WordPress is the most popular, most common blogging platform out there. There are a few reasons for that. It was created right when blogging was exploding in popularity. It offered – and still offers – a robust platform with free hosting or a totally customizable suite for your own hosting. It maintains itself with updates to include new features and close security holes. It’s also highly customizable through tens of thousands of plugins.
It’s those plugins that bring WordPress from a powerful platform to the best available option. There are plugins for everything from changing the appearance of your blog to changing every little bit of functionality. With enough plugins, you’d hardly be able to tell there was a WordPress installation underneath.
What follows are six of the best plugins available for various SEO purposes. You will want to use each of them for some purpose or another to bolster your site rankings. These aren’t all of the plugins you want, of course. You should, at minimum, also have a comments plugin of your choice and a security plugin to add another layer of safety between your blog and hackers. WordPress is common enough that a stock installation is asking for trouble when a new breach is discovered.
A generic name for one of the most robust plugins available for WordPress, WordPress SEO is virtually essential for any blog owner running the platform today. It’s almost easier to state the things you can’t do with it than the things you can – and those are included in the premium version.
WordPress SEO has quite a bit of focus on helping you produce quality content for the web. One particular feature allows you to see a render of what your content would look like as a search result, showing you exactly how to format your title and text snippet for maximum appeal. Another feature will compare your content to a checklist of simple search optimizations you can make, such as image alt tags and meta information.
One feature that’s nearly essential, and yet often overlooked, is the ability to create an XML sitemap. WordPress SEO allows you to generate a perfect sitemap for Google, complete with an archive of your images if you so desire. It also allows you to use XML stylesheets to create a human readable version of your sitemap, for public viewing or for internal proofreading.
RSS, breadcrumbs, social sharing tools; WordPress SEO has pretty much everything you need. If you were limited to one single plugin for SEO, this would be the one.
Under normal circumstances, it’s easy enough to install Google Analytics to your website. After all, Google does the hard work by generating an easy snippet of code you need to paste into your site. Unfortunately, with WordPress, it can be hard to know where to put it. This is further complicated by the vast array of themes you can choose from, including all of the sites that create custom themes for you. If you put the code in the wrong spot, after all, it may not appear on every page and thus won’t track pages you want it to track.
Google Analyticator is a simple plugin that allows you to integrate Google Analytics with any theme. If that doesn’t seem like much, it has a range of extra features to allow you to customize your display of Analytics information, including the ability to display some statistics on the live site itself. It pulls its weight for how simple and narrow the plugin is.
Forms are complex and difficult to handle in ideal circumstances. Working around a WordPress theme and trying to create custom forms can be a nightmare. Gravity Forms is a great plugin that helps with that, along with some content creation and mail integration features. You can create contact forms of all sorts, along with a host of other form options. Submissions are stored on the backend and can be exported via CSV as well.
The only down side to Gravity Forms – and this can be significant for some users – is that it’s not free. There are a range of different price points for different levels of service, which you can investigate for yourself. Suffice to say, if you have need of customized forms, this may be the perfect solution.
One thing that can hurt your SEO rank significantly is a proliferation of broken links. Internal broken links are all too common, particularly on WordPress, where a single tweak to your permalink structure can ruin links throughout your site. Broken Link Checker is a fairly self-explanatory name; it allows you to scan your site for broken links and notifies you of their locations. You can then fix or remove them at your leisure.
Of course, no plugin is complete without a host of additional features that compliment the core functionality. Among other things, you can set it to actively monitor your links and check them for their validity, complete with notifications if they break. Under most circumstances, you won’t need to actively scan for broken links, but the moment you do this plugin becomes the most valuable piece of code you’ve installed.
The All-In-One SEO Pack is a collection of useful SEO utilities and optimizations crafted specifically for WordPress. If you’re not a fan of the WordPress SEO plugin above, this would be your best option. It has a lot of overlap with Yoast’s offering, but it’s highly useful in its own right and can be used in conjunction if you prefer.
What does it do? Among other things, it offers advanced support for canonical URLs, a host of eCommerce integration features and automation for meta tags. It works without configuration, so it’s great for a new user, but it’s also deeply customizable when you learn more about SEO and WordPress. It also includes some valuable security options to keep your blog safe.
Pop quiz: what would a plugin called SEO Friendly Images do? If you answered “allows complete customization of every aspect of images on a page, including alt text, title tags and formatting,” you would be correct.
Yes, this plugin is very narrow in utility. It’s also highly useful for making your images appear in search results much more readily, with keyword-focused alt text and W3C compatibility. It’s simple, it’s effective and it’s all you could ask for with an images plugin on WordPress.
So there you have it; six excellent plugins to do just about anything you could want with SEO on your WordPress blog. All you need to do is provide the content necessary to run a blog, do the advertising and promotion, engage with users… actually, everything else necessary to run a blog. These tools just help make your job easier.