Rank Math vs Yoast: 5 reasons why Rank Math might be the best free SEO plugin for WordPress

Rank Math is a free SEO plugin that was released only a year and half ago and during that time it has grown exponentially. One of the reasons contributing to its success are the incredible amount of options it offers for free, compared to others like Yoast SEO plugin that include them only in the premium version. And it’s not only simple features like previewing your title and description on social media like Facebook or Twitter: we’re talking about complex features like redirections or free Local SEO.

Let’s compare how good Rank Math is in terms of features against what is probably the most popular SEO plugin, Yoast SEO. Will it make sense to switch from Yoast to Rank Math?

  1. Redirections
  2. Social preview for Facebook posts or Twitter cards
  3. Category and tag SEO
  4. Image SEO
  5. Local SEO

Rank Math vs Yoast: redirections

Rank Math vs Yoast: redirections

A URL redirection will send visitors and search engines to a URL that’s different than the one they attempted to visit. Some reasons why you might want to redirect include:

  • you want to send visitors and search engines to a new site you’re starting
  • your post previously had a long pretty permalink, you improved it thus changing the URL and now you need to send visitors and search engines to this new URL
  • access to certain content of your site is temporarily unavailable and meanwhile you want to send your visitors to another area that might be interesting for them

The first two scenarios would benefit from a 301 permanent redirection. The third situation would be best served by a 302 found or even better, a 307 temporary redirection.

Rank Math allows you to perform all these redirections in its free version. You can adjust a general redirection for not found content and redirect it to the home page, to the default 404 page rendered by WordPress in conjunction with your theme, or setup a custom redirection to any URL. It also provides a box in the block inspector for you to setup a custom redirection for a the post.

While Yoast doesn’t offer this in the free version, it’s available in the premium version. The Redirect Manager in Yoast’s premium version has more perks compared to Rank Math’s free offering. For example, you can export/import your redirections and you can use regular expressions to redirect multiple URLs that match certain patterns.

Rank Math vs Yoast: social preview for Facebook posts and Twitter cards

Rank Math vs Yoast: social preview Facebook posts and Twitter cards

Another feature that Rank Math offers for free is to preview how your post or page will look when it’s shared in a social network like Facebook or Twitter. It allows your to customize the text snippet that will be used next to the image (if the post has a featured image) and the post or page title.

Yoast only allows you to preview a Google snippet (which Rank Math also allows as you’ll see in other screenshots below) but only offers social preview in the premium version. But even compared to the social preview in the premium version, the implementation in Rank Math is better because it allows you to set the Twitter card to use the same title, image, and description you added for the Facebook preview. You can still edit both separately.

Another feature in Rank Math social preview implementation that can’t be found in Yoast, is that you can choose the type of Twitter card to generate tags for. You can select between the four types of Twitter cards available: Summary Card with Large Image, Summary Card, App Card, or Player Card.

Rank Math vs Yoast: category and tag SEO

It’s important to correctly craft the SEO of Category pages. They’re a special page where the content, related to several terms, change through time every time you publish new posts using that category.

While your individual posts rank for specific focused content, a category page will rank for encompassing all these different posts and be some sort of aggregator for all the terms in the posts filed under that category.

Rank Math offers good tools to improve the SEO of your category and tag pages. To start with, you have a complete snippet editor to compose the title, permalink and description based on certain keywords you specify. It’s tailored to work with categories. Similarly, Yoast offers the same content analyzer used for posts, but it has some features that you won’t need here, like the linguistic analyzer telling you that “Find the best articles about Deno and TypeScript.” scores 50 in the Flesch Reading Ease index and is thus difficult to read.

The Flesch Reading Ease index analysis in Yoast SEO makes things complicated

You can also specify the Robots meta, and ask search engines to noindex or index the category or tag term. It goes further than that and includes options to discourage image indexing, or follow links in the page, or stop showing snippets for this page. In contrast, Yoast only allows you to set whether you want to ask robots to index the page or not. Both plugins allow you to set a canonical URL.

Another similarity is the Open Graph data for Facebook or Twitter cards. Both plugins offer this for categories and tags, but Rank Math also offers social previews for both social networks. Yoast only offers this in the premium version.

Additionally, the Rank Math general settings page also allows you to choose whether you want to include categories or tags in the sitemaps generated by Rank Math.

Rank Math vs Yoast: image SEO

Image SEO in Rank Math free SEO plugin

Improving SEO for the images in our site is a great way to have them discovered in image search like Google Images, particularly if we treat our images not only as part of our post content, but also as a standalone post by itself.

On one hand, Rank Math monitors images in your posts or pages as part of the content and offers advice like adding focus keywords to the alt attribute of the images. In addition, it also provides tools to improve the SEO of the images as standalone content. You get the full post analyzer, which is probably overkill, but you can use only what you need anyway. You also get the robots manager and canonical URL fields just like in the SEO panels provided for category and tag pages.

Now, a few things can be improved with this panel:

  • Schema. It doesn’t currently offer an image schema so it’s useless.
  • Social Preview. Doesn’t make much sense because when sharing an image to Facebook and Twitter, the shared image will be used as the preview in those platforms.
  • The content analyzer loaded is the one for posts and is not customized like the one loaded for category or tags. Since it loads all the verifications performed for regular posts, it will look bad because most of them don’t apply for images.

That said, it’s good to have the Rank Math panel for images. Yoast doesn’t currently offer anything to improve the SEO of your images when used as standalone content.

Rank Math vs Yoast: local SEO

Local SEO panel in free Rank Math SEO plugin

Local SEO is essential for business that have a physical presence so they can be located in maps, and interested visitors can view the address, opening hours, phone, get directions and more. Rank Math offers local SEO in the free version.

You get all the necessary tools to generate the proper markup for local SEO:

  • set whether it’s a person or organization, and the name, logo, URL, and email
  • the business type and its address
  • the opening hours in 24 or 12 hours format
  • phone number, price range, and specify the About and Contact pages
  • and of course, enter geo coordinates to display the business in Google Maps

This is another feature that gives Rank Math a compelling edge over Yoast since the latter doesn’t offer this neither in the free nor in the premium plugin versions. It only offers it in another local SEO plugin for WordPress that you have to purchase separately.

Your turn

Rank Math has been surrounded by a lot of controversy in the past. Some due to allegedly faking reviews in the WordPress repo, and recently when they had a significant vulnerability. Despite that, the plugin seems to produce consistently solid results that match even Yoast premium version. Have you tried both plugins? Who do you think wins the Rank Math vs Yoast match?

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