Are SEO Plugins Overrated? Whaddya Think?

seo plugins To answer my own question…

Yes.  I do think they are overrated.

Now, pump your brakes. I’m not saying they are completely worthless, I just think some people assume they are THE definitive answer to some massive search engine ranking increase.

The Advantages

SEO plugins can be useful when they provide additional reporting features, display errors, reminders or if they help you utilize and understand basic SEO markup, build sitemaps, etc.

For example, Yoast allows you to create breadcrumbs to help people navigate through your site.  This feature is not just beneficial for SEO, but for the user experience. breadcrumb

Premium Plugins

Yoast happens to be free, but there are a couple of plugins on the market that are not. To be honest, I’ve never spent too much time researching them. No interest.

All I can say is I suppose there could be value if they provide additional reporting, tracking, etc. and do not make unrealistic claims about what they can do for your traffic.

But whatever you do, please do not install an SEO plugin (free or paid) and expect the search engine heavens to part while flooding you with traffic overnight.

Today SEO is largely driven by social media shares, the quality of your backlinks, your Google Authority and content.  So waiting for a plugin to dramatically influence your rankings is unrealistic.

Why I Uninstalled My Plugin

I don’t have an SEO plugin installed on this blog anymore. Yoast was causing a conflict with my theme, which already has some fundamental SEO settings and options.  And to be honest, I never really used many of the additional settings that Yoast provides anyway.

Actually, I was a tad bit overwhelmed by all the choices. The only settings I ever changed can be updated in my current theme, so I had redundant markup and some issues saving a few settings. Since disabling the plugin several months ago, I’ve seen no negative impact.  As long as my posts are still getting indexed and I have the option to edit basic SEO settings that my theme provides, that’s all I need. traffic And I just did another check…. My organic traffic is actually a bit higher than it was last winter when I had Yoast installed.

Now, I don’t want to get into cause and effect because I think it’s really hard to knowwhat is specifically influencing SEO today. All I’m saying is it didn’t seem to make much of a difference having a plugin installed or not.

And for the record, I wasn’t too terribly concerned with what would happen to my Google traffic after uninstalling Yoast. Right now, only 35-40% of my blog’s traffic comes from Google… thankfully.

The rest comes from referring sites, email, social media, RSS, etc. And I’d love to get that SE percentage down to 25-30 and raise the other to 70-75. So if this blog was more dependent on Google traffic, maybe I would have been a little more reluctant (A.K.A. afraid) to make such a change. Having said that, I’m not convinced a plugin was making a big difference.

What About Sitemaps?

xmlSitemaps

Now I do like the XML Sitemaps plugin.  I have used this since the beginning and do feel it’s necessary to keep your sitemap updated and submitted. Most SEO plugins already has a sitemap feature, so you may not even need an additional plugin.

Yes, There’s Still Some Value

Hear me out. I’m not suggesting you run to uninstall your SEO plugin.

I just feel they are overrated when it comes to the traffic expectations — especially today. I also think you need to be very careful when you claim or assume some tool is drastically improving your rankings when Google now uses more off-page signals like social media and select backlinks to influence SEO.

And finally… multiple plugins are not going to give you any greater benefit.  If anything, they can conflict with each other and cause a host of other problems such as duplicate tags, sitemaps and other markup issues. Now, if you can confirm the features don’t overlap that’s one thing, but be careful of installing plugins that perform similar tasks.

What Say You?

I’m really looking forward to hearing what you have to say.  I can imagine some of you cannot even THINK of parting with your beloved plugins.  :) Am I the only one who feels they are overrated?

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, I want to hear from you!


Comments

  1.  blogtipstoday

    Hi Roy,
    I will recomend you use these Two Seo Plugins.. They are the best and they dont have conflicts like most plugins do.
    All In One SEO and Google XML Sitemaps by Arne Branchold.

  2. I like All in One SEO. It is simple and effective. Yoast I didn’t really understand and didn’t have the time to figure out.

  3. Hi Lisa, It’s high time we look beyond Google in terms of traffic generation.I know a lot of people who have marginally reduced their dependency on Google.Social media traffic though not consistent is undoubtedly a good traffic booster.Direct traffic is what we should aim for..SEO plugins can help you to fix on page errors and give you suggestions regarding optimization..I like to do these things manually so that my skills are sharpened..But these plugins are definitely not the last word when it comes to SEO based traffic.

  4. Hello Lisa,
    I have never used YOAST before but i have been using All-In-One-SEO from the beginning and it has never made any conflict or what so ever. Even as i had the All-In-One-Seo, i have never used it up until now. I don’t do SEO but now i am trying to get the hang of it. Thanks

    •  2createawebsite

      Yeah in hindsight, I probably should have stuck with All in One. When I switched to Yoast that’s when my issues started happening (conflicts). Nevertheless, no regrets about disabling the plugins.

  5.  ospreypools

    I use a different host who intergrated the wordpress blog for me and used an all-in-one SEO plugin which does seem to get me to near if not on the odd front pages of Google.
    BTW Sorry Off topic Lisa do you know anything about “Alexa Ranking”

    •  2createawebsite

      Your Alexa ranking is just a tool that shows where you rank relative to other sites. But it has no bearing on your site’s traffic potential, etc. I think it’s overrated and people obsess over it when they should be focusing more on their ACTUAL TRAFFIC. Plus, it’s skewed. If you happen to have an audience that uses the toolbar more than someone else’s audience then your Alexa rank will reflect that. So you can’t really estimate anything from the tool.

      I know someone who has roughly the same Alexa rank as I do but my traffic is 5 times higher. So it really means nothing. Don’t worry about it. Focus on your traffic.

  6.  thelbsta

    Plugins are always a great tool especially if you aren’t too Savy with certain things and it also makes it a lot easier on those that have a few web pages or a lot of contact.

    I need to get my Google Percentages up! lol.

  7.  wmwebdes

    Hi Lisa
    Write a great post with useful content and tweak a little for keywords.

    Add a keyword rich title plus meta description and meta keywords and add alt text to images.
    That’s about all I do.

    You can generally do that with the built-in SEO that you get with frameworks like Genesis.

    I have looked at Yoast’s plugin but thought that it looked way too complicated.

    I also use a simple .txt sitemap, which I update and resubmit via Webmaster tools when I add a page or post.

  8. original or unique articles is KING < just it without SEO.

  9. Navpreet Kaur says:

    Hi LISA,

    Great read and informative article, Absolutely right, there was some plugins which are not necessary for the SEO now a days, i agree with you. yoast plugin for seo is better option for the on page SEO, Its define proper rating for the title, meta desc, keywords tags… As SEO more depends on if you define proper keywords and i am using one tool for keyword research, Google analytic, colibri and etc. Today I’m using these tool http://colibritool.com/ at the moment. And it has been a great help for me to get best keywords can conversion rate..

  10.  DrewryNewsNtwrk

    For now, I use the free SEO social bookmarking plugin for 1 of my WP blogs and it’s doing the job. I think Yoast SEO is also a great plugin, but the free social bookmarking plugin is kicking toosh! :-)

  11. If you have unique and quality content then you dont require seo. People will do that for you they will link back to you automatically. so just keep in mind that quality post and unique content is the king and it always remain.

  12. instead of plugin rely on manual ways as i prefer always….some time seo plugins pick irrelevant tags and keywords which are not beneficial for SEO campaign

  13. SEO plugins can make things easier, especially for people like me. From my personal experience, it simplify things and allow me to focus my energy on content and other aspects of the SEO campaign. Expecting the SEO plugins to work their magic automatically, on the other hand, is just silly.

    I do hope you get to develop your own theme one day Lisa :)

  14.  makemyblogmoney

    I’m one of those people that love plugins! I have to go out every month and clear some out! Do you actually know how many plugins it takes before it bogs you down too much?

    What do you think about plugins that secure your site? I use 6Scan (for that day when I get popular and people want to crash my site, lol) As far as paid plugins, I’ve spent money on some that I knew people used with great success but not too many.

    Good post!

  15.  premierjewelry_

    Hi, thanks for the great information on SEO Plugins. I, like some here, also use All In One SEO, it does seem to help. Though of course SEO, should be combined with other techniques not just plugins

  16.  ChicagoWebBiz

    Thanks for the info… One of the things I sometimes dislike about SEO plugins is that they tend to place the Title, Description and Keyword tags much further down on the web page than applying manual SEO or built-in SEO already in the theme.

    I had always heard that the higher up the meta tags, the better from an SEO perspective. Your thoughts about this?

    Once again always a pleasure reading your posts!

  17. Susan Doyle says:

    SEO plugins simply eases your workload, gives you more time to improve on other stuffs. But more often than not, lapses occurs and you still have to deal with it manually. All in all, plugins do help a lot. In fact, we can not live without them anymore. For your photos and images, I’d like to share this one I’m using lately http://wordpress.org/plugins/iframe-embed-for-momentme/. Embeds a photo gallery with a 360° view, providing you with a multi-point-of-view experience and its free.

  18. Well written points about search engine optimization strategies… Thanks for this..

  19. in your theme, and use the breadcrumbs from my WordPress SEO plugin. You find the settings for the breadcrumbs in the SEO ? Internal Links settings page.

  20. There’s still an enormous amount of people that think that SEO is like magic, you use WP then a plugin or two and away you go laughing all the way to the bank.

    Yoas is toast :)

  21.  oscarfranky

    This is sure what i have been looking for, no one has ever analysed SEO plugins this much. I am so glad I came across this article. Do have a nice day ahead.

  22. Nice Post Lisa as always I must say you rock ! :)

  23. Hi Lisa,
    Interesting read, you make some good comments – however I think they reflect your current (high) level of knowledge.
    Having just started blogging, learning about SEO etc, learning about WordPress etc, I have found Yoast to be fantastic. Mainly for its simplicity. It pretty clearly shows whether my onpage SEO is good, what my metadata looks like, how well i have used my keywords.
    For me, as a complete beginner, it serves as a great reminder as to how to structure and write my posts.
    Maybe, as my experience grows, it won’t be as important to me
    Lee

  24. Nice Post Lisa, no one has ever analysed SEO plugin, best article SEO 2013

  25. I never optimize a website with a lot of methods that I learned, and after focusing for 3 months finally find satisfactory results. Websites which I sit on the optimization of the first page of google and the first position of course.

    Later I heard going out google penguin and panda version 2.0, meaning I had to learn again how to work a new algorithm Goole. when I now start optimizing any other website. Hopefully the new version of google panda and penguin is still long in the release. okay thanks, Greetings

  26. I use Yoast mainly because of its sitemap feature and SEO checker when writing posts. I have to say that without these two features, I would probably not be so keen on using it.

    I only recently compressed my html (I know this should be pretty standard!) as I found that the Yoast comment in my source code could potentially be dangerous – if a security flaw ever comes about with the plugin then it would be easy to find sites using it and take advantage.

  27. I never optimize a website with a lot of methods that I learned, and after focusing for 3 months finally find satisfactory results. Websites which I sit on the optimization of the first page of google and the first position of course.

    Later I heard going out google penguin and panda version 2.0, meaning I had to learn again how to work a new algorithm Goole. when I now start optimizing any other website. Hopefully the new version of google panda and penguin is still long in the release. okay thanks, Greetings

  28. I’ve never used an SEO plugin yet all of my websites (except the one I’m linking to here, which is relatively new :), get several hundred thousans page views a month by my simply doing basic SEO within the post.

    Funnily too, when a friend suggested I add an SEO plugin I went to check some of the reviews on SEO by Yoast. Not only is that plugin a HUGE bandwidth suck, but all the websites that were saying how ‘wonderful’ Yoast’s plugin was were several MILLION positions further down in Alexa than mine (not that Alexa has particularly great stats, but it does give you some idea).

    At that point, I decided SEO plugins are a waste of time :)

  29.  IM_with_David

    I like All In One SEO purely because I can see the Rich text snippet of what will show in the SERPs which helps me decide on how to word my post to appeal best to people who are scanning the SERPs for what they are looking for. That’s about the only advantage I can see to an SEO plugin.. or am I getting that wrong?

  30. I’ve been wondering about the value of Yoast, ever since I ran the “P3″ WordPress plugin over my sites (you’ll find it on the WordPress repository – it tells you how many queries and how much load your plugins are placing on your site). Yoast took up 23% and I wonder how much benefit I’m getting for that?

    Others seem to be placing most value on the way it prompts you to fill in the fields below the post – something I haven’t done for old posts, which make up the bulk of the site. So what’s it doing for me apart from that?

  31. I need to say u gave me a new Direction, Lisa. I was very focused on SEO in all my Projects. Its not like i dont do it anymore but it dropped alot and i focus more on the really important things in my Posts. Keep going like u do, love ur Stuff.

    Greetings from Germany

  32. Do you know of any SEO plugins for Blogger at all?

    •  2createawebsite

      I don’t think Blogger has plugins.

      • That’s a shame.
        I’ve decided to move over to wordpress now anyway, as blogger’s too restricting for my needs (I think the only advantage is the fact that it’s owned by google).
        Thank you for taking the time to reply though, I appreciate it very much.

  33. Later I heard going out google penguin and panda version 2.0, meaning I had to learn again how to work a new algorithm Goole. when I now start optimizing any other website. Hopefully the new version of google panda and penguin is still long in the release.
    Thanks so much

  34. I am not a fan of loading up on too much plugins either, as the saying goes: sometimes less is more. I believe too much plugin does affect the speed of the website. With regards to the SEO plugin by Yoast, we recently install it after woothemes inform us that they have removed their WooSEO from the updated version of their template and recommend we use the WordPress SEO Plugin instead.

    So far we haven’t see any significant improvement in traffic. But since we publish articles daily, we like the color indicators it gives us as a guide to help us ensure we are creating and publishing SEO compliant articles. Plus the Rich text snippet feature makes it a keeper for us at the moment.

  35. Hey Great post Lisa a bit late but hey i have only just started out on this, This is a great plugin i have started using it already.

  36.  hardluckstrome

    Hi Lisa ,
    Well I am using All in one seo pack. It is really helpful. Beside that I have invested some money in Easy WP SEO which helps you in On-Page SEO. I really like the plugin. And I am satisfy with that.
    Beside that wordpress is SEO optimized. There are SEO optimized theme which can be helpful.
    Thanks for the update keep up the good work
    regards :)

  37. Hi there, your post was a great learning platform. As for the SEO plug ins considered be a bit overrated- I would say I agree completely! I mean how could you actually expect things to work on a regular basis when your theme compatibility starts crumbling- with me it happens most of the times and I see no reason why I should continue with them !

  38. sitemap Is very important to have every website or blog for you to rank high in Google

  39. Nice post Lisa, i follow you on Youtube and its just about time i think i followed you on your blog as you are the best for info.

  40. Since i started christian truth center, i have been learning from you. You are of great help.
    I totally agree with you. My articles rank so well in google search engine and i do not care so much about the seo plugin. I learned that the key is giving google quality frequent content and google cares about the rest

  41. I think maybe the best way to find out is to have two separate sites on a similar theme, but have one with plug-ins and one without, and just see how they compare.
    Is this something anybody here has tried already?

  42. I get your point Lisa, seo is totally useless, it can’t help us get ranked but it’s only an instrument that helps us and shows us the direction to go and what we’ve missed along the line. If a blogger can do this perfectly, what does he need a plugin for? I total get your point.

  43. Hi Lisa,
    As I am approx one month old blogger and when I read this article about YOAST plugin, I found it really helpfull to me because we can check our Whole SEO performance through this plugin. One thing I want to know that is plugins harms the speed of the site? My site use to take 2-3 seconds to open and after installing Yoast my site takes 5.03 seconds please help me in this.
    Regards
    Karan Oberoi

  44. Thanks lisa for your information but as i am new blogger can you guide me on the seo topic more precisely

  45. Really complete post but I still dont get it about breadcrumbs… they dont look nice..

  46. Lisa – what are the Basic Plugins to have on a wordpress site. Is it still necessary to have a plugin to limit website pinging

  47. Hi Respected Lisa Irby:-
    First of all i would like like to say to you a wonderful thanks because give us this amazing information. Thanks Lisa Irby g. But i have a doubt in my mind, can you clear this doubt. Lisa Irby i am using “yoast” plugin in my blog but my sir is saying that sir use only “All in One SEO”. Because in All in One SEO is best rather than “yoast” and saying that save time. And Lisa Irby regarding yoast he is saying that yoast is not good plugin. Lisa Irby can you tell me that from SEO or Yoast who is best for every blogger.
    -:Thank You Lisa Irby:-

  48. YOAST before but i have been using All-In-One-SEO is the best for all

  49. Does anyone use or have used SEO Pressor? Love to get your feedback!

Speak Your Mind