If you are using WordPress for your website and aren’t optimizing for search engines, you’re missing out on a lot of opportunities for traffic and conversions. In many respects, traffic obtained from organic search methods are the holy grail of marketing because they result in inquiries and enrollments you haven’t had to pay advertising costs for.
But how do you ensure your website is optimized for search engines, especially if you’re a school marketer who doesn’t have a lot of time to keep up with:
- Keyword research
- Local SEO
- Mobile SEO
- On-page SEO
- SEO research
- Rank checking
- Site speed
There are a range of SEO plugins and tools you can use to take your website to the next level regardless of your SEO ability.
What is a WordPress Plugin?
A plugin is simply software you “plug into” your WordPress website to increase its functionality in some way. They are written in PHP programming language and make it easier for website developers and publishers to add features to their websites without knowing any code.
Where Do You Get WordPress Plugins?
There are thousands of free plugins available through the official WordPress plugin directory. You can access them right in WordPress from your Dashboard > Plugins. There are also premium plugins you can purchase (most are on a subscription basis).
Plugin installation is beyond the scope of this article, but if you need assistance, try this article from WP Beginner – How to Install a WordPress Plugin – Step by Step for Beginners.
Who Needs a SEO Plugin?
SEO plugins are a necessity if you don’t know how to code PHP, are lost with HTACCESS files and robots.txt files are a mystery. The technical side of SEO requires professional-level coding skills. So if you don’t fit in that category, you should be using SEO plugins on your site.
How to Choose the Best Plugins for Your Site
There are three criteria you should consider when selecting a WordPress plugin.
Look for plugins with 5-star ratings with the highest number of people who gave a rating you can find.
Look for a high number of installations. Usually, you will want to choose the plugin with the most installations in its category.
Look for plugins whose creator is engaged and continues to provide updates. You can usually tell this by looking for the most recent update date.
Here are my top picks for SEO WordPress plugins and tools by category.
Hands down, Yoast SEO is one of the best SEO plugins available. It’s a great tool to help you optimize your website. I use it here on SchneiderB Media to add SEO titles and descriptions to my pages and posts. It also allows you to select a focus keyword and check your keyword density. You can also use it to manage SEO redirects, control index settings and generate an XML sitemap (which you should submit to Google through your Google Search Console, by the way).
All-In-One SEO Pack
The All-In-One SEO Pack is an alternative to Yoast SEO. It offers a comprehensive set of tools that allow you to add:
- SEO titles
- Meta tags
- Open graph meta tags
- An XML sitemap
- An image sitemap
Note: You only need one WordPress comprehensive SEO plugin – don’t install Yoast SEO and All-In-One SEO Pack at the same time.
SEOPress is another alternative to Yoast SEO. It includes all the features you’d expect from an all-in-one SEO plugin such as titles, descriptions, open graph support, sitemaps, redirects, etc.
This is another popular WordPress SEO plugin. Some people prefer it over Yoast SEO because the premium version is less expensive than Yoast SEO Premium.
Note: You only need one WordPress comprehensive SEO plugin – don’t install Yoast SEO or All-In-One SEO Pack and SEOPress at the same time.
The SEO Framework
The SEO Framework is receiving excellent reviews from WordPress users; I’d be remiss to not include it in this list. Reviewers are raving about it’s easy-to-use, beautiful framework. Menu options include:
- Meta titles and descriptions
- Social meta information
- A fallback image to use when nothing else is available
- Basic schema information
- Settings for search engine robots
- Sitemap functionality
Note: You only need one WordPress comprehensive SEO plugin – don’t install Yoast SEO or All-In-One SEO Pack or SEOPress or Rank Math and The SEO Framework at the same time.
Rank Math is a WordPress SEO plugin that is growing in popularity. It allows you to optimize your website for search engines and social media. It comes with a setup wizard that allows you to import data from other SEO plugins. In addition to the features you would expect from an all-in-one SEO plugin tool, it allows you to connect to Google Search Console.
Note: You only need one WordPress comprehensive SEO plugin – don’t install Yoast SEO or All-In-One SEO Pack or SEOPress or The SEO Framework and Rank Math at the same time.
Single Purpose Plugins
SEMRush is used by SEO experts, marketers and businesses to grow traffic on their websites. It offers a comprehensive set of tools to help you find organic keywords and search terms as well as conduct competitor research. SEMRush’s SEO Writing Assistant Tool is also great for improving your website content.
WP Rocket is a WordPress plugin that makes your site load faster by caching it. It includes Image Lazy Loading and Database Optimization as well as caching technology.
Load speed is a significant SEO factor; a one-second delay in load speed can reduce the number of times your page is viewed, lower customer satisfaction and result in lost conversions.
WP Rocket will compress your files, cache content for returning visitors, optimize your database and fonts, integrate with your content delivery network (CDN) and improve image load time.
W3 Total Cache
Redirection is a popular WordPress SEO plugin used to redirect “301 redirects” and “404 errors”. This tool will help your site avoid technical SEO errors, especially those that occur when you migrate your website or restructure your content. It will also help you edit your “.HTACCESS” file.
All-In-One Schema Rich Snippets
All-In-One Schema Rich Snippets is a schema markup tool that allows you to create attractive looking snippets that will show up in search results. This tool is used for certain schema types, such as:
A rich snippet provides more detailed information and looks appealing in Google Search results.
WP Smush is an award-winning SEO plugin that optimizes images. It will compress and resize images without loss of quality to the image. Images are usually the main reason websites load slowly, so WP Smush will help speed up your site.
Broken Link Checker
Broken Link Checker is a tool used to search for any broken links, missing images or redirects. It also allows you to fix the errors from within the plugin dashboard.
Autoptimize is a SEO plugin used to speed up your website by aggregating and caching your scripts and styles. It also minifies HTML code. This plugin is best used with WP Rocket or W3 Total Cache.
Sucuri is a WordPress security plugin used to keep your site secure and malware free. There is a fee to purchase premium services like a firewall. This is a great tool for tightening up the security features on your website.
AMP for WP
AMP for WP is a plugin used to automatically add Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages functionality to your website. It allows you to add different content just for mobile users, increase mobile loading times and adds canonical tags so Google knows which page is the original.
Rel Nofollow Checkbox
The Rel Nofollow Checkbox plugin allows you to mark nofollow pages when creating links in WordPress. This might not seem like a big deal at first, but it really will save time if you don’t want to have to search through HTML code and add nofollow code manually. It allows you to mark nofollow links, affiliate links and prevents search engines from penalizing your site due to low-quality content.
Really Simple SSL
The Really Simple SSL plugin automatically detects your settings and configures your site to run over HTTPS. It’s easy to use; the premium version includes a mixed content scan that directs you if you don’t have the “green padlock” yet.
BJ Lazy Load
BJ Lazy Load is a cool tool that makes your site load faster and saves bandwidth by not loading images until it’s necessary. Instead, the plugin replaces your images, thumbnails and iframes with a placeholder and loads them right before they come into view when a visitor is scrolling down your page. It also works with embedded videos from YouTube and Vimeo.
The WordPress Multilingual (WPML) plugin makes it easy to build and run multilingual sites. You can use it to translate:
- Custom types
- Text on themes and plugins.
WPML is able to understand your site structure and send traffic to the right language. It will also create valid XML sitemaps with the correct pages.
General SEO Tools
Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a free tool provided by Google to provide feedback on the functionality of your website from Google’s point-of-view. It offers a wealth of information, including your site’s traffic and performance, issues and queries used to find your site. You can use GSC to submit your sitemaps and receive email alerts when Google identifies an issue.
Google Analytics and Monster Insights
You probably have heard of Google Analytics, but if you’re not using it regularly, you should. Google Analytics lets you keep track of the performance of your website, as well as understand your audience, where your traffic is coming from, how many people have converted into leads, what content on your site is the most popular, how mobile-friendly your site is and a great deal more information. You can integrate your site’s Google Search Console into Google Analytics so all your information is in one place.
One of the easiest ways to install Google Analytics on your WordPress website is to use Monster Insights. Monster Insights eliminates the need to add Google Analytics code to various areas of your WordPress theme. With Monster Insights, you can effortlessly install Google Analytics on your site and enable all advanced Google Analytics features with just a few clicks.
Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner is set up as a tool for building Google Ad campaigns. However, you can also use it for keyword research. The general information is not very helpful because the numbers aren’t very specific, but if you filter, refine and keep drilling down you can find more specific data.
Ahrefs is a premium tool used by SEO experts and professionals. It crawls the internet and gathers clickstream data from many sources, not just Google. It offers a content index, keyword index, search traffic index and a backlink index with possibly the most extensive infrastructure on the web. It is used for keyword and competitor research.
Answer The Public
I’ve referenced Answer The Public in blog posts before, but it’s such a great tool I thought I’d include it in this list as well. Answer The Public is a keyword research tool that provides data in a query format. For example, you’ll get hundreds of responses to your keyword search in the form of questions categorized by:
Note: Answer The Public only will let you search for 3 terms per day so choose wisely!
Screaming Frog Log File Analyzer
Screaming Frog Log Analyzer is a powerful tool used to process, store and analyze millions of log file event data in a smart database. It will allow you to:
- Identify crawled URLs
- Find broken links and errors
- Discover crawl frequency
- Audit redirects
- Identify large images and slow pages
- Find uncrawled and orphan pages
- Combine and compare data with log file data (useful for advanced analysis)
SchneiderB Free Website SEO Audit for Schools
The SchneiderB Free Website SEO Audit tool was specifically designed with school marketers in mind. It will help you:
- Review your keywords
- Review your keyword sitemap
- Complete an SEO action to improve your ranking
- View keyword rankings
- View your website performance metrics
- View your top traffic sources
- Conduct competitor audits
- And much more!
To get started, click here: Free Website SEO Audit for Schools. I’ll see you on the other side!
What SEO WordPress plugins and tools do you recommend? What should have been included in this list but isn’t? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.