For all the usefulness and popularity of WordPress, it does need a little help to make it fully optimized for search engines. Fortunately, as plugins can add lots of other functionality to sites built on the platform, WordPress SEO plugins can do a lot for search engine optimization (SEO). While it is still necessary for the person building to site to understand SEO and take the right actions, proper plugins can go a long way in improving a website’s ranking on the search engines and aid in attracting more visitors and potential customers.
Learn SEO before you choose plugins
WordPress SEO plugins come in a variety of forms and styles to offer webmasters different options to improve their SEO throughout the website. In fact, the abundance of plugins WordPress has to offer to improve SEO can be overwhelming and sometimes confusing, as many of the plugins have similar capabilities available in all-in-one formats.
For example, many webmasters make the classic mistake of having several SEO plugins that do the same basic task for the site while neglecting other needs. Fortunately, with the right understanding the SEO basics (and the guide below) it becomes a lot easier to choose the most advantageous plugins for the website’s needs and put them to optimal use. For those unfamiliar with how to SEO, these basic principles of on-page SEO and off-page SEO will provide the background knowledge needed to get started.
Basic functions of SEO plugins
Many basic WordPress SEO plugins are free. Most webmasters utilize more than one of them for superior results. These plugins usually perform one or more of the following basic functions:
- Titles and tags: Ensuring all posts, images and pages on a website have the needed titles, descriptions and tags.
- Content and keywords: Make sure the content on the site, factors to include keyword density, is properly optimized.
- Internal linking: Help create internal links to tie related content together (this is good for both search engines and visitors)
- Broken links: Check sites for broken links or other problems that will affect visitors as well as SEO.
- Sitemaps: Creating sitemaps to allow for search engines to better crawl websites.
Managing SEO basics with plugins
There are a number of good, free plugins to handle basic SEO needs for WordPress sites. They help customize URL structure, titles, and tags throughout the website or blog. Two popular plugins include:
Both plugins cover a large number of functions, but WordPress SEO is more complete. Its major features include page analysis (it gives tips on how to improve it), automatic XML sitemaps, breadcrumbs (for easy navigation), the ability to import and export settings, meta description and title tag integration and other features. Those choosing between the two should keep in mind that WordPress SEO will offer more, but All in One SEO Pack will be easier to use.
A basic in SEO is sitemaps to alert search engines to changes in a site and make it easier for them to crawl it. If not included in the basic SEO plugin, install one that will automate this task. Plugins for this job include Google XML Sitemaps or Better WordPress Google XML Sitemaps
Improving content for SEO
If the content is not well optimized, anything else done for SEO is going to be a lot less effective. To help make sure factors to include keyword density, image, H1 and other tags, etc. are done right, there are SEO plugins that will analyze pages for those and a number of other factors.
- ClickBump SEO is a paid plugin that gives webmasters statistics on each page on factors from keyword density to tags and word count. One particularly valuable feature is its latent semantic indexing (LSI) feature that lets users know what keywords they should include on the page (based on what the top sites are using).
- SEOPressor is another paid plugin that performs many of these tasks with percentages, underlined keywords and raw data to ensure pages are fully optimized.
Broken links and other errors on websites turn off users and will cause a site to take a hit with search engines. There are plugins that will automatically check sites for errors that might otherwise be difficult to find
- Broken Link Checker helps find broken links that might otherwise go unnoticed for years. It will automatically search an entire site and notify the owner.
- SEO Content Controlwill search a site for weak content, missing meta tags and other factors that can hurt rankings.
Every image should have ALT and Title tags; however, it is easy to forget to put them in. SEO Friendly Images will automatically put these tags in when they are forgotten.
No matter how well a site has been planned out, it often becomes necessary to change pages. Redirection is a plugin that allows you to manage redirections and 404 errors to keep sites working smoothly even when changes need to be made.
Internal linking is important both for SEO and as an aid to give site visitors the best experience possible. With SEO Smart links, keywords will automatically be linked within a site. Webmasters can also set which keywords to associate with link with selected URLs. In addition, it is possible to set nofollow and new window attributes.
Changes in search engine algorithms are pointing to the increasingly importance of social factors. This necessitates the need to make it easy for users to bookmark and share content as easily as possible. Sociable is one free plugin that does this very well. In addition, many more top social bookmarking plugins can be found here.
While the above does not cover every possible SEO factor, it does address the lion’s share of them. Familiarity with SEO techniques and factors as well as the website’s needs is the catalyst in finding the best WordPress SEO plugins for any website.