It is a well-known fact that search engines contribute to a major share of traffic to any website on the internet. More than 50% of my traffic comes from search engines (Google especially). This is the main reason why you need to optimize your site for search engines, especially through on-page SEO. Previously, I had shared the list of plugins I was using on my (now defunct) WordPress magazine site along with 25 must-have plugins for any large-scale business website.
You might have taken some small steps to kickstart your site’s SEO strategy, but there’s still room for improvement. Though creating good quality content is very important for any website, optimizing the content for search engines is equally important. What is the use of creating content if no one is able to search and find your posts on the internet? (search engines, to be specific). Some might even argue that WordPress is optimized for search engines out of the box; but trust me, that is not enough if you want to rank higher than your competitors and reach your goals.
Now, here are eleven WordPress plugins that will help you boost your site’s SEO and rank higher in search engine result pages (SERPs).
1. Yoast SEO
With more than three million active installs and a five-star rating on WordPress plugin repository, Yoast SEO plugin by Joost de Valk is easily one of the must-have all in one SEO solution for WordPress. It allows you to add a meta description, SEO titles, open graph tags, Twitter cards, Pinterest rich pins, Facebook author page, etc and also provides you with functionalities to create XML sitemaps, edit robots.txt, and .htaccess file. Moreover, it provides you with a detailed page analysis report using which you can optimize your posts.
You can now head over and learn how to install and setup Yoast SEO plugin by following my easy to understand tutorial (with images).
Using this plugin, you can find broken links on your site. The main reason why you need to keep track of broken links and update them to working URLs as soon as possible is that it may create a bad experience for your users as they won’t be able to find what they came looking for. It allows you to easily scan for broken links and update them instantly without needing you to open and update each post where the link is present separately.
You can also block search engines from following any broken links on your blog. This feature is very important as it actively prevents any negative effect on your blog by search engines.
Many bloggers and business owners make a mistake of trying to optimize the content only and often ignoring or overlooking the need to optimize images on their blogs or websites. You should understand that optimizing images too for search engines is very important as they cannot see what is there in the image. It is your job to add an alternate text to the images you upload so that search engine bots can understand what is there in the image.
With the help of this plugin, you can dynamically insert SEO friendly alt and title attributes into every image on your site.
SEMrush is easily one of the most popular SEO suites among WordPress developers using which you can gather competitive intelligence on your competitors’ analytics, insights, and advertising strategies. By gathering this data and analyzing it, you’ll be able to improve your own SEO. A complete site SEO audit is one of the most popular tools offered by SEMrush.
It also provides you with a list of websites from where you can easily gain backlinks. If this fires up your interest, you can give it a test drive for FREE.
If you are using Google Analytics to view your real-time stats and keep track of visitors to your website, manage universal tracking, page level analytics, eCommerce & ads tracking, custom dimensions and event tracking, then you should definitely check out this plugin. With more than 15 million downloads, MonsterInsights is the most popular Google Analytics plugin for WordPress.
The main reason why I recommend you to install this plugin is that it allows you to view your analytics data directly from your WordPress dashboard. This is more efficient than switching between alternate tabs to compare your stats.
Using Google’s Keyword Planner tool you can search for keyword and ad group ideas, get historical statistics, see how a list of keywords might perform and even create a new keyword list by multiplying several lists of keywords together. Keyword Planner can also help you choose competitive bids and budgets to use with your campaigns. Whether you are new to keyword optimization or an experienced pro, you can use Keyword Planner to lay the groundwork for a successful campaign.
Jetpack is an amalgamation of many independent plugins and their features. It helps keep your site secure, increase traffic and engage with your readers. It also provides you with an easy to understand view of your site stats, automate social sharing, display related posts, protects site from brute force attacks, monitors downtime, enables two-factor authentication, offloads your images to its high-speed CDN (Photon), provides you with extra sidebar widgets along with email subscriptions, contact forms, etc. To be honest, you will be needing a separate plugin for each feature. But, Jetpack makes it easy for you to enjoy all these features within a single plugin.
If you aren’t convinced yet, you must have a look at this review of the Jetpack plugin.
Many people do not realize that site speed is also taken as an important ranking factor for SEO. If your site is clunky and takes more than ten seconds to load, kiss a goodbye to your SEO efforts. This is the reason why you should make sure that your site loads fast. You can use tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights and Pingdom’s Website Speed Test to check and assess your site speed and loading factors.
What would happen if your site gets hacked and someone injects malware? Google will blacklist your domain and remove the infected content from its search result pages (SERPs). Moreover, it will warn users trying to visit your site from Google Chrome browser. This will hurt your SEO very seriously and you will require a whole lot of time to come clean in front of Google and other search engines. To prevent all this from happening, you should install Wordfence Security plugin on your site.
With more than two million active installs, it is the number one free security plugin available today. Powered by their constantly updated Threat Defense Feed, its Web Application Firewall (WAF) stops yours from getting hacked. Their live traffic monitor feature gives you real-time information on traffic and hacking attempts on your site.
Whether your site has a lot of images or not, you need to optimize it to increase your website’s performance. ShortPixel uses an advanced compression technology that reduces the image size without affecting its quality, thus making your pages load faster. Moreover, it also reduces your website’s bandwidth usage and the size of backups on your server.
Also, it optimizes the image thumbnails & PDF files uploaded to your site, and everything is taken care of on their powerful servers instead of burdening your site and bogging it down.
There’s one last thing that we need to manage on our site, and that is 👉 SPAM! Akismet checks the comments and contact form submissions on your site against their global spam database to protect your site’s SEO by preventing your site from publishing malicious content inadvertently.
You can also set Akismet to silently discard all the spam without asking you for clearance.
Bonus SEO Tip & Conclusion
If even after following all the above tips and installing the recommended plugins, your page speed is not improving, then it is most likely a fault at your web hosting provider’s end. You will have to migrate to a better WordPress hosting provider and I recommend using SiteGround because their servers are fully optimized to run WordPress efficiently. Or if you prefer managed WordPress hosting, then you should checkout Flywheel.
If you aren’t sure why you need a managed WordPress hosting service provider, then, you should definitely have a look at my 4 reasons why you need managed WordPress hosting.
Thus, I hope you found this post very helpful and informative in optimizing your site for search engines and improving your SEO strategies.