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Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of those things that needs to be done in order to ensure your site can be seen and indexed by Google and other search engines. But when it comes to WordPress plugins for SEO, you have tons of options to help you. While there are a bunch of WordPress SEO tools and plugins out there, most people only use one of the top five.
We took a deeper look into what makes these tools and plugins so popular, and what, if any, drawbacks they may have that could make you want to think twice about using them. Let’s take a closer look:
One of the most popular WordPress plugins of all time, Yoast was one of the first WordPress plugins for SEO, and it has only grown since then. Not only does it help as a WordPress SEO plugin but it also helps you optimize your site’s readability as well as the posts you make on social networks.. Customize the snippets that get seen and shared on networks like Facebook and Twitter, and create an XML Sitemap in just a few clicks to make sure that the search engines can crawl your site more efficiently.
Yoast SEO is great for nailing down the basics of SEO for your WordPress website. It shows you what to do with easily recognizable red (bad), orange (decent but could be better) and green (good to go!) indicators with regard to optimizing your site’s search engine crawl-ability as well as the post or page’s overall readability.
Where Yoast falls short, however, is in a few key areas. Namely, if you want to get into the really advanced stuff, you’ll have to cough up some money. Eventually, no matter how search engine optimized your site is, you’re going to hit a wall, and for that, you need some more advanced tricks up your sleeve. But it’s not just SEO that’s affected. For example, if you want to set up URL redirects without losing any of that sweet, sweet SEO juice, you’re out of luck…Yoast lets you access them…for a price.
Another point to keep in mind is that the plugin has been around in some form or another for years and years. During that time, WordPress has changed — a lot. This can make the plugin rather bloated and slow-loading since it essentially bolts SEO onto your existing WordPress site. Although you may not notice a difference in speed at the beginning, the larger your site, the more cumbersome the plugin can become if you’re trying to optimize hundreds of pages.
All-in-One SEO Pack
The big competitor to Yoast SEO, getting started with All-in-One SEO Pack is easy. As you scroll down through the settings, you simply check the options you want or don’t want. Like with Yoast, All-in-One SEO also adds a section below your post where you can tailor the optimization with common search engine details like meta keywords and description.
All-in-One SEO also contains a number of other features which you’ll need to enable in the special section for it in your WordPress menu. This “Feature Manager” as it’s called, lets you turn off various things such as XML Sitemaps, a robots.txt editor, social meta details and more.
It’s worth noting that All-in-One SEO is not quite as “take-you-by-the-hand-and-walk-you-through-it” as Yoast is. For example, you won’t get recommendations on improving your actual content with simple, at-a-glance bullets the way Yoast shows you. And there are a few other extra features you might miss, but nothing terribly consequential in terms of SEO for WordPress, so if you’re looking for an alternative to Yoast, this plugin is definitely it!
SEO Ultimate is not as well known as Yoast and others, but it combines a wide variety of optimization tools under one plugin. Aptly named, you can even use it to tackle advanced SEO like consolidating pages to prevent duplicate content issues, and adding rich snippets to your page for enhanced listings on Google.
Perhaps the most exciting thing about this SEO plugin for WordPress is that you can import your site’s SEO data from Yoast and All-in-one SEO, so you don’t have to redo everything in order to start seeing results from your optimization efforts. It also lets you edit pages in bulk, so if you decide you want to rewrite all of your meta descriptions, for example, you can do that easily and seamlessly with SEO Ultimate Plus.
There is a yearly fee associated with the plugin, but this entitles you to updates and premium support, so if you’re looking for an alternative to Yoast or any other SEO plugin, give SEO Ultimate Plus a closer look.
SEMRush is an off-site SEO tool that you can use for your WordPress site. It lets you gather analytical data and competitive intelligence about your competition. You can see what the competition is for a given keyword, how often it is searched, an approximate cost per click (a must-have if you’re doing paid advertising), how many sites are also targeting that keyword, and much more.
If you’re operating in an industry that has a lot of competition, SEMRush is a suite of tools that you won’t want to be without when it comes to WordPress plugins for SEO. There’s also a writing tool available from SEMRush (for free) that works as a plugin for WordPress that allows you to evaluate the “readability” of your content.
For example, you can check if the content has been plagiarized from another source, see which keywords are targeted and which are recommended to target, see if the tone of voice matches other content on your site and much more. Content is the lifeblood of SEO, so having an SEO plugin for writing is essential to properly optimize that content and stay in Google’s good graces.
The only drawback of using a tool like this is that aside from the writing part, which only tackles part of the optimization puzzle, SEMRush itself isn’t free. But if you’re serious about winning the search engine war against your competition, this is one must-have tool for SEO in WordPress.
Google Keyword Planner
WordPress plugin for SEO doesn’t get any easier than Google’s very own plugin. The Google Keyword planner is a free tool available to advertisers to help them better understand which keywords to target with their search engine optimization efforts. Even if you’re not planning to use Google’s own pay-per-click option, this free keyword planner is an excellent way to map out the keywords you want to rank highly for, and then write content accordingly that is designed to rank well for those given keywords.
The “sweet spot’ with regard to this WordPress SEO plugin is that you can find those keywords that are being searched often but the sites that are ranking at the top of the list are easily “beatable” in terms of optimization. It takes a little sleuthing to uncover them, but once you do, your site can be sitting pretty at the top of the results as your competition struggles, wondering what happened.
The downside to using this tool is that Google has started to concentrate more on giving you broad matches to keywords, rather than specific terms. The reason being is so that they can up the competition for those broader terms and thus, make more money. It can take some diligent effort to drill down and get the lesser used keywords, just don’t be surprised that filters are in place to block out some keywords that, while they may be an exact match for what you have to offer, are nevertheless not searched quite as often as their broader counterparts.
Bonus Tool: Ubersuggest – a Free Keyword Research Tool
Ubersuggest is a free off-site SEO tool that helps you generate keyword ideas for your content marketing strategy and not only.
This free yet powerful off-site SEO tool is almost everything you need to start your SEO campaign with no need to invest a tremendous amount of money in such well known keyword research tools as SEMrush and ahrefs.
Maintaining Your WordPress SEO Plugins
Properly optimizing your WordPress website can seem like a full-time job. That’s why it’s a good idea to get WPDandy. Our dedicated team will help maintain and manage your WordPress site, so that you can concentrate on further optimizing and preparing your content to rank highly in the search engines. From making small cosmetic changes to having a highly-skilled personal developer on staff and ready to serve you, WPDandy is the best WordPress maintenance service you’ll find online!