When you set up the website for your business, you probably used WordPress to do it. The original WordPress package already helps you to make a pretty decent website or blog, but there are also a heap of plugin options to suit your needs – and a lot of them are great for improving your SEO.
You can start with some of these to make your website more attractive and easy to use, but if you want your site to really make an impact you’ll need an expert to help you (especially if you aren’t an IT whiz or don’t really understand SEO).
Here are 20 plugins for WordPress to help you get started:
20 Essential WordPress Plugins that will Improve your Google Ranking!
Yoast is a plugin dedicated to keeping your blogs, articles and landing pages focused on your keyword. It analyses everything that you write in order to make sure that you use your keywords often enough and in the right spots, as well as telling you when Google might be confused about which page should be the main result for a keyword.
Yoast will also show you the meta-title and meta-description that will come up in the Google search for your page, and allow you to edit them to make your page more attractive – both to Google and to the people you want to attract to your site.
#2 All in One SEO Pack
All in One SEO Pack is very similar to Yoast, except with slightly more focus on the sitemap and slightly less on keywords. It makes it very easy for you to analyse and organise your whole site, with the option to edit any meta-titles or descriptions you don’t like.
All in One is also compatible with numerous other plugins, and integrates with e-commerce websites and plugins (such as WooCommerce) very effectively.
#3 Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights
Google Analytics by Monsterlnsights is a vital function for tracking how well your site is doing in search rankings, as well as checking on which keywords are the most successful. Google Analytics for WordPress enables you to check on all of your Google stats in real time without needing to use complicated coding.
You will also get the option to track e-commerce, along with just about everything else that people do on your site! You can even track how visitors are finding your site, so that you can focus your marketing efforts more efficiently.
If you’re running a blog and depending on advertising revenue, the plugin will also analyse which ads are effective and where they are placed, so that you can offer the advertiser a better product and keep their business.
#4 WPtouch Mobile Plugin
WPtouch automatically creates a mobile friendly version of your website, which is vital for not only retaining visitors but also for SEO. Google punishes websites that are not mobile friendly, so WPtouch is a very easy way to make sure your ranking doesn’t suffer, without taking a great deal of effort.
More than half of all internet searches are now done on mobile devices, so if you don’t have a mobile friendly website you halve your potential viewers. Tablets also have less processing power than PCs and laptops, so WPtouch reduces the size of your files on the mobile version of your site so that the download time isn’t too long.
#5 W3 Total Cache
W3 Total Cache dramatically increases the download speed of your website. The creator claims that it will increase your website’s performance at lease tenfold, but regardless of whether this is an exaggeration or not, the plugin definitely helps.
While increasing the performance level of your website will not directly attract more page views, it will increase the amount of time people spend on your page (as when a site won’t load people give up and move on to the next one) and help to keep visitors coming back (when people are frustrated that a site loads slowly they are less likely to visit again).
These two factors will increase your ranking in the simplest way – by making your site more popular so that Google moves it up. Search engines such as Google also like pages that have a fast download speed, and punish ones that take a while to load.
#6 Google XML Sitemaps
Google XML Sitemaps will automatically create a sitemap for your business or blog, which will help search engines to index your website. It will also help search engine crawlers to search your site more efficiently, which will help your SEO.
The plugin will also notify the major search engines (such as Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask.com) every time you post new content, to help them to display your results that bit more efficiently.
#7 All in One WP Security and Firewall
WordPress is generally a fairly secure platform; however you will need a bit of extra security to keep your website safe. The All in One WordPress Security and Firewall plugin will analyse your website for any weaknesses and will implement the latest WordPress recommended security practices and techniques.
This plugin won’t enhance your SEO, but it is essential to keep your site safe and to preserve all of the hard work you’ve put in to developing it. The firewalls are also graded as “basic” “intermediate” and “advanced”, so that you can apply them progressively without impacting your website’s function.
#8 Broken Link Checker
Link building is a well-known and important part of SEO, but all of your efforts could be wasted if the links from your site are broken (it’s also annoying for visitors if links from your blogs don’t work and might put them off coming back).
The Broken Link Checker plugin checks your site for broken links, and notifies you when it finds one (it can even email you about broken links, which will help you to fix the problem immediately). You can then edit the broken links directly from the plugin page, without needing to go into your site and manually change them.
#9 SEO Internal Links
If your site has a lot of pages (products, product information, blog posts etc.) then you need to monitor the internal links within your network. SEO Internal Links is the perfect plugin for maintaining the links throughout your website with minimal effort.
The plugin has the option to set specific keywords to all link to one page across the whole website, so that you don’t have to go through and insert links manually. It also gives you the option to configure links to open in a new tab or window, which is perfect if you expect your visitors to want to keep the original page open.
#10 SEO Optimized Images
Images are important to improve the experience of visitors to your website, but if they aren’t formatted properly they can reduce your performance. SEO Optimized Images lets you make sure that all of the images on your site are SEO friendly.
This plugin allows you to give all of your images a Google friendly description, and to compress the file size. A Google friendly description will help with your ranking, while compressing the file will increase the performance and download speed of your website.
#11 Jetpack by WordPress.com
Jetpack is a WordPress plugin designed to increase your security and increase your traffic. It provides enhanced security through two-factor authentication and regular malware scanning. If your website is attacked, it also provides backups so that you can restore the site.
The plugin also automatically shares any new content you post with your social media accounts, so that your new products or blog posts can be sent out immediately rather than you having to do it manually.
#12 Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP)
Yarpp enhances the experience of your visitors by displaying related content on whatever page they are on, so that they can find new content they are interested in easily. This should keep visitors on your site for longer and reduce your bounce rate – both of which will help your business and increase your Google ranking.
#13 All in One Schema.Org Rich Snippets
Rich snippets are snippets on the search engine results page that go into more detail than most results. They might have a star ranking, an image, or something else to help them to stand out. Having rich snippets helps your result to stand out in a cursory Google search, which should increase the number of visitors you get.
#14 SEO Ultimate
SEO Ultimate appears very similar to Yoast or All in One SEO Pack, but it is far more detailed and comprehensive. This plugin is one for the SEO experts, and gives you the option to edit your titles and to have more control over your link flow. This plugin gives you total control over all aspects of your SEO and Google results, but again is not for beginners.
#15 WP Super Cache
Another plugin designed to increase the speed of your website, WP Super Cache generates static html files from your page to serve to visitors, which is much faster than processing the much more extensive WordPress script.
The static files will be served to the vast majority of your visitors (anyone who isn’t logged in to your site, hasn’t left a comment or hasn’t viewed a password protected post) which dramatically reduces the traffic load on the live site, increasing performance for all users.
Akismet is a plugin that checks all comments and forms on your site for spam, which prevents your site from publishing malicious content. It will automatically filter out any comments that match the WordPress global database for spam, and will show you the details of all other comments (including URLs) to enable you to more effectively monitor your comment section.
Schema allows you to set code on your page that will display more informative results on search engines. This will both help your site increase its ranking by giving search engines more information, and also attract more users to your page because of the information provided.
The plugin allows you to display information such as a company logo on the Google search page, and is very easy to use. As soon as a page is set to show the additional information, you can just forget about it.
#18 BJ Lazy Load
Lazy Load replaces all of the images, thumbnails and frames on your site with a placeholder so that they only load as a visitor is scrolling through the page and gets close. This dramatically reduces the loading time for your page as a whole, and means that your server only has to load things that visitors are actually seeing.
bbPress is designed for websites with forum elements and bulletin boards attached (think IT support pages). Forums can be great for stimulating discussion among your users, and for getting them to return to your site (which boosts your search engine ranking), but they can also slow down your site.
This plugin improves the speed of your forum, while making it easier for visitors to use and for you to moderate.
WP-Optimize helps your site to operate at maximum efficiency by cleaning up out dated or unused data. It removes all unnecessary data (e.g. unapproved comments or expired links) once a week (or however often you set it for) to increase the speed of your website and keep it running efficiently.
The plugin retains a backup of the site from before it is optimised, to make sure that nothing will be accidentally irretrievably lost, so you really have nothing to lose by installing this plugin. It also shows you how much more efficient it is making your site, and is even mobile friendly!
As you can see, there are a huge number of ways you can expand on and optimise the WordPress software for your needs (these are just 20 out of literally tens of thousands of plugins). Even picking just a few plugins (one or two each for SEO, performance and security, for example) will enhance your website dramatically, improving visitor experience and bringing you more and better page views.
A good place for beginners to start would be with a simple SEO plugin like Yoast, security from All in One WP Security and Firewall and W3 Total Cache for increasing your download speed, along with WPtouch to make sure your site is mobile friendly. Once you’re comfortable using these you can work out where your website is lacking and install more plugins accordingly.
So now that you know which plugins can help you to get the best results from your website, it’s time to start installing and experimenting to perfect your performance!
Sarah is the head of guest posts outreach and an SEO expert. Her interests are search engine optimisation, social media and brand management.