Optimizing Titles Tags for WordPress. Part 4: WordPress SEO Plugins
But what does title tag optimization look like in WordPress? Of course, you can’t write about WordPress without mentioning plugins. But first, let’s talk about what happens when you install WordPress with no SEO plugin. The default behavior for most themes places the title of post as the title tag in most themes. The two are always exactly the same. No keyword variance in title tag and post title is possible. In many cases, you’ll want your post title to be brief and hook your audience while your title tag expands the idea using a secondary keyword phrase. To get around the WordPress default that makes the title tag the same as the post title, you’ll need a WordPress SEO plugin.
Over the years, there has been quite a quest among WordPress developers to arrive at the perfect WordPress SEO plugin. Many plugins have fallen into irrelevance leaving a handful of strong contenders standing. The most appealing plugins for SEO allow all of the important SEO elements to be changed on an individual post or page and set defaults for other major page types. These are SEO plugins that I have personally tried and like. There are others.
• All In One SEO Pack – Michael Torbert’s popular plugin has had a long streak of popularity with over 15 million downloads on wordpress.org but has of late lost a degree of popularity to WordPress SEO. Since the competition became more fierce, new features have been added and it seems to be keeping pace quite well.
• WordPress SEO by Yoast – An ambitious but well-received and highly rated plugin by well-known Dutch WordPress developer, Joost de Valk. It has a long list of features, in fact, some argue too long. One criticism is that it tries to do too much. It includes features like page analysis/reminders and snippet previewing.
• Greg’s High Performance SEO – Greg Mulhauser’s plugin allows configuration of “over 100 separate on-page SEO characteristics.” The real selling point is its focus on performance over feature bloat which is why web hosting companies are inclined to recommend this for shared customers.
I couldn’t resist doing a quick test with the P3 Plugin Performance Profiler that measures WordPress plugin performance. Greg’s High Performance SEO lived up to its name and outperformed the other two with a relative runtime of 12% (.0042 seconds). Get some advice from your WordPress developer and SEO team on which plugin is right for your WordPress project.
Even if you’re using a WordPress SEO plugin to allow control of title tags, remember that the title of your post in WordPress is the one that will be both the top level heading of your post and appear as the link anchor text throughout your site in widgets (recent posts, related posts, etc). Just like the title tag itself, the post title is important to keep in mind for SEO because internal link anchor text can help define the semantics of your site for search engines.