It’s no secret that the more I use WordPress the more I fall in love with it. The versatility and control I have when using WordPress makes doing any website task as simple as possible. However, what really makes WordPress amazing is the community support for Plugins, Widgets and thousands of other customizations. These community supported addons allow people such as myself (I suck at coding) the ability to improve our websites with just a few easy clicks.
I’ve put together a list of my Top 5 WordPress SEO Plugins that I feel would be beneficial for any website owner running WordPress. If you’re not familiar with the term SEO it stands for Search Engine Optimization which refers to how well your website is “optimized” for Google, Yahoo, Bing and all the other search engines on the Internet. Why is SEO optimization important? It’s proven that the more optimized your website, the better your search engine rankings. That would mean more traffic which means more sales. Pretty awesome stuff for free and for 10-20 minutes of your time to setup!
Enough of my banter… let’s look at the list!
#5 Suggested SEO Plugin
W3 Total Cache
From what I’ve read through blog posts, articles and other online postings, Google seems to factor your website speed into your results rankings. Being a WordPress owner, it’s very possible that your website may be a little sluggish and take a few seconds to load. This could be due to a number of things. A slow web hosting company, a large number of plugins and widgets or maybe just a badly coded script. Regardless, we can cache things such as pages, database calls, etc which will equal faster load times for your visitors (and Google).
W3 Total Cache was the plugin I decided to go with. There are many cache plugins within the community but I went with W3 Total Cache because of its built in support for memcached. W3 Total Cache was a bit of a pain to configure but I found a really great website that helped with the setup. Click here for super duper easy peasy instructions. Don’t worry, I know that website looks a little shady. The ebook is free and not a required download. He has the HTML version posted right on that page as well.
After installing and configuring W3 Total Cache I noticed a massive improvement in website load times. Just to make sure it wasn’t my imagination I started comparing speeds with W3 Total Cache disabled and enabled using a 3rd party tool. The Website Speed Tool available from Pingdom is pretty awesome. Try it yourself!
#4 Suggested SEO Plugin
Disable Canonical URL Redirection
Alright, I literally had to just check up on what this plugin actually does. I had completely forgot. This plugin is only suggested if you are utilizing mod_rewrite to take advantage of SEO friendly URLs. If you’re unsure of what mod_rewrite is or what SEO friendly URLs are, just post a comment back and I’ll provide some helpful links or might even write another post about them since everyone should definitely be using them if possible.
For those of you running mod_rewrite, your website pages will look like www.websitename.com/page-title-here/ in the address bar. Hopefully Google is indexing your page URLs like this as well. However, without the Disable Canonical URL Redirection plugin, those same pages can be accessed via index.php followed by the ?paged=id query string. This might not seem like a big deal (and it likely isn’t) but I’ve heard multiple reports of website owners content becoming listed in search engines under both URL’s. What this means is that those addresses are going to split any type of backlink, PR, etc weighting given to them. You NEVER want duplicate content listed in Google or any other search engine.
#3 Suggested SEO Plugin
Auto SEO Tags
I’ve only had the fortunate task of using this Plugin on one other WordPress website I run. It’s a very small blog with only 10-15 posts and I installed this Plugin after coming across it by accident. I’m sure glad I did!
What the Auto SEO Tags Plugin will do is take keyword phrases that visitors from Google use to find your blog posts and then add those phrases as tags to the blog post in question. So let’s say you have a blog post about flowers blooming in the snow (Go Canadian Springs!) and I type the search term “spring bloom” in Google and end up on your blog post. That keyword phrase (spring bloom) will now automatically be added to the list of tags for that blog post. I’ve witnessed tags added to my blog posts by this Plugin bring me more traffic from Google. I was very surprised and impressed!
#2 Suggested SEO Plugin
All in One SEO Pack
Some consider this the God of all Plugins. I’ve seen others refer to it as a bloated script that does nothing but hog resources. My personal opinion is that I haven’t seen it impact server resources in a negative way on the 4 blogs I’ve installed it on. Some of the blogs are cache optimized and some are not. As for the actual SEO ability of this plugin, it’s pretty fantastic!
The initial setup of the All in One SEO Pack Plugin will have you configure your homepage title, meta description, meta keywords and more. Once you’re done with the setup you will then notice that everything from pages to posts now have extra SEO related options you can configure. The great thing about this Plugin is that you don’t need to go nuts always creating a title, unique meta description and keyword set for every single page and post. You can if you want but you don’t need to. The All in One SEO Pack Plugin automatically optimizes website components like pages and blog posts just based off your chosen settings during the initial setup!
This plugin is really as powerful as you want it to be. The more time you invest into your SEO descriptions, keywords and other areas, the more you’ll get out of it. I’ve personally noticed traffic improvements being both lazy (initial setup and nothing more) and also when I always add custom titles, etc to each page, post and more. This is definitely a proven and highly recommended SEO plugin.
#1 Suggested SEO Plugin
Google XML Sitemaps
Did I put this at the number one spot because I’m a Google fanboy / super lover? Nah! I do love Google but this Plugin is number one because I think it’s one of the most overlooked tasks website owners should be engaging in. Creating, updating and submitting your website sitemap to Google (and other search engines) on a regular basis.
The process of Sitemap generation and maintenance can all be set on auto drive with the installation of the Google XML Sitemaps Plugin! It’s been a while since I’ve configured this Plugin for a WordPress installation but I can say it’s fairly easy. Once setup, this Plugin will generate a sitemap.xml file for your WordPress website. The sitemap.xml will then be sent to Google which will assist in properly indexing the pages of your website. The sitemap is your guide for Google through your website.
The fantastic thing about this sitemap Plugin is your ability to add pages, tags, blog posts, categories and more within the sitemap. Also, any changes to your blogs (either new or update) will trigger the sitemap.xml file to update itself and will also notify Google that your sitemap has changed (oh yeah baby!). Like I said, this Plugin is pretty amazing!
That’s all for now everyone. If anyone has any questions about anything I mentioned or anything I didn’t, feel free to comment below and I’ll get you a quick reply back.