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).
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 set up Yoast SEO plugin by following my easy to understand tutorial (with images).
Broken Link Checker
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.
SEO Optimized Images
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 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.
Google Analytics by MonsterInsights
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.
Google Keyword Planner
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 for WordPress
Photon Site Accelerator), 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.
W3 Total Cache
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 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.
Though Wordfence is cool I’ve got another recommended (premium) alternative to Wordfence 👉 Sucuri Security, about which you can read in this post of mine.
ShortPixel Image Optimizer
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
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 a managed WordPress hosting provider, then you should checkout Kinsta.
If you are not sure if you really need a managed WordPress hosting platform, then, you should definitely have a look at these surprising managed WordPress hosting benefits.
I hope you found this post very helpful and informative in optimizing your site for search engines and improving your SEO strategies.
15 thoughts on “Best WordPress SEO plugins, tools, and services”
Great information again, Antony. But yet again, I’ll ask you the same question – are these SEO tools available only to premium sites or self-hosted sites?
I’m sorry I’ll have to agree that these tools can be used only on WordPress.com Business plan and on self-hosted WordPress sites. You can either upgrade to their Business plan or migrate your site to a different host and self-host it by following the instructions over here.
Lol! I knew that Anto. But thanks again. I hope that if even one of these could be used on a site like mine I could bump up traffic. But oh well! 🙂
Great round up of extremely good and very useful WordPress plugins. I came to know about few new tools I didn’t use before. Also, I want to add one more that I am using now – Squirrly SEO plugin. Thanks a lot for sharing a list of great useful plugins.
Hey Antor, I’m happy to hear that you found this list useful. I do agree that Squirrly SEO is a good plugin and can be used instead of Yoast SEO. But don’t try to use two SEO suite plugins at the same time – it may be counterproductive. Keep visiting for more such posts.
Hey… Even for premium plans these plugins are not available?…I guess..there are pre selected plugins for my website & jetpack too. Correct me if I’m wrong as still learning. 🙂
Yeah Bhavana, unfortunately these plugins are not available on WordPress.com Personal & Premium plans. It is exclusively available for the Business users (Check Pricing). But all WordPress.com sites comes with certain built-in plugins which can be found here. Hope that helps.
Thanks for clarifying my doubt. I want to customize it but got confused with so many options. I checked pricing & features of different plans. This is actually what I was looking for. 🤗
You’re welcome Bhavana, happy to hear that I was able to help you with what you were looking for.
You have done excellent work really appreciated… I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
I won’t think twice to endorse your blog post to anybody who wants and needs support about this area. I would be very grateful if you could add Trash Duplicate and 301 Redirect Pro plugin for WordPress which is a very good SEO helper plugin that can find duplicate posts, pages, custom posts, etc. and delete that duplicates. I hope it’s helps you.
Thank you Michael. Though I won’t be adding it to my post at the moment, I have left out the link in your comment so that anyone finding it interesting may check it out.
Wow! I don’t do any of these…..
Oh? May be it’s because your blog is hosted on WordPress.com and you need the Business plan or self hosted WordPress for installing these plugins.
Yoast SEO and Semrush are my all time favorite plugins. It is very helpful for newbie bloggers.
Keep updating. Thank You.
That’s great Sanketa, but it’s not only your favorite but also for other bloggers and digital marketers who’ve got the hunger to win big at the SEO game. You’re welcome by the way!