WordPress All-in-One SEO Pack Free and Pro Review
Once upon a time (pre-2007) the AIOSP (All in One SEO Pack) was really the only system around that truly attempted to stay on top of, and automate the myriad SEO concerns.
Back then it was simpler and in some ways at the same time, more complex.
The All-in-One SEO Pack has the unenviable position of attempting to interpret an industry (search) that is shrouded in mystery and misdirection. This mystery and misdirection are of course, by design.
The search engines of yesterday needed to protect what worked in their algorithms at all cost, lest they are "gamed".
There’s definitely more transparency today than there was in the past, but that’s only because the number of variables that influence a web page’s position for a specific keyword has compounded exponentially.
Now, more than ever, search engines need to work with site owners to help them rank because they are a victim of their own success.
All that behind us, there’s still a lot of mystery around the topic of search, and the guys at Semper Plugins struggle mightily to get things right in an ever-changing fabric of science mixed with voodoo.
Why Do I Say Unenviable?
Simple. Because there is so much unknown even yet today that then gets confounded further by the relative knowledge (or ignorance) of those that use the SEO tools that Semper developers create.
This means that whenever Google turns a knob or flips a switch thus changing their algorithm ever so slightly, the software (the All in One SEO plugin) often gets the blame.
Another aspect is of course that it could actually be their fault. For example, perhaps Google didn’t change anything at all. Instead, maybe an update to the plugin came out. If they mess up one little thing, it can have a profound impact on rankings if it’s a bad enough bug.
Imagine the pressure!
What Can All-in-One SEO Pack do for Me?
The All in One SEO Pack is a pretty neat bit of intellectual property.
The guys at Semper do a good job at staying on top of the latest SEO trends and there are countless features.
In fact, to the budding blogger, the sheer number of options can be a bit daunting. There are simply a LOT of options that can be messed with. So many in fact that those that install it because they were told to, or because they read somewhere they should, are just as likely to burst into tears of frustration as they are to mess with the inner workings.
There is good news, simply by installing, activating it and changing nothing is likely going to help to impress Google and its counterparts.
WordPress “out of the box” doesn’t do a lot of SEO type work, and there are many areas that the uninitiated blogger will get wrong without assistance.
The answer to the above question then is quite simply: By turning on the All-in-One SEO Pack plugin, it is going to help you to optimize your on-page SEO.
Free Features vs Pro Features of the All-in-One SEO Pack Plugin
This is where things can kind of get a bit confusing. Many other plugins have a very clear delineation regarding free vs premium features. All in One SEO doesn’t.
Well, maybe that’s not fair. I’ll list them out, then we can discuss things a bit.
The official list from the FAQ at Semper Plugins is:
- Pro gives you access to the latest updates because it’s always a version ahead of the free version
- Pro doesn’t have advertisements
- Pro users have priority support over free users
- Pro users get premium video tutorials
However, that’s not comprehensive because All-in-One SEO Pro also includes:
- Advanced WooCommerce capabilities
- Tags and Categories can be tweaked with SEO in mind
- There is a video SEO module (Video XML SiteMap)
- You get access to the SemperPlugins.com knowledge center
Being a Version Ahead – Is that a Good Thing?
Now, this is only my opinion but it seems like the “feature” around being a version ahead could be a double-edged sword.
On one hand, you get the latest fixes and improvements. Another nice aspect of this is that if there is some late-breaking SEO change you’ll get access to it first.
I can tell you from experience though that SEO strategies and concerns do not typically move very fast. And if there is a bad bug, the guys at Semper are responsible enough that it flows out to both free and pro users pretty quickly.
It also seems as if the AIOSEO-Pro users are almost, well …paying for the privilege of being late-stage beta testers for the AIOSEO-free users, heh, heh.
I guess being a version ahead is good, unless that new whiz-bang feature is buggy!
What About WooCommerce?
This is a nifty addition. If you use WooCommerce that is. Many bloggers do not, so then the Pro stuff around Woo becomes more of a distraction in an already busy interface that has to be ignored.
If you do use Woo, then it’s pretty cool because you get the added benefit of being able to SEO every product, collections/categories of products and this is also where the Pro version of custom taxonomy SEO comes into the picture.
If you use Woo and you have a store of any kind, then I’d recommend getting serious and moving toward the All-in-One SEO Pro plugin.
No More Ads – Premium Support – Video Tutorials
I don’t know that much needs to be said about the removal of Advertisements in the Pro version. Fewer ads is always a good thing. I mean, I don’t know too many people that want to be inundated by more ads, do you?
Premium support, now that’s a win in my book. The Semper team has a dedicated set of engineers that monitor the premium support forums.
It’s not too often that an experienced SEO tech needs support for little things, but you can bet when they do, they need it yesterday.
That’s why if you are a pro, and especially if you are dealing with clients, then investment in the pro version is an absolute must – plus, reaching back to the “no ads” bit, you don’t want your client getting a bunch of advertisements.
Video tutorials are great, especially if you are starting out. I don’t know how much benefit your seasoned SEO’s get with the premium video content, but I guess if you need it and it’s there, then you likely got your money’s worth just in that alone.
Other than looking cool, I’m not sure how many people actually take advantage of these. It’s rare that I come across them.
If you have used these to good effect, or you know of uses that perhaps I’ve not thought of, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Other than being novel, I’m uncertain how well these things help users. There might be an SEO edge here, primarily because everything these days is so focused on video-centric stuff. I simply don’t know, I’m open to being educated.
The Free All-in-One SEO Plugin
Frankly, the free All-in-One SEO plugin is so feature packed that if you are only using it for yourself, I see little benefit around upgrading to the pro version.
That said, and I’ve not done the research (yet – but it’s likely coming), there is rumored to be a speed increase to the pro version. Probably because some things aren’t being executed in the pro version and in this case, less is more.
The speed of web page response is factored into how your page ranks, that is a well-known aspect of today’s search engines. If you didn't know, consider yourself warned!
The free features are many:
- Beginner friendly – it works “out of the box” – I can’t stress this enough, if you don’t know what you are doing, just install it, activate it and walk away.
- XML sitemaps that are kept up to date automatically
- Google AMP support – these days if you aren’t considering AMP then you are missing the boat
- Custom post types get SEO love, not just the standard post types
- Advanced control of canonical URLs
- Redirection of attachment pages to the parent posts
- There is language support and translations for 57 different languages
- Override of meta titles and descriptions for SEO purposes
- Avoids duplicate content issues that WordPress blogs are notorious for
- Advanced users can tweak settings to really fine tune their SEO efforts
- Generates all sorts of meta information that the search engines love to slurp
- Many themes handle titles incorrectly, All-in-One SEO FREE (and pro) fixes them
- Integration with e-commerce sites including WooCommerce
- It has an API so that other plugins and even themes that are All-in-One “aware” can tap its power
- Through Sitemaps, the plugin automatically notifies Google and Bing about changes to your site
- Integration with search engines, analytics and social platforms
Whew, that’s quite a list, and it’s not even comprehensive. There are actually more features than that.
If you have any questions about any of the features, let me know in the comments below and I’ll explain them in detail.
So Why Don’t I Use All-in-One SEO?
I have used what is now known as Semper Plugins since 2007 off and on. It really depends on the project that I’m working on.
I still use All-in-One SEO on many sites, I just don’t on this one.
As time goes on I’ll reveal more about the plugin(s) and strategies I use on this site.
One reason I didn’t use it on Buzzy Marketing is because I wanted fine-tuned control over much of the SEO.
I wanted to know things that were changing and I wanted it to be fast. I also wanted to be very specific in how things integrated, so with that, I chose other options and strategies.
Understand, I think the All-in-One SEO plugin is a great plugin regardless of whether you use the free or pro version.
It has gotten a bit bloated over the years, and I am working on some new strategies that I don’t expect them to incorporate anytime soon.
Just because I don’t use it on Buzzy Marketing, don’t let that dissuade you from using it on your site.
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