- Superb features.
- Installation wizard.
- It’s FREE!
- Slightly complex.
- Frequent updates.
- That’s all!
Rank Math SEO Plugin is the new kid on the block for WordPress SEO. It kicks Yoast up the butt, with more tools and less code. Rank Math is free, but has features you only get with Yoast Premium.
Rank Math’s LSI keyword tool gives you multiple variations fresh out the box. Yoast on the other hand gives you one!
There are lots of plugins that make big promises, but deliver very little. Rest assured Rank Math doesn’t have a big mouth, it has a big bag of tricks instead. Let’s get straight into it and see what’s cracking.
i. How Rank Math Blitzes the Competition
|Features||Rank Math SEO||Yoast SEO||All In One SEO|
|LSI Keyword Tool Integration||✔||✖||✖|
|Keyword Rank Tracking||✔||✖||✖|
|Includes Redirection Manager||✔||✖||✖|
|Finds All 404 Errors||✔||✖||✖|
|Google Schema Rich Snippets||✔||✖||✖|
|WordPress Role Manager||✔||✖||✖|
|Optimize 5 Keywords||✔||✖||✖|
|Social Images Overlay Icons||✔||✖||✖|
|Author Pages Optimization||✔||✖||✖|
In Rank Math’s own words, here’s what they say:
Rank Math is the swiss army knife of SEO tools for WordPress. It gives you complete control over your entire website’s on-page SEO.
And our opinion? We reckon Rank Math are pulling our leg, this is more like a Rambo knife than Swiss Army. It’s options and ease of use slice the competition to pieces.
Read on for the Rank Math SEO Plugin Review – Ultimate WordPress Guide.
1. Rank Math Dashboard
*If you’ve just installed Rank Math you’ll see the Setup Wizard, but this review follows the order of the Rank Math WordPress menu.
The first thing you come across after clicking Rank Math in the WordPress dashboard is another dashboard. Only this time it’s a smaller version for Rank Math.
Here’s a screenshot of every module…
Rank Math have gone above and beyond with this plugin. It’s no secret how popular Yoast and SEO is in general so the guys at My Theme Shop – the plugin’s creators – have left no stone unturned.
In a nutshell they’ve included everything Yoast does, but then they’ve sprinkled a heap of killer features on top. They know this is the only way to take this plugin to the top of the WordPress charts.
To get yourself a 404 monitor with Yoast, yep, you’ve guessed it – buy the premium version.
1.1.1 404 Monitor
You bet the Yoast team are stuck in the Netherlands with a voodoo doll that looks like a pub dartboard.
1.1.2 Advanced Custom Fields
Advanced Custom Fields actually started out as custom fields, but due to a popular plugin by the same name that’s what they’re now more commonly known as.
When you’re building lots of websites, the fastest way is to create resusable components. ACFs allow you to add custom form sections and other nifty things, similar to what you find on a website form. Only ACFs tend to be more advanced; you could build a video review website, for example.
Activating this feature with Rank Math allows the plugin to read your advanced custom fields.
1.1.3 AMP – Accelerated Mobile Pages
AMP started out as an open source project lead by Google. For this reason, many people wrongly believe that it’s run by Google alone and are put off by this fact. They have this belief that AMP is for Google’s benefit, when it’s original goal was in fact to help mobile users get pages delivered quickly.
AMP has gone beyond its original remit and ditched the accelerated mobile pages tag – nowadays it’s just known as AMP.
The truth is, AMP is awesome if you are good with code, but it’s not so much a plug-and-play system for WordPress. Yes, there are AMP WordPress plugins, but you need to know what you’re doing to get the full benefit.
It’s for this reason that people have complained about AMP, because when they use the AMP plugin it often breaks page builders and can cause issues.
Rank Math have included a module especially for those that are on board.
1.1.4 bbPress by WordPress
bbPress is from the creators of WordPress to create a forum for your WordPress.org website.
It’s not something that I’ve used myself, but anything created by the original WordPress team is going to be massively popular and reliable.
Rank Math have made sure you don’t miss out if you’re running bbPress yourself.
BuddyPress is similar to bbPress, but from an independent plugin author, rather than WordPress themselves. You decide whether that is a good or bad thing.
Like I say, I’m not a forum expert, so my advice is read up and see what the word on the street is. Then you can make an informed decision.
1.1.6 Link Counter
You wouldn’t be able to call Rank Math the best if it scrimped on the basics. A link counter is essential for an SEO plugin, because links are what the Internet is all about.
Link Counter tallies up the total number of internal and external links in your blog posts.
While there’s no need to obsess about the exact number of links you are rocking, it’s still good to keep an eye on things to compare your post metrics.
As you can see from the green slide, we’ve got it configured on Page Speed Tweaks.
1.1.7 Local SEO & Google Knowledge Graph
Local SEO is for all your settings that are used in the Google Knowledge Graph. This appears in the right-hand side of Google search results on desktop.
You might recall seeing a box with information about companie, because although here Rank Math is thinking of local seo, Google Knowledge Graph is for people and companies.
The Redirections module is great if you need to delete a web page and don’t fancy any Google Search Console errors. Another simple-but-essential tool in the big bag of Rank Math tricks.
You can even set it to redirect automatically by falling back to the homepage.
1.1.9 Rich Snippets
If you want to boost your SEO and click-through rate, you need to up your snippets game. Luckily for you, Rank Math have made that easier than ever.
1.1.10 Role Manager
Should you have a large WordPress website with several admins, you can assign trusted admins with the power to adjust Rank Math settings. Conversely you can withold power from those that are more undesirable or in a junior position.
Rank Math have thought about it all with this beauty.
1.1.11 Google Search Console
This is another non-negotiable section. Rank Math had to include a Google Search Console facility othwerise we wouldn’t even be here talking about it!
You can easily connect to Search Console without issue, especially if you’re familiar with WordPress. Newbies shouldn’t struggle either.
1.1.12 SEO Analysis
You can use this module to run a battery of over 70 SEO tests on your website. Some are more valid than others, of course, but it’s a great way to quickly keep tabs on your website’s SEO performance.
SEO Analysis is quite a detailed test with plenty to chew on once the results are in. If you’re running it on a new site, like I was, then you’ll probably find red flags that are temporary.
The sooner you get your site up and running, the quicker the red will be replaced by green, just how we like it at Page Speed Tweaks!
Another absolutely critical module is Sitemap. Remember the olden days when people used to create a sitemap on their early 2000s websites? That was as much for search engines as it was for people. Today though, search engine crawlers are much smarter – they can read .xml sitemaps.
Rank Math kindly configures all this for us and it’s used in Search Console.
Woocommerce is WordPress’s alternative to Shopify. You can quickly and easily add the Woocommerce plugin – for free – and increase your site’s income with a shiny new shop front.
Then again, if you’re not careful you can easily splurge thousands of dollars on advertising and end up skint. You can decide on the best option for your business needs.
1.2 Help Section
The two share buttons in this section are ordinary on one hand. On the other they’re testament to the attention to detail that the Rank Math team constantly shows us.
One might argue that it’s for their own benefit, but while this is true, the bigger point is they apply the same mindset right across the plugin.
You’ll notice how detailed the help section is, which adds further evidence that they really did work on this project for around four years!
For that we should be genuinely grateful, as it’s really us who benefits the most. From the extras to the freebies. We’re onto a winner with Rank Math SEO. Yoast is truly roasted.
1.2.1 Plugin Activation
Should you be crazy enough to go back to Yoast, you can deactivate. I doubt you’ll want to once you’ve caught the bug. My only regret is I actually did this when I first tried it, but it was more the thought of moving ten websites over. In hindsight, it was easy.
In truth, my move probably went smoother for waiting a while because plugins always get better with age when it comes to reliability.
1.2.2 Next Steps & Product Support
Knowledge Base or Support Center the choice is yours.
1.3 Setup Wizard
Just like with any other modern plugin, you’re confronted with a setup wizard. Things really couldn’t get much easier. My importation from Yoast went a treat, absolutely flawless in fact.
I did try the plugin when it first come out, but it didn’t seem as fluid back then. In fact it didn’t find my Yoast settings, but it’s only logical that a complex plugin is going to have some minor teething problems.
The main thing is that they’ve been sorted out. Three smooth installs in as many days is testament to the fact.
Setup Wizard’s usually do the main settings to get you going. Rank Math’s is no different. You can tweak all the minor stuff once you’re up and running. This is a good place to start, though.
1.3.1 Getting Started
* If you’ve just installed the Rank Math plugin, the setup wizard is the first section you will see.
As its name suggests, Getting Started is the first section of the Rank Math Setup Wizard. You’re enchanted by a humongous pulsating blue button.
Let’s go, guys…
1.3.2 Your Website
The settings are all fairly straightforward, I haven’t outlined them in red because you can see what I’ve filled in and what I haven’t. If you’ve any questions that you need answering shoot me an email or comment below, please.
My square logo was 512 x 512 pixels, but you can upload whatever you’ve got within the specified ranges.
Press Save and Continue and we’re on to the next one.
1.3.3 Google Search Console
This is search we’re talking about here. We’ve got no choice but to sign up with Google Search Console. It’s essential stuff for keeping an eye on your search engine traffic and you’re viewers queries.
Don’t be intimidated by the sheer number of settings on some pages. They’re all pretty basic stuff that a quick Google search will sort out.
If you’re in a rush, covering the main steps in the Wizard will be enough to get you off the ground.
Only a few sliders in this section. If in doubt you can leave the settings as you find them, otherwise follow my example. I might not be right on every occasion, but some are merely personal choice rather than right or wrong.
Now you’ve finished the main section of the Wizard, you can Tweet about your Rank Math happiness or post to Facebook. Hard choice, eh? 🙂
There’s a couple of other options and links, but they’re all self-explanatory. No need for me to go on anymore than what I am.
1.4 Advanced Options
Luckily for you guys, with this being the Wizard, the Advanced Options section only comprises of two parts. No big deal, it’s all in a day’s work for an SEO guru like yourself.
1.4.1 404 Monitor & Redirections
Another two fairly essential items, which is why they’ve been included at the tail end of the setup module.
1.4.2 Schema Markup
You’d be wise to give the Schema Markup section a few minutes of your time. Not only is this the last part of the installation wizard, but it’s something you can setup to run on autopilot.
Of course, your Snippets will always be better if you individually configure them, but for those less important posts or to save time you can fall back to this time-saving feature.
1.5 Import & Export
Import & Export is a feature that you will find extremely handy if you’re setting up another website that you own. It’s an altogether quicker way than going through each setting individually. All you need to do is change any information that is site specific.
Pay attention with this feature because it’s easy to forget something then you could be messing up your Search Console settings, if for example you had your site identification numbers mixed up. These things are easily done when you’re running numerous sites.
1.5.1 Export Settings
The tick boxes were already pre-popullated. I haven’t actually used them myself – yet.
1.5.2 Import Settings
Import Settings are, as you’ve guessed, the opposite to the section above. Not a lot to add, apart from they usually work in tandem.
1.5.3 Backups Creator
Creating backups is always a good idea, but in a different way from creating a full-site backup. At least with smaller backups you can fix individual plugins rather than the full site at once.
1.5.4 Plugin Importer
You can learn more about the Import & Export options over at Rank Math, but they only briefly mention the Plugin Importer. It’s actual job is to gather information from other SEO plugins that are already installed on your site.
2. General Settings
Next in the Rank Math heirachy is the General Settings tab, which actually comes up under the name SEO Settings. Maybe I will mention this to Alex or Bhanu over at Rank Math, being part of the super pedantic crew, I’m sure they will sync the two titles up. 🙂
There’s a heap load of settings in this section. Again, have a look through and go with the flow. You can always change something later if you are unhappy as long as you consider the following…
The Nofollow Image File Links setting is applied dynamically, which means you can change it and it won’t harm anything.
Obviously with URLs, it’s a different story, as they should be set once and left alone.
It’s best to take your time with your keyword research then pick a URL and stick with it. You shouldn’t be changing page and blog post URLs once they’re established. It will wreck your SEO and any links you’ve worked hard for.
The Images section comes loaded with nifty features. Some are great back ups, because even if you’re careful, nobody is perfect. Add missing ALT attributes is a cool option that will always watch your back, but unlike your Mrs won’t demand a shopping allowance every month.
It even pulls in snippet examples with data from your own posts; how cool is that?
You know I wasn’t exagerrating when I said the Rank Math team pays attention to the finest of details. These boys really know how to make a serious plugin.
To setup breadcrumbs on your theme, you’ll need to turn them on in this settings section. After you’ve done that you’ll need to add this line of code in your template files.
<?php if (function_exists(‘rank_math_the_breadcrumbs’)) rank_math_the_breadcrumbs(); ?>
Alternatively you can use a shortcode, but it’s easier using the php string above.
If you’re unsure there’s a thorough explanaition over at Rank Math.
Personally I make a child theme for every WordPress now. It’s a piece of cake if you use this plugin – Child Theme Configurator. All you really need is four pages:
- Header.php – template for every page on your site.
- Single.php – posts template.
- Page.php – pages template.
- Footer.php – template for your footer section.
- Functions.php will be created seperately by the plugin.
So if you want your breadcrumbs to show sitewide, which might look awkard on your home page for example, add the code to header.php. Although, you might find adding the code to single.php will be better.
The big advantage of using a child theme is that none of your code adjustments will be overwritten in the same way they would tweaking your standard theme.
Seen as though I’m using a new cropping tool – Windows Snip & Sketch – I’m not sure how to screenshot long images. Annoyingly, I learned how to do it a while back, but can’t remember exactly which programme it was or the actual setting I used. Damn it.
Apologies for the lame excuse, but the best I can do is shrink images and crop them. Luckily my laptop is 4k so I can get away with that method somewhat.
2.4 Webmaster Tools
Webmaster Tools is for all your favorite search software such as Google Search Console. You can see that I personally use this one because its grayed out.
If you have time then by all means sign up with the others, but honestly Google is enough. They have the vast majority of the worlds search traffic, unless you live in Russia then go for Yandex instead.
Bing is also worth signing up with, of course.
Not so sure about Baidu, never really had anything to do with it myself. Though just by the fact it’s a part of this plugin tells me it is rather useful.
2.5 Edit robots.txt
Here’s handy way to quickly edit the contents of your robots.txt file. There are various methods you can use to prevent Google from crawling your site, but the trick is to prevent Google Search Console errors, while at the same time not restricting Googlebot.
While editing robots.txt is a legitimate file-editing method there are alternatives, such as .htaccess.
2.6 Edit .htaccess
Here’s a trick that I used myself recently from Stack Exchange – it uses an Apache flag to hide your directory listings. It’s beneficial from a secuity aspect as well as restricting search crawlers.
Just type the two words exactly like this:
You’ll have one less vulnerability if you opt for this method before altering robots.txt.
Anyone fluent with WordPress will know the pains of altering .htaccess and getting locked out. You should always access sensitive files from your hosting account rather than the Theme Editor in WordPress.
You will have less chance of getting locked out, not every time, but in most cases. Even if your have a problem on your site, you can usually open or restore the file in your cPanel. Using the Theme Editor on the other hand, will guarantee that you’re locked out if you make a mistake.
In either case, your website hosting provider will be able to help you out.
Nothing much to worry about in this section, just all the bits and pieces that aren’t important enough to get their own title.
The only one I turned on was useage tracking. If people are good enough to give us a plugin for free – the least we can do is send back our useage report.
Here’s the ‘other’ half…
Here’s a really useful section – Redirections. You just turn it on here and configure your 301 and 404 redirects in the designated module further on.
I’ve been busy running my sites through the free version of Screaming Frog SEO Spider tool. So impressed was I that it’s on my software shopping list. There were a handful of 301 errors that I configured on Rank Math’s Redirections page.
2.9 Search Console
The Search Console module is where you can deauthorize your account after setting it up in the wizard. You can also adjust the number of days to keep your cache, either manually or automatically.
Lastly you can check to make sure you’re accessing the correct Search Console account. Simple if you only have one website, but an easy mistake if you’re looking after several sites for other people.
3. SEO Titles & Meta
SEO Titles & Meta section is where you set all your global meta values. This enables you to set and forget when it comes to posts and pages, but always check that you’re happy with the actual inclusions before posting.
It’s best to look at this feature as a fallback rather than a failsafe!
After you’ve adjusted your settings here, you can go on to fine tune them with the more granular controls. Drilling down into the more minor details is handy, but something you can do once you’re fully acclimatized with the Rank Math SEO plugin.
3.1 Global Meta
Global Meta is the site-wide adjustment layer. It controls every page and post. Just like you have a heirachy in your posts and pages for blogging, you’ve got one here for your meta data and meta tags.
Here’s the rest of the Global Meta settings…
Facebook fans will be overjoyed with the OpenGraph image section. The lazy among us can console ourselves in the auto-capitalize slider.
3.2 Local SEO
Depending on your selection of Person or Company, Local SEO will show more or less options. Naturally you can expect more for a business. You can tweak everything including your opening times.
Rank Math have kindly included a shortcode to show your contact info.
I had a bit of an argument with a Google My Business consultant because they changed the rules, probably to stop people exploiting the situation, which is understandable. However, I set two businesses up on GMB in a week or so. Then the next time I tried it took months to get accepted.
One business was a friend’s hairdressers. She works from home, but Google woudn’t allow me to use her address unless it there was a sign outside. I tried to argue that there are lots of people who work from home, but they don’t have a sign on their house, especially when they live on a private housing estate.
So although now she’s on Google My Business, it’s as if she doesn’t have a premises, which is untrue. Not the end of the world, but frustrating nonetheless.
You can also include a log for Knowledge Graph, which we briefly touched on earlier. It’s the section towards the right-hand side in Google SERPs.
This tab is where you can set a heap of the most popular social profiles for your company or personal brand. Once you’ve done that Rank Math populates the contact shortcode we mentioned in the previous section.
The great thing is you can set all this information up once then export it to another website. Then all you need to do is change the relevant settings like website specific URLs and other details, but the bulk of the options will be sorted.
You can see from the empty boxes that Page Speed Tweaks is observing radio silence with regard to social profiles. We are well aware that social is an increasingly important thing to keep up with, but it isn’t any good for promoting a website until you’ve got a website worth promoting.
Once we’ve got a selection of blog posts that we can be proud of, then we will be posting regularly on social media. For now, Facebook and Co are on the back burner.
People forget that posting to social pages takes time and effort that is better concentrated towards your new website. It’s hard enough sticking to the big five, but imaging keeping up with this lot…
There’s even another part to the Social Meta…
Not a lot to show in this section, only a big empty space.
Though I expect that due to the sheer size of this box, it has more to offer if you pick a blog post for your home page rather than a traditional home setup like I did for Page Speed Tweaks.
3.5 Post Formats
There’s no reason to go mad on pages such as Post Formats. In fact, you’re probably best off leaving it as you find it. Rank Math will take care of this type of thing on our behalf.
Let’s see what Rank Math have to say about this module:
Change SEO options related to the author archive pages. Author archives list the posts from a particular author in chronological order. Learn more.
The Author Base is just the title you wish to insert before the author’s name in a taxonomy or breadcrumb class. For example, you might wish to use poet or writer instead of author.
You can see that the hardest work we need to do here is have a bit of fun with the Author Archive Descritpion. Don’t be too rigid, it’s a chance to show your light-hearted side.
3.7 Miscellaneous Pages
Search results, 404 and 301 error pages, plus anything else Rank Math couldn’t find a home for belongs in the Misc Pages module.
This is still a long section, though, hence the reason I had to copy it in two parts.
3.8 Post Types Menu
Wherever possible, Rank Math are kind enough to offer advice and point you in the right direction… usually towards Google, because they really are the Internet Oracle.
Google does not allow Person as the Publisher for articles. Organization will be used instead. You can read more about this here.
Due to the length of this module, it was easier for me to chop it into three pieces.
The sections become familiar after you’ve had a play around with the settings. If anything is a concern you can quickly look it up on Google or leave it as you find it.
There’s plenty to keep you busy, that’s for sure…
Just like the post section, but for pages. Nothing to get flustered over. In fact, nothing much to do apart from jog on to the next section.
The post and page inputs are more or less identical, but it’s worth paying attention to them nonetheless.
This is another section that I had to divide into three parts.
The pillar content feature is just a checkbox that you tick and to be reminded to be more thorough. Do you need it? Probably not, but it’s an old hanger-on from Yoast.
Link Suggestions is another somewhat gimmicky feature, but at least you can turn it off if you don’t feel the benefit from using it.
Now that’s over with, we can see what’s popping in the media section.
Should you have any media attachments, Rank Math has given you the option to alter the meta tags with a focus level that fits your needs. If you need the fine-tuning options they are there; if you don’t even care then you won’t even notice.
The Rank Math plugin comes pre-loaded with a strategy well-suited to most websites.
Are you going to see improvements if you pay attention? Yes, of course, but the point is you don’t have to.
Just like in the earlier modules, Categories is super easy to configure. The fact this is for archive categories means it is made up dynamically and can be adjusted at any time.
That being said, stick to our golden rule of not adjusting the URLs themselves unless you really have no other option. Moving websites is one example where you’ve got not choice but to make redirects.
There was one famous case of a big company changing their brand name without consulting their customers. It turned out to be a complete disaster and they lost big money. So much for the so-called experts eh?
Tried to recall the company, but can’t remember the name unfortunately.
Tags are the little brother to Categories. You don’t have to use them, but it’s probaly best if you do run two or three on every blog post. Whatever you do, don’t use a tag for the sake of it. If you’ve only got one blog post to link to then don’t bother.
Whenever a reader clicks on a tag, ideally they should see no less than five posts from your archive. Otherwise what’s the point? If one comes up they might as well just use search.
Now on to the next one…
4. Sitemap Settings
Sitemap Settings is where we can configure everything to do with XML sitemaps. Rank Math are good enough to publish the sitemap for us, but this is where we do the tweaking.
For most of us, the settings are good to go straight away, but it’s nice to have options should we need them.
4.1 General Settings
Rank Math even show us a link to our sitemap.
Here’s mine… replace with your site name to find yours.
When sitemaps are enabled, your sitemap index can be found here: https://pagespeedtweaks.com/sitemap_index.xml
Every small detail that helps make life easier for us is thought of. This type of thing might go unappreciated by some people, but it doesn’t by me. Anybody who makes software should have this approach – it’s first class!
You can add any images that are included in your custom fields. This is for the more advanced users, but you might find it useful the deeper you delve into WordPress.
This section is identical to Posts, but for Pages. Not a lot that I can add otherwise. Some of you might find it overkill, but I say it’s better to have a choice than not have one, especially when this plugin is still 30,000 lines of code less than Yoast – it’s nearest competitor.
That figure is possibly when comparing Rank Math to Yoast Pro, but regardless it’s still an impressive achievement.
Should you be waking up at night in a cold sweat thinking, “Yikes, I need a media sitemap.” Get back to sleep because we don’t need Father Christmas. Rank Math have you covered, too.
This is a mini module, but it has two important settings. The first is to include categories in your sitemap, the second is to ensure that your categories sitemap doesn’t include empty data.
Tags are always at the tailend of a section or module. Maybe we need to adopt a tag each to cheer them up. Well at least Rank Math haven’t left them out, either.
This is the simplest section in comparison to the others, at least. It’s definitely useful, as I mentioned previously it helped me fix some 301 and 404 errors that I found on Screaming Frog SEO Spider while auditing another website of mine.
What baffled me was the audit turned up some post URLs, but with numbers on the end like 13/13 and 11/12. After searching my database with at least five different plugins and methods, I couldn’t find these URLS. So I contacted Screaming Frog and they kindly advised me that the Spider searches the HTML code for all the data, which answered my question, but didn’t stop my confussion.
WordPress is dynamic so it pulls the web pages together from template parts. If none of the template parts have the URLs in them, how do they end up in the made up page afterwards?
If anyone can help me understand the above, please let me know because it’s driving me mad.
More relevant to you guys is the fact you can trust Rank Math to help fix your redirection issues.
Google Search Console is an important piece of software to help you keep an eye on everything search related – from rankings to keywords and errors. Search Console can help you with all of it, even sitemaps.
The fact you can quickly view your statistics from a Rank Math dashboard within WordPress is another feather in the cap of this plugin.
You can see from my own stats that this website is brand new, plus it’s showing the remains from my first installation of Rank Math on a hairdressing website that I made for a friend.
Honestly it’s the truth! 🙂
The Search Console modules come in five different parts, here’s the rest of them…
Click history, Impressions history, CTR – click through rate – history and position history are the four, erm, histories you can find this side of the Antique Roadshow.
Search analytics covers basic things like keywords and clicks. All useful metrics that you can keep an eye on quickly and enough to highlight good or bad news.
Once you’ve made a judgement using Rank Math you will know whether you need to head over to Google for more details.
You even get a nifty list of your latest sitemaps, which you can refresh to ensure they’re showing the current details. They even show you warnings and errors.
Why would anyone want to bother with Yoast again?
Rank Math’s SEO Analysis tool is a quick and easy way of checking your websit’s overall health, with regard to search engine optimization.
Some of the items in the list aren’t that necessary, but as always it will mainly depend on your goals.
For example, I’ve got five red crosses due to not having any social media profiles set up. Is this something to worry about? Not really. Google might pay attention to social signals, but it doesn’t rank your website higher just because you’ve got a following on Facebook.
Time that you’re spending on Facebook or Instagram is time that you could be spending writing actual blog posts.
Admittedly, there are certain niches that are driven primarily from the social scene. Anything fashion related might do well on Instagram then have a website for sales.
For website performance, let’s be honest – you go straight to Google search. This is why I won’t be making any social profiles until my website is properly set up with a decent catalogue of blog posts.
My way of looking at apps is like this: use them for the things that matter to you and not what you’re told in the sales pitch.
Look at certain WordPress themes and page builders. They’re crammed with endless features. Mainly stuff we don’t need, but fear of missing out drives a lot of us to buy them. Don’t let FOMO rule your decision making. When it kicks in it’s usually for the worst, not the best.
FOMO is only good for sellers not buyers. It makes them rich and us poor!
SEO Analysis Results
Once you’ve clicked the big blue button saying Start Site-Wide Analysis, you’re hit with a four-part graphic.
- SEO Score.
- Passed Tests.
- Failed Tests.
The results don’t seem 100% accurate, however, but Bhanu at Rank Math is looking into this for me.
- Page weight 143kb, but GT Metrix and others are saying under 30kb. (It’s possibly calculating the uncompressed page weight.)
- No social profiles linked up – that’s fine – agree with that fully.
- Focus keywords not set on 3 pages. Since the new update, it won’t let me save any keywords.
Hopefully, we will find out why the first two aren’t as expected.
This section covers all the usually non-negotiable SEO factors, such as H1 heading tags and image ALT attributes. It’s the stuff that we need to have on every page…
However, on a home page if we followed these rules to the T then we’d end up with an ugly page. Luckily for us, rules are there to be broken.
Rank Math Basic SEO lists the following.
- Common Keywords.
- SEO Description.
- H1 Headings.
- H2 Hedings.
- Image ALT Attributes.
- Keywords in Title & Descritption.
- Links Ratio.
- SEO Title.
- Site Tagline.
- Blog Public.
- Permalink Structure.
- Focus Keywords.
- Post Titles Missing Focus Keywords.
I don’t have an H1 tag on the page because it’s acting like a blog index page and I want a full list of all my best posts. Having an H1 heading will ruin my design.
There’s also a green tick for link ratio, but I haven’t got any outbound links – which should be a fail – so this needs looking into.
Even though my site tagline isn’t on display, I still have it set in the customizer, as it’s another few keywords we can use to let Google know what our site is about.
Lots of people set tags and categories, but don’t use their actual archive page to fill in the information about them. This is a lost opportunity.
If you have a tag that’s well known, then Google might know the word, but what about a tag that is brand new or is uncommon?
This is an ideal opportunity for you to fill in the WordPress tag’s page. In doing so you’re defining the word or phrase exactly as you want Google to see it.
Think of your tag pages like a dictionary. You can go into detail about your tags and give Google more to go off. Should you be using a word that has several meanings, this is even more relevant.
Rank Math’s Advanced SEO section contains the still-essential, but more complex search engine optimization features. It covers some useful information that’s at your fingertips, rather than digging deeper into the settings and configuration menus.
You can swiftly check the following items:
- Search Preview.
- Mobile Search Preview.
- Mobile Snapshot.
- Cannonical Tag.
- NoIndex Meta.
- WWW Canonicalization.
- OpenGraph Meta.
- Schema Meta Data.
- Search Console.
There are some really neat features in the second half of this module. Being able to quickly check you’ve got Schema meta data on your page is vital thesedays.
Google is using snippets – formerly known as rich snippets – more than ever. They’re trying to give the user a more detailed search experience, where the user can get the answer they want without even visiting the web page. You might think this is bad for on-page dwell time but not every user will be a regular reader.
Think how many times you’ve just wanted a quick answer from a page you have no loyalty to!
In case you’ve been living under a rock, Performance is critical if you wish to deliver an enjoyable user experience. Fast loading web pages are essential for keeping hold of viewers. Nobody wants to waste their time on a slow website. It’s a painfully unenjoyable event.
The key items Rank Math lists are:
- Image Headers Expire.
- Minify CSS.
- Page Objects.
- Page Size.
- Response Time.
My images are inline SVGs so that’s why there are no expires headers. I’m not well versed on whether you can even include them when your images are mixed in with your HTML?
Anyway, it’s not the end of the world.
Rank Math has wisely included a Security section. The five main checks it carries out are:
- Visible Plugins.
- Theme Visibility.
- Directory Listing.
- Google Safe Browsing.
- Secure Connection.
Stock WordPress will show the theme you are using, but most performance optimization plugins, that remove unnecessary clutter will remove or hide it.
Removing clutter helps to reduce the HTML file and also keep’s you more secure so it’s a double win. Hackers can attack you more easily if they know exactly what theme you are running.
The Social SEO part of Rank Math’s SEO Analysis module lists your five main social networks and either gives you a green tick or a red cross, depending on whether you’re wired up to them.
- Facebook Connected.
- Instagram Connected.
- LinkedIn Connected.
- Twitter Connected.
- YouTube Connected.
Out of all five items, for most people with a blog or websites, I’d say YouTube can give you the most pull with Google Search rankings. Google has all the data from YouTube, plus watching videos and reading blog posts goes together better than social media and reading blog posts.
That might be my personal opinion, but if you’re on Facebook it’s usually because you’re chatting to friends.
Of course some people enjoy Facebook groups, but overall I think making good YouTube videos and having a blog is the ideal partnership.
Social media can work for businesses, because there are plenty of successful examples, but it will definitely depend on your business niche.
Plus why would you want your readers on Facebook looking at their adverts and stuff when they could be on your website?
That’s not to say social media groups don’t have their place. It’s far easier to setup a Facebook group for support than it is to run your own forum, for example.
Status & Tools
Should you need to know what database tables Rank Math is using, you can have a quick peek in Status & Tools. Another nice feature that’s going to suit the stat geeks more than it will ordinary WordPress users.
You can find out the Database table version number, the database prefix, which is usually WP unless you’ve changed it.
For added security it is good to change your prefix from standard. I had intended to do so when I first installed WordPress, but forgot about it.
You can change it afterwards, but I was concerned that I might mess things up and ruin my site.
Rank Math does have 6 tables compared to Yoast’s 2 (Yoast Free, not Yoast Premium.) Not that is anything to be bothered about.
Rank Math System Tools are where you can delete data and flush data. This level of fine tuning is good because it can save you time by only deleting the small amount of data you require, rather than deleting the full package and having to restore it afterwards if things go wrong.
What impresses me about Rank Math is they even include things that other plugins take foregranted. One or two lines of advice from the plugin author can save your hours of searching on Google.
Flush SEO Analysis Data, for example, is something that could appear critical to the uneducated, but Rank Math kindly advise us that: “Flushing SEO Analysis data is entirely safe and doesn’t remove any critical data from your website.”
More plugin authors need to take note of this kind of thoughtfulness. Their creations would be so much easier to use if they did.
Import & Export
(This section can also be accessed from the Dashboard.)
This section does what it says on the title. You can simply import settings from another website that runs Rank Math or import from another backup.
It’s obviously going to make more sense to install from a previous back up, but you can still use settings from another website, then just change all the site-specific items.
My favourite thing to do is open another website and then go through the settings page by page. This is how I setup complex plugins like W3 Total Cache. It’s also one of the benefits of having more than one website.
Rank Math gives you the option to narrow down your export file. It’s probably best to leave them all checked.
Import your back up file by clicking the choose file button, nothing I need to tell you. I’m sure you’ve already seen thousands of these before.
Same again for the backups creator. It’s just a simple tool for backing up your Rank Math settings. Do you really need to bother? It’s handy for moving settings across from site to site, but for safety and security you’re probably better off backing up your full website.
The plugin importer is an automatic feature that highlights if you’ve got Yoast or an equivelant SEO plugin already locked and loaded ready for Rank Math to steal the data from.
Help & Support
Lastly we come to the Help & Support module. Like the rest of the plugin, this is delivered thoroughly with nothing left to chance. You can find everything you need to know right here.
10.1 Getting Started
Rank Math firstly congratulates you on getting Rank Math installed. Then sensibly informs you that although the installation wizard starts automatically, it’s easy to skip past it accidentally.
If you’ve done the later then all you need to do is head to the Dashboard tab and restart the wizard from there.
It then points you in the direction of the full tutorial: https://rankmath.com/kb/how-to-setup/.
Finally Rank Math lets you know where to open a support ticket: https://support.rankmath.com/.
There’s a detailed description of AMP in the introduction to this section, but it refers to the most common AMP setup, which is known as Reader mode if you’re using the official WordPress AMP plugin and was previously known as Classic mode.
When AMP first started it was relatively straightforward. The AMP plugin created a duplicate web page of your posts and pages, but with an AMP URL when served from an AMP cache – Google or Cloudflare, plus a few othters.
This had the negative affect of making the pages look ugly and dated, which caused people’s rankings to tumble. People obviously blamed AMP.
The truth of the mater is, it wasn’t really AMP’s fault that people were unsuccessful implementing this new technology, but it was true that the WordPress AMP plugin wasn’t easy to integrate correctly.
For instance, you may have problems with things like hamburger menus not working. This is due to AMP disabling your JQuery.
As time has gone on, the official AMP plugin now has an intermediate feature called Transitional mode, where all of your active templates are converted to AMP so there’s two copies of each page. One regular copy and one AMP copy.
Essentially it’s a souped up Reader (Classic) mode.
Finally there is Standard AMP or what was previously called Native AMP. This is when every page on your site is turned into an AMP page and you no longer have a regular non-AMP page.
Standard AMP is what I run on several of my WordPress sites. While it was a bit of a pain to set up at first, once I got accustomed to it, it made perfect sense.
You see if you want to run AMP properly, the Reader mode is a pain because you’ve essentially got two sites to run. Trust me, I tried.
Say, for example, you want to have a Facebook like button, you’d have to have the ordinary code for that then have the AMP code for the AMP page, but each would throw an error in the tester.
You can add the AMP Validator Chrome browser extension to check your pages are valid AMP. If they aren’t valid they won’t be served from the AMP cache, which defeats the purpose of running AMP at all.
Taking the forementioned reasons into account, I decided that if I was to have any chance of serving error-free AMP pages, the best option was to go all in with AMP and serve Standard (Native) AMP.
It was difficult at first, especially if you’ve built your WordPress using a page builder. Most of your pages will break – especially things like accordions and testimonial sliders and popouts.
Once you’ve sorted it, in the end you will learn more because you’ve got no choice. Instead of relying on page builders you’ve got to learn about HTML and CSS.
Rank Math’s AMP help module covers your AMP needs from an SEO point of view. It doesn’t say exactly what they do, but from the comments, it looks like they are referring to ensuring that your regular posts and pages are classed as the canonical page.
All this means is that you don’t get punished by Google for duplicate content. To be honest, I’m not sure if this is a concern anyway, because Google are one of the people who validate AMP pages so they would have this already thought through.
AMP first started of as accelerated mobile pages, but today it is called AMP for short and is for all types of web pages on desktop and mobile. There is even AMP email, which shows how far AMP has progressed over the last few years.
10.3 Local SEO
Regardless of whether your business is for local people or not, it’s still good practice to fill out this section. The more information Google has about you the better. It helps build trust and solidify your place in the world.
Should you be interested in promoting yourself properly on a local level, then it’s a must that you go ahead and sign up with Google My Business. This is a sort of mini search engine within Google’s main search results, so rather than competing on a national or world level, you are only competing on a local platform. It’s much easier for you to rank.
GMB helps you stand out quickly, because people are searching for local businesses so it wouldn’t make sense for Google to show them companies from hundreds of miles away.
Rank Math’s Local SEO help section has a number of links giving you all the information that you might need.
Redirections are useful for preventing things like 404 errors. Rank Math have a full tutorial on this if you need to know more about implementing them using Rank Math.
They’re relatively easy to configure. In fact for most redirects you only have to fill in two boxes – one for the original link and the other for the new destination.
10.5 Rich Snippet
Google first started calling extra features of information in the search results rich snippets, but now they refer to them simply as snippets. However, people always tend to call things by their original name once it’s well established it’s even harder to change.
This is why we still cling on to rich snippets, instead of being accurate and using snippets on its own.
Rank Math are no different, they’ve got a Rich Snippets help module that covers anything you need to know about configuring their Rich Snippets module.
You should definitely be using rich snippets on your WordPress website, because you’re missing out on lots of potential traffic from Google Search and rival search engines.
Rich Snippets come in many different formats, but essentially their main goal is to enhance search results. They help the user pick out information quicker.
In some cases the searcher might not even need to visit a website because the information in the snippet will be enough to answer their search intent.
If this happens, Google will consider this to be a job well done. Google aren’t bothered about sending people to your website – they are bothered about keeping search engine users happy.
That isn’t Google being mean to you, it’s just them doing what the person wants who goes to Google Search.
10.6 Search Console
Google Search Console is one of the most important software tools for website owners. It gives you a ton of information about what people are searching for when they land on your web pages.
When you authorize Rank Math to access your Search Console account, they can scan through this information and display the most important bits of knowledge within your WordPress dashboard.
This is super handy because when you’re writing a blog post you can quickly see this information.
While it isn’t going to offer the same level of detail as signing into Search Console yourself, it’s still able to offer you some useful insights and it only takes a second to visually scan.
10.7 SEO Analysis
The penultimate module on the Rank Math help list is the SEO Analysis section. Here you’ll get a brief overvue of why you should run this tool and what benefits you’ll gain in the process.
To be fair to Rank Math, it’s a painless operation. Scanning is quick and the results are easy to digest, with guidance on how to resolve your warnings and errors.
As mentoined previously, your view of how serious something is might differ from Rank Math’s opinion.
Some red crosses will need swift attention, but others might cause no issue if left untouched forever.
You’ll have to make that choice yourself, though.
Lastly in the Rank Math help section is the Sitemap module. Here Rank Math explain a bit about the history of sitemaps, which you may or may not find interesting.
The short version of this is that people were making sitemaps for bots rather than people, which lead to an ugly page on websites that served no human purpose.
This was until someone invented XML sitemaps, which enabled the search engine spiders/crawlers to see what pages were available on a website, even if the link structure was poorly thought out.
One of the benefits of this was that webmasters no longer needed to keep an ugly HTML sitemap on their site, often clogging up the navigation menu with this page. It helped people keep a cleaner site that left the shiny new XML sitemaps to do this important job for them.
Rank Math have included a link to their full-blown Sitemap tutorial should you need help with the implementation of your own sitemap.
11. Rank Math SEO Plugin Summary
If you’ve made it this far, I definitely owe you an SEO medal from eBay. Not sure if they sell them, but half a car number plate will do, won’t it?
So what do I think of Rank Math’s SEO plugin? In a nutshell, it’s very good. I’m glad I’ve finally moved over from Yoast now on all of my sites.
It’s probably for the best that I waited a few months before I made the leap. Any plugin, especially a big one like Rank Math, will have less bugs once it has been integrated with the WordPress user base.
If I have one small complaint, it’s that the ironing out process still seems to be ongoing, because we’ve had numerous updates rather too often just recently. However, if that’s all there is to complain about we should really be grateful that this amazing plugin is for free.
The features that Yoast wants you to pay for come as standard with Rank Math.
My advice is get on board now. Yoast is still a good plugin and it’s had its day, but nothing is forever, definitely not when it comes to software and WordPress.
Are you enjoying using Rank Math? Let me know, please.
Should you have any questions or noticed any errors, hit me up in the comments section or on my contact form.
Over and out.