Some of you are likely already aware of these plugins, while others will be hearing about them for the first time. These plugins are specifically for WordPress websites. These are only 3 of thousands of plugins available for WordPress. But these 3 are considerably strong and I would recommend them for most WordPress sites.

Personally, I love working with WordPress. It is the most popular CMS (content management system)  for good reason. Building a simple website is incredibly easy and adding new functionality is only a plugin or development project away. Although this is true, there are also good reasons why companies choose other systems like Drupal, Joombla, Magento, etc., as WordPress is limited in certain ways that can demand another CMS at times.

While some WordPress developers would rather build plugin functionality themselves, there are thousands of high-quality plugins out there to use.

For those of you who haven’t used plugins before, they simply allow you to create functionality on a WordPress site. Almost any functionality you can think of, there likely has already been a plugin developed. If you want to add share buttons, there is a plugin for that, if you want to add related post, there is a plugin for that, and so on.

When evaluating WordPress plugins, I generally recommend the following:

  • Make sure you have the required version of WordPress.
  • Review when it was last updated. If it was last updated years ago, be wary.
  • Check the number of downloads. Hundreds of downloads is very low, thousands is low, tens of thousands is average, hundreds of thousands is good, millions is excellent.
  • Check the number of ratings and the average rating.
  • Read the reviews.
  • Review the support threads for common issues.
  • Review how many people say it works and how many say it is broken and their comments.

I am going to stop here because this is not a post about how to pick a WordPress plugin or choose a CMS, it is a post about my three recommended plugins for SEO.

My top three WordPress Plugins for SEO in 2013 are listed below. You can use these plugins on a WordPress blog or a WordPress website. When installing plugins, always make sure to back up your site as they can cause fatal errors, don’t worry we have something for you below on that.

Plugin #1: WordPress SEO By Yoast

Wordpress SEO by Yoast

WordPress SEO by Yoast

 

Wordpress SEO by Yoast Quick Look

WordPress SEO by Yoast Quick Look

The Yoast SEO plugin called WordPress SEO has long been a rival of All in One SEO PackSEO Nova and others. But over the years the plugin has been added to, allowing it to now offer excellent core SEO functionality.

What WordPress SEO by Yoast Offers for SEO

The plugin analyses your post based on a focus keyword. It looks at the URL, title, description, content, and more to make sure your post has a clear SEO focus.

“The WordPress SEO plugin’s Linkdex Page Analysis functionality checks simple things you’re bound to forget. It checks, for instance, if you have images in your post and whether they have an alt tag containing the focus keyword for that post. It also checks whether your posts are long enough, if you’ve written a meta description and if that meta description contains your focus keyword, if you’ve used any subheadings within your post, etc.”

“The plugin also allows you to write meta titles and descriptions for all your category, tag and custom taxonomy archives, giving you the option to further optimize those pages.” – Yoast

Wordpress SEO by Yoast Analysis

WordPress SEO by Yoast Analysis

 

This is a huge benefit that WordPress SEO by Yoast offers, but there are also other important items to note:

  • Helps enable pretty permalinks
  • Inserts meta information into the code
  • Allows you to control indexing of categories and archives
  • Adds rel=”next” and rel=”prev”
  • Creates an XML sitemap
  • Adds breadcrumbs if your theme is compatible
  • Provides an easy way to Edit your .htaccess and robots.txt file
  • Comes with Facebook OpenGraph implementation
  • Comes with Twitter Card implementation
  • Allows you to import from All in One SEO Pack and other SEO plugins
  • Allows you to add rel=”author”
  • Easily do 301 redirects
  • Easily add canonical URL
  • And More…

As you can see, WordPress SEO by Yoast is the real deal. That is why it is one of my picks for a top WordPress SEO plugin in 2013. Once you have this plugin installed, configuring it is as easy as clicking through the tabs on the left and selecting the best options for your site.

One other thing, if you are currently using All in One SEO Pack or another well known SEO solution WordPress SEO by Yoast has a feature that allows you to import information from the other plugins. You can learn more about that here.

Plugin #2: W3 Total Cache

Looking to increase your page speed? Look no further! As we know, page speed is a Google SEO ranking factor, and W3 Total Cache can help you with this. After using this plugin for a number of sites, I can say that I believe it greatly increases page speed.

W3 Total Cache WordPress Plugin SEO

W3 Total Cache WordPress Plugin SEO

 

Quick Look at W3 Total Cache

Quick Look at W3 Total Cache

According to the developers, this plugin is:

“Recommended by web hosts like: MediaTemple, Host Gator, Page.ly and WP Engine and countless more.” Trusted by countless sites like: stevesouders.com, mattcutts.com, mashable.com, smashingmagazine.com, makeuseof.com, yoast.com, kiss925.com, pearsonified.com, lockergnome.com, johnchow.com, ilovetypography.com, webdesignerdepot.com, css-tricks.com and tens of thousands of others.

Features of W3 Total Cache SEO Plugin

  • Compatible with shared hosting, virtual private / dedicated servers and dedicated servers / clusters
  • Transparent content delivery network (CDN) integration with Media Library, theme files and WordPress itself
  • Mobile support: respective caching of pages by referrer or groups of user agents including theme switching for groups of referrers or user agents
  • Caching of (minified and compressed) pages and posts in memory or on disk or on CDN (mirror only)
  • Caching of (minified and compressed) CSS and JavaScript in memory, on disk or on CDN
  • Caching of feeds (site, categories, tags, comments, search results) in memory or on disk or on CDN (mirror only)
  • Caching of search results pages (i.e. URIs with query string variables) in memory or on disk
  • Caching of database objects in memory or on disk
  • Caching of objects in memory or on disk
  • Minification of posts and pages and feeds
  • Minification of inline, embedded or 3rd party JavaScript (with automated updates)
  • Minification of inline, embedded or 3rd party CSS (with automated updates)
  • Browser caching using cache-control, future expire headers and entity tags (ETag) with “cache-busting”
  • JavaScript grouping by template (home page, post page etc) with embed location control
  • Non-blocking JavaScript embedding
  • Import post attachments directly into the Media Library (and CDN)

With this plugin speeding your site up and WordPress SEO by Yoast helping with the other optimization elements, you can really take your site to the next level.

Plugin #3: Online Backup For WordPress

I started this post saying that you need to back up your WordPress site before installing plugins, otherwise this could cause a fatal error. Well here is the way to do that.

The Online backup Plugin for WordPress is free and easily allows you to back up your database and file system. I know this is not really an SEO plugin, but hey, if your entire site crashes, then you won’t have anything to rank, will you?

Online Backup for WordPress

Online Backup for WordPress

Quick Look at Online Backup for WordPress

Quick Look at Online Backup for WordPress

According to the developers, “The plugin can back up your site’s database (containing settings, pages, posts and comments) as well as its file system (containing media, attachments, themes and plugins) to any one of three places:

  1. A downloadable ZIP file
  2. Your email inbox
  3. Backup Technology’s secure data centres with 100 MB free online storage space

Unlike other plugins, Online Backup for WordPress can even encrypt your backup data to keep it secure while it is downloaded, emailed, and even while it is stored.

Wrapping It Up

While these are just three of many WordPress plugins, I believe they are three of the most important plugins for your site. Each of these plugins requires a little know-how in order to get it to work properly. But if you get them going, they have great potential to help your SEO and protect your website.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: All Things SEO Column | Channel: SEO

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About The Author: is Founder and President of SEO and Social Media at Ignite Visibility, a premier Internet marketing company based in San Diego, CA. You can follow John on Twitter at: @johnelincoln.

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  • Devtard

    I read somewhere that Google uses tags to determine post relevancy. My plugin Automatic Post Tagger (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/automatic-post-tagger) will save you a lot of time because you won’t have to add tags manually anymore. :)

  • http://twitter.com/johnelincoln John E Lincoln

    Cool plugin thanks for sharing!

  • Mark Corder

    Quick question : What happens if you switch “SEO packages”? I’ve used All-In-One-SEO for years (no complaints and good results) – but if I switched to a different one, would I take a hit in my ranking for it?

  • Jim Thornton

    It really depends on the settings and features of the plugin you are currently using and making sure that you don’t lose them. So I’d take note of all the settings, back everything up, de-activate the plugin, check your site to see if features stop working, ie. your title tags didn’t disappear, etc., install the Yoast SEO plugin, and fix any settings you want to keep to match your old settings. If it gets messy you can just go to the most recent backup.

  • http://twitter.com/johnelincoln John E Lincoln

    Make sure to read through this page and the comments below.
    http://yoast.com/all-in-one-seo-pack-migration/

  • http://inkbotdesign.com Stuart L. Crawford

    I use the first two everyday, but thanks for the reminder of the third – haven’t backed up any sites in a month since removing backupbuddy!

  • http://twitter.com/GuysGab Guys Gab

    I’m tempted to give WordPress SEO By Yoast a shot, as I currently use 3 separate plugins to do the same thing right now. I just hate changing things that aren’t broken, as it might open up a whole new can of works..

  • http://twitter.com/johnelincoln John E Lincoln

    I felt the exact same way… Then finally pulled the trigger… Your choice! Definitely means doing some extra work.

  • http://www.gowebbaby.com/wordpress-designer Gowebbaby

    We have been using two of them. Yoast SEO is great plugin and we replaced ALL IN ONE SEO pack with yoast.

  • http://www.webmaxformance.com/ Igor Mateski

    Ive used Yoast Seo for years on all the websites I build for my clients. W3 cache too, although it does act up and can mess up things with some themes, but its great. Two weeks ago I set 8t up on a site that took 5.7 secs to load, and after caching compresing and CDN via subdomain, pingdom says the site now loads in 1.3 seconds. Amazing!
    Id also put the Better WP Security plugin on the list of mandatory plugins. It does db rename, intrusion prevention, file change etc. all very important for a good night sleap for wp site owners

  • http://www.facebook.com/miriamschwab Miriam Schwab

    Importing data from All in One to Yoast has gone smoothly for us every time we did it. And it’s definitely worth it. By using Yoast’s plugin, you can stop using a bunch of other plugins. For example, Yoast’s plugin also creates a dynamic XML sitemap, so you can stop using another plugin that does that.

    Thanks for pointing out that Yoast’s plugin adds rel=prev and rel=next! We were implementing that in a different way, but this definitely makes it easier for us.

  • http://www.jchweb.co.uk/ Jack Hutchinson

    Yoast is amazing!! Can’t fault it – will give the others a go today.

  • http://twitter.com/excitingsex Sex girl
  • http://twitter.com/RizzoMB Michael Rizzo

    I’ve always been under the impression the All-in-one pack is better than Yoast, is that not the case anymore?

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    I recommend Yoast to all of my clients. I think it’s the best and most user-friendly plugin for SEO, especially if you are new to blogging and SEO.

  • http://www.chaddo.com/index.php/local-seo/ Chad Kimball

    I’ve been using All in One SEO for some time and recommending it to my customers. WordPress SEO by Yoast looks like it offers the same and more.

    Thanks to all who commented on migrating – that was one of the first questions I thought of.

  • http://twitter.com/johnelincoln John E Lincoln

    I felt the same way until this year… Its really good now… rel author, next prev, twitter cards, opegraph tags, xml sitemap, meta data, optimization analysis… pretty impressive

  • Durjoy Bhattacharjya

    Just a quick clarification- WPengine does not allow Plugin #2: W3 Total Cache. http://wpengine.com/2011/12/no-caching-plugins/

    (I’m a new and very happy WPengine customer and am surprised how much faster my pages load with them.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=29800679 Dylan Whitman

    Everyone hypes up Yoast but there are way better SEO plugins – ultimate seo blows the Yoast plugin away.

  • http://www.hopeocampo.com Hope Ocampo

    I am using Yoast SEO and Online Backup for WordPress for many years. And yes, they are very useful for my blog. I just installed W3 Total Cache and this really works! My site now loads faster than before. Great work!

  • http://twitter.com/johnelincoln John E Lincoln

    Good info…

  • http://twitter.com/johnelincoln John E Lincoln

    Why do you like it over yoast?

  • http://www.vincenttobiaz.com Vincent Tobiaz

    Ack, no no no. All in one seo was the first of its kind and the best (and still is), and for cache, WP Super Cache was also the first and best of its kind. The online backup plugin is good though. There was something about Yoast that wasn’t customizable before when I pitted them vs each other so maybe it has changed since. I reviewed them about 2-3 years ago and Yoast was a rookie or sophomore at the time.

  • Elmer Ayala

    This is a dated list and a complete waste of an “impression”

  • cboulanger

    Overall, I think this is a good list of essentials plugins.

    Yoast is my preferred SEO Plugin. It’s updated regularly and has a lot of options.
    I use Super Cache instead of Total–fewer options but much easier to get setup. I’d say it’s a better option for new WP users or people that are less tech-savvy.
    I prefer using VaultPress for my backups, primarily because it’s constantly backing up and it makes re-launching after a crash very easy.

  • sestefi

    Here’s a great example of a headline that fails to deliver on it’s promise. How about this for an SEO tip – Reduce your bounce rate by writing accurate headlines that are in-line with your articles.

  • http://electmedia.com/seo-albuquerque/ ElectMedia

    Yessir, the actual name is SEO Ultimate, but it is the best period.

  • http://electmedia.com/seo-albuquerque/ ElectMedia

    I can tell you a big reason, SEO Ultimate is built by a company that understands advance SEO methods, the widget to make siloed categories alone makes this plugin better than most.

  • http://twitter.com/johnelincoln John E Lincoln

    Thanks for the feedback! Please give us your list. Are you a SEO Ultimate fan?

  • http://twitter.com/johnelincoln John E Lincoln

    Interesting. But you can optimize categories without any plugin. So why put some much weight on this? You dont even need a plugin.

  • http://electmedia.com/seo-albuquerque/ ElectMedia

    True, and I am sure that there are several other plugins as well that do this nicely, but I like the way this particular plugins does it. I guess we all have our fans. :)

  • Joe Phillip

    The cache one is fine if it really works

  • mrmarchuk

    SEO Ultimate is my preferred choice too :) Don’t get me wrong, YOAST is nice too, but SEO Ultimate has more of the features I need :)

  • Anh Duong Truong

    hi why do you think seo Yoast is better than Ultimate, i’m using Ultimate, it’s very good

  • Anh Duong Truong

    i using seo Ultimate what happen @twitter-28405767:disqus

  • Anh Duong Truong

    i agree with you @mrmarchuk:disqus , i think SEO Ultimate is my first choose when i make seo

  • http://alexwebmaster.com/ Alex Garrido

    I agree with you, SEO ultimate rocks. It is the most comprehensive and light SEO plug in yet for some reason it is not popular.

  • http://www.primemagz.com/ Prime Magazine

    So which one do you recommend?

    All in on seo or Yoast

    BTW

    Is it ok to have both of these plugins installed or it would ruin something?

    Thanks for your time ;)

  • http://www.ponity.com/ Chetan Bhasin

    I was using W3 Total Cache. It doesn’t work too well, though. Not for me, and many of my friends. I don’t know why, but instead of speeding website load time it is increasing it.

 

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