What’s the big deal about SEO? Is it even still a thing? Do you really need a WordPress SEO plugin?
If you’re at all interested in driving organic traffic to your site, then yes, SEO is still a thing, and it’s something you should probably learn more about.
The first thing to learn is that offering stellar content is the number one rule for great SEO. But assuming you have great content, how do you get people to come to your site and read it? Unless you want to pay for ads, you’ll need to learn how to optimize your site for the best SEO possible. Thankfully, WordPress is an excellent platform to start with SEO-wise. Built into the WordPress CMS is a well-organized content structure that search engines love.
While using WordPress is a great place to start, there’s a lot more to understand and apply to make your content rank high on Google and other search engines. Things like keywords, meta descriptions, internal/external links, and overall site optimization need to be implemented to increase your content ranking.
If SEO still seems complicated to you, you’re not alone. Not only are there a sizable number of metrics to track, but the game also keeps changing. Rather than tackle your site’s SEO on your own, you can get professional help in the form of WordPress plugins and other SEO tools. I’ll help you discover some of the best WordPress SEO plugins and tools for your site.
Let’s get started!
The Best WordPress SEO Plugins
Founded in 2010 by Joost de Valk, Yoast is now one of the most popular WordPress SEO plugins available. Joost has been writing about WordPress and SEO since 2008, and that expertise is baked into the Yoast plugin.
Yoast specializes in improving your SEO through keyword analyzing tools and site optimization. Yoast will analyze your site during the initial configuration to see how well search engines index it. After you fill in some info about your site and business (if you have one), the plugin will optimize your site so search engines can find it and serve it in relevant searches.
In addition to site-wide optimization, Yoast helps you optimize your posts for your desired key phrases. It also recognizes related key phrases and synonyms. Within the post editor, the Yoast menus will appear in the sidebar and below the post, rating your post for SEO performance. It also gives you suggestions for improving your post, so it ranks better.
You can start with the free version, which gives you plenty of features and functionality. The premium Yoast SEO version gives you features like social media previews, quality and link suggestions as you write, SEO training courses, and more.
Founded in 2020, Rank Math has quickly become a leader in the WordPress SEO plugin market with over 1.3 million users. They market themselves as the “Swiss Army knife of SEO tools for WordPress,” and they do indeed have everything you need to manage your SEO. With a small plugin footprint of less than 12MB and low memory usage, Rank Math won’t slow down your site.
Rank Math will audit your site’s content and perform a technical audit so you know what you need to improve for an SEO boost. You can take advantage of its auto-configuration tool, so you don’t have to worry about setting it up wrong.
In the editor, Rank Math shows you updated rankings and analytics as you write your posts. In the sidebar menu, you can see up-to-the-second changes in your SEO performance, which helps you optimize your content in the early stages. Rank Math also allows up to five keywords per post for optimization, helping you to bring in even more traffic.
You can view analytics on the page or post list in the WordPress dashboard, like Keyword, Pillar Content, Internal & External Links, and Incoming Links.
Rank Math also helps you:
- Detect and fix broken links.
- Track click-thru rates.
- Preview how your post will look when shared on social media.
- Migrate data from other SEO plugins in one click.
There is a free Rank Math version in addition to Pro, Business, and Agency premium plans that range between $59 and $499 per year.
Starting in 2019, SEOPress now has over 250K active installations and 15K PRO clients. The team at SEOPress is engaged in the WordPress community and relies heavily on collaborations and partnerships to make their plugin robust and feature-rich.
With a simple and clean interface, SEOPress is perfect for beginners. There’s a wizard to get you started, and you don’t need to know any technical stuff to configure your site for the best SEO. Even though beginning bloggers will find it easy to use, it’s robust enough to satisfy the needs of large businesses, developers, and agencies.
Devs will find some of the tools handy. For example, you can import redirects from a CSV file and migrate data from other plugins. If you like taking control of configuration, you can use your own tracking scripts for services like Google Tag Manager. You can also manage user roles, so only certain roles can manipulate your SEOPress settings.
SEOPress also offers a full SEO site audit through their consulting partner, Goodness.
The SEOPress plugin integrates with other WordPress plugins and third-party apps: Elementor, WooCommerce, WP Rocket, ACF, Google Analytics, Lifter LMS, and more.
As with most of the tools I mention, you can start with a free SEOPress version and upgrade for more features. SEOPress offers PRO plans for $49 and $128 annually.
All in One SEO is part of a collection of plugins offered by the team at WPBeginner. Tailored to beginners, All in One SEO promotes itself as the most user-friendly SEO plugin around.
AISEO is similar in features and functionality to RankMath and Yoast. It provides a smart setup wizard to help you optimize your site’s SEO in just a few minutes. It also gives you a TruSEO Score to help optimize specific pages and posts.
AIOSEO also helps you preview and adjust how your posts will look on social media. It will help you improve your local SEO, which is helpful if your business depends on traffic in your specific location. AIOSEO provides a Link Assistant, which suggests adding internal and external links to improve your rankings.
While other plugins offer those things, I’ll touch on some things that make AIOSEO stand out to me.
Curating content by republishing RSS feeds is a great way to build an audience and share rich, targeted content. However, republishing can hurt the SEO rankings of the original post. All in One SEO will automatically add credits to the end of your posts, so even if it’s published elsewhere, Google will recognize you as the original author.
Having your posts and pages appropriately indexed goes a long way in improving your search engine rankings. AIOSEO will help your site automatically generate XML, RSS, and HTML sitemaps and ensure that search engines like Google and Bing are notified of any changes.
All in One SEO starts at $49.50 per year for their Basic subscription. An Elite subscription, which is best for agencies, is $299.50 per year.
Like most content creators, you probably get a little obsessive over your written content. But have you ever taken the time to consider how your images perform SEO-wise? It’s an often-overlooked area that WP Meta SEO will gladly help you fix.
Your images’ meta and information are also important in determining how your site performs with search engines. WP Meta SEO provides tools for analyzing and editing that info. And, because editing each image alone would be a tedious nightmare, their editing tool allows you to make those changes in bulk. In the editor, you can change:
- File name
- Alternate text
The WP Meta SEO plugin also helps you keep images displayed at their native size. This is important to your site’s speed. For example, let’s say you used the image size tool in the WordPress editor to shrink a large image. The image will still load at its original size, even though the display size is smaller. WP Meta SEO helps ensure the image display and load size match.
You can get WP Meta SEO at a straightforward price of $49 per year.
Notable SEO Tools
One of the things I love about Ahrefs is that they recognize how difficult it is for independent content creators to compete with ads in search engine results. Their tools are geared toward helping people make their content more accessible.
While Ahrefs started as a backlink analysis tool, they now offer an exhaustive list of tools you can use wherever you post content on the web. Rather than give you a plugin to install on your site, Ahrefs provides a Project Dashboard where you can get a birds-eye view of all your web projects. Then you can dive in deeper with specific tools they offer. Let’s walk through a few of the significant ones.
Starting with the Ahrefs Site Audit, they will crawl all the pages on your site to give you an overall health score and alert you to more specific SEO issues.
With Site Explorer, you can get a profile on any website or URL out there. This is a powerful research tool to help you see where you stand against the competition.
Are you constantly looking for keyword ideas for your posts? The Ahrefs Keywords Explorer will help you find them and help you calculate their traffic potential.
Similarly, their Content Explorer will help you find the most popular articles on the web for your topic. You can also see each article’s number of shares on social media.
The Rank Tracker tool shows you how you stack up in rankings against competitor sites over time.
Ahrefs also provides a ton of free tools to help you get your content noticed, like a Website Authority Checker, Amazon Keyword Tool, YouTube Keyword Tool, and much more.
Subscriptions start at $99 per month and go up to $999 for their Enterprise tier. There’s also the option to pay annually and get two months free.
Finding the right keywords for your content before you start writing is crucial. And while you can guess what the best keywords might be, why not find out for sure by using a dedicated keyword planning tool? Sure seems a lot smarter to me.
The aptly-named Keyword Tool is another web-based tool that harnesses the power of the internet to help you find the best keywords for Google, YouTube, Bing, Amazon, Instagram, and more.
Keyword Tool is super simple to use. On their home page, select a content provider and enter your keyword. You’ll see a list of results for your keyword with data for:
- Total Search Volume
- Average Trend
- Average CPC
- Average Competition
The first five results give you all the related info above. You need to subscribe to one of their plans for detailed data on more of the words in the list.
The information you get is incredibly useful, even with the free version. It’s also much easier to use than Google’s keyword planner tool. With Google, you currently have to be posting ads to use their tool. With Keyword Tool, you can get results right away.
Subscriptions run $69 — $159 per month, paid annually.
You don’t have to fumble around with SEO by yourself!
If you’ve been reading endless articles on making your posts rank better and tearing your hair out trying to guess at the best-performing keywords, you can stop now.
Using one or a combination of these best WordPress SEO plugins and tools from my list will make your life much easier. Now you can spend your time focusing on creating stellar content.