I’m Really Worried

I don’t want to be one of “those people”. You know those people, who get looks like this;

It disturbs me when other people make blind recommendations based upon heresy and not direct experience. But yesterday, I found myself asking “am I one of those people?!”

Did You Know The All In One SEO Plugin Was Updated?

I didn’t. I should have. Here’s what happened.

I was helping some folks out on Twitter with WordPress questions. Someone was having trouble deciding between All In One and Yoast SEO. She pointed out that All In One SEO has been updated.

My old music blog is still on All In One, so I quickly took a look at All In One’s new features. Damn. A lot of things have been added. Uh oh. I AM one of those people. Am I now wrong to be recommending Yoast?

I had to find out.

First stop, Google. I couldn’t find ANY recent comparisons of Yoast and All In One. Rohit’s was pretty good (and I borrowed an observation or two, thanks Rohit!). But I didn’t see any comparison I could confidently hand to someone that was particularly convincing.

So here we are. My two goals of putting this post together are;

  1. To come away knowing without a doubt, which plugin I should be recommending.
  2. To have a resource I can share with others who are having trouble deciding which plugin to use – and to educate a little in the process.

What Is Good WordPress SEO?

Hold the phone. Most people don’t even know what good SEO is. Some might say title tags, some would say G+ Authorship, some would say it’s using (gasp!) tag archives.

At the most fundamental level, good on-site SEO in order of importance (in my opinion) is four things;

1. Indexation

  • Pages that should be indexed are.
  • Pages that should not be indexed, are not.

2. Crawling, Accessibility & Structure

  • Engines can find and crawl the content you want crawled.
  • Excess crawling should be prevented at all costs.
  • URL structures are logical to engines and users.
  • Internal linking is sound.

Just like you don’t want a franken-car, your don’t want a franken-site either;

franken car

Good structure prevents you drivin around looking like that.

3. Appearance In Search Engines

  • Titles appear as they should.
  • Descriptions appear as they should.
  • Use appropriate rich snippets whenever possible using things such as schema.org or rel = author.

NOTE: I am not just making those three criteria up. Google’s own documentation always refers to SEO as crawl, index, serve (display). I’ve also heard many “Googlers” refer to this as “crawl, index and rank” – essentially all the same concepts.

secreenshot of google webmaster help crawl index serve

4. Appearance In Social Media

When people refer to “SEO” that tends to imply social media to some extent. Especially because of the overlap with things like Google Plus and Google search becoming more integrated. In my opinion the required elements of good social media connection with your website is;

  • Correct title & description displays when shared.
  • Image appears when possible when shared.
  • Ability to “connect” or verify social profiles with your website.

People make things complicated. Even the above list is a little much. But that’s it. All strong on-site SEO should focus on those basics. Nail those and everything else is easier.

What Is The Purpose Of An SEO Plugin?

There’s some confusion about this. A plugin is NOT supposed to just “SEO a site” just by installing it and checking a few boxes. It’s not a magic SEO wand.

Just like SEO should be invisible so should your SEO plugin.

A plugin IS supposed to allow you to do things that you would otherwise have to code or customize. Yes, a plugin should primarily make your life easier by doing things – the right things well – so you don’t have to code them.

The doesn’t mean just because you use a plugin, you can exchange that for lack of even basic knowledge.

For example, the option to “remove the /category/ base” from the URL is available in the Yoast plugin. But should you use it? Should you use a feature just because someone decided to put it in a tool? No, of course not. You should use it, because you may have thought about doing so anyway.

And if someone is putting features in a tool, that aren’t really that important, does that make them a bad plugin creator? Very possibly yes.

This would be doing things backwards. You don’t go “oh, what’s this shiny button in this plugin?” It’s there – I must need it! No. That’s a solution looking for a problem.

Onto the next point…

What Makes A Good WordPress SEO Plugin?

This is simple;

  • The plugin nails the basics of SEO (see above if you already forget).
  • It makes up for the limitations in the core WordPress CMS.
  • It doesn’t have extra things that aren’t important, that distract from that matters, especially if they detract from the fundamentals.
  • Finally, I believe plugin developer(s) need to have an intimate understanding of advanced SEO, and the platform. And they need to be on top of the fast paced changes in SEO.

A good WordPress SEO plugin - does what it should, and doesn’t do what it shouldn’t.

Review Methodology

First, I Made A Big List Of Features

First I started by going through each tool, making a master list of their features. I made a column for Yoast and a column for AIO and marked Yes or No;

starter list in google docs

I made sure to list every single possible function and categorized them. The categorizations are as follows;

  1. Indexation
  2. Accessibility
  3. URL Structure
  4. Titles / Descriptions
  5. Meta tags
  6. Images
  7. Social Media
  8. Additional Features

Then I Assigned An “Importance” Score To Each Feature

Next, once those were all listed and organized, I assigned an “importance” score to each function. Four is the most important, one the least important.

assigning an importance score

Then I Decided Which Features Were Important Enough For This Post

The point is NOT to have this post include every bell and whistle found in each tool. It was to determine what really matters for WordPress SEO and create a thorough examination of each plugin based upon that criteria.

I looked through every SEO function that each plugin offers and decided if I should include it in this post or not. I did this based upon the importance score as well as my experience working with WordPress and SEO.

deciding what to put in the post

So let’s see what I found.

1. Indexation

Noindex Subpages – Winner: Yoast

This one is HUGE. When you blogroll and archives start to get big, you end up with /page/2/ etc – this is one of the single biggest causes of WordPress errors thrown in tools such as Moz or Screaming Frog. As I point out in my post on Moz about setting up WordPress this leads to many extra pages and duplicate titles and descriptions potentially;

Yoast offers the ability to check this one box and it’s solved.

All In One does not do this at all. Here’s how you do this in Yoast;

yoast lets you noindex subpages of archives

Control Individual Tags/Categories For Indexation – Winner: Yoast

With Yoast, you can total control over every individual tag and category archive. This is especially useful if you want to noindex your tag archives (like I teach here) but maybe some tag archives are getting traffic so you want to keep a few indexed.

All In One does not do this at all.

tag category functions

Set Custom Canonical URLs On Individual Posts/Pages – Winner: Yoast

This is really useful if you are duplicating someone else’s content (obviously with their consent) but you want to NOT index your copy and instead give them SEO credit. You would add their URL in here.

All In One does not do this at all.

individual control of canonical tags

2. Accessibility

Redirect Image URLs to Parent Posts – Winner: Yoast

This is HUGE. Here’s the thing. Every image you upload, depending on your setting, can link to a unique URL just for that image. This is an entirely separate page. It can get crawled. It can get indexed.

It’s incredibly not useful at all to have these unique image URLs indexed.

Yoast offers an easy solution. Check this box to 301 redirect attachment URLs back to their post.

All In One does not do this at all.

redirect images urls in yoast

Breadcrumbs – Winner: Yoast

Breadcrumbs can be extremely useful for navigation, showing hierarchy and for internal linking. Yoast allows you to add breadcrumbs to your site.

All In One does not do this at all.

breadcrumbs in yoast

Individually 301 Redirect Posts/Pages

Suppose you have a page on your site and you want to just 301 redirect that to another page. Maybe there’s a newer version at a new URL. You can just add the URL you want to redirect to here.

All In One does not do this at all.

301 redirect individual pages in yoast

3. URL Structure / Permalinks

Strip Category Base – Winner: Yoast

Most WordPress sites for category archives will default to something like;

www.evolvingseo.com/blog/category/analytics/

But having /category/ in the structure can sometimes be unnecessary. Yoast knows this and gives the option to remove it.

All In One does not do this at all.

permalink settings in yoast seo

 

Remove “replytocom” From Comment URLs

As you can see in the screenshot above, this is also a key feature Yoast offers. It’s not so important for smaller sites, but for large sites it can make a big improvement in your crawl efficiency.

All In One does not have the ability to do that.

4. Titles & Descriptions

Amount Of Variables Available For Titles & Descriptions – Winner: Yoast

The ability to set up custom title and description templates is available in both Yoast and All In One. This is an exceptionally valuable feature in both plugins.

However, one distinction is that Yoast offers more options across all page types.

title and description variables in yoast

All In One offers the ability to set templates, but there seems to be less options. Granted, I only ever use about 20% of them, I could see some advanced situations where the other 80% may be needed.

all in one seo title template options

Ability To Edit Titles/Descriptions In List View – Winner: All In One

Note – this is a “nice to have”. It’s a UX feature. It doesn’t make your site’s SEO better, but it is a really handy feature that I wish you could do in Yoast. Instead of going through every post one by one, you could edit all the titles in one screen.

Yoast does not do this at all.

editing titles and descriptions in aio

Automatically Capitalize Titles – Winner: All In One

Again, although All In One is the “winner” this is also a “nice to have” feature, but won’t make or break your SEO at all. Your titles will look nicer though, which can help with click throughs.

Yoast does not have this at all.

capitalize titles with all in one

5. Image URL Settings

Winner – Yoast

Yoast gives you the ability – if you choose to make an image URL accessible for some reason (maybe it’s an infographic), you can control the various elements of them.

All In One gives you no control over images like this.

seo control on images with yoast

6. Meta Tags

By this I am referring to meta keywords, NOOP etc. In my opinion none of these types of things are important enough to be a deciding factor for an SEO plugin. Most of these are easy enough to drop into your header.php file.

7. Social Media

Facebook Open Graph Tags – Winner: Tie

This one was tough! Yoast certainly covers the basics needed to get your open graph tags on your site. I like that you can add multiple admins.

global facebook og settings in yoast

All In One really went all out on their open graph features though. You can really do a lot, and I’m honestly not even sure was some of these options are. Part of it is because it seems like every time I look, facebook has changed something again about their tags.

all in one facebook settings

One VERY cool thing is that All In One gives us the option of what object type to use.

all in one seo object type options

Ultimately, I’m calling this a tie because in 90% of cases, just getting the basics done is all you need. And I am sure there are other plugins or methods to do what All In One is doing.

Twitter Cards – Winner: Yoast

Super easy with Yoast. Just plug in your Twitter handle and you’re off.

All In One does not do this at all.

twitter cards in yoast seo

Google Authorship – Winner: Yoast

I’m calling yoast the winner on this, simply because it allows the option to turn it OFF for the homepage (as well as other fine tuning on the post/page themselves).

I’m always reminding clients that rel author is for articles only (something one person has authored). This makes it easy to accomplish.

All In One has authorship available, but not the fine tunings available in Yoast.

google plus authorship in yoast seo

Rel = Publisher – Winner: Yoast

Very important. Google emphasizes right in their docs that this can help them understand your site better. It can create a good brand connection. Granted, this is not hard to set up manually, but Yoast makes it easier.

More importantly, Yoast is putting an important up to date SEO task front and center. Gives us what is important.

All In One does not do this.

rel publisher in yoast

8. Other Functions

Edit Robots.txt & .htaccess – Winner: Yoast

This is honestly a “nice to have”. It’s convenient. You don’t have to fiddle around with FTP’s and text files.

I believe you can do this in the paid version of All In One but not the free version.

editing htaccess and robots.txt in yoast

Customize RSS Feed – Winner: Yoast

This would fall into “how your content appears around the web”. What’s cool here is that people are going to scrape your content. They’re going to do this via your RSS feed. So why not plant some a link back to your post in the feed?

Yoast will do this for you, and in fact it’s set up that way by default.

All In One does not have this feature.

RSS settings in yoast

Control User Access – Winner: Yoast

A nice to have. Prevents your editors, writers etc from breaking stuff.

access control in yoast seo

SEO Tools – Choose And Assign Keyword Focus – Winner: Yoast

Admittedly I don’t use this much. But man, is it SUPER useful. You can figure out your content’s target keyword right in there, and get instant feedback based upon what you select. All In One does not have such a tool.

assigning a focus keyword in yoast seo

Actionable SEO Tips Based Upon Assigned Keyword – Winner: Yoast

If you DO have a focus keyword chosen, hit “page analysis” and Yoast will give you a bunch of actionable recommendations. I was just checking them out and found them to be very helpful.

seo page analysis in yoast seo

It’s NOT About The Plugin Doing Everything

Remember, the best plugin will really nail the most important stuff. The best plugin doesn’t just have the most features. It has the right features in the right places and draws the line at features that really aren’t important.

I left many things out that All In One does in fact do. But are they as important? I didn’t think so.

The Results

My conclusion? Yoast by far outperforms All In One for the features that really matter. Does All In One do some extra stuff that Yoast doesn’t? Sure. But when it comes to the core of fundamentally great SEO, Yoast wins.

Indexation

Yoast: 3

All In One: 0

Crawling / Accessibility

Yoast: 5

All In One: 0

Display In Search

Yoast: 1

All In One: 2

Social Media Display

Yoast: 4

All In One: 1

Don’t Know How To Switch To Yoast?

You’re in luck! I made this video where I talk through the steps for migrating to Yoast. Step by step instructions are in the description of the video.

Then you can go to this post I wrote all about setting up WordPress for SEO success.

More WordPress SEO Resources

Need More Help?

My main job is to consult for clients, but I’m considering trying some online workshops and providing exclusive help to folks who want to join the Evolving SEO list. Sign up and I’ll let you know!



PS – Curious In The Complete Data?

It’s not scientific at all, but if you want to see my entire spreadsheet un-edited of features and scores, here you go!

Link to full size

About Dan Shure

I'm Dan (Google Plus Profile). I've been helping businesses improve their websites since 2007. Improving your bottom line is my number one goal. My obsessive nature and love for SEO as a true craft doesn't hurt either.

24 Comments

  • February 15, 2014 Reply

    Matt MorgN

    Agh…I knew this day would come. We’ve been using AIO for years and are experts at it. I’ve been dreading the switch, but guess its time.

    Thanks for the write-up Dan. Stay awesome!

    • February 15, 2014 Reply

      Dan Shure

      No problem Matt – it’s also not to say AIO is completely useless – I could see just a blogger or maybe small biz getting away with it just fine, but for something where SEO really matters, and you’re working on other things like off site promotion etc Yoast is the way to go.

  • February 17, 2014 Reply

    Luke Fitzgerald

    Excellent post, thanks for creating/sharing. I’ve recently opted for Yoast over AIO based on a similar scorecard I’d made in my head, it’s nice to see it spelt out in writing though, great work!

    • February 17, 2014 Reply

      Dan Shure

      Thanks Luke :)

  • February 25, 2014 Reply

    Cesar

    Well done, thanks for the awesome, thorough review.

    Not sure I would rank indexation as the most important on-site item. Granted, it’s a fundamental first step but unless you’ve gone out of your way to bury a page does anyone really have to worry about getting indexed these days.

    Another thing people may want to keep in mind (for all plugins) is resource usage. Yoast is awesome but in some cases and if used in combination with many other plugins or on a busy site there can be performance issues.

    Great blog.

    • February 26, 2014 Reply

      Dan Shure

      The concern with indexation is what you DON’T want indexed – ie: subpages, image attachements etc. All In One lets the floodgates open basically by not keeping a cap on any of that. Where as Yoast prevents over-indexation.

      That is also very true about resources. I always recommend people to delete plugins they are not using. Always try to do something by hand (like social buttons etc) when possible rather than using a plugin when possible.

      Thanks!

  • March 3, 2014 Reply

    Naren P

    thanks. this is an excellent comparison.
    but I prefer AIO Seo for small blogs. overall yoast is the winner for its features.

  • March 12, 2014 Reply

    Dawid

    Great site and comprehensive article. I really liked idea combining review of SEO plugins with SEO tips, eg. about what elements of the site (subpages, images, attachments) should not be indexed. I have been using Yoast SEO for a long time period for many sites (local businesses, webshops, larger sites) and only noticed two things that could be improved: XML site generating (I have problems and using BWP Google XML Sitemaps now) and UI.

    Btw, I noticed in last version you have now bulk editor for titles and descriptions in Yoast similar to AIO SEO. Did you notice it?

    • March 12, 2014 Reply

      Dan Shure

      Yes! Shortly after this article Yoast mentioned to me on Twitter they’d be doing bulk editing. Great to see that get added, very useful.

  • March 16, 2014 Reply

    Annett

    Finally a real comparison between Yoast SEO and All-In-One that is based on fact and not marketing or guess work. I actually use the Yoast SEO plugin on most of my websites as well as customer websites.
    In the one instance, where I’m still using the All-In-One plugin, I had a rude awaking with their sitemap feature today. I noticed over the past weeks that my ranking slipped and couldn’t figure out why…until today. All-In-One didn’t generate a clean sitemap, some pages were missing and all blog posts. However, it generated a sitemap of all tags. Why? I don’t know but little details such as this one can change ranking.
    So, I’ll switch to Yoast SEO now since this tool never let me down over all these years.

  • March 31, 2014 Reply

    rohit marathe

    DAN SHURE nice artical about but i’m still confused i have been using seo yoast for my blogging site and i’m not getting the desired results for my web pages should i switch to AIO or continue with yoast??? please help me out over this issue

    • April 1, 2014 Reply

      Dan Shure

      I would make sure you’re using the setting correctly – I’d start with my article on setting up WordPress for SEO – http://moz.com/blog/setup-wordpress-for-seo-success – Yoast is better in my opinion, but if you’re not getting the results there could be a lot of reasons for that, not just the plugin. Good luck!

  • April 1, 2014 Reply

    Haydrion

    I don’t think your case study is not good enough, yoast sitemap is horrible, the plugin has always conflicts with nextgen
    the sub pages are still indexing even when you disable it. The author function is not working. So no Yoast is not a winner at all. A couple of previous versions was okay, but the latest versions are horrible full of bugs and errors.

    • April 2, 2014 Reply

      Dan Shure

      Hi thanks for the feedback. While there are always going to be bugs, I just want to point out this review is based upon features. Subpages still indexing despite adding the noindex sounds suspicious, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some other conflict there. I have heard of some folks having issues with the XML sitemap lately. But in general, as the article state, if you are doing things correctly Yoast is by far the winner in terms of features.

  • April 10, 2014 Reply

    Debs

    Amazing article. Exactly what I needed to know, and so great to find something that isn’t over a year old!

    I’ve been thinking of switching over to Yoast, but wasn’t sure if that was based on sound reasoning, or just because a bunch of people said it was better (they’d never said what it was better for).

    Thank you!

    • April 10, 2014 Reply

      Dan Shure

      Awesome! Glad it was helpful :)

  • April 14, 2014 Reply

    Americo Belarmino

    Thanks Dan. Very helpful when choosing the plugin that does it all.

    But I have questions. Can I use the two plugins at the same time? Will there will be no conflict? What is your insight about this Dan? Cheers.

    • April 15, 2014 Reply

      Dan Shure

      Hi – glad it was helpful! I would definitely not use them at the same time. You’ll end up with a lot of conflicting settings :)

  • April 17, 2014 Reply

    Deirdre

    Thanks for the comprehensive article. I think it’s important to regularly review your plug-ins of choice. In my experience I find that the success of Yoast depends on your theme, site structure and willingness to tweak until you get it right. For now I’m going to stick with Yoast for my clients :-)

  • April 22, 2014 Reply

    Rudy Labordus

    I’ve been using Yoast for a a few years but I keep hearing so many “internet marketing gurus” recommend AIO that eventually I thought it was about time I did some more research into which is better. I have to say your article made that pending “effort” quite effortless now. :) Thanks for your thorough comparison. Much appreciated.

    • April 23, 2014 Reply

      Dan Shure

      Nice! So glad it helped :)

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