1. Most Powerful SEO 2016
The power of WordPress as a blogging platform comes primarily from its ability to install any of the millions of plugins that exist for the platform.
Anything you could possibly want to do can be done through one of those plugins. Now, we’ve written before about these plugins, but I felt it was time to make a more modern list of powerful SEO plugins. Some of these are huge, multifaceted plugins that do everything. Some of them are small, niche plugins with a single use for a small subset of online businesses. They all, however, can be of great use for a business looking to get aheadonline through a WordPress site and blog.
I’ve roughly categorized the plugins by what they do, though obviously these categories can get a little blurry with the range of options some of the plugins have. Don’t worry too much about proper categorization; just look at the plugins themselves and see if they do what you need them to do.
Fair warning; some of these plugins cost money. I’ll do my best to list prices when they come up, but prices can change, so always check the site yourself before banking on the price I list.
The All in One Solutions
These are the most robust, well-rounded plugins available. They’re the do-everything plugins you get if you want an all-encompassing suite in one piece of software. Note that these are all more or less redundant. You don’t want to install two or three of them; the functionality will overlap an you may get conflicts. Typically, you’ll want to install one of these, and then individual plugins from other categories to round out the functionality you require.
1. SEO Pressor – Version 5 of this powerful general SEO tool is live, and it’s as potent as ever. It may not have the same name recognition as Yoast or All In One, but it should. It’s a paid plugin, though, with a single-site license at $47 as a one-time fee.
2. All In One SEO – One of the Big Two SEO plugins on WordPress, this free plugin has pretty much all of the support you need for robust SEO on a blog. XML sitemaps, canonicalization, ecommerce SEO and more, all in one place.
3. WordPress SEO by Yoast – The other of the Big Two SEO plugins, Yoast is a juggernaut in well-designed WordPress integrations. WordPress SEO is their biggest offering, but they have others as well, listed later in this post. WP SEO is free, but you can get a premium version with more functionality and support for $89.
4. Scribe SEO – Years ago this plugin had a little controversy over a listing in the free plugins section when it actually costs a fairly steep $97 monthly fee. That said, it’s up-front about its costs and what you get for the money, which is quite a bit of value and support.
5. SEO Ultimate – Ultimate, and the premium iteration Ultimate+ for $49, is a retroactive and proactive SEO fixer that scans and fixes SEO issues and helps you run a rocking SEO campaign moving forward.
6. Jetpack – Not strictly an SEO plugin, Jetpack nevertheless is a powerful plugin with some SEO benefits. Essentially what it does is takes some features only available to WordPress-hosted blogs and gives them to self-hosted sites as well.
7. Infinite SEO – A plugin released by WPMU DEV, this general SEO plugin claims to be the most powerful premium SEO plugin on the market. It boasts Moz integration, among other features, and might just live up to its claim. It costs $19 monthly for the plugin, or $25 monthly for the plugin, extensions, themes, and additional support.
Comments and Social WordPress Plugins
These plugins all add various social functionality to your site. Some of them are social sharing bars, while the rest are various comments enhancements or alternatives. Again, try not to install overlapping plugins; conflicts can open up security holes in your site. Comments and social sharing are both important to SEO, so it’s best to have something in place to enhance them.
1. WP Social – This plugin is actually a suite of different social tools for WordPress sites. You can visit their site and see all of their various offerings. Their social deals delivery system is particularly useful.
2. Floating Social Bar – There are a dozen different plugins that add social sharing buttons to your website. This one is notable because the buttons reside in a tray that hovers along with users scrolling down through your content.
3. Disqus – Disqus is one of the premier comments systems available for the web. It’s more robust than WordPress comments by default, and it’s harder for spammers to heap spam upon your site. Combine it with the next plugin for maximum protection.
4. Akismet – Akismet is the top of the line anti-spam products available, and it’s free for basic use. It has a paid upgrade, but most of what it gives you is statistics and content backups, which can be replicated by other free plugins.
5. CommentLuv – This is an interesting plugin that works with WordPress’s default comments system to add functionality and help make comments a more robust part of your content, rather than something to be ignored at the bottom of the page.
6. SEO Facebook Comment – You can get the basic Facebook comments plugin from Facebook directly. This plugin uses that code, but also pulls Facebook comments and puts them in your WordPress database, as well as making them more accessible to search engines for the SEO value.
7. AddThis – This is my go-to for the absolute most basic social sharing buttons you can find anywhere. There’s not a lot to it; just a bunch of buttons in a simple, clean plugin.
8. AddToAny – This, by contrast, is my go-to for the more advanced social buttons. It has individuals hare links, custom icons, third party buttons, custom placement and integration in analytics. It requires more setup to use the advanced features, but they’re worth it.
Organization and Workflow Plugins
While not strictly SEO plugins, these plugins help with keeping your site organized and integrating your other forms of marketing.
1. Edit Flow – This is the most robust and all-in-one solution for an editorial workflow available on WordPress. It comes with an editorial calendar, so you don’t need to install one on its own. It also has editorial metadata, user groups, and notifications, among other things.
2. Mailchimp for WordPress – This is a simple plugin that helps integrate your site with your Mailchimp account, giving you more robust access to viewing and responding to emails and blog posts at the same time. It also gives you sign-up forms, opt-ins and other useful newsletter-building features.
3. Editorial Calendar – This is pretty much the most basic editorial calendar you can find. If you’re a single-author blog and you’re just looking for a way to view what you’ve posted and when, as well as what you’ve scheduled, this is your answer.
Caching and Site Speed Plugins
Site speed is a Google search factor, and as such, it helps to speed up the admittedly slow basic WordPress and plugins system. You can do this in a few ways, like delaying image loads and caching common files, which these plugins help with.
1. W3 Total Cache – This is probably the most recommended and most used caching plugin in the world, and with good reason; it’s great for sites of all sizes, from the small personal blog to the high profile business with millions of visitors. With it, you can get your WP site to load in under two seconds, every time.
2. WP Super Cache – This caching plugin is interesting because it runs and processes your scripts to generate a static HTML version of your page, and serves that page instead of the more dynamic – and more resource-intensive – version of your site. It’s not great for everyone, but since a lot of your content will be static, it can be an incredible speed boost.
3. CloudFlare – CloudFlare is caching, DDoS protection and a reverse proxy all in one. You’ll need to use CloudFlare’s service in order to get the most out of this plugin, though, so be aware of that.
4. Hyper Cache Extended – This plugin is designed as a caching plugin similar to W3 Total Cache, only it’s specifically focused on speeding up pages that reside on very low resource hosts. If you don’t have the ability to upgrade your web hosting, maybe you can make your current host more efficient with this plugin.
5. WordPress Advanced Image Lazy Load – This $14 plugin from CodeCanyon speeds up your side by loading your images in a secondary capacity. Rather than forcing the page to wait until the images are loaded to display content, it loads the images later, when the most important part of the page is already being displayed.
WordPress Security Plugins
You should be concerned about WordPress security, full stop. WP is the most common blogging platform in the world, and as such, any lingering exploit can and will be used against you. In addition to keeping your plugins and platform up to date, you should try to use an additional security plugin.
1. Sucuri – The primary Sucuri company is a robust web security firm with website antivirus scans and firewalls available for use. The WordPress plugin gives you activity auditing, monitoring, malware scanning, blacklisting, hack recovery and other features, all of which can be a godsend in a time of crisis.
2. Login Lockdown – By default, WordPress allows anyone trying to log in to your admin account an infinite number of attempts. If you’re afraid of a brute force attack, you can use this plugin to lock down your account in the event of numerous failed attempts. It also doesn’t lock you out, because it locks by IP range, so it specifically just blocks the spammer.
3. iThemes Security – This general security plugin is great for small blogs or for larger blogs with multiple authors and admin users. It has 2-factor authentication, malware scanning, password expiration if you want, and a whole lot more. It’s also constantly being supported, with several coming soon features of great interest.
4. Hide My WP – A $22 plugin on CodeCanyon, this plugin hides the telltale signs of a WordPress base from anyone looking to hack your site. You can’t hack what you can’t find, after all.
Analytics and Statistics Plugins
You can’t improve your SEO if you don’t know what works and what doesn’t. That’s what analytics is for. Most of these plugins rely on Google Analytics, but add functionality to it to give you more than the basic GA installation. Explore each of them and see which has the more appealing extras.
1. Extended Google Analytics – As I mentioned, many of these plugins use Google’s analytics and add features. This one adds automatic link tagging and event tracking. It’s $14 from CodeCanyon.
2. NewStatPress – Formerly one of the coolest stat analytics plugins for WordPress was StatPress, but it failed to receive support for years. This is a fork of the code with changes, updates, and support. It’s your go-to for real time statistics for your site.
3. Google Analytics by Yoast – Yoast is at it again with a plugin designed to work with their other plugins. This one has a free version, or a premium version with an $89 fee and a bunch of interesting options, including tracking stats per author or per post type.
4. Google Analyticator – This is a pretty standard GA integration into WP, but it does have some nice features, like detailed event tracking, site speed tracking, and a dashboard widget in your WordPress dash.
5. Google Analytics+ – Another plugin from WPMU DEV, this one is designed to work with the primary SEO plugin, as part of their main bundle. If they’re the primary offering you go with, their sub-plugins are a good idea to investigate.
Frameworks and eCommerce Plugins
While not technically plugins, an ecommerce plugin is a functional extension of your site, and the Genesis Framework is one of the best plugins to make an insanely fast and responsive site. You’ll know if you want one of these, and if you don’t, don’t worry about them too much.
1. Genesis Framework – This framework for themes costs $60 and it incredibly streamlines your WordPress installation. With nothing but just this framework, even on slow hosting, your site will load in the blink of an eye. Plus, it comes with a whole load of Genesis-ready themes and extensions.
2. WooCommerce – I don’t need to tell you much about WooCommerce; it’s the biggest and most popular ecommerce platform for WordPress available. It has manual or automatic installation, and it’s light on server usage.
3. MarketPress eCommerce – This is the primary ecommerce extension from WPMU DEV, and all of the same information I’ve given above applies to it as much as to GA+ or their primary SEO plugin bundle. Use it as part of a whole.
Niche Use Plugins
This is basically the general catch-all category. These plugins have specific functions that don’t lend themselves to a full category. Check them out and see if any are worth fitting into your own site.
1. Ultimate Video SEO – $19 from CodeCanyon, this plugin optimizes your videos for SEO, both by helping you with code from schema.org and by giving you embed code support, a custom post type, and an update to the default WordPress video plugin.
2. Video SEO by Yoast – Another Yoast offering, this time for video SEO. It’s $69, but it comes with all of the quality and additional features you want from a Yoast plugin. Plus, it’s guaranteed to integrate perfectly with other Yoast offerings.
3. Local SEO by Yoast – Yoast, value, etc. Local SEO is very important for some businesses, and if you’re one of those businesses, it’s a great thing to know. It’s another $69 plugin, though, and that’s just for a single site.
4. Google XML Sitemaps – This is one of several basically identical Google XML Sitemap submission and creation plugins. One of the main ways Google discovers all of the content on your site is through a sitemap, and an XML sitemap is incredibly easy to generate and submit. You should have an XML sitemap plugin, but it can be whichever one you prefer.
5. SEO Friendly Images – Image SEO is often overlooked, but it’s important for blogs and small business sites. Alt text, title attributes, and image optimization are all included in this plugin.
6. Term Management Tools – This is a very small, simple tool that allows bulk renaming and reorganization of the tags and categories on your site. Use it if you’re doing a redesign or just want to clean up your site by merging, changing or otherwise reorganizing your categories and tags.
7. WP Touch – Ever since Google added mobile compatibility to its list of search ranking factors, site owners have scrambled to make themselves mobile-ready. This plugin is a simple, elegant and functional theme for WordPress on mobile.
8. WordPress Meta Robots – This is another basic, simple tool with one singular purpose; managing the robots.txt directives for your site in general or at the page level.
9. SEO Smart Links – This is an automatic linker that runs through your site, looks for keywords, and adds in specific links to those keywords. It’s pretty useful if you have new content you want to promote through old posts, or if you just want to change links around.
10. Smart SEO – This $22 CodeCanyon plugin is an analysis and SEO advice tool. It has a list of rules for basic SEO, and it scans your site for violations of those rules. I personally prefer to ignore its calculated SEO score, but it might be useful for you.
11. WP-Optimize – This plugin is a great tool you should install, run, and remove about once every six months or year. It cleans your database, removes spam, cleans up trackbacks, and generally gets rid of the debris that accumulates on an old WP site.
12. WordPress Popular Posts – This is one of several simple plugins that gives you a “related” or “popular” posts box next to your content. You can customize what posts show up, display thumbnails, and more.
13. Yet Another Related Posts Plugin – Very few companies can get away with the “yet another” moniker, and this one has. YARRP is the most robust related posts plugin available, in contrast to the above plugin, which is more basic and has the minimum functionality necessary to implement the box.
14. Scroll Triggered Box – If you’ve ever scrolled down a webpage and, 2/3rds or 3/4ths of the way down the content, seen a box pop up in the corner, you know exactly what this plugin does. Use it for “read this next” or a CTA, the choice is yours.
15. Broken Link Checker – This plugin scans your site, identifies broken links, and generates a report. Always worth checking.