steps of how easy it is to both get The SEO Framework installed and running in minutes.
Step 1: Search, install and activate The SEO Framework plugin
Find “The SEO Framework” in the plugins menu, and click “Install Now”.
Once the plugin has been installed, make sure that you activate it.
Installation is that simple. The next steps include some initial setup steps that you should follow to get The SEO Framework started.
Step 2: Access the SEO settings from the menu and update your Meta Description
Click the SEO menu from the WordPress option list on the left. Update the Meta Description so that you have a good short description of your overall website that fits to the character count suggested by The SEO Framework.
Step 3: Update your Social Meta Settings
Update your social media settings with links to your Facebook and Twitter profiles (if you have them setup already).
You’ll also want to upload a high resolution logo under the general menu – the plugin uses this image when no image is set up on pages, and it’ll prevent your pages from looking like spam when shared.
Step 4: Update your indexing options
Go to the Robots Meta Setting and review the Indexing tab. Check to ensure that the proper assets from your site are index-able to search engines.
Step 4: Reviewing The SEO Framework post and page settings
Now when you load pages and posts, you’ll see the new SEO fields that the plugin provides. At the bottom of your content, under the General tab, you can update the Meta Title and Meta Description of your post content. Again, make sure they stay within the lengths suggested by The SEO Framework.
Under the Social tab, you can see and update the titles and descriptions that will show up on Facebook (Open graph) and Twitter.
And under the Visibility tab, you can see your Canonical URL, and indexing, link following, and archiving settings.
The SEO Framework is now up and running
And there you have it, you now have a light-weight, well built SEO plugin up and running on your WordPress website. With The SEO Framework you can now focus and writing good content that reads well and get’s your message across to your readers. Don’t waste your time constantly trying to reach the “green lights” on Yoast, and instead focus writing the content that your readers want!