A good technician is nothing without the tools they carry. It’s hard to drive a nail without a hammer. Utilizing the proper tools can take a three hour job and turn it into a 15 minute endeavor. An ill-equipped toolbox or not knowing how to use the tools can do the exact opposite – waste your time.
WordPress is so ubiquitous nowadays, over 50% of the entire internet is powered by this Content Management System. As someone who does SEO, you will come across a WordPress site and WP plugins is an important part of your toolbox. Here are eight SEO plugins that every skilled SEO should know about. (*Hint: click the titles to download them!)
1. Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is one of the most well-known and commonly-used SEO plugins. Everyone has their own opinion on which SEO plugin is best (or whether you need one at all), but I always by default start with Yoast. If you are looking for a plugin to help you monitor the strength of your content and the effectiveness of your SEO, this plugin is the best place to start.
Yoast is flush with features, including:
- Page analysis tools
- Technical WordPress SEO
- XML sitemaps functionality
- Focus keyword and content analysis
- Post titles and meta descriptions
- Readability checks
- Permalink cleanup
When it comes to keeping current on your SEO strategies, Yoast SEO’s constant analysis is the best way to keep a finger on your SEO pulse. Yoast can print a comprehensive checklist, analyzing meta names, titles and even content length. This gives you a step by step guide that shows what you are doing correctly, and what you can improve on.
While Yoast is the arguably the most comprehensive SEO plugin, it is predicated on the fact that you already understand basic SEO functions. For the true beginner, Yoast can be unwieldy and hard to navigate. All-In-One SEO is just what the name implies; everything you need to get a good SEO foundation laid, all wrapped up onto a user-friendly platform.
All-In-One SEO’s default settings require very little tweaking to lay a good ground floor layer of SEO. Universal formatting options keep your meta titles and descriptions tidy and uniform.
Top features of All in One SEO Pack include:
- XML Sitemap and Google Analytics support
- Automatic optimization of titles for all search engines
- Automatic generation of META tags
- Helps you avoid duplicate content, which can have a negative impact on search engine rankings
- Ability to override any setting
All-In-One is preferable to Yoast if you need a little buffer time to deal with the SEO learning curve. Since you can make All-In-One as custom as you want, starting with All-In-One allows you to begin with the default settings and take on more custom options and responsibility as you learn more.
Google is king. Google is the whole reason we do what we do. So, why wouldn’t we consider Google as a prime candidate when it comes to WordPress SEO plugins? Cut out the middleman, and go straight to the source.
To understand this plugin, you need to ask yourself what you are doing to get your content indexed with the big G. The Google XML Sitemap plugin will generate an easily indexed sitemap automatically. Simply install, activate, configure the basic settings and then forget about it entirely. The Google Sitemaps plugin doesn’t require any constant upkeep. Just set it up and it does the work for you.
When setting the plugin up, be sure to consider each basic option and optimize it to your site’s specific needs. When in doubt, the plugin’s default settings are better than nothing at all.
Links are the currency of SEO. The more links you have, the better off you are and the higher your ranking will be. However, if your site is full of broken or incomplete links, you are just working against yourself.
Broken Link Checker does just what the name implies. Not only does Broken Link Checker help with finding and fixing broken links, but can also alert you to missing images or other pieces of media.
Some of the top features include:
- Ability to monitor links in posts, pages, comments and even custom fields
- Detects any link that doesn’t work
- The option to give broken links a different appearance in posts
- The option to prevent search engines from following broken links
Broken links are roads to nowhere. Don’t let your rankings be affected by something so easy to fix.
How can you improve if you don’t track progress? Sure, Google analytics are a wonderful tool but why leave your dashboard if you don’t have to? Google Analytics by MonsterInsights puts a convenient Google Analytics HUD right into your dashboard.
Features of this plugin:
- Use of Google Analytics API for simple installation
- Ability to use the asynchronous or universal tracking code
- Access to a beautiful data metric dashboard within WordPress
- Outbound and internal link tracking
- Access to both demographics and interest reports
You can keep tabbing back and forth between your site and the Google Analytics main dashboard, or you can just install this plugin and keep it handy and in-house at all times.
Did you know that most people will leave a site if it takes longer than a few seconds to load? On top of that, Google favors sites with quick loading times. So, there is no reason not to cut load times to an absolute minimum.
There are things you can do to improve load times manually: resizing images appropriately, clearing out the cache, etc., but why do the manual labor when there is a plugin that will help keep your site loading like a well-oiled machine?
W3 Total Cache is the ideal plugin for site performance. Used by many major companies, W3 Total Cache boasts as much as a 10xs improvement in load times and overall functionality of your site.
Google caused quite a fuss when they announced in April 2015 that mobile compatibility was going to start playing a large role in SEO ranking. Why shouldn’t it, though? More than ever, people are accessing your site, not on their laptops or desktops, but on their smartphone. In 2014, Mobile web traffic officially surpassed traditional desktop traffic, and has only been taking up more of the traffic since.
It is really simple, this plugin “automatically adds a simple and elegant mobile theme for mobile visitors to your WordPress website.” That way you don’t have to pay a designer to tweak every little aspect of your site and possibly compromise aesthetic choices to make the site work both on a traditional screen and on the small screen.
No need to flip back and forth from your laptop to your phone. Simply install this plugin and you know your site will be usable no matter what device it is viewed on.
It is easy to overlook images as a form of content, but properly maintaining meta titles and descriptions for images is just as important as all other meta maintenance. Simply inserting images into a post is not enough, they must be properly linked and tagged with optimized meta content.
SEO Optimized Images make it easy to do so. Much like All-In-One SEO, SEO Optimized Images default settings are pretty fool-proof. Just set your defaults and then it is easy to add your meta content right from the editing page or in your media library.
Remember, Google can’t analyze images for their content (yet.) You need strong metadata in order to let Google know how to index your visual content.
These plugins are your hammer. Your screwdriver. Your saw. Take them with you on the job and you can use them to build a beautifully crafted, sturdily-built SEO foundation for your site.