In this article I would like to introduce you the best WordPress SEO plugins 2021. Even though WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world, you can improve your Google ranking by using the best SEO plugins 2021. Additionally, you can also integrate SEO analysis tools directly into your WordPress installation to evaluate your rankings.
WordPress was actually only meant to be an open-source blog solution. This is now many years ago and the possibility of installing plugins offers you many possibilities of integrating extra functionalities. And also for the SEO area, plugins now offer many functions for search engine optimization. So with some SEO plugins you can now comfortably get tips directly in your post how to optimize your text, technical markup, meta description or meta title for the search engine. The plugin Yoast SEO is by now the preinstalled standard plugin for basic SEO stuff in WordPress. Some WordPress SEO plugins can go even further.
The best WordPress SEO plugins 2021 – what matters?
This article is not meant to be a detailed introduction to search engine optimization. Nevertheless, I would like to show you briefly which factors play into the ranking of your WordPress website:
- Short loading times: More and more everything is mobile and therefore loading times become more relevant.
- Image SEO: With alt-tags and a good file name you rank better.
- Meta title and meta description: These define how your website will be displayed on Google’s search results page (SERPs).
- The text: With an optimized SEO text you simply rank better.
- Analysis & Tracking: To get really good rankings, you should track user behavior and SEO performance of your articles.
Meanwhile, there may be a contradiction for one or the other: In my article about WordPress Pagespeed Optimization, I advise against using many plugins in the WordPress installation so that the loading time remains low. Nevertheless, you should not save especially in the SEO plugin area – of course always with regard to the loading time and the benefit. However, I also have some SEO plugins installed. I simply do not want to do without certain SEO function. Therefore, I make a compromise between loading time and SEO functionality of my WordPress website.
But now enough written, here now the best wordpress SEO plugins 2021:
All-in-one SEO plugins
Even though there are many free WordPress SEO plugins, you should think about spending some money for your search engine optimization. Believe me: If you offer a product or service it will be worth it. Or as the marketing nerd would say: an optimal return of investment! In addition, the possibilities of free SEO plugins – as far as the analysis of your WordPress site is concerned – are rather modest. But this is exactly where the hedgehog is buried in the field: It does you no good to put a lot of time into search engine optimization, if you do not know at the end whether it was worth it or where there are still possibilities and potential in the field of SEO. As a beginner, the free Yoast SEO plugin is basically enough – but if you want to drive your business forward, you should think about where you are missing visitors and which content can be further optimized.
This free SEO plugin covers all the basic things in the field of search engine optimization for WordPress. Therefore it should not be missing in any WordPress installation. With it you can specify the meta title and meta description, define the canonical tag correctly, set configuration of noindex/nofollow, generate an XML sitemap and provide Open Graph information (show image in SERPs). Additionally, the Yoast SEO plugin provides options to clean up the <head> section and customize the URL structure. Thus, you cover all the basic requirements with just one SEO plugin. Furthermore, this plugin offers even more functions in the paid version.
The Premium SEO Pack covers all the functionalities of Yoast SEO and offers additional features for the performance and search engine optimization of your WordPress site. Since it is a premium plugin, it costs a one-time fee of $44. However, for this you also get premium support and many great features that are otherwise only available with SEO services with monthly fees. The Premium SEO Pack is especially suitable for SEO beginners. Professionals can also achieve the functionality of this plugin with many individual free plugins. However, if you want to save yourself the effort, you can directly install this one SEO plugin and have an excellent all-in-one SEO plugin here. Premium SEO Pack offers the following features:
- Google Analytics integration: Analyze visitor numbers and other important user signals
- Keyword Tracking: Monitor your Google rankings directly in WordPress
- Pagespeed Insights integration: Check the loading time of your website in the dashboard
- 404 Monitor: Displays broken pages (404 error) in wordpress dashboard
- Mass Optimization Tool: Mass optimization of links and blog articles with just a few clicks
- W3C Validator: Check your site for HTML and other code errors
- Sitemaps: Generate general sitemaps, video sitemaps and image sitemaps for Google
- Link Redirects: If you ever want to move your website from one domain to another you should create 301 redirects here
- Link Builder: Here you can link your website better among each other or find great external links to complete your content
- Title & Meta Description: Define how the respective subpage is displayed in Google search results.
- Tiny Compress: With this tool you can compress your images and reduce the loading time of your website
- Facebook Planner: Automatically publish content to Facebook
- Social Share Buttons: With this you can integrate social share buttons into your pages and blog articles
- SEO Friendly Images: Automatically fills empty alt and title tags of your images
- Rich Snippets: Here you can set thumbnails or Google stars for the SERPs
The SeoPressor plugin is relatively new on the plugin market and definitely belongs to the premium SEO plugins. At a hefty $9 per month, it’s not exactly cheap, but it can replace additional SEO research and analysis tools like kwfinder for beginners. Moreover, the plugin is fully integrated with WordPress, which makes it much easier to use. Basically, it offers the same functionalities as the Premium SEO Pack plugin. However, on top of that, the plugin is supplemented with advanced keyword tracking capabilities as well as additional SEO text analysis options:
- SemantiQ Analysis: Examine your texts for correct semantics (keyword search intention)
- LSI Keyword Engine: Find related keywords and use them in your texts
- Smart Link Manager: Create internal links automatically or semi-automatically to increase the linkjuice of your blog
- Google Knowledge Graph: Appear in front of #1 on Google with a short answer
- many more functionalities
If you don’t want to or can’t use the above SEO plugins (for whatever reason) but still need an XML sitemap, this slim plugin will help you. Only functionality: Create an XML sitemap for the Google Webmaster Console. That’s it!
Images SEO Plugins
An often underestimated ranking factor in search engine optimization: image SEO. This is about the loading times of images but also about the semantic description of images for the search engine. Images have a great importance for the content. While Google can’t yet recognize what is presented on images, and therefore the Google Bot relies on what meta information (alt and title tag) is attached to each image. So if you’ve never thought about the semantic location of your images, it’s time! There are some great image SEO plugins available for you. Although you can also tag images with the correct title and alt tag in the WordPress media library, some plugins offer you bulk processing for images or even automatic naming of title and alt tags.
In addition, to avoid unnecessarily long loading times of the images, you should think about the compression. Even the “save for web” module from Photoshop can only export images that can also still be compressed.
Even though you have the possibility to add title and alt tags to your images through WordPress Media Library, SEO Optimized Images offers some additional features. If you have never added alt and title tags, you can use this plugin to set all attributes automatically. So if you have 100s of images in your blog you can automatically populate all attributes with just a few clicks. But be careful – unfortunately the plugin overwrites old attributes with the automatically generated content and if you want to deactivate it one day, all attributes are gone. Therefore, this images SEO plugin should be used with caution!
EWWW Image Optimizer is the magic bullet when it comes to compressing images. That’s why it should be used in every WordPress installation. The great thing about it is that once you’ve optimized all your images with one click, simply deactivate the plugin and that’s it! Even if you exported your images for the web using Photoshop, EWWW Image Optimizer can reduce your images by many KBs without sacrificing image quality. You can also control the amount of compression. But beware: After compression your images will be indexed by Google as new images and so your images might temporarily lose rankings in Google Image Search.
Meanwhile, there are many Retina displays that can display images in double resolution. Even if WordPress has (much too late) upgraded with the responsive image feature in version 4.4, the WP Retina 2x plugin still offers you setting options that WordPress does not have out of the box. Responsive images are about delivering images with double the resolution on Retina displays, so that they don’t look pixelated or blurry here. On normal displays, however, images are delivered at the normal size. This saves loading time and makes your images look crisp and sharp even on retina displays.
Websitespeed & Social SEO Plugins
Even though the Internet is becoming faster and faster on the home PC, many users are now surfing with mobile Internet. In view of the limited mobile data volume in Germany, loading time and website size play a major role. As a result, the loading time of your website is an important ranking factor for Google. In addition, the loading time of your website also plays into the increasingly important user signals. Thereby you have about 1-2 seconds to load your website. With longer loading times, the probability that your visitor will immediately click on to competitors increases significantly. Since WordPress is always built dynamically from your database, there is the so-called caching. Here, a static image (roughly speaking, a static HTML page) of your website is delivered. This relieves the database, the server and shortens the loading time of your WordPress website.
In short: You have never dealt with your Google Pagespeed Score? Then it’s high time to visit Google Pagespeed Insights and check your website. After that you should have a look at my Caching Plugin Test or install the Borlabs Cache Plugin.
In addition, social media plays a major role in some areas. Therefore, you should not do without social shares and offer the possibility for your users in the most prominent place possible. Some social share plugins make it especially easy for you and offer a wealth of functions to integrate the social buttons perfectly into your layout and website.
A rather unknown but free plugin… I have long talked with the developer on the phone and also used it on some of my sites. With no other plugin I could achieve a better pagespeed score. Also, I find it extremely user-friendly, as you have the option to choose from presets or (if you’re a pro) make settings individually and manually as well. In any case, your WordPress website will be faster. For me also better than the paid WP Rocket plugin.
The Share Buttons plugin from AddThis is probably the best free social share plugin on the plugin market. It offers you some basic settings (which should be enough for most applications). So you can define where the social share buttons can be displayed (below the blog article or always on the side) and how the social share buttons are displayed. If you need more functionality, you can also take a look at the Easy Social Share Buttons plugin.
This premium social share plugin offers you some additional features to the Share Button plugin from AddThis and can be configured almost at will. Here are just a few additional features:
- Determine what gets shared (custom title, description, and cover image)
- Show social shares only after a certain minimum number of shares has been reached
- After Social Share – here you can display certain actions or information only after clicking the Share button
- The Anaylse tool shows you detailed information about the social shares
- A/B testing with your social shares
- Integrate Facebook comments into your WordPress installation
- Performance-optimized (so that the loading time of your website does not explode)
additional SEO plugins for WordPress
Some SEO plugins offer you besides the load time optimization and the social sharing further features to optimize your ranking on Google:
Similar to Wikipedia, you can also display an automatically generated table of contents at the beginning of your article in WordPress. For this purpose, the headings in the respective article are usually read and inserted as jump labels in your article. This makes it easy for the Google search engine (and also for your visitors) to find the entire content of your article. The whole thing makes sense especially in extremely long blog articles. With Content Table Plus you can also decide whether the table of contents should be displayed as a sidebar or inserted directly at the beginning of the article. A great (automated) way to strengthen the internal link structure of your website.
Some WordPress themes offer this feature out of the box. It is about displaying related blog articles under a blog article. Here, thematically matching further blog articles from your blog are displayed and animate the user to browse around on your website even after reading a single article. So you can increase the absolute visiting time of your website. An advertiser would certainly speak of customer loyalty here.
Displaying Google stars in the search results can extremely increase the click-through rate in the SERPs. Since this feature was extremely abused in the past, Google has put a stop to this and so many so-called Rich Snippets plugins no longer work. However, if you look at the search results in Google, it becomes clear that mostly only one plugin still works here: the KK Star Rating plugin. Unfortunately, it is no longer updated and is not tested with the latest WordPress version. However, I installed it on a trial basis (make sure to backup your WordPress installation first!) and lo and behold: it still works! In addition, the KK Star Rating Plugin offers the possibility to display the best rated posts for example in the sidebar.
This premium plugin is not a traditional WordPress SEO plugin. It cleans your site from useless code and makes sure that your website stays nice and narrow. That’s why it actually belongs to the speed optimization section. However, cleaning up your wordpress site is the only functionality of the plugin. Here are a few features:
- Cleans the code from unnecessary lines
- Removes unnecessary HTTP header entries
- Redirects from unused archive pages
- Disabling the JSON API
- Comments are cleaned
- Unused scripts are removed
If you provide a lot of blog articles and don’t use any of the premium all-in-one WordPress SEO plugins presented above, you should take a look at Interlinks Manager. It can strengthen your internal links and offers you many possibilities to increase your internal link juice. You can also track which internal links are used most often by your visitors. Of course, you can also create automated indirect links with this SEO plugin – very promising!
WordPress SEO Plugins 2021 Conclusion
If you are serious about search engine optimization, you can achieve a lot with free WordPress SEO plugins. The best content is useless if you don’t manage to get on Google’s page 1. The free SEO plugin Yoast SEO already does a good job of optimizing your meta title, meta description and other basic search engine optimization. Therefore, you should definitely install this plugin. But also other SEO plugins like the YARRP plugin, Table of Content as well as the EWWW Image Optimizer are powerful tools to improve the user experience and signal to Google that your website is worth a look.
If you want to dive even further into the world of WordPress SEO, you can’t avoid paid premium SEO plugins. However, compared to online SEO tools such as Sistrix or ahrefs, the prices are very reasonable and help you track your rankings and make further optimizations to your article even if you have a small budget. This makes it possible to rank well for several dozen keywords with one article. I’m particularly fond of SEOPressor, which comes with everything a small to medium-sized WordPress blog needs for optimal search engine optimization.