WordPress comes with basic SEO, but how do you take your SEO to the next level? There are many SEO plugins for wordpress, but there are only 2 heavy weights that are worth considering. All in one SEO pack, and Yoast SEO. Both have a strong fanbase, and have reached around the 20 million installs, with All in One just managing to keep the lead on yoast. They are both really good solutions to boost your ranking in the serps with a complete SEO solution. However which one should you use?
The snippet preview is a part of both plugins. Its setup directly on the article page, and shows you what your webpage snippet will look like in the serps. There is a box to enter the title, and the description. They both show a character limit on how many characters you should put in, and the preview shows you where the cutoff point is if you go over it. Both plugins will default to using the first 160 characters of the article, and also the first 60 characters of the title if you don’t put anything into the boxes. This is a handy feature if you are an article blogger, and write your articles with SEO in mind right at the start of the article. This all adds to the clickthrough rate you get from organic search results.
Both Plugins are really very similar here, and there is no clear winner.
Inside the area that you use for your preview snippet, you also have an option to add keywords for the article. This is especially important for search engines to determine roughly what your article is about, and how they should rank it. With All in One, you have the option to set your categories to be included as part of the keyword makeup. By default the tags in the post are used as keywords, and these show up in the preview. Yoast uses a different approach. It asks you for one main category keyword, and there is a large pre populated list from keywords that you can choose. You can just put your own keyword in though. A feature that is good about Yoast, is there is a small summary about the keyword that shows up. It tells you where else the keyword is used, so you can try and target it in the best way possible.
The clear winner here is All in One, the reason is that it has more flexible options for your keywords, and the feature that it uses your tags direct from your post is great. Yoast doesn’t use anything if you leave it blank.
XML sitemaps are used as a contents index to allow google and other search engines, such as Bing & Yahoo see exactly what is in your site, and how often it gets updated. Its important to submit your XML sitemap to google via their webmaster interface if you want the best results. All in One sitemap requires you to select the option to create a sitemap, and once you do its pretty self explanatory. There is a link to your sitemap.xml file, and also a small display showing you the last few status updates of the plugin, This is handy to see that its working ok. Yoast has a similar setup too, they claim that they XML sitemap is created once you check the box, but it seems to be always activated anyway. Its a bit difficult to say anything more about Yoast, as the plugin didn’t create the sitemap for the site I tested it on. They do claim however that it links to your articles, and images. They both have very similar options about how often you can set the changes that your content should be checked.
The winner here is All in One. They have a much better interface to the XML sitemap creation and maintenance, you can actually see what the updates have been made in the past day, if any. Yoast on the other hand uses a sitemap_index.xml, and doesn’t appear to be reliable out of the box.
There are many other options that both plugins have, but these are the main ones that you will use. The most customizable plugin is All in One SEO, which is also set up very easily out of the box. Yoast does come a close second, but with the missing easy keyword feature it is a big let down.