Getting organic traffic to your blog is becoming more of a strategic game, rather than a hit and miss opportunity. As content websites begin to embrace the inevitable change of having to create content for the people, which automatically weeds out spammy websites, it’s critical to study the workings of the latest SEO trends, and then take the appropriate action to ensure that your website is following the required guidelines. WordPress use in content websites has outgrown anyone’s expectations, which means there’s more pressure being put on developers to fight for the number one spot as a leading developer behind trending WP plugins.
Unfortunately the default WP installation does not come equipped with appropriate SEO tools for the current age, so bloggers have to head over to the WP plugin directory to try and figure out which SEO tools for WordPress are best for their website. This process can become time-consuming, and in fact, rather confusing. When you have so many areas of SEO to cover, you can’t expect a single plugin to resolve all of those issues at once. We get that, that is sort of the reasoning behind putting a roundup like this together in the first place, to make it accessible for WordPress bloggers to find the best SEO plugins that there are, plugins that embrace SEO trends and plugins that understand what it takes to improve search engine performance.
We will in this roundup review plugins for general SEO settings and structure, we will take a look at caching solutions, and a range of image optimization plugins (the thing that slows down the most websites is actually images), and we will explore plugins from private developers who have their own way of understanding SEO for WordPress. In the event of us having forget some important part of SEO, please don’t hesitate to leave feedback in the comment section so that we can make the appropriate rearrangements to better reflect the requirements of current search engine optimization trends.
SEO by SQUIRRLY
The real struggle with WordPress SEO is that the actual WordPress platform doesn’t provide any real resources for optimizing your website SEO without the help of an external plugin, so when it comes down to picking the right SEO suite for your WordPress website — you’re presented with hundreds of choices, and each seems to be better than the one before. SEO by SQUIRRLY will make a good SEO solution choice for beginners because it goes out of the way to give new WordPress bloggers tools and features that reflect the current SEO trends that we’re seeing. Once you have Squirrel installed and activated, you can head over to the new post page and you’ll be greeted by what’s called a Live Assistant, a simple sidebar widget that shows you the essentials of your content SEO status, and you can go through the settings to configure each post for the best SEO performance. Whether it means selecting a range of keywords (which this plugin can automatically pull) or adjusting descriptions to include your main keywords, it’s all presented to you so that once all settings have been optimized, the light will turn green and you’ll be able to publish a super-optimized search engine post that’s going to take into account search engine requirements, but still be friendly to read for real people.
SEO Optimized Images
Being a WP blogger you will hindsight learn that SEO doesn’t just come from your written text content, but your images as well. Millions of people use Google Images and other image search engines to look up stuff interesting to them, but the only way that search engines can provide accurate results (and thus give you free traffic) is only if you use the properly allocated search engine Title and Alt tags. It’s easy to overlook this process, so if you have been missing out on adding proper tags to your images, the SEO Optimized Images plugin gives you a dynamic option to readjust those titles and tags so that search engines can better understand what your images are all about.
You won’t get far into your journey of WordPress SEO without coming along the name Yoast. This SEO plugin is the most actively and widely used search engine optimization suite for WordPress, and for good reasons, too. Yoast packs a pretty punch when it comes to global site optimization, enabling WordPress bloggers to analyze their content for search engine performance as soon as they start typing their first paragraphs. Once you install Yoast, your post editor dashboard changes to include a selection of widgets that can be used to alter post title, description, and any important keywords. Then, Yoast’s algorithm goes through your content to ensure that you’re the right keywords at all times throughout your content, but also gives you concise reports on the content readability and general search performance. Custom settings in the dashboard can be used to alter the way that titles work on different parts of the pages, and you can set custom descriptions for category archives and author pages, but also make the decision as to whether you want for search engines to index your categories, tags, or author pages. The Yoast sitemap provides a Google friendly sitemap solution that you can upload in your Webmaster Tools account, so search engines like Google can easily understand the structure of your content, including the published date, and any update data if any at all. Yoast supports Facebook OpenGraph so your published content on social media (Facebook) will look optimized and will become easier to understand by the social network itself.
Let’s say you have been blogging for awhile now, but never thought of using a reasonable SEO solution to optimize your content, so now that the times has come to make some changes, you decide that you want to go ahead and use Yoast SEO. That’s wonderful, and excellent first step in getting your site’s status more friendly to search engines, but what about all those other posts that you had already written, who is going to optimize keywords and descriptions for those? Even at 100 posts, you would end up spending countless hours to load each post page individually and the modify its meta structure for SEO. So.. here’s a little helper plugin — SEO Editor! This wonderful plugin will give you a single page that will load ALL of your posts into a single page, from within which you can automatically change titles, keywords and descriptions for your posts. Forget about spending hours to edit each page individually, and instead edit all pages simultaneously.
SEO Image Toolbox
SEO Image Toolbox does a dynamic rundown of how your images are performing in terms of structured data, if any errors are found then the algorithm of the plugin will go through the errors itself and make any adjustments or changes that would resolve any potential errors. It’s a lightweight solution that won’t add extra weight to your WP blog performance.
The SEO Framework
Expert bloggers, and in particular beginners, need to have a SEO solution that can take care of everything that’s crucial to content SEO performance within a single plugin, so The SEO Framework is a superb choice in that regard. It’s a monster of a plugin that does some of the following things really well: automatic configuration of the most important SEO essentials for all WP content, has ability to change SEO settings in site wide setting, gives you an indication of how well your SEO is optimized for a particular post or page, integrates social media graphs to have your content show up on social media beautifully. You can do things like verify your Google, Bing, Yandex and Pinterest accounts using a simple meta settings panel. Those who’re blogging about food or similar topics can utilize Schema markup to further optimize the way content gets displayed across search engine results pages. Custom settings let you make each of your pages unique and stand out from any nearby competition.
Auto Clean URL for SEO
Search engines don’t usually enforce many strict rules, but URLs are definitely one of the elements of a website page that need to be looked at carefully. Are you using any bad words within your URLs that would stop search engines from indexing you? What about temporary stop words that don’t have room in the URL and only make it look silly? Auto Clean URL automatically scans your website URL’s to clean them up, to prepare them for better visibility and exposure to search engines. Save yourself some database space, and indeed the length of the URL by doing an automatic cleanup. Just remember to do proper redirects of past URL’s if any errors do arise.
a3 Lazy Load
You will notice us talking about performance plugins quite a bit, it’s an official statement from search engines like Google that website performance is a ranking factor, and that slow websites will be put behind in the rankings if not doing anything to improve load times and general performance. Since we already concluded that images can slow down your website significantly, several years ago developers came up with a jQuery solution for resolving the process of loading all images on the page at the same time. By using a lazy load script such as “a3” you can enable for your WordPress blog to load visual content (images, videos, scripts, iframes) only when the user accesses that part of the website element. So if someone comes to your website, they will first see only the images that are presented on their viewscreen, as they scroll down the lazy load script will detect the location of the device and then decide whether to load the content (if user accesses that part of the page), helping you to save bandwidth, but also to improve load times by reducing the number of requests that a page is taking when first loading a page. You shouldn’t experience any difficulties in using a3 Lazy Load alongside other similar plugins, it was built to support themes that take into consideration the official WP coding standard, which most themes these days do anyway.
WP Scanner – Performance and Security
If you’re starting to get a little confused by all these mentions of website performance, you might enjoy installing WP Scanner — a full fledged plugin that shows you the exact rundown of your WP website performance, giving you concise information as to what is taking up the most load time on your site, and ultimately gives you tips on how to resolve some of those issues. WP Scanner checks for a range of performance optimizations, including (but not limited to): tests your object cache settings, analyses the number of HTTP requests your site is making, checks if you’re using a CDN, checks for cache control headers, checks whether you’re using Gzip compression, determines whether some of your scripts need to be moved to the footer of the page for improved load times, and at least 20+ more performance checks that are vital to optimal website performance. However, as the title suggests WP Scanner isn’t just about performance, it’s also a security tool that can check for common security errors and verify that your WordPress files are not injected or modified with malicious scripts.
How does a website expose itself for better rankings in search engines like Google? The main technique for content discovery and ranking signals that search engines use, is backlinks. These backlinks are essentially signals from other websites that link to your content, so the more high quality backlinks you have, the more noticed you’re going to be by search engines. Incoming Links is a plugin that can analyze incoming links to your blog, so you can determine if it’s a backlink or just a spam post from somewhere on the web. Once you know who is linking to your site organically, you can start to use outreach efforts to foster relationships with those who’re recognizing your content quality already. If you feel that someone is spamming your site with bad links, you can use the in-built blocking options to stop incoming links from a particular website and/or IP address.
APH Merge Scripts
We mentioned a few times already, but Schema is essentially the coming together of all major search engines to create a new standard for content display, this new standard helps search engines better index and understand how your content works, and what is the purpose of it. Let’s say you’re running a food blog with recipes, essentially you’d like to include things like the final image of the meal, but also reader reviews so others can learn from each other’s mistakes. Schema is the content structure algorithm that can specify custom tags for each part of your content, so that search engines know how to display your content in seach results. Have you ever Googled something and found that the search result has a featured image next to it, or it shows how many reviews the page has? That’s the basic example of Schema in action. Install this plugin to automatically add Schema support to your website, you can specifiy all your important tags and then check their validity using the Structured Data Testing Tool from Google.
Relevanssi – A Better Search
We’re going to go a little meta here, and give you a plugin that’s going to improve your own site’s search. How does this relate to SEO? Well for one, it improves your user experience that readers are having with your website. If you’ve used WordPress for longer than 5 minutes you’ll know that the default WP search is unviable, it simply sucks. Relevanssi is a strong search engine-platform that totally revamps the way search works on your website, encouraging your readers to stay on your site longer; which may or may not be a ranking factor for Google, because some say that sites that use Google Analytics are giving Google their visitor time-on-site data, which might somehow alter your rankings, but there’s also the factor of people clicking on your content pages from the search engine results pages, and then if they leave quickly after then Google knows your page might be thing or not useful at all. This Better Search plugin turns your WordPress database into a fully relevant and fully searchable content database that users will have a pleasure to interact with.
CDN Enabler – WordPress CDN Plugin
Fastest way to accelerate your WP performance? That’s going to be a CDN — Content Delivery Network! The way CDN’s work is that they take your existing content, like images, scripts, and other similar content, and they deliver it from their own servers that are nearest to the visitor. So if your website is hosted in the United States, whenever someone accesses it from the United Kingdom they might experience a slight delay in load times, versus using a CDN — the user from United Kingdom will get the content delivered from a location nearby, usually in the same country, signficianly improving the overall load times. Most CDN networks these days also provided caching and optimization features, so you’re further optimizing your content. And, it’s also good to know that a lot of CDN networks right now offer free SSL services, which means you could secure your site for free, and further enhance the SEO signals. Google now takes into consideration HTTPS websites as a ranking factor.
Google has grown to become a clever little algorithm, and can detect whether your website is using a poor content overlay or modal popup solution that would get into the way of content experience. Google’s understanding is that any content should be easily accessible, without obstrusive full-page popups and overlays that hinder the user experinece. Because email marketing is such an important aspect of marketing your brand and blog on the web, it pays to invest in a popup solution that resonates with Google’s requirements. OptinMonster is amongst the popup and lead generation plugins that does exactly that, provides a solution to show popups and modals on your website without making the user experience suck. First of all, many of the visitors who come to your website are likely to never return — these are the users who only need a particular piece of information, and after that they’re no longer interested in your message, unless of course, you offer them a way to signup to your newsletter. OptinMonster has built a strong exit-intent engine for capturing leads whenever someone is about to close your website window, which works beautifully on mobile and desktop devices. You can use OptinMonster with your favorite email marketing services like AWeber, MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, GetResponse and others. It will use the API provided by those services to connect to your email list automatically, so all you have to do is select a theme, configure the design, and sit back and relax and watch your list grow exponentially.
Kraken.io Image Optimizer
Being someone who is serious about using his WordPress website to generate revenue, you will have to eventually come across a range of tutorials and guides that inform you about techniques that are commonly used to improve not just the SEO of your content, but also your whole website, and in terms of performance — search engines take this factor seriously. The longer it takes for your website to load, the lesser your chance is to get good rankings. Images on your website account for majority of resources, so having a decent way to improve image quality and load times is going to be essential for a fast, and pleasant user experience. Kraken whilst best used as a premium tool (does provide a free plan) is an image optimization tool that reduces the size of your visual files by up to 75% each time, depending on what kind of files you’re compressing. It can go through your whole media files library and optimize files that you uploaded way back in the day. Once you make an Kraken account, you can go back to the Kraken settings panel in your admin dashboard and enter the given API key. From thereon you have a limit of files that you can compress and optimize, and if you feel satisfied with the service you can purchase an additional plan to have the ability to fully optimize all your files within a single click.
WP Smush – Image Optimization
WP Smush started out as the only viable solution for WP bloggers to optimize their images, but gradually it became apparent that nobody seemed to care much about the functionality, or in fact the design of the plugin. It’s good to see that over the last year the team has taken things into their own hands, and WP Smush now resembles a modern, professional and sleek interface that’s friendly to all level WP users. Using advanced compression techniques, WP Smush can go through your library of files in matter of minutes (or hours if you have many files), and even gives you tools to resize your images if other tools report that images need to be resized. WP Smush can compress PNG, JPG and GIF files on the fly. The free version lets you compress images that are up to 1MB in size, whereas the pro version lets you compress files that are over 30MB in their size. Again, take time to think about making an investment in one of these tools, we did make a roundup of the best image optimization plugins for WordPress — so refer back to that post as well to make the most sound decision, based on your requirements. Nevertheless, image optimization is a big thing in SEO because it reduces page size, which naturally increases page load time, which further improves your rankings.
Page Builder by SiteOrigin
WordPress theme market has changed completely in the last 3-4 years, all new WP themes tend to follow strict design guidelines that incorporate many of the talked about things in this post natively, but there is always room for improvement. We’re happy with the kind of free WP themes, and indeed premium WP themes that designers and developers are coming out with now, but it’s not common to see theme developers integrate site builders into their native design. Sure, there’s Visual Composer and all the great plugins it provides, but Visual Composer is a costly venture and not all new bloggers have the resources to invest into the blog, and its design, right away. Page Builder from SiteOrigin is an excellent, and in fact beginner-friendly, alternative to getting a broader access to the way your content pages are designed. SiteOrigin’s builder can put you in full control over the way that site elements are displayed on any of your pages, and it doesn’t stop you from using custom theme widgets and scripts, it simple enhances the experience of creating a unique page for each of the content pages that you have.
The default WordPress page navigation can be quite miserable, at least for search engines. The default one for each page is “Previous Page”, or “Next Page”. Sometimes it is also “Read More…” — this kind of pagination approach is super shallow for search engines, and in some cases the user experience for readers themselves. WP-PageNavi (a successful plugin in this department) changes the default navigation options to a numbered outline of the pages that your site has. This makes it easier to see just how many content pages you have, but also allows you to enable a feature so that users can browse through pages in their multiples, rather than singularities.
W3 Total Cache
We have spent so much time in this post talking about the effects of performance has on search engine optimization, but we haven’t yet mentioned a truly reliable and successful solution that covers all aspects of website optimization. So there we go… we have chosen to mention W3 Total Cache not because of its stunning benchmark results, but because it provides more functionality than many plugins combined. There has to be a reason why more than a million WP bloggers are using this caching plugin, and it’s simple — W3 Total Cache does improve your site performance, in a way that you can actually notice it yourself. Some bloggers have reported an increase in performance by up to 1000%, that’s a staggering number that’s worth considering when choosing a caching solution that’s suitable for you. Nevertheless, even a 100% or 300% increase in performance is a significant shift in the way that your site is seen by search engines, and indeed users themselves. W3 can minify, optimize, combine and solidify your script files so they’re more friendly to the browser, and the user. You get access to a sophisticated CDN control panel to determine how your content is going to be delivered by external CDN resources. There are ways to use proxy servers and advanced caching solutions to take your WP website performance to the next level.
Throughout your journey of producing content you will want to start to improve, and often experiment, with ways that you can organize and display your posts. By doing this, you’re actually following a strategic marketing technique of making your content more readable, more appealing to a large audience, and certainly more interactive. Standard way of writing and publishing content with WordPress is start to dominish for those who want to embrace cool and effective techniques of showing off content in a new way. Shortcodes Ultimate is a complimentary plugin to give you the right widgets, shortcodes and scripts to make your content unique every time you hit the publish button. Shortcodes Ultimate consists of a range of short filters that go into the categories of content, boxes, media files, galleries, data display, and others. Custom shortcodes let you use customized versions of dividers, headings, pullquotes, quotes, animation efffects, custom testiomonials and so much more. It just isn’t convinient for a new WordPress blogger to build all these scripts himself, so using a plugin (which has over half a million installs) is the way to go. Your readers will recognize your efforts in creating an authentic content experience, and that will naturally lead to more exposure to you.
WordPress Ping Optimizer
Whenever you publish a new blog post, the WordPress core algorithm sends out a ping notification to the most prominent news services, including sites like Bing and Google. However, when you’re updating and drafting content too often, and don’t even notice it, then you risk of having yourself blacklisted of being able to ping news sites of your latest published content, and that could put you at risk of a good standing with pinging services, which can often be crucial for having your content indexed within minutes of publishing. WordPress Ping Optimizer removes the worry of that happening.
Broken Link Checker
Having broken links in your content signals to search engines that your content might be a little bit out of date, and that’s not a good sign. New search engine algorithmic research suggests that the more fresh and relevant is your content, the better rankings it is going to get in long-term. But, what to do when you have 1,000’s of posts with 10,000’s of links to check? Doing all that labor manually will give you a massive headache. So, Broken Link Checker is here to help. This plugin can monitor by itself your posts, pages, and other parts of the site for any indication of a broken (not working) link. The current algorithm can detect images, links, and any broken redirects that might cause search engines to look down upon your site. As you activate the plugin and start the process of checking links, the plugin will weed through all of your blogs content to check if there are any broken links, then for good measure it will do the process all over again to verify that the links are truly unfunctional. The dashboard provides a convenient method of fixing broken links without needing to jump to each post manually, what a wonderful plugin indeed!
AddToAny Share Buttons
Does social media help to increase the SEO of your website? Absolutely, numerous studies have shown that social metrics are indeed helpful in improving your website standings with search engines, so it pays to look into choosing a social media sharing widget that really covers all aspects of sharing your content on social media from all-types of devices: desktop, tablet, and mobile. AddToAny has been around for the last decade and has worked its way up from its early versions to become a household social sharing software that provides deep analytics of your site’s social media metrics, while giving webmasters a chance to select from a range of custom designs that would best suit their existing design outline. AddToAny prides itself for having built a plugin that’s optimized for WordPress performance in particular. The concise HTML5 structure makes the plugin easy to load for the browser, but also search engines that look for effortless calls of scripts and functions within an existing script.
WPtouch Mobile Plugin
Mobile sites are all the rage these days. Not having a mobile website design is going to harm your search engine rankings, and you might get thrown back several pages.. all because of lack of interest in making a mobile version of your site. Granted that these days you don’t see WP themes coming out without a mobile version, but if you have had any opportunity to work with WP mobile design then you know that oftentimes the desktop version of the site is totally different from the mobile one, and as soon as you start making any changes or edits… the problems begin to appear. So… we recommend that you just put aside any desire to work with a custom mobile theme built-in by your theme developer, and instead opt for a standalone solution like WPtouch. An effective plugin for getting your site ready for mobile visitiors. A universal design ensures that content is accessible, shareable, and if you want you can jump into deep end and make custom calls and functions per your strategy.
How does Google crawl and index content on your website? It uses many of the internal links that you provide, so not only you should strive to include relevant internal links within the body of your content, but also use related posts widgets to show any other related content that you have published previously. Related Posts from Yuzo is one of the more modern versions of a related posts solution, and besides giving you tools to show thumbnails (or text links) of related posts within the content view area, you can also use Yuzo widgets to show popular and related content in your sidebars.
Premium SEO Plugins for WordPress
Happy with the choices above? SEO is beyond your usual meta tags optimization, and performance and content display plays a big role in how search engines recognize the niche of your site, and in turn how it understands the method in which in needs to index your content for best visibility. Surely, SEO also about marketing, but if you can master the first part, which is all about preparing your website and your content for a larger audience, then the results will naturally start to occur by themselves. Now for the last bit, we’re going to show you some premium SEO plugins which further amplify the above methods we have enlisted, and you might find something that would be appropriate for the current strategy that you’re using to create search engine friendly content.
On-Page SEO Post Analyzer for WordPress
There are many terms for the way that SEO is seen, one of the vital components of a proper website-related optimization is called on-page SEO. This approach is all about the SEO tactics that you put into the use on your content pages. On-Page SEO Analyzer Plugin will show you different statistics about your existing state of SEO on your pages, and if necessary provide you with ways to optimize that SEO for maximum results. On-Page Analyzer can determine if you’re using the correct meta-tags for your posts, it can provide a better way to outline your headlines for maximum potency, it can scan through your content to see if your links and images are using the correct tags, it also validates markup and does general content analysis and suggests improvements if any.
SEO Cleaner — WordPress Plugin for Site Clean Up
SEO Cleaner takes a big broom and swipes your WordPress installation clean from any unneeded clutter and server response interferences. As you learned, SEO is all about performance and what better way to fine tune that performance by cleaning up the unnecessary crap that your websites is carrying around with each new page load.
Off Page SEO Plugin
You saw us mention an on-page SEO plugin, so now it is time to show you a wonderful off-page solution that’s created to help webmasters monitor and understand their search engines rankings from within the WP admin dashboard. Put in the console of the plugin a number of links and keywords that you’d like to monitor, and once every 3 days the script will run a comprehensive analysis of how your pages are performing for those specific keywords. Take it to the next level by analyzing the backlinks to your site, and if any links disappear the plugin will give you a nudge about it. The plugin can also monitor the number of social shares for individual posts, to give you a better idea of which content performs the best for your audience.
Total SEO for WordPress
Want a SEO solution on top of having access to a support team that can guide you through the kinks of getting your blog up to speed with SEO trends? Total SEO integrates many of the features that you overviewed during the roundup of the plugins mentioned above, though the nice thing about Total SEO and the fact that it’s a premium plugin, is that you get a support package from the developers, people who can help you optimize the plugin for your own needs, so you never have to worry about configuring custom SEO settings ever again.
Interlinks Manager isn’t a trending plugin for no reason, this comprehensive internal links management solution for WordPress blogs puts you in the front seat of how your blog is promoting all of its internal links. Google considers internal links a network of pages that are correlated to each other, which can then help Google to better understand how to categorize the relevancy of each content piece that you’ve published. Interlinks Manager automatically analyzes your posts for any internal links, it calculates the link power that each of these links hold against particular pages, and it can generate automatic internal link suggestions so you can further optimize your posts for optimal relevancy. The algorithm considers several factors, and is able to give priority to specific posts when their titles include a word that are also present in the post being edited, or to give priority, include or exclude posts that belongs to specific categories, tags or custom post types.
Tired of not knowing what people are talking about when they say analyzing your site for SEO? Tired of not knowing what kind of SEO precautions your site is following already? It can get frustrating to know what exactly you need for your site, so SEOAnalyzer will compliment your efforts by giving you a platform to enter any website’s URL and analyze that pages metrics in terms of SEO. You can get custom information like website ranking statistics, but also technical info like any potential errors. It can provide WHOIS information, custom snapshots of the website, social media shares amount, and other things. Technically, you could make your own analyzer site from this plugin, but it’s definitely a decent choice for knowing what the main concerns for your site are.
DELUCKS WordPress SEO Plugin
DELUCKS SEO gives you premium-level features for getting your WordPress blog completely optimized for search engine appearance. The latest version has revamped its own core structure for the sake of accelerating the overall performance. You can let your visitors rate your contents or products to make your information more trustworthy, or leverage the amount of social shares by inserting customizable lots of sharing buttons like Facebook, Twitter, and Google.
Rankie – WordPress Rank Tracker Plugin
Rankie will help you monitor the rankings of your keywords, giving you an easy to utilize platform for integrating, managing and understand how your posts are performing in the eyes of search engines. Knowing whether your content is going up or down in rankings can help you understand where to make improvements, and whether those improvements are making any significant changes.
Which is the best SEO plugin for WordPress
All you really need is to understand the fundamentals of search algorithms, and why website speed has become such a big topic in the last couple of years. Webmasters who use WordPress should aim to have at least one general SEO plugin, a plugin for optimizing images, scripts and other media, and certainly a selection of plugins that integrate modern meta-tags and schema markup for best display possibility in the search results pages.