When WordPress website developers start working on a new project, they ask their customers what plugins they plan to connect. Beginners ask: “Why? Is CMS basic functionality is not enough?”
Plugins are specialized extensions that automatize the management of the website functionality. Such an extension can be developed not only by a specialist but by any user.
Physically a plugin looks like a script that is added either in controlling files or is mounted into the website header or footer. When the resource is loaded, the script sends a command for certain performing functions to the system.
The difference is that without the plugin the user would have to write or make the required on the website itself. The plugin automatizes the routines thus saving time and resources both for owners and specialists.
Part 1. What are SEО plugins and what they do on the website
WordPress has about 16,000 different plugins that simplify the work with resources developed with this CMS type. About 1000 of them are responsible for different functions in the sphere of SEO.
Proper SEO of a Web-resource is filling texts with keywords, adding meta tags, generating friendly URLs, structure optimization, configuration of inner interlinking. Specialists and website owners have about 200 Google ranking factors for SEO.
Plugins allow optimizing all parameters for optimization. This makes the work of a SE specialist faster. Besides that, most plugins have automatic hints. Even if you are not a specialist, you can set up the website for search engines and even lead it to the top results. If the specialist sets up the website manually, he would spend much more time and this resource is very valuable for SEO.
Types of WordPress SEO plugins
SEO extensions in the CMS library are divided into several groups. They will be represented in the material below.
Universal SEO plugins
The best WordPress SEO extensions are represented by such giants as Yoast, All-in-one-Pack, SEO Framework. These are the most popular and full-scale plugins that allow making full SEO optimization.
Their universality determines their popularity. They can be used for optimizing a blog, online store, or a multilingual portal. But their universality is their drawback. It is worth using universal plugins on a large website only where their functionality would be fully applied. Such extensions are rather heavy and slow down the website load if used on a small website (please note that the plugin adds its script that also requires processing).
This group of plugins partially solves the problem with a load of pages and data on the website. The extensions compress and optimize CSS and JS scripts, they are integrated with technical server add-ins for speeding up the website load when the user opens it in the browser.
The group works with the text itself. These plugins help content managers who work on the text readability.
Plugins working with text calculate the readability index, some of them check the content for plagiarism. More powerful extensions can select keywords for publication. The publication specialist can add them into meta tags or insert in the anchor links to the page, ALT or TITLE SEO tags for images.
Some plugins can analyze the word frequency in the text. This function will help the content editor to check to what extent does the publication corresponds with the page topic.
Text optimization plugins can serve as separate extensions or be included in universal SEO packages. Universal packages contain the most popular functions such as readability or keyword check. They can also give recommendations for interlinking or meta tag generation.
If you have an informational portal where the texts are prioritized by optimization, consider using such special plugins as SEO Press, RankMath, SmartCrawl and apply their extended functionality for analyzing and optimizing the texts.
A separate media optimization also plays an important role in accelerating the website load. Compression of images and video allows saving the space on the hosting.
Image and video lazy load extensions are also worth attention. These are plugins that allow the user not to wait for the load of visual content if s/he wishes to read the text on the Web page. While s/he is reading the plugin gradually loads the images and videos showing the load indicator or divides them into pixels loading the preview.
Such extensions have different functionality, but their main task is to compress images of popular formats. This is the main reason for installing such extensions on the website.
Part 2. The list of the best WordPress SEO plugins
This part deals with the best solutions that can be used for WordPress SEO.
Universal SEO plugins
This group includes main and universal SEO tools that were actively downloaded from WordPress library. They can be used for automating the optimization of large websites and partially controlling the efficiency KPI integrating the plugin work with Web-analytics tools and admin panel for Google Search Console publishers.
SEO plugin #1. It is the best universal WordPress solution developed in 2008. It won the heart of CMS website owners. The solution supports 42 languages. It has more than 2000 feedbacks in the plugin library with an average rate of 5 stars.
The main functionality includes:
- Filling meta tags;
- Work with schema.org microdata;
- sitemap.xml management;
- full bread crumb control
- automatic canonical generation.
- additional content management functionality (keywords concentration, readability analysis);
- snippet preview in the search results
- management of the website technical parameters
- hints of relevant keywords for the page and links (in the fee-based version only)
- the technical support is provided for fee-based plans only;
- free preview – for Google only
- ad in the free version.
- 1 website – 79 EUR
- 2 websites – 150 EUR (5% discount);
- 5 websites- 355.50 EUR (10% discount);
- 10 websites – 671.50 EUR (15% discount).
The main competitor of Yoast SEO. It was developed in 2008 and supports 57 languages. It duplicates the functionality of the competitor except for some publication-related functions. But such a solution appeared due to focus on online stores. This is demonstrated by the feature of integrating with popular commercial plugins for making orders and payments on the website.
The main extension functionality includes:
- work with XML Sitemap
- title optimization and meta tag generation
- work with homepage canonical
- work with schema.org.
- integration with Google Analytics
- Google AMP support
- automatic search engine notifications about the new publication on the website
- integrated API automatic integration with other extensions
- integration with WooCommerce and other eCommerce-plugins
- full compatibility with PHP7.
- no canonical and settings of 301 redirect for each publication
- no bread crumbs settings;
- no re-recording of meta tags on the homepage
- no redirects from attachment URLs to such attachments.
- 1 website (Individual) – $57/year
- up to 10 websites (Business) – $97/year
- Unlimited (Agency) – $419/year.
The SEO Framework
The third popular and lighter plugin among the best universal WordPress solutions for SEO. It is used for small resources that do not require a powerful Yoast SEO or All-in-One SEO functionality. Due to comparative lightness, the plugin has been installed by 100,000 active users. The extension has been translated into 16 languages including Russian.
- bread crumb integration
- creation of XML maps
- automatic creation of Title and Description
- Open Graph layout (a layout that sets anchors on the Web-page for attracting visitors from social media)
- canonical autogeneration.
- disabling of the indexation of empty categories
- limited website connections and access to API extensions.
- free – 1 website
- $49/year – 2 websites
- $99/year – 4 websites
- $299/year – 8 websites
Google Analytics by MonsterInsights
This plugin is rather an additional tool for analytics collection than an extension for internal SEO of a Web resource. It is often used together with Yoast SEO, All-in-One SEO, or SEO Framework.
The main MonsterInsights Google Analytics function is to integrate Google Analytics and show it on the WordPress dashboard without redirecting to the website. It is suitable for managing resources with high traffic – a forum, blog, or informational website with integration with social media. The plugin functionality includes tracking the sources referring to the website.
- use of asynchronous or universal code for tracking
- extended work with “Demography” and “Interests” reports.
- there is no free version, a fee-based subscription only.
- no SEO parameter settings, analytics only. So firstly you need to work with Google Analytics and Google Search Console thoroughly for proper work of all indicators.
- $99/year – small business
- $199/year – an online store
- $399/year – agencies.
Jetpack by WordPress.org
Another plugin for collecting SEO statistics. It is a competitor of MonsterInsights. It is suitable for collecting the statistics of the resource traffic without connecting to Google Analytics.
Data can also be collected with the WordPress admin panel and matched with Google Analytics data. This is suitable for those cases when significant changes were made on the website (e.g., change of indexation parameters) and it should be tracked whether they have been applied as soon as possible. If Google Analytics does not track the changes, Jetpack WordPress will do this.
The main properties that can be viewed in the website dashboard using the plugin:
- traffic statistics and other website SEO indicators
- statistics of keywords (from which the resources are visited)
- link tracking
- form management.
- Jetpack Comments – tracking comments on Facebook, Twitter and guest comments on the website
- 27 additional features and plugins from the WordPress package
- generation of short wp.me links
- mobile design theme.
- a WordPress account is required
- complex settings of proper work with CSS.
- Personal – $3.5/month (without video hosting);
- Premium – $9/month (access to premium themes)
- Professional – $9/month (agency).
Content analysis and SEO
Plugins that can elaborate on the content SEO properties on the website. Such extensions allow checking how the snippet will look like in the search results, social media (Facebook, Twitter) before publishing a new record.
Plugins analyze every publication and give recommendations on improving the grammar, readability, relevance of keywords, etc.
This plugin allows working with Title and Description meta tags, microlayout for every publication, and view the snippet in the search results. Integration with Google Search Console can be set up and receive information with recommendations for publishers in the dashboard.
Another important feature is that the extension offers keyword recommendations that are suitable for publication. This allows:
- collecting ideas for keywords for meta tags
- compare the content optimization relevance – the potential relevance of the page to the keywords according to the previously developed content plan.
- context cues and online help
- automated image SEO
- extended snippet optimization
- automation of the microlayout on the flypages.
- migrating to this plugin from others requires manual reconfiguring of the dashboard of the WordPress admin panel and integration with Google Search Console.
SEMRush SEO Writing Assistant
The powerful plugin for checking texts before publication (check of readability, text length, key phrases). The plugin algorithm matches the text with similar publications from Google TOP-10 by topic and quality. Based on the received data it gives recommendations on content optimization.
Extensions in real-time mode check not only the main key phrases but also the block of topical LSI words. Its peculiarity is checking the text formal tone and integrated algorithm of checking the uniqueness.
- instant recommendations for optimizing the content based on Google TOP-10 search results
- evaluation of the readability index and recommendations on improving every offer
- checking links for errors
- an extension for Google Docs.
- supports English and French only.
- sends data using an external API and code that has not been checked by the WordPress team yet.
A simple plugin for an informational website. It can be used for checking SEO of the existing publications. There are real-time recommendations for configuring meta tags and a function for previewing the snippet in the search results for new ones. It can be adapted for any browser – from popular Google Chrome and Firefox, is compatible with Bing and Safari (specially for iOS users).
The plugin is peculiar with its feature of sending the notifications to search engines about new publications (this will accelerate the resource indexation).
- check of readability and density of keywords with Google Page Analyzer function
- automatic selection and anchoring the keyword to the page and link to any publication
- real-time analysis
- work with any browser – Google, Firefox, Safari, etc.
- Google notification about a new publication on the website
- integration with MozSEOTools
- when somebody shares your Twitter publication, the plugin notifies you in the dashboard about this.
- complicated installation, a special installation wizard is required
- The premium version is supplied with other WPMV DEV services only.
A Russian plugin oriented on the Russian Internet. But in its narrow niche, it has powerful functionality for analyzing and setting up the content.
Its main peculiarity is to work with resources and pages filtered by search engines. The plugin collects KPI on each page and gives recommendations on improving them. It is not just a list, but classification by urgency levels: what should be improved first of all and what can be improved later.
- tautology analysis
- page-by-page report on SEO KPI with recommendations
- downstream traffic analysis (what keywords lead to the website)
- “traffic cannibal” analysis (keys suitable for more than two pages)(fee-based service)
- anchor sheet for internal interlinking (fee-based service)
- full website SEO audit (fee-based service).
- Ngrams (repetition of words on every page)
- hints for beginners that allows getting familiar with the service quickly
- analysis of filtered pages and recommendations for their optimization
- statistics of SEO indicators is given by Yandex.Metrika
- is suitable for Russian content.
- free – tracking 10 keys per page
- 3 months – 15$
- 12 months – 48$.
A free version allows optimizing the main SEO indicators for publications – work with meta tags, bread crumbs, and Schema.Org microlayout. Also, the integration with Facebook and Twitter social media can be set up.
When a user purchases a fee-based subscription, s/he gets priority support, updates, access to importing and exporting data in CSV for a year. Also, the fee-based subscription has some extended functions that will make SEO Press a worth substitute to Yoast SEO or All-in-One SEO.
- it does not collect the data from the website – all information is left in the WordPress admin panel
- the link to the attachment redirects the user to the attachment itself
- unlimited number of websites for connecting even in the free plan
- simple migration of data from Yoast SEO/All-in-One/RankMath/SEO Framework;
- for getting rid of ads and additions the functions.php code should be changed.
A cache is a temporary storage of data that has been used recently. When a user visits a resource again, they are loaded from this temporary storage. This accelerates the work with the website. There is a lot of static content on the website that does not change so if you load it again, you spend time and traffic. Caching plugins save static data.
WP Fastest Cache
The plugin allows automatically generating the website static version that will load when the user opens the website for the first time. During the interaction, the plugin will clear the cache when updating the publication or the page.
The free version has limitations for the cache statistics, image optimization, caching on mobile devices, supercompression of CSS, and HTML.
- automatic pre-generation of the cache of the whole website
- cache clearing when publishing and updating the page
- HTML/CSS compression
- GZip compression – format of additional code compression in HTML, CSS, and JS formats.
- caching in the database (fee-based version)
- image optimization (fee-based version).
- compatible with popular AdSense, CloudFlare, WooCommerce plugins for online stores, etc.
- reducing the load time for users who opened the website again.
- is not compatible with Windows Server (IIS).
- 1 license – $49
- 3 licenses – $125
- 5 license – $175
- more licenses – as agreed.
W3 Total Cache
Unlike its main competitor WP Fastest Cache, the plugin allows caching data into the database in the free version. It also supports caching the operation code. This makes the website debugging after a crush easier for sysadmins.
- caching keywords into the database
- operation code cache support
- page caching on server level by integration with Varnish
- HTTP/2 support (advanced HTTP-protocol).
- many caching parameters; this allows selecting the settings for any resource and needs
- compatible with eCommerce and multilingual websites
- WPML support (WordPress Multilanguage is a plugin for translating the resource into different languages)(пfee-based version).
- the main plugin features – WPML support and fragmentary caching of separate units – are available in the fee-based version only.
- $99/year – 1 website
- $250/year – access to the function of fragmentary caching and exclusive plugin for editing the website without accessing the kernel
- $350/year – compatibility with Genesis Framework – a contemporary and clear WordPress theme (interaction with the website is faster by 60%).
WP Super Cache
The plugin main function is the support of caching on mobile devices. Due to this, the traffic for visitors is saved even on the comments to the records.
It is suitable for caching management on simple information websites and forums with high traffic.
Other main functions:
- CDN support (content delivery network)
- cache compression
- caching of HTTP headers with their content
- the organizer of page cache clearing
- compression and dynamic caching
- caching of user comments.
- personalized caching levels for users with different access rights
- automatic cache rebuild
- access to Rest API for configuring the website parameters.
- for simple websites only (but with unlimited downstream traffic);
- is not suitable for eCommerce.
The plugin functionality is too weak for a large project such as an online store or multilingual website. But it can solve the main issues with caching the static data and WebP-files and save them on the server hard drive so as can accelerate the website load.
If it is needed to extend the website to an online store or add a version in another language, you will have to use the plugin with more powerful functionality.
- a perfect light solution for solving issues with caching a small website.
- it covers the main caching parameters only.
Usually, it is installed in addition to Cache Enabler. Autoptimize is a specific plugin and it is used for optimizing scripts of CSS and JS files. Also, it supports CDN. If you add a simple plugin such as Optimus for image optimization, you will have the minimal package for optimizing a small resource.
- a simple solution for a small resource
- the service is irreplaceable for optimizing scripts
A medium resource uploads up to 100 images per month. Usability requires using sharp images that load quickly. This requirement is in direct contrast with the first requirement.
This dilemma can be solved by manual compression using special services or specific plugins for automating this procedure on the website.
The above-mentioned simple solution for image optimization. It is used with Cache Enabler and Autoptimize. These plugins are enough for accelerating the work of a small website.
- JPEG image optimization without losing quality
- reduction of weight of images to 70%.
- an easy and simple solution for a small website
- not many functions for using on a large website.
EWWW Image Optimizer
A more sophisticated plugin that allows optimizing both new images for publishing and old ones that have been previously uploaded. The key peculiarities are mass optimization of images by applying the lossless/lossy method (without losing quality).
If it is required to save EXIF data (date, camera model, file editing history), this should be set up as by default these data are deleted during the optimization.
- flexible function settings
- work on the server without external services
- it is the fastest image optimization plugin.
- quick optimization, but slow load
- complicated plugin installation. The code of the scripts should be corrected.
The plugin is popular among owners of large websites where mass optimization of images and automated editing becomes drastically important.
- optimizes new and existing images with applying the lossless/lossy technology
- work with PNG, GIF and JPEG formats
- optimizes 50 images at once with removing EXIF-data
- changes the original size of the image.
- statistics are shown for all pictures and every separate picture
- automatic optimization of attachments.
- it will slow down small websites due to its heavy weight.
- $7/month – 1 website
- $14/month – 5 websites
- $29/month – 25 websites.
Compress JPEG&PNG images
A small plugin for optimizing PNG and JPEG images. It shows the statistics on the existing files on the WordPress dashboard.
It optimizes up to 500 images per month for free. We do not mean unique images; optimization can be made for several images or for one image that should be optimized several times.
It optimizes up to 100 images per month. This is a volume of a small resource.
- general statistics on the images on the website
- work with files without limiting the size
- mass optimization.
- simple and light, nothing in excess
- work with several websites
- different image sizes after the optimization procedure
- the cost of optimization is displayed before the compression procedure.
- need to sign up for the developer’s website
- up to 500 images per month, if more – according to the counter (depending on the amount – $0.25/image)
A3 Lazy Load
Finally, a popular plugin for image lazy load. Such plugins are used together with image optimizers.
They load the images after loading the Web-page. Due to this, the user does not have to wait long but read the text content.
Visually lazy load looks like a spinner or the word “Download” instead of the image.
- lazy load of all popular images
- lazy load of videos and frames
- support of integration with WooCommerce.
- selection of a visual effect for loading
- optional setup of displaying in the mobile version
- set up of the “reference point” of the lazy load activation
- setup of the initial load in pixels.
- the plugin script is installed either in the page header or footer and due to this, it can conflict with the plugin for script optimization. For proper work, it is recommended to reset the cache after applying the settings.
Our material includes the list of popular SEO plugins for different needs – a large multilingual website, small blog, or landing. Universal plugins have powerful functionality and can satisfy all needs in the SEO optimization of any resource.
But the problem is that owners of small resources do not need many functions. Their scripts are rather heavy and will slow down the load and, in turn, this affects the usability.
If you own a small resource, specialists recommend installing several specific plugins. They are light, have easy installation, and initially can satisfy the need in SEO of a small website.
The additional advantage of small plugins is that they are free. This allows testing them and becoming experienced in optimizing the website using such plugins. When it is time to extend, connect a multilanguage or online store, it will be easier to switch to a universal plugin with wide functionality.