The New Yoast Content Feedback and the Red Pen of Death
Do you use the Yoast SEO WordPress plug in on your blog? If you do, then you’ve noticed a few changes lately. It still offers the same convenient traffic-light grading system for your content, showing you at a glance how well you’ve worked your keywords in for best optimization. The new system adds content feedback to the equation – and that’s where Yoast gets a big fat D- grade.
Because the feedback reads like an especially dour nun took a big red pen to your blog post and is scolding you over your use of…good writing.
(I can say this because I survived 12 years of Catholic school and grew up with nuns in the family. And I loved them dearly and they were the most joyful, happy people I have ever met. The nuns who taught me in grade school? Not so joyful. But who would be surrounded by 30 kids every day?)
Yes, the new Yoast content feedback system leaves a lot to be desired.
It scolds you for using complex sentences.
It scolds you for writing more than two sentences to a paragraph.
In short…it seems to want to dumb down blog posts to the least common denominator.
Now, I’m not knocking on Yoast. God knows that as a content marketing writer, I appreciate the ease and convenience of a plug-in. What disturbs me more is the idea that internet readers cannot absorb thoughtful, engaging, and well-written content.
Polysyllabic words, complex sentences with multiple clauses, and longer blog posts are all part of my content platform. They might be part of yours as well. The prevailing wisdom from the SEO gurus is that such content isn’t read, and increases bounce rates because visitors arrive at your site and are immediately turned off by large text blogs.
I’m not so sure about that. I think it depends on your blog and on your readers. I don’t visit political, religious or social commentary blogs for the Cheerios and Sippy Cup version. I want meat, potatoes, steak knives and beer. I want thoughtful content I can chew on in my head the rest of the day, essays that make me think deeply about subjects that I care about.
If I visit a DIY blog, or a home and garden blog, or a pet blog, I want something different. I want big, pretty pictures. I want personality. I want to see the project. I want clear directions. And yes, simple step by step content makes it easier to read.
Everything in content marketing depends on your audience. What does your audience want, need and desire? Then it is a matter of matching your offering in the best possible way to what your audience wants. This is Marketing 101.
The SEO Bot Gods may seek simple content, but if that’s not what your audience wants, in the end it isn’t worth dumbing down your blog for the search engines. You’ll always succeed if your content speaks to the intended audience.
Tools like Yoast cannot differentiate and distinguish between a DIY blog and a deeply philosophical blog that explores current events. It tries to apply an identical rubric to all content. But content is not one-size-fits-all. Content must be personal in order to be meaningful.
My recommendation: Continue using Yoast, but if the tone of the content feedback bot gives you flashbacks to Sister Mary Invincta’s 5th grade English class and the Red Pen of Creative Death, just ignore it. I do.