The GD SEO Toolbox Pro review, learn how it competes with the popular Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress.
These days I am winning a lots of WordPress giveaways, in fact I immediately participate in any giveaway titled with WordPress. The fact is that, I am fond of trying new WordPress related products be it themes, plugins or WordPress hosting. Recently, in one of the giveaways at Dev4Press, I won a license to GD SEO Toolbox Pro plugin by Milan Petrovic. Today, I’m going to write a detailed GD SEO Toolbox Pro review, in this review you’ll find in-depth overview of this SEO plugin, and detailing each of its features.
So, before I begin the review, let’s talk a bit about the plugin first.
What’s GD SEO Toolbox Pro?
GD SEO Toolbox is actually a new premium SEO plugin by Milan Petrovic, he’s a WordPress developer and core contributor from Serbia and runs Dev4Press. I know Milan, since more than 5 years when I had first purchased his WordPress Product comparison plugin, and he’s always been a brilliant developer.
Now coming to the plugin, GD SEO Toolbox is a set of various SEO tools.The plugin aims to be a complete SEO package for your WordPress sites, similar to the other popular SEO plugins for WordPress such as Yoast SEO. It includes various SEO related modules including Meta data, Sitemap generator, Robots meta configure, Google Knowledge Graphs, Twitter cards, etc and allows various SEO tweaks.
GD SEO Toolbox Pro Review
Upon installing the WordPress plugin, it adds a menu set in the native WordPress Dashboard. The core plugin is divided into 8 different modules, you can enable or disable them as according to your usage, by default all of the modules comes enabled. Due to the modular structure, the plugin allows you to easily disable any SEO module, which you’re not using on your site.
One thing I really liked is the user interface of the plugin, though the plugin is big in terms of features but you won’t get confused between the options, as sections are neatly divided into subsections. On each settings page, you’ll always find a large floating “Save” button on the left of the screen to easily save the settings.
Besides of accessing the plugin settings through WordPress dashboard you can also access the plugin options via two top drop-down navigation menu, the first drop down menu is for navigation between the primary modules, while the next menu is to access the sub-sections associated with the modules, as indicated in the screenshot above.
- Meta Data
- Robots Meta
- Knowledge Graph
As, you can see in the Meta data modules section, there’s link to the settings panel of Meta data, where you can configure global settings for meta description such as the default separator, the default description limit you want to set, the date format.
By default, plugin is said to generate post titles but, since the post title generation depends upon the version of your WordPress and if the plugin fails to generate the title using the normal title filter then in such case you should enable “Force Buffer Use” feature, this will forcefully generate the post title tag.
In comparable to Yoast SEO, I felt GD SEO toolbox has much better support for optimizing your bbPress forums for SEO, with this plugin you can also optimize SEO for bbPress profiles.
Here is a simple screenshot to configure the default meta data settings for all your post types, you can automate the meta data of your WordPress sites using Tags.
The GD SEO Toolbox comes with nearly 50+ tags that you can use to automate your meta description settings. To find the list of all the supported tags, you need to click on the WordPress “help” button in your WordPress dashboard.
These tags are greatly useful if you’ve a large WordPress site with lots of content, I had a client who was using WordPress for his lyrics site, and he was intelligently using this feature to display title of the song, name of the artist from custom taxonomies, the album year from custom fields and the current date using current tags. It saves time, and makes the meta description appear neat, as well as informative.
Similarly, if you’re running a WordPress based e-Commerce site, then you can use this tag feature to automate the meta description of your product pages with price in the meta description. For demonstration purpose, I had installed the WooCommerce plugin on my testing WordPress site and created the following automated meta description for the product pages.
%%title%% Buy Online at %%website-name%%
Here in the above meta rules %%title%% is the name of product, “buy online at” is the keyword and the “%%website-name%%” generates the name of the website.
Buy %%title%% for just %%pcf-price%% and get next day delivery
Whereas, in the meta description section, it shows the “Buy” keyword, followed by the name of the product “%%title%%” along with price fetched from the WooCommerce custom price custom field and followed by the shipment information.
And look, the GD SEO toolbox automatically pulls the custom field value i.e. price value and generates an automated description. The good part is that if the price of your product changes then the plugin will automatically update the changed price in meta description or meta title, something which you’ve to do manually if you’re not using any SEO plugin or in many cases, people simply don’t use the feature because they aren’t aware about it.
Besides the above scenario, you can use these tags features wherever you want, keep exploring the possibilities.
The next module is Sitemap, it enables your WordPress site with sitemap feature, that allows easy indexation for search engines, such as Google, Bing etc. The module is divided into three different zones, settings, content rules, and extra links.
The initial Sitemap settings tab looks like this, a pretty similar to Yoast SEO XML Sitemap tab, but certainly with few additional options.
You’ve the option to name your sitemap, the total number of URL’s you wish to include in a single sitemap though the default value is set for 1000, if the URL count goes above the 1000, then the sitemap will be split into smaller sitemaps. Interestingly, there is also an option, that allows you to choose to include images in sitemap, and you can even limit the images per post. Something, which is not available with Yoast SEO plugin.
The search engine notifications, feature if enabled will notify search engines, that the sitemap is updated. The plugin also adds an entry of your sitemap link in to the plugin controlled robots meta file. However, this feature won’t work if you’re using the real robots.txt file in your website’s root directory, The XSLT transformation file enables you to properly read the sitemap, when you’ll access the sitemap file from the browser. So better, keep it checked.
In the content rules section you can control all your sitemaps, it gives you the freedom to include whatever content you want in your sitemap that includes specific post types, taxonomies, date based archives, user archives etc. The GD SEO plugin gives you greater control for your sitemap by allowing you to set the priority and frequency for the specific elements.
I found the “Extra links” is a unique feature with this plugin, typically with other SEO plugins you can’t include any extra links to your sitemap, but with GD SEO toolbox you can include any extra link to your existing sitemap from this section, the only compulsion is that the link must be the part of your existing URL or else search engines will ignore external links.
In case if you don’t know, Robots.txt in simple words is a set of instructions by the website owners to the search engines or web crawlers, it’s also called The Robots Exclusion Protocol. It requires a robots.txt file in your root directory, but it’s not compulsory that every web crawler will respect and follow your robots file instructions.
This module has 4 sub-sections in the plugin, settings, custom rules, Generated Robots.txt and an Actual Robots.txt.
In the settings area, you should choose the basic settings to “Allow all search engines.” If you want search engines to not crawl your WP-content uploads directory, you should keep the option checked. There’s an option to block internet archive crawlers to your website. Lastly, the setting control the indexing of threaded comments with those ?replytocom URL’s.
I’ve not seen such detailed sitemap features in to any SEO plugin so far, as the plugin even offers you to configure robots.txt with your own custom rules. This panel allows you to easily allow and disallow any section of your site to be crawled by search engines.
Surely, any SEO plugin allows creation of a standard robots.txt, but GD SEO Toolbox Pro went a step ahead and it even allows you set custom rules for custom rules or predefined rules agents. That means, you can set varied custom rules for Google bot, Yahoo slurp and Bing bot, each.
Generated Robots.txt content
So, this section simply displays your current robots.txt file content, generated by the plugin.
Actual Robots.txt content
Whereas. in this section it displays all the content from the actual robots.txt file that exists in your website’s root directory.
The robots meta section uses the meta rules to block and access to your site by various directory crawlers. The global meta value section enables site-wide robots meta rules, unless custom meta rules for individual posts or archive is defined. Also, there’s an option to only use the global meta values, and further you can hide meta options for custom rules or posts/archive page by hiding the NOODP, NOYDIR and NOTRANSLATE options.
Custom Meta Rules
In this section, you control robots meta rules for nearly any section of your WordPress site. You just need to select the specific archives, singles or specific pages such as Home page, error page, or search page and define the custom meta rules. You can set a page/posts to be index, follow, nofollow by search engines.
Let me explain you what does all these robots exclusion protocols means –
NOINDEX – Asks Google to not index a specific page
NOFOLLOW – Asks Google to not follow the links on a specific page
NOARCHIVE – Asks Google to not store a copy of your specific page
NOSNIPPET – Asks Google to not to show a description snippet beneath your listings in Google search. It’ll also not show any link to the cache page, in the search results.
As you might already know, the Knowledge Graph was introduced by Google back in 2012, it’s a knowledge base with semantic-search information crawled from a multitude of authority sources.
The GD SEO Toolbox plugin integrates Google’s Knowledge graph, it contains two modules, website and Social profile.
The first module defines website information for Knowledge Graph that allows you to integrated your website’s search box in to the Google search results. Here you can also add your website information like website name and alternative name, if any.
While, the second module is to define your social profile in Knowledge Graph, you can choose your website type as organization or person, define the name of your website and also the logo of your site, make sure the logo will be displayed only if the website type is chosen as Organization.
In the networks section, you’ve to include all your social media profiles with full URLs. These profiles will be displayed alongside your website’s Knowledge Graph in Google results.
So that was a complete detailed overview of the GD SEO Toolbox Pro, now we will move towards the settings area of the plugin.
As the name suggests, settings area centrally control all the core plugin settings, and allows easy integration with various webmaster tools such as Google, Bing, Yandex, Alexa and Pinterest. From this page you can also configure global settings for the various modules of the plugins, and also configure social media integration. Let’s take a quick view of each of the panel.
Inside the settings module panel, you can find a list of all the plugin modules, the plugin gives you freedom to completely disable any of the modules, which you don’t want to use on your site.
Next is easy integration of various webmaster tools, all you need is the simple meta code from the respective service and hit the save button. Yoast SEO also offers a similar method to enable your site with various webmaster tools but, with lesser options excluding Alexa and Pinterest.
Rest, in the features area, the plugin has an option to configure the global settings of each modules including Meta Data, Sitemap, Robots.txt, Robots Meta settings. Which I had already discussed in the post.
Link Control is an another module here, that allows you to control more of your WordPress links. The first feature is replacing the default WordPress canonical URLs, in case if you don’t know what are canonical links then canonical links are special links that prevents duplicate content issue by specifying the preferred version of the page.
The GD SEO Toolbox plugin with canonical feature enabled will replace the existing WordPress links with own canonical links and you can even set custom canonical links for each post, page, taxonomy or even a user.
As you might had already know, the attachment you upload to your WordPress posts have their own URLs, however these attachments are actually child content and belong to the original posts or pages. By enabling the “Redirect attachment URL to parent post” feature the plugin will simply redirect any attachment to its parent post/page.
Besides, on site content optimization the GD SEO Toolbox Pro also allows you to quickly integrate Twitter cards and Facebook Open Graph protocols. You can also enable Gravatar fallback option for author archives.
From this Facebook panel, you can neatly connect your site with Facebook Insights, as well as Open Graph protocol. All you need is to provide account ID and then you have to connect your website to Insights. I know sometimes, there’s no data for a particular page/posts when it gets shared on social media, for such cases you can fill the default fallback information, as if something is missing from any page, the plugin will show this fallback data instead.
The plugin also supports full Twitter card integration, just provide the required details and you’re good to go. Similarly, here also you can provide the fallback data for your site that can be used on Twitter. However, in case of Twitter it may happen that Twitter might not use the card information on each page of your site.
Under the tweaks section you are provided with few utilities that overrides the default WordPress features with a slight dose of customization.
Under URL rewriting tweaks you can tweak URL structure of two areas of your WordPress site, first is the author archive URL, by default the base URL of author archive is something like this:
“yourwebsitename.com/author/tom” which can be replaced with whatever you want like “yourwebsitename.com/team/tom/”
Similarly, by default WordPress search result page, uses “search” as the base slug in the URL, which can be changed with anything you desire, for instance “results,” “query,” “explore,” “discover,” and even “whatever.”
In the header tweaks, the plugin optimizes many different native WordPress features, the first options is for removing WordPress short links, if case if you’re not aware, WordPress adds short links like below in the header of all posts pages.
<link rel=’shortlink‘ href=’https://blogosense.com/?p=13847‘ />
Well WordPress generated short links are great, if you’re using these shorten links to share your post on social media etc. However, if you’re using third part URL shortening service such as bit.ly then it’s better turn off this functionality. The plugin has an easy option to achieve the same be enabling this tweak.
Remove Feed Links
I am sure most of the WordPress users by now must be thinking like what are these feed links? right? that’s true since most of the WordPress users just use WordPress to publish their post or pages, they barely deal with back-end stuff. So in simple terms these feed links are added by WordPress in the head area, they are supposed to help browsers to discover RSS feeds on your website. You can learn more about RSS here.
Remove adjacent posts links
WordPress automatically generates links to previous and next posts on all pages of your site, these links are often used by your theme. However, these links are said to be the responsible for making your website slow, and if you want to turn off these links, just enable this Tweak and your links to previous and posts on each pages will be removed.
Remove canonical link
In the header, WordPress also adds canonical link with URL to your current page, it’s a good thing to keep it intact, though you can disable it by enabling this Tweak.
Remove RSD link
Popular sites such as Quora, Flickr uses these Really Simply Discovery links to discover your site. I suggest to keep this feature intact.
Remove WLW Manifest link
In case if you’re still using Windows Live Writer to edit or post content on your WordPress site, then please don’t activate this Tweak. Other than that, feel free to activate this tweak.
Remove WordPress version
Although, there are many ways to discover the WordPress version of your WordPress site, but it’s still safer to block all ways to let a hacker know the version of your WordPress site.
Disable comments auto links
WordPress has a tendency to automatically make any of the links clickable, submitted along with the comments. You can turn off this feature by this Tweak.
Change excerpt length
By default, the length of excerpt in your WordPress site is set for no more than 55 words. Though, if you’re willing to modify it, simply do it from here.
Under the tools settings, there are tools related to maintaining the GD SEO Toolbox Pro plugin. The export feature generates a single file, which contains all your settings. You can use export settings to use the same settings on your other website, where you’re planning to use the same plugin.
While, the import feature simply imports the file generated by the export settings.
There’s the last tool, which wipes out all the settings related to this plugin from your site, make sure to use it carefully as this feature is not reversible.
GD SEO Toolbox Pro Metabox
Okay, so this long post seems to be moving towards its finish line, but before I finish I want to take a quick overview of the metabox generated by the plugin for individual posts, pages, and under the terms.
This is the default view of the metabox, neatly classified into different sections with tabs.
The Meta Data tab, contains the meta information for individual page that includes Title and Description, if used then it will override the global meta data settings which you had configured in the plugin settings.
Second Twitter tab, if not configured then plugin will use the post excerpt
In Facebook tab, you can define the type of content, be it website, blog, article or an object. If you won’t fill the information then plugin will automatically fill the values from the title, content and feature image.
In sitemap you’ve the option to exclude the post/page/term from the sitemap, you can also set the priority and update frequency, as well.
The robots tab, gives you the option to configure robots standard and advanced settings if you want individual post/page/term to not follow the global Robots meta settings, then you can override them here.
Under the misc, there’s only an option to define the canonical URL for the post/page/term.
Lastly, the Preview tab shows all the values added to the post/page/term by the plugin in the html source.
You can get the GD SEO Toolbox Pro plugin using this link (non-affiliate)
Before, the arrival of the today’s popular Yoast SEO plugin, I used to rely on All Michael Torbert’s All-In-One SEO plugin and since then I’ve been consecutively using Yoast SEO on each of the WordPress sites that I had created so far. However, after this GD SEO Toolbox Pro review, I believe there’s now a promising plugin on which I can rely to make my WordPress site SEO optimized.
The GD SEO Toolbox is a matured SEO plugin for WordPress, it has now got everything that you would need to make your WordPress site SEO friendly. Though, it lacks few functionalities of Yoast SEO which makes the Yoast a complete package such as on page SEO analysis, ability to insert breadcrumbs, bulk editor tool, additional permalink tweaks such as stripping category slug from URLs (I use it on my sites), automatic removal of stop words from URLs and also there’s no feature to optimize RSS feed settings.
In the Yoast SEO, there’s a brilliant feature to mange your Google search console errors right from your WordPress dashboard. It even helps you to create a redirect for missing 404 pages.
On the flip side, GD SEO Toolbox also managed to surpass the Yoast SEO in terms of few features, which are absent in Yoast, such as better SEO support for bbPress, advanced Sitemap module with better customization settings, much better Robots.txt module and a built-in robots.txt creator,
The GD SEO Toolbox also gives you the ability to create custom Robots Meta rules for specific page type or archives, and has bit simplified integration for Google Knowledge Graph, Facebook Open Graph and Twitter cards with useful fallback settings. Additionally, there are several unique WordPress Tweaks, which are not available with the Yoast SEO
Finally, I believe GD SEO Toolbox Pro is a new promising contender for WordPress SEO needs, what’s do you think? let me know your views in the comments below.
GD SEO Toolbox Pro Review
GD SEO Toolbox Pro is a new complete SEO plugin for WordPress, it’s a true Yoast SEO alternative with better features, lacks SEO analysis