If you want your site to act as more than a landing page for your marketing campaigns and compete for organic traffic, you need more than just great content. One of the competitive edges you should be incorporating into your SEO efforts is developing with technical best practices in mind. Since WordPress powers 30% of sites on the web, there is practically a plugin (or 10) for any of your site enhancement needs. Here’s our list of favorite plugins for an SEO tune-up in 2019.
Nothing will ruin your SEO efforts like losing your entire site. Ultimately we endorse WP Engine for hosting, because of it’s automatic daily backups and fast server response. The WordPress Platform updates and individual plugins have gone through rigorous QA testing before becoming available to WordPress users. This makes it low risk for simple websites (ie. 5 pags + a blog) to install plugins that are compatible with the WordPress version you’re using and each other. But, as your site ages, plugins you’re using may stop being updated by their developers, and eventually compatibility is lost, resulting in possible issues for site users, or possibly crashing the entire site.
Of course you need a SEO plugin that helps making constant tweaks like page titles and descriptions a breeze. Yoast will help you set up the right configurations for your site, and they offer great support via their help articles and blog. If you’re super type A, there are visual indicators that help you determine if you’ve checked off the basics of on page SEO of a new page or post.
Duracell Tomi Google Tag Manager
The advantage of a tag manager, is that it’s the only code you’ll need to add to your site for any of your analytics tracking needs. You can load it with all sorts of tracking code pixels, like Google Analytics, Facebook, or for retargeting. This also means an analytics developer adding tracking to the site never needs to touch the actual websites code, it can all be done through tag manager. This is great for security to, if you need to contract an analytics developer, you likely won’t need to give them admin access to WordPress.
Simple 301 Redirects
There are plenty of reasons you’d be adding 301 redirects to your site. Perhaps you found multiple pages ranking for the same keywords and you want to consolidate them to one page. With this plugin, you can seamlessly transition content, while waiting for the old removed posts to stop indexing in search.
If you’re trying to produce leads from your site, you need a form creator. Gravity forms is super user friendly, and integrates seamlessly with Monster Insights.
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Optimizing images is one of the easiest things to overlook, and for most websites I’ve ever gotten into the backend of, it has been. Note, it’s advised to come up with a naming convention that makes images easily searchable within your image library for use on site pages and blog posts, but also places like Google Image Search. IMG_8199 doesn’t describe what the image is, this isn’t helpful for Google or a webmaster entering content.
When it comes to improving site loading time, Smush is great because it will automatically optimize image files sizes when you upload them, and it will generate different sizes, which is useful if you want to display different sized versions of your image on your site, like a large featured image, or a small thumbnail.
Tips for Optimizing Images
- Resize images to the dimensions you will be displaying them. If they are going to display as 800px wide, why upload something that’s 3000px?
- Lower the quality of the image to where it still looks good to the human eye, with as small of a file size as possible. High resolution photos are required for print only.
Here’s everything you need to know from Google themselves:
WP Fastest Cache Premium
W3 Total Cache
Adding a caching plugin to your site is great for the user experience of returning visitors. Instead of waiting for the browser to make requests to the server to load images and other content, a saved version of the page is served. It’s like the difference of turning your computer on, versus waking it up from sleep mode or a screen saver.
Google XML Sitemaps
Although Yoast has a XML sitemap generator, we like to use this plugin for more control over the sitemap creation. You can ensure you’ve created a sitemap, adjust priority of pages, and make sure that pages and other files you don’t want indexed are omitted from the sitemap.
Note! Make sure you turn off any other XML sitemap generator like Yoast’s when you activate this plugin.
One of the proven keys to good content, is including links that are useful to a site visitor. This includes points of interest, statistics, definitions, citations, or anything else that a reader would want to click on to learn more information. One of the signals to search engines algorithms of page priority is the number of links within the site pointing to a page. If you have a library of old posts that use common phrases that could point to a service page or other resource on your site, auto-linker is a great way to insert links into all of those posts and pages that are relevant, without having to spend time going through each page manually.
Structured Data Markup
With the continued increase in SERP featured snippet types, and voice search returning only one result, SEO isn’t just about ranking #1 in search, but winning those snippets. It’s possible to win a snippet even if your site ranks in the 4th or 5th position, because part of your content is formatted to be featured as an answer to a searchers question. While Google is getting better at identifying this content, using structured data (schema) on your content will aid the algorithm in choosing your sites content to display.
Here’s a fun list of all the snippets your site can compete for if you’re preparing to dominate in voice search:
Important schema resources:
There you have it. While there is a plugin for everything, this is a great list to start with to ensure you’re up to date on important best practices and you’re covering some of the most obvious technical SEO gaps that we encounter when taking on a new website project.