For any website, search engines are extremely crucial sources of organic traffic, leads, and customers. Since WordPress is widely known as an SEO friendly platform, you should use a properly optimized WordPress theme coupled with a top WordPress SEO plugin to reap the real benefits that plugins offer. But with hundreds of SEO plugins available, it may sound like an uphill task to choose the best SEO plugin for WordPress.
Here, I’ve consolidated a list of 11 best WordPress SEO plugins for 2018 from which you can take your pick to rank better.
But before exploring the plugins, let’s have a look at the current SEO trends and ranking factors.
Latest SEO trends and ranking factors in 2018
Keyword in Title, Description, and Header tags
Title tags are one of the most powerful relevancy signals search engines. These are meant to provide accurate descriptions of the content of the pages. The inclusion of keyword in title, description tags and header tags not only helps to obtain high SERP rankings but aids to gain user clicks from the search result pages as well.
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Freshly updated valuable content is always preferred by Google when it comes to higher ranking in search result pages. These days, web searchers don’t feel satisfied with just the fundamental information. So, Google looks for informative and authoritative content and ranks them higher.
Additionally, the length of your content should be adequately large so that it can cover more of your topic’s various aspects. Writing quality content is an essential task for ranking better on search engines.
Accelerated mobile pages
With mobile user landscape getting bigger and growing faster than ever, Google’s AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) project promises to deliver the mobile users highly optimized content at lightning fast speeds. AMP basically depends on specialized HTML files, which are designed to load much faster compared to standard web pages.
With AMP content in place, you can provide your mobile users with good user experience and obtain higher search result ranking together with more impressions and clicks.
Google has clearly indicated that page speed is one of the key deciding factors of its algorithms to rank higher. Fast ‘time to first byte’ (the time your browser takes to get the first byte of information from your web server) could positively affect your indexation and lower bounce rates.
Structured data markup
Structured markup data can enhance the search engine visibility of your website in two fundamental ways. First, it helps Google algorithms to understand and index your content in a better way. Secondly, it imposes a design independent structure on your site’s architecture.
Apart from texts, images can also be optimized so that they can send relevancy signals to search engines through their caption, alt text, and description, among others. You need to make sure that the images are in proper file format and compressed for the web.
Use of internal linking provides several advantages. They not only improve your site’s metrics but enhance user experiences as well. When search engines observe that some of your pages have a significant number of internal links pointing towards them, the pages will be judged as more important.
These text files play a crucial role when it comes to telling the web crawlers how to crawl your web pages. Sometimes, there might be some pages, pictures or records that you don’t want the search engines to crawl. With robots.txt, you can easily square them.
Sitemaps aid search engines to index all pages of your website. It’s one of the easiest and most effective ways to tell search engines about the pages your website includes.
404 errors monitoring
The 404 error is not only a nuisance to the visitors but negatively affects your website ranking as well. 404 error triggers a high bounce rate and when search engines observe that visitors are navigating away from your page within seconds, their algorithms assume that the users didn’t find the information they were searching for and thus the page gets removed from the search results.
Use 301 redirections to point all your HTTP URLs to HTTPS. This permanent redirection tells search engines that a web page has been permanently moved to another web address. In this process, almost every SEO factor i.e. link juice, credibility etc that was in the possession of the original page is passed on.
Facebook OpenGraph, Twitter Cards
Social contents are emerging as an integral part of the new SEO strategy. For instance, you’re using Google to search for an organization and the results pages show its Facebook and Twitter pages. This clearly indicates that users favor social content more compared to the content present on the organization’s website. Therefore, it makes sense to focus on social media tools such as Facebook OpenGraph, Twitter Cards etc to improve your ranking.
Let’s explore the best WordPress SEO plugins that can help you get better rankings.
Best SEO Plugins for WordPress: Multipurpose/ All in one
1. Yoast SEO (Free/Paid)
With more than 4.5 million downloads, an average 4.7-star rating out of 5 coupled with thousands of reviews, Yoast SEO is undoubtedly one of the best WordPress SEO plugins available today. Apart from improving your website’s SEO in all aspects, this plugin goes that extra mile to take care of every technical optimization. It comes equipped with a wide variety of features that makes it an all-in-one SEO plugin.
- Create better content: The snippet preview allows you to see how your page or post will look like in search results.
- Page Analysis: This feature checks minute things such as length of the posts, a presence of a meta description and whether it contains the focused keyword etc.
- Meta and link elements: With this plugin, you’d have the power to determine the pages which would be shown by Google in its search results and which won’t be. While WordPress only exhibits canonical link elements on a page, Yoast SEO makes it available everywhere.
- XML sitemaps: With its most advanced XML sitemaps feature, this plugin creates XML sitemaps automatically and informs Google and Bing of its existence.
- Social integration: Yoast SEO comes equipped with Facebook OpenGraph implementation to link SEO and social media.
- Multi-site compatibility: Unlike some other plugins, Yoast SEO is multi-site compatible.
- Breadcrumbs: This unique feature empowers you to develop easy navigation for both search engines and users.
- A wide number of features in a single plugin.
- Simple, fast and easy to work with.
- Best feature ever.
- A significant number of security threats.
- Website speed may get reduced as all features get activated at once.
Key ranking factors covered by Yoast SEO:
- Facebook OpenGraph and Twitter Cards
- XML sitemaps
2. SEOPressor (Paid)
Over the last few years, Google has rolled out a significant number of algorithmic updates including Google Panda, Over optimization and Google Penguin, among others. Unlike some existing SEO plugins that are still using old age technology, SEOPressor is developed in accordance with the latest Google algorithm trends.
- Keyword SEO score: With this feature, you can monitor the SEO score of your target keyword.
- Over optimization check: People sometimes overuse the working SEO tips and get penalized by Google. SEOPressor helps to monitor this.
- LSI keywords: SEOPressor calculates your site’s semantic quality through its own proprietary formula called SemantiQTM It makes this plugin capable of suggesting how you can strengthen your contextual signal for search engine interpretation.
- Automatic smart linking: With this feature, you can add links and keywords automatically to increase average time on site, lower bounce rate etc.
- Dynamic crawler control: With SEOPressor, you can get complete authority over the way search engine crawlers navigate your site.
- It’s a complete SEO plugin which will let you focus on your site’s SEO and obtain results.
- It comes with a 60-day money back guarantee, in case you’re not satisfied with it.
- Provides a fundamental understanding of SEO.
- Beginners may require some adjustment time.
- Poor customer support.
- Can negatively affect your blog instead of bringing traffic.
Key ranking factors covered by SEOPressor:
- Social SEO
3. SEO Ultimate (Free/ Paid)
SEO Ultimate provides both versatility and data flexibility at the same time. It’s capable of importing and exporting data from different sources including third-party SEO plugins.
- Deeplink Juggernaut: This feature empowers you to set up keywords automatically for which SEO Ultimate will automatically generate internal links on your site.
- Code Inserter: This allows you to add codes in the header, footer, before the content, and after the content.
- File editor: You can modify your robots.txt directly in your WordPress dashboard.
- 404 monitor: It lets you monitor 404 errors in your website.
- Rich snippets: Rich snippets can bring your more visitors and make it much convenient for people to find your website.
- Social media optimizing: SEO Ultimate automatically generates an open graph for your posts, pages etc.
- Title tag rewriter: With this feature, you can edit the title tags of your pages, posts, and categories, among others.
- Author Highlighter: This feature lets you show the author of your content in search engines.
- Provides an easier way to select the things you only require.
- Custom permalinks for any type of custom taxonomies.
- Beginners may find things a little complicated.
- Late update of the features.
Key ranking factors covered by SEO Ultimate:
- 404 errors monitoring
- Social SEO
4. Premium SEO Pack (Paid)
Premium SEO Pack is a well-known SEO plugin that comes equipped with a complete set of cool SEO features including social sharing, image optimization and SERP tracking, just a few to name. This comprehensive, high-quality plugin provides you with everything that you may ever need to optimize your site.
- Backlink Builder: With this feature, you can easily add your site to different website directories.
- W3C validator: It empowers you to check the markup of your posts, pages, and custom taxonomies.
- Page speed insights: It enables you to monitor page speed of each of your posts or pages on a desktop or mobile devices.
- Monitor 404: With this feature, you can monitor the URLs that are referring your visitors to 404 pages.
- SEO friendly images: This feature automatically updates all images with appropriate ALT and Title Attributes.
- Facebook Planner: You can post your content on Facebook with the help of this feature.
- The presence of video sitemap.
- Bulk editor for mass optimization.
- The presence of search engine reporter.
- Link builder isn’t on the same page with current SEO practices.
- The absence of RSS settings.
Key ranking factors covered by Premium SEO Pack:
- Page speed
- 404 monitoring
- Social SEO
- Title and meta settings
Other Important SEO WordPress Plugins
5. All in One Schema.org Rich Snippet (Free) – Content Optimization
All in One Schema.org Rich Snippet plugin is used to markup posts/pages with rich snippets. It provides search engines with only the precise and important information to exhibit in search result snippets. Highly interactive rich snippets that contain star ratings, photos, author, price etc help you stand out of the crowd and rank higher in SERPs.
Supported content types:
- Software Application
- Easy to setup
- Supports majority of rich snippet types
- Lacks customization and design options
- Doesn’t provide support for local business markup
6. SEO Friendly Images (Free) – Image optimization
This WordPress SEO plugin automatically updates all your images with appropriate ALT and TITLE attributes for SEO purposes. In case you don’t have ALT and TITLE attributes set already, this plugin will add them in accordance with the options chosen by you. By optimizing the images, you can bring in a substantial amount of traffic from the image search engines.
- Category placeholders: Category name, store, parent name
- Product placeholders: Product name, category, vendor, price
- Blog placeholders: Post name and store
- Brand placeholders: Brand name and store
- Presence of the feature named lazy load which is capable of making your site 50% – 70% faster
- Easy to setup
- The free version of SEO Friendly Images isn’t supported. You need to upgrade to the premium version of SEO Friendly Images to get support.
7. SEO by SQUIRRLY (Free/Paid) – content optimization
There are hundreds of plugins that you can use to optimize your site’s SEO. But Squirrly eliminates a majority of the hazards that goes into that optimization process. This is a great plugin when it comes to optimizing your content encompassing certain keywords. It checks the most important parts such as whether the keywords are effectively used in title, content, and Url.
- Lights turn green when you do something right.
- SEO settings remain intact.
- Tracks every aspect of your content marketing strategy.
- Monitors your progress on weekly basis.
- Headlines suggestions in accordance with your SEO keyword.
- Social intelligence to help you create better content.
- The presence of slideshow tutorials that guide you through the features, their usage and to leverage them.
- Extremely handy for newbies.
- There are some features that are not available with the free version. You’d need to upgrade to the Pro version of this plugin to access those.
8. Redirection (Free) – Technical
This WordPress plugin helps you to keep track of 404 errors, handle 301 redirections and tighten up the loose ends of your website. This is especially helpful if you’re changing the directory of the WordPress installation or are migrating pages from an earlier website.
- Custom ‘pass-through’ redirection empowers you to pass through a URL to another website, page or file.
- 404 error monitoring helps you to capture 404 error logs and map those to 301 redirects.
- You’d be able to redirect all your URLs.
- Completely localized.
- Complete regular expression support.
- Redirection statistic informs you about the number of times a redirect has happened, the time it last occurred etc.
- Redirection is almost a common thing among website owners and this plugin lets you manage them right from the WordPress dashboard you have.
- It’s absolutely free.
- As continually scanning your website for 404 errors requires a significant involvement of server resources, the speed of your website may potentially go down.
- You may experience a lack of developer support.
9. AMP for WP (Free) – Technical
As mobile searches are rapidly dominating desktop searches, it has become immensely crucial to make your website mobile responsive. This plugin automatically adds accelerated mobile pages functionality to your WordPress website and makes the site much faster for mobile users. With this plugin, you can make your site go mobile with just a few clicks.
- Custom AMP Editor allows you to add different kinds of content, particularly for AMP.
- Mobile redirection empowers you to provide faster user experience, which is synonymous with more engagement and lower bounce rate.
- Custom AMP FrontPage.
- Supports pages and posts.
- Unlimited color scheme.
- Google analytics support.
- Incredibly good distribution
- Zero knowledge of coding required
- WooCommerce integration
- Limited functionality
- It’s not absolutely easy to implement
10. W3 Total Cache (Free/Paid) – Speed Optimization
Website speed is something that both Google and marketers take very seriously. W3 Total Cache plugin helps a site to scale and sustain a significant amount of traffic without crashing. This plugin enhances both the SEO and user experience of your site by reducing download times as well as increasing site performance through CDN (content delivery network) integration.
- Transparent CDN management with theme files, Media Library and WordPress itself
- Compatible with dedicated servers / virtual private, dedicated clusters/servers and shared hosting
- Accelerated Mobile Pages support
- SSL (Secure Socket Layer) support
- Caching of feeds in memory on CDN or on disk
- Caching of fragments on disk or in memory
- It offers detailed explanation for each of its features
- One of the complete caching plugins for sites powered by WordPress
- W3 Total Cache isn’t among the easy-to-use plugins
- The free version comes with limited support
11. Remove Query Strings from Static Resources (Free) – Speed Optimization
- Particularly meant for Linux servers
- Minimum PHP version required: 5.5
- Can be utilized as a mu-plugin
- Improves the speed scores in services such as Pingdom, PageSpeed, YSlow etc
- Lacks of rating or support discussion
- You may need to consult your server or IT team before implementing this plugin
There are hundreds of WordPress SEO plugins available on the web. The above mentioned 11 plugins fall under the most used category and are capable of resolving most of the issues that are experienced by webmasters. In case you’re using a significant number of plugins simultaneously, there’ll be a probability of slowing down the speed of your site. Ideally, you should deactivate the plugins that you don’t use frequently and reactivate them as and when required.
Finally, if none of these plugins helps to improve your ranking in SERPs, you should consider moving to a better WordPress hosting provider. So, be smart, think proactively and take your pick wisely.
Ethan Brown is a Website Designer at MediaOne Marketing, Singapore. Brown has a passion for helping people in all aspects to design websites, especially in E-commerce.
(This is a guest post.)