WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system (CMS). It powers over 35% of all sites on the internet, eclipsing all other players in the CMS market. To put this in perspective, WordPress’ closest competitor has a minuscule market share of 2.6%.
That said, this popularity has a flip side as well. The WordPress plugin directory is similar to the Apple’s App Store. Like the iPhone users are spoilt for choice when it comes to apps, WordPress users have a plethora of plugins to choose from. The directory currently has over 55,000 different plugins to choose from and it’s easy to get overwhelmed, and even frustrated, if you’ve just installed WordPress on your site.
When it comes to choosing the right WordPress SEO plugins, it’s important to separate the wheat from the chaff. For that reason, I’ve compiled a list of top-notch WordPress SEO plugins that you can install on your site to improve your search rankings.
Without further ado, here are the 19 best SEO plugins for WordPress.
19 Best WordPress SEO Plugins
1. Yoast SEO
Let’s start with the most well-known, and quite arguably, the best WordPress SEO plugin — Yoast SEO. With over 5 million active installations to date, Yoast SEO is the de facto SEO plugin for a majority of WordPress sites. It’s the plugin I’ve been using at 99signals ever since the inception of this blog.
Here’s a list of things you can do with Yoast SEO:
- Optimize meta tags like SEO titles and meta descriptions of all pages and posts on your site
- Set custom open graph tags
- Apply advanced meta robots settings, canonical URL, and breadcrumbs
- Create and submit an XML sitemap
- Verify your site in Webmaster Tools (Google, Bing, Baidu, Yandex)
- Enable breadcrumbs
In addition to all of the above, you can also optimize the pages/posts on your site for your target keywords.
Furthermore, readability analysis in Yoast SEO features several checks, including Flesch reading ease score, to help you create content that truly resonates with your audience.
Is Yoast SEO free?
The free version of Yoast SEO offers all the features explained above. The premium version, which is $89/site, includes advanced features such as redirect manager, advanced context detection, and stale cornerstone content filter. If you’re planning to upgrade to Yoast SEO Premium, check out this post to learn more about its unique functionalities.
Broken links can quickly derail the rankings of your website. As such, it’s important to identify and fix broken links on your site as and when they appear.
So what’s the best practice to fix your broken links if you’re a WordPress user? It’s simple — install Broken Link Checker.
Broken Link Checker is a free WordPress plugin that constantly monitors the pages, posts, and comments on your website for broken links. If it finds a broken link on your site, it alerts you via email.
Best of all, the plugin helps you fix all the broken links on your site in a matter of seconds.
Here’s an example of a broken link that the plugin found on my website:
If I click “unlink,” the broken link is automatically removed from my post. I don’t need to visit the post to manually remove the link.
It even suggests replacement links for your broken links.
Pro Tip: Once you’ve fixed all the broken links using Broken Link Checker, please deactivate the plugin as it can have a negative impact on your page speed. Site speed is a critical ranking factor and you wouldn’t want to lose your search traffic because of this plugin. As a result, I’d advice you to activate this plugin once a month, fix all the broken links, and then deactivate the plugin once you’re done.
Is Broken Link Checker free?
Yes, it’s 100% free.
Side note: Check out our short tutorial video on how to use Broken Link Checker to find and fix broken links on your site or read the accompanying article here.
3. WP Rocket
Caching your webpages can result in super fast load time and in turn improve your SEO and conversions. WordPress has a lot of caching plugins — a few of them are free while the others are paid. I’ve tried almost all the free caching plugins that the WordPress plugin directory has to offer, but none of them were able to improve my site’s performance as much as WP Rocket did.
Functionality-wise, WPRocket is by far the best caching plugin for WordPress on the market. It helps you dramatically improve the performance of your site and increase site speed.
Here’s a list of things you can do with WP Rocket to optimize your site performance:
- Minify HTML and CSS files
- Enable lazy loading for images
- Enable caching for mobile devices
- Optimize CSS delivery
- Enable preloading
In addition to these, you can integrate your CDN with WP Rocket to further improve your site speed and performance.
Is WP Rocket free?
No, WP Rocket offers no free version or a free trial for that matter. A single license of WP Rocket costs $49. The best free alternative to WP Rocket is WP Super Cache.
SEMrush’s SEO Writing Assistant is a free WordPress plugin which provides instant recommendations for content optimization based on the qualities of Google’s top 10-ranking pages for your given keywords in a given location.
With SEO Writing Assistant, you can review your blog posts’ readability score, optimize them for your target keywords, and even get recommendations on semantically related keywords.
Is SEO Writing Assistant free?
You don’t need an SEMrush subscription to use SEO Writing Assistant. That said, if you’re serious about optimizing your keywords and outranking competitors in SERPs, then you’ll need to use an all-purpose SEO tool like SEMrush.
5. Rank Math
If you’re seeking a strong alternative to Yoast SEO, Rank Math is your best bet. You can even import your existing settings from Yoast to Rank Math. The team behind RankMath also developed MyThemeShop, a premium WordPress theme directory. As such, the plugin has been tested and perfected by a team with a deep knowledge of WordPress.
Rank Math is also one of the most user-friendly WordPress plugins on the market. As soon as you install and activate Rank Math on your website, there’s a setup wizard that guides you through the configuration process and recommends the ideal settings for best site performance.
Some of the key features of Rank Math include:
- 404 error monitor
- Automated image SEO
- Rich snippet support
- SEO analysis tool based on 40 factors
Check out the complete list of RankMath features here.
Is Rank Math free?
Yes, it’s completely free.
Having an XML sitemap is crucial in helping search engines better index all the pages on your website. Google XML Sitemaps is a free plugin that generates a complete XML sitemap for your WordPress site which you can then submit to Google and other search engines.
As soon as you activate this plugin, it automatically generates a sitemap for you.
You can also tweak the plugin settings to prioritize certain pages over others and exclude pages from the sitemap. For example, you can exclude archives and tag pages from the sitemap by unchecking the boxes as shown below:
Is Google XML Sitemaps free?
Yes, it’s absolutely free.
Recommended reading: How to Create an XML Sitemap for Your Website (and Submit it to Google)
All in One SEO Pack is perhaps the most popular alternative to Yoast SEO. Much like Yoast, this plugin allows you to improve the SEO of your WordPress site, helping you rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). All in One SEO Pack is also the only free WordPress plugin to provide SEO for eCommerce sites, including WooCommerce.
With over 2 million active installations, it’s the second most popular WordPress SEO plugin in the WordPress plugin directory.
Some of its main functionalities include:
- XML sitemap support
- Schema.org markup
- Google AMP support
- Advanced canonical URLs
Is All in One SEO Pack free?
All the basic features discussed above are free, but to access advanced features such as video SEO module, Google Tag Manager support, and more, you’ll need a Pro subscription. The packages start from $79/year. Click here to learn more.
Installing an SSL certificate is not just useful for your site’s security, but it’s also beneficial from an SEO point of view. If you’d like your migration from HTTP to HTTPS be as smooth as possible, you’ll need a plugin like Really Simple SSL.
Really Simple SSL automatically detects your settings and configures your website to run over HTTPS.
Is Really Simple SSL free?
The free version of Really Simple SSL handles most issues WordPress has with SSL certificates. But you’ll need a Pro subscription to perform advanced SSL scans such as mixed content scan, certificate expiration check, and more. Single license of Really Simple SSL Pro costs $29 and you’ll receive support and updates for a year.
If you’d like to completely SSL-proof your site, I’d recommend you upgrade to Really Simple SSL Pro.
Image optimization plays a vital role in speeding up your website. As a result, it’s important that you compress and optimize the images on your site to improve your page speed and increase the organic traffic.
ShortPixel is an easy-to-use WordPress plugin which compresses and optimizes the images on your site. Once it’s installed on your site, the plugin automatically compresses the existing images as well as any images you upload in the future.
You’ll need to choose from 3 compression types — Lossy, Glossy, and Lossless. Select an option based on your current needs and you’re all set.
Is Short Pixel free?
ShortPixel offers a free plan wherein you can compress up to 100 images a month. If you’d like to compress more images, then you’d have to sign up to one of their paid plans which start from $4.99 per month (5,000 images/mo). Click here to learn more.
If you’re seeking a 100% free alternative, try EWWW Image Optimizer.
Redirects play an important role in maintaining link equity and SEO value of changed URLs. That said, a bad implementation of 301 redirects can negatively impact SEO. As a result, you need a dependable WordPress plugin which can help you perform these tasks without worrying too much about the SEO implications.
Redirection is the most popular redirect manager for WordPress. With this plugin, you can implement 301 redirects and keep track of 404 errors on your site.
To set up redirects, you simply need to enter the source URL and target URL as shown below:
Is Redirection free?
Yes, it’s 100% free.
SEOPress is yet another competitor to Yoast SEO. It’s relatively new and slightly less popular than other Yoast alternatives such as All in One SEO Pack and Rank Math.
It’s easily one of the most user-friendly plugins on the market. You even get an installation wizard to quickly have SEOPress up and running on your site in no time.
Is SEOPress free?
The free version of SEOPress allows you to do all the basic optimizations to your blog posts. The Pro version, which is $39/year, is meant for advanced users and includes premium features such as video XML sitemap, automatic schemas, Google Analytics stats in dashboard, and much more.
Unless you have a massive reservoir of content on your WordPress site, I’d suggest you stick with the free version of SEOPress.
Rich snippets are snippets that contain detailed information that helps users make the right click decisions. Rich snippets can dramatically increase your click-through rate (CTR) and help you rank higher in search results. But more importantly, the interactive nature of rich snippets (photos, ratings, price, author, etc.) help you stand out from competition in SERPs. For that reason, it’s worth creating rich snippets for your posts.
With over 90,000 active installations, All in One Schema Rich Snippets is the most popular schema markup plugin in the WordPress plugin directory. It supports the following types of schemas:
- Software Application
Once the plugin is installed and activated on your site, go to the specific post for which you’d like to create a schema, scroll all the way down till you find “Configure Rich Snippet,” select the appropriate schema type, and enter all the details.
Is All in One Schema Rich Snippets free?
Yes, it’s completely free. There’s no premium version.
13. a3 Lazy Load
Lazy loading is a technique that loads images and videos on a page only when the visitors need them. It can improve your page speed which is a critical ranking factor. If you’re using WP Rocket (see #3), you can enable lazy loading in the plugin settings and defer the loading of images and videos on your site.
But if you’re not a WP Rocket user, you can use the free a3 Lazy Load plugin to enable lazy loading on your site.
By default, the plugin activates lazy loading on all images and videos on your site upon installation. But if you’d like to exclude certain images from lazy loading, you can do that in the plugin settings.
Is a3 Lazy Load free?
Yes, it’s completely free.
If you publish long-form content on a consistent basis, it would make sense to break each of your long-form posts down into small sections with on-page anchors. In fact, this is what Google recommends.
According to Google:
There are a few things you can do to increase the chances that they might appear on your pages. First, ensure that long, multi-topic pages on your site are well-structured and broken into distinct logical sections. Second, ensure that each section has an associated anchor with a descriptive name and that your page includes a “table of contents” which links to the individual anchors.
To help you include a table of contents to your posts, you can use a free plugin like Table of Contents Plus which automatically creates a context specific index or table of contents for long pages.
By adding a table of contents to your posts, you’ll make it easier for visitors to navigate to specific sections within the posts and improve important SEO factors like time on site and dwell time. Furthermore, the plugin will also help you automatically grab jump links in the SERP, which can further increase your CTR.
Is Table of Contents Plus free?
Yes, it’s a free WordPress plugin.
Is Autoptimize free?
For a majority of WordPress sites, the free version of Autoptimize should suffice. If you have a large site, then you can check out Autoptimize Pro Services to ensure a hassle-free configuration of Autoptimize on your site.
If your website is heavy on visual content, then you need to optimize your images in order to provide a seamless experience to your visitors. Smush is a plugin which can help you compress, resize, and lazy load the images on your site to help them load faster.
It’s also one of the most popular WordPress plugins in the directory with over 1 million active installations.
Is Smush free?
The free version of Smush has all the necessary features and limits to help you enjoy the benefits of image compression and optimization. If you have a large website, however, you can try Smush Pro. Pricing starts from $7/mo.
17. Rel NoFollow
By default, all links on WordPress are “dofollow” links unless specified. If you have HTML knowledge, you can add “nofollow” links in WordPress using the text editor. But if you’d like to save yourself the hassle and have the option to add “nofollow” links to your posts from the visual editor itself, you can do that using Rel Nofollow. This plugin adds a “nofollow” checkbox to the WordPress UI.
Is Rel Nofollow free?
Yes, it’s free.
18. Squirrly SEO
Squirrly SEO is a great alternative to Yoast and All in One SEO Pack and to lesser-known SEO plugins like Rank Math and SEOPress that we’ve discussed above.
Despite having only 20,000 active installations on WordPress, it’s got endorsements from industry influencers like Brian Dean and Neil Patel. So they must be doing something right.
Is Squirrly SEO free?
The free version includes basic optimization features, but to unlock advanced features, you’ll need to upgrade to Squirrly Pro.
Activating a content delivery network (CDN) service for your site can further improve your search rankings because CDNs can dramatically bolster your site speed and performance. Not just that, but CDNs also add an extra layer of security to your site. There are several CDN providers out there, but a popular choice among WordPress users is BunnyCDN. It’s also quite affordable as they follow a “pay as you go” pricing model and your monthly bill may be as low as $1.
BunnyCDN’s WordPress plugin allows you to easily configure BunnyCDN on your site. Once you’ve activated this plugin, all you need to do is enter the name of your Pull Zone and you’re all set.
Is BunnyCDN free?
It’s not free, but it’s easily one of the most affordable CDN providers on the market. As mentioned earlier, your monthly bill with BunnyCDN will be as low as $1.
WordPress is undoubtedly one of the best content management systems for SEO. The list of plugins outlined above will definitely help you in your quest for higher rankings on Google. Having said that, ranking high on Google (or Bing) is not as easy as installing a few WordPress SEO plugins. You also need to focus on other important aspects of SEO such as keyword research, link building, and technical SEO.
If you’re new to SEO, here are some articles from our blog to help you bring up to speed:
- Link Building Strategies: 25 Proven Techniques to Get High Quality Backlinks
- Technical SEO Checklist: 10 Technical SEO Tips to Instantly Boost Your Traffic
- 20 On-Page SEO Techniques to Increase Organic Traffic
- 25 Best Google Chrome Extensions for SEO
- 10 Best SEO Podcasts to Master the Art of SEO
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Editor’s Note: This article was first published on 14 February 2020 and has been updated regularly since then for relevance, freshness, and comprehensiveness.