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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 = Web Developer. Book Author. Secretly Important.
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74 responses
  1. Website Design JVF February 2, 2011 @ 12:45 pm

    With all the bugs/errors that you found with the Yoast plugin, it seems to me it should have never been released. Some unsuspecting people installing that on their current theme had to have sent some nasty complaints.

  2. Michael Hampson February 4, 2011 @ 7:47 am

    In my case the /wpseo/ error had to do with incorrect permissions on the upload directory — it was owned by the group my host uses for Apache permissions or something like that. I ended up deleting and remaking the upload dir, since I couldn’t chown it.

    The directory is configuration storage so I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the problems you’re seeing, like the sitemap failure, are related.

  3. Francis Robert February 4, 2011 @ 6:56 pm

    Hi Jeff,

    I recently installed and configured Yoast SEO plugin on a few websites and had no problem at all so I was surprised by your post. Of course I haven’t tried uninstalling, and after reading your post I don’t really feel like trying, so thanks for your review :-)

  4. All in One SEO is the oldest and still the best :-)

  5. Just the review i was looking for, thank you!
    However, will keep an eye on Yoast`s plugin as(as you sad) it is very promising.

  6. How about AiSEO vs Platinum SEO?

  7. Jeff,

    Just about every thing you listed under “What I don’t like about Yoast WP SEO plugin” I experienced as well… also on a brand new wordpress install.

    That first “error” about /wpseo/ – I couldn’t even find anything on Yoast’s site or the Readme.txt file.

    Ultimately I did the same as you, went back with what works and what I’ve had perfectly good results with… AiO SEO.

    • Jeff Starr

      Yes, that drove me nuts too – I couldn’t find anything definitive on the /wpseo/ error. I really wanted to use Yoast’s plugin, but couldn’t work out the issues. So it’s AiOSEO (for now).

  8. Jeff,

    This is a good comparison and I’m glad you wrote it. I just felt compelled to chime in.

    – AIOSEO –

    I’ve used AIOSEO for a long time, with very good results. It’s always worked as advertised. The only complaint I had were the constant updates. All was fine until I started using custom post types and custom taxonomies in tandem.

    AIOSEO supports custom post types in the standard version (as you mentioned), but not custom taxonomies. Custom taxonomies are only supported in the “Pro” version.

    After learning this, I upgraded to the “Pro” version of AIOSEO (v.1.7.2), only to find that the code that supported custom post types was completely missing. Go figure. ;)

    I brought this up to the current (not original) developer in his AIOSEO Pro (i.e. paid) support forum and basically received no response.

    Hence my search for an alternative.

    – WordPress SEO –

    As far as I’m concerned, your first point “Reputable source (trustworthy, reliable)” shouldn’t be overlooked.

    Joost builds very good plug-ins. His code is clean and he cares about user experience. After the nightmare I experienced with AIOSEO, this alone places WordPress SEO ahead of the pack.

    I did run into the “/wpseo/” directory error but it was quickly resolved when I realized the plug-in was using a separate folder inside the /uploads/ folder to store sitemaps. It was a while ago, but I think I just changed permissions on the directory.

    The “Plugin by Yoast” credits showing on pages that don’t include the plugin output is a slight annoyance, but it’s really minor.. and nowhere near as verbose as some plugins I’ve seen (not used).

    I’ve pushed the plugin quite a bit and I haven’t experienced the other issues you mentioned. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist, I just haven’t had those problems. I also haven’t tried to uninstall…

    As Joost pointed out, it is still beta.

    One feature you didn’t mention is the option for migrating metadata from AIOSEO. I’m in the process of migrating all my sites to WordPress SEO. So far it’s worked seamlessly.

    BTW Love your new site design. ;)

  9. Joost de Valk February 21, 2011 @ 2:04 am

    As it’s my plugin you’re comparing here to AIOSEO, I thought it was about time for me to respond ;)

    As mentioned in the comment already, most of your issues rely on the fact that the folder wpseo in your uploads folder couldn’t be created. The error you got was cryptic at best, and I’ve slightly improved it for the next version, so thanks for pointing that out.

    Because it can’t create that folder, it can’t write an XML sitemap and all that functionality doesn’t work. It actually creates a sitemap in wp-content/uploads/wpseo/ and then does a rewrite from /sitemap.xml to that file, so it will also work properly in MultiSite environments.

    The only thing I don’t get is you say that some templates weren’t working, do you have any more data on that? What broke it, what happened?

    • Jeff Starr

      Yeah it took awhile ;)

      Great to hear about the improvements! I’m looking forward to seeing the plugin out of beta and ready for production use. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I really wanted to use it, but just couldn’t get it working as needed.

      If I remember correctly, the templates just didn’t work. Also, the paged comments not working is a pretty big deal. I know you have a “you don’t need paged comments” message in there, but WordPress does provide paged-comments functionality and should be covered by the plugin, IMO.

      Thanks for dropping by :)

  10. Just a quick comment about AIOSEO vs. Yoast SEO. I switched two sites from AIO to Yoast and didn’t experience any issues. Once I made the switch, I marked the transition date (Jan 16th) in my analytics to see what happened to my search engine traffic. As of this comment posting time, traffic from search engines has increased 21.78% over the previous time frame, a running 36 day comparison.

    • Jeff Starr

      That is incredible! How much of the increase do you attribute to the plugin?

      • Jeff – that’s the problem, it will be difficult to tell simply because we’ve published new content since then. But, I can’t help but think that an increase like that is somewhat attributable to Yoast’s plugin.

  11. Hpnotik Qrew February 21, 2011 @ 7:43 pm

    Hey, this is a really good article.
    I was wondering what SEO plugin I should work with just to stumble on this page.
    I can see how useful AIOSEO really is.

    Thanks alot for the review Jeff!

  12. Kevin Bossons February 25, 2011 @ 10:07 am

    I’m having the same issue with the /wpseo/ error. I created a new folder: /wp-content/uploads/wpseo/ and even gave the folder 777 permissions, however the error is still there. This is on a brand new WP install.

    Just a heads up!

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