The All In One SEO Pack WordPress plugin is one of the most used SEO plugins available. There is a free version and a Pro version. This review covers the free version.
SEO (search engine optimization) is a science in itself. There are so many differing opinions, rules and techniques on how it should be done. In truth it is an ever-moving goal post as Google (one of the main search engines) is constantly updating it;s own algorithms that determine how your site ranks and therefore how it should be optimized.
Unfortunately, as with anything complex, there are a large number of scumbags out there calling themselves experts who are willing to take your money to get you to the top of the rankings. Don’t get me wrong there are some awesome experts who are at the top of their field but these people don’t usually email you telling you how bad your site is performing in the search engines and if you pay them a vast amount of money they will fix it for you! Usually they take your money and fail to perform the promised miracles!
The good news is that before you go and spend hard-earned cash on an SEO expert there are various tools you can use yourself on your WordPress blog that do an adequate to excellent job. One of these tools is the All In One SEO Pack.
So here is my review of the plugin.
Installing & Configuring All In One SEO Pack for main site
From your Dashboard go to Plugins >> Add New. Search for All In One SEO Pack and install directly or download from the plugin site and upload via FTP.
Once installed click on the Options Configuration Panel to begin setting up the options for both your main site and individual posts.
For the most part you can leave the default settings as they are. If you need an explanation of individual options you can click on the Question Mark Icon and a help tip will appear.
General Settings can be left at the default settings. Using the Canonical URLs setting protects you from being punished by Google for duplicate content or from having multiple URLs leading to the same content.
First you need to set the Home Page Settings. It is much debated how important meta keywords are now to search engine optimization. Some say they are no longer important, others insist you use them. At the end of the day Google still looks at meta keywords but they are one part of a much larger picture when it comes to SEO.
The All In One SEO Pack plugin helps you cover the bases when it comes to SEO. So filling in most fields will give you good fundamentals.
Home Title is the Meta Title of your home page. This should be the title of your blog. It will appear at the top of the browser and be the title that is displayed in Search Engine Results.
Home Description is the Meta Description of your homepage and should include a brief description of your site.
Home Keywords are the main keywords for your homepage (and your site). They should be listed and separated by a comma. DO NOT stuff too many keywords in here – reserve it for your most important ones.
Keyword Settings can be left as the default settings. As I mentioned, Meta Keywords are largely a dinosaur when it comes to SEO as discussed here by Google’s Matt Cutts. But you may feel differently and still want to use them on your site. If so this Use Keywords setting should be left to Enabled.
Use Categories for META Keywords can be checked if you don’t plan to add too many keywords to your site. The All In One SEO Pack will then simply use the Categories assigned to your post as META Keywords for that post.
Use Tags for META Keywords is set by default as generally the tags you add for your post are similar to the keywords you would use for that post.
Dynamically Generate Keywords for Posts Page should be checked if you want to dynamically generate the Meta Keywords for your blog page (the one specified in Settings>>Reading) from the Meta Keywords of the posts that are displayed.
You can leave all the Title Settings as they are. Rewrite Titles when enabled means the title displayed in the browser will be displayed as ‘Page Title’ | ‘Blog Title’. This is not displayed on the post or page but only in the browser and source code. If enabled, all page, post, category, search and archive page titles get rewritten. You can specify the format for most of them. If you have manually defined a title using All in One SEO Pack, this will become the title of your post in the format string.
You can leave the Custom Post Type Settings set as the default. All In One SEO Pack will then work with any Custom Post Type.
Show Column Labels for Custom Post Types controls which screens display the SEO Title, SEO Keywords and SEO Description columns.
Display Menu in Admin Bar shows the All In One SEO Pack in the horizontal Admin Bar of your blog for easy access.
Display Menu At The Top simply displays the All In One SEO Pack tab at the top of the left hand side menu in your dashboard.
If you use Google Webmaster Tools or Bing Webmaster Tools you can add the verification code here. Similarly Pinterest also allows you to verify your site by obtaining the code from within your Pinterest account.
Adding your Google Plus Default Profile will help to connect your post with your Google + profile. This will help your author information to be displayed next to your post in the search engine results pages.
Disable Google Plus Profile if checked will remove the Google Plus field from the user profile screen.
You can also register your site with Google Analytics to keep track of your visitors viewing habits. You need to set up a Google Analytics account in order to do this.
NoIndex is a meta tag that instructs the serach engines NOT to index particular content and show it in the search engine result pages. It does slightly differ depending on the search engine. You can leave these settings as the default settings without any issues.
If you check Autogenerate Descriptions your Meta Descriptions will be automatically generated from your excerpt or content.
If you check Remove Descriptions For Paginated Pages your meta descriptions will not show for page 2 or more of the content.
I recommend you leave Unprotect Post Meta Fields unchecked unless you are an advanced user.
If you wish to exclude certain pages from All In One SEO Pack you can leave a comma separated list in the Exclude Pages setting.
Additional Post Headers can be used if you wish to include content in the headers of all posts.
Additional Page Headers is the same as above but for pages rather than posts.
Additional Front Page Headers and Additional Blog Page Headers add content to the front page and blog page respectively.
Configuring All In One SEO Pack for individual pages or posts
That has pretty much taken care of the SEO for the main site – now you can fine tune your individual pages and posts.
When you open a page or post in the dashboard you will see a new box below the main content.
The existing snippet is what will show by default from your main settings if you do not change anything on the individual page or post. It is generated dynamically according to the main settings.
If you type content into the Title and Description fields you will see the Preview Snippet change live. This Title does not override the post or page title but it is the title that shows up in the Search Engine Results and what shows up in the browser title bar.
Add your most important keywords for this page to the Keyword field. Separate them with a comma and do not add too many. Keywords must be used in the content.
The description and keywords specified on an individual page or post will override the main site settings.
You can ask the search engines to not follow the links in the content by checking the Robots Meta NOFOLLOW and to not index the content with the Robots Meta NOINDEX field.
Robots Meta NOODP and Robots NOYDIR will ask for the content not to be included in the Open Directory Project and the Yahoo Directory respectively.
You can use the Title Attribute and Menu Label to set those items for this page or post in the menu.
You can also completely disable the SEO on this page or post by checking Disable on this page/post.
The All In One SEO Pack covers all of the basic SEO stuff and once you have filled out the information for your posts and pages you are well on your way to getting your site found by the search engines.
There is a lot to SEO and you can spend a lot of time fine tuning your site. This plugin will get you started.
As mentioned earlier there is also a Pro version of the All In One SEO Pack.
What do you do to optimize your site? Do you have a favourite SEO plugin or technique? Share your insights in the comments below.
Here’s to YOUR online success,