Want to know the best SEO plugins for WordPress? Our guide shows you how to install and use 3 essential tools.
Did you know that WordPress is responsible for a quarter of all the internet content? If you have a WordPress site, you’ll already be familiar with its ease-of-use. It’s free, although you might need to pay for some features and setting up a site requires little technical knowledge.
Getting your WordPress site to stand out in the crowd is a must. Whatever route you take to promote your website, it’s imperative that you ensure that your site is search-engine friendly.
We’re going to take you through some of the best SEO WordPress plugins and how you can use the plugins to perform the following tasks:
Build your site for users, not search engines
Before we start looking into the how-to, it is important to take a moment to consider how good the algorithms have become that will rank your site and can potentially penalise any sites that are trying to cheat the system.
As a result, the key to your SEO strategy is to be natural and create content with the goal of benefiting your users. Check out our post on how to create awesome content for Google.
3 Essential SEO plugins for WordPress
As a platform, WordPress relies on plugins for much of the functionality that is critical to the success of websites.
This guide will show you how to install and use three must-have plugins for SEO success. These are:
Yoast SEO - An all-round SEO plugin that can be used to control the snippets Google uses in search result listings.
WooCommerce Permalink Manage - WooCommerce solves the issue of long URLs which can have a detrimental effect of your keyword authority.
Media File Renamer - WordPress doesn’t give you the ability to rename images once uploaded, so this plugin lets you edit file names to include keywords retrospectively.
So, before we think about how to use these plugins, let’s look at how we install them.
Finding and installing a plugin with WordPress
1. Log into your site admin, navigate to installed plugins and click on the “Add New” button.
2. On the right side of the next screen, type your keyword into the search. This is typically what you want the plugin to do.
3. Use the star rating, number of ratings and number of installs as an initial gauge to find a plugin.
4. Once you have found a plugin, click on ‘More Details’ link under the ‘Install Now’ button.
5. Use the page that appears to delve deeper into the plugin description and reviews. Once you are ready, click on the ‘Install’ button at the bottom right of the page.
6. After the install is complete, click on the ‘Activate’ button that appears.
7. Finally, depending on the plugin, there are several ways to access it.
a. Click on the settings link under the plugin name on the installed plugin page:
b. Direct from the admin toolbar:
c. From the admin toolbar > settings:
Performing basic SEO tasks in WordPress
Basic SEO tasks can typically be actioned with a few simple steps, mainly by customising the settings and letting WordPress do the legwork for you.
How to create clean URLs
SEO Benefit: Clean, easy to read URLs that contain your keyword targets can help you rank for those terms on search engines.
1. Open WooCommerce Permalink Manager plugin from the admin toolbar > Premmerce > Permalink Manager:
2. Select the ‘Category slug’ radio button in the ‘Categories’ section.
3. Select the ‘Product slug’ radio button in the ‘Products’ sections.
4. Confirm ‘Use primary category’ and ‘Add canonicals’ checkboxes are checked.
5. Click on the ‘Save Changes’ button at the bottom of the page:
This will remove any irrelevant information out of the URLs for your product and category pages and put your product names and categories high up the URL. After doing this you should rename your product categories to the relevant keyword target. For example:
How to build snippets
SEO Benefit: Your snippet is the most important place to contain your keywords. You can also make the link to your site on the search engine results page much more appealing for users to click on.
1. Select the page or product that you wish to build a snippet for and scroll down on the interface until you reach the Yoast SEO section.
2. From the bottom of the Snippet preview section, click on the 'Edit snippet' button.
3. Enter the SEO title and meta description using the bars at the bottom to get the word count within the recommended limits.
4. Enter a focus keyword (you get up to five with the premium version).
5. Use the Analysis section to help you make improvements to your snippet and page content.
6. Click on the page “Update” button.
Creating Canonical URLs
SEO Benefit: A page may have a number of domains that look very similar but need to be treated as different. For example, www.mysite.com, mysite.com, https://mysite.com. By passing a canonical URL to search engines, you are ensuring that the authority is built up on only one domain.
1. Open your post or product page from the wp-admin panel.
2. Scroll down the Yoast SEO section and click on the advance cog on the left side of the panel.
3. Add the desired canonical URL in the relevant field.
Add self-referring canonical tags to all of your pages. This will protect you against some of the technical duplication issues typically associated with e-commerce websites in particular.
How to optimise images for search
SEO Benefit: Images can have a major influence of the impact of any page, as the search engine results page will give a value to keywords associated with an image found on the page.
Whenever you upload an image to WordPress, it will make multiple copies on that image in different sizes. It will then use the relevant size whenever the image is displayed on the site. As a rule, always upload the largest size you wish you display to ensure all your images show correctly.
Once you have decided which images to use on a particular page, you can use the alt attribute and the file name to add your keywords. Remember the alt text and the filename serve a purpose, so keep your text relevant and natural.
1. Select your media library from within the wp-admin panel.
2. Select the image that you wish to optimise.
3. Ensure view is in grid view by selecting the grid button at the top left of the window.
4. Click on the image that you wish to optimise.
5. Set the title field to your desired filename.
6. Set the Alt field to your desired alt text.
7. Close the attachment details window.
8. Change the view to list view at the top left of the window.
9. You should now see an auto button. Click on it to change the file name to the title text that you entered.
Want to know more about WordPress? We run monthly WordPress training courses from the Shard.