Last Updated on September 30, 2022
Using WordPress will be better if you also installing the SEO plugin. Whether using Yoast, All in One SEO Pack, Rank Math, or other SEO plugins. This SEO plugin can help you improve your website’s ranking in search engines. Today’s search engine algorithms are sophisticated. It can analyze the contents of an article. But with the help of the SEO plugin, the search engine analysis becomes compatible with the content.
Then, which SEO plugin should I install on my WordPress site?
Answering that question is not an easy task. Indeed, you can install any SEO plugin. But that doesn’t guarantee that the plugin will suit your needs. It may only overload your server. So before choosing a plugin to install, you need to compare the features of each plugin. Then you could select the best SEO plugin for your needs. TLDR: our recommendation is in the last section.
Categorizing free features of SEO Plugin
This article is intended to discuss the comparison of SEO plugin features that are offered free of charge. So we will not include the premium features in the discussion. To simplify the comparison, we can categorize the SEO plugin features into; content metadata analysis, content readability analysis, website SEO optimization, social media optimization, and additional modules (add-ons).
Content metadata analysis
Commonly, the SEO plugin will offer some content analysis features. These features analyze the content in an article, then converts into the metadata of that article. This metadata is used to improve the ranking of the article in search engines. Some of these features include, but is not limited to:
- focus keywords, any keywords that mainly discussed in the article,
- title analysis, a feature that checks whether your title is not too long or too short and the keywords are included in the title,
- snippet, a brief description of the article, generally in 1-2 short sentences,
- keywords used frequency in the article,
- the number of words, heading, and subheadings,
- checking whether the internal and external link exists,
- checking image and its attributes,
- social card settings,
- analysis of preview/published pages,
Table 1. The comparison of content metadata analysis features
Content readability analysis
Actually, you need to analyze the word selection in your article. This relates to the reader’s ease of understanding the content (readability). Some of these features include, but are not limited to:
- readability test, a tool to score the article with the commonly used readability indicators (Flesch Kincaid, Gunning Fog, or similar),
- the use of the transition words,
- the use of active and passive sentences,
- the number of words in each paragraph,
Table 2. The comparison of readability analysis features
Website SEO optimization
Apart from content analysis, some SEO plugins also offer some features to optimize the overall SEO of the website. So that any search engines will know better about our website and has full details about it. Some of these features include, but are not limited to:
- Webmaster Tools verification, usually for Google, Bing, Yandex, and other search engines,
- website title and description,
- sitemap and its contents (posts, pages, categories, tags, etc.),
- website schema,
- import/export data,
Table 3. The comparison of website SEO optimization features
Social media optimization
You need to optimize the “social share” features. So, your article could have an attractive appearance on any social media. Some SEO plugins have these features to manage the social profile of a website. Some of these features include, but are not limited to:
- the social profile of the organization/person who owns the website,
- metadata for Knowledge Graph (Google) and/or Open Graph (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) of the website.
Table 4. The comparison of social media optimization features
Additional modules (add-ons)
Some SEO plugins have additional features that can be installed at any time, if needed. But several other plugins may include them in their first installation. This feature is not the main feature of the SEO plugin, but generally can be used to improve the website optimizations.
Besides, these features can be found in other specific plugins, which are generally more sophisticated. Some of these additional modules include, but are not limited to:
- 404-page monitoring,
- internal/external link counters,
- analytics inside WordPress,
- robot.txt/.htaccess editor,
- bot access settings,
- AMP for WordPress,
Table 5. The comparison of add-on features
Now, let’s discuss the superiority, weaknesses, and alternatives of each SEO plugin. Then determine which SEO plugin suits your needs. Overall, the SEO plugin discussed here is the free version.
Yoast is the most widely used SEO Plugin. No wonder many people easily say that Yoast is the best. However, many of Yoast’s features aren’t used because they don’t know or don’t need them.
For beginners who learn about SEO, Yoast is one of the recommended SEO plugins to install. This is because the interface is intuitive or easy to understand.
Pros of Yoast
In general, Yoast’s analysis features include a basic check on content metadata. However, Yoast’s superiority lies in its “Readability Analysis” feature. This feature includes:
- readability test,
- the use of the transition words,
- the use of active and passive sentences,
- the number of words in each paragraph, and
- consecutive sentences check.
The readability test is using the Flesch-Kincaid method. This test is designed to show how difficult an article is understood by the readers. The higher the score, the easier it is to understand.
Furthermore, Yoast also offers features for page analysis. But, you can access it on the preview or published pages. This feature includes checking keywords density, HTML/CSS validations, Google Pagespeed, and others. However, to be able to access it, you must first activate the toolbar on your profile (
edit profile > check the “
Show Toolbar when viewing site” option).
Cons of Yoast
Although widely used, it turns out using Yoast also has some disadvantages. If you already have a lot of posts, you will likely feel slow on the loading both of the admin page and the front page. Although this also depends on server performance.
The free version of Yoast limits the analysis to only one focus keyphrase (or keyword). That is, if you target several key phrases, you must write them down and analyze them one by one. If you want to analyze more than one keyphrase at the same time, then you must subscribe to Yoast Premium.
Another weakness is related to “Readability Analysis“. Indeed this is the advantage of Yoast. But it can only be used if you write articles in Indonesian, English, Deutsch, Dutch, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Polish, Catalan, or Swedish. Meaning, if you write articles in another unsupported language, then you will not get any benefits from this feature. Moreover, it only overloads your server and browser performance.
Some of you may have multilingual sites, for example, Indonesian and English. In this case, the “Readability Analysis” feature can only analyze based on the main language of the site. Simply put, if you want to analyze Indonesian articles, then you have to change the WordPress settings to
Bahasa Indonesia (go to
site language). Likewise, if you want to analyze an English article, change the
site language into
All in One SEO (AiOSEO) Pack is the second popular SEO Plugin after Yoast. Although it has features that aren’t as complete as Yoast, the AiOSEO Pack prefers to play on the website SEO optimization.
In general, the offered SEO features are almost the same as other SEO plugins such as sitemaps, verification of webmaster tools, focus keyword for each article, etc.
Pros of AiOSEO Pack
There is one additional module that is not offered by other SEO plugins, the “Bad Bot Blocker“. This module limits the movements of bots that are not according to the rules. Generally, the bad bot wants to find the weaknesses of our site or take all of our data without being noticed.
Besides, the AiOSEO Pack offers a feature to modify the server performance settings. But it is limited to set the execution time and the memory limit. Even so, if you want to temporarily set the performance, you no longer need to go to the server panel. Simply change it in the performance menu on the AiOSEO Pack.
AiOSEO Pack also offers features for page analysis. It can be accessed on preview pages or published pages. This feature is the same as that offered by Yoast.
Cons of AiOSEO Pack
As written in the previous paragraph that the AiOSEO Pack prefers to play on the website SEO. So, it means that the SEO analysis feature of each article is very minimal. You can only set snippets and social cards for each article.
AiOSEO Pack Alternative
There are many plugins specifically for Bad Bot Blocker on WordPress. One of them is Booter – Bots & Crawlers Manager. Compared to bot blocker features offered by AiOSEO Pack, this plugin offers even more features, such as setting a bot access rate limit periodically, and many other interesting features.
Rank Math is a newcomer to the world of SEO. But its popularity increases very fast. This plugin is expected to beat other popular SEO plugins.
Rank Math is a “modular-based” SEO plugin. This means that every feature offered can be activated or deactivated as a whole.
Pros of Rank Math
Rank Math offers almost all the features that needed in SEO. Even more, it is offered free of charge. With its complete features, many people recommend Rank Math to the beginners, compared to other SEO plugins. There is even a feature to activate the AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) version on your site.
In terms of article analysis, Rank Math also recommends using “Power Words” as persuasive words that attract people to visit the article. Additionally, there is also an analysis feature of the article that can be accessed on the preview page or pages that have been published. However, this feature is not as complete as offered by Yoast or AiOSEO.
Rank Math also offers SEO analysis features and overall site performance. This means you no longer need to check the SEO details of each article. This feature is very useful for seeing in detail and overall SEO scores in one shot.
Another feature is that Google console can be integrated with Rank Math. No need to go to the google console website to see the statistics, because everything is already in the Rank Math menu.
If you update the Rank Math version and encounter errors, You can use version control to revert it into the previous version. So no need to worry anymore when there are updates.
Cons of Rank Math
Rank Math is a new plugin, there are still many problems that can arise in using this plugin. Problems often occur when switching from Yoast or other SEO plugins to Rank Math.
However, if you ever use other SEO plugins, then change to Rank Math, you can’t revert back to the last plugin easily. Although Rank Math is one of the popular SEO plugins. Because some other popular SEO plugins have no feature to import Rank Math data.
About the “keyword tracker” feature, until today (June 2020) Rank Math didn’t finish developing this feature yet. So later you can track the changes on your keywords. Any changes in keyword rankings can be updated quickly. Maybe if it can be used, this feature will be one of the pros of Rank Math.
Rank Math has a very complete metadata analysis feature but does not have “Readability Analysis” in the article. So there is still no feature for checking article readability scores. Maybe if this feature is offered as well, it can easily overtake Yoast, and win the hearts of its users.
Using the integration module with Google console, sounds good, doesn’t it? But behind that, you have to sacrifice some hard disk space. Moreover, take into account that this will also have an impact on the size of the overall backup file. You can indeed reduce the data range you need at most, but still need some space. Right now it looks like Rank Math has dealt with this problem, but you need to try it yourself by paying attention to the size of the data.
Moreover, Rank Math is very active in sending emails relating to SEO tutorials. Subjectively, this may make you uncomfortable. Generally, WordPress will send an email if there is something wrong with your system.
Rank Math Alternative
If you only need the AMP feature from Rank Math, you can use the official AMP plugin for WordPress. Besides, SEO analysis features also present in Squirrly SEO even with a more in-depth analysis.
This plugin is practically the same as the All in One SEO Pack. The free version consists of analysis and basic SEO settings.
The SEO Framework is one of the SEO plugins that have separate packages. There are 2 plugin packages, the SEO Framework itself and the “Extension Manager” plugin. However, you need to download this Extension Manager from theseoframework.com and install it manually in advance to use its features.
Pros of The SEO Framework
The SEO Framework’s interface is very good, simple, and “all in one” page. So no need to switch pages to set its features. This greatly facilitates the user and saving the settings can be done once for all.
Moreover, The SEO Framework also offers features that can change the database performance settings. But it is only the query alteration settings of the database.
On the other hand, The SEO Framework offers a feature to activate the AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) version on your site. But you must first install the Extension Manager.
Cons of The SEO Framework
This plugin has fewer content analysis features for each article. You can only set snippets, social cards, and its visibility in the search engine.
In the Extension Manager package, it turns out that around 60% is a premium feature. Even more, the size of the Extension Manager is almost the same as The SEO Framework itself. Besides, Yoast or Rank Math offers these premium features for free.
The SEO Framework Alternative
Generally, performance plugins such as Litespeed Cache could handle the database optimization. It may have different optimization methods. Then, regarding the AMP feature, the official AMP plugin for WordPress is available.
When said to be slim, it is really slim. Slim SEO has the smallest file size and fewest setting options.
The first impression of using Slim SEO turned out to be far different from when we learned the facts.
Pros of Slim SEO
The first impression of using Slim SEO is very bad. Even the settings options in the admin menu only a few. There are only features such as adding code to the header/footer, website snippet, and migrating from other plugins. Even like there is nothing to be proud of in the content analysis menu.
Okay, after checking and reading Slim SEO documentation, it turns out it’s not as bad as his first impression. What needs to be emphasized here, most of the SEO features have been activated and will work automatically. Features like Sitemap, Schema, RSS, redirects from blank pages, and the addition of image attributes are all done without human intervention.
By the name of the plugin, out of the 10 plugins discussed here, the size of Slim SEO is the smallest one. Even during the initial installation, the total size of the plugin is only around 360kb. The goal of Slim SEO is to provide an SEO plugin as simple as possible, even if it can lead to a plugin without settings or “Zero Configuration”.
Cons of Slim SEO
Maybe Slim SEO’s first impression needs to be improved. Most WordPress beginners will not read the documentation. The impact might be just seeing that Slim SEO does not offer anything interesting in terms of SEO settings.
Furthermore, the fact that most features are run automatically by the SEO plugin also has a negative impact. If you just want everything to be set by default, that doesn’t matter, this plugin is right for you. However, if on the contrary, not much can be set from these features. In fact, to set it up, it is necessary to use some snippet code, which may require a special plugin to enter the snippet code.
Slim SEO Alternative
If you are more concerned about SEO features, then many other SEO plugins are the best alternatives. But for lightweight and automatic SEO plugins without configuration, there is still no alternative.
SEOPress is comparable with Rank Math for the completeness of its free features. It is the second plugin with the most number of free features, after Rank Math.
Pros of SEOPress
SEOPress offers more detailed features for content metadata analysis than other plugins. There is even a link to check the validity of the HTML code in W3C, without having to go to the preview page or issue page. The quality of HTML code in a site is a sign that the site owner is very concerned about his site. Google appreciates this and considers it in the SERP ranking.
One thing that looks different from other plugins in the content metadata analysis. It is a reminder, if the article has not been updated for more than 1 year. This feature is perfect for sites about the technology, tutorials, or tips and tricks.
SEOPress also has a feature to set the authority to use its setting according to the type of user. Actually, Rank Math also offers this feature, in one of its modules.
Cons of SEOPress
Unfortunately, SEOPress does not offer readability analysis features like Yoast. Though the content metadata analysis feature is great and complete.
Besides, SEOPress also does not provide Schema and breadcrumbs in the free version. This feature is only available in the paid version of SEOPress Pro.
The reminder for updating an article is good, but not suitable if your site is a news site or sites with content that is very time-bound. In this case, you couldn’t optimally use this feature.
Other SEO plugins like Yoast, AiOSEO, or Rank Math already have features for the validity of HTML code in W3C, so maybe you need to go to the preview page first. But it’s not a difficult thing, isn’t it?
However, for the update reminder feature, you only need to update your non-news articles periodically, every 1-2 years. I don’t think it’s that difficult compared to manual reminders.
This plugin looks very different compared to other SEO plugins. Even the page settings theme is not the same as the WordPress admin theme.
Moreover, Squirrly SEO offers many cool features. Which may not be thought of by other SEO plugin developers.
Pros of Squirrly SEO
Squirrly SEO offers the “Keyword Research” feature. You can use this feature to find similar keywords and its search volume from Google Search data. Then you can use the results to optimize your main keywords, where the competition is still low, but have a higher search volume per month.
Another interesting feature is the Live Assistant. The actual function is the same as the content metadata analysis feature offered by other SEO plugins. However, you can see the entire analysis in real-time when typing. Compared to other SEO plugins, which you have to scroll down to see the results of the analysis, then get back to top again to edit/type.
Furthermore, Live Assistant can provide image recommendations based on your keywords. Don’t worry, there is an option to search for images that are copyright free. So you no longer need to be busy finding the right images for your article.
Then, with the “Focus Page” feature, you can focus on improving the SEO of an article. It can do an audit and provide very detailed recommendations to you about the article. Even more, it compares the data from search engines like Google when doing the audit. So you can just fix what is not good enough in your article based on the audit results.
Another feature is SEO Audit, a feature that is almost the same as Rank Math’s SEO analysis feature, but in a more detailed version. It will check on-page and off-page SEO of your entire WordPress site. This auditing feature also uses data from Google Analytics and Google Console in checking its SEO.
Cons of Squirrly SEO
The free features of Squirrly SEO are indeed good. However, seems that it has begun to turn into freemium. So maybe you will start to feel uncomfortable because of its limitations.
The “Keyword Research” feature is good. However, Squirrly SEO limits this feature in its free version. You can only use it for 28 keyword searches. If you actively write, then this number is very small.
Likewise with the limitations that exist on the Focus Page. You can only analyze one page at a time. If you want to analyze many pages of articles, you can analyze and then delete them from the focus page list one by one. For the paid version, you can indeed analyze more than one page at a time. Then, later you can improve it according to your free time.
Additionally, Squirrly SEO is very active in sending emails relating to SEO tutorials. Subjectively, the same as Rank Math, that this may make you uncomfortable. Generally, WordPress only sends you email if there is some warning or error with your system.
Squirrly SEO Alternative
Google itself already offers a “Keyword Planner” (GKP) feature that you can even access for free. This feature is the same as Squirrly SEO’s “Keyword Research”, but without restrictions. However, you could find the long tail keyword from the Keyword Planner. It is because the search volume based on ads search, not the google search. After that, you can use Ubersuggest to see the real volume search.
Even more, you could use a keyword generator from ahrefs, for free. I think it’s better than constantly switching from GKP and Ubersuggest. Besides, ahref offers the exact volume in each keyword, compared to the ranged volume in GKP.
For the Focus Page or SEO audit feature, the closest alternative is to use the SEO Rank Math plugin.
According to our observations, the WP Meta SEO Plugin plays in the ease of the bulk modifying of SEO pages.
Pros of WP Meta SEO
It’s so exhausting when having dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of articles, modifying SEO metadata for each page. This is where the role of WP Meta SEO in bulk modifying metadata such as the title and snippet of the article. Besides, you can do bulk modifications to the images or links.
Moreover, WP Meta SEO has a feature to monitor links to all of your articles on your site. It is very common if a website that used to be there, is currently inaccessible. As a result, the link you have written in your article may already refer to an inaccessible site. With this link monitoring feature, you can monitor all the links on your site. Then, you can update the link immediately, if the destination page is not found.
Cons of WP Meta SEO
Bulk modification for every article you will most likely not used. Because generally, you have checked it when writing articles. This feature might only used if you have been writing articles without the assistance of any SEO plugin before.
The link monitoring feature sometimes does not provide accurate results. Some links might be marked problematic because the destination was not found, even though you can still access it manually. So you might need to update the link list several times by pressing the “internal index broken links” button.
WP Meta SEO Alternative
Today, the bulk modification feature is a common feature in SEO plugins. Even other SEO plugins such as Yoast, Rank Math, etc. sometimes also have this feature, even though the location is a bit hidden. Also, for checking all links on the site, alternatively, you can use the Broken Link Checker plugin.
The BoldGrid Easy SEO is a specialized plugin for content metadata analysis. You won’t even find the plugin settings in the WordPress admin menu. This plugin seems suitable if used together with Slim SEO.
Pros of BoldGrid Easy SEO
BoldGrid Easy SEO is the second minimalist plugin after Slim SEO because the plugin size is less than 1MB. Other plugin sizes even exceed 1.5MB. Even more, Yoast, Rank Math, and Squirrly have plugin file sizes of more than 10MB.
However, looking at the content metadata analysis features offered, this plugin is perfect to cover the shortcomings of Slim SEO. So, the BoldGrid Easy SEO’s shortcomings in terms of SEO sites can also be covered by Slim SEO. Therefore, the installation of these two plugins is deemed suitable and complementary.
Cons of BoldGrid Easy SEO
Because this plugin is focused only on content metadata analysis, there are no features for site SEO optimization. So there is no sitemap, breadcrumb, RSS, and other SEO website settings.
BoldGrid Easy SEO Alternative
Installation of BoldGrid Easy SEO is recommended to be combined with Slim SEO. About lightweight SEO plugins, there is currently no alternative. But if the plugin size doesn’t matter, then other SEO plugins could be a more reasonable alternative.
Platinum SEO seems to only offer general SEO analysis. This plugin has been around for more than 10 years and has undergone a major overhaul in its system.
Pros of Platinum SEO
Platinum SEO offers the “Google Sitelinks Search Box” settings. This feature can display a special search box to your site on SERP. So you can determine what search settings can be displayed on Google Search.
Cons of Platinum SEO
Although it has been around for more than 10 years, the interface of this plugin is not very attractive. Even the official website still using an old design. Even more, you can’t access some of the links in the Platinum SEO menu.
Other than that, there are several premium features in the SEO Tools menu. However, other SEO plugins already offer these features for free.
Platinum SEO Alternative
If you need the “Google Sitelinks Search Box” feature, alternatively, you can use the Sitelinks Search Box plugin. Besides, even some other SEO plugins also offer this feature by adding “schema.org JSON-JD markup” to your WordPress.
Deciding a suitable SEO Plugin
So, which plugin suits your needs?
If you are a beginner in terms of SEO and want to learn it using SEO plugins, then Yoast, Rank Math, SEOPress, or Squirrly SEO might be the right choice for you.
If you want to maximize the way you write the content, maybe you can consider using Yoast with its readability analysis feature. But you need to pay attention to whether the language you use in your article is supported by its readability analysis features.
If you already know SEO, but you don’t want to deal with SEO setting a lot, then the use of automatic features from Slim SEO combined with content analysis from BoldGrid Easy SEO will help you a lot.
Activating multiple SEO plugins
In general, using multiple SEO plugins is not recommended. Many problems may arise when using more than one SEO plugin.
If you really understand when using multiple SEO plugins, no problem. Perhaps other than, Slim SEO + BoldGrid Easy SEO which currently does not show any conflict.
But if you only follow the trend, or do not understand about the backend of the plugins, it is advisable to choose and install only one SEO plugin, to avoid conflict between features.
Migrate to another SEO Plugin
Some of you may want to try another SEO plugin, or you need to use a better SEO plugin. However, if you currently use Yoast, Rank Math, SEOPress, or Squirrly SEO, then we suggest that better not to migrate. But if you are sure and want to migrate, then it is up to you.
Different SEO plugins mean different features, support, databases, and settings. Then the risks that might occur are:
- some SEO data and optimizations may be lost,
- SERP ranking might go down,
- sitemap problems,
- indexed pages are missing from Google Console,
- incompatibility of SEO settings,
How to migrate?
If you want to migrate to another SEO plugin (or replace the current SEO plugin you are using), then you must be prepared with the risks. Then, you can do the following steps:
- Backup your WordPress database.
- Install other SEO plugins that you want.
- (optional) If the new SEO plugin does not support importing data from the old SEO plugin, you can install SEO Data Transporter.
- Activate the new SEO plugin.
- Import data from the old SEO plugin into the new SEO plugin. You can use the SEO Data Transporter or data import feature from a new SEO plugin (if it exists).
- Deactivate the old SEO plugins and SEO Data Transporter (if it exists). Only deactivate the old SEO plugin, don’t delete it yet.
- Adjust the new SEO plugin settings based on your needs.
- Check SEO data on post/page, sitemap links, and other places.
- Update the sitemap address in Google Console.
Note: After deactivating the old SEO plugin (point 6), wait 15-30 days while monitoring the Google Console. After that, if everything as good as expected, you can delete the old SEO plugin (along with the SEO Data Transporter if applicable).
- Yoast, “Features per language,” Yoast: Help center. https://yoast.com/help/features-per-language/ (accessed Jun. 01, 2020).
- Rank Math, “FREE WordPress plugin for writing SEO-friendly content and ranking higher in search engines,” Rank Math. https://rankmath.com/ (accessed Jun. 01, 2020).
- Slim SEO, “A SEO plugin for WordPress that never be bloated,” Slim SEO. https://wpslimseo.com/ (accessed Jun. 01, 2020).
- S. Anderson, “Google SEO Test – Does Google Prefer Valid HTML & CSS?,” Hobo: UK SEO Services, Dec. 11, 2019. https://www.hobo-web.co.uk/official-google-prefers-valid-html-css/ (accessed Jun. 01, 2020).
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