WordPress comes with good SEO out of the box, but it’s not perfect. However, thanks to its plugin feature, anyone who knows how to develop PHP applications can easily create a plugin to extend its features or add new ones. But why start from scratch when there are so many SEO plugins available at the WordPress repository already?
Among the top SEO plugins for WordPress is the All in One SEO Plugin Pack which currently has a million active installs. It’s an extensive plugin that will allow you to fine tune your website’s search engine optimization; from the site-wide level down to each and every post.
With a large array of configurations and options available to you, it can be tricky to properly configure the plugin for best results, especially for the inexperienced. If you came here looking for an All in One SEO Pack tutorial, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ll delve into the plugin’s settings and explore each of its features and options, what they do, and the best settings to ensure maximum SEO for your site. Let’s start with our All in One SEO pack configuration journey!
There are so many WordPress all in one SEO plugins available out there, but with the level of configuration and controls found in the All in One SEO pack, it is one of the best WordPress SEO plugins out there. In this section, we’re going to go over each and every available option found in the configuration panel of the plugin.
The first thing you want to do is to install the plugin. Once installed, a new menu item will appear in your WordPress dashboard. Just under the Dashboard menu item, you will see the “All in One SEO” menu item. Click it and you will be taken to the main configuration page.
The general settings contain controls mostly for canonical URL and schema.org settings.
- Canonical URLs: This should be left checked as this prevents your website from being punished by Google for having duplicate content. You can read more information about it here: https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2009/02/specify-your-canonical.html. Recommended setting: Checked.
- No Pagination for Canonical URL: If you have a paginated page or post, canonical URLs for them will almost always be displayed like “yourwebsite.com/page/2/”. If you want to remove the “/page/2/” from the canonical URL, you should check this option. Recommended setting: Checked.
- Enable Custom Canonical URLs: If you enable this option, you will have the ability to set your own custom canonical URL for each post/page. It’s best to use the default URLs. Recommended setting: Unchecked.
- Use Original Title: Unless your Title tags get messed up or interfered with by a theme or other plugin, this should be Disabled.
- Use Schema.org Markup: This is an excellent way for your website to display rich snippets in SERPs. Unless you want a fully compliant W3C validation, this should be Checked to improve your website’s SEO. Leaving this enabled won’t actually hurt your website in any way (performance, appearance, etc.), only that the W3C HTML Validation Tool doesn’t support this markup yet and will return errors (which can be safely ignored).
- Log important events: Leave this unchecked, unless otherwise you are troubleshooting your website. Recommended: unchecked.
The homepage settings control how the plugin implements its features to your WordPress website’s homepage.
- Home Title: This is the SEO meta title for your home page. What you put here will appear in the <title> tags of your home page and will be displayed in the browser’s title bar. Is recommended to use your blog or website title along with a keyword or a tag line. An example would be “Goody Shoes – Buy Brand New Shoes Online.” Keep in mind to stay within the recommended maximum number of characters.
- Home Description: This is the SEO meta description for your home page. What you put here will be displayed under your website’s title and URL in the SERPs. Describe what your website is about here, and do not overstuff keywords. A good example, to complement our example title, would be “Goody Shoes sells brand new shoes online and we deliver all around the world for a competitive shipping rate. We have customer support available 24/7/365.” Think of it as a way to entice your target audience to click on your website in the SERPs. Below is a sample SERP snippet. From top to bottom: Title, URL, and Description.
- Use Static Front Page Instead: If you use a static home page, check this option. Once enabled, all Home Page setting will be disabled and you will have to configure SEO settings for the homage page itself (i.e. you go to the page that you designated as the home page and use the SEO settings found at the bottom, which will be covered later on).
In this section, you will be able to control how your website’s titles (for posts, pages, archives, etc.) are formatted. For example, if you want to display a post’s title and the author name in the Title meta tag, you do so here.
- Rewrite Titles: Disabling this option disables everything within the title settings. It is recommended to leave this enabled.
- Capitalize Tag and Search Titles: This is a matter of personal preference. It’s up to you whether you want to enable or disable this.
- Title Format Fields: These will enable you to control how title meta fields are formatted. For each type of content, there are different formatting options available. Click on the question mark icon to see which macros are supported. The default settings are recommended. Keep in mind that the optimum length of meta titles should be around 60 characters, in case you want to edit or customize them.
Custom Post Type Settings
If you use a theme or a plugin that introduces a custom post type (a popular example is the WooCommerce plugin), enabling this option is of absolute necessity (it’s still recommended to enable this even if you don’t). Note the screenshots below are taken from a WordPress installation that has WooCommerce installed.
- SEO for Custom Post Type: Disabling this will disable the custom post type settings. Leave this enabled.
- SEO Only for These Post Types: You want all of your post types to be search engine optimized, so select everything.
- Enable Advanced Settings: Enabling this will allow you to enable or disable custom title tags for each Custom Post Type. Enabling this and setting proper title format for each custom post type will allow you to fine tune their SEO.
- Custom Titles: Here, you will be able to customize how custom post type titles are displayed, just like in the Title Settings above.
Allows you to display column labels for custom post types, shown below:
This one is also a matter of personal preference. You can leave it at default or change it according to what you want/need.
This section simplifies webmaster verification for you. You can easily verify your WordPress site on Google webmaster tools, Bing webmaster tools, and even Pinterest. All you have to do is to follow the steps to register and verify your site on each specific service. At the end of registration, you should receive a key that you will then input into the appropriate field. Once done, hit the save button and you’re verified. For more information about this section, visit: https://semperplugins.com/sections/webmaster-verification/
This section allows you to add a Google+ profile, Google Analytics, and other Google related items to your website.
- Google Plus Default Profile: Add your Google+ profile URL here. This will be used as the default Google author for all posts. Note: if you have multiple authors on your website, you can add their Google+ profile in the “edit profile” section, under the contact info. See the image below.
- Disable Google Plus Profile: Naturally, authors can add their Google Plus profile on their own. If you don’t want that, enabling this option will entirely disable the google plus profile for users, authors, etc. By doing so, authorship will default to the Google Plus profile that you specified earlier.
- Display Sitelinks Search Box: Enabling this will enable sitelink search box on Google SERP. See the image below for an example. Take note you can’t control when the sitelink search box will appear. For more info, read Google’s documentation: https://developers.google.com/search/docs/data-types/sitelinks-searchbox
- Set Preferred Site Name: This setting should be left unchecked unless you know why you would want to set a preferred site name.
- Advanced Authorship Options: This will enable more control over authorship options. Upon enabling, additional settings will appear.
- Display Google Authorship: you can choose where the rel=”author” meta tag is displayed. It’s recommended to select posts, pages, home page, front page and media attachment pages.
- Display Publisher Meta on Front Page: If you want to display the meta tag rel=”publisher” on your homepage or front page, enable this option.
- Specify Publisher URL: the Google+ profile URL that will be used in the publisher meta. It’s recommended to use your business’ Google+ page. More info here: https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2013/08/relauthor-frequently-asked-advanced.html
- Google Analytics ID: simply insert your analytics ID and you’re done. This makes integrating Google analytics very simple.
Noindex and Nofollow are powerful tools that can have a massive impact on your SEO.
Noindex is a tag that will request search robots or spiders to not index the content. Nofollow will request search robots or spiders to not follow any links within the content.
Default to NOINDEX and Default to NOFOLLOW: Checking the box next to an option will prevent robots from indexing and following them. It’s not recommended unless you know what you are doing. You can also override this setting per individual post, page, custom post, categories, tags, and other custom taxonomies that you may have.
For the other options, the following are items that are recommended to be checked:
As for the nofollow for paginated pages/posts, it is recommend to leave it unchecked to let the robot follow paginated pages for better website indexation.
Explanation: the category, date, author and tag archives, as well as the other ones, are created only to improve your website’s user experience (i.e. to navigate to your website easier). They provide little value in terms of content and search engines, specifically Google, will see this as low-quality and it can affect the overall page rank of your website. We don’t want that to happen, so tell the search engines not to index these items.
The average user doesn’t need to bother touching the advanced settings at all. However, let’s take a quick look at what each setting does.
- Autogenerated Descriptions: Checking this item enables auto-generated descriptions. It will use the post excerpt or the first 160 characters of the post for the Meta Description tag. If you want higher CTR, you won’t rely on auto-generated descriptions. Descriptions should briefly describe what the page is about and using just the post’s excerpt or the first 160 characters will never fully accomplish it.
- Remove Descriptions for Paginate Pages: This one is more useful because a paginated content almost always has the same meta description from the first to the last page. If that’s the case, Google Webmaster tools will issue a warning about duplicate Meta descriptions.
- Never Shorten Long Descriptions: All in One SEO Pack will always shorten meta descriptions down to 160 characters, forcing you to follow the correct meta description length. If you want to defy rules, then check this one.
- Unprotect Custom Meta Fields: This is a new option that makes it possible to update SEO titles, descriptions, and meta keywords using XML-RPC and REST API.
- Redirect Attachment to Post Parent: This enables redirects from media attachment URLs to the parent post. Recommended: checked. Attachment pages can sometimes get indexed by Google and mostly, they don’t have any text – this might get flagged as a low quality page. In addition, some themes don’t even have a template for attachment pages.
- Exclude Pages: This should be a comma-separated list of post or page names that will not output any kind of meta information generated by the All in One SEO Pack plugin.
- Additional Post, Page, Front Page, Blog Page Headers: if you’re not a web designer or developer, you’d better not touch these.
If you still remember Meta keywords, then you’re a veteran SEO professional. If you still believe that stuffing this tag with keywords will instantly skyrocket your rankings, then you are already severely outdated in the SEO field. Today, meta keywords have little to no value in SEO anymore, so it is recommended to disable this setting and save yourself the time and trouble of looking for the best meta keywords for your site and instead, focus on other aspects that have a bigger impact on your page rank. In fact, using the meta keywords tag and stuffing it with your target keywords will give away what keywords you are targeting – this is not a good idea, especially if you are in a very competitive niche as your competitors will make use of this information to try to outrank you.
To actually use the plugin to improve your post’s or page’s SEO, you should create a new post or edit an existing one. Scroll down to the bottom and you can see a new area that allows you to configure the current post’s SEO settings.
- Title: This is the Meta Title tag. What you put here will change what the search engine sees as the title of your post/page. Use a maximum of 60 characters in this field. There is a current debate among SEO professionals as to whether the Title tag should be equal to the h1 tag or not. There are some that say it doesn’t matter and others that say it does matter. There is currently no official information about this, so it’s recommended to go with an option that you like more.
- Description: This is the Meta Description tag. In 160 characters or less, briefly describe what the post or page is about.
- Meta NOINDEX and NOFOLLOW: If you don’t want robots to index and follow the specific post or page, check these boxes.
- Disable on this Page/Post: If you don’t want to use the SEO features in the particular post or page, check this box.