Yoast just updated his already awesome plugin, WordPress SEO 1.5 is here. It has been downloaded like 8,615,331 times and is a must have plugin if you have a WordPress site. So, let us have a closer look at what is new and different.
Well, simply put: A lot! I am not going to cover every change and addition, and for the more technical aspects of it you can read Yoast's article on it here. But here is my run down of the biggest changes for me:
Right Off the Bat, the Dashboard
The dashboard gives you the option for easily verifying your website with essential tools such as Google Webmaster Tools and Alexa. Now you can add webmaster verification for Pinterest and Yandex (Russia's largest search engine) in a snap. Benefit: Spend less time setting up and verifying your site and more time analyzing your data.
XML sitemaps now gives you the option to not include portfolios in post types, tags and categories, which is nice since this often can be thin in content and very possibly out of your vertical (for example if you are a Website Developer, marketer or SEO).
Social has a couple of changes, mainly housekeeping items for Twitter and Google. If you use or want to use Twitter cards, there is now a link to the verification and a choice between summary cards or summary with image cards. For Google Plus it takes away some choices which were causing issues with Google, so no choosing rel=author, although you still have some control in the Titles and Metas section for that.
Little to No Change
There is no noticeable change in the titles and meta, they look exactly the same to me. Internal links about the same, some rearranging, pretty self-explanatory. RSS exactly the same as well as Import & Export.
Hey, Where Did My Base Category Go? (Or Why is My Base Category Now Here)
One of the biggest changes is the removal of the "strip the category base" functionality. According to Yoast in both his blog post and the plugin itself, it doesn't help your SEO that much. While that is probably true, I do think it makes for cleaner looking URL's and nicer looking SERP's. If you were using this feature before the update, then you still have it, but it will disappear with version 1.6, or if you uncheck the option.
New and Cool Features
So first up is a twofer, the Bulk Title Editor and Bulk Description Editor, they both do the same basic thing. They show you all your pages, posts, coupons etc. 10 items at a time, your current title or meta description tag, and then a box for you to type your new one into. After you type one in, or a bunch of them, hit save or save all, and see the results immediately.
While this feature is great, especially if you are working on a previously not optimized site, it does have one significant drawback. It doesn't have a character count to check if I am going over my limit without using another program or going into each post directly. Hopefully, that will be added in version 1.6.
Another big change is to Edit Files, now not only can you edit your robots.txt file, you can create it right from the plugin if you didn't have one. Pretty nice feature if you were too lazy or didn't know how to create one previously.
And then, there is an extensions tab. There you can get some of Yoast's premium plugins which are an extension of this plugin. And frankly, if you are serious about your SEO, or better yet, your business, then they are worth getting if they apply to you. We use the Local SEO plugin extension.
WordPress SEO is one of the best plugins I have used since I started using WordPress. The fact that it is free is quite amazing. Ok, enough praise it can't all be good right?
So far besides not having the character count and the bulk editors, I only have one bug I've found. It is somewhat annoying, but I have only tested it on this site using Chrome, so not sure if it is universal. When I am in certain fields of the plugin, like dashboard, titles & metas, social and a few others, I can't click on other areas of my WordPress Dashboard. Probably a conflict with another plugin, but I am not going to start disabling plugins to figure it out. I can live with it and it is a very easy workaround.
So What's the Final Word?
Simply put, if you haven't updated, do it. If you didn't have the plugin before, get it. If you aren't using WordPress, wait you're not using WordPress? For whatever reason: change that, get WordPress, install the plugin, and leave more time to blog and make content, and don't get bogged down by all the technical SEO.