I’ve been a huge fan of the Joost SEO WordPress Plug-in for quite a while now, and I even make my own settings preferences file available for download as a free resource. However, in recent months, a couple of time saving features have been removed that I really miss.
Both changes took these functions off of the admin page that you were actually working on, and instead moved them to different parts of the plugin, a click or two away. How is that progress in the right direction?
Exclude From Sitemap – Now Takes Longer
When you make a “thank you” page, or a Pay Per Click Landing page, a sequential funnel page etc. you don’t want people discovering that page in the search engines, and coming across it accidentally.
There used to be a convenient feature in the plugin that let you simply scroll to the bottom of the post, and check a box that said “Exclude from XML site map”. For some reason or other, that feature has been removed from the plug-in and now, it’s far more cumbersome to keep a page off of your XML site map.
First you have to grab the page ID, which is easily seen in the address bar of your web browser, and then you have to click away to a different section of the plug-in.
Go to the SEO > XML sitemap section, then click on the exclusions tab, and add your post ID there to keep it from Getting added to your XML sitemap.
Adding these two extra clicks away from the page you’re trying to exclude makes no sense to me, and seems far more inefficient than simply having a checkbox and I wish they would put it back. Apparently a lot of other folks wish that too.
Easy 301 Redirects – Now Take Longer
When I first started using this plug-in instead of my previous choice, All in One SEO, I was thrilled to See how easy it was to redirect a page elsewhere. All you had to do was scroll down, go to the advanced tab, and enter the URL that you wanted to page to be redirected to.
Now however, if you’re a user of the free plug-in, the only option is to go several clicks away to your .htaccess file, and hope that you know what you’re doing as you manually add redirect. Not only is this a three click inconvenience, but it’s dangerous, and I got a phone call yesterday from someone who turned their website white while attempting to simply add a redirect in the .htaccess.
This change was originally done in version with no warning, and little documentation, aside from a single line in the changelog. The option was entirely removed, so users with existing redirects were left completely stranded and confused, with no way to edit them.
Liz Jamieson at Genesis Club wrote a great post on how to get your list of redirects, and how inappropriate it was to leave your users out in the cold. Shortly after her post went up, the Yoast team returned the function, but only for EXISTING redirects.
After reading the responses from the Yoast team at the WordPress forum, it’s clear that they actually somehow see this as an improvement, although nearly all of of the commenters seem to disagree.
One of their developers said this:
Our Premium customers, who have access to a far better redirects-module, often ran into posts that were redirected while no redirect was set in the redirects-module. Having to manage redirects in a couple of different locations really is undoable.
Well I’ve got news for you… It is perfectly doable, and FAR more convenient to redirect from the page or post. Even the process in the paid version is a pain in the ass by comparison, since you have to click away from the page you’re looking at to implement the change.
What Else Might We Lose?
Personally, I don’t begrudge Yoast his well deserved opportunity to make money from his plug-ins, but I do feel like the premium version should be made better, as opposed to the free version getting watered down. I sure hope that’s not the end game.
What if he removed the ability to noindex a post? What if he removed the ability to specify the titles, descriptions & images for the different social networks? Would that be enough?
Or (gasp!) what if he removes our ability to import your Yoast SEO settings preferences? Might that be something you couldn’t live without? Maybe so.
Should You Pay?
Just think about how much time this plugin saves you, and think about how much money you’ve made using it. Did you ever donate? For the record, yes I did via Paypal years ago, but only a couple of pro versions that I can’t even remember where I put, and one installed just this week to check out after losing the redirects.
The premium version is $69 for a single site, and for us it’s not affordable to scale. We work on & maintain just over 300 sites, so with their bulk pricing model if I wanted to convert everyone I’d be looking at $3000, and that’s just not realistic, unlike Gravity Forms, which we use on nearly 100% of our developments, and we happily pay for an annual developers license.
Could I add in a stipend for future developments? Yeah, but the premium version really does make things more complicated, since it’s a separate download and it’s not simple, like adding a license key to the free version you’re already running. (why not?).
Nobody can be expected to support 10 million downloads for free, and that’s why the support board at WordPress is for COMMUNITY help, and the Yoast team largely does not get involved at the WP forum, and their support comes from Github.
If you expect Yoast and his team to actually fix the stuff they break in the free version – and yes they do break stuff ALL the time, don’t get me started – then you should help them out – and in fact ALL programmers who’s products you rely on commercially. Buy at least one paid version or donate to him here and let him know that we’d like to keep the features on the free one.
However, paying won’t get either of these two convenient features back… ;(