It’s important to take the time to make sure you are doing everything you can to ensure your website is SEO friendly. While WordPress comes with some great built-in SEO tools, adding third-party plugins is a great way to take your WordPress-powered site to the next level.
With literally thousands and thousands of SEO-related WordPress plugins, how do you know which ones work, which ones are safe, and which ones won’t waste your time?
We’re going to go over some of the top WordPress SEO plugins. Implementation is easy, but reaching out to a professional WordPress development service will ensure missteps aren’t taken.
By far the most popular and successful SEO plugins out there is Yoast SEO. With currently over thousands of positive 5-star reviews, most websites that rank high on search results are probably using Yoast SEO to create better content and optimizing their websites. Yoast even helps you write SEO-friendly blog posts with built-in SEO and readability scores!
This plugin offers some great features, but here are some of our favorite features:
- Content analysis tool: Once you add this plugin to your website, it will automatically assess crucial aspects of your website’s pages and posts. It will give you a review of how SEO friendly your content is and the readability of your posts. It will then suggest changes to make in your content based on target keywords and phrases.
- XML sitemaps functionality: With this plugin, you can create and manage your XML sitemaps with ease all without having to code your sitemap on your own. For those that don’t have a technical background in writing code for a website, you will really like Yoast SEO. Having an XML sitemap loaded into the Google Search Console is extremely beneficial for SEO because it will allow Google to easily understand your website’s structure and pinpoint essential pages of your website extremely fast.
- Duplicate content: One thing that can be affecting your pages’ SEO scores is the appearance of duplicate content throughout your website. In fact, Google will even penalize your site for having content present on your page that is already in use somewhere else. With Yoast SEO not only will it offer templates for your titles and meta-descriptions, but it will also make your pages more appealing in SERPs.
There is both a free and premium version for Yoast SEO, and if anything you should at least try the free version. Yoast SEO Premium will run you $89 dollars annually and will give you access to things like page previews on different platforms, redirect management options, internal linking suggestions, and 24/7 customer support.
Built for smaller enterprises, The SEO Framework is another great option to boost your site’s overall SEO if you are just getting started. When you download this into your WordPress theme, it will seamlessly integrate with your WordPress dashboard which can make for a super smooth content creation experience.
Here are some of our favorite features of The SEO Framework:
- It’s Free: The SEO Framework is completely free to use and install. There are no ads or upsells that will interfere with your working (which is where Yoast falls short in some peoples’ eyes). You can purchase the premium subscription that will cost you about $99 dollars per year, but the majority of users like the light-weight features of the free version.
- Colored Scale: If you are new to learning how to optimize your posts and pages on your website, you will really like the simplicity and colorful design that The SEO Framework uses. Once you start adding content, this plugin will scan your articles and will highlight and reveal notes that detail ways you can specifically improve individual pages and posts.
- Clean and Fast: Like I just previously mentioned, The SEO Framework’s overall design is simple and straightforward. There is no guessing where something is located, and it is perfect for beginners. On your dashboard, there will only be two sections: one for the settings and one for any optional extensions.
SEMRush is a big name in the SEO industry. It’s safe to say that the guys and gals over there know exactly what they’re doing when it comes to search engine marketing and search engine results rankings.
The SEMRush Writing Assistant comes as a WordPress plugin or as a Google Docs/GSuite addon. As you’re typing it looks at contextual clues to determine if what you’re writing will perform well in the search results pages for the target market.
It’s like being able to run instant analytics on the content that you’re writing, as you’re writing it. This can help you catch any writing mistakes that may affect your SEO before you’ve wasted time writing it all out.
SEMRush’s main services aren’t necessarily specific to WordPress, but they’re worth taking a look at if you’re serious about SEO. Here are some options that SEMRush offers as a whole:
- Domain Overview: When you set out to make your website more SEO friendly, you will want to research your competitor’s sites as well. With SEMRush you can get an overview of your competition’s SEO strategies so you can make more informed decisions on what you want to add to your website. Through exploring their referring domains and research on the keywords they are ranking high for, you can utilize this information in one easy to read the screen.
- Organic Research: Through SEMRush you can figure out the best strategies to get the most organic search results for your website. You can even compare how your site appears in SERP features and relate it to other websites doing the same thing that you are.
- Competitor Analysis: It’s also smart to identify your competitor’s main sources of traffic. When you figure out their top referring websites you can apply those same strategies to your own website. Analyze your competition’s bounce rate, user’s average session duration, and more!
- Keyword Magic Tool & Overview: Keywords are going to play a big part in how successful your website is in terms of SEO, which is why the features of their keyword make it a top-selling point. Identify any link building opportunities you could be missing out on as SEMRush grades your site. There is even an option to compare up to 5 different domain names so you can get an overview of keywords that are ranking higher or are not being utilized on other people’s sites.
Last on our list is Google XML Sitemaps – you can’t have an SEO website without sitemaps, which is why this plugin is so important and it’s why other SEO plugins offer built-in sitemaps support.
But for those of you that don’t want to install any of the SEO plugins recommended above, are you still taking steps to ensure that your website’s content is being indexed?
Let Google XML Sitemaps do the work for you! Essentially, this will make it easier for search engines to index your new website. Here are some of the most popular features that Google XML Sitemaps offers, further adding to your website’s SEO:
- Easy for Crawlers: When you use this plugin for your site, crawlers can see the complete structure of your website and retrieve the information quickly. Even better, Google XML Sitemaps will send a note to Google to crawl your site each time you update your site with new information and new posts. This can optimize the chance of appearing on search results quicker than with other plugins.
- One and done: Once you have spent the time, in the beginning, setting up a perfect sitemap paired with settings you’ve dictated, you won’t have to mess with it anymore. The plugin will do all the work moving forward to ensure your website is showing up in Google search results.
WordPress SEO Goes Beyond Plugins
Regardless of what you’re trying to achieve SEO-wise from a plugin or a service, all of the above recommendations will fill those needs. Now, we need to also point out that WordPress SEO goes beyond what plugins can offer you. The final installment of our WordPress SEO series is going to go over some of the more advanced WordPress SEO tips and tricks!