WordPress comes with some great SEO capabilities out of the box. What’s more some themes are built to fully exploit these native SEO features to the maximum. You can also optimize your website further by employing the latest proven best practices.
The result is that you can boost your search engine rankings, increase traffic and gain more subscribers. This all puts you in good position to start monetizing your blog.
The Best SEO Plugins for WordPress
With a focus on blogging, WordPress provides multiple ways to ensure that your content is always optimized for search. A combination of custom plugins plus some intuitive WordPress hacks can greatly enhance your blog’s search rankings.
Usually most SEO plugins for WordPress allow you to specify things such as metadata and set the focus keywords for a particular page or post.
Typical SEO features you should expect in a top quality plugin include: detailed page analysis, XML sitemaps, ability to edit the .htaccess and robots.txt files from the dashboard, and a built-in API for extending the plugin’s core functionality, among others.
In this post we’re going to take a closer look at the top 6 SEO plugins you can use at the moment. Note that this is a personal observation but I’m sure most of you will agree with the list.
With more than 1 million active installs, WordPress SEO by Yoast is easily one of the most popular SEO plugins for WordPress. Developed by Yoast – a team of WordPress experts led by Joost de Valk – WordPress SEO has stood the test of time and has benefited from gradual refinement over the years. The Yoast team specializes in SEO products for WordPress and this has allowed them to stay ahead of the game.
Search engine algorithms are updated regularly and it’s important that SEO plugins keep up with these changes. The WordPress SEO plugin is regularly updated to accommodate changes introduced by search engines, especially Google.
Just about every serious WordPress blog has used this plugin at one point or another.
The basic version is free and offers a slew of features including content analysis per page or post, keyword optimization, automatic XML sitemaps, breadcrumbs, and even the ability to identify bloat in your theme’s bloat.
The premium version adds more advanced features including a redirects manager, seamless integration with Google webmaster tools, premium support, and video tutorials for the plugin among others.
Give the basic version a test run and see for yourself. If you have a busy WordPress blog and need to keep your rankings high, the premium version of WordPress SEO should definitely be part of your SEO arsenal.
SEO Ultimate comes from the creators of the WordPress SEO Design Framework and boasts over 200,000 active installs.
Previously most SEO plugins offered very specialized SEO functionality, which meant that you’d need at least 3 different plugins to achieve your desired SEO goals, at the least. SEO Ultimate was built to solve this problem. It’s an all-in-one plugin that incorporates all the major SEO functionality and more.
You’ll get all the standard features of a top SEO plugin, including meta info editing, title modifications, canonical tags, no index editing (via checkboxes), robots.txt modification, and post meta info.
In addition, SEO Ultimate adds its own unique functionality. This includes the ability to insert a link box, import and export settings to use on another website, and 404 monitoring, Open Graph integration, rich snippet creator, and more.
While SEO Ultimate isn’t as popular as the previous plugin, it really offers some solid functionality that is worth exploring. Best of all it is 100% free.
The All in One SEO Pack plugin is in the same league as WordPress SEO by Yoast, in that it boasts more than 1 million active installs and enjoys a huge following of users.
The free version does all the basic SEO stuff, such as optimizing meta tags and titles for search engines, support for Google analytics, canonical URLs, and much more.
The premium version adds a ton of features and functionality. This includes a feature manager, automatic XML sitemap generator, a responsive user interface, and advanced options for configuring SEO for custom post types, among other features.
What makes this plugin standout is that it is very user friendly. Most of the basic SEO options are set automatically once the plugin is activated. This means you don’t need to reconfigure anything. This is particularly handy for beginners, but advanced users can fine-tune their SEO options to get better results.
SEO Wizard doesn’t have the clout that the previous three plugins enjoy, in terms of active installs (just slightly over 8000) but if you look beyond the numbers and explore its key functionality, you will discover a well-built and solid SEO tool worth giving serious consideration.
What stands out about SEO Wizard is its focus on helping you write better SEO optimized content. This comes courtesy of the snippet preview feature. As you type your post, this little nifty feature gives you a preview of what the post will look like in search engine results. It also shows you whether your title is too long and whether you’re using a contextually wrong meta description. All these little tweaks eventually add up and help boost your blog’s rankings in search engine results.
Another standout feature is the ability to analyze your close competitors. SEO Wizard can generate a detailed report of specified competitors so you can know what’s working for them and what’s not.
Other notable features include on-page SEO optimization, social media integration, ability to selectively control which pages show in search engine results. It points search engine crawlers to particular pages and tells them how to index those pages automatically.
There are additional features planned for future updates, such as integration of advanced social media tools and so on.
In all, SEO Wizard isn’t as well known as some other popular plugins on this list but it definitely deserves more attention. It’s also reassuring that it is a product of a dedicated team of SEO experts and it is 100% free.
SEMrush is a web analytics tool that goes beyond the basic SEO functionality and offers deep insights not only into your site’s current competitiveness, but also how your competitors are fairing. It is a pretty comprehensive analytics tool that offers organic research for keywords, advertising research, backlink sources, and product listing ads among others.
Needless to say, SEMrush is a tool for professional online marketers or businesses that really want to get ahead of the game and have the means to invest in a high end premium SEO tool (subscriptions start at $69.95 per month).
Scribe is a tool designed to help you take your content marketing to the next level. It is a product of Copyblogger Media, a company that specializes in content marketing products.
Scribes is designed for all the major CMSs. However, the WordPress version has a specific plugin bundled with the main software (Scribe for WordPress).
The key features include a powerful keyword research tool, a content optimization tool, and a connect tool that increases your visibility through a range of content sharing and marketing options.
Like SEMrush, Scribe is a premium tool for expert content marketers and SEO professionals. If you run a simple personal blog for passive income, this tool may be beyond your needs. Tools such as SEO Wizard and SEO Ultimate can do a perfect job at little or no cost.
Many website owners don’t realize that they have a very capable and free SEO tool at their disposal in Google’s Keyword Planner tool. Think about it for a minute: which tool on the web has better insights into what Internet users are searching for than the tool that they are using to do the searches!
That is why you shouldn’t overlook Google’s Keyword Planner tool for your SEO strategies. It’s a free tool primarily designed for Internet marketers, but you can use it too.
Its primary function is to perform keyword research and then return a list of keywords that marketers and advertisers can bid on. It breaks down all the analytics for you in a neat way such as keyword competitiveness, search volume per keyword, number of search results, and suggestions for similar keywords that may better suit your needs.
If used correctly, this data can help you locate keywords that are currently most searched for (high search volume) so that you can use them in your content marketing to outrank your competitors.
The ball is firmly in your court now. Which plugin are you going to start using? You’re probably already using some kind of SEO tool, but hopefully this list helps you to better understand the strengths of some of the more popular SEO tools for WordPress at the moment so you can make a better choice next time.
What SEO plugin have you found particularly interesting? Please share your thoughts in the comments.