By powering just under 30% of all the websites out there, WordPress is the most popular CMS in the World. So, what makes a single CMS so amazing that more than 300 million people rely on it? The answer is simple – simplicity. WordPress is famous for its user friendliness and ease of setup. The best known thing about it is the 5-minute install (yes, it literally takes only 5 minutes to install). Adding functionalities to WordPress is as simple as clicking a couple of buttons. This is possible because of its modularity. It is dependant on plugins for added functions, such as login security, contact forms, image sliders, social media, and SEO.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is a continuous process of optimizing websites and web pages for better placement in search engines, such as Google itself. This is one of the most important things webmasters have to do on a website, given that more than 50% of organic traffic originates from search engines.
This is where we turn our attention to WordPress SEO plugins. While you can do SEO manually on WP websites, with an abundance of SEO plugins – it is unnecessary. Especially since the duo we compare in this article does such a good job.
Both plugins have extensive free versions and are thus available for download through WordPress plugins repository from within admin panel.
After installing Yoast, all settings can be accessed by clicking on SEO in your navigation panel in the left-hand side of the admin panel. To access all options, it is best to activate advanced settings by navigating to “Features” tab and toggling on “Advanced settings pages”. This way you gain access to site-wide settings for your titles and meta descriptions, social metadata, sitemaps and many more.
What is great about Yoast is that on the first run you can start a configuration wizard which will guide you through the most important settings. Navigate to “General” tab and click on “Open the configuration wizard” – there you are greeted with some basic essential optimisation settings (site type, ownership details, social media settings, post types and visibility, authors, title settings, and the most important one linking the website with Google Search Console).
The installation process for All-in-One SEO is the same as the one for Yoast, or any other plugin from WordPress market. Once you complete the installation, you access the plugin by navigating to All-in-One SEO in your navigation panel, and that is where the similarities end.
All-in-One doesn’t have tabs, but its site-wide settings are all laid out on a single page. Everything from Canonical URL settings, schema.org markup, homepage settings, 404 settings, indexing and link follow options, to Google and Bing Webmaster verification. There are so many options it will take you some time to figure out everything if you are a first-timer. Luckily, though, every option has a questionmark toggle next to it with a short and to the point explanation what it does.
As far as the user friendliness on the initial setup goes, Yoast SEO takes a clear victory here. Its first-time setup wizard and clear tabbed layout of its options are superior to the cramped layout of the competitor.
Both of these plugins feature meta boxes that are placed below the post/page editor. These meta boxes optimise every single page separately.
Again, Yoast’s page/post optimisation settings are displayed in tabbed layout. What we have at our disposal are content optimisation (Readability) and basic SEO settings (keywords focus and metadata) which are the topmost tabs. On the left-hand side of the meta box are tabs that access social media sharing options and advanced settings pane.
Readability examines the complexity of the content by using the Flesch Reading Ease test. Next to it are settings for keywords and metadata, which examine the keyword density, appearance of the keyword in title, headings, content body and alt tags. Also, you can edit the SEO title, url, and meta description.
While these options are useful for some basic and best-practice SEO, you shouldn’t strictly adhere to them. The reason is that Flesch Reading Ease test tends to over-simplify content and keyword-based optimisation, and as such has been surpassed by introducing Google Rankbrain, as explained by Rand Fishkin in this article.
Social pane enables you to opt for a different title for Facebook and Twitter, as well as descriptions. Also, you can choose an image that will be displayed on your social media posts.
In the advanced options, there are settings for Meta robots, so you can set the visibility of your posts/pages to search engines independently of the rest of the website. Also you can set a post-wide follow/nofollow linking policy. In the end, there is a Canonical URL option which will help you with duplicate content, in case you have it in your post/page.
All-in-One SEO is much simpler for individual page/post settings. It’s metabox is also split in tabs, although there are only two – Main settings and Social settings. It lacks features such as readability and focused keyword analysis.
All-in-One’s meta box main settings tab has six straightforward items on its list. Title of the page generates the SEO title, next description enables you to set a custom meta description which will be shown in SERP. Below these two options, there are Robots.txt settings – noindex and nofollow, as well a sitemap exclusion tick box. In the end, you can disable SEO options for the page in question.
On the Social tab, there are more options than those given by Yoast. Besides choosing a custom social title, description and image, you can choose specific image dimensions, use a custom video, opt for object types for Facebook, and even debug the post. Prior to using this option, you need to enable it in All-in-One’s dashboard. Navigate to “Feature Manager” within All-in-One control panel and activate “Social Meta” for it to be available in the page meta box.
If we take a look at it from a beginner’s standpoint, Yoast takes this one too. What it lacks in social markup compared to All-in-One is more than compensated by its content optimisation options.
The thing that is the the biggest feature of WordPress is at the same time its downside. Plugins which add functionalities to your website are possible vulnerabilities. The reason is that they are developed by third parties and could present themselves as a possible security risk.
Another reason is that too much plugins can have a negative impact on your website’s performance. This is why both Yoast and All-in-One SEO are among the best plugins out there (and there are more than 40,000 plugins available at the moment). They cover a wide set of features that would otherwise require installation of individual plugins.
- Bulk editor (change titles and descriptions of your posts and pages)
- File editor (change important files for your SEO, like your robots.txt and, if you have one, your .htaccess file.)
- Import and Export (Import settings from other SEO plugins and export your settings for reuse on (another) blog)
- XML Sitemap
- Breadcrumb Navigation
- Importing Data from Google Webmaster Tools
- Open Graph Meta Tags
- XML Sitemaps
- File Editor
- Import and Export
- Bad Bot Blocker
- Performance Manager
- Video Sitemap (Pro version only)
To use any of these additional features in All-in-One, you need to activate them first in “Feature Manager” menu.
Both plugins come with hefty add-ons and eliminate the need for any other SEO-related plugin, such as XML sitemaps or Robots.txt generators.
Side by side, the plugins seem to have similar set of add-on features, however, All-in-One takes the victory here by a slight margin just because you can have these features turned on or off on demand and because of the “Bad Bot Blocker” and “Performance Manager” even though it lacks “Breadcrumb Navigation”.
Again, looking at this from a perspective of someone who isn’t too SEO-savvy, Yoast is a clear winner. It gives far more in terms of on-page content optimisation and has a user-friendly first-time setup wizard. However, if you know your way around SEO, choosing between the two is a pure matter of preference. The fact is that beyond technical optimisation, such as XML sitemaps, robots.txt, nofollow/dofollow and the rest, optimizing content is done by user and no amount of plugins will be able to magically transform a poorly optimised piece of content into a page one material.