If your WordPress website is not optimized for search engines, you will miss out on many opportunities to increase your site traffic and attract a new audience.
Understanding search engine optimization or SEO can be complicated, especially if you’re a beginner. Luckily, our team of WordPress SEO experts can help, or read below for advice from our team!
Plugins can perform various functions, such as adding a payment gateway to your site, quickly redirecting your site visitor to a WhatsApp chat, making contact forms, and fixing broken links. However, too many plugins or ones unsuitable for your site can cause it to break down. Although plugins are fairly intuitive to use, we recommend having a developer on your team to help you evaluate which plugins are worth the investment and won’t slow your site down.
These plugins can optimize your site’s features and improve its look and functionality, enhancing the user experience. However, the plugins most beneficial for your website depend on its unique needs. In this article, we talk about the best on-page and technical SEO plugins to help you optimize your WordPress site for improved visibility on search engines.
Thanks to WordPress, launching a website no longer requires complex coding or in-depth SEO knowledge. However, understanding the metrics that determine your WordPress site’s rank in search engine results pages (SERPs) will help you choose plugins accordingly.
A good SEO foundation involves the following factors that work in tandem:
To rank high on search engines, the content on your WP site needs internal links, external links, and backlinks. What does this mean?
- Internal links connect to other pages on your WordPress site, which encourages site visitors to spend longer on your content. This gives Google the impression that your site is helpful to the visitor, prompting its algorithm to rank your site higher in search results.
- External links embedded in your content redirect your readers to credible domains with relevant content that backs up or enhances your article. Including high-quality external links increases the amount of value your site can provide the reader.
- Backlinks refer to other blogs or pages that have linked back to your site. Since this shows Google that your site is credible because other people are referencing it, it’s essential to build your backlinks.
When link-building, use fitting anchor text and high-quality links, i.e., only link to sites that are credible and have high domain authority. While building your backlinks, avoid unintentional link breaks due to mistyping or other errors.
2. Consistently posting content
To build and maintain a strong SEO foundation, your content should be unique, relevant, and value-adding for the reader. Remember to regularly post new and high-quality content, optimize your existing content, and use intent-based keywords to optimize the article for search results.
3. Technical SEO
Technical SEO involves fixing broken links, increasing page speed, etc., to provide a better user experience and enhance your site’s visibility in SERPs.
People with limited SEO knowledge need not be intimidated because the right WordPress plugins can help your site achieve a higher rank in SERPs. Read on to know our top WordPress plugin suggestions!
Best technical SEO plugins on WordPress
The website optimizations that help search engines index your site more effectively fall under the term ‘technical SEO’. Typically, technical optimizations include building an XML sitemap for your WP site, image compressing, and improving your browser speed. These features ensure ease of navigation for both viewers and search engines and rid your site of technical issues that would prevent it from being ranked.
The following plugins can help you enhance your WordPress site’s technical SEO.
1. To optimize permalink structure
Permalinks are individual and permanent links to your posts and pages. This is the link that appears when you share your article with others or when other bloggers reference your article.
Permalinks to your pages should be simple and comprehensive because Google uses these links to index your article. In other words, your link must make it easy for search engines to understand what your article is about.
For example, if your link reads: www.example.wordpress.com/snfhgvyhs789, search engines will find it difficult to index your article correctly. However, if it reads: www.example.com/how-to-improve-technical-SEO, then Google can easily present your article when a user is looking for content on improving technical SEO.
We recommend the WordPress plugin Yoast to optimize your permalink structure, title tag, and meta description by including functional keywords. Yoast is one of the best WordPress plugins, with over 5 million users as a testament to its ability to improve SEO. It has a free as well as a premium version with several features, such as an internal linking tool and a snipper preview.
2. To improve page speed
40% of users will leave a site that takes more than 3 seconds to load. Page load speed is, therefore, a critical factor in determining search engine ranking. When users leave a site that takes ages to load, it increases the site’s bounce rate, which indicates to Google that your site did not provide a good user experience.
While experimenting with plugins, always hire a developer to test different plugin setups and caching options to ensure they don’t negatively affect your site’s speed.
Our WP plugin recommendations for improving page speed are MaxCDN and WP Rocket.
Max CDN is a Content Delivery Network that helps speed up your content loading time. This paid tool allows your WP site to distribute its load across several servers instead of having all traffic run through the main server, which makes your site less likely to crash. In addition, it improves site performance and SEO.
WP Rocket, another excellent plugin for increasing the speed of your WordPress site, is one of the best on the market. This powerful caching tool is easy to set up and incredibly user-friendly, allowing you to use caching features with minimal technical knowledge.
3. To tweak browser caching settings
Your browser cache is the temporary storage area on your device that holds the memory of recently loaded web pages and images. As you browse the Internet, this cached data allows you to revisit pages quickly with shorter loading times.
By adjusting your WordPress site’s browser caching settings, you can specify how long web browsers should store images, Cascading Style Sheets, and Java Scripts of your site to enable visitors to navigate your site quickly and easily while using less data.
The W3TC or W3 Total Cache plugin is an excellent option to help you leverage browser caching. This plugin is the only agnostic Web Performance Optimization framework for WordPress, and leverages content delivery networks to reduce load times, increase website performance, and improve core web vitals and SEO.
4. To compress images
Images make your content exciting and visually appealing, adding significant value to your readers. Images also help your site visitors understand your content at a single glance.
However, images consume more bytes and take up more storage space than written content, so if these images are not optimized for SEO, they might slow down your site and increase page load times.
To speed up site loading time and improve user experience, you can use plugins to compress images while maintaining clarity and quality. WP Smush is a plugin that allows you to optimize your images without compromising quality. It optimizes both new and existing images in bulk – almost 50 at a time. Imagify, another great plugin that pairs well with WP Rocket for page speed, is one of the most advanced tools available to resize or compress images on WordPress without affecting their quality.
Using plugins that work well together is key to preventing site breakdowns. If you’re not technically savvy regarding the optimal choice of plugins, it’s best to hire a developer to help.
5. To create a sitemap
A sitemap lists your website’s most important pages to help search engines crawl and index them, which supports higher visibility in search results. Users find it easier to navigate websites that create a sitemap to organize their structure.
Sitemaps ensure that your content is properly indexed to organically rank in relevant search results. This is particularly important for larger sites.
Google XML Sitemap Generator is a free plugin you can use to create a sitemap for your WP site. It lets you create your sitemap in HTML format and notifies search engines about website updates to improve your site’s search engine visibility.
These five recommendations are a great way to boost your site’s technical SEO. Let’s now look at the tools that can help you improve on-page SEO.
Best on-page SEO plugins on WordPress
Regularly uploading high-quality and SEO-friendly content can help you earn organic site traffic with support from on-page SEO features that optimize your content. These features must be embedded in every page and piece of content on your WordPress site. For example, practices like including title tags, meta descriptions, keywords, and links help you improve on-page SEO.
It can be very time-consuming to optimize all your new and existing content. Here are the best WordPress plugins to make this process more efficient for you.
1. To customize title tags and meta descriptions
The title tags and meta descriptions of your pages should succinctly indicate what that page is about through the judicious use of keywords. Your meta description must be well-written and optimized to include the essential keywords relating to that page’s content, as it’s one of the first things a user will see related to your site.
The Yoast plugin helps you optimize title tags and meta descriptions, among its various features.
2. To check your headers
As a rule of thumb, include one H1 header per page, followed by H2s, H3s, and H4s as headings and subheadings. In addition, include some critical keywords in your headings to optimize your content for search results.
The WordPress Classic Editor is a plugin that helps you custom-edit your content, allowing you to optimize pages. It provides a consistent and convenient editing experience with SEO benefits.
3. To organize internal linking
Having a solid internal linking strategy makes it easier for search engines to index different pages on your WP site and redirect readers to consume other relevant or interesting content you have posted.
Internal linking, if used correctly, can have a significant impact on your site’s performance. However, it’s important to avoid too many links, which can look spammy. Further, always use relevant and natural anchor text for your links.
As a rule of thumb, 3-4 internal links per 1200 words are sufficient. To insert internal links in your WordPress content, simply highlight your anchor text, click on the link icon, and paste the internal link. Once the link is added, save the changes by updating or posting the article as per normal practice.
The SEO Ultimate plugin searches your site’s content for relevant anchor text to help you naturally insert internal links into your content. In addition, it helps you avoid over-optimization penalties by notifying you when too many internal links have been added. This plugin also allows you to create links to draft posts; once these drafts are published, the anchor text will auto-update to reflect the link, saving you the hassle of going back to posts to update links.
4. To fix external links
External links point to information sources on a different domain, i.e., to websites other than the one you are updating.
Adding external links to your content increases its credibility and value for the reader. Further, backlinks from other pages that link back to your content help establish your site as a credible source of information.
However, these links might sometimes have spelling errors or point to dead pages or low-quality sources. Broken Link Checker is a free and easy-to-setup plugin that monitors and tests all internal and external links on your WP site. This plugin is designed to check for dead links that could be hurting your search engine ranking. It allows you to quickly spot any broken text or image links and fix them, improving your site’s SEO and user experience.
5. Keyword planning
Keyword density is an important factor in determining search engine rankings. If a customer is looking for the best shampoo on the market, and your article on shampoo recommendations has not used the keywords ‘best shampoo’ enough times, your page will not list high in the search results for those keywords. However, keyword stuffing, i.e., using too many keywords in the article, will negatively impact your ranking as it makes your content less readable and value-adding to users.
Keyword Research Tool helps you quickly and easily discover keywords relevant to your topic. Incorporating these keywords in your content, title tags, and meta descriptions will help your site rank higher in search engine results.
Too much to remember? We’ll quickly recap it for you.
SEO checklist for WordPress
Here is a quick checklist of the best WordPress plugin recommendations that you can screenshot for future reference.
- Yoast for permalink structures
- Max CDN and WP Rocket for page speed
- W3 TC to leverage browser caching
- WP Smush and Imagify for image compressing
- XML sitemap generator to create a sitemap
- Yoast to customize title tags and meta descriptions
- WordPress Classic Editor to check your headers
- SEO Ultimate to find anchor text for internal linking
- Broken Link Checker to fix internal and external links
- Keyword Research Tool for keyword planning
- Yoast for schema markup and to increase ranking in SERPs
- WooCommerce for dynamic optimizations like product page optimizations
- ACF (advanced custom fields) to build your website faster
- Gravity Forms to create forms on your WordPress site
- Redirection plugin to ensure any broken links point to another relevant page
Best practices when using plugins:
Now that you know the plugins that enhance different aspects of SEO, here are some final pointers to remember before diving into your site makeover.
- Audit your plugins often, only keeping the ones that you need.
- Too many SEO tools and plugins can slow down your site, so be wise when selecting the ones best suited to your needs.
- Make sure that the plugins you pay for work well with each other
- Hire a WordPress developer to help you optimize your WordPress site.
With deep experience in web design and development, AUQ can help you build and optimize your site as well as grow your online traffic organically. Want to know more? Get in touch with our team today!