There’s no denying that WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems on the Internet – currently powering more than 58% of all the websites on the web. And with all these sites competing for search engine rankings and user attention, how can you get your site noticed online?
The answer: SEO. Making sure you properly optimise your site for users and for search engines is paramount to your site’s success. And fortunately, there are plenty of excellent WordPress plugins you can use to make SEO easier to tackle.
We’ll talk about the best ones you can use for on-page SEO, keeping your site safe and backed up, optimising your site for mobile devices, and measuring the results of your SEO efforts.
Search engine optimisation on your pages is the foundation of your campaign. Get it right, and you’ll be successful. Ignore it, and you’ll never hit the top, no matter what else you do. But what is on-page SEO and why is it so important?
It refers to optimising and improving your website. This includes every piece of content – text, images, videos, and more – on your site and the HTML code behind your web pages. Search engine rankings are influenced by several on-page factors, including:
- Quality content
- Properly optimised title tags
- Smart internal linking
Here are some of the things WordPress plugins can help you with:
One of the most efficient and popular plugins for optimising site content is Yoast. It’s not just free and easy to use, but it also comes packed with features that’ll make everything easier.
Here are some of the things Yoast can help you with:
- Optimising titles and meta descriptions – not only can you optimise your page titles and descriptions, you can see what they’ll look like in Google’s search engine results with the snippet preview function
- Configuring robots meta – if you want to keep a page or a post out of the index so it doesn’t affect your SEO effort, you can ‘noindex’ any pages you want, including your archives.
- Dealing with duplicate content – Yoast allows you to specify the “canonical” – the preferred version – of a page, helping you prevent duplication issues in search engines
- Control over breadcrumb navigation – Choose which taxonomy you want to show for each page, improving crawling and user experience, as well as how your URLs show up in search engine results
- XML sitemap creation – Create a sitemap that is easy to read by both search engines and users, making it easy to crawl
- Editing robots.txt and .htaccess files – it’s easy to edit these files within Yoast, because you can access them directly from your site, saving time when you need to edit these files
- Keeping the head section clean – Yoast also cleans up unnecessary code and improves page speed
You might not realise this, but optimising your images can help you get some extra traffic through Google Images and other image-based search engines. Make sure to set ALT text for all the images you add on your site, and also optimise the image size so that they load faster to improve your page speed.
If you don’t optimise your images, you’ll be missing out on a good amount of traffic, and your rankings might be affected, since large images can cause your pages to load slower.
WP Smush Pro is a good WordPress plugin for compressing your images to make pages load faster. You can automate the process, ensuring that every image you upload to your site is automatically compressed, and you can also add ALT text and a description, so that Google and other search engines can “read” the image and know what it is about.
WP Smush Pro does require a subscription, but if you want to reduce file sizes without losing quality, you can use WP Smush. It has less functionality than WP Smush Pro, but it does clean up your images for even faster loading times.
And another plugin for fast and easy ALT text is SEO Friendly Images, which automatically adds ALT and TITLE attributes to all your images so that you don’t have to worry about them.
Just like images, how you name the files on your website is just as important. Search engines won’t be able to know what is in the file unless you tell them. So give them relevant names that describes in a few words the kind of information people can find in the file.
Media File Renamer is a plugin that lets you rename the media files on your site so you can give them a proper and descriptive title, and automatically updates any links to that file you might have in your posts.
If your site’s security isn’t a top priority, you should think twice – especially with WordPress. WordPress is a popular target for hackers and spammers, with more than 70% of WordPress installations being vulnerable to hacker attacks.
Hackers can add spam or additional pages to your site to trick your visitors into sharing their personal and credit card information. They may also inject malicious code (malware) into your pages, attacking any computer that views a specific page.
Imagine where a hacker creates a bunch of new pages on your site, with dozens of spammy links pointing at those new pages. Your business is suddenly ranking high for keywords like “Viagra”, “casinos”, etc., and never for what you intended your site to be.
No matter how small your site is, you need to make website security a priority. Your performance in search results can be affected, as well as your online reputation.
The best way to combat hacking is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Sucuri Security is a plugin that helps to keep your site secure by monitoring, detecting, and protecting your website from malware and security attacks. Use it to keep a close eye on any change that might occur, and get notified when there’s a security issue.
And if something does happen to your site, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If your website is compromised, it can lead to lower rankings in search engines. A good backup means that, if something does go wrong, you can have it back in working order quickly and easily.
BackWPup Free lets you save your complete installation and push them to an external backup. You can decide which content you want to save, and easily restore your installation as needed. BackUpWordPress also backs up your entire website, and lets you set up automatic backups that are directly emailed to you.
Do you have a mobile-friendly website yet? You should, especially since Google’s now launched an update that rewards sites that work on mobile devices. With the growing number of mobile searchers, this is definitely something you can’t ignore.
Fortunately, there are plenty of mobile optimisation plugins available. WPtouch is easy to set up and replaces your site with a mobile-friendly theme that loads quickly and is easy to read. Plus it allows visitors to switch between the mobile-only site and your regular theme without you needing to create an additional site.
Good analytics are critical to the success of your SEO campaigns. It’s the only way you can review and determine the quality of the experience your website provides your users. If you provide a poor user experience, Google will know and your rankings will suffer as well.
Using Google Analytics is a great way to get valuable insights into your website and your users’ behaviour on it, so you can use this information to make necessary improvements. And Google Analytics by Yoast allows you to easily integrate it into your site, so you can quickly and easily track and interpret your visitors’ behaviour on your site.
What do you recommend?
These are just a few of the plugins you can use with your WordPress site to optimise it for strong SEO. Are there any others you’ve used for SEO and found useful?