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The Best SEO Plugin for WordPress — Yoast vs. Rank Math vs. AIl in One SEO

Erik Wardell

Erik is an SEO coach that loves breaking down complex SEO topics into understandable instructions anyone can follow. He thrives on helping people do what it takes to see their businesses succeed in search. Stay in touch on Twitter — @wanderinwardell.

There are hundreds of plugins available to WordPress users looking to grow their website traffic via SEO. This makes the process of picking one overwhelming. Which WordPress SEO plugin is the best? How do you choose?

In this post, we’ll compare three of the best multifunction SEO plugins available: Yoast SEO, RankMath, and All in One SEO.

Yoast SEO is the largest player in the space with 5+ million active installs. All in One SEO has been around the longest and has 2+ million active installs. Rank Math is relatively new to the space but it offers some amazing features and is rapidly eating up market share.

Over the past few years, the feature set of each of these plugins has multiplied, as each plugin competes for dominance. This comparison will help you find the SEO plugin that will drive the greatest growth for your website.

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    Who is This Comparison For?

    This comparison of Yoast, Rank Math, and All in One is for power users — freelancers and agencies who offer SEO services and site owners serious about their SEO.

    You may still find value in this comparison if you manage a small brochure site, occasionally blog, or are looking for a “set it and forget it” SEO solution (note: we don’t really think that’s an effective solution when it comes to SEO).

    WordPress SEO Plugin Comparison Criteria

    These plugins have enormous numbers of features. Instead of focusing on comparing each and every feature, we’ll look at the features we consider most essential to a holistic SEO strategy. These are the comparison criteria we‘ll use for our feature analysis:

    Technical SEO - Which plugins help search engines find, index, and properly display your site’s content in the search results?

    Content & UX - Which plugins help you optimize the text, images, videos, and other media on your website? And, will they help make your site easily accessible and highly useful to your audience?

    On-Site SEO - Will these plugins ensure all the elements of your website are properly optimized so that they send the right signals to search engines and users?

    Off-Site SEO - Do these plugins improve your site’s authority and increase trust in the eyes of the search engines and your audience?

    Plugin User Experience - How easy is it to use these plugins and what kinds of resources are required to get the most out of them? (While this has little to do with your site’s ability to rank in the search results, it’s still important, because you’ll need to dedicate time and resources to configure and maintain these plugins.)

    Now that you know our comparison criteria, let’s start our actual comparison by tackling Technical SEO, the foundation of any comprehensive SEO strategy.

    Technical SEO

    If search engines can’t find and index your site, it can’t show up in the search results the way you want it to. Dialing in your technical SEO is the first step to getting found by your audience via the search results. Here’s how each plugin stacks up when it comes to technical SEO features, followed by descriptions of what each feature can do:

    ✓ - Included in Free Version 

    X - Not in Free Version 

    $ - Pro/Premium Subscription Required

    XML Sitemap
    Basic Structured Data
    Google Search Console / Bing Webmaster Tools Verification
    Robots.txt Editing
    htaccess File Editing
    Permalink / Slug Control X
    Redirect Manager $ X $
    Canonical URL Control
    Advanced Link Options X X $
    AMP-Friendly
    Ping Google & Bing
    Robots Meta Control
    Fix Crawl Errors X X
    Site Speed X X $

    XML Sitemap Support - XML sitemaps are files that tell search engines which pages you want appearing in the search results. All three plugins allow you to generate high-quality XML sitemaps. 

    Basic Structured Data - Structured data is code that gives search engines more context about the content you have on your site. Schema markup is the type of structured data all three plugins use. All three let you specify whether your site is for a person or an organization, and each provides basic markup for your website as a whole, as well as for the most common content types. The Rank Math plugin offers more advanced schema markup options in its paid versions. 

    Search Engine Verification - Making sure that the various search engines know about your website is essential if you want to increase your organic traffic. All three plugins help you verify your site with Google, Bing, Baidu, and Yandex. All in One and Rank Math both allow you to verify with Pinterest, and Rank Math additionally provides Alexa and Norton Safe Web verifications.

    Robots.txt - A Robots.txt file tells search engines which pages you want them to avoid crawling and indexing. All three plugins allow you to edit your robots.txt file, in the event you need to make changes. 

    .Htaccess File Editing - An .htaccess file is a configuration file that modifies how a website works on a server. All three plugins allow you to edit this file as needed. 

    Permalink/Slug Control - All in One is the only plugin that doesn’t allow you to edit your permalinks. However, since these edits are already easy with WordPress, this feature is largely unnecessary. 

    Redirect Manager - 301 redirects are incredibly useful if you don’t want search engines getting lost when they crawl your site, or if pages occasionally get moved and/or deleted. If you want to manage your redirects using your SEO plugin, you will need either the premium version of Yoast or the free version of Rank Math. 

    Canonicalization - If you have duplicate pages of content, you can tell search engines which is the master version of that content with rel=canonical tags. All three plugins allow you to easily add these tags at the individual page level. 

    Link Control - Rank Math is the only plugin that has advanced link control settings, allowing you to add default actions for all of your links, such as the useful “open internal links in new tab” and the less useful “nofollow all external links.” 

    AMP-friendly - Want your pages to load quickly on mobile? You might want to use the AMP for WordPress plugin. All three of these SEO plugins play nicely with the Amp for WordPress plugin. 

    Ping Google and Bing - All three plugins let Google and Bing know every time your sitemap gets updated, so the search engines prioritize the latest version of your site. 

    Robots Meta Controls - Want to control how each individual page gets crawled and Indexed? Then you need control over your robots meta tags. All three plugins give you advanced control over these tags. 

    Crawl Errors - Rank Math is the only one of our three plugins that automatically flags crawl errors so that you can fix them right away.

    Content and UX Considerations

    Content is (still) king/queen in the world of SEO. You need to be providing highly useful content to your users, answering their questions and providing them with the solutions they seek. 

    ✓ - Included in Free Version 

    X - Not in Free Version 

    $ - Pro/Premium Subscription Required

    SEO Content Analysis
    Breadcrumb Control X
    Readability Check
    Cornerstone/Pillar Content ID X

    SEO Content Analysis - While none of these tools will tell you how useful your content is, they will tell you if it’s optimized around the right keyword(s), as well as if it’s user-friendly.

    Breadcrumbs - From a user standpoint, breadcrumbs can be an incredibly helpful tool for navigating a site. Rank Math & Yoast SEO allow for the most breadcrumb customization. At the time of this review, we couldn’t find any breadcrumb controls in All in One.

    Readability Check - Nine times out of ten, your audience isn’t willing to suffer through content that isn’t readable. All three plugins have readability checks to ensure you’re providing users with a high-quality experience. 

    Cornerstone/Pillar Content ID - Both Yoast and Rank Math allow you to identify your most important pieces of content, i.e. your “pillar” or “cornerstone” content, so that they can help you improve that content’s visibility.

    On-site Optimization Considerations

    On-site optimization often makes the difference between getting found in the search results and wasting away on page two (or below). Fortunately, on-site optimization is the sweet spot for all three plugins.

    ✓ - Included in Free Version 

    X - Not in Free Version 

    $ - Pro/Premium Subscription Required

    Individual Page SEO
    SEO for Custom Post Types
    Keyword Research $ X X
    Focus Keyword ID
    Secondary Keyword ID $ X $
    Keyword Implementation Direction X
    Keyword Counter $
    Focus Keyword List X $
    Automate Title Tags
    Automate Meta Descriptions
    Automation Variables
    Title Tag Separator Select
    SEO for Categories, Tags, Taxonomies
    Internal Linking Guidance $ X
    Snippet Preview
    Image SEO X $ $
    News SEO $ $
    Advanced Local Business SEO $ $ $
    Advanced WooCommerce SEO $ $ $
    Search Analytics X X $
    Bulk Editor X

    Individual Page On-site SEO - One of the best things about all three of these plugins is that each gives you a heap of on-site optimization options at the page level, in addition to having robust on-site automation at the global level. 

    SEO for Custom Post Types - If your site is using custom post types, fear not. All page-level optimization options apply to that content, as well.  

    Keyword Research - Keyword research is the foundation of SEO. After all, how can you provide your audience with value if you don’t know what they’re looking for? Yoast is the only plugin that has a keyword research tool at this time and it requires a SEMRush account. Yoast users get up to ten free keywords per day without having to upgrade plans. 

    Focus Keyword Identification - All three plugins allow you to identify a focus keyword. Yoast and Rank Math use that information to provide content and optimization recommendations. It is unclear what All in One currently does with that information. 

    Secondary Keyword Identification - Want to optimize your content around secondary keywords? Yoast will help you do this in a clever way if you pay for the premium version of the plugin. Rank Math will provide secondary keyword optimization tips, but the way it does so is currently a bit clunky. 

    Keyword Implementation Direction - After you’ve identified your keyword(s), you need feedback to make sure you’re using them correctly. Yoast and Rank Math will provide many of the insights you need at the page level. All in One has nothing for you in terms of keyword advice at this time. 

    Keyword Counter - The need to have specific keyword density on your pages is gone; once upon a time it made sense, but no longer. It’s still useful to know how many times you’ve used your keywords in your content, though — be sure to shoot for that sweet spot between too many and too few. 

    Focus Keyword List - The paid version of Rank Math will give you a tidy list of all the keywords you’re targeting in one place. Not only that, but it will also tell you how well you’re ranking for each. Yoast is the only plugin that will allow you to export a CSV of your keywords. 

    Automate Title Tags & Meta Descriptions - All of these tools will allow you to automatically assign title tags and meta descriptions sitewide. They all also allow you to customize your title tags and meta descriptions

    Variables - Variables allow you to automatically pull specific values into your title tags and meta descriptions. Say you have 100 products and don’t want to write custom tags for all of them. You can use variables to create great title tags and meta descriptions for all those pages with little more than a few clicks. All three plugins allow this. 

    Title Tag Separators - Title tag separators break up search snippet titles and make them more user friendly. For example, the “pipe” or “bar” in our homepage’s title tag “Pathfinder SEO | Guided SEO” is the separator we prefer. Whether you prefer the pipe, a colon, arrows, dashes, bullets, etc., each of these plugins will allow you to select a default separator. All in One and Rank Math will even let you customize yours. 

    SEO for Archive Pages - Archive pages can be some of your greatest assets if you have a ton of useful content. Fortunately, all three of these plugins allow you to optimize archive pages the same way you would a blog post or a page. 

    Internal Linking Guidance - A solid internal link network is critical to spreading link equity throughout your site. Rank Math is the only plugin that provides this option for free, although Yoast includes it with their premium subscription. 

    Snippet Preview - All three of these tools will show you what your meta tags will look like in the search results when Google and Bing display them. 

    Image SEO - All in One SEO and Rank Math will automate image alternative text and title text for you. You have to pay extra for this feature in All in One, but it’s free in Rank Math. All three plugins provide image information in their XML sitemaps as well as the ability to set a default image for each page. Unfortunately, though, none of these plugins will optimize your image file sizes. 

    Advanced News, Local Business SEO - Both Yoast and Rank Math are going to be the best tools if you need advanced news or local business SEO support. 

    WooCommerce SEO - All three plugins offer advanced WooCommerce features if you are willing to fork it over for the paid versions. If you are running WooCommerce site, it’s definitely worth investing in the paid versions of these plugins. Afterall, you have to spend money to make money. 

    Search Analytics - If you want your plugin to connect to Google Analytics (GA) and Google Search Console (GSC) data, expect to pay for that option in Rank Math. They’re worth it, though: Rank Math’s single post SEO reports are truly impressive.  Neither Yoast nor All in One have search analytics integrations. 

    Bulk Editor - Yoast and Rank Math will allow you to bulk edit your title tags and meta descriptions. All in One currently lacks this capability.

    Off-site Optimization Considerations

    Off-site SEO means everything you do outside of your own website to gain the trust of search engines. This includes link building, Local SEO, citations, and more. It’s safe to say that off-site SEO is not the focus of any of these plugins, but there are a few features that will assist your off-site SEO efforts here and there.

    ✓ - Included in Free Version 

    X - Not in Free Version 

    $ - Pro/Premium Subscription Required

    Open Graph Optimization
    Social Previews $
    Link Building Tools X X X
    Local SEO $ $ $

    Open Graph Optimization & Social Preview - If you want your content to have maximum impact when it gets shared across social media, you need to optimize its open graph appearance. All three plugins allow you to do this — Rank Math will even automate it for you. If you’re serious about your social presence, the free version of Rank Math will give you the most bang for your buck, while the paid versions have extra perks such as branded watermarks on your social images.

    Link Building Tools - While Yoast Premium and Rank Math have internal linking suggestions, neither do much when it comes to helping you build external links.

    Local SEO - If you want to hand search engines your basic local business information in a tidy little package, all of these plugins will help you do that with their structured data features. However, if you want advanced local SEO features, all three plugins will make up pay for upgrades.

    WordPress SEO Plugin User Experience & Cost

    The cost and usability of these plugins won't directly impact your ability to rank. However, you are doing to dedicate a bunch of time setting up, configuring, and learning how to use the plugin of your choice. As a result, you want to pick one that's going to be a fit for your business for the long-haul. These considerations might tips the scales one way or the other as a result.

    ✓ - Included in Free Version 

    X - Not in Free Version 

    $ - Pro/Premium Subscription Required

    Cost per year Free / $89 Free / $99 / $199 / 299 Free / $59 / $199
    Average Update Timing 2 Weeks 1 Month 2 Weeks
    Setup Wizard
    Basic Support
    Premium Support $ $ $
    Documentation ★★★★★ ★★ ★★★★★
    Ease of Use ★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★
    Free Educational Support Blog / Courses X Blog
    Warnings & Notices
    Multisite Compatible
    Bloat Heavy Light Medium
    Toggle Features On/Off
    Keyword Ranking X X $
    SEO Score/Analysis X
    User Control

    Cost - One of the most important factors when comparing plugins is obviously cost. If cost is a major factor, Rank Math’s free version will give you the biggest bang for your buck. Rank Math also gives you more useful features with the Pro and Business plans when compared to the cost of Yoast Premium.

    However, Yoast bundles its courses into premium subscriptions, which is a massive value add! Afterall, these tools are only as good as the SEO knowledge that underpins them. Yoast’s awesome courses are an amazing resource for growing your SEO knowledge.

    Average Update Time - Updates are important. Without regular updates, these plugins can create security vulnerabilities and other issues on your site.

    Yoast and Rank Math are the best at updating their plugins; they update roughly every two weeks. We don’t see updates to All in One happen nearly as often, but that might change soon, since they just launched a new version of the plugin.

    Updates shouldn’t break your site. Since Yoast is the most widely used plugin, its team does a ton to make sure each update is reliable. Rank Math’s updates happen just about as regularly as Yoast’s, but the updates aren’t as reliable — it’s more likely to accidentally break something on your site.

    Wizard - Properly configuring your plugins is key if you want to get the most out of them. All three plugins have setup wizards to get you on the right track from the beginning.

    Support - If you run into an issue with any of these plugins, you’ll either need to rely on forums or pay extra for premium support. All three offer premium support plans to help you solve your problems. If you don’t want to pay for support, you will have to take a ticket and jump in a long queue, waiting to hear back from customer service.

    It’s also important to note that support won’t assist you with SEO strategy related questions, they merely help with technical support issues. If you need assistance with SEO strategy, you might want to consider a guided approach to SEO.

    Ease of Use - When it comes to usability, all three plugins are great. That being said, the most user-friendly interfaces belong to All in One and Rank Math.  Yoast’s user interface, although relatively intuitive and user-friendly, feels more dated by comparison.

    Free Educational Support - Yoast’s blog is a wellspring of free SEO knowledge. They also offer paid SEO courses that come free with a Yoast premium subscription. All in One and Rank Math leave a lot to be desired in terms of educational SEO material; however, a tool like Pathfinder SEO can help you make up for those deficiencies.

    Warnings & Notices - All three plugins provide warnings and notices about your site’s SEO in addition to offering recommendations about improving the function of whichever plugin you’re using.

    Multisite Compatible - All three plugins are multisite compatible, allowing you to use the plugin across the various sites in your multisite setup.

    Bloat - Both Rank Math and Yoast have more features than most plugin users will ever need. That’s why they include the ability to toggle features on and off. 

    Toggle Features On/Off - If you have every available feature running in your SEO plugin, your site’s speed is likely to take a hit. Fortunately, all three plugins allow you to control which features you want to activate and which you want to remain inactive. We highly recommend that you only activate those that you need. 

    Keyword Rankings - Rank Math is the only one of these plugins that provides keyword ranking information to keep track of page performance without needing a third-party tool like Pathfinder SEO. You will need to pay for a Pro version to access keyword rankings, though. 

    SEO Score/Analysis - All three plugins provide SEO score analysis. While you’ll get some helpful nuggets, we don’t find them to be quite as useful as expected. Rank Math and All in One focus on an overall SEO analysis, while Yoast focuses more on content analysis. 

    User Control - Don’t want to give everyone who has access to your site control over your SEO? No problem. All three plugins allow you to limit the interaction of various types of users. If this function is important to you, we recommend you look closely at the capabilities of each plugin.

    What is the Best WordPress SEO Plugin?

    Ultimately, it’s you who chooses the winner. The best WordPress plugin depends on what you value most.

    Yoast

    Best for: People who need SEO expertise

    Yoast SEO continues to be the leader in the WordPress SEO plugin space. It’s the plugin our team uses and recommends most often.

    The team at Yoast is made of as SEO professionals and continues to stay on the cutting edge of what’s going on in the world of SEO. That makes them more focused on adding features that will help generate real-world SEO results. A perfect example is the keyword research tool they recently added to the plugin.

    In addition, let’s not forget that SEO plugins are merely tools. They’re only as good as the SEO knowledge that underpins them. 

    The Yoast team’s unparalleled dedication to WordPress SEO education is another reason why we love the plugin. They have assuredly done more to advance the WordPress community’s knowledge of SEO than any of the three plugin creators on this list. This means you’ll get online SEO training for beginners through advanced practitioners to pair directly with the plugin, and for free when you have a Yoast Premium subscription. 

    The biggest drawback when it comes to using Yoast is the fact that you have to upgrade to paid versions of the plugin if you want valuable features like the redirect manager, social previews,  advanced local SEO, and advanced WooCommerce.

    Rank Math

    Best for: People who love lots of features and low prices

    Rank Math is really shaking things up. It offers the most advanced features of the three plugins. Many of them at no additional cost. If you’re shopping based on price, this plugin gives you the most for free. 

    The Pro and Business versions of the plugin are exceptionally innovative with great new features such as the integration of Google Search Console and Google Analytics data. Having this SEO performance data right in your WordPress dashboard can be a game-changer. After all, you can’t improve what you don’t measure. 

    The only downside when it comes to Rank Math is its number of features. If you’re relatively new to WordPress SEO, you may not know whether or not a certain feature matters. This plugin is most helpful to WordPress users with more advanced SEO knowledge and skills.

    All in One SEO

    Best for: People who are excited about making SEO easy

    As for All in One SEO, the new version of the plugin is a welcome improvement compared to the old version. You’ll find all the necessary features one would expect in a multifunction SEO plugin. It’s also easy to use.

    That said, the future is bright for this plugin.  It was acquired by Awesome Motive (WPBeginner, OptinMonster, WPForms, etc.) in early 2020. If you know anything about the Awesome Motive team, you know they transform software, making it more brilliant and easy to use. We’d bet that this will be the easiest SEO plugin to use in the next year or so.

    Don’t Forget, SEO Plugins Are Only Tools

    Choosing a WordPress SEO plugin is a big decision. No matter which you choose, rest assured that all three of these multi-function SEO plugins are great! They give you the infrastructure you need to excel in the search results.

    The tools alone don’t actually drive growth. It’s how you configure these plugins that move the needle.

    Pathfinder SEO’s guided approach to SEO pairs well with all three of these plugins. The plugins provide the infrastructure; we provide the process, tools, and coaching.

    Your website’s ultimate success in organic search comes from following a holistic strategy and steadily taking action. This means measurable growth for your website and your business.

    Erik Wardell

    Erik is an SEO coach that loves breaking down complex SEO topics into understandable instructions anyone can follow. He thrives on helping people do what it takes to see their businesses succeed in search. Stay in touch on Twitter — @wanderinwardell.

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