Latest TweetsVerify any search engine or visitor via CLI Forward-Reverse Lookup perishablepress.com/cli-forwar…
Perishable Press

Yoast WP SEO vs All in One SEO

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:

  • Akismet
  • WP-phpMyAdmin
  • 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.

Update: the WP-phpMyAdmin plugin has been removed from the WP Plugin Directory due to security reasons. So do NOT use this plugin until the security issue is resolved. And even then.. I no longer use this plugin on any site.

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

Update: Since the time of this review, both of these SEO plugins have changed quite a bit. These days, Yoast SEO pretty much covers the entire spectrum, and All in One SEO also has evolved considerably. So either plugin could be great depending on your site’s specific SEO needs. Alternately, if you’re just looking for a solid way to implement the SEO basics, check out DigWP.com for a lightweight DIY Alternative to WordPress SEO Plugins.</update>

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.

Jeff Starr
About the Author Jeff Starr = Creative thinker. Passionate about free and open Web.
Archives
74 responses
  1. I went through the same process and now use AiOSEO quite happily. So I agree with you.

    But why waste even two seconds for the keywords meta tag?

    • Jeff Starr

      I just include the meta keywords whenever I set up the meta description, which is important for SEO, from my understanding.

      I like to customize titles, meta description, and meta keywords. The option to noindex certain parts of the site is also a plus.

      • Oh, yes, the meta description is extremely important, I agree, and that’s the main reason I use and recommend this plugin. It’s just the meta keywords that is just very old practice: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2009/09/google-does-not-use-keywords-meta-tag.html

        Plugins like this should stop supporting it, because if “bloggers” see it, they feel the urge to fill it, too. And it’s a waste of their time.

      • Jeff Starr

        Hey thanks, I always kinda figured that was the case, but like you say, I’ve always seen them there so I just keep adding them like a mindless zombie.

        But really, they were important at one point in time, which is why so many plugins include them. And then by adding keywords automatically, it makes it even easier to forget about.

        Basically we need a plugin for one thing: custom meta descriptions. Probably easy to do using the_excerpt and a custom function. I may try it..

  2. Peter Bockenhauer January 31, 2011 @ 11:45 am

    Ah very timely review, thank you. Was just in the middle of testing out WP SEO myself. I’ve also been a long time AiOSEO user myself and will just stick with it as well.

    Didn’t know about WP-phpMyAdmin, pretty handy. I started using XCloner to backup the database and all WP files locally, remote FTP or Amazon S3. Then you can setup cron to automate it.: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/xcloner-backup-and-restore/

    • Jeff Starr

      Nice! I’ll be checking out XCloner now, thank you very much! Looks like just the ticket for taking care of the backups.

      Any thoughts on Amazon S3? I’ve never used it, but have been hearing lots of great things about it lately. May be trying soon.

      • Peter Bockenhauer January 31, 2011 @ 12:07 pm

        Ya, XCloner has been pretty sweet. Right now I’m actually backing up everything to a Go Daddy account and then Go Daddy actually does daily snapshots, so that covers you pretty good. I need to tweak the XCloner settings before I run out of disk space on my (dv) of course. ;) There is an option to only keep a certain number of days backups, but of course that won’t delete them off the remote FTP server. You can also just delete the local copy after it’s done copying it to the remote FTP, might just do that instead.

        My only experience with S3 is with Jungle Disk for my personal system backups. I ended up going with Carbonite just because it’s unlimited and doesn’t ding you for each transfer. So I guess I’ll stick with my extra Go Daddy hosting account for off-site WP backups for now.

    • I use BackWPup for backups.

      I went with it because it works with cron jobs and db tables and folders are excluded rather than included. Very handy if a new plugin adds a table to the db.

      • Jeff Starr

        Ahh, hadn’t heard of that one! Trying it out now.. Thanks :)

      • Jeff Starr

        BackWPup works flawlessly, an excellent plugin. Now enjoying automated dropbox backups of database and select files. Awesome.

      • Peter Bockenhauer February 2, 2011 @ 7:04 am

        I tried BackWPup but noticed it didn’t backup the database completely.

        Also my NextGEN gallery directories. I believe it may have been long filenames, but not sure. It actually took the image file name and applied it to the directory name and then for every image it created a new directory with a wp-content directory.. Very strange behavior.

        Besides that whenever I would manually generate a backup, it would never say it finished in the admin. I would have to hit the “clear” link under the backup name.

        Maybe just something up with my install, but Jeff I’d double check your backup to make sure it’s working correctly.

        Too bad, cause I much prefer the wordpress-feel of that plugin over XCloner. I also liked the idea of backing up to Dropbox.

        For now I’ll stick with XCloner.

      • Jeff Starr

        Thanks for the heads up. I just checked and it looks like it’s grabbing everything I ask it to, including complete database, with no issues.

        I will definitely keep my eye on it. It’s great to know about XCloner as a good alternative.

  3. Don Carroll January 31, 2011 @ 12:32 pm

    I’ve had no problems with WP-DBManager on a (dv) at Media Temple. Are we talking about the same plugin (or, in other words, should I now worry that it’s not doing something right)?

    • Jeff Starr

      Here is a screenshot of WP-DBManager running on Media Temple (dv):

      https://perishablepress.com/pix/dbmanager.gif

      As you can see, there is an issue with incorrect/missing dump & MySQL paths. I’ve seen this problem on other (dv) servers, but I have no idea if it is plugin-related or something else.

      Are the two dump paths showing green on your (dv) setup? If so, please share those magic dump paths!

      • Don Carroll January 31, 2011 @ 1:03 pm

        (Incoming dope slap)…mine’s marked the same as yours is, in the same spots. I swear I checked that before….

        Here’s the thing–it still works for me. It backs up, and I either have it emailed to me or FTP to get it. The data is good, so I’m inclined to think it might be a problem with the way the plugin checks those paths.

      • Jeff Starr

        Yeh, I’ve seen that exact same thing on a different (dv) setup. Seems to work despite the red error messages. I read thru a few different forum threads recently to see if anyone had a solution (or even explanation), but found nothing helpful.

        I hope somebody shares a solution, because the WP DBManager plugin is extremely useful. Fortunately there are alternative backups methods available in the meantime.

      • Don Carroll February 7, 2011 @ 1:36 pm

        Back again; maybe this will help someone.

        Both of mine were showing the same errors, so I changed them to the plugin-suggested settings. The absolute path to mysqldump is now simply listed as ‘mysqldump’, and the absolute path to mysql is simply ‘mysql’.

        For whatever reason, it’s back to normal (when I checked a few days ago, in my response below, both were set to server paths and threw the error). I’ll keep an eye on it to make sure it isn’t going to have problems again, but this has worked solidly for a week or so now.

  4. Thanks for the review, Jeff. I thought that Headspace is/was a reasonable alternative and I am using that one now on a few websites where I cannot use AISEO (multilingual sites).
    But recently I discovered that Headspace doesn’t work with Custom Post Types, how does AISEO handle those?
    The idea mentioned above to just go for title and meta description (using excerpt) sounds perfect actually!

    • Jeff Starr

      AiOSEO has a setting to enable “SEO for Custom Post Types” and then also provides some additional custom-type options such as “column support”.

      Yes, I’m working my way around this new design, and when I get to the functions.php file, I’ll try to set something up and then post here at Perishable Press :)

  5. Hey jeff; I had that broken comments thing with yoasts plugin as well. The clean permalink thing is the culprit (had a post up on it a few weeks back).

    In regards to the permalink, check the adv options prob one to blame there.

    For the sitemap, I forgot to save options first. After I did that and created initial map it worked fine.

    Overall I like yoast better because of the extra functions.

    • Jeff Starr

      I really tried to make Yoast SEO work – I wanted to use it, but instead of just working, the plugin required waay too much fiddling, and even then numerous issues were not resolved. At some point, I just stepped back and decided that it just wasn’t worth it at this point.

      I do think this plugin has truckloads of potential, but it will be awhile before it gets there. Once it does, it will blow AiOSEO clean out of the pond.

  6. Peter Bockenhauer February 1, 2011 @ 8:29 am

    Jeff – Noticed in your plugin list that you are not utilizing caching. Do you use the built-in caching? Do you recommend a plugin? I searched the site and a previous review didn’t jump out at me.

    • Jeff Starr

      Yes, that is correct – no caching used here at Perishable Press. I do use Total Cache on some other sites, but actually couldn’t use it here on that old /press/ install.

      Now that I’ve got brand new WP to play with, I may give caching a go and see what happens. If/when I go there, it will be with W3 Total Cache. From what I’ve read, it is one of the best.

      • The only heads up about w3 total is that you have to activate and configure it for each site. I installed it on a multisite, configured one site, exported the settings, and imported them to the rest. Works great for me on multisite and keeps my site up on the super busy days.

  7. thanks for the comparison Jeff. I’ve been using Yoast’s plugin on a few sites, but haven’t tested it as thoroughly as you did. As I trust your expert’s opinion, I’ll probably revert to AIO.
    would be nice to have yoast comment about those issues. Have you posted them on the WordPress forum? or contacted him about it?

    • Jeff Starr

      Yes, Yoast tweeted about it, saying that some of my points were valid, but that the plugin is still in beta, so maybe the post isn’t useful.

      I hope he does resolve the issues, because the plugin shows enormous potential and it would be great to use it on some sites.

  8. John Rocheleau February 1, 2011 @ 7:35 pm

    For a reliable and complete comment spam solution, try the WP-SpamFree plugin. I have been using it for a couple years and do not require Akismet at all. It has been 100% accurate. The best part is, you never need to see the spam again, let alone deal with it.

    :-)
    John

  9. Maybe you see on the plugin Adminer, an alternative to phpMyAdmin; smaller and faster on install; very usefull.

  10. I think that http://www.wpseo.org/ is also a great WordPress plugin for SEO.

  11. For nice mysql backups I use mysqldumper, maybe you wanna check it out.

  12. Elliott the web design guy February 2, 2011 @ 11:08 am

    Lovin the new look website Jeff :-)
    Glad you reviewed AISEO and Yoast WPSEO, I’ve been using AISEO for a while on many sites and the confirmation that this is still the best and most reliable plugin for seo is very comforting, even if it is high maintenance sometimes!

[ Comments are closed for this post ]