Case Study Update: Impact of All-In-One SEO WordPress Plugin

by derek on August 15, 2007 · 25 comments

Two weeks ago I installed the All-In-One SEO WordPress plugin and decided to conduct a rudimentary case study on the impact that this plugin has on my site.
With this case study I wanted to monitor the volume of traffic that this site receives from the various search engines as well as how my pages are displayed in the search results, including the number of indexed pages.
While I know that two weeks was an aggressive time period to use for a comparison, I felt it was long enough to show some initial trends in the data and provide me with sufficient information to decide if I should continue with the use of the plugin. With two weeks having elapsed since I installed the plugin, let’s take a look at the numbers and see what has happened.
After: Unique Visitors
According to Google Analytics, there have been 202 unique visits in the last two weeks that originated from the various search engines. This represents a 22.90% drop in the number of visits from before the All-In-One SEO plugin was installed. The bulk of the decline was in the numbers from Google which had a 27.39% decrease from the two weeks prior.

All In One SEO Case Study

After: Search Results
The site search at Google returned 241 results from the site:dereksemmler.com search query. Also, I noticed that there were times I received only 231 results and I assume that it was dependent on which Google server my query was being executed.
This represents a 16.02% drop in the number of pages indexed at Google since the plugin was installed.

All In One SEO Case Study

While the number of indexed pages has decreased, the visual display of the search results has improved. Previously, most of the search results contained generic information and this has been replaced with a more relevant excerpt of each post.

All In One SEO Case Study

Analysis
In looking at the numbers, it would be easy to say that installing the All-In-One SEO plugin has been a detriment to my site. However, I believe that a closer analysis of the data will explain the decline in certain numbers.
Before installing the plugin, all of my category and archive pages were being indexed by Google. When the plugin was installed, I checked the options to use noindex for all of the category and archive pages. While this resulted in less pages being indexed, one would think this can actually benefit my site because it reduces the volume of duplicate content that is being indexed by the search engines.
Having less pages indexed can also explain the decrease in unique visitors arriving via the search engines, as there is less opportunity for a user to come across one of my pages. The drop in search engine visitors is somewhat alarming to me, although the time period used for the before data set may have included some after-shock of my digg experience.
Next Step
Due to the fact that this initial comparison was only studying the impact of the All-In-One SEO plugin using the default options, I believe there is room for further analysis.
Over the next two weeks, I will begin to utilize the “Description” and “Keywords” data fields for each post. Currently the keywords are being set to the category of each post. While this might not be bad for some sites, I’ve got relatively generic categories and rarely tag a post for more than one category.
I’ll do my best to go through old posts and update these fields as well but will certainly add this data for all new posts. There are 154 posts including this one so that may take me some time to complete.
In two weeks, I will take a few more screenshots and compare how this next phase of using the plugin impacts the number of unique visitors that arrive via the search engines as well as the number of indexed pages and how those pages are displayed. While I don’t think the number of indexed pages will change much, I would like to see the number of unique visitors increase as I begin to target each post with more accuracy.
What do you think of this initial before and after snapshot?
What do you think will happen in the next two weeks?

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael Fultz August 16, 2007 at 12:37 am

It sounds like the quality of your traffic is improving, which is a good thing. I’ve got this plugin, and I’m not using it as much as I should be..

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Erik Karey August 16, 2007 at 8:39 am

Interesting results for sure. I would say it’s probably still too soon to make a definitive decision on the plugin itself and with time your rankings and traffic will boost back up above the original numbers. Keep us updated about this.

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derek August 16, 2007 at 10:23 am

@Michael :: It will be interesting to see if there is any tangible difference in just using the plugin defaults versus actually adding a custom description and keywords to each post.
@Erik :: I’ll certainly keep everyone updated. Hopefully you are right about the traffic/rankings as that is my assumption as well.

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Dave August 16, 2007 at 11:45 am

Just a tip. You may want to update the keywords and/or descriptions through phpMyAdmin rather than through wordpress admin. It would be A LOT faster 😉

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derek August 16, 2007 at 12:00 pm

That is a fantastic tip and is something I hadn’t even thought about. Thanks Dave! 🙂

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Saman Sadeghi August 17, 2007 at 3:12 pm

That is a great tip, I have 350+ posts that I need to update….

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Paid Survey August 16, 2007 at 12:13 pm

It does sound like the quality of traffic you’re receiving is much better. It would be interesting to know if the avg. time per visit has increased over the past two weeks. And I do think that by aggressively targeting and optimizing each page you will see a return in increased traffic. Can’t wait to see what happens two weeks out.

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derek August 16, 2007 at 1:10 pm

That is something I didn’t think to include in the case study but here are the details:
Before installing the plugin, the average time on the site was 3:43. After the plugin was installed, the average time on the site was 4:38.
The length of the average visit has increased by roughly 24-25% since installing the plugin!

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Derrich August 16, 2007 at 2:15 pm

I can’t quantify the value of the All-In-One SEO plugin for my blog, but I did notice a slight increase in traffic from Google, and I began to see more and more click throughs from Yahoo! and MSN.
You might also consider the titles of your posts in the measure of traffic. For example, using the Google Keyword Tool to determine the number of searches for a particular keyword or phrase might be a reason you saw a decline.

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Saman Sadeghi August 17, 2007 at 3:17 pm

You should always used descriptive titles for your posts! The SEO plugin should be a tool in your SEO arsenal – not the only measure you use.

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Derrich August 20, 2007 at 9:17 am

MFWerd!

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uberdose August 18, 2007 at 3:17 am

Remember you can always let categories and the like be indexed again if you know these pages bring you vital traffic. That’s why it’s an option you can change. Linking many times to a page which is excluded from indexing will of course leak some link juice. In the end no plugin can make this decision for you.
On my blog I recently made sure categories and tag pages are somewhat unique (only excerpts are shown) and I switched indexing on yesterday.

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derek August 18, 2007 at 9:36 am

Thanks for stopping by to share additional insight. Once I evaluate how things are going I may enable the Categories and Archives because I do use excerpts like you mentioned.

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Bobby Revell August 18, 2007 at 1:07 pm

I have had very similar results. I did recently install Ultimate Tag Warrior and was initially worried about compatibility issues but it works fine. I think that fine tuning the keywords,etc. on all your posts should help even more. Thanks, BTW I faved you on technorati and subscribed to you on bloglines:)

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derek August 18, 2007 at 4:53 pm

Bobby, thanks for the fave and subscribing! I’m sure the keywords will help quite a bit. Using my categories as the only keywords is not very helpful/descriptive given the generic nature of my categories.
Appreciate the feedback!

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swollenpickles August 19, 2007 at 2:11 am

Maybe you need to give it more than 2 weeks? My traffic fluctuates quite a lot and, for my site at least, 2 weeks wouldn’t be long enough to collect any reliable trending data. Just a theory.

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Scott Wright August 19, 2007 at 8:47 pm

Hi Derek et al.
I came across your blog, not from Google, but Technorati, under the WTF post on the All-in-One SEO plugin case study. I also tried the SEO plugin, but was not as methodical in analyzing its effects. I can’t say I’ve noticed anything dramatic from using it.
But I was interested to see how it affected your traffic. I didn’t have a lot of time to play with it, so I don’t know if I’ve got it set right. However, unless someone tells me exactly what to try, I don’t really have the time to tweak it.
I’ve recently registered with EatonWeb and Globe of Blogs. Are there any others that will drive traffic better? I’ve kind of stalled in Technorati, with a ranking of 309,000th!
I will try to keep coming back to see how it’s going for you.
Cheers,
Scott

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derek August 20, 2007 at 6:55 am

@swollenpickles :: I do think the 2-week time period is probably a little too aggressive to get a true impression of the long-term impact but I think it was enough to get a general feel for the results.
@Scott :: Thanks for stopping by, glad to hear that you found this post on the WTF. With regard to traffic, I would recommend you continue to write good content and do your best to get out and visit/comment at other sites. That will get your name out there and people will start visiting your site more and it will continue to snowball. As for social media sites, give StumbleUpon a try as that has probably been my most consistent source of traffic.

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Columbus Ohio SEO January 11, 2008 at 2:25 pm

This is a good post. I’ve often been unsure of whther the All-in-one seo plugin is a good idea to install. It scares me a little bit to noindex a lot of my pages.
BUT ONE HUGE THING TO REMEMBER: When noindexing pages, make sure to nofollow links to that page to. You don’t want to be sending tons of linkjuice to pages that are noindexed, because you are just pissing that juice away.
Anyways, I also do a bit of tweaking my site around all in one seo, for instance I like to make my meta-description be my “custom excerpt” so i can hand write that. (it helps with click-thru rates on the SERPS).
Also, i think that it is possible that your traffic and indexed pages dropped over that two week period simply because of the change in your pages. Maybe, ultimately, your site will get more traffic, but Google seems to fear change and reflect aht in their serps.
What do you think?
-Brad

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Simon@Free Vector Art July 5, 2008 at 9:51 pm

Hey Derek, I have just been reading through all these SEO posts of yours, and seeing how your search engines results have improved in the last 10 months. The truth of it is that any domain will struggle to rank well in the first 6 months. These SEO plugins do help though.
Simons last blog post..Free Terminator Vector Image

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Neil@Free Wii April 2, 2009 at 12:04 am

Nice experiment and thanks for letting us know how this has affected you. I will keep my eye on my site as I have used this plugin for a while and thought it was ok.

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Kevin September 28, 2011 at 2:23 am

Hi Derek, Kevin Stacey here..
First off, this post is extremely thorough! I don’t see too many bloggers going into detail like you have…that’s the mark of a blogger who knows his plugins.
I’ve been reading through the comments here and for optimization, free plugins like All in One SEO Pack are really great as it lays down the basic SEO foundation for a Wordpress site, but every blog is different and nothing works best for everyone.
I always suggest looking at a side-by-side comparison of the best seo plugins for Wordpress in order to make an informed decision of what the best plugin is for that blogger and their website’s specific needs.
Here’s my most recent write-up on the subject:
SEO Pressor vs Easy WP SEO vs Scribe SEO
http://www.bestseopluginforwordpress.com/wordpress-seo/the-best-seo-plugin-for-wordpress/
Check it out, let me know what you think. On a sidenote, you also don’t want to overload/bog down Wordpress resources with too many bulky plugins as well.
Great article btw…I’ll be referencing this post on my main blog.

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Matt@Underwater Photographer November 11, 2011 at 3:44 am

I am very glad this content was available. It’s very thought provoking, informative and easy to read and understand. I know this information will be very helpful in the future.

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