Joost de Valk announced on the Yoast blog yesterday that they're pre-releasing a commercial version of the highly popular WordPress SEO plugin. The plugin will come with additional features with the full release, but for now it's an option for additional support.
The pricing model follows similar lines to Yoast's other commercial add-ons like the Video SEO plugin. Customers can purchase single site upgrades and support licensing for $89 per year, five site licensing for $169, or up to twenty sites for $329 per year.
New features in WordPress SEO
The two announced features to be included in the commercial version are Google Webmaster Tools integration and redirect functionality.
As Joost notes in the post, most smart-redirect plugins are generally awful. I've personally seen many infinite loops created by them. I hope he improves that space; however, I'm skeptical of just about any redirect solution that tries to predict proper redirects.
When I asked him about it, he assured me they were doing a ton of work to minimize bloat and offer clever redirect functionality that other plugins are not currently using. Joost said that it has been a surprising challenge to code so far, but that he's confident how it's development is progressing. I look forward to seeing the finished product.
For the Google Webmaster Tools integration, the plugin will be able to bring in data from Webmaster Tools to track crawl errors. I would like this very much, as I don't particularly spend much time in that tool itself.
These are likely the first of many future features for the commercial version of WordPress SEO. I'm particularly interested to see what percentage of future features go into the commercial version, versus the already feature-rich free version. Joost told me when we talked that many features that will go into the commercial version will be specifically geared toward SEO professionals, but that they haven't yet created a complete roadmap for which new features will go into the free version versus the commercial one.
What took so long?
The biggest alternative SEO plugin for WordPress, All in One SEO, has had a commercial version available for quite some time now. I'm honestly surprised it took this long for Joost to offer commercial support and additional features for the base-plugin. Based on what I can tell, his add-ons have been quite popular. So I asked him, “why now?”
We didn't actually dare to pull the trigger on a “premium version” up till now because we knew we had to be able to handle the support. The premium extensions have been good in that regard as they've allowed us to scale and to figure out which support process works for us. In the year since the release of our first premium extension, Video SEO, we've gone from 3 to 8 people, and I think we're ready now.
He noted that they are ready immediately to have at least one or two people support the commercial plugins full time. I look forward to seeing how the product grows and seeing how his company is able to scale long term with it.