The WordPress All in One SEO Pack Plugin used to be the most popular SEO plugin before Yoast took the top spot. Find out if it’s worth using All in One SEO or if it’s all hype!
The All in One SEO Plugin Review is from 2010, so no longer completely valid. Will try to update when I have the time.
After writing the Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin Review, made sense to review the most popular WordPress SEO plugin, yes the All in One SEO Pack WordPress Plugin.
Like with other so called SEO plugins I don’t use them on live sites, the All in One SEO Plugin was tested on a development server (work PC).
WordPress All in One SEO Pack Plugin
Activated the free All in One SEO Pack (Version 126.96.36.199) to receive the following warning:
The plugin generated 152 characters of unexpected output during activation. If you notice “headers already sent” messages, problems with syndication feeds or other issues, try deactivating or removing this plugin.
Didn’t look into what caused this warning.
All in One SEO Pack – Pro Version
There’s a paid version of this SEO plugin called: All in One SEO Pack – Pro Version, I had a look on the authors site etc… but couldn’t find a detailed additional features list (short feature list below), so could only review the free version of this WordPress plugin.
The All in One SEO Pack – Pro Version currently costs $39.99 and includes these extra features:
* Custom Taxonomy support
* Ideal for Developers and Firms using the plugin on client sites
* Support Forum
* Advanced notice of new features, updates, functionality
I personally wouldn’t pay for any of the above.
Enabling WordPress All in One SEO Plugin
After activating the plugin you are left with a red warning on your admin pages:
All in One SEO Pack must be configured. Go to the admin page to enable and configure the plugin.
All in One SEO Pack now supports Custom Post Types.
You would assume this means the SEO plugin though active hasn’t made any changes to your WordPress site yet (needs enabling). Not true, the format of my pages title elements have been changed. I tested the WordPress plugin with my theme which has search engine optimized titles and even though I’d not enabled the All in One SEO Pack they’d been over written with worse SEO titles! Tested on TwentyTen, same result.
After loading the SEO plugins admin page the All in One SEO Plugin was indeed disabled according to this page. Viewing source of any page of the site showed this was not true as the plugin has added it’s footprint within the head section:
<!-- All in One SEO Pack 188.8.131.52 by Michael Torbert of Semper Fi Web Design[209,251] -->
<link rel="canonical" href="http://localhost/wp-test/" />
<!-- /all in one seo pack -->
Note my theme already has built in canonical URL support (as does WordPress core**), so now I have double canonical URLs!
** There is nothing wrong with the built in canonical URLs WordPress core offers. The only reason I have generated canonical URLs rather than let WordPress do it is I use a customized version of the plugin SEO Super Comments (it comes free with the SEO theme) that turns comments into posts (they are indexed by Google like posts). When WordPress introduced built in canonical URLs it broke this SEO plugin (basically the new comment posts were redirected back to the original post, they were no longer indexed). There was no way to turn canonical URLs off just for these new comment pages, so I had to disable canonical URLs completely (using remove_action (‘wp_head’, ‘rel_canonical’); in the themes functions.php file) and build them at theme level for all pages except the comment posts.
All in One SEO Plugin Options
All the main settings for the All in One SEO Plugin are on this one page. Since the plugin wasn’t enabled (but was really) I ticked the enable box and the Update Options button and received the “All in One SEO Options Updated.” notification.
Again checked my development sites output (view source with FireFox) and nothing had changed from the disabled setting for this plugin! All the enabled setting appears to do is remove the red warning to configure the plugin.
Below is a list of all the important options.
Plugin Status: Enabled/Disabled : Apparently doesn’t do anything.
Home Title: Allows you to set the title element of the home page (could be a useful feature), not needed if you optimize the name of your blog.
Home Description: As above, but the META description tag for the home page.
Home Keywords (comma separated): As above, but the META keywords tag for the home page. Note the major search engines do not use this information for search engine ranking purposes, so don’t waste too much time worrying about meta keywords.
Canonical URLs: This adds canonical URLs for all your pages, but WordPress already does this (see earlier), so don’t understand what this achieves? Are these better canonical URLs, Marks and Spencers canonical URLs (British joke).
This allows you to set the format of your title elements (not title tags as the plugin author is calling them, they are elements not tags for feck sake!!! Anyway, the default format of the All in One SEO Plugin is generally:
Title of Page | Name of Blog
As opposed to what most WordPress templates use
Name of Blog | Title of Page
From an SEO perspective there’s not a lot to gain just turning the title element around like this. Each keyword is still going to get the same SEO benefit from being in the title, the benefit of having your more important keywords at the front of the title is minimal. Therefore if you use the default settings for the title elements you might as well not bother installing the All in One SEO Plugin.
Below I’ll list the best title elements you can achieve with the All in One SEO Plugin.
Post Title Format: %post_title%
Page Title Format: %page_title%
Category Title Format: %category_title%
Archive Title Format: %date% %blog_title%
Tag Title Format: %tag%
Search Title Format: %search%
If you are using my Talian 05 theme (any of my WordPress SEO themes) the above are the settings for the theme (the All in One SEO Plugin adds nothing to my themes title elements).
In case you haven’t got the hint, if you are using Stallion don’t use the All in One SEO Plugin, it adds nothing to the themes SEO features.
Description Format: Here you can set the format for the meta description of your pages. To mimic what I’ve done with Talian 05 use:
This will result in either an automated excerpt or the excerpt you wrote for a post/page. It looks like what I’ve done for the Stallion theme the author of the plugin has either used the RSS version of the excerpt or stripped HTML from the post/page excerpt. The RSS excerpt has the HTML tags stripped from the post/page excerpt, if you don’t do this and your automated excerpt has HTML code it messes your head section of the page: before I switched to the RSS excerpt in Talian 05 the meta description would have images in it on one of my sites where an image was at the top of the code!
Note the Meta description tag has no Google ranking value (it doesn’t increase ranking), but can increase click through from a Google SERP if it reads well (use like an advert rather than a place to stuff keywords).
404 Title Format: Title element of your error page (not that important).
Paged Format: Determines the format for multiple pages of an archive (page 2, page 3 etc…). In the plugin the default is
– Part %page%
I’d leave it blank, there is no SEO value in adding ” – Part 2″ to page two of an archive.
SEO for Custom Post Types: this puts the custom settings for each page/post on the main edit post/page admin menu of your WordPress dashboard (where you can view and edit all your posts and pages). Basically adds the custom titles, descriptions and keywords you’ve added using the built in All In One SEO Plugin options you get at the bottom of new (or edited) posts and pages. Adds no SEO value, just lists what you’ve done/not done.
Use Categories for META keywords: If checked it will add the categories for a post as the keywords. Can be used in conjunction with the next settings to have tags as well as keywords.
Use Tags for META keywords: See above, but tags.
Note the meta keywords tag has no SEO value in the major search engines. I would not waste my time worrying about meta keywords in 2010+.
Dynamically Generate Keywords for Posts Page: Related to the meta keywords tag, so not important.
How to Damage Your WordPress Sites SEO
Now we get to the scary damaging SEO options that can loose you search engine rankings and traffic!
Use noindex for Categories: This is ticked by default and means your Category archives will no longer be indexed in Google!!!
This is a terrible default setting, many webmasters use their Categories as the main way for search engine spiders to find their deeper posts (the search engine spiders need a route to find them). Although noindexing the Categories doesn’t stop spiders following links to your posts from the Categories it does mean the link benefit (PR) passing to the Category pages is partially wasted (it won’t aid ranking Category related SERPs). I have plenty of SERPs from Category pages, if I activated the All in One SEO Plugin and left the default settings I’d loose thousands of visitors a month! Trust me, do not use this All in One SEO setting.
Note: although there is the potential of duplicate content problem, if you use post excerpts on archive pages (like the Category and Tags pages) the potential duplicate content issues are pretty much removed.
Use noindex for Archives: As “Use noindex for Categories” except for the dated archive pages. I recommend you don’t even have these archives on your sidebar menu (they add no SEO value to a WordPress site), but if you do you shouldn’t use this setting as again it wastes link benefit, consider these archive pages as a sitemap. If you insist on using dated archives edit the sidebar widget so they are only shown on the home page. In this way they amount of link benefit that goes through the dated archive pages is minimal. It’s better to use the Category and/or Tag archives for passing link benefit through your site to deep posts.
Use noindex for Tag Archives: Exactly the same advice as “Use noindex for Categories”. Don’t use this setting, it wastes link benefit/PR.
Autogenerate Descriptions: When checked your pages and posts will use the automated excerpt function to generate a meta description tag.
Capitalize Category Titles: I suppose if you forgot to capitalize the first letter of your categories this would be handy. Looks nicer to have the first letter capitalized IMHO, no SEO value mind you.
Exclude Pages: Pages and sections you don’t want All in One SEO Pack to touch.
Additional Page Headers: As above for pages.
Additional Home Headers: As above for the home page.
The last three settings means you couldn’t add to the header of categories and other archive pages, so if you wanted to add a stylesheet sitewide this wouldn’t be possible (edit the header.php file).
Log important events: Log All in One SEO Pack events.
WordPress All in One SEO Plugin Review Conclusion
The good news is the All in One SEO Plugin no longer uses nofollow attributes (it used to). Google no longer honors the nofollow attribute in the way it was designed to, a nofollow link deletes link benefit! So at least the plugin author has moved on, unlike some other so called SEO plugins that use this attribute.
The bad news is the default settings are not very good regarding noindex advice. You should not want to noindex any of your pages, especially not your Category archives that can pull in quite a bit of traffic in their own right. The canonical URLs option is pointless, WordPress does this anyway.
The only useful feature of this SEO plugin is the ability to manipulate your WordPress sites title elements. However, the default titles are far from ideal.
All the WordPress SEO themes I’ve created to date include code that by default generate search engine optimized titles (which this SEO plugin breaks).
I do not recommend using the All in One SEO Plugin or any of the other WordPress SEO Plugins including the Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin.