As a WordPress user you’re probably aware of how useful plugins are for automating and enhancing a variety of site administration and maintenance tasks. You may have also read that such plugins can be used to drastically simplify search engine optimization efforts. If you’ve been trying to sift through the endless sea of WordPress SEO plugins and aren’t sure which one you want to install (having too many active plug-ins can slow down page loading times), consider the following 7 essential WordPress plugins that can lead to higher search engine rankings:
7 essential WordPress plugins
All-in-One SEO Pack
This is a must-have and of the top best essential WordPress plugins in any WordPress blog owner’s arsenal, as it automates the optimization of Post titles, page titles, category titles, archive titles, tag titles, search titles, descriptions, 404 titles, and page formats. It can automatically use post tags as meta-keywords, and can dynamically generate keywords for a post on an automated basis. You also have the option to use categories as meta-keywords, and it gives you the ability to automatically assign the NoIndex attribute to categories and/or archives. In essence, if you want to automate all of the tedious processes associated with keeping your WordPress blog optimized for search engines at all times, this plugin is an absolute essential.
Google XML Sitemaps
Sitemaps are detailed descriptions of your site’s structure that make it much easier for search engine bots to crawl through your website and index all pages quickly and effectively. This plugin automatically generates an XML sitemap that is compatible with the Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Ask.com search engines. You have the option of using it to generate a standard .XML file or a zip archive (.gz). You can choose whether you want to automatically rebuild the sitemap every time the content of your blog changes, or enable manual sitemap building that is performed upon user request. This plugin can also automatically notify Google, Bing, Ask.com, and Yahoo whenever your blog is updated, and is capable of adding the sitemap URL to your robots.txt file if desired.
SEO Smart Links
This is by far one of the best plugins for automating the process of interlinking pages on your WordPress blog, as it allows you to automatically link specific keywords/phrases to corresponding categories, posts, pages, and tags. No longer will you have to go through the tedious process of creating hyperlinks to other pages on your blog, because this plugin will handle that for you while using specified keywords as anchor text. You can access the plugin preferences via the Administration Settings panel, where you can choose to prevent or allow linking in heading tags, and choose whether you’d like to target posts, pages, categories, tags, or all of the above.
This powerful social networking plugin automatically inserts a box on your pages/posts that includes share/save buttons which link to a variety of popular social networking sites, including Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, and Reddit. One of the most impressive aspects of AddtoAny is that it automatically reads the browsing/usage history of each visitor and then places their most commonly used social services at the top of the box. The box also includes ‘e-mail’ and ‘bookmark’ tabs that further integrate the process of sharing and bookmarking your blog posts. If you want to increase your social presence and heighten the chances of people sharing your content, this plugin is an absolute essential.
SEO Title Tag
This nifty plugin makes it easy to optimize title tags across your entire blog simultaneously, giving you the ability to override a page’s predefined title tag with a custom selection. You can use the mass editing feature to change a predesignated number of title tags simultaneously, and you can change the default title tag used on 404 error pages. In addition, you can choose whether you want to include the blog name in your title tags, set a custom title tag for the homepage, and use category descriptions as title tags on category pages. You can even choose which symbol/character you’d like to use as a text separator in the title tag (i.e. – if your title tags currently appear as “Blog Name Here| Page Name Here,” you could change the separator to appear as “Blog Name Here – Page Name Here”), and assign a shortened blog name that universally overrides the full blog name in all title tags on your site.
SEO Friendly Images
Image optimization is an important aspect of on-page SEO, which is why having this plugin installed is mandatory for any serious WordPress blog owner. It automatically changes the alt and title tags of an image to include the page/post title, name, and category (which, if you use Headspace2 or All-in-One SEO pack, would already contain your targeted keywords for each page/post). You can control the automated naming of alt and title tag image attributes using any combination of three elements- %name, %title, and %category. For example, if a post entitled “2012 Sports Car Photos” contained an image named “Porsche.jpg,” and you used the alt tag setup “%name %title” then the resulting image alt tag attribute would be changed to “Porsche 2012 Sports Car Photos” etc. You can also choose whether you want to override the existing default WordPress alt tags, or leave them intact span l8� E-�k> 8`� gent: Googlebot-Image
Post Informative, Error-Free Content
Search engines have integrated spellcheckers and grammar checkers into their algorithms, so they can detect when a page is riddled with mistakes, and rank it accordingly. In addition, visitors will also notice these mistakes and probably won’t stick around for too long afterwards. Posting informative, error-free content will keep visitors on your pages longer, and will encourage search engines to rank your pages higher in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages).
Optimize Page URLs
Inserting keywords into your page URLs is a great way to attract search engine traffic, aid bots in the indexing process, and make your pages’ web addresses more memorable to visitors. You can change the name of the URL by editing this information within your site directory in your hosting file manager, or you can automate the process of creating URLs that contain page titles (which should also contain your keywords) within WordPress by changing the Permalink option under Settings to /%postname%.html.
Apply a Balance of Dofollow and Nofollow to Your Outgoing Links
The Dofollow and Nofollow attributes can be added to outgoing links in order to instruct search engines on whether or not to follow that link. Although many webmasters apply a Nofollow attribute to all outgoing links with the belief that doing so will help their site retain its ranking authority, having nothing but Nofollow links looks unnatural, and therefore may result in penalization. In fact, it is beneficial to apply a Dofollow attribute to all links that lead to trusted websites, and apply a Nofollow attribute to links that lead to untrusted or unauthoritative sites.