What is the best SEO plugin for WordPress?
That’s an important question that all website owners will find themselves asking at some point. When setting up your own site and getting it ready for search engines, making sure that you’re optimized for SEO is a big deal.
That’s why it’s important to make sure you choose the right plugin!
Today I’ll be giving you a complete breakdown of which plugins are the best for your site, and how to make a decision on which one you use.
So, let’s get into it!
The Two ‘Giants’: All In One SEO Pack and Yoast SEO
These two are, without a doubt, the most widely used SEO plugins by almost all website owners across the globe. They’re simple and effective; but which is better?
The answer really comes down to personal preferences…
For me, I prefer using All In One SEO but that’s just because I’ve been using it from the beginning (this plugin is automatically installed on any site built through Wealthy Affiliate and so it was already present on my site when I first created it) and know my way around it pretty well.
It’s not because it is any better but just because I personally prefer it.
So, what do both packages offer?
All In One SEO
It might sound a little obvious but All In One SEO is essentially a plugin that gives you the ability to edit all your SEO settings…in one place. In your WordPress admin area you’ll get a little box for the plugin like this:
Hover your mouse over this tool and you’ll get a dropdown menu that includes ‘General Settings’.
Once you click through to General Settings, you’ll be able to manage all your SEO needs from one place. It might look overwhelming at first; don’t worry if you don’t understand some of the technical terms. Just focus on getting some of the basics all set up.
These essentials include:
Home title; how your website will appear within the search engines.
Google Analytics: This is where you insert your tracking code from Google Analytics to monitor the traffic coming to your site. Here’s how to find your tracking code in Google Analytics.
Google Webmaster Tools: This is the place to put in your code you received from Google Search Console. This will verify to Google that you own the site and you should be able to then start tracking your search analytics (how your site is doing within the search engines.)
However, once you’ve got these initial settings all set up you should be good to go. You won’t really need to come back and touch these for a while now.
The place that you’ll be seeing this plugin the MOST then, is when you’re about to publish new pages or posts.
This plugin will add an extension beneath these pages/posts when you’re editing them with these options:
Meta title; how your title appears in the search engines.
Meta descriptions: the gray text beneath your title that explains what the result is about. See above image.
Keywords; a place to add relevant keywords to your post. This function isn’t really used anymore, but still gives you the option if you do want to.
You’ll also be able to control whether you want Google to index the page or not (include it in the search results); but again 99% of the time you won’t touch this setting, as in almost every case we WANT our page to show up in the search results.
I want you to do me a favor.
Scroll up and reread everything I just said about All In One SEO. Why?
Because, to be honest, that is pretty much what you get with Yoast too! Both these plugins tackle the most important SEO tasks; connecting you to your Analytics and Search Console profile, your home title, and all your meta descriptions and meta titles too!
So, what’s the difference between All In One SEO and Yoast?
There isn’t much of a difference; as I just explained, both plugins provide the same service.
The difference is simply the visual layout and the way they work. For example, whilst both plugins provide the option to edit your meta titles and descriptions, All In One does this in a minimal yet easy to work box beneath the post like this…
…whereas Yoast uses a slightly different approach with a colorful box layout and a less specific character count. However, the end result is still the same; you could perform the same edit within both plugins.
Are there any major differences?
For me, when I installed Yoast for a brief period, I found it way more confusing to find my way around.
Within the ‘general settings’ of All In One SEO, you find all the information you need in one place- your Analytics tracking ID, Search Console code, Pinterest verification, etc. You can easily edit this info whenever you need to.
However, I found that I had to do a bit of digging around before I found these settings within Yoast.
I have to be honest with you. I still don’t fully understand HOW sitemaps work.
But, I know that they do work! So one of the first things I did after activating Yoast was to try to locate the area where I could find my sitemap filename. Again, this was really tough to do- it took me a while to find it.
Now, I know so far I haven’t been too kind on Yoast. However, there are actually some awesome features that I know loads of people love.
Yoast: The Good Bits
After you finish writing any post, you’ll see a box pop up beneath your editor giving you an overall SEO ‘score’. Obviously, this score is only based on Yoast’s suggestions, but it is still a good guide to try to stick to.
Once you’ve finished an article, you’ll get a box full of bullet points. The red bullet points are the ones we should change, orange is a ‘maybe’, and green means we’re good to go. You want to aim for an overall green rating!
This was a cool function that I didn’t even know Yoast had until I installed it and started using it.
Similar to the SEO rating and suggestions, after every post you also get a ‘readability’ box that appears beneath the editor. This gives you an overall score on how ‘readable’ your content is. For example, if you’re prone to using really LONG paragraphs with no breaks between sentences, Yoast will pick up on that and advise you to write in smaller chunks.
But once again, it’s important to emphasize the fact that although Yoast Readability is a valuable metric to keep in mind, it definitely isn’t the final say on your content quality. If it looks readable to you, it probably is.
I know some people can get obsessed with scoring ‘100%’ on these tools, but it is honestly a waste of time to spend too long making sure all these boxes are ticked. As long as you have the important bits right you’re good to go.
My personal experience: Why you SHOULD NOT switch plugins
So you’ve currently got All In One SEO installed, but you’re hearing all kinds of good things about how awesome Yoast is for SEO. You want to make the switch. Should you??
The answer really depends on how developed your site is right now. If you’re still in the process of getting going and have minimal content, then it won’t hurt you to swap.
However, you might struggle if your site is already well-developed with lots of content and some decent traffic.
I tried making the switch from All In One to Yoast a month or two ago, because I really wanted to get in on this ‘SEO checklist’ action.
Was it worth it?
Not really. It was cool to have the suggestions at first, but they quickly lost their novelty. And to be honest, it wasn’t worth the time and effort of redoing all the settings I had previously created using All In One SEO.
Now, this may not be the case for you. Before I installed Yoast I had heard that it gives you the option of copying over all your preexisting SEO settings from All In One to save you the effort of going through and redoing them. But for whatever reason, I just didn’t get this option!
So I spent ages rewriting my settings, only to eventually switch back to All In One just because I was much more comfortable with it.
It’s important to note that I don’t intend this to come across as me criticizing Yoast! If anything, this is me criticizing ME for being fickle enough to think just switching plugins would suddenly solve all my SEO worries.
In fact, Neil Patel actually recently created a video on WordPress plugins for SEO and I think you’ll find it useful if you’re looking to set up Yoast…
So if you’re looking for a ‘quick fix’ on your SEO, simply switching plugin really isn’t going to help you out as much as you hope. It’s better to stick with your current plugin and work on the real game changers; your keyword research and content creation!
Are there any other useful SEO plugins for WordPress we should know about?
That’s a great question. You’ve got to be careful when installing plugins; always go for less plugins if you can do the job yourself.
That being said, here’s one simple plugin that should be a must for your site:
EWWW image optimizer.
This plugin will compress your image files to make your site load faster. And as we know, a faster site is more likely to rank well in Google. An alternative to this plugin would be Smush, which does essentially the same job.
What is the best SEO plugin for WordPress?
The answer is this: whichever one works best for you. If you like the look of All In One’s intuitive and simple to use layout, go for it. If you prefer the visual tips and checklists Yoast generates, go for it.
How successful your SEO efforts will be will come down to, at the end of the day, your quality of content and keyword research. If you have great content it doesn’t really matter whether you’re using All In One SEO or Yoast, you’ll find yourself gradually climbing the rankings regardless.
I hope you found this guide useful. If you did, please feel free to share it with your friends using the social icons to your left!
If you still have any questions, feedback or comments, make sure you go ahead and leave them in the comment section below and I will be sure to get back to you within 24 hours. Alternatively, you can get in touch with me directly using the contact form found right at the bottom of the page.