Slim SEO – Keeping WordPress SEO Simple & Easy
Last year we moved (almost all) of the client sites we manage over to Slim SEO.
It’s a free plugin on the WordPress repository by eLightUp who are best known for their Meta Box custom fields plugin.
It’s lightweight. Needs no configuration. Yet, you can turn off options and customise it with well documented code snippets.
Although it’s been around for 3 years and has over 10,000 active installs, it seems less well known to the web professionals who might most appreciate it’s stability and the ease it brings to clients.
There’s already a great review on Slim SEO by David McCann so here I am going to focus more on sharing my reasons for making it my default SEO plugin.
Keeping It Simple, Stupid (KISS)
To keep my website maintenance income stable, my aspiration is to not add more complexity to a site than a job requires.
With WordPress it’s become more difficult because:
- It has been changing from being a simple CMS to a complex website builder.
- The demand in the plugin market place is coming from new DIY builders (who tend to buy on features rather then code stability).
Recently many plugins have been acquired by larger (often hosting) companies and it’s become common to see advertising in our clients dashboard and intrusive features being activated on update. I feel more plugin authors see our clients as their clients.
This can be problematic. If we built houses instead, our clients would probably be dismayed to find a bedroom had been converted to a bathroom after the build. Of course. it’s probably best we start projects by absolving ourselves of responsibilities beyond our control, but I think we can limit the impact with careful software choices.
For the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium), which is the international standards organisation for the internet, the changes and increased complexity of WordPress led them to move away from it.
My hope is that we will see more plugins like Slim SEO that gives WordPress implementers simplicity (they can build on) whilst making things easy for clients
This has been my SEO journey
When I started building client sites it was with the Genesis Framework. It came with basic schema.org mark up and fields for metadata. For most jobs, it was all that was needed. If an SEO plugin was needed it would get out of the way. My clients thought the Genesis SEO options were just a part of WordPress.
By 2014 the client demand was to have more control over their sites so I moved to the sponsor of this blog Beaver Builder. Again it was the KISS principle that made them appeal to me. They built it with agencies in mind so it’s extendable, but does not bombard clients with advanced options or change radically.
I adopted the Beaver Builder theme and suddenly was in need of a default SEO plugin.
I went with Yoast as it seemed the closest to an industry standard, but what I did not appreciate at the time was:
- How heavy it would become. Although minor, updates were depleting the power I had available on my servers for hosting clients’ sites.
- How client’s could get confused over Yoast’s on page optimization feedback.
There were some other advertising and update gaffs by Yoast (which they apologised for), but as they have now sold to Newfold digital and are expanding into the Shopify market they don’t seem right for my type of agency.
I also tried SEOPress on a number of sites, but had some problems:
- First a bug that displayed Beaver Builder shortcode in the SERPS description.
- Then an unresolved issue with WooCommerce and Plugin Organiser. I could use any other SEO but SEOPress.
- Finally, the implementation of their frontend editing put an overlay over my page builder and confused clients. An update to turn it off came quickly, but had to be done manually across all sites and one update triggered fatal errors.
SEOPress is much loved, but I have not found a good reason to use it over SlimSEO.
For specific schema mark-up I have another plugin dedicated to that and as it is declaring itself the best SEO plugin and is doing features comparisons with competitors I suspect they will continue to keep adding more complexity.
What I know about Slim SEO
It’s lightweight. The only slightly lighter option I found was simple SEO plugin, but this was too low on features and had a confusing field for keyword tags which have long since been ignored by search engines.
Here is the RAM use for the free versions only
(The links take you to WP Hive’s latest test result. My numbers were true at the time of publishing).
Yoast SEO – 1594.85 KB
All in One SEO – 1311.94 KB
The SEO Framework -1013.3 KB
WP Meta SEO – 816.51 KB
SEO Press – 543.93 KB
Rank Math – 349.73 KB
Squirrly SEO – 343.82 KB
SEO by 10 Webs -267.43 KB
Boldgrid Easy SEO – 185.66 KB
Slim SEO -98.28 KB
Simple SEO – 63.7 KB
Slim SEO is also the smallest plugin zipped
The feature set is “plug and play”, but you can turn off options.
You might want to turn off Breadcrumbs if your theme takes care of that. I tend to turn off the image alt text as I already have a snippet running that add a alt text based on the name of the image.
You can easily migrate from the popular SEO plugins.
If yours is not there it will automatically generate title and description meta data from post and pages.
There is also a code fields for head, body and footer areas, but you may have this in your theme.
Additionally I like:
- Anh Tran’s exemplary approach to support and unfair reviews. He patiently goes the extra mile.
- The intention to also support ClassicPress. This was true of Rank Math but was discontinued following a dispute about the code.
- That the settings are placed under WordPress settings rather than in the main menu.
- Above all is the ease for client. It automated, but it’s easy to make change on pages and posts (see image below),
Presently, there are no settings to add custom meta titles and descriptions for archive pages, but this does not concern me.
What I don’t know about Slim SEO
There is a Pro version that is due out at some point and will include a schema builder, link analysis, redirections and local SEO. It is not known when this will appear or how it will be priced. We only know this will be modular which means we have control of the weight of new features. With the KISS principle in mind this approach appeals to me.
I don’t think we can say whether Anh Tran will keep his plugin free of advertising and lightweight, but judging by his other work I would expect his to remain true to his principles of simple well coded solutions.
Either way, I feel a debt of gratitude to Anh for not only this plugin but for his general contribution to various communities including Beaver Builder. Thank you.