How to Migrate from SEO Ultimate to WordPress SEO by Yoast

I've tried a few WordPress SEO plugins over the years, from All In One SEO Pack to Robots Meta and then to SEO Ultimate; but that was before Joost de Valk (a.k.a. Yoast) released WordPress SEO by Yoast which is now my SEO plugin of choice for WordPress. If you want the definitive answer at who is the best SEO guy for WordPress, just do a Google search for WordPress SEO and see who ranks in position #1. That's one reason why I'm switching from to Yoast's plugin, and it has some other great features too like an awesome search results preview that helps you to optimise not just your search ranking, but also click-through rates.

Switching SEO plugins is no mean feat since you've probably already got meta descriptions and other information that you don't want to lose. There are also a few other tricks to migrating, so here's a step-by-step guide:

Installation and SEO Data Migration

Firstly, install and activate WordPress SEO by Joast.

While WordPress SEO by Joast can import data directly from several other SEO plugins, it can't handle SEO Ultimate directly. But never fear, because SEO Data Transporter can do the job, so install and activate it too.

Import the settings from SEO Ultimate using Tools → SEO Data Transport and selecting from: SEO Ultimate, to: WordPress SEO and Convert.

Disable SEO Ultimate and SEO Data Transporter plugins.

Configure WordPress SEO by Yoast

The WordPress SEO by Yoast settings appear in the main dashboard menu under SEO. I recommend you do the introduction tour to familiarise yourself with what the plugin has to offer.

If you've been using Yoast's RSS Footer plugin, go to SEO → Import and use Import from RSS Footer. Then disable the RSS Footer plugin as you won't need it any more. You could do the same for Robots Meta, but it's unlikely you'd be using that with SEO Ultimate.

Now go to SEO → Dashboard and set your main settings.

Select Disable date in snippet preview for posts, unless your posts are intentionally time-sensitive; generally you want to write evergreen content and you don't want Google's previews showing that your posts are “old” if they still contain great, relevant content.

Every now and then, some supposed SEO expert guy who claims to get paid thousands for his advice looks at my site for free and says “You don't have any keywords”, meaning that I don't have keyword meta tags. It won't help your search ranking since Google doesn't use keyword meta tags, but it will shut these guys up and possibly have them to keep looking for something that would improve your search ranking. Or maybe you want to just weed them out by leaving keyword meta tags disabled.

Personally, I like the idea of having keywords meta tags but don't want to go to any effort to generate them. You can do this easily with Yoast's plugin assuming you're using sensible WordPress category and tag names. So I enable Use meta keywords tag, and on SEO → Titles set your Post Meta keywords template to:

 %%category%%,%%tag%%

I leave all the other Title settings blank, allowing the plugin defaults to do their best.

Under SEO → Indexation, select the checkboxes to disable Date-based archives, Tag archives and Post Formats archives to limit duplicate content on your site and ensure that these are never returned in search results instead of your actual posts. Leave Category archives deselected (i.e. enabled) unless you aren't using categories at all.

Under Archive Settings, select the checkboxes to Disable the date-based archives and Disable post format archives. If your blog is your personal home site so you'll only ever have one author and your home page shows your archive, select Disable the author archives too.

Under SEO → Permalink Settings, select Strip the category base so your category archives appear in the logical place in the URL namespace. If you were previously using WP No Category Base to do this, disable that plugin.

Under SEO → Internal Links you can configure your breadcrumbs, which are supposed to be good but you need to add them to your theme. Can't say I've got around to this on my sites yet.

Under SEO → RSS add your RSS Footer settings to Content to put after each post. This helps give you backlinks from evil content scrapers who repost your RSS feed on their sites. I suggest:

<em>%%POSTLINK%%</em> is a post from <em>%%BLOGLINK%%</em>

Sitemap Configuration

Disable your old sitemap plugin, like Google XML Sitemaps.

Delete the files sitemap.xml and sitemap.xml.gz created by your old XML sitemaps plugin from your root directory using Filezilla. If you don't do this, Google will never see the updated sitemap from Yoast's plugin!

Under SEO → XML Sitemap select Check this box to enable XML sitemap functionality, Ping Yahoo! And Ping Ask.com.

Go to SEO → Edit Files Robots.txt and modify your Sitemap line to read like:

Sitemap: http://yoursitename/sitemap_index.xml

If you have manually submitted your old sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools, log in there and delete it. Google and other search engines can find the sitemap automatically from your robots.txt file.

Missing Features

SEO Ultimate has some features that WordPress SEO by Yoast doesn't have. If you use these features you'll need other plugins to compensate:

Deeplink Juggernaught: Install SEO Smart Links Pro and migrate your custom keywords manually.

Rich Snippets: Install GD Star Rating and migrate your ratings manually.

Slug Optimizer: Install Smart Slug (SEO Slugs hasn't been updated in a long time).

Clean Up

Delete whichever plugins you've disabled as you won't be needing them any more.

And you're done!

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About Graham

I'm the creator of BuildYourBlog.net.
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45 Responses to How to Migrate from SEO Ultimate to WordPress SEO by Yoast

  1. trevor says:

    I just want to say this tutorial really helped. SEO Ultimate COMPLETELY BROKE my site overnight, possibly due to incompatibilies with the newest version of WordPress. It did this by maxing out my CPU so I could not do anything, not even log in to my backend. This is the 2nd time that SEO Ultimate has caused me a major headache, the first time it stopped rewriting my Title tags which caused a huge dropoff in search traffic over a 1 or 2 week period.

    Since I NEED a title tag rewriter I wanted to switch ASAP but I had several hundred custom tags that I needed to migrate, thanks to this clear article I was able to install the Yoast plugin and move all the title tags over in mere minutes. My SEO is saved and my site is working again! Thanks

  2. Jeffrey L. Smith says:

    Hey Graham:

    Just a heads up, we have added an in-depth video tutorial (63 minutes long) for SEO Ultimate ( http://www.seodesignsolutions.com/wordpress-seo/ ) covering each of the respective modules and features in detail (something we should have released much sooner), however, the idea was to wait for the release of our new WordPress Framework WP Ultimate http://www.wpultimatetheme.com which is scheduled to launch in Mid February 2013.

    There genuinely is a plethora of functionality inside SEO Ultimate that we deliberately kept close to the chest, but, in this video tutorial we break it down for the masses.

    Regardless of which SEO plugin you choose for WordPress, its always good to have options. However, if you didn't realize how many nuances existed with our plugin, the video will shed some light to provide users with ample information to determine which plugin they prefer.

    Hope you all enjoy it...

    All the best.

  3. Ian Slater says:

    Has anyone found a good plugin that makes up for the "Code Inserter" module of SEO Ultimate?

    (If I find one in the meantime, I'll post the link here.)

  4. Excellent overview on how to migrate SEO data from SEO Ultimate and list of alternatives, I was using the Deeplink Juggernaught but the overhead and degrade of pageload times was staggering, the best one for performance is either WP Hypnolinks by Andy Bailey or Pretty Link Pro, I have tested the one you recommended and it isn't bad but not as efficient though free.

    The sitemap change gets some getting used to, I did like going into 1 sitemap file and having access to all my URL's now have to sort through several, so isn't as easy to find old stuff in sitemap when broken into sub files but is much faster.

    I made the switch from AIO SEO last year on all my blogs and the best thing about WordPress SEO by Yoast that the SEO Ultimate and AIO SEO don't offer is the step by step analysis and recommendations to optimize your posts in the post editor, this feature alone for free is fantastic too!

  5. Marc says:

    I used these 2 plugins and have to say this is all you need. Now i use seo by yoast and i followed same steps that you described here.

  6. Hi,

    Awesome work you have done Graham, free plugin with many good feature of seo, and this plugin use in WordPress. and make the website seo friendly.

    Thank
    Kamran

  7. jzeek says:

    Well i am using All in One SEO plugin on my wordpress blog but can any one tell me that which one is best among "All in one SEO plugin and WordPress SEO by Yoast" do anyone have an advice on this...

  8. Thanks for this article. I am attempting to start up a proofreading website myself but I didn't realise how much SEO was needed. This is very helpful.

    English Proofreading

  9. Fatima says:

    WordPress SEO is exactly what I have been looking for and just started working with it after reading your informative post. And yes, you have correctly recommended SEO Friendly Images, W3 Total Cache and Broken Link Checker to complement the plugin. Appreciate your efforts in sharing this helpful info.

  10. dipa says:

    My boss(i write content from him) is using SEO Ultimate wordpress. Will surely forward this post to him, in case he wants to upgrade at a later stage. I am sure he would not be aware of the science that is involved in the process. Thanks for the share.

  11. name card says:

    To each their own and I am a fan of Yoast himself, but a few added features in WordPress SEO . That good post. Thanks so much

  12. Lee says:

    Hi I am new to this and am worried about using any seo tools on my site. Incase google picks it up and decides they don't like it and penalise my site. I didn't want this to happen just when I am starting to get results. Where do these plug ins lie as far as this goes????

    Await reply thanks lee

  13. Anup says:

    i want to shift from blogger.com to wordpress due to availability of lots of Plugins...Will it hamper my SEO strategies?Am i on the right track?I am fresher in blogging ..need your guidance!!

  14. Graham:

    Nice tutorial and not to create a long-winded debate, as the creator of SEO Ultimate, please understand that we deliberately did not offer end users with enough documentation on just how powerful our plugin really is.

    While we did provide posts about the new features, we were really waiting for our WordPress Theme Frameword WP Ultimate to be released and then we would show end-users how to use all of the SEO features (with training videos and new posts).

    That time is nearly upon us and our lead Developer for SEO Ultimate John Lamansky will provide an updated video which covers each feature extensively. Coupled with a series of training videos, I will allow people to decide which plugin does the most (depending on their needs).

    To each their own and I am a fan of Yoast himself, but a few added features in WordPress SEO such as snippet previews and xml sitemaps are not enough to overshaddow a plethora of features SEO Ultimate boasts such as (OpenGraph Integration via support for Twitter Cards, Schema.org, and place snippets, Deep Link Juggernaut for internal linking, the link mask generator to cloak outbound or affiliate links, the Title Tag and Description Tag Rewriter (allowing you to edit 100 pages at a time instead of 1 by 1), the nofollow manager to prevent PR loss and link-flow attrition, the author highligher (which Generates code so that when one of your site's posts appears in Google search results, the Google+ profile picture of the post's author will appear alongside it) and so much more.

    When we roll out the new framework and training videos I will let you know. In the meantime, keep up the great work on your blog...

    All the best.

    • Graham says:

      Hey Jeffrey, thanks for the feedback. I used SEO Ultimate for a couple of years before switching to WordPress SEO, and you're right that SEO Ultimate has some great features and of course all SEO plugins evolve quickly and play catch-up with each other. Author highlighting didn't even exist when I did my comparison! I liked Deep Link Juggernaut but ultimately found that SEO Smart Links Pro was more powerful. Yoast kinda cheated by picking the name WordPress SEO for his plugin; I'm afraid it outranks SEO Ultimate when you search for "wordpress seo plugins" which is the ultimate test of an SEO guy's capability. Keep up the good work though! Cheers, Graham

  15. I dont use Yoast SEO for my blog . I was using it in the past but now I have shifted to Easy WP SEO. It is more functional and advanced as it is premium plugin.

  16. Meriam says:

    I have the same issue with you before, I also came from All in One SEO pack and shift to Yoast. Base from my experiences in using various SEO plugins, Yoast has been the best of the league. You can easily manipulate the workaround of the plugins. Theirs also a huge community about the tool. Everything to it is awesome.

  17. Jon says:

    Thanks for the write-up, I love the Yoast plug-in! Combining it with those other plugins truly makes for some powerful SEO.

  18. John says:

    Thanks for showing the steps. I was thinking about migrating from SEO Ultimate to WordPress SEO. :)

  19. Joel says:

    This is going to make my life a lot easier! I was wanting to move our plugins to Yoast's WordPress SEO because I've heard so much good stuff about them. I like some of Yoast's other products and this will make the transition a little bit easier. Glad you decided to make the change too. The only difference I see with our preferences is I saw you say you like W3 for caching and I just find it too complicated. I use WP Super Cache instead, both get the job done though. Thanks for the informative post to help the transition!

  20. Derek says:

    Hey Graham,

    This really helps a lot. I've been hearing a lot about the Yoast plugin and was going to try it on a few of my sites, but after I installed it, there were so many options that I didn't know what I should check, uncheck, etc. Still trying to get a grasp of breadcrumbs. What they are exactly and how to use them the right way, or if it's even something that makes any kind of difference.

  21. But I'm a more conservative user.
    All In One Pack totally satisfies me, so of course I will have in mind your advice but I will keep up with my stuff. Thank you!

  22. sreedev says:

    I am going to shift to wordpress SEO by yoast.
    And Graham your writing skills are amazing.

  23. Thanks for this article and i have been using All in one SEO and i am willing to try this plugin after reading this post.

  24. Yoast SEO is not only better in a sense that it makes you focus on keywords and the meta description, but it also tags posts who are not doing well and aren't focus with their new integration with the Posts panel.
    And also, it already integrates with the new Rich snippets and breadcumbs Open graph.

  25. Elena Anne says:

    Thanks for writing again on WordPress. WordPress is not the easiest thing to navigate and it is helpful when you have someone walk you through the process. I will continue to follow your advice on using WordPress. Thanks again!

  26. Maggie says:

    Thank you so much for this tutorial. I have been considering switching from SEO Ultimate to WordPress SEO by Yoast. You have just pushed me in that direction. Thank you.

  27. Great tutorial, now I am going to have to give this a try which means more work!WordPress SEO is according to me, the best plugin WordPress to classify the site still needs the configurer in a optimum way. Tools do not make everything!

  28. Ben says:

    Great tips, Yoast really are the best when it comes to your on-page SEO!

  29. Pete says:

    Migrating from most SEO plugins to the Yoast plugin is usually really easy with the import settings function, but even with these extra steps required, the on-page optimizing tool and audit functionality really make the yoast tool worth the effort!

    Good article.

  30. Tyler says:

    But I'm a more conservative user. All In One Pack totally satisfies me, so of course I will have in mind your advice but I will keep up with my stuff. Thank you!

  31. erwan says:

    Hi, wondering if I should switch from seo ultimate to yoast: my lsat reticence is that yoast doesn't log 404s, would you recommend a plugin to handle 400 logging and optionnaly redirection?

  32. Zeeshan says:

    Sir please tell me one thing that i import all my settings from All-in-one SEO to YOast plugin but some how it imports only the half data. My blog has over 250 posts. Please tell me what will be the problem.

  33. Mark says:

    Great tutorial, now I am going to have to give this a try which means more work! Lol I have used Yoast on a couple of my new blogs and have often thought about updating the old ones with it. Due to the problems or lack of knowledge I have avoided doing it. It would seem after reading your post I have no excuses now, although I have a lot to gain by doing it. Thank you for the informative post once again.

  34. Kelly says:

    Thank you for this article rich in information. This explanation itemizes stages to be followed for a good migration. Besides, WordPress SEO is according to me, the best plugin WordPress to classify the site still needs the configurer in a optimum way. Tools do not make everything!
    Although very full, some functionalities are nevertheless missing: optimization of pictures, compression of css and JavaScripts to optimize the time of load, analyses of faulty links, etc. But certainly, a lot of additions would have been able to be undertaken but benefits matter more.

    • Graham says:

      The WordPress SEO plugin does everything I want from an SEO plugin; but no, it's not the only plugin you need. That's why I recommend SEO Friendly Images, W3 Total Cache and Broken Link Checker for the functionality you mention in my list of the Best WordPress Plugins. Cheers, Graham

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