Out of the thousands of WordPress plugins, there is one group that deserves special attention – SEO plugins. These plugins silently do their job behind the curtains and they don’t contribute to the glorious look of your site. However, without them even the most glorious site is doomed because without traffic, no matter how great your site is, you are nobody.
There are dozens of WordPress SEO plugins and it’s not possible to cover them all. What is more, there are a few really great SEO plugins that are like a Swiss army knife – they have everything (or almost everything) you need in order to conquer Google.
However, sometimes you don’t need all this (because you use non-WordPress tools for example). In this case you would be more interested in small, one-task plugins. This is why in this article I’ve included both the Swiss army knife types of SEO plugins, as well as plugins that perform one or two tasks only.
1. WordPress SEO by Yoast
WordPress SEO by Yoast is one epic plugin. In fact, it’s a complete SEO suite for WordPress you are getting for free. It’s not an exaggeration to say that at present this is the best WordPress SEO plugin.
As most popular plugins, it comes with a free and a paid version. The paid version includes plugins for local SEO, news SEO, and video SEO but even without these, the free version is a very solid application.
WordPress SEO by Yoast covers all aspects of SEO – from optimization of onpage factors, such as title, headings, meta descriptions, etc. to inbound and outbound links. You can also use it to generate XML sitemaps, to optimize your RSS feeds, and more.
If you want to go one step further, you could try Google Analytics by Yoast. As the name implies, this is a plugin to handle Google Analytics in WP written by the same people who wrote WordPress SEO by Yoast. You can use both plugins together to get even better results.
2. All in One SEO Pack
All in One SEO Pack is the other Swiss army knife of WordPress plugins. It has more downloads than Yoast but less functionality.
Nevertheless, this is really a complete SEO plugin. Similarly to many other top plugins, All in One SEO Pack comes with a free and a paid version.
Some of the notable features of the free version are the ability to generate XML sitemaps, support for Google analytics, avoidance of the typical duplicate content issues many sites suffer from, automatic optimization of titles and generation of meta tags, etc.
3. SEO Plugin by SQUIRRLY
SEO Plugin by SQUIRRLY is another multiple task SEO plugin. What’s different about it is that (as the author says) it doesn’t require knowledge of SEO. This is good if you are new to SEO and don’t have the resources to master it just to launch a plugin.
SEO Plugin by SQUIRRLY is not as popular as the big ones but still it does have its fans. You can use it together with WordPress SEO by Yoast or All in One SEO Pack because their features don’t overlap completely.
SEO Plugin by SQUIRRLY is of great help when writing posts because it assists you in real time with content optimization. In addition to content optimization, this plugin also offers keyword research, SEO audits and analysis and more.
Scribe is one more plugin for content marketing and analysis. It’s not a full-blown SEO plugin like the first two but if you need to concentrate your efforts on content itself, it’s a good choice. Scribe is good, if onpage SEO is your main concern.
In addition to content-related features, Scribe also has social media capabilities. It comes with a Site Connector tool the purpose of which is to help you find bloggers and social media users in the same niche as yours. You can monitor them as competitors or connect with them and join efforts.
5. SEO Friendly Images
We all know how important images are in SEO and how tedious their optimization is. If you want to speed the process, you might want to consider this SEO Friendly Images plugin. This plugin is one of my favorites because it makes image SEO so much easier. Google Image traffic isn’t what it used to be, but it can still be a great source of visitors.
The function of the plugin is to automatically add ALT and TITLE attributes to all your images that don’t have these. You set the rules for the ALT and TITLE attributes and the plugin does the rest.
6. Google XML Sitemaps
It’s not hard to guess what the Google XML Sitemaps WP plugin does. This is one of the most popular WordPress plugins ever and it’s not hard to figure why.
No wonder, the plugin generates an XML sitemap for your site. In addition to this, every time a new post is published, the plugin automatically notifies search engines, thus dramatically speeding up the indexing of new content.
7. Share Buttons by AddToAny
I really value plugins that save time and effort. Share Buttons by AddToAny is another great time saver because it allows users to post your content on their favorite social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google, Reddit, Tumblr, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn, etc.
The list of social media is huge – over 100 sites. It’s true that not all of them are good and in fact can hurt your rankings because of their low quality but if you don’t list them as sharing options, you are safe.
The plugin is responsive and it offers numerous customization options. For instance, you place the bar with buttons horizontally or vertically, or make it float before, after, or before AND after content.
8. NextGEN Facebook
NextGEN Facebook is also a social WordPress plugin. Its short name is somehow misleading because this plugin includes more social networks than Facebook but its complete name – NextGEN Facebook – Advanced Social SEO for Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Twitter & More is too long to write in the title.
In addition to various sharing options (sharing buttons on page, browser add-ons and extensions, or URLs pasted directly on social websites) this plugin comes with graphing and other analytical features that help you get an idea about how your social media activity is helping your SEO efforts.
9. Unique Title Checker
Though it’s not very likely to have the same titles multiple times over your site, if this happens, it’s unpleasant and confusing to search engines and visitors. In order to avoid this, you might want to use the Unique Title Checker plugin.
This is a simple and straightforward plugin. All it does is check if the title of the current post, page, or custom page type is unique and notify you of the results.
10. SEO Content Control
SEO Content Control is one really useful plugin. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been updated in a long time and I am not sure if it works with the latest WP versions but its concept is really useful.
The purpose of SEO Content Control is to identify weak content on your site. This was a huge issue right after Panda struck first a couple of years ago and today it’s still important because if you have weak content, this can drown your whole site, even if the rest of its content is perfect.
SEO Content Control helps to make archive pages as unique as possible. For any WP site it’s a huge issue that the same excerpt appears multiple times in various sections where an article is listed because this is duplicate content that can lead to penalties from search engines.
11. SEO Smart Links
SEO Smart Links is another automation tool you’ll love. Its main purpose is to automatically create links from keywords and phrases in your posts and user comments to corresponding posts, pages, categories and tags on your blog.
You can create your custom keyword lists and opt for the links to be follow or nofollow. You can also choose if the link opens in a new window or not. You can use SEO Smart Links for affiliate links as well.
This plugin is really great and I suppose you won’t make the stupid mistake to overuse it. Yes, it’s awesome you can add links automatically but do it with measure – don’t link every other word just because you can. Link spamming can hurt your rankings big time, so link only when this is really necessary.
12. Search and Replace
While Search and Replace is a plugin that’s not directly related to SEO, it’s on the list because it can be very handy for SEO purposes as well. For instance, if you have to find all the occurrences of a keyword in all your posts or metadata Search and Replace is a valuable assistant.
As the author claims, you can use the plugin to search in “ID, post-content, GUID, titel, excerpt, meta-data, comments, comment-author, comment-e-mail, comment-url, tags/categories and categories-description” – in other words, basically everywhere on your site where a keyword might be hiding.
There are many more interesting SEO plugins in addition to these, but unfortunately I can’t include EVERY WordPress SEO plugin that could be useful for somebody. The plugins on the list are more or less the most popular ones and even though you might not enjoy them all, I am certain that almost everyone is using at least a few of them.