WordPress Plugins for SEO to Skyrocket Your Visibility(For Free!)
Haven’t installed quality WordPress plugins for SEO on your site yet?
You could be missing out on important benefits like ranking higher in search results and getting traffic to your site.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is one of the most important tasks on any site owner’s to-do list.
That’s because over 90% of all traffic to websites comes from a search engine.
So while social media and video-sharing platforms are also major traffic drivers, SEO is still the best way to get visitors and customers to your site.
But if you’re worried that WordPress SEO is too complex to dive into, don’t be.
With the right tools and a few steps, you can be well on your way to an optimized WordPress website.
In this in-depth guide, I’ll go through a list of must-have WordPress plugins for SEO.
I’ll also get into the most important non-plugin WordPress SEO tasks you need to do to boost your site’s ranking.
WordPress Plugins for SEO: Getting Started
Luckily, WordPress itself is known for being SEO-friendly, so you’re already a step ahead in the game.
But if you want to start really raking in more traffic from Google and other search engines, it’s time to install some essential WordPress SEO plugins.
WordPress SEO plugins make optimizing your site easier and automate a lot of the work for you. That means you can start seeing real results quickly (even if you’re not a tech nerd).
Plus, the best plugins teach you to get into the habit of optimizing your posts.
Over time, you’ll find yourself crafting SEO-friendly content automatically.
From speeding up your site to helping you use keywords correctly, WordPress plugins are a must for SEO success.
Let’s look at the very best WordPress plugins for SEO, plus optimization tips to boost your site(for free!):
1. Best WordPress Plugins for SEO: The Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin
When most people think about WordPress plugins for SEO, the Yoast SEO plugin is what comes to mind.
With over 5 million active installs, Yoast is undoubtedly the most popular SEO plugin.
And there are plenty of good reasons behind this free plugin’s status as the acknowledged master of WordPress SEO.
To begin with, Yoast makes optimizing your content for SEO fast, intuitive, and easy.
As soon as you install and activate it, Yoast SEO begins helping you craft reader and SEO-friendly posts.
It does so by adding a user-friendly meta box to your WordPress post editor.
Here, you’ll be able to see how well you’re using your focus keyword, as well as whether or not your content is easy to read.
You get clear scores on keyword use, density, placement,linking, plus a review of content length and readability.
The Yoast SEO plugin then provides you with a list of action steps to help you craft a perfectly optimized piece.
Beyond that, it enhances your WordPress site’s optimization by taking care of everything from creating an XML sitemap to preventing content duplication issues.
Still wondering whether you need Yoast SEO?
Here are some more reasons to take advantage of this ultra-powerful plugin for WordPress SEO:
-The Yoast SEO plugin offers an insanely easy setup, with simple step-by-step instructions to help you through the process. Struggling with a setting option? No problem. You’ll find on screen clarification in the form of text and video support.
-This ease of use also carries over into the actual plugin functions. In the post editor area, Yoast’s detailed optimization suggestions are a cinch to understand and implement.
-With its clear rating system, you can tell at a glance exactly where your search optimization efforts are falling flat. Yoast also maintains a record of your ratings for all posts, letting you know which pieces could use a little extra attention.
-Unlike many other WordPress SEO plugins, Yoast reminds you to personally craft your meta descriptions. This is important because if you leave your meta description empty, search engines will grab a random excerpt from your post. While this may seem like a big help, it’s really not. You’ll be missing out on the chance to fine tune your descriptions to get maximum clicks.
Not only does Yoast remind you to fill out these essential areas, it also analyzes them as you write them. It then offers suggestions for improvement where needed.
It may take more time, but I’ve found this approach serves me better in terms of clicks and SEO gains.
– Yoast provides open graph meta tags functionality for better social sharing, which can improve how your links do on social. If you’ve ever struggled to share the correct image or description on Facebook, this will be a life-saver.
Yoast also helps you do neat things like verify your website on Pinterest in just a couple of clicks.
-While the free version of Yoast SEO doesn’t offer dedicated support, the website provides pretty detailed documentation.
It’s also such a widely used plugin that you’re sure to find plenty of guides and forums for any questions.
2. Best WordPress Plugins for SEO: The W3 Cache Plugin
Ever wondered whether your site’s slow loading might impact your ranking?
The fact is, despite your best efforts, you could be losing major SEO points because of site speed issues.
That’s because search engines now take site speed and page speed into account when choosing which sites to display on their first pages.
Slower sites may not be seen by as many people, and could end up losing valuable traffic.
But don’t panic!
There are plenty of ways to improve your WordPress site’s speed. The easiest solution by far is to install a good quality cache plugin.
During caching, data from previous requests are stored and served up for future requests. These static cached files are easier to load.
This then minimizes the load on your site’s servers and speeds up your site considerably.
The faster your site loads, the higher up you’re likely to rank in Google search results.
And that translates into more traffic for your site!
Luckily, while caching is a complex process, the W3 Total Cache Plugin makes it as easy as a couple of clicks.
I’ve reviewed this free plugin in a previous post but site speed is so crucial to WordPress SEO that it’s worth mentioning again.
-The W3 Total Cache plugin delivers lightening fast site speeds, often improving your original speed 10 times or more, when fully utilized.
-It’s used by well-known sites like WP beginner and Mashable, to name just a few. Plus, it has over a million active installs and is updated regularly.
– It provides a one-click install option, as well as more detailed settings for those who need them. For instance, you can selectively cache only the pages you want, and instruct the plugin not to cache others. Don’t feel up to dealing with its over 16 pages of settings? No worries. The basic set up works fine too.
-It also offers file and database minification, and works well with pretty much any host type.
3. Best WordPress Plugins for SEO: The 404page Plugin
One of the most overlooked aspects of WordPress SEO is bounce rate.
Generally, your site’s bounce rate is the percentage of visitors to your site who “bounce” or leave after viewing only one page.
While bounce rate may not directly affect your WordPress site’s SEO, it can indirectly influence your ranking.
That’s because a high bounce rate sometimes suggests that, since your visitors are clicking away, your content might not be up to scratch.
And that indication could then impact your site’s ranking.
Note: Not all high bounce rates are a problem. In fact, if your site has lots of “how-to” content, it just indicates that readers are finding the information they need and don’t need to click around any further.
Broadly speaking though, you definitely want to keep visitors on your site as long as possible, for SEO and conversions.
To do that, you’ll need to eliminate any unnecessary causes of bouncing.
And one of those causes is the dreaded 404 error page.
404s are displayed when a user tries to navigate to a page on your WordPress site that has been moved or simply doesn’t exist.
When this happens, they’ll see a message telling them that this page can’t be found.
The problem is, most generic WordPress 404 pages aren’t very helpful.
They’re often unbranded, impersonal, and end up driving away users who could have stayed on your site longer.
Standard 404 pages tend to look like this:
Not very helpful, right? Visitors landing on a page like this tend to wonder if they’re even on the right site.
This confusion causes them to click away and look for content on another site.
So what can you do to improve the experience for your users and convince them to stick around?
Simple, customize your 404 pages.
Custom 404 pages can contain branding that reassures your visitors they’re still on your site, along with friendly messaging that tells them where to go next.
Now, you could create a custom 404 page manually.
But it’s a longer process that involves creating a 404.php file or modifying the one your theme provides.
If you’d prefer a simpler solution, I’d recommend using the 404page Plugin.
This free plugin provides you with a super-easy way to create custom, helpful 404s that keep people on your site longer(yay!).
-Unlike most other custom 404 plugins, it doesn’t create a redirect. This is important as plugins that do create a redirect which then leads to a 404 page could end up harming your SEO.
-The 404page plugin provides you with plenty of customization options. You can add images, links, text of your choice, and more, to create a branded and useful 404.
-With over 80,000 installs, this plugin is the most popular custom 404 WordPress tool, by far.
-It’s super-flexible and intuitive to use. It allows you to make a 404 by simply creating a page via your WordPress Page Editor. Plus, it works with nearly any WordPress theme out there.
4. Best WordPress Plugins for SEO: The All in One Schema Rich Snippets Plugin
Have you ever noticed that certain search results display ratings, prices, event dates, and other information?
Those nifty pieces of additional information are called rich snippets and they can be awesome for your WordPress site.
What Are Rich Snippets, Exactly, and How Can They Help Your WordPress SEO Efforts?
Rich snippets are standard data markup that help search engines to better understand and display information about your content.
Search engines love rich snippets because they help them provide the most relevant results to searchers.
In fact, research shows that sites using rich snippets ranked four spots higher in results than those without them.
Rich snippets also help your site stand out in search results and can drive more traffic to your posts.
After all, it’s only natural for searchers to be attracted to results that display more information.
For example, many recipe sites use rich snippets to add ratings, and information about prep time and calories to their content.
This extra information helps convince searchers that this content is exactly what they’re looking for.
As a result, content with rich snippets often gets clicked and read more often than content without them.
In fact, even if your listing is lower down in search results, rich snippets can ensure that it grabs attention and gets more traffic.
Check out these search results for avocado coffee recipes (yes, it’s a thing, and it’s delicious!):
Notice how the last result sort of jumps off the page, thanks to its star rating, image, and prep time info?
Despite the fact that it’s lower down on the page, I’ll bet this result gets more than its fair share of clicks.
But Wait, How Do Rich Snippets Help With WordPress SEO?
Well, in the long run, more clicks and visits give search engines a signal that users prefer your content. And that can lead to your site ranking higher.
Plus, the visitors who come to your site after seeing your rich snippets are already aware of the exact kind of content you provide.
This makes them more likely to stay and interact with your content and lowers your bounce rate.
Sounds great, right?
But what kinds of content are rich snippets useful for?
Rich snippets are great for:
-Content about your business or organization
Manually adding rich snippets to your WordPress site’s HTML can be a pretty daunting and time consuming task.
But with WordPress, there’s always a plugin to save the day!
When it comes to adding rich snippets to your WordPress site, the All In One Schema Rich Snippets Plugin is the way to go.
This super-popular free plugin helps you easily add rich snippets to your WordPress site’s search listings.
-The All in One Schema Rich Snippets Plugin supports the main content types allowed by Schema.org, including:
- Software applications
-It automatically adds a “Configure Rich Snippet”meta box to the text editor area in your WordPress page/post editor. Here, you can choose the best snippet for your specific content type and easily add details.
-You can quickly customize the look and feel of your rich snippets. Options include selecting the color of your snippet box, as well as the background, title, border, and snippet text color.
-The All in One Schema Rich Snippets Plugin is also one of the most popular rich snippet plugins available. With over 90,000 active installations, this lightweight plugin is a reliable option to raise your rankings.
Essential WordPress SEO Steps to Take:
Once you’ve installed a good WordPress SEO plugin, you’re on the road to SEO success.
But while plugins are convenient and easy to use, they can’t check everything for you.
Because WordPress SEO goes beyond getting an all green rating on Yoast, I’ve included some bonus SEO tips.
Here are a couple of essential optimization points to keep an eye on, for maximum benefits:
Make Sure You Have an XML Sitemap:
An XML sitemap is like a clearly marked map that helps search engines find all of your site’s important pages.
While having an XML sitemap is not listed as a search ranking factor, it can help you rank higher. That’s because an XML sitemap helps Google and other search engines “see” all of your great content.
Every time you create an awesome blog post or make changes to your site, your sitemap will help Google crawl and index them faster. This way, your great new content can start being seen and ranking in search engine listings sooner.
According to Google, XML sitemaps are especially useful for newer sites without a lot of external links to them. So if you’ve just set up your WordPress site, getting a sitemap is deifnitely a good idea.
But how do you get an XML sitemap?
Luckily, this process is super-simple with the free Yoast SEO plugin.
Yoast automatically generates a sitemap and submits it to search engines for you, so you don’t have to do a thing.
Want a sitemap without all of Yoast’s extra functions? Try the equally free and widely used Google XML Sitemaps Plugin.
This tool gets the job done and won’t weigh down your site’s speed.
Important note: It’s not a good idea to use both Yoast SEO and Google XML sitemaps at the same time. These plugins don’t play well with each other, so be sure to choose one or the other.
Check That Your WordPress Site is Visible:
Did you know that WordPress comes with an option to prevent your site from being “seen” in search results?
This option is useful when you’re working on your site and aren’t ready to display it to the world yet.
But if it remains checked, your site could end up not being indexed or seen online at all!
So it’s extremely important to ensure that you haven’t accidentally left your site hidden.
To check, enter your dashboard and head to Settings>>Reading.
Go down to “Search Engine Visibility”. There, ensure that the “Discourage search engines from indexing’ option is not selected and save your changes.
This one step could mean the difference between your WordPress site being invisible or getting the traffic it deserves.
Add LSI Keywords to Your Content:
Don’t get me wrong, the Yoast SEO plugin is flat out fantastic for helping you to optimize your content. But the free version doesn’t take LSI keywords in your posts into account.
Latent Semantic Indexing, or LSI, keywords are words that are synonymous with your primary keyword.
Because people use variations of terms when searching for content online, it’s important to include these synonyms in your posts.
The issues is that most WordPress SEO plugins tend to focus on a single keyword. They rate your optimization based on the repeated use of that single keyword.
For instance, if your focus keyword was “blogging for beginners”, these plugins would advise you to use this term over and over.
But search engines like to see content that includes a variety of related search terms.
It helps them understand what your content is about and which search queries to display it in response to.
To properly optimize your content, you’d need to include terms like “starting a blog” and “beginner’s blogging guide”.
So rather than just following your plugin’s advice and hammering home one keyword, add variations of it to your post.
Doing so can boost your SEO by allowing you to rank for more than one keyword or term.
Finding Related Keywords for WordPress SEO:
You can find related keywords by using a good LSI keyword generator like LSIGraph.
LSIGraph is free and super-simple to use. Just type in your main keyword and it will provide you with a list of related words and terms.
You can also use the popular SEO tool SEMrush to find a solid list of alternative keywords for free.
Simply sign-in and head to SEMrush’s Keyword Analytics Tool area.
Here, in overview, type in your focus keyword and hit “Enter”. You’ll get a list of great keywords you can use naturally throughout your post.
SEMrush even shows you the average number of monthly searches each keyword or term receives. It also displays competition levels, so you can select the keywords you have the best chance of ranking well for.
Optimizing your WordPress site might seem like a daunting process, but it doesn’t have to be.
In fact, out of the various website CMS options out there, I’d say WordPress lends itself to SEO most.
You can use this list of free WordPress plugins for SEO gains like site speed, content optimization, and bounce rate reduction.
But keep in mind that WordPress SEO doesn’t automatically mean installing every plugin that promises ranking benefits.
Search engines take site speed seriously when choosing which sites to display in their results.
So a glut of poorly coded or bloated SEO plugins could end up having the opposite effect.
Instead, make sure you only use a select handful of reputable WordPress plugins, to keep your site fast and secure.
And when it comes to content, implement plugin keyword suggestions wisely.
Whether your SEO plugin of choice features alternate keyword optimization or not, it is essential.
So focus on optimizing your content with natural variations of your primary keyword whenever possible.
And remember to check your WordPress site’s settings for visibility!
Your rankings will definitely thank you for it.
Hopefully, this in-depth guide to installing WordPress plugins for SEO has helped you find a few gems.
It’s definitely a lot of information to take in, so I’ve created a downloadable PDF WordPress SEO checklist for you below!
Just click below to instantly access your printable SEO checklist, no email address necessary.
Which WordPress SEO plugins do you use to boost your site? And which SEO features matter most to you?
Let me know in the comments below!