NOW UPDATED FOR 2017!
PLEASE NOTE: I originally reviewed the Yoast SEO Plugin vs All In One Plugin in February of 2014. This post is being completely updated for 2017 – I have updated comparisons of all the critical feature sets, but plan on doing a little more review on their help and support.
I want to note this post compares the free versions of Yoast and All In One.
If you notice any mistakes please leave a comment below. Thanks!
Why This Post Exists
Back in February of 2014, I was helping some folks out on Twitter with WordPress questions. Someone was having trouble deciding between All In One and Yoast SEO. But someone pointed out that All In One SEO had been updated a lot leading up to 2014.
I was embarrassed.
I’d always been recommending Yoast over All In One, but had no idea All In One had gone through a lot of updates.
My embarrassment quickly turned into determination – to create the best and most comprehensive comparison between these two rival SEO plugins. That resulted in my first complete review from 2014.
But now it’s basically 2017 – and a LOT has changed AGAIN.
So here’s my completely updated review! My two goals of putting this post together are;
- To come away knowing without a doubt, which plugin I should be recommending.
- 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.
First: What Exactly Is “Good” WordPress SEO?
LOTS of people focus on the wrong things when it comes to what makes a “good” SEO plugin. So I want to spell out very clearly what a good WordPress SEO plugin should do.
At the most fundamental level, good on-site SEO in order of importance (in my opinion) is four things;
- 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;
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.
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.
- The 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.
- The tool has good UX and helpful documentation, so you can actually use the tool with as much ease as possible. If the tool is a headache to use, it doesn’t matter how good the features are!
A good WordPress SEO plugin – does what it should, and doesn’t do what it shouldn’t.
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;
I made sure to list every single possible function and categorized them. The categorizations are as follows;
- URL Structure
- Titles / Descriptions
- Meta tags
- Social Media
- 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.
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.
So let’s see what I found.
Noindex Subpages – Winner: Tie
This one is HUGE. When your 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.
It was nice to see that All In One has since added this feature as well!
Control Individual Tags/Categories Indexation – Winner: Yoast
With Yoast, you can total control over every individual tag and category archive (not just all or nothing). 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 still does not do this at all.
Set Custom Canonical URLs On Individual Posts/Pages – Winner: Tie
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.
The All In One Plugin now allows custom canonicals as well, if you check this box:
Redirect Image URLs to Parent Posts – Winner: Tie
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.
Both tools now offer this solution (All In One used to not have it) Check this box to 301 redirect attachment URLs back to their post.
All In One
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 still does not do this at all. While a programer can certainly build breadcrumbs into your theme, Yoast’s function do make it much easier to add what I think is an important SEO site architecture function.
Also since 2014, Yoast has greatly updated the specific functions available for breadcrumbs:
Individually 301 Redirect Posts/Pages – Winner: None
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.
But sadly, Yoast has taken this out of their free version and it’s now only available in the paid version.
All In One does not do this at all either.
Here’s the old screenshot of when Yoast could do this in the free version:
3. URL Structure / Permalinks
Strip Category Base – Winner: Yoast
Most WordPress sites for category archives will default to something like;
But having /category/ in the structure can sometimes be unnecessary. Yoast knows this and gives the option to remove it.
All In One still does not do this at all.
Remove “replytocom” From Comment URLs – Winner: Yoast
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 still 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.
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.
Ability To Edit Titles/Descriptions In List View – Winner: All In One
Note – this is a “nice to have” but a really nice UX feature. Instead of going through every post one by one, you could edit all the titles in one screen.
All In One does this:
Yoast didn’t originally have this feature. This in 2014 when I first published this post, they added it. I was excited! They read and listened to my feedback! But now it seems to be gone again from Yoast 🙁
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 still does not have this at all.
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 info graphic), you can control the various elements of them.
All In One gives you no control over images like this.
6. Meta Tags
Add The Site Links Search Box Code – Winner: All In One
If you’re not familiar, this is a Sitelinks Search Box:
About 8 months after my first review of these plugins, Google introduced the Sitelinks search box (documentation from Google here). It can possibly make you seem more authoritative, and better yet, it can help users find the content on your site faster.
All In One added a handy function to just automatically add the code required into your site:
As to how well it works I am not sure. But I really like that All In One is heading in that direction – there’s lots of new markup that’s come out since 2014, and this is the type of thing I would want an SEO plugin to do.
Other Standard Meta Tags – Important?
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.
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.
One cool thing is that All In One gives us the option of what object type to use, but there used to be more options in this feature.
Ultimately, I’m still 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: Tie
Yoast used to be the only one with this ability, but both plugins now allow the easy addition of Twitter Card meta data
Google Markup (Rel Publisher and Author) – Winner: Yoast
Google Authorship markup has gotten considerably less important since 2014, but rel = publisher is still important.
Although All In One has a bunch of Authorship features…
All In One is still mysteriously missing the ability to easily add rel = publisher. I suppose you could do this where they allow custom meta tags to be added, but Yoast makes it easy:
More importantly, Yoast is putting an important up to date SEO task front and center. Gives us what is important.
8. Other Functions
Edit Robots.txt & .htaccess – Winner: All In One
This is honestly a “nice to have”. It’s convenient. You don’t have to fiddle around with FTP’s and text files.
You used to be able to edit .htaccess in Yoast for free, but now you need the paid version. You can still edit robots.txt in the free version of Yoast.
All In One – keeps surprising me! They added the ability to edit both .htaccess and robots.txt for free, in their “features manager” section:
Note: the Features Manager is where you can find many of the other features, like Social Meta tagging.
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.
Admittedly, RSS feeds are less important in 2017, but I actually see that Google crawls RSS feeds a LOT. So this is a nice key feature for crawling actually.
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.
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.
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.
Yoast by far outperforms All In One for the features that really matter. All In One SEO has actually caught up a little bit to Yoast SEO since 2014. Yoast still wins by my chosen criteria, however I will be digging a little deeper to be sure Yoast is still the true winner.
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.
All In One: 2/3
Crawling / Accessibility
All In One: 1/5
Display In Search
All In One: 2/3
Social Media Display
All In One: 2/3
Yoast – 11/14
All In One – 7/14
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
- Setting Up WordPress For SEO Success – I take you from the ground up for best practices.
- WordPress SEO – Justin Briggs, one of the most talented SEO’s I know
- WordPress Webinar on Moz – I answer some of the most asked questions about WordPress SEO
- Post vs Pages – How to decide which to use
- Clean Sweep Your Tag Archives – How to safely de-index and remove tag archives
- How To Speed Up WordPress – best guide I’ve ever seen on the topic
Craving More SEO Help For Free?
Check out my SEO and Inbound Marketing Podcast.
PS – Want The FULL The Yoast Vs All In One Feature Comparison?
It’s not scientific at all, but if you want to see my entire spreadsheet un-edited of features and scores, here you go!
It’s been updated to include everything new reviewed for 2017!