You want your WordPress powered site to rank well, right? Like most site owners you have probably read dozens of blogs, and more “Top 10 SEO tips for WordPress”, or perhaps “Must Have WordPress Plugins” posts than you care to remember. The only problem is that many of these articles just say you have to install the plugins, not how to use them. I’ll admit that I am as much at fault as anyone else. Here’s the problem; while some plugins require little or no configuration, and even less on-going attention – All in one SEO pack is not one of them. Miss a check box or ignore a field and you could be doing more harm than good – your site rankings could drop faster than Wile E. Coyote holding an Acme umbrella.
This post will be updated from time-to-time when there are significant updates to the plugin. Items that are new to this post will be bolded. Additionally, I’ll mark items that could be detrimental to your rankings with a caution sign.
Updated on 3/1/2013 – The version currently being covered is 126.96.36.199.
There were several small updates between 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206, most were bug fixes or new language implementations. The big improvement is the addition of Google Plus integration, which is more important than you might think. If you’re not yet familiar with Google AuthorRank and the “rel=author” tag, I have a couple places should check out; Ann Smarty’s slideshare, she has some really good stuff. Jill Whalen has a good post explaining more about what “rel=author” is and why you should be using it. Lastly, you can watch a video of Google’s Matt Cutts talking about AuthorRank.
Version 220.127.116.11 bug fixes for people running older versions of WordPress.
Version 1.6.12 added support for custom WordPress post types.
Version 18.104.22.168 minor some bug fixes.
Version 1.6.11 adds a language update, some bug fixes and code optimization.
Version 22.214.171.124 contained some unknown updates so that it was compatible WordPress.2.9, also the developer introduced a “pro” version that is available for purchase. As far as I can see the there are no functional differences between the two versions. The pro version seems to intended for use by hosting companies and consultants who do not want the donation request displayed on the configuration pages of their clients’ sites.
I am disappointed to say that the author of this tag seems to have less and less time for answering questions and communicating with the millions of people that have made his tag so popular. As a former web application developer, I know first-hand it is a time-consuming and seemingly thankless job. I cannot fault the author for wanting to make some money with a “pro” version. However, I completely disagree with how he has done it. Monthly charges for upgrades is, in my opinion, crazy for this “software”. I donated before the pro version existed, and I am sure that many others would gladly pay for this wonderful tag if not for the monthly fees. According to the WordPress.org plugins directory, it’s been downloaded more than 5,000,000 times. Lets all send him a dollar so we can get rid of the monthly fees and he can hire a team to maintain the tool while he sits on the beach…how about it folks?.
Visit the SEO pack creator’s page for a reasonably complete change log.
All in one SEO Pack Configuration – site settings
From within your WordPress admin, go to the settings area, then select “All in one SEO”. There are a lot of options here, but don’t feel intimidated, we’ll walk through most of them.
|Plugin Status||With each new update, the developer has chosen to disable the plugin. Presumably, this forces you to review the settings each time, and hopefully avoid any surprises. You’ll need to enable it after you install and again after each update.
|Home Title||As its name implies, this is where you provide the page title for the “home” of your web site, leave this blank and word press defaults to the site name you defined in your WordPress configuration.
|Home Description||This box provides the Content for the meta-description tag. Leave this one blank and WordPress does not even give you a description tag. That is bad, be sure to fill this in with a proper site description.
|Even though use of the meta-keywords tag has been degraded over the years, it is still an important part of an overall SEO plan. Add carefully selected keywords here. Leave this blank and WordPress does not add the meta-keywords tag to your page. For best results, place your primary keywords in the front of the list.|
|Canonical URLS||This newly added feature is enabled by default – leave it that way. If you are not familiar with canonical URLs, and would like to be – read this Google webmaster blog post. For the rest of you, just know that this feature helps avoid duplicate content issues with the major search engines. That’s a good thing.
|Rewrite Titles||If set, all page, post, category, search and archive page titles get rewritten. You can specify the format for most of them (as shown below). For example: The default templates puts the title tag of posts like this: “Blog Category >> Blog Name >> Post Title”. That would be considered anti-SEO. With the default settings, Rewrite Title rewrites: “Post Title | Blog Name”.
|Post Title Format
(other titles too)
|Each of the six Title format boxes allow you to customize how the titles are displayed in the various parts of the site. On sites I maintain, I leave all but the Post setting alone. On each of those I insert a few VERY carefully selected keywords (or synonyms). Doing this ensures those keywords are part every title.
|Search Title Format||This field is confusingly named. It actually has nothing to do with the search engines. Instead, this relates to the results page of your local/site search.|
|Description Format||There are a four automated formats available for the setting. The default is the best one, leave this one alone.|
|404 Title Format||The box sets the page title for your 404 (page not found) error pages.|
|Paged Format||Leave this one alone.|
|SEO for Custom Post Types||WordPress 3.0 introduced the ability to create your own custom post types. If you have created one (or more) and want AIOSEO to be enabled for them, check this box. If not, leave it uncehecked. If you are curious about custom post types, you can read more on the WordPress.org Custom Post Types pages.|
|Custom Post Types for SEO Column Support||You’ll use this box to list the types of posts you want to have AIOSEO information displayed for while viewing your listings, by default it already includes “posts” and “pages”. If you’ve created a custom post type and want it to have access to the All In One SEO Pack features, be sure and list it here. Unless you really, really dont want to have AIOSEO used on your be careful you don’t delete the default information.|
|Google Plus Profile Sitewide Default||Enter your Google Plus Profile URL here to link your site’s pages to Google Plus.
If you’re not already familiar with the how & why of the “rel=author” tag, you really should do some research – start with the links I included above. In a nutshell, by creating a valid Google Plus profile for your self, and then linking your posts to that profile you might get yourself a little snazzier listing in the Google search results, and I’ve heard people say they believe this will be included as a ranking factor.
|Google Analytics ID:||If you’re using Google’s free (and powerful) analyitics tool, enter your Google Analytics ID here.|
|Tracking Domain:||Enter domain name for tracking with Google Analytics.|
|Track Multiple Domains:||The default (and most common) method of using Google Analytics is on a single domain, or website. However, there are occasionally times when it is useful to track your visitors across multiple domains. If you’re cusrious about how to do this, check out the “Tracking Multiple Domains” page on the Google Support website.
If you have you have completed all the required steps to do this, click this check box to enable it.
You should know that turning on this feature will introduce a fraction of a second delay from the time your visitor clicks a link until the time the activity actually happens. According to Google, the delay will hardly be noticable.
|Use Categories for META keywords||If you are hyper-careful and strategic about your category names, go ahead and use this. If you are like the rest of us, leave this one alone and add your keywords manually for each post.|
|Use Tags for META keywords||If you are thoughtful and strategic about your tag names, go ahead and use this as it could save you some time as you create new posts. Checking this causes the tags you set for a given post to be used as the META keywords for that post. You can also manually add additional words as you normally would as well. Just be careful not to duplicate them.|
|Dynamically Generate Keywords for Posts Page||If you have changed the default setting of WordPress and the listing of of your posts is somewhere other than your default/home page then this option determines if you want the keywords for that page set dynamically (based on all the posts listed) or if they should be manually entered. I suggest you do it manually.|
|Use noindex for…||There are three of these boxes, ensure each one is selected. This tells the search engines to not index these areas of your site. This is another method minimizing duplicate content risks.
UPDATE: If you are correctly using the canonical tag, this is almost a non-issue now. I say almost for two reasons. 1) While BING does recognize the canonical tag, they are a bit more picky about it than Google is and it’s possible they wont trust your implementation of it. Even though Bing currently has a small(er) piece of the search engine traffic, you don’t want to risk making things worse for yourself in the future. 2) Google likes it when you help them move faster. By telling them they don’t need to index something it allows them to move through the rest of your site more quickly.
|Autogenerate Descriptions||Enabling this feature will tell SEO pack to automagically generate META descriptions for your posts using the first 150 characters of your article. If you are a content rock star and always get your keywords in the first sentence, then this will work great for you. The plugin will look first to see if you set one manually on the post before auto-generating one. Since most of us are note content rock stars, it’s generally safer to enter descriptions manually on each post.
I have this feature enabled to save me a few seconds when I occasionally post articles that I don’t care if they rank or not. It’s also a nice safety net for when I just plain forget to do it.
NOTE: We’ll discuss further down how/where to enter your post and page descriptions.
|Capitalize Category Titles||This is a bit of a mystery. Check this and page titles, of category pages with will have the first letter of each word capitalized.
Other than for visual appeal, I (and several fellow SEOs I checked with) can think of no reason to do this. Google’s Matt Cutts, shared with me “Google tends to ignore upper vs. lowercase. But certainly users respond to the differences quite a bit.”
The default behavior of WordPress is to use the text you enter as the category title, as the page title as well, if you want initial caps in one, wouldn’t you want it in both?
My recommendation is if you want titles like this, enter them this way and leave this unchecked to save a few processor clicks.
|Exclude Pages||Pages listed here will not be processed by the all in one seo pack. This is usefully if you have other, non-WordPress, dynamic content running on your site.|
|Additional Headers||There are three of these boxes. Text entered here will be added to the head section of your pages. These are useful if you need to add meta validation for webmaster tools. If you use these, use with caution. These are not required for basic SEO practices.|
|Log Important Events||This is a troubleshooting tool from the developer. If checked and a significant event (No, I have no idea what that would be) happens, it’ll be logged.|
All in one SEO Pack Configuration – post settings
When creating a new post you’ll want to scroll to the bottom of your post editing page to the All in one SEO Pack section. There you will see the following four options.
|Title||You can optionally enter a page title here, if left blank SEO Pack will use the post’s title. If you are attempting to rank in a competitive market (who isn’t) entering an alternate title here allows you to make use of additional keywords or synonyms. Don’t stuff keywords here, you will regret it. Also, the closer your primary keyword is to the beginning, the better.
|Description||This is the META-description for the post. Carefully craft these as search engines consider them in ranking and display them in results. SEO Pack shows a counter as you type letting you know how close you are to the recommended 160 character limit. Try to get strongest key word/phrase as close to the front as possible.
|Keywords||This is the META-keywords for the post. As mentioned above, use of the keywords tag has been degraded over the years, but it is still used by some engines. Put your most important ones closer to the front.|
|Disable on this
|If for some reason you wish to NOT use the SEO pack on a page, check this box.|
All in one SEO Pack Configuration – page settings
When creating a new page, be sure to update the All in one SEO pack settings, found near the bottom of the editing screen. Page settings are almost identical to the post settings, with just one additional option – menu label.
|Title||You can optionally enter a page title here, if left blank SEO Pack will use the WordPress page title. Remember, entering an alternate title here allows you to make use of additional keywords or synonyms. Don’t stuff keywords here, you will regret it. Also, the closer your primary keyword is to the beginning, the better.
|Description||This is the META-description for the page. Carefully craft these as search engines consider them in ranking and display them in results. SEO Pack shows a counter as you type letting you know how close you are to the recommended 160 character limit. Try to get strongest key word/phrase as close to the front as possible.
|Keywords||This is the META-keywords for the page. As mentioned above, use of the keywords tag has been degraded over the years, but it is still used by some engines. Put your most important ones closer to the front.|
|Title Attribute||Text you enter here will become the link title text for links to this page. Link titles appear when you hover over a link. The affect they have on ranking is debatable, but it’s minimal at best. This is more of a usability feature as it allows you to provide additional information about the link. Link titles can add a nice touch if used correctly.|
|Menu Label||The sets the text used in your site menus for this page, left blank it will be the same as the WordPress page title.
|Disable on this page/post||If for some reason you wish to NOT use the SEO pack on a page, check this box.|
What are you waiting for?
There you have it, all the info you need to configure your All In One SEO Pack and get your page rankings climbing. This plugin makes it easy for anyone to optimize their WordPress blog posts and pages for better search engine placement.