So you have WordPress and you’re looking for the best plugins to improve your SEO. On-page optimization has a lot to do with keyword research and content writing, but there’s other factors that a few SEO WordPress plugins can help with.
Yoast SEO or All in One SEO Pack (Free)
These are the two big competing SEO plugins, and each have over 1 million installs. Personally, I like using Yoast SEO because its post/page interface (where you add meta descriptions, titles, etc.) is nicer to work with.
The one thing I tend to like about All in One SEO Pack is the minimal setup required on first install. A good deal of settings that need to be set in Yoast are defaulted in All in One.
Google XML Sitemaps (Free)
A sitemap is an outline of your entire site structure placed on a dedicated page (usually yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml) and is the first step to setting up a website’s SEO. It allows search engines to easily consume your entire site, and will include pages that haven’t been linked to yet letting Google know where your content is.
Although the aforementioned SEO plugins do contain sitemapping features, this dedicated sitemap plugin will not only give you a ton more options, but will also ping the major search engines when ever new content is created.
Pinging search engines will increase the speed at which your content indexes and starts showing up in search results, so it’s a great idea to properly set up your sitemap with this plugin.
Tip: Make sure you add your sitemap’s location to Google / Bing Webmaster Tools
Website loading speed is very important. Google likes fast websites because faster equals a better experience for their users. To learn about your current website’s speed, you can check out Google’s own speed tool, which also sheds light on your mobile optimization. For an alternative view of how your website elements are loading, head over and check out Pingdom’s site speed tool. Ideally, you want your site to load in less than two seconds, and the plugins below should help.
W3 Total Cache or W3 Super Cache (Free)
A caching plugin will definitely increase your site’s speed, but it can be a little intimidating to do the initial setup. Hosting, page sizes, and image compression can also have huge impacts on your site speed, so a caching plugin won’t solve all of your problems, but it’s definitely a base you want covered.
In regards to which I prefer, W3 Total Cache or W3 Super Cache, I tend to always install W3 Total Cache. I have all of my settings already established and exported so they can be imported to any new site.
WP Smush (Free)
WP Smush is an image compressing plugin that will reduce the size of your uploaded images so they take less time to load. Like caching, image compression is a great way to decrease your website’s loading time, which should help you rank higher in search results.
Alternatively, you can compress your images before you upload them to WP. This can be done in most image programs, as well as on sites like compresspng.com or compressjpeg.com, depending on your file format.
With great content comes great sharing. You’ll want to make sure you have an easy way for your audience to share your content, and the best way to do that is by adding share bars/buttons to your posts and pages. Some content writers like to have a floating bar on the side, as well as a bar at either the start or end of the content itself. Personally, I’ll just choose one position (floating on the side) so the page doesn’t look overly cluttered with social icons.
There’s tons of sharing plugins for WordPress out there, so feel free to take a look around and try a few. The ones I’ve used and liked are:
Cresta Social Share Counter (Free or $10 for Pro)
I’m quite fond of the clean style and easy setup of these share buttons. The free version includes Facebook, Twitter, G+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest buttons, but if you’re looking for a few other buttons, like Reddit and Buffer, then you may want to upgrade to the pro version for $10.
SumoMe share buttons are probably the most ubiquitous, and they have one of the best interfaces for changing the look and customizing the placement of the buttons. The huge upside to SumoMe versus Cresta is the shear amount of different network buttons they include. Most of the time you’ll be installing SumoMe for other reasons anyway, so you might as well check out the free share buttons while you’re at it to see if you like them.
Getting backlinks to your content is essential, and SNAP helps facilitate that process by posted to your social networks and bookmarking sites as soon as your content is posted. They currently support automated posted to a total of 28 networks, and more are on the way.
Social posting and bookmarking are essential, time-consuming tasks that must be done, so automating is definitely the way to go. Another way to go is to use IFTTT (stands for If This Then That), which isn’t a WP plugin, but a website that posts to networks using a trigger. For example, you can set a trigger to pay attention to your RSS feed, and when a new post is created, IFTTT will auto tweet or create a Facebook post just like SNAP.
Much easier than digging into your .htaccess file, this redirect plugin let’s you 301 posts or pages you want to delete. Depending on your reasoning for deletion, you could redirect the page to another relevant page, your homepage, or even a category page. Using a 301 will ensure that almost all of the linking power the old page received will get pushed to the new page.
Schema is basically pieces of code written into your pages that give a little more information to search engines, like the author, address, phone number, and other business information. The code itself is completely hidden from viewers, but the result of that code is visible in search results. When you see stars underneath certain search results, or phone numbers and logos when you type in a business name, that’s the work of Schema.
It’s not 100% clear that Schema itself ranks you better as of 2016, but the result of having stars under your website in search results has been shown to improve click-through rate (CTR). So, having Schema will indirectly impact your rankings since Google does pay attention to click-through rate on search results.
Reviews are Magical
In every test we ran, reviews seemed to attract the most clicks. Not only did they attract a lot of clicks, it also seems clear that being listed in a pack where your competitors have review stars and you don’t is detrimental to your click-through rate.
The importance of reviews seems to be as high as ever, and I would go so far as to say that if you don’t have review stars—and don’t plan on putting in processes to get legitimate reviews—you’re making a bad business decision. –Moz
To see how your structured data looks right now, check out Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. Just plug in your URL and hit “Fetch & Validate.” It’ll give you an idea of what attributes you are missing, and perhaps a few errors that should be fixed.
Well, there you go. The top WordPress plugins for SEO that I personally use on all of the sites I work with. Whether your site has a brand new WordPress installation or not, take a minute to go through and see if you not only have these installed, but also if they are fully set up and working. The plugins here should help put you off to a good start with your on-page optimization, just make sure your pumping out great content too!