Talk with any active website owners, and one of the topics that are sure to come up is SEO. With many business and personal websites built on WordPress Content Management System (CMS), we wanted to take a look at what options are available for SEO optimization with WordPress. How can we attach more visitors, or become more visible to Search Engines to say, “Hey we are here and this is what we have to offer”?
WordPress sites have advantages when it comes to search engine optimization. Compared with other content management systems, WordPress does a better job and more user control with page and post titles and with Meta Descriptions. In addition, one thing WordPress did well from the start was to foster an excellent community-powered plugin network, so functionality to your site can be extended in a matter of minutes. At the time of publishing, WordPress has over 16,000 plugins for things like custom forms, picture gallery options, and even SEO. Since updating your website with WordPress is easy, you’re also more likely to keep your content fresh (something valued by search engines). So adding a great SEO plugin will yield even more traction and visitors to your website. Here are 5 great SEO WordPress plugins we recommend people take a look at (feel free to share your experiences in the comments):
- All in One SEO Pack
optimizes post and page titles automatically, or lets you fine tune them yourself. Just install and activate, and it’ll improve your results with no more effort on your part. Each post will have a simple form (see it at right) that you can use to write your title and Meta description. If you write nothing, All in One will generate something suitable. In the image below, you can see not only the options it gives you per post, but also the guidance it offers with SEO best practices with character limits.
Users that should consider this plugin: Beginner to Medium SEO, html code experience a benefit but not necessary
- Yoast WordPress SEO
provides similar services, but gives you more control. You can tweak the robot.txt file, generate sitemaps, add text automatically to your RSS feed, and even clean up your <head> section. If you don’t know what any of those things mean, you don’t need Yoast. If you’ve been wishing you could mess around with that stuff without getting under the hood at your website, here’s your chance.
**Honorable mention: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/seo-ultimate/ which does many of the same functions as Yoast, but works well in concert with All in One SEO Pack.
Users that should consider this plugin: Can be used with someone with little experience, but has the functionality for heavy users. Users with little experience might be a bit overwhelmed though.
- Broken Link Checker lets you know when one of your links is broken, a factor Google has recently begun to notice more than in the past. You can get email alerts or a list at your website’s dashboard, or both. You can mend the broken links from the plugin’s page rather than updating each page or post individually.
Users that should consider this plugin: Everyone
- SEO Content Control alerts you to content issues at your site. Essentially, it lets you know when your posts, pages, Meta descriptions, category descriptions, etc. are too short. This can be very handy if someone else updates your blog, if you’re concerned that you might have some weak pages from the past, or if you just want to make sure you haven’t overlooked anything. You can set the lengths to your own preferred number of characters or use the defaults.
Users that should consider this plugin: Medium to Heavy SEO Practitioner
- HyperCache Caching is a way to decrease the load time it takes for your website to appear, by fetching a stored version of the site that is already in a database, instead of creating the site from new with each visitor. This keeps your page load times snappy, another factor that has increased in importance specifically in the Google algorithm. This plugin can be configured very precisely for mobile devices as well as for a wide range of tech requirements and preferences. Make sure though that you adjust the cache settings so your site is staying up-to-date with your content. We use 1440 minutes (1 day), before HyperCache re-caches the site.
Users that should consider this plugin: Individuals familiar with caching and some server functions. Documentation for this plugin is great though, so even the most novices can tackle if you do not mind searching for solutions if issue arises.
All of these are free plugins, so using them is as simple as downloading, installing, and activating.
As with any SEO technique, these plugins work best if your site is well built, with plenty of useful, original content. Lastly, if you are new to SEO or looking for a good introduction, see SEOmoz’s excellent beginner’s guide to SEO.
Any other SEO plugins you think we should review or look at? Let us know in the comments below.