Webmasters who are serious about search engine optimization for their sites don’t usually settle for manual methods, but go with reliable software to help them achieve their SEO goals. If you are running your site on WordPress, there are several plugins you can use for this purpose. All In One SEO Pack and WordPress SEO by Yoast are some of the most popular choices, both showing millions of downloads in the WordPress plugin repository. And while each of them has a lot of followers, new users often find it hard to decide which one to pick for their optimization needs. Here’s a brief outline of the benefits each plugin offers to help you decide what will work for your site.
WordPress SEO by Yoast
One of the biggest advantages of WordPress SEO by Yoast is that the plugin is user friendly. Even though it might take some time to figure out all the features it has to offer, you can jump right in to the basic functions. The plugin offers a handy tour when you first install it, going through a lot of its configuration options and features.
Yoast WordPress SEO allows you to either import your data from other similar plugins or export it if you want to use the information elsewhere. For instance, if you previously used the All in One SEO plugin but switched to Yoast, you can simply move your previous data over.
Once you install the plugin, you’ll notice a new widget in your Post Edit view, which shows you how the post will appear in search listings. This type of a preview makes it easier to notice what’s wrong with your meta description if anything and tweak it to display exactly the way you want it to be. The widget also includes a Post Analysis tool, which gives your post an “SEO score,” ranking it for keyword use, readability, title optimization, meta description and more. You will get a green light for any SEO elements that are perfect, yellow for things that the plugin suggests changing and red for elements that require your immediate attention. The widget is very simple to use even for those new to SEO.
Some of the plugin’s more advanced features include RSS optimization, XML sitemaps, integration with Facebook’s Open Graph meta data, as well as .htaccess and robots.txt configuration. The plugin also makes it easy to configure breadcrumbs for your site, which will further improve your search engine rankings.
WordPress SEO by Yoast is regularly updated and has a good community of developers formed around it, which means that in most cases you can quickly get your questions answered by other users though WordPress forums. One key thing that I like is that whenever there is a popular plugin that conflicts with Yoast WordPress SEO, but is easily rectified, the developer will call them out and explain the fix. The developer also ensures compatibility with other popular plugins.
The downside is that some of the plugin’s more advanced features are only available with the recently announced paid version. These include integration with Google Webmaster Tools, redirect manager for old URLs, and one year of upgrades and support. The premium version currently costs $89 for a single site.
More than just for standard SEO for WordPress, Yoast has other specialized plugins (mostly premium plugins). These include: Video SEO ($69), Local SEO ($69), News SEO (Free), and Yoast WooCommerce SEO ($29).
All In One SEO Pack
All In One SEO Pack has been around for a while and although it used to significantly fall behind the Yoast plugin in terms of features, it caught up in many areas over time. The plugin is very beginner friendly. With Yoast, you’ll have to configure some of the options to be able to make the most out of the plugin, while All In One SEO Pack works well right out of the box.
The plugin automatically generates meta tags, automatically optimizes your post titles, supports XML sitemaps and provides SEO support on custom post types. It also claims to be the only plugin with SEO integration for WordPress e-commerce sites, which could be a major advantage for online stores running on WordPress. With that said, Yoast does have a premium e-commerce add-on but it is specific to WooCommerce.
Many of the advanced users still find the features provided by this plugin somewhat limiting. Some of the functions WordPress SEO provides for free, for example, are premium features in All In One SEO Pack. These include the ability to import and export your SEO data, an well as the option to edit .htaccess and robots.txt files. For $39, All In One SEO Pack Pro also provides documentation, inline help, and a robots.txt generator/validator module, giving you more control over how search engines that crawl your website.
Many users who have tried both plugins agree that WordPress SEO by Yoast has a design that’s a little easier on the eye, and that the plugin is slightly more feature rich as compared to All In One SEO Pack. When it comes to SEO results, however, users of both plugins seem to be equally happy with the search engine rankings they were able to achieve for their sites when using either one of them.
Many Yoast followers love the Post Analysis tool. It’s both easy to use and gives you a lot of control over every SEO element of your post or page. It might be a little harder to apply to your older posts, especially if you have a blog with lots of content published prior to installing the plugin. All In One SEO will automatically optimize a lot of such content, particularly titles and meta descriptions. If you like to have more control over how your posts appear in search results, though, manually tweaking things with the help of Yoast’s Post Analysis might work better for you.
Please don’t let this description suggest an over-importance of the Meta Description though. The largest search engine, Google, often dynamically creates this description based on the search query. It will pull content from within the message as a snippet if that content includes the keywords that were searched upon. Other time though, the default meta description will be used. It is also used primarily in other search engine results. And it behaves as the default description for Facebook and other social site shares if Open Graph, Schema, etc. aren’t employed.
Some beginners might be discouraged by having to configure WordPress SEO by Yoast, but the developers have addressed this issue by providing a great tutorial, which pops up as soon as you activate the plugin.
All In One SEO lacks such features as breadcrumbs creation and configuration, and page keyword analysis, among others. Not many beginner to mid-level users need these, however, and users who do can edit them via external tools.
Look at the list of features each plugin offers before you choose, and decide whether you need the more advanced options provided by Yoast or if the more straightforward features offered by All In One SEO Pack will work for you. If you are choosing between the premium versions of these plugins, you might want to keep in mind that WordPress SEO by Yoast costs almost twice as much as All In One SEO Pack, but the latter will charge you a monthly, semi-annual or annual subscription fee for updates and support.