New To Using WordPress? 3 Must Have Plugins To Power Your SEO
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
The Yoast SEO plugin called WordPress SEO has long been a rival of All in One SEO Pack, SEO 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
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.
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 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 CSS (with automated updates)
- Browser caching using cache-control, future expire headers and entity tags (ETag) with “cache-busting”
- 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?
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:
- A downloadable ZIP file
- Your email inbox
- 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.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)
Everything you need to know about SEO, delivered every Thursday.