There are a lot of WordPress plugins out there for SEO, but which one gives the best results?
Yoast is one of the most popular plugins around – it’s often recommended and installed by WordPress designers/developers because it is simple to use with it’s ‘wizard setup’ and traffic-light teaching system. However, it’s lacking in some features without some premium extensions and if you try to make all the lights green, what you’ve written makes absolutely no sense.
But, it does have a lot of positive features and it’s great for SEO novices. Let’s explore the Yoast plugin.
The Yoast Wizard
The Yoast easy-to-follow-wizard makes it easy for those new to SEO to properly set up the basics of the plugin – but a lot of people forget to do this step, rendering the plugin almost useless.
Along the way, the wizard provides instructions on why you’re filling in the information, and links to some training videos at the end – handy!
The wizard can be run at any time, if there’s something that changes or you have made a mistake.
Once you’ve finished with the wizard, you’re redirected to the main dashboard where there are more advanced settings. The ‘features’ tab lets you turn any of the included features on and off. We tend to turn the ‘Ryte Integration’ off as it spits out false reports now and again.
The next tab along is ‘webmaster tools’ where you can connect Search engine webmaster tools like Google Webmaster and Bing Webmaster.
The Search Appearance settings let you change how you want your snippets to look, and what is included in your sitemap. And, the Social settings set up the social meta and connects all your accounts to your SEO settings.
The best feature of Yoast is in the Tools settings, here you can use the file editor to easily edit the robot.txt file or the .htaccess file without having access to the server. However, this part comes with no instruction or automation whatsoever and messing with the .htaccess file can make your site inaccessible if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Also in Tools is the bulk editor and this is by far the best feature of Yoast. It lets you see all of the Meta Titles and Meta Descriptions on your website, and lets you edit them….in bulk. It’s a lot easier than going into each page one by one but again, it comes with no instruction on how you should do it so is not recommended for those new to SEO.
Instead, if you edit a page or a post, they provide a more easy to use input box where you can see what the snippet looks like on desktop or mobile search, and edit accordingly.
This is where the traffic light learning system comes into play to help you get the most out of the plugin – but as mentioned before, it is an AI telling you what to do so you don’t need to listen to it all the time. Go with what feels right and sometimes amber is more than enough – it still has to be readable for humans!
Is it worth upgrading Yoast SEO?
The premium version is over £100 and has a range of features but I’d suggest trying the basic version before considering the upgrade.
There are add-ons too, if you do like it, all priced just over £80 each; video SEO, Woocommerce SEO, news SEO, and local SEO. All though there are other plugins on the market that will do similar things for free, if you’re very fond of how Yoast works then these might work better for you.
All in One SEO Pack Plugin
This one has been our personal favourite for a while – it has a few more helpful advanced features and although doesn’t have a ‘setup wizard’, does have a useful guide. It doesn’t, however, help you learn SEO skills and so users would need a bit of knowledge to make full use of it.
We find, as we know more than a little already, it delivers the optimal performance for new websites with a plethora of features like performance management, bad robots blocking and being able to add Google analytics coding without needing additional plugins or coding abilities.
To a newbie the General settings page could be a bit daunting but there are little ? help guides next to each question with a link taking you to the right bit of documentation. So yes, a little bit more work than Yoast to set up.
Activating SEO and other Features
There’s a setting for everything, and when you’ve completed all the ones automatically visible on install, there’s a chance to add more features in the Features menu!
The first four options should definitely be activated to match features in Yoast, unless you’re confident with editing Robots.txt and .htaccess via the server.
Like Yoast, they also provide you with an input box on posts and pages to add meta titles, meta descriptions, and social meta if you’ve activated that feature.
But there’s no traffic light system so no feedback on whether you’re doing it right or not from your friendly AI.
Is it worth upgrading All in One SEO Pack?
The pro version is a similar cost to Yoast Pro but it includes a lot of things that are extra add-ons in Yoast like video SEO and woocommerce SEO so slightly better value for money.
But, again, make sure you’re comfortable with the free version before upgrading in case it’s not for you.
Rank Math SEO
This is the relative ‘new kid on the block’ and after testing it, it’s now our all time favourite.
It’s a cross between Yoast and All in One SEO, with the bonus of some additional features that aren’t included in either like url redirections and schema.
However, it doesn’t play nicely when trying to change over from Yoast or All in One SEO, without a lot of messing about which is a shame as we’d swap a few sites out if we could do it more easily.
The Rank Math Wizard
Like Yoast, it has an easy to follow wizard walking you through the set up for your website and it does let you input data already input from Yoast or All in One SEO (so if you’ve done basics on either, it will transfer them all for you but gets a bit messy with more advanced settings).
The wizard is a lot more comprehensive than the one Yoast provides and it does have handy learning guides along the way.
At the end of the wizards, instead of videos, there’s the option to set up more advanced stuff like 404 monitoring, redirections and Schema; settings you’d need additional plugins for with both Yoast and All in One SEO.
It also comes with additional modules available to activate if you need them, at no additional cost, like local SEO, Woocommerce and Buddypress or ACF (Advanced Custom Fields) integration if you have these installed.
Each module comes with it’s own settings and there are too many to go through here. But the SEO Analysis module is worth discussing. To use it, a free Rank Math account has to be activated but it does provide insight into developing the SEO on the website so it’s worth connecting.
Like the other two plugins, there are also on-page input boxes to add meta titles, description and social meta. It has a much better ‘traffic light system’ than Yoast with easier to read scoring.
And, Rank Math claims to outperform Yoast in terms of speed and use of resources (no such figures for All in One SEO provided, unfortunately).
Is it worth upgrading Rank Math SEO?
Yes, the Rank Math Pro has some nice features if you want to ‘up your SEO game’ – especially for Woocommerce websites, but you probably want to get to grips with the free version first.
So which SEO plugin is the best?
Choose Yoast if you’re a complete newbie and want to just test the water. There’s loads of help guides and videos to help you learn and it’s used quite a lot so there will be community help from peers.
But, choose Rank Math SEO if you have a bit of knowledge but you want to learn more of the advanced stuff. There’s a huge knowledge base on Rank Math’s website full of resources if you need help.
If neither are compatible with your website then consider All in One SEO – we’ve rarely seen compatibility issues with it (we have with Yoast) and it does the job it needs to do without fancy features.
If you need help or advice with your SEO, feel free to get in touch for a free consultation