I think its fair to say the most commonly used SEO plugin for wordpress is the All in One SEO Pack written by “HallsOfMontezuma” – it been downloaded over 5,000,000 times from wordpress.org, and no doubt its also been used countless times by wordpress installers. I’ve probably used it a few thousand times, having only downloaded it four or five times.
Grab a copy here – but read this post first.
So its fair to say the All in One SEO Pack plugin is a bit of an industry standard.
But what if I said using the All in One SEO Pack with default settings was actually SEO suicide? “Hello, what? How dare he!”
SEO Guru’s swear by it, SEO Companies swear by it. Which makes them all idiots!
The problem is summed up with this simple picture.
By default, your category pages are “no-index” and your archive pages are “no-index”
All in One SEO Pack is trying to solve the problem of duplicate content. That is, a post will appear in a category page, as well as an archive page and once on each tags page. But the content on these pages will only be duplicated if there is only one post per category, per archive or per tag. If there is more than one post, the content on that page is unique to other pages, even if large chunks duplicate elsewhere.
Even if the category only contains one post for instance, it still links to the original location of the unique content.
But the All in One SEO Pack (with default settings) creates two problems – first of all it massively reduces the crawl path to older posts, to the point where a major proportion are de-indexed and lost.
If you need to click on more than 3 links to find any post, chances are Google won’t bother indexing that post. (obviously this isn’t the case for massive authority sites) – so by destroying the category and archive crawl paths, Google’s only option is to crawl through tags (often only the top 25 or so are displayed) and then crawl through pagination.
So if a post doesn’t share a common tag, or if enough new posts are added, the post effectively ceases to exist.
Categories aren’t a perfect solution, because you may push any post onto the fourth page of posts in that category, but at least there is a shorter crawl path to every post.
Archives help fill the hole by creating a crawl path into the past.
While its still not a perfect solution, by using all three methods (Tags, Categories and Archives) you massively increase the chance any particular post can be found at a shallow crawl depth.
The other problem introduced by the All in One SEO Pack for wordpress is potential link juice loss. If you link to a page on your own site, which you then instruct Google not to index, chances are that link juice is lost. I don’t care to attempt to prove it, but it is logical, and it’s also congruent with my experience.
The solution couldn’t be any more simple – simply un-check those two check boxes. I’ll eat my hat if you experience anything other than positive results.
Something is dire in an industry with so many big egos, but where issues like this still go unpublished.