How much notice should I take of Yoast’s Traffic Lights?

Yoast’s Traffic Light System can be quite useful, but how much notice should you really take of it? Is it even possible to get every one to turn green?

What is Yoast?

Yoast is one of the most widely used plugins for WordPress. It is an SEO plugin that gives a simple interface to deal with meta data, keyword density and readability. It also includes some more advanced features, making it useful for beginners and professionals alike.

Benefits of the Yoast Traffic Light System

  • Easy to Understand:  The traffic light system (green, yellow, red) provides a clear and simple way to understand how well a page or post of a WordPress website is optimised for a selected keyword or phrase.
  • Guidance for Beginners:  It offers recommendations that can help beginners understand the basics of on-page SEO.
  • Comprehensive Checks:  Yoast SEO checks various on-page factors like keyword density, readability, meta tags, internal linking, and more.
  • Real-Time Feedback:  The plugin gives instant feedback as you make changes, including meta title and description length.

Limitations of the Yoast Traffic Light System:

  • Over-Simplification:  SEO is complex, and the Yoast traffic light system can sometimes oversimplify, potentially leading users to focus too much on getting a green light rather than on quality content or good practice.
  • Not Always Accurate:  The tool might not always accurately reflect SEO improvements, especially for nuanced aspects like semantic SEO and user intent.
  • Limited to On-Page SEO:  Yoast SEO takes a tick box approach to SEO, only for the page or post in question and does not account for off-page factors like backlinks and domain authority.

In Summary:

Use Yoast Traffic Lights as a guide, not a rule.  Follow recommendations but make content for the target audience, not the plugin. It might not be appropriate, for example, to use the keywords in the image alt attributes, as they should be descriptive of the image.

Focus on Quality Content, always prioritise creating valuable, high-quality content for your audience. As an example, Yoast recommends including the selected keyword or phrase at the beginning of the meta description, but this might not make a well-constructed sentence.

Overall, the Yoast Traffic Lights can be a helpful tool, but they should be used as part of a broader, more comprehensive SEO strategy, so don’t get hung up on trying to turn them all green!

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