Search engines are now a major marketing channel for businesses attempting to get as much traffic to their sites as possible. Not only is the internet and social media one of, if not the, biggest sources of information for the consumer in the present world but data also shows that a notable majority of people will conduct a search engine search prior to making any purchase.
The implications of this are essentially two fold;
- Businesses must have quality SEO methods in place and;
- Those that don’t will fall behind.
Having a good understanding of the available tools for improving SEO is the first step to ensuring success. WordPress is designed to help improve search engine optimisation for organisations in a simple and effective way.
The software allows users to create their own website on that platform that then provides the plugins required to enhance its SEO and is a great way to attract traffic. There are over 40,000 plugins that can be found on the WordPress Plugin Directory and downloaded for your site. The trouble is that too many plugins will ultimately slow down the speed of your website.
There are so many different areas of SEO that need to be attended to in order to optimise the performance of a website. Anywhere from page speed to the keywords and relevant links will benefit your sites performance on search engine results pages and WordPress has relevant plugins for all.
So how do you know which ones to choose? The plugins are designed to remove the need for a professional programmer but it’s fairly obvious that a page with a slow loading speed isn’t going to be very user friendly. Choosing the right ones is crucial to maintaining a professional image for the business and driving traffic to your site.
Here are the essential plugins for your site.
This is the most complete plugin required for search engine optimisation providing a wide range of tools to boost your websites performance. The most helpful feature is the fact that this plugin streamlines tags across all online platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Google, Twitter etc.) and ensure that keywords are in the right places.
There are a few key tools that highly beneficial in the Yoast SEO plugin:
- Technical WordPress Search Engine Optimisation
- Page Analysis Tool
- XML sitemaps functionality
The Page Analysis Tool provides a clear and concise checklist for optimal search engine functionality. Things like how easy the page is to read, whether or not the included images are optimised and how often your keyword appears in the text are really helpful in creating the best page for SEO.
Additionally, anything that needs to be improved will be marked red and explains what needs to be addressed prior to publishing the article. This really simple approach to SEO makes it easy to enhance the performance of your page.
It’s not easy to see what and when you have scheduled an article in WordPress. The Editorial Calendar plugin helps to you to more easily understand and in turn schedule when articles are being posted and need to be posted.
It provides a clear overview as to when articles are going to be posted. On top of this, it is super easy to change the time and date for when content will be posted by dragging and dropping them into a new time and date slot.
The reason this is necessary for your SEO enhancement is that constant blogging is required to keep your content and the business relevant. A website needs to be constantly building its profile and regular blogging will help with this.
W3 Total Cache
Providing a fast experience for users is very important in the modern world. Users demand immediate downloads and slow pages experience the consequences.
This plugin improves the pages SEO performance through faster page loading and quicker download speeds via various features including content delivery network integration. The official WordPress download pages highlights a few of the benefits:
- Minimum “10x improvement in overall site performance…when fully configured”
- A higher ranking in Google’s search engine results pages
- Better conversion rates
- The ability to sustain page speed during periods of high traffic
With additional benefits and features as well as being trusted by major companies such as AT&T and Mashable, there is no doubt that your site is in safe hands with W3 Total Cache.
Google Analytics for WordPress
Every website should have a Google analytics account to measure and track its performance with endless amounts of data. Constantly checking how your website is performing is vital to maintaining its SEO status and rank as well as its relevance to users so that they get a good experience.
The Google Analytics plugin for WordPress allows you to easily do this from your WordPress dashboard. This makes it easy to compare previous data with current information and adjust elements accordingly. This plugin only shows the most relevant statistics in a simple format so that it’s really easy see how your website is performing.
MonsterInsights is the intermediary allowing you to connect your WordPress website with your Google Analytics account all in one place. This is the most popular plugin for WordPress with over 15 million downloads and looking at the feature list, you can see why;
- Quick and easy Google Analytics setup
- Analytics Dashboard and real-time statistics
- Page-level analytics and universal tracking
- Ecommerce and ads tracking
- Custom dimensions and events tracking
A mobile rich era means that mobile-friendly sites are a necessity for any successful site. The WPtouch plugin allows you to choose from a range of mobile-friendly themes for your site. It is simply aimed at improving the mobile user experience on your website – something that Google is now placing an increased weight on.
On average, every owner of a smartphone will conduct a minimum of 1 internet search per day on their smartphone. This plugin makes it simple to ensure that your page is mobile friendly and therefore ranks better in the search engine results pages and will provide a good experience for the user.
The big bonus of this plugin is that it has no impact on the desktop format and/or theme of the article. It simply adjusts to a more seamless design for mobile users.
Broken Link Checker
Managing a long running and content rich blog is going to be a challenge and this is why a plugin like Broken Link Checker is so valuable.
Notable features of the plugin:
- Monitors links in posts and pages
- Notifies of broken links
- Doesn’t allows search engines to follow broken links
- Links can be managed from a single location without having to go through manually to each post or page
As the name suggests, the plugin checks all of your content for broken links and missing images to maintain the credibility and depth of content. It will simply notify you if there are any articles or pages with missing links or images and they can then be attended to.
When notified, the links can be viewed in the ‘Broken Links’ tab with a variety of actions available:
- “Edit URL” allows you to change the URL and should it be present in more than one place will apply to all matching links.
- “Unlink” removes the link by leaves the text the same
- “Dismiss” removes the link from the list but remains noted as a broken link. It will only be reported for a second time if the status of the link changes
Google XML Sitemaps
It’s important that your site gets indexed in order to lead the search engine in the right direction towards your site. Whilst it is possible that a search engine finds your site anyway, with a quality plugin in Google XML Sitemaps available, there is no need to wait and hope for the best.
This plugin will automatically create a sitemap making it easier for search engines to index your pages. Likely the best feature of this plugin is that once it has been installed and setup there is no need to worry about it ever again – the sitemap will be automatically updated with any new content that is added.
SEO Optimised Images
With so much focus on the content of your pages and articles, search engine optimisation efforts can often be forgotten about when it comes to images. Having an optimised image can really help ranking in both web pages and images.
The SEO optimised images plugin allows you to easily insert SEO-friendly alt text and title attributes to images. Because the plugin inserts the alt and title tags dynamically, there are no changes made to the database. This means that should the plugin be deactivated, everything will return to the way it previously was.
There is such a wide and diverse range of plugins available for WordPress and the number that is devoted to SEO-related tasks may be surprising. Finding the right plugins for your SEO needs is an important task that should be thought through in order to avoid the aforementioned issue of a slow page speed.
Contrary to this, you don’t want to end up being bogged down by the options available for WordPress plugins. Those detailed above are a great start and should provide a clear outline of what is available. The plugins listed above are some of the simplest and most effective tools available that suit all websites.
Covering all areas of SEO, most namely ‘Yoast SEO’, the plugins will ensure a fast page speed, consistency amongst links and a mobile friendly site to boost performance. With SEO being such a critical part of today’s marketing measures, optimising your website will go a long way to improving traffic, conversion and overall image.
Kieran is the Social Media Manager and SEO Expert at SEO Shark. He is an expert in Social Media, link building, PPC and of course SEO. In his time off work Kieran enjoys reading and playing rugby, as well as following all kinds of sports! You can read some more of his articles here.