In this post we will be taking a look at two popular WordPress optimization plugins to see how they compare against each other when it comes to optimizing your content for the search engines and social media networks.
The two plugins we will be looking at are the established WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin, and the relative newcomer, WordPress Social Sharing Optimization plugin. As these two tools have some shared features and functionality, by the end of this article you will be able to decide which one is the best option for you and the best plugin to help you get more visitors to your website.
WordPress SEO vs WordPress Social Sharing Optimization
WordPress SEO by Yoast has become the default search engine optimization plugin for many WordPress users and often tops the essential WordPress plugin lists.
However social media optimization is becoming increasingly important and this is making features that can help a website perform better on the social networks in greater demand. While some of these features can be found in the established WordPress SEO plugin, this is also the area the emerging WordPress Social Sharing Optimization plugin hopes to dominate.
So to help you decide which plugin you should use to optimize your website for search engines and social media, let’s start off by looking at what each of these plugins have to offer and where their strengths and weaknesses lie.
WordPress SEO by Yoast Overview
WordPress SEO does a great job of adding the necessary fields to the WordPress post editor screen to ensure your content has the best chance of ranking well in the searching engines. The plugin also has the ability of displaying key information in the search results in the form of post snippets to help your content stand from the crowd.
These SEO fields that are added to the post editor screen give you a live preview of how your post snippet will look in the search results. This helps you to craft a better and more attractive post title and description, while also giving you the opportunity of declaring a focus keyword for your post.
By encouraging you to enter a focus keyword for each piece of content you create on your site, and then making sure you use that keyword in all the right places, the WordPress SEO plugin helps you write better content that is not only optimized for the search engines, but is also focused on the topic you were intending to write about.
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WordPress SEO by Yoast Social Media Optimization
For each post or page you add to your site, WordPress SEO gives you the opportunity to add custom content for Facebook and Google+. This additional content is displayed when your posts or pages are shared on those social media networks.
Adding custom content for each of the supported social networks allows you to tailor the title, description, and image that will accompany your post or page when it is shared socially by you or your readers.
This is optional, and the default content will be used if you don’t populate these fields. However, making use of these Google+ and Facebook Open Graph tags does give you a great opportunity to ensure your content is tailored for each of the two supported social networks, helping it to look its best.
Through the plugin settings you can also enable Twitter Card meta, although doing so doesn’t add a set of fields to the post editor screen as is the case with the Facebook and Google+ support.
Twitter Cards: What are They?
Twitter Cards are a powerful feature of this social network and there are currently seven Twitter Cards to make use of. These cards essentially allow you to include additional content when your posts and pages are shared on Twitter and present it in a different way.
This additional content and the type of Twitter Card that will be associated with your post when it is shared on Twitter is determined as your content is created, with the following Twitter Cards available for use:
- Summary Card: includes title, description, thumbnail, and Twitter account attribution
- Summary Card with Large Image: as above but with a larger image
- Photo Card: the photo is the main focus
- Gallery Card: highlight a collection of four photos
- App Card: mobile app details with direct download
- Player Card: includes a media player for video or audio
- Product Card: displays product information and purchase button
The WordPress SEO plugin’s support for Twitter cards is basic and only includes support for the summary card and the summary with large image cards.
It’s also worth pointing out that through a set of premium add-ons, the WordPress SEO plugin can be extended to optimize your site further for different types of content, or different types of searches:
- Local SEO: optimize your site to rank well for local searches
- News SEO: tools for ranking well in Google News
- Video SEO: help display your videos in the search results and be discovered by Google
Overall WordPress SEO has some excellent features for optimizing your content for the search engines, as well as creating sitemaps and giving you control over how your content is indexed.
However, when it comes to optimizing your content for social media, this plugin doesn’t have the features and capabilities to make full use of the new social media publishing features that can help you your content fully leverage sites like Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.
WordPress Social Sharing Optimization Overview
WordPress Social Sharing Optimization (WP SSO) is a plugin we reviewed a while ago and declared it a great choice for anyone who wants to make their content standout from the crowd when it was shared on the top social networks.
There is some overlap between WP SSO and WordPress SEO in terms of the way they optimize content for the social networks and search engines. Therefore it’s a good idea to compare the two plugins in terms of their shared features to help you decide if you should be using one or both of them on your WordPress website.
What Can WP SSO Do?
WordPress Social Sharing Optimization adds the necessary code to each of your posts and pages to ensure they are optimized for the most popular social networks.
The networks supported by the plugin include Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn, with WP SSO optimizing your content for each of these networks.
This optimization means that your content will include the appropriate meta tags that will allow it to make use of the Open Graph, Rich Pin, or Twitter Card features of whichever network it is shared on.
This results in a content rich post, pin, or tweet, whenever your content is shared, which in turn results in more engagement with your content on the most popular social networks.
Once the plugin is installed on your website, a series of site-wide settings covering how titles and descriptions, images, videos, authorship are handled when your content is shared are added to your site.
There are also publisher specific settings for each of the main social networks including items such as image sizes to use, the username to attribute content to, and which profiles to link to.
Like the WordPress SEO plugin, at the individual post level you get the opportunity to add some network specific content. However, unlike the WordPress SEO plugin, you do get the opportunity to add some more information than just the title, description, and image for each social network, and not just Facebook and Google+.
However, if you don’t enter any details here, the plugin will use the content from the post to auto-add this information to the meta tags on your page for the social networks to use when publishing your content.
WP SSO comes in two versions, a free and a premium option. The free version includes a reduced feature list, but still includes Open Graph and Rich Pin meta tags for Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and LinkedIn optimization.
The premium version on the other hand includes support for all Twitter Cards, apart from the App Card, although that is due to follow shortly. This makes either version a great way to carry out social SEO on your website.
However, the premium version will really help you take advantage of all Twitter has to offer in terms presenting your content in the richest way possible when it’s shared there.
For the full details of this plugin read our review of WordPress Social Sharing Optimization.
WPSSO Third Party Integrations
WPSSO Pro integrates with 3rd party plugins and services for additional image, video, product, and content information:
- All in One SEO Pack
- Easy Digital Downloads
- HeadSpace2 SEO
- JetPack Photon
- NextGEN Gallery
- MarketPress – WordPress eCommerce
- WordPress SEO by Yoast
- WP e-Commerce
- Gravatar Images
- Slideshare Presentations
- Vimeo Videos
- Wistia Videos
- Youtube Videos and Playlists
Which Optimization Plugin Should You Use?
While there is some overlap between these two plugins, they each have their own individual set of core strengths that make them attractive options in their own right. So which plugin should you choose and which type of optimization should you focus on: search engine or social media optimization?
WordPress SEO by Yoast has become one of the most popular WordPress plugins with over 13 million downloads and a very healthy 4.7 out of 5 star rating. Its core features for optimizing your content for the search engines to improve its rank and click through rates, while helping to keep your attention on the key focus of your content makes it one of the first plugins many WordPress users install on a new site.
However, while WordPress SEO does include some features for optimizing your content for social media this really isn’t its strong suit.
WordPress Social Sharing Optimization on the other hand is a newer plugin with similar but less extensive SEO features. However, WP SSO is more focused on helping online publishers get the best returns from social media whenever their content is posted there, whether that is in the form of increased shares, more product purchases, greater media plays, or an increased click through rate back to their site.
As the use of social media continues to grow, its importance to website owners will continue to grow too. Being able to ensure your content really stands out and is presented in the best possible way when shared socially will soon be seen as important as optimizing your content for search engines like Google.
With this in mind the sensible approach would be to stick with the tried and tested WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin to take care of search engine optimization, while also installing a dedicated plugin to handle social optimization.
Thankfully these two plugins do work together on the same site, offering up a best of breed solution that should see your content optimized for both the search engines and social media to help you get the best results for your content.