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This is the first time I write a plugin review. I really enjoy writing this post because I found that making a good review for a plugin is a great way to understand how it works, how it is coded and even how the author of the plugin thinks and implements his thoughts. Writing a review is a good way to learn coding, actually.

In this post, I’m gonna talk about the SEO Smart Links Premium – the premium edition of very popular plugin SEO Smart Links.

1. Brieft introduction about SEO Smart Links Premium

Most of us know (or have heard) about SEO Smart Links plugin. This plugin helps you to:

  • Automatically link keywords and phrases in your posts and comments with corresponding posts, pages, categories and tags on your blog.
  • Allows you to set up your own keywords and set of matching URLs, this is useful if you want to set links for affiliate
  • Allows you to set nofollow attribute and open links in new window.

Content interlinking is great way to improve your search engine rankings of all your blog pages. Search bots will crawl more pages from your website, know the importance of each page and understand your website structure. In this field, SEO Smart Links does a really good job.

The free version of the plugin is in WordPress plugin directory, and it has been downloaded more than 560,000 times, amazing number that all plugin authors dream about! It also receives more than 100 ratings with average rating is 4/5 stars. These numbers are the proof of quality and reliability of the plugin.

The premium version inherits all the features of free edition, and adds many more interesting features:

  • Enhanced content parsing algorithm
  • Improved performance for larger sites
  • Support for link redirection/link cloaking
  • Import/Export configuration and custom keywords
  • UTF-8 support for sites in foreign languages
  • and many more…

There’re 3 premium versions:

  • Personal: for 1 website only.
  • Professional: for unlimited websites.
  • Business: unlimited websites, has more features: Sync settings over multiple sites, better cache, reports, custom post type support.

In this post, I’ll talk about the Personal version, which I’m using at Deluxe Blog Tips.

2. Features

There’re a lot of features that make the premium version much better than free version:

2.1. Add options meta box in post editing screen:

You now can override the global settings for each individual post. Here’s a screenshot of SEO Smart Links Premium meta box:

SEO Smart Links Premium - Post Screen

The settings allow you to:

  • Do/Not process current post
  • Do/Not link to current post
  • Add more keywords that link to current post: essentially, post will be linked by its title or slug, using this option can help you make post linked by other keywords, too.
  • Add more custom keywords and links for current post. This sounds a little confused with the option above, but custom keywords are keywords that links to predefined URLs. The list of custom keywords are defined globally, but you can overwrite it here.

2.2. Interlinking improvements

There’re some improvements in the premium version that helps you interlink content better. You can link posts in the same category and link by post slug.

There’re several conditions that control interlinking. You can prevent linking to posts if they’re too new (posted in X days ago) or if the post content has too many links. You can also process only top X posts (sorted by post title or post date) which can reduce server load if you have thousands of posts. If you link keywords to categories or tags, you can enable/disable linking to them if they’re used by at least X posts or have at least Y characters length.

You can also make interlinking better by turning off WordPress texturization or enabling UTF-8 support. I’m not sure turning off texturization is a good idea. Sometimes the matching algorithm doesn’t work if it’s on, but this is the default WordPress behavior which replaces common plain text characters into formatted entities. In my opinion, the plugin should be improved to work in both cases.

There’s also small added feature that allows you to define link template. That means you can add custom CSS classes or wrap the links in to a span tag for better styling. At Deluxe Blog Tips, I don’t use this feature at all because I want all my links look natural.

For external links, you still have options to open in new window and add nofollow attribute. But in this version, you can prevent processing external URLs of white-listed domains.

2.3. Custom keywords improvements

Since free version, SEO Smart Links already support linking custom keywords to predefined URLs. In the premium version, this part is separated into another setting page with some new features. The most interesting thing I love is that it support adding/editing keywords and URLs in a very intuitive way. You don’t need to remember the syntax of custom keywords definition. Look at the screenshot below:

SEO Smart Links Premium - Custom Keywords Editor

One more improvement is that the plugin can process plural form of custom keywords, too. It does a well grammar check, so no mistakes will be made!

2.4. Support for auto redirection

This feature is not well explained in the setting page. But it’s really cool. Suppose we have custom keyword wp that links to http://wordpress.org (predefined in Custom Keywords page), then when you access the URL http://www.1and1.com/;jsessionid=C38933CEB3329EE6F28E71312917A59A.TCpfix242a?affiliate_id=322774, the plugin automatically redirects you to http://wordpress.org. That’s so great.

Note that this feature is automatically turned on. So if the base URL (go in the example) conflicts with some of your custom rewrite rules, or even some page, please change it carefully.

2.5. Import/Export settings

This new feature can help you easily copy the settings from one blog into many. In business version, you also have Sync settings over multiple sites. The plugin allows you to export custom keyword list to CSV file and export plugin configuration.

For all of these features, I definitely give a 5/5 stars rating for SEO Smart Links.

Features Rating: [review value=5]

3. User interface

There’s not many improvements for the user interface, except the plugin now has some setting pages: Options, Custom Keywords, Import/Export and About. I guess that Vladimir Prelovac hasn’t spent much time on the setting page design. They looks not good, indeed. Even the about page lacks of information about the plugin and needed documentation.

SEO Smart Links Premium - Setting Page

One not good thing is that the interface is not 100% consistent with the free version. There’re some changes in the structure of content, option names and descriptions that might make users confused. Actually, I had to read very carefully the option names and descriptions just to realize that they’re the same as in the free edition!

I just feel comfortable with Custom Keywords and Import/Export page, but they’re not the most important page.

I’d love a big improvements for user interface, which can make us happy when using the plugin. Maybe the plugin should use meta boxes, jQuery hint, toggle panels, more images & icons, etc.

User Interface Rating: [review value=3]

4. Coding

I love to see other people’s code to see how they made it. With this plugin, I strongly feel that Vladimir Prelovac has very clarity in his thoughts, because the logic of the code is just straight-forward: easy to understand and well organized.

Besides that, as a WordPress developer, I’d love to have the plugin with:

  • Settings API for setting pages. I see the plugin still uses the ugly code of HTML for outputting form elements. Using Settings API might be complicated at first, but then it’s easy to extend the plugin with many options.
  • Separated code for front-end and back-end. I wrote a post about this some weeks ago, and I think it’s helpful.
  • Separated code for each feature checking, for example put code that checks for categories, tags in a function. This will help us maintaining the code in the future.
  • Comments for functions & block of code. I know there’re not many people look at code like me to see the documentation, but it’s a good sight of quality code.
  • No more PHP notice errors when debug mode is on.

Anyway, the code is still good. My suggestions above just for making it better!

Coding Rating: [review value=4]

5. Conclusion

In comparison with other interlinking plugins, this plugin is the best one with tons of useful features. It’s really worth your money to buy it. I’m feeling very good with it installed at Deluxe Blog Tips.

Overall Rating: [review type=aggregate value=4]

Buy SEO Smart Links Premium now and see how it improve your search engine rankings!

2 Comments

    1. Yes, it decreases the bounce rate and improves time on site. It doesn’t give us a clear view of traffic (or more precisely, we don’t have a tool for testing that), but in general, my traffic is growing well.

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