7 Essential SEO Plugins for WordPress
WordPress is the most heavily used CMS on the planet, accounting for nearly 24.3% of all websites. It is used by millions of sites across the world in industries ranging from plumbing to finance. It can support sites of any size, from tiny five-page sites to high traffic properties such as The New Yorker and TIME Magazine.
Doing SEO for small business with WordPress is easy since you can use a number of SEO plugins to do all the grunt work for you. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of these plugins and tell you why (and how) to use them.
If there is one plugin every site must use, it is WordPress SEO by Yoast. This plugin has been downloaded more than a million times and ranks among the 10 most popular plugins on the WordPress platform.
Yoast takes all the guesswork out of on-page SEO. It will automatically optimize your titles, add the necessary tags in the right places, add Facebook open graph meta data, create sitemaps, and alert search engines whenever you update your site.
Think of it as the swiss army knife of WordPress SEO – you really shouldn’t do SEO without it.
A sitemap is essentially a ‘map’ of all the pages on your site. Creating a sitemap helps search engine bots crawl your website better.
The best plugin to create these sitemaps is the Google XML Sitemaps generator. With over a million installs and a 4.9/5 rating, it is one of the most heavily downloaded plugins on WordPress. It does exactly what it describes: it creates a sitemap for search engine bots.
Of course, if you’re using Yoast, you can probably skip this one – Yoast will generate a sitemap for you automatically. But if you aren’t using Yoast, you must use this plugin to help Google find all the pages on your site.
Google has publicly said that site speed affects your search engine rankings. A faster site equals a better user experience, which in turn pushes your site up the rankings.
While there are countless tactics to improve site speed, one of the most popular ones is to use caching. This tactic involves storing static pages in the computer’s memory. This way, instead of going to the server to load every page, the computer can load all static assets from its own memory, substantially decreasing site load times.
Caching is a technically challenging process, but the WP Super Cache plugin makes it easy. You can just install it, change a few preferences and it will start caching your site automatically. While it is not as powerful as its chief competitor, W3 Total Cache, it is much easier to use.
Any link that leads to a page that no longer exists on your site is called a ‘broken link’. These links are bad news for your SEO. Users click a link and land up on an empty or 404 error page, leading to a poor user experience.
The Broken Link Checker plugin makes it easy to search your site for such links. Simply install it, press a button, and it will crawl your site for any links leading to 404 error pages. If you’ve been running your site for a while, you’ll be surprised to see the number of such links.
Once you’ve found all the links, it’s simply a matter of changing them to the right page.
If you’re using images in your content, you should have ALT and title tags for them. Unfortunately, most people forget to add them while creating content. This plugin automatically updates images with the required tags. This makes it easier for search engines to crawl and categorize your site images, giving you a SEO boost.
There’s another benefit of using this plugin – good image SEO will help you get more traffic from Google image search.
As we’ve said before, site speed is a big factor in determining your search engine rankings. If you use a lot of images on your site, however, your page will load much slower than a text-only pages. One way to counter this is to compress images to reduce their size. The difference between a 100kb and a 50kb image is enormous, as far as site speed is concerned.
This plugin takes care of image compression for you automatically using Yahoo’s “Smush.it” algorithm. Simply install it and the plugin will swing into action, compressing images and reducing their size by several kilobytes. For image-heavy sites, WP Smushit is an absolutely essential plugin.
If you’ve ever used Google Analytics (GA), you probably know how hard it is to setup. You have to generate the code snippet, choose the right format, and copy-paste it in the right spot.
This plugin by Yoast takes care of the entire Google Analytics setup process for you. After installing it, you’ll first be asked to authenticate the plugin in GA. After authentication, it’s simply a matter of choosing your site from a list and hitting ‘ok’.
Easy setup isn’t the only reason to use this plugin. It will also show you traffic data at a glance right in your WordPress dashboard. Instead of logging into GA every day, you can simply get an idea of yesterday’s traffic in WordPress – a big time saver for serious SEO operations.
There are hundreds of thousands of plugins for WordPress dealing with everything from SEO to social media. What plugins you choose to use depends a lot on your site and source of traffic. If you’re doing SEO for small business, however, you can’t go wrong with the list of 13 plugins listed above. These will take care of on-page SEO, boost site speed, help you with Google Analytics, and check for broken links on your site, all of which make your site rank better.