A handful of WordPress SEO plugins, easy to use theme and quick setup tips
Our small team love WordPress because of its simple functionality and a vast choice of SEO plugins. And the platform is diverse enough to make sense for start-up businesses and those with an established brand considering a migration from their current content management system.
Google loves it too. With over 400 million sites using WordPress, the lion’s share of sites performing well in search results is on the WordPress platform.
Who will enjoy this guide?
This quick read guide is ideal for those setting up a new website or looking to improve the optimisation of an existing one.
In three main categories, we’ll look at accessible to use themes, our top 6 WordPress SEO plugins and some SEO tips that form a part of our SEO on-page agency best practices. Head to our WordPress expert page if you need a ‘done for you’ SEO service.
You’ve more than 10,000 themes to choose from, and we’ve narrowed it down to one that is broad enough to cover most industries with simple to use functions for those just starting online. Established businesses might already have a custom theme they’re looking to customise to WordPress.
Get a cool looking design and SEO ready website.
Divi theme is a one size fits all solution (created by Elegant Themes)
We’ll get our critics for upvoting Divi Theme because its downside is its bloatedness. The content builder could have been made as a stand-alone SEO plugin for WordPress rather than a theme.
But, having weighed up the pros and cons, we love Divi. This website is built on it.
We have WordPress Divi websites ranking nationally for some competitive national phrases. Yes, we have done some refining to ensure our managed websites load like rockets, but if you’re looking for local SEO search results, Divi gets the job done, out of the box.
Visit Elegant Themes to check it out, with an annual cost of just $89 per year.
Annual fee includes hundreds of premade website packs, premium support and Divi Builder.
SEO Plugins All In One SEO Pack
Popular alternatives include Yoast SEO and Rank Math.
This SEO pack plugin offers free and paid versions. Actually, we use the premium version on only one, a national website, as it includes some helpful image SEO features you don’t get with the free version.
We’ve thousands of pages and posts ranking on page 1 of Google, with the free option.
Best features of the All In One SEO Pack
- Simple to set up, and there are some walkthrough videos on YouTube if you need help.
- Manage SEO titles and the meta description inside the editor of each page or post
- Verify easily with Google Search Console and Google Analytics
- Creates an XML sitemap with the click of a button (submit your sitemap in Google Search Console) and RSS sitemaps
- Deals with Taxonomies and archived content indexing issues
- Verifies social profiles with your website
- In-built redirects function (premium only)
- Includes a local SEO module with a knowledge graph (open graph) card and business schema markup and rich snippets
- SEO WordPress analysis tools offering a score rating for your content and SEO setup
Most of this list has become part of our basic setup for SEO WordPress websites.
Within our Bristol SEO agency, Autoptimize has become an essential SEO plugin for WordPress site speed readiness.
Its core function is to improve the performance of load speed. It’s pretty easy to set up too. Without getting too techie, have a look at how it works:
- Aggregates and minifies cache scripts and styles
- Excellent CSS options, including deferring scripts to the footer (supporting fast loading pages)
- SEO optimises images with lazy load
- SEO optimises Google fonts
Tonnes more features too. Check out this excellent SEO plugin.
Free version only
Assuming you don’t opt for the All In One SEO plugin premium, you’ll find a nofollow outbound links option helpful.
Nofollow links prevent passing along the authority of the linking website. They reduce the value of the link, which can be helpful in some instances.
However, nofollow still passes trust so there remains some link value.
Nofollow links can be helpful in structured silo content.
Be sure to keep this plugin updated to strengthen site security.
Free and paid versions
The truth is that an experienced hacker can get into the backend of most WordPress websites. Often times, they find entry via out of date themes or SEO plugins for WordPress. But a solid security plugin is generally recommended and will see most wannabe hackers.
WP All In One Security is a good choice. Here are some of its core features:
- User account, log in and registration security
- Database security
- File and folder system security
- Htacccess and wp-config.php backup and restore
- Blacklist IP function
- Firewall functions, including blocking malicious bots with cookie functionality
- Brute force attack security
- Comment spam
The list is an overview, but rest assured, the plugin is healthy for most WordPress websites and worth uploading.
Free and paid versions
Not so much an SEO plugin but more of a fully-loaded drag and drop WP form builder.
Divi offers form builders, but Ninja forms is a step-up and work well with the Elegant Themes set up.
Some of this plugins best features include:
- Custom template
- Theme styling
- Responsive designs (suitable for mobile, tablet and desktop)
- Multiple languages
- Share links
- Payment gateway options
And tonnes more customisations.
A free and premium version
This handy WordPress SEO plugin is packed with features, but our favourite feature is its ease in setting up with Google Analytics.
Monster Insights allows you to see website metrics via analytics from within your WordPress dashboard.
Premium users will like the keyword tracking tool that syncs with the Google Search Console to show your best keyword SEO data.
Here’s a dashboard screenshot:
Check a few of the features offered by this killer SEO plugin for WordPress
- Universal Tracking
- Affiliate Link Tracking
- Outbound Link Tracking
- Custom Events
- Phone and Email Tracking
- Media Tracking
- Page Insights
- Custom Reports
- Real-Time Reports
- Audience Demographics
- Contextual Insights
- PDF Exports
This SEO WordPress plugin integrates with WooCommerce, Contact Form 7 and Ninja Forms (many others too).
Monster Insights is one of the best SEO plugins. Their premium version is worth the spend, starting at $99.00
That’s our top 6 best WordPress SEO plugins.
Now let’s look at some simple WP optimisation techniques that will help you get the most out of your content and search engine optimisation.
The tips listed below form part of our basic setup for WordPress SEO and rapid search engine results.
Let’s assume you know the keywords your content is targeting. They’ll be either local SEO phrases or nationwide ones.
If you don’t know your target phrases, check out Google Keyword Planner or the fab browser plugin, Keywords Everywhere. Both provide search volume for keywords to help people find your content.
Back to WP SEO settings
What are permalinks?
Look at this screenshot to finding the appropriate settings inside your WordPress dashboard:
Permalinks are the permanent URL structures for static pages, posts and archive pages inside your website dashboard. The settings here determine how your page addresses appear in the browser. They plan a significant role for the best SEO setup.
If you use silo structures, they are perhaps even more critical.
- In WP Settings, click the permalinks tab and amend them as follows:
- Click ‘custom structure’ and enter this markup: /%category%/%postname%/
It allows WordPress to include categories and subcategories in URL structures.
For example, www.sitename.co.uk/category/subcategory/pagename/.
Keep in mind; this lengthens the URL. Again, not necessarily a poor SEO strategy, but do try to avoid very long URLs.
As a rule, we keep the structures simple, like https://coolbison.co.uk/seo/guide/
When a Googlebot visits your website and crawls, it goes to the top folder containing your URL. Image the bot is asking ‘what is this page about?’. You’ll answer with a URL that contains one or more keywords phrases. Often, categories include target keywords, which are handy when adding an internal link.
Avoid repeating keywords in a URL. Once is all you need.
WordPress Reading settings
In your WordPress dashboard, the read settings allow you to use a static page or your latest blog posts to populate your homepage.
Decide to use posts and pages early on, as they change how your main page appears to site users.
If you blog regularly, a post snippet with text appearing as your homepage may be your preferred option. This setup works so well as it’s proven to reduce bounce rate as users quickly click on your homepage to read your latest content.
And we have proven bounce rate to be an SEO signal. For an in depth look of bounce rate and site conversion, check out our blogging services for small businesses.
Big brands tend to use a static page as it includes static content and messaging.
For SEO, we prefer static pages as the content remains the same month on month. In addition, it offers some predictability, much loved by search engine marketers.
It’s also possible to have a static page that includes two or three of your latest posts as images and text snippets.
There is a vast number of WordPress SEO plugins, each offering design and integration functions. The ones we have listed are our essentials for most of the websites we manage.
As your site grows in content, and hopefully in search results, you’ll need more functions. The Broken Link Checker is a useful SEO plugin that lets you know if you have broken internal links and lead to 404 pages.
We’ve touched on site speed and performance too. It continues to grow in its importance, and more often than not, a single WordPress SEO plugin isn’t sufficient as a site gets more extensive and more established.
COOLBISON Customised, personalised, ‘done for you’ SEO strategy
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