One reason WordPress powers so many websites is that it’s incredibly flexible and customizable. You can set it up for any website using premade themes and extend the functionality with plugins. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your site’s presence online to encourage a better user experience and response from search engines. SEO plugins are especially powerful for WordPress website owners as they give you more control over how search engines treat your site and increase traffic to it.
With the right set of SEO plugins, you can improve your SEO ranking and boost your search rankings. Here are seven ways WordPress SEO plugins optimize your website, improve your search rankings, and increase organic search engine traffic to it.
1. They Give You Good Keywords to Target
Many SEO plugins integrate with your WordPress site to display your site analytics inside your admin dashboard. They give you insights on how people and search engines view your site, so you can enhance your site content to match and rank better in search results.
For example, they may display the most popular content on your site, the site’s top keywords, referral sites which link to your site, the top outbound links from your site, and more.
Combine this with a keyword tool like SEMRush, Ahrefs, or KeywordTool.io to further enhance your content. These premium tools will analyze keywords for search volume, in-depth search results position, rank movement over time, competing pages, and more.
Use this information to write content with targeted keywords that’ll help you outrank others, improve organic search results, and establish loyal readers and followers.
2. They Remind You to Write for Keywords
Plugins like All in One SEO, Yoast, and SEO Squirrly help you write better content with their content and SEO analysis features. They’ll check your content as you write and give you readability and SEO scores as you go. That way, you’ll know how search engines will react to your content, but also if your readers will too.
SEO plugins will help you enter metadata for your website and posts, give you a chance to edit the rich snippet that appears for people in search results, optimize your post slugs and URLs, and more.
3. They Help You Create the SERP Snippet
When you search online, you’ll often see more information than just the URL appearing in the search results. They’re called snippets, and they’re used to help people choose a search result to click.
Snippets are an opportunity for site owners to give more information about the page. In the case of featured snippets, they may encourage people to buy a product from their online store. Featured snippets generally appear when you type your search as a question (e.g. “what are the best backpacks?”).
Here’s a regular snippet that appears when searching for “best backpacks” on Google:
Here’s the featured snippet for the search “what are the best backpacks?” on Google:
Rich snippets stand out from other search results and help visitors learn more about your page before visiting. People prefer to click on search results that give them more information, and ones with rich snippets have higher click-through rates.
Your SEO plugin can help you create these for every post and page, and even help optimize them to really boost their power.
4. They Identify Broken Links
As you create more posts on your WordPress site, you probably don’t have much time to review your old posts to make sure they’re still optimized and performing well. That’s where an SEO plugin like Broken Link Checker can help.
This free plugin checks your site for broken links and helps you fix them. Broken links negatively impact your search engine rankings and give your website a bad impression to visitors. Your site may seem outdated or not cared for, meaning people may not trust the information you publish, and you’ll lose your audience.
While this plugin is excellent for optimizing your site, it may slow down your site because it’s resource-intensive. It uses a lot of power to check every link on every page, so if you’ve got a large site with many posts and pages, this may impact it. Consider using it periodically to check and then deactivating it when you’re not using it.
5. They Speed Up Your Site
Speed is a Google ranking factor, so if your site takes a long time to load for whatever reason, you could slip down the search engine rankings. There are various things that could impact your loading time, including images, the number of plugins your WordPress site uses, and your web host’s performance.
Studies show that as page load time goes from 1 second to 3 seconds, the chances of people leaving your site increases 32%.
Anything you can do to decrease your load time will be better for you and your site. Here’s how you can speed up your WordPress site:
- Use a CDN: A content delivery network (CDN) boosts your website’s performance by loading content more efficiently. In simple terms, a CDN caches static content from your website like images and stylesheets in multiple locations on their network. When a visitor requests that data by clicking on your website, the CDN pulls the data from the closest server, instead of your “home” server. Page loading times decrease because the data is located closer to the visitor requesting it. Good CDN options include StackPath, Sucuri, or KeyCDN. Don’t forget to check out your web host, too, as they may offer CDN services with your hosting package or as an add-on.
- Compress your images: This is a critical step for any site graphics-intensive websites, but it can also impact regular blogs and sites. Images take longer to load on a website, so the more you have, the longer it can take. An image compression plugin like reSmush.it will help you optimize images you upload to your site. Use them individually whenever you upload a photo or take advantage of the bulk optimization option to handle older images. Many will also let you choose the optimization level for your images, giving you more control over how compressed they get.
6. They Help Get Your Site Indexed Faster
Writing great content is one way to get your site noticed by search engines, but they also need a little help. A site index is a special file that lists all the major pages of your site in XML format, making it easy for search engines to consume the data. That’s what their crawl spiders do when they index a page: they’re looking for this XML file to ingest, analyze, and store the information about your site.
The Google XML Sitemaps plugin will generate a sitemap for your site automatically once you activate it. Then, it will automatically update the sitemap with each new post or page you publish. Here’s what the sitemap for DotComOnly looks like:
Once you’ve created the sitemap for your WordPress site, you’ll want to submit it to search engines. Search engines will find it the next time they crawl your site, but you won’t know when that’ll happen, so submitting it ensures they have it today.
7. They Get You More Mobile Traffic
With mobile users accounting for nearly half of all web traffic (48%, according to Statista), having a mobile-ready website is essential. Not only that, but mobile readiness is a newer Google ranking factor, so not having one that’s good for mobile will negatively impact your search rankings.
Most WordPress themes are mobile-responsive, however, you should check with your WordPress theme designer to make sure. You can also test it yourself by viewing your site on your smartphone or tablet. Does it look the way it should? Does the menu work properly? Are images appropriately displayed and in-focus?
Some WordPress themes have mobile settings built in that you can use to adjust things like menu location and functionality, how it handles images, and how it displays your masonry style blog page. If it doesn’t, you can use a plugin like WPtouch Mobile to transform your WordPress website into a mobile-friendly one that looks good and functions well on mobile devices without knowing how to code.
WordPress plugins are a great way to extend the functionality of your website. WordPress SEO plugins give you the power to optimize your website for search engines and improve your search rankings. They can help you find keywords to write about, expand your opportunities to describe your site, speed up your site loading time, and get your more mobile visitors. Use them to improve your WordPress website’s SEO and increase organic search traffic today.