We love WordPress. It’s a fantastic tool for building sites, and we’ve delivered WordPress site after site, we’ve got a pretty good grip on the best tools and plugins available for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).
There’s a big misconception that site speed and a reliable host is all you need to do for SEO. However, there’s a lot more that goes into a solid SEO strategy. Whether it’s keywords for your blog posts, the size of your image files, how shareable a piece of content is – it all plays a part in creating an SEO-friendly site.
You’d be forgiven if you didn’t know what plugins were out there. In fact, there’s hundreds, so we want to help equip you with the right tools. That’s where this blog post comes in, because we’ve put together a list of our top recommended tools and plugins for WordPress.
Here’s a quick rundown:
- Broken link checker
- Akismet anti-spam
- Google keyword planner
- Answer the public
As you read this blog post, you’ll notice that some are plugins directly for WordPress, whilst others are online tools. We’ll make sure to mention that as we discuss each in more detail, as well as any cost implications. But before we dive in, let’s address a common question:
What exactly is SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)?
There are a million and one definitions of SEO out there. For us, we like to define search engine optimisation as follows:
“A combination of posting regular, original content and technical updates to improve your website’s authority and organically increase the quantity and quality of website traffic.”
There’s a lot there, so let’s digest that further:
- Regular, original content: Google much prefers sites that are consistently updated with original content. That’s regular blog posts, new landing pages and so on. If you truly embrace the “They Ask, You Answer” inbound methodology, you’ll become a master of content creation for your site.
- Technical updates: Content is only half the story, as maintaining your site is equally important for SEO. Broken links, form checks, on-page optimisation all part a part, as we’ll discuss later in this blog post.
- Website authority: All the aforementioned factors create a site with good domain authority, and the higher this is, the more Google will recognise your site as an expert platform, which helps you rank higher.
- Quantity and quality of traffic: This final component means you’ll get a steady stream of people who want to digest your content and be educated.
With SEO defined, let’s take a look at our top WordPress SEO plugins and tools.
1. Yoast SEO
There’s a reason that Yoast SEO is at the top of the list, and that’s because it reigns supreme as the leading on-page SEO plugin for WordPress, and the one we use as standard with our own WordPress sites.
With over 25,000 five-star reviews (at the time of this article), Yoast has become the go-to plugin known for its user friendly interface and it’s focus on optimising your blog posts and pages for search results.
How Yoast SEO works:
Yoast SEO allows you to select a focus keyword for your blog posts and website pages. You can also use it to optimise the page title, meta tags and meta-description of your content as it would appear in search results. This means you can see exactly how your content will appear in Google, which gives you scope to make it more appealing to your audience.
Not only that, but you also get a traffic light rating of your content. This takes other aspects into account, such as length of sentence, tone-of-voice, keyword distribution, duplicate content and more. We’ve found this extremely helpful in tweaking our content regularly, and you can easily get a birds-eye overview of your traffic light rating from the WordPress dashboard.
And the best part? Yoast SEO is a free plugin, with all the aforementioned features available in the free version. There is a premium version available at £79 (exc. VAT), which includes more features around keyword optimisation, redirection and more.
We recently started using SEMRush, and have to say that it’s the best SEO pack of tools on the market right now. It’s used primarily by SEO experts, blog writers and businesses of different sizes, and comes complete with a full and comprehensive suite of tools.
The tool we love the most is the SEO Writing Assistant. This allows you to select a focus keyword (or phrase) and SEMRush will give you recommendations to optimise your content based on the top 10 search results.
This includes a recommended word count, additional keywords to use, and more. It’s a very powerful tool to help you improve your website content. Even better, it integrates with Google Docs and WordPress to help you optimise your content in real-time.
There’s a whole host of other tools available with SEMRush, not least of which are:
- Organic research: You can look into what organic keywords your competitors are using, and position tracking.
- Keyword difficulty: When looking at domains, you can research keywords with less competition and estimate keyword difficulty.
- Keyword magic: This tool takes a really interesting look at rank math, giving you ideas for related keywords and their search volume, to use in your content and on your site.
One thing we will mention about SEMRush is that there is quite a steep learning curve in order to get to grips with the software. However, there is an Academy full of certifications to help you learn how the software works.
You might be reading this blog and thinking “What does social media have to do with SEO?” Well quite a lot actually.
As we’ve already established, part of good SEO, and maintaining an authoritative site in the eyes of Google, is regular content. With that, Google recognises sites more if that content is being shared regular, and more people are talking about it on social media.
Therefore, making sure your content is easily shareable is where Shareaholic comes in, particularly the share buttons feature. This is a feature that allows you to add a series of buttons to easily share your content to individual platforms. It’s completely free and can be customised to suit your site. You’ll see we’re using it ourselves – why not give it a try and share this blog post?
4. Click to tweet
Click to tweet is another free social media plugin that allows you to easily share specific messages from your blog content directly to Twitter.
All you have to do is select a phrase, add it to the message box and generate a link to embed on your site. It’s as easy as that. There’s also a direct plugin for WordPress… and did we mention that it’s free?
5. Broken link checker
Fixing broken links (a link that leads to a 404 page) is extremely important for SEO, as they can be seen as detrimental to your site’s user experience, which Google most certainly frowns upon. If you’re constantly updating your site and blog content, checking your site for broken links regularly should be a priority.
Broken link checker is a free plugin for WordPress that allows you to find any broken links on your site and fix them without having to edit your posts.
It takes a few minutes to run, and you’ll be presented with a full and exhaustive list of broken links on your site, and you’ll also receive a notification as new broken links appear.
A word of warning however, as this plugin can become quite intensive and slow down your site, so always check your site speed whilst using the plugin. If you need to turn the plugin off, but fix your broken links, another tool can be quite useful. That leads us nicely to…
Redirection is another free plugin, and the most popular redirect manager for WordPress, having been a plugin for over 10 years.
This plugin allows you to set up 301 redirections (a redirect from URL to another) easily. No coding knowledge necessary, you simply type in the old URL and the new one you want users to be redirected to – it’s as simple as that.
You can have a few redirects, or even thousands, however many you need to reduce errors and improve your site ranking over time. There are also additional tools such as:
- Browser specific redirection – Redirect users depending on which browser they are using.
- Import – You can import redirections from other plugins, including Simple 301 Redirects and Rank Math.
There’s no premium version of this plugin. The whole package is completely free, with no need for payments to unlock additional features.
As we’ve briefly mentioned, site speed is extremely important for SEO. What a lot of WordPress users don’t realise, is that images can often be one of the top ways your site slows down. If you’ve got large images that aren’t compressed, your site speed is going to take a hit.
That’s where Smush comes in. It’s a free plugin that allows you to optimise and compress all of your website images at the click of a button. It has a plethora of options available. We particularly how you can retrospectively compress images already on your site, and automatically compress any new ones as they’re uploaded. Other features include:
Not only is it free, it’s also unlimited, with no daily, monthly or annual caps on images. The only restriction is that you can only optimise images that are smaller than 5MB in size.
8. Akismet anti-spam
Ridding your site of spam can sometimes be easier than it sounds. If your site is plagued with spam, you’ll lose domain authority and higher Google rankings, making it harder for consumers to find your content.
Akismet is a plugin dedicated to filtering out comment and form submission spam. All you have to do is install the plugin on your site, activate your API and then you can rest easy knowing that your spam is being automatically filtered out. To this date, the plugin has successfully blocked over 400 million spam submissions!
There are several pricing plans available. The base plugin is suitable for personal sites and blogs, and is available at a “name your price” fee. If you want a higher level of support, or advanced statistics, you’d need to look at the Plus or Enterprise level, which are priced at £4 and £37.50 per month (per site). Our suggestion would be to try the base plugin to begin with, and increase your package if needed.
9. Google keyword planner
Google keyword planner is a tool that comes as part of Google Ads. To some extent, it can be seen as an alternative to SEMRush should you not wish to spend money on a keyword research tool.
The advantage here is that you have access to Google’s massive bank of insight into what people are searching for. It allows you to choose the right keywords by seeing the search volume, number of results and difficulty level if you were to use those phrases in Google Ads.
This allows you to make a plan of attack for your Google Ads campaigns, by carefully selecting the right keywords to get you in front of your customers. It’s also a free tool for users of Google Ads, meaning anyone can use it. Our recommendation is that you use it in conjunction with Google Analytics and Search Console, allowing you to compare your own keywords with that of the planner.
10. Answer the public
Our final tool on the list is not a plugin for WordPress, but nevertheless is an extremely powerful tool that can give you incredible insight into what consumers are typing into Google.
Answer the public allows you to type in a keyword or phrase, and it will show you a comprehensive list of the phrases people are typing into Google that contain that keyword. This includes questions, prepositions and comparisons.
This is extremely helpful in giving you ideas for blog articles, helping you craft SEO-friendly content based on the top things people are looking to Google for answers.
It’s free to begin with, and the free version gives you limited daily searches. The Pro version, priced at $99 per month, gives you access to unlimited searches and the ability to compare data and pull reports.
Which SEO tool do you need the most?
And there you have it, our top 10 SEO tools and plugins for WordPress sites. Whether you’re looking for on-page optimisation, image compression, spam protection or a tool to help you craft SEO-friendly content, there’s a lot available on the market.
We’d love to hear what your favourite SEO tool or plugin is. Or if you’re looking for help with SEO, head over to our diagnostic to see what kind of support you need.
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