What is a WordPress plugin?
WordPress plugins are software that you can download from your WordPress control panel. They are made by a variety of developers (using PHP programming language) to provide websites with new functionality or benefits.
Many plugins are free to download and use. Some cost from the outset and others come in both free and paid-for versions.
The pros and cons of using plugins can be summarised like this:
– Easy to download
– Integrate effortlessly with WordPress websites
– Provide benefits unavailable with basic WordPress editor
– Different functions can sometimes conflict and cause problems on websites
– Need to be updated regularly (you can enable auto-updates)
Why use plugins for SEO?
Plugins can provide great benefits for different aspects of your website’s SEO.
From speeding up your website’s performance to guiding your content writing, they provide a host of functions.
New plugins are being released all the time. They cater for a range of different needs.
Here, we will look at three that will quickly and reliably help your website’s SEO.
1. Yoast (free and paid versions available)
Yoast is one of the most well-known and widely used SEO plugins available. Its free version gives you basic suggestions on how to optimize your posts, including (but not limited to):
– Meta description and meta title lengths
– URL length
– Canonical URL
– Readability notes
– Duplicate content checks
– Follow/no-follow link settings
It also has a premium version which provides all of the above and more.
Yoast’s free version provides and clear and easy-to-navigate dashboard for setting up the basic checks a post should have before being published.
I can’t attest to Yoast premium’s standard, because I have never used it. However, Trust Radius gives it a very respectable 8.7 out of 10 based on 256 reviews.
If anything else, download Yoast today to manage your posts’ basic appearance in the SERPS (search engine results page).
Difference between Yoast’s free and premium version:
Yoast’s premium version also offers redirects, internal link suggestions, a social media preview feature, multiple focus keywords and free support.
2. Schema Pro (free and paid versions available)
Schema markup is a type of structured data that helps Google understand what’s on websites and webpages better.
It sounds complicated, but ultimately it is a type of coding that non-coders can easily generate and put on their sites in a number of ways.
The simplest way, by far, is by using Schema Pro’s plugin. Schema Pro’s plugin injects schema markup into your website (or individual webpages) for you.
There are many different kinds of Schema, designed for the many different kinds of services, products and types of webpages out there. Schema pro enables you to choose which kind of Schema best suits your pages, and it can automatically implement this across the whole site or just on the pages you want it on.
Difference between Schema Pro’s free and pro version:
Schema Pro’s pro version offers, amongst other features, more advanced Schema markup that can be more effortlessly set up.
Find out more about the differences between the two versions in this Schema Pro’s article about it.
3. CloudFlare (free and paid versions available)
Cloudflare’s plugin provides a CDN (content delivery network) and firewall.
A CDN is a network of servers spread out across the globe. This enables websites to provide information to users based on where they are, rather than relying on ones from a single location that might not be near them. Today, most internet traffic is processed in this way.
A firewall is a security system that protects networks from unauthorised access.
The benefits of CDN are what particularly interest here. In short, they will help you increase your website’s loading speed, especially if you are an international business.
Here are some tests I did on my own site’s speed before and after using CloudFlare’s free version:
As you can see, this plugin had an immediate effect (these tests were taken within 20 minutes of one another). The SEO-value of this can’t be understated: Seconds can make the difference between users staying on and bouncing from websites.
From all reports I have read, the paid version further speeds up website’s loading times.
However, there are also many seriously negative reviews on the site’s TrustPilot page, so I for one will be avoiding the paid version until they have got their act together on this front.
Difference between Cloudflare’s free and pro version:
If it works as it should (please see paragraph above if you are skim reading this article!), Cloudflare’s pro plan should speed up your site even more and make it much more secure.
There are multiple ways to improve a website’s SEO. Using the right plugins can be a quick and worthwhile win.
Downloading and setting up the above three should take no more than 20 minutes (if you know what you’re doing). Once you have them, the benefits will be with you for a long time to come.
To find out more about other technical ways to optimise your site, take a look at my page on technical SEO.