If you’re reading this than chances are you chose WordPress for your content management system. Good choice!
As I mentioned before, one of the cool things about WordPress is that there are a lot of easy-to-use plugins that are free. All you need to do is download them and install in your WordPress dashboard.
This not only saves you the hassle of trying to dig through code, or the cost of hiring a developer, it saves loads of time.
There really are a ton of plugins, but as this is meant to be part of the Beginner’s Guide to SEO, let’s stick to the basics.
Not all of these plugins are directly going to help your SEO efforts, but I still recommend installing them to make your life easier and your site more secure. Here are the big five that I usually end up using on any money site.
Note: A money site is the site you want to rank in the search engines. Some people then build other smaller websites that they use to artificially boost the authority of their money website in order to help rank it. This is a more advance gray hat SEO tactic.
In no special order we have :
This is a must have. It currently comes pre-installed with every new WordPress installation, and for good reason. When activated Akismet will protect your website and all of your posts and pages that allow users to comment on them from automated spam.
If you have never created a website before you have no idea how much comment spam a site can receive. What’s really bad is that the better you site ranks, the more the spam increases.
Akismet takes care of that problem and frees you up to work on improving your website, not on maintaining it.
There are both free and premium plans, but for smaller site the free plan should be plenty. For more details on this absolutely essential WordPress plugin, check out the Akismet homepage.
The name should pretty much explain what this plugin does. If you hadn’t guessed, Wordfence Security keeps your website safe and sound.
It does a whole heap of stuff including but not limited to:
But, my favorite feature is that you can limit login attempts.
That means you can set up Wordfence to block people that try to login to your website using the wrong credentials. You can set the amount of bad logins, and then when a user passes that they are locked out and you receive an email informing you of the attempted hack.
This plugin also has free and premium plans. There really isn’t any good reason to not at least use the free option. For more details about Wordfence Security, visit their site.
Formerly WordPress SEO by Yoast, Yoast SEO is one of a bunch of SEO geared WordPress plugins. It’s also one of, if not the most, popular.
The reason why it’s so useful is that it allows you to do things like:
I’m honestly not sure what I would do without it.
Check out Yoast’s own site here for more about his Yoast SEO plugin.
TB Tip: Another very popular SEO plugin is called All in One SEO Pack which you can read about here.
As the title states, WordPress makes and supports this very robust plugin. It has way too many features to go into.
But, a few of my favorites are Custom CSS which let’s you make changes to your website without the need to dig into the coding of your theme and Photon which uses the WordPress CDN in order to speed up your site, an important aspect of SEO.
In total, Jetpack has 36 different features that you can take advantage of. You can take a look at all of them here.
Not really a direct SEO plugin, SumoMe does have some indirect SEO uses. However, it’s much more than that. SumoMe offers users free email list opt-ins forms like the ones I use on this site. You can also connect it to email marketing services like MailChimp and AWeber. They also offer free heat maps, which track where your users click most, and free social sharing buttons, just like what you see at the bottom of this post. By using this information to optimize your site, draw in as much traffic as possible, and keep that traffic engaged on your site, can only help your rankings. Oh, and did I mention, it’s free! If you want to juice up what this plugin can do, there are premium options available too.
I no longer recommend Sumo Me due to their pricing and business practices. As the free option does not integrate with much of anything, I feel it's basically worthless. If you are going to spend money, spend it on something better, like Thrive Themes, in my opinion.
If you decided to use the Genesis framework for your WordPress theme, then this is a super useful plugin. If you went with a different theme, then disregard.
What Simple Edits does is allows you to, you guessed it, make simple edits to your Genesis themes. It’s a very easy to to change what shows on each post, such as author name, date published, categories, and more.
I use it mostly to make editing the footer easier.
For a full list of Genesis plugins, click here.
Very good question. WordPress makes this extremely simple.
The very first step is finding the Plugins option on the menu bar in your WordPress backend.
Next, when you hover over Plugins a new menu will open. Click on the option to Add New.
From here you have two options. You can either browse and install plugins from the WordPress Plugin Directory —
Or, you can upload plugins that you’ve downloaded elsewhere by choosing the Upload Plugin option at the top of the page. Make sure you upload the .zip file.
Easy peasy, right?
That’s all there really is to it. Plugins can save you time and money. The can help with your SEO efforts as well as overall website performance.
These are the must haves in my opinion. But, don’t simply take my word for it. Get your website up and running and have a go at using and toying with them.
Just keep in mind that a few plugins go a long way. There’s no reason to install dozens upon dozens and bloat up your website. Use what you need, and nothing more.
If there’s a plugin you think I should have include on this list, please leave a comment below.