There is no complete SEO plugin for WordPress, and for any other open source platform, for that matter. But there are many plugins out there that take care of different seo tasks to improve your website’s performance. We’ll discuss further about:
Working with our clients’ sites for years, we have reached the conclusion there’s an ideal order for setting up everything.
- Set up wordpress
- Set up the ssl
- Set up all the seo plugins. If you’re using WooCommerce, you should install WooCommerce first, and then the seo plugin(s). If you can, get the premium versions. And only after you have configured the seo plugin, you can proceed to adding or importing the products. Otherwise, you risk generating a lot of non-functional category or product pages, by rewriting the functional urls.
- Set up the multilingual plugins
- Set up the Google Services integration plugin and the Social media plugin
- Set up the backup plugin.
- Set up the performance plugins (for pagespeed)
SSL and security
The easiest and cheapest way to get an SSL certificate is CloudFlare. For that, you need: a free CloudFlare account, where you simply need to add your website and follow some easy steps, generate a SSL, access to the registrar, to be able to change the DNS, and access to your server’s cpanel, to install the ssl certificate. CloudFlare is also very good at code minification, so you need to disable those options in the performance plugin.
Security is not always just about the data encryption. Cloudflare also provides a basic ddos attacks protection, which you can upgrade if you want to pay. And an “Always on” solution, to show a cached version of your site, in case your original hosting server fails.
Another way to protect your business is by controlling what your users (employees, collaborators) can modify on your website. By default, there are not many user types, and those cannot be altered. So we found the best solution for editing the user accounts: User Role Editor, by Vladimir Garagulya. It’s hard to miss when you search for it in the WP repository: it has over 400K installs.
A plugin we use sometimes, for security, is WordFence Security. It’s very efficient, but takes a lot of server resources. This one is up to you.
Multi Language sites
It’s important to control easily the translated pages, and not have to add functionalities like buttons for changing the language on the site, or set up manually hreflang tags between the different languages of the same page. So if you want the best Multi Language setup, you should use the WPML suite: WPML Multilingual CMS, WPML String Translation and WPML Translation Management.
Another solution is using Polylang, Polylang theme strings, Hyyan WooCommerce Polylang integration. If you need custom, professional translations for a store with many products, you can setup Lingotek, which allows you to pay real people to translate it for you, from the Lingotek marketplace, that has over 5000 in-country translators.
Our favorite backup solution is UpdraftPlus. You can schedule backup for your database and for your files, directly in the cloud, on: Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3 (or compatible), Rackspace Cloud, DreamObjects, FTP, Openstack Swift. And this is for the free version only, because if you get the premium one, you can add to that list: Microsoft OneDrive, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Storage, Backblaze B2, SFTP, SCP, and WebDAV. You can restore your website at any time using one of the good backups. And, because the space is usually limited on the cloud, you can set a number of backups. For example, you can rewrite the 8th backup, so you have one for each day of the week.
Responsive and Google AMP
Since most WP themes are now responsive, all you need to do is set up Google AMP. The plugin is AMP for WP. Lets you customize the way pages are displayed on the mobile devices and set rules for each post, product or category.
Since we’re a digital agency, our main service is SEO. And when it comes to seo for WordPress, things are really simple: you can either use Yoast or All in One SEO. We prefer Yoast, but we go one step further: for content optimization, we use the AI plugin Matrix SEO. This plugin has a “brain” that learns (over time) the best keyword for each page (you’re not always right, and you don’t always know what keyword will get you the most traffic on a page), and rotates them until it finds the combination that generates the most traffic for each page.
Yoast takes care of the urls, breadcrumbs, sitemaps, robots.txt, but also can reinforce rules for titles, descriptions, the indexation of some page types and many more.
Google services integration
For Google services integration we use a simple plugin that only lets you put the Google Tag Manager tag. Better than adding code in header.php by yourself, or than adding bigger plugins that do lots of stuff…
Social media integration plugins
You may choose any social media plugin or widget, but keep in mind, the more sophisticated it is, the more it will slow down your website. The facebook, twitter, pinterest widgets, that place an iframe containing latest posts or comments, contribute to the total page loading time and are theoretically against a good optimization.
We found that we get the best pagespeed score by using: WP Fastest Cache, Cloudflare and WP Smush. You need no settings for Cloudflare, because Cloudflare already minifies the html, css and js, but you need to disable the same options in the WP Fastest Cache plugin, to avoid conflicts. WP Smush optimizes the images in batches, but you can also optimize the images upon upload.
We tried out more plugins for pagespeed, like W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache, but those are either hard to configure by the average user, or you don’t get the same pagespeed score using just the free version of the plugin. So we’re aiming for fast, easy and free here.
Increasing the pagespeed score is not all about .. increasing the speed, but also about eliminating the things that add to the page loading time. Like when you test 5 plugins for the same job, keep one active, but you don’t completely eliminate the other 4. In many cases, it’s the social media plugin. Ads a lot of code for what’s usually 2 to 4 buttons in each page, and a floating widget at most.
Other than that, we follow the SEO rule number one: the KISS principle. Try to keep the plugin number at a minimum, try to keep them up-to-date, try not to alter the WP core, so when you update it, you don’t lose any settings, try to use a child theme, so you don’t lose customizations when you update the theme, and always backup the files and the database.
If we left out a plugin you’re using (and loving), please tell us in the comments section below.