Rambling introduction. While setting things up here at Perishable Press with a second installation of WordPress, I’m trying to keep the number of custom functions and plugins down to a minimum. Seriously, if some feature or function is not absolutely necessary, then it gets kicked to the curb, as they say. So far, I’m using only the following plugins for the second WordPress installation:
- All in One SEO Pack
My theory is that you can run a secure, fully functional, spam-free site without using any extra plugins, but I decided to leave Akismet installed for the time being, just to help stem the tide until I get everything dialed-in and fine-tuned.
The WP-phpMyAdmin plugin is useful because the WP Database Manager plugin doesn’t work with Media Temple’s (dv) setup, or at least it doesn’t work for any of my own sites — something involving the mysterious yet all-so-important “MySQL path” and “Dump path”, which both seem to be missing entirely, according to the plugin. So I decided to just roll with vanilla phpMyAdmin for quick and easy backups. And yes, I know about using cron for backups, but haven’t yet had a chance to set it up.
Finally, the All in One SEO Pack covers the one area where WordPress needs improvement: SEO. It would be great to have WordPress auto-generate meta description and keyword tags, and a custom titles options page would be HUGE. But unfortunately WordPress does none of this out of the box, so it’s up to us hard-working developers to implement this much-needed functionality.
Yoast WPSEO vs All in One SEO
And so. With a new installation of WordPress and tons of ambition, I was ready to start fresh and explore some of the fancy new plugins that I couldn’t use on the site’s “old” WordPress installation.
One of these new plugins is an alternative to the long-standing, tried and true “All in One SEO” (AiOSEO) plugin. Developed by Yoast and his team, Yoast SEO is the newest and most-hyped SEO plugin on the block. Yoast SEO has many useful features and loads of promise, so I thought I would take it for a test drive. After all, I was getting tired of having to reactivate and fiddle with AiOSEO after every update for every site, so I thought it would be nice to find a plugin that wasn’t as “high-maintenance”..
What I like about Yoast SEO plugin
Here is what I like about the Yoast’s SEO plugin:
- Reputable source (trustworthy, reliable)
- Many downloads (good for long-term)
- Well-designed & easy to use
- Lots of useful options for SEO
After installing the plugin, I began reading through the different Options pages and tried setting a few preferences. The page that actually replaces the AiOSEO functionality works like a dream — you can easily customize all of the titles for different page views, and there are plenty of variables to make things flexible. That is probably the best (and most important) part of the Yoast SEO plugin. If it were only that one page, I would probably still be using it.
What I don’t like about Yoast SEO plugin
If everything worked as advertised, I would still be using this remarkable plugin. Unfortunately, I kept running into walls with stuff not working or causing problems somehow. Here is a short list of the most problematic aspects:
- Strange error upon activation that the
/wpseo/directory could not be created (could not resolve this; no idea what it means)
- With the plugin enabled, category tags and templates did not work
- After uninstalling the plugin, category permalinks did not work
- None of the Sitemap functionality seemed to work — no sitemaps were created or updated
- WordPress’ paged-comment links don’t work when “Redirect ugly URL’s to clean permalinks” option is enabled
- Could not for the life of me figure out how to do the “clean uninstall” that is advertised for this plugin
- Empty/broken “File Editor” page (not sure what’s up with that)
- Insertion of “Plugin by Yoast” credits in the source code — even on pages that include no plugin output
I kept going with the plugin as long as I could, but the busted paged-comments and category permalinks pretty much changed my mind on this one. Sadly, I could not find that “clean uninstall” option that is advertised all over the place. It would have been nice to clean up the database after uninstalling, because the category permalinks still would not work after completely removing the plugin. To fix this, I needed to reset my permalinks to default and then switch them back to custom again (to reset the permalink rules, I suspect).
And the winner is..
I think the Yoast plugin is great and has loads of potential, but until some of these major issues are addressed, I have to roll with the old standby, All in One SEO. AiOSEO is a simple plugin that does one thing very well: generates unique meta description, keyword, and title tags. That’s really the only thing I need it for, simply because WordPress provides no built-in way of doing so.
One of these days, you’ll be able to install WordPress and have automatically generated meta & title tags without installing another plugin. Until then, I’m keeping it simple with AiOSEO.