I’ve personally found this plugin to be one of the most widely respected and used plugins in the WordPress Community. Disappointingly the standard WordPress SEO features aren’t quite up to scratch, and this plugin does a great job at filling those gaps.. IF USED CORRECTLY!
In this tutorial I’m going to cover the basic steps any All in One SEO plugin user should take to ensure maximum exposure in those all important Search Engine Results. It must be made clear though that this plugin won’t automatically get you listed in a Search Engine – the plugin is only as good as the content its representing – and therefore to get listed in Search Engine Results, you need to support the plugin with some killer content!
Before I start, for those that don’t already know – common abbreviations used in this article are listed below to aid any confusion.
- SEO – Search Engine Optimisation
- SERP – Search Engine Results Page
- AIOSEO – All In One SEO plugin for WordPress
- Search Engine Spider/Bot – The System that analyses a website for indexing in the search engine database
- Crawl – The process a Search Engine Spider completes when looking over your page content (think a spider crawling over a webpage reading the content!)
As a high level review of the plugin, its main aim is to improve your site as it’s seen by Search Engines. It does this in several ways:
- Shows the search engine how you’d like your pages displayed in the SERPS pages.
- Informs the search engine if there are certain directories you wish to omit from their crawl.
- Gives the search engine further information on the page being crawled so it can better assess where to include your pages.
Let start by looking at a typical Google result for a common searchterm: Apple!
Google first displays the Title for the webpage, in this case ‘Apple (United Kingdom)’.
Google then continues with a description of the webpage.
Lastly it finishes with the URL of the page.
Whats great about this plugin is that it offers total customisation on how google displays these results (apart from the obvious URL part). This means we could in theory write a post about chicken, and then display it in the google results page as a post about motorbikes (although I wouldn’t recommend doing so if you want to remain in search engine results!).
Lets go through how you do this for your site homepage:
- Within the All in One SEO Settings (found in your WordPress Dashboard under Settings > All in One SEO), Look for the Areas labelled Home *.
- Start by giving your Site a Title in the ‘Home Title’ section. This will be the part we previously saw for Apple in Google labelled “Apple (United Kingdom)”. This needs to be completely focused on your target niche market, in order to drive the correct type of traffic.
- Then continue to give your site a Description in the ‘Home Description’ section. This will be the part in the above Search Results for Apple that said “Apple designs and creates iPod and iTunes[...]“. This is your second chance to back up the great Title you’ve set and entice potential visitors even more.
- Next Give your Homepage some Keywords. This is a great chance to give the Search Engine keywords that YOU wish to specify, rather than letting the Spider pull them from the most commonly used words in the web page. Its generally better to put your most important keywords at the beginning, and least towards the end.
- Lastly give the plugin permission to ‘rewrite titles’, by ticking the relevant box further down that settings page.
You have 4 sections to Complete in order to optimise the Home Page listing.
What the above settings will do once saved (don’t forget that part!) is they will set META tags in the header section of the site offering these settings to the Search Bots. Search Bots generally like this as it means less time generating them themselves. Speed is an important thing for Search Bots – which have to crawl millions of webpages a day!
Once your web page has been indexed by the Search Engine, you’ll be able to do a search using the keywords you specified, and will see your Page represented exactly as you configured above! Remember that this plugin won’t get you to the top of the SERPS page – it will just make sure when you do get there – you’re looking as good as you possibly can!
Now we’ve done this for the home page, and you’ve set up a great looking search result, its time to tackle the rest of your site – other Pages and more importantly – your posts!
Before you do so, lets go through and optimize some of the extra settings in the plugin to ensure its ready for the above.
I normally run my wordpress sites with the noindex for Categories, Archives and Tag Archives selected – the reason being that I only want my posts indexed once, and don’t want my content duplicated in the index as it appears under several Categories and Tags. If you don’t tick these boxes, you run the risk of presenting your content ‘duplicated’ to the search engine, which can get you penalised. You can get round this issue with Canonical URLs, although that won’t be covered in this article.
You also have the option to change the format for each of the Titles generated by the rewrite engine (found in the main AIOSEO settings area under > Rewrite Title format. I find the default settings to be ok, although if you’re being super careful you could alter these to increase your click through rate from the SERPs – if you can market it correctly. Don’t throw loads of Keywords in there though – it’ll look silly in the results, and you’ll probably get penalised for it!
For customizing each individual post, you need to head to the posts you’ve written (or are about to write), and scroll to the bottom of the posts edit page. You’ll see a section here called All in One SEO Pack.
Again in a similar fashion to the Home Page, you have the opportunity to change the Title, Description and Keywords for each post. You also have the option to disable the plugin for the particular post – although I can’t see any reason for selecting this.
You’ll also want to do the same for the Pages you’ve generated. Head to the Pages on your WordPress Dashboard and again at the bottom of the page you’ll be able to add your own custom Title, Description and Keywords.
By Completing the above 2 steps for both your Home Page and individual Posts and Pages, you’ll be able to define exactly how you wish your site to show in Search Engine Results, and can thus Market it accordingly to increase your sites visits – something that is not to be taken lightly, and is well worth the extra 10 minutes completing for each post generated!