Yoast SEO is a freaking awesome tool, personally I believe it to be the best or one of the best SEO and Readability tools for WordPress. Yoast’s guidelines measure performance and these measurements can often trip up users. Let’s talk about those areas, what they mean, and what it means for you.

Yoast SEO – Performance Measurements

“Yoast SEO [measurements] serve to give intuitive feedback on your text and gamify the Yoast experience.” – Yoast

Yoast SEO provides 2 main ratings (formerly 3) to measure your SEO and Readability. If you are running on an older version of Yoast it will look like 3 traffic lights. The current version is the Yoast symbol that reflects one of three colors. Green, Orange, or Red.

  • Green = Good
  • Orange = OK
  • Red = Needs Improvement

Red & Orange Ratings

You can still rank with both red and orange ratings, it just means your content could be better. The ratings are simply there to help you gain feedback on where you can make improvements and where you’ve done well. These tools make Yoast the best tool for learning; it also makes it exceptional acting as a second set of eyes. You can still rank without scores being good. In some cases, you may not actually want good scores.

“they are tools, not commandments…Not every bullet has to be green.”

Green Ratings

Having multiple green ratings doesn’t guarantee you will rank better. Yoast SEO can measure that your SEO meets all the rules but it can’t tell how good or relevant your keyword is to your targeted user base. These performance measures can tell you if your readability is high but it can’t tell you if your content is actually good or informative. Have you ever read a great story that was poorly written? What about a great structured article that has awful content? It’s this principle.

“It’s possible you’ve written great text but your competition is stiff and all of them have also written great texts. Or you may have SEO issues in other areas.”

Post Optimization

If you don’t optimize your post, your Yoast SEO ratings will be grey, meaning there is no ‘score’. This is OK. I have quite a bit of no-follow pages that aren’t on the menu on my site. I have pages that aren’t optimized at all. Not every page should be optimized and that’s OK. Some pages will suffer if you force the content for scores. Other pages will make zero sense. Why would I want to rank pages with blog listings vs focusing on raking actual blogs?

If you want to do your own SEO in Yoast, visit this article here.

Readability Scoring

This one confuses the most people, especially literal people, English majors, technical writers, or industries with very high-level content needs. Online readability is far less technical and more loosely structured than an MLA thesis, or a legal document. Don’t compare a blog about food, or an SEO page for a dentist to Hemingway or Bronte. In fact, if I copy/paste Shakespeare I get very, very, very poor scores. Is it because William was a bad writer? No, it’s because his style is not conducive to search engines.

Don’t make a habit out of getting bad scores but sometimes it’s necessary. Having written content for medical, legal, and education industries, I needed to produce more technical words. If your client base is highly educated people that would talk like an APA paper, write like that in your content. For most of us, we want our words to be easy to read. The ideal score is a piece of content that is easily readable by a 14-year-old (average search engine standard.)

Visit Flesch Readability to learn more about the system, scoring, and how to use it.


Do you have anything you’d like to share on Yoast SEO? Have you had any frustrations with the measurement system? I’d love to hear from you and connect on Twitter. If you need additional help with Yoast or have questions, Fire the Blasters and let’s chat!

Thanks for reading!