You've built a great site, spent a lot of time on content, and launched it for your website visitors. You're hoping that "If you build it, they will come," like the Kevin Costner movie Field of Dreams, right? Not necessarily.
In order to drive organic website traffic (i.e. traffic not resulting in paid ads), search engine optimization — or SEO — is the necessary next step. SEO is an ongoing process, but fortunately, WordPress has a variety of tools to help you do it strategically and efficiently.
Note: Before you start the optimization process, you must understand the basics of SEO. Here is HubSpot's guide to on-page SEO as well as a great SEO beginner guide from MOZ.
Yoast SEO plugin is the most widely used SEO plugin for WordPress. It's a free plugin that offers you almost all of the features to optimize your website from SERP previews to XML sitemap creation.
Its on-page SEO insights feature is one of the key highlights: It will tell you how to best incorporate your target keyword, whether you've used the keyword enough times (or too many times) on the page, and how to best optimize your title, meta description, and URL for the keyword. It's meant to be a guide for managing each element based on SEO best practices.
Rank Math helps you optimize your site as you write content, providing real-time insights about your posts without you having to leave the WordPress interface. You'll also be able to optimize titles and meta descriptions with a snippet preview, reducing the likelihood of SERP display errors in Google. The best part is that this plugin has been optimized for speed, making it fast so that your site's speed isn't affected. It also offers additional SEO features such as redirections, 404 monitoring, and SEO for WooCommerce sites.
With more than 2,000,000 sites also using the All in One SEO Pack, this plugin is a popular choice for those who want to perform on-page SEO while considering schema, knowledge graph, and AMP. It can also automatically generate and submit sitemaps to Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yandex, and other popular search engines, maximizing your presence on the web. Their support time is continually updating the plugin, and you can integrate it with other popular plugins such as WooCommerce.
What makes the Premium SEO Pack unique is its advanced features that handle SEO elements that other plugins don't. While it has some of the foundational features available such as sitemap generation and Google Analytics monitoring, it also includes unique features for monitoring page speed, rich snippets, 404 checking, CSS and javscript minifying (for speed), and link building. It also provides you with insights about your internal linking and how SEO-friendly your images are.
WP Meta SEO offers a meta information bulk editor, making it easy to perform optimization across the site at once (without having to go in and out of each individual page), saving you an incredible amount of time. It also integrates with Google Search Console to power its keyword suggestion features... so that you can use real Google data as you make informed decisions about your keyword strategy. There are also additional SEO features built in such as a redirections manager and a sitemap generator.
Site speed is a huge ranking factor for Google and other search engines because they want to retrieve sites that satisfy the searcher's query while providing a good experience. W3 Total Cache is a must-have plugin for improving site speed through caching, minifying, and CDN integrations so that you can minimize download times.
Your SEO strategy is only as good as its data. What Rankie does is provide you more data to make SEO decisions from. By helping you track your rankings and creating powerful reports, Rankie provides the data-driven insights you need to make modifications to your pages. You can even track your target keywords to monitor your ongoing performance as well as add new keywords that users are finding you for.
Using machine learning algorithms that have analyzed over 600,000 sites over 7 years, Squirrly audits websites based on internal architecture, keyword utilization, backlinks, web authority, and more. Its artificial intelligence enables it to identify the gaps that are keeping your site from ranking as well as you'd like so that you can focus on the activities that will give you the fastest results. The idea is to achieve big breakthroughs from fewer activities, saving you time and money.
Scenario: You delete a page because you no longer need it. However, Google really likes that page, and you have a lot of backlinks pointing to it that you don't want to lose. How do you delete your page with confidence? By implementing a 301 redirect that tells Google to look at another page instead.
These 301 redirects are an important element of SEO strategy, and you can easily redirect those URLs with Redirection, the most trusted redirect plugin for WordPress, without a lot of extra effort. It also allows you to keep on top of 404 errors as well.
Rich snippets are a Google feature that displays search results in a more attractive way to boost click-through rate. They are often interactive and can display photos, star ratings, price, author, etc., so earning placement in a rich snippet is important because you'd be standing out from the competition.
This plugin allows you to compete for more of these snippets by implementing schema coding such as Review, Events, Recipes, Article, Products, Services, and more. The best part is that you don't have to be a web developer to use it.
After years of being a go-to SEO toolkit for keyword research and other SEO data for campaigns, Ahrefs developed a WordPress plugin to provide more actionable insights directly to your dashboard. Some of its more unique features include backlink analysis powered by its backlink index (the largest backlink index online), SEO analysis based on data from your Google Analytics, and a content audit tool to provide real-time recommendations as you produce content to rank.
SEMrush is another keyword research platform, and they've made their highly popular Writing Assistant available in the form of a WordPress plugin. The Writing Assistant checks your content as you type and provides recommendations based on your keywords and competitors. This allows you to better produce content that is competitive with what's already out there and ranking.
There's no SEO without tracking analytics and performance, and that's what MonsterInsights helps you do. With its WordPress plugin, it brings Google Analytics right to your WordPress dashboard and provides you with actionable insights on how to improve.
You won't have to use any code to install your Google Analytics tracking script, you'll be able to see exactly how people find and use your website, and it has a content report that shows which pages on your site are visited the most. If you think Google Analytics is too complicated, MonsterInsights provides a simplified and streamlined way to look at your data without ever logging into the Google Analtyics platform.
If you're worried about bloating your site with too many plugins, SEOPress provides an all-in-one package for all your SEO needs, including breadcrumbs, redirections, schemas, and sitemaps. You'll be equipped to optimize titles and meta descriptions, submit your sitemap to Google's index, and even check broken links, all from your WordPress dashboard.
A good quality WordPress SEO plugin is a must for any WordPress site. You may find that your framework comes with SEO settings built in. However, it's best to use a plugin instead of the built-in theme SEO functionality because you may lose those SEO settings if you change your theme in the future. Just watch how many plugins you install because you don't want to cause bloat in your WordPress site.
Originally published May 14, 2020 7:20:00 AM, updated May 15 2020