A Guide to WordPress SEO Plugins
WordPress is one of the most robust content management systems for creating search-engine optimized websites. The quality and keyword readiness of a site’s written content are both big factors in how well it performs in the search engines for your desired key phrases. However, you can give your website’s rankings a significant additional boost with the added functionality of a few reputable and well-maintained WordPress plugins especially designed for SEO enhancement.
Yoast SEO is a free plugin designed to enhance your site’s written content by easily adding search-engine ready title tags, meta descriptions and focus keywords to each page and post. Its page analysis features let you see at a glance how well the individual page’s content focuses on the desired key phrase. Its social optimization component enables you to control how links to your pages appear on social media. The plugin also automatically generates a Google XML sitemap, and optimizes your content for RSS feeds. Many developers consider Yoast SEO a must-have plugin for any WordPress website.
A popular and equally free alternative to Yoast SEO is All In One SEO Pack. Many of its features overlap with the Yoast plugin, and to some extent, choosing between the two is a matter of personal preference. For example, the AIOSEO interface is much more streamlined than Yoast’s, and its lack of a comprehensive page analysis feature may be an advantage to users who want to keep their SEO efforts simple. Both plugins automatically generate an XML sitemap for your website, but only AIOSEO immediately pings both Bing and Google whenever you publish changes.
A webpage’s internal links to other pages on the same domain is one of the main avenues search engine crawlers use to discover and index the other pages on your website. The free SEO Smart Links plugin makes this even easier by automatically identifying keywords on your posts and then linking to other pages or posts on your site with the same keyword focus. You can create custom keyword lists and exclude automatic linking to more obvious keywords such as “contact” and “about.” The plugin also allows you to integrate affiliate links automatically and set custom rules for how your website handles external links.
The SEO Friendly Images plugin is a free tool that automatically makes use of ALT and TITLE attributes for all of the images on your posts and pages. These image attributes can have meaningful, keyword-rich descriptions that subtly bolster your page’s visibility in the search engines for that keyword phrase while making your content more relevant and valuable for your visitors. Additionally, adding keyword-relevant ALT and TITLE attributes to your images increases the likelihood that your content will rank for that keyword phrase in Google image searches.
The relevance and maintenance of your content is one of the lesser-known factors by which Google and other search engines determine the rank and value of your web pages. If your content has outbound links to broken links or dead websites, your site’s rankings in the search engines may take a hit. The free Broken Link Checker plugin scans every piece of content on your site to ensure every link leads to a live, functional webpage.
Having a large amount of quality relevant content is still the best practice for improving your site’s SEO. But by using a robust suite of free tools, you can optimize your WordPress website to rank higher in the search engines with very little effort.