WordPress is already technically fairly good out of the box when it comes to SEO, but with plugins you can really take it to the next level. Whether it’s the ability to tweak and change meta data, analyse your data, make redirects or just helping you save time – there’s a plugin to help. I’ve tried and tested a myriad of plugins since I begun SEO’ing WordPress sites, here’s the ones I find the most useful:
- WordPress SEO by Yoast – The first thing I do when SEO’ing a WordPress site is install Yoast; it’s by far the best ‘all in one’ SEO plugin for WordPress. I’ve played around with a number of similar plugins but none hold a candle to the consistent quality of Yoast. The plugin is regularly updated with new features and fixes. It uses a simple to understand traffic-light rating system to let you know how optimised your page is for a specific keyword, whether you’re an SEO expert or a newbie. Simply pop in your desired key word/phrase and Yoast will recommend what you need to do to optimise your page for it. It lets you easily tweak title tags, meta descriptions, auto generate a customisable XML Sitemap and many more core onsite SEO aspects.
- Google Analytics by Yoast – What better way to compliment Yoast’s SEO plugin than with Yoast’s Google Analytics plugin. Whilst this won’t directly improve the SEO of your site, any keen SEO’er knows the importance of proper analytics on a site. Analysing your traffic is half of the battle. Ensure your site is fully set up with Google Analytics from day 1 of your SEO activity. Google Analytics by Yoast makes it easy to set up Google Analytics with your WordPress site – just drop in the tracking code or connect it to your Google account. Don’t forget to enable ‘Universal Tracking’ in the settings along with Demographic and Interests data in both the plugin settings and Google Analytics itself – this will let give you information such as Age, Gender and Interests of your site traffic.
- Redirection – Google likes websites which are kept in tip top shape. One of the ways of achieving this is making sure you have no broken links on your site. Whether it’s old areas of the site which no longer exist, left over URLs from an old version of your site, or just mistyped links. Redirection lets you easily add 301 redirects from one URL to another, ensuring you catch any broken links and send them to the right place. Redirection also monitors for any 404’s, so you can easily spot when someone visits through a broken link, and get it redirected. Alternatively Google Webmaster Tools are great for helping you spot any broken links.
- Akismet – Akismet automatically checks all comments and filters out the ones that look like spam. After perfectly tuning your site for search engines the last thing you want is spam comments on your posts, full of horrible links. Akismet allows you to set and forget your spam protection. From my experience the plugin barely needs any babysitting whatsoever, it just works. But if your site receives a large amount of comments on a regular basis you can always go in and double-check those which are being marked as spam.
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