Plain old vanilla WordPress installation can be a bit SEO unfriendly. It really puzzles me how the out of the box setting for permalinks is still something like “domain.com?p=123” What is this, the early nineties? It’s neither user nor search engine friendly… But that’s just one example, and I thought if I’m going to stick with WordPress for some of my sites I might as well get something that will make them SEO friendly.
After a bit of research it was down to three plugins:
They do have a lot of similar, advanced features, and I found a really nice side by side comparison of all three.
Why use a plugin?
Hanging around SEO experts, you do get to learn a thing or two by osmosis… That plus a bit of online research could tempt you into trying to do a lot of the SEO in WordPress by hand. After all that way you definitely get more flexibility and control over what is going on.
However personally I’d rather apply the 80/20 principle, and let a plugin handle the basics and only focus on smaller customizations as and if needed. Why re-invent the wheel – permalinks, meta tags, title tag, content duplication, most of it can be automated and with a plugin you can just concentrate on the edge cases.
By choosing a good and active plugin you also at least partially protect yourself fromt he unexpected. Like when things change – the search engines update the rules or some new advice comes out, you are likely to get an update for your plugin that will address these.
The competition between those three was tough. In the end for me it came down to a few personal preferences. So at the moment I will be using WordPress SEO by Yoast on my sites.
I didn’t need ecommerce support, and Yoast did appeal to me as someone who follows what’s going on in the industry. The fact that it’s free while being so comprehensive definitely is a big bonus too. Some people complain that it is hard to configure – but I didn’t find that an issue. At the end of the day it came down to a bit of a gut feel, so we will see how this goes after a while.