Why SEO Tools like Yoast Won’t Help You Rank 1st on Google

And how to actually get the top spots.

Just add some keywords, transition words, and alt text, then you’ll rank #1 on Google immediately, right?


And it’s frustrating that so many people think SEO is actually that easy. Now, I know exactly why it’s happening. Free, cheap, and even professional SEO tools are all pushing the same idea.

Do these specific things, get the little green dot, and you’ve optimized your article for SEO! Good job! Now, wait a few weeks (or months) for the results.

For the last few years, I’ve been a freelance copywriter and content manager for all kinds of businesses. During that time, I’ve learned some basics of SEO, and while I also believed a few of those myths in the beginning…

I can tell you it’s only half the equation.

And worse, these SEO tools are sometimes harming your content performance. So, that’s what I wanted to shed some light on today. First, you need to understand there are two key components to an SEO strategy: on-page and off-page SEO.

On-Page SEO Factors

The On-Page SEO is everything you can literally edit “on the page.” SEO tools are often focused on giving you tips for improving this. These are factors you can control on your own website such as:

  • Meta Descriptions
  • Keyword Density
  • Image Alt text
  • Meta tags
  • SEO-friendly URLs
  • Feature Snippet Optimization
  • Heading Tag Optimization (H1s, H2s, etc.)
  • High-quality writing & Transition Words
  • Internal & External Hyperlinks

Off-Page SEO Factors

Meanwhile, Off-Page SEO is everything that happens outside of your own website and affects your rankings on search engines. This includes a variety of factors like:

  • Number of Backlinks
  • Quality of Backlinks
  • Domain Authority

For example, if your website is an authority in your industry and others link back to you often — that tells search engines you’re content is reliable and good.

Think of each of these “backlinks” as a thumbs up from one website to yours. If that website is credible as well, then it’s social proof that you know what you’re saying and others agree.

Of course, off-page SEO is more complicated than just that, but the point is it’s not something you have as much control over. And to earn more backlinks, you have to come up with another strategy that involves things like writing guest posts, doing interviews, and so on.

4 Reasons SEO Tools Don’t Always Work

First, I’ll admit that I do use SEO writing assistant tools — but I don’t rely on them 100%. And in fact, my content has ranked well on Google without even using them.

So, if you’re writing content for a client and it’s not getting any traction on Google, there are 4 common reasons why your SEO tool is failing you.

#1 — Search Engines Constantly Update Their Factors.

Google releases updates all the time. Your SEO tools don’t have all the latest information in their own systems. Here’s a quick example of how this happened drastically before.

In the early days of SEO, you could rank on page one by simply having the largest quantity of backlinks — regardless of their quality. Seeing how the equation was too simple (and easily exploited), Google updated their algorithms.

For anyone working in SEO at that time, all their old tricks weren’t gonna cut it anymore. Now, there are over 200 different factors used to judge your website content.

#2 — They Can’t Evaluate Good Writing.

Next up, your SEO tools can’t actually read your content. They have no idea if your writing is good, bad, or atrocious. That means you need someone with writing chops actually to edit your work.

So, how does Google know your writing is good?

Well, again, search algorithms aren’t people, so they can’t tell if you write well. However, they can monitor how other people who land on your website respond to it.

This is why read time, or your “blog engagement rate,” is one of the biggest indicators that your content answers the question posed by a user on Google.

#3 — They Miss Half the Equation.

And finally, these SEO tools are primarily used to help you with on-page SEO. Even then, they don’t always address every factor on the list I mentioned earlier.

Because of that, they’re limited in how much they can help you.

Your SEO strategy is not just about the quality of writing or strategic use of keywords — it’s also about the reputation of the website itself. And if you’re not addressing that, then your content isn’t gonna get nearly as much traction.

#4 — They Can Cause New Problems.

One new change in Google’s algorithm is that content with too many keywords is now being punished. So, if you’re listening to your SEO tools religiously, you might in trouble.

This is because you’re probably engaging in a behaviour called “Keyword Stuffing,” which is a known negative factor. While some keywords are important in your content, you need to find the right balance.

So, How Do You Actually Rank on Google?

Of course, that brings us to the big question — how to actually rank on Google. I’ve helped plenty of clients rank on page one of Google with their blog content, and I did much of it without any SEO tools at all.

When it comes to your content writing, make sure you:

  • Always write quality content first.
  • Plan your off-page SEO strategy as well.
  • Use SEO writing tools to improve your content, but don’t sacrifice quality.
  • Host your blog on more reputable websites like Medium if you can’t commit to an off-page SEO strategy to boost your website’s authority.

When using SEO writing tools, you need to prioritize your audience first. And the best part about this is you’re also nurturing your customer relationships by writing well.

I don’t care if my content is seen by 10 people or 10 million. I only care that it significantly helps those who find it.

About the Author

Victoria Fraser is a freelance copywriter from Vancouver, Canada, who works in the gaming & tech space. She works with clients doing all things copywriting & content marketing (including making memes).

Learn more on her website to work with her or say hello on Twitter!

Published by Victoria A. Fraser

Freelance writer, podcast producer, and comic artist.

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