This is part 2 of our WordPress SEO series. In part 1 we dealt with how you can correct WordPress default settings so as to gain more seo power with the search engines. You are advised to read it for better understanding.
So, on to part 2,
Do you know what essentials to concentrate on when it comes to wordpress seo?
Or, do you know that the search engines are not so intelligent as to figure out what your blog content is about and that they need your assistance to do that?
What about this …
Do you know it’s what the search engines understand about your blog content that will determine where they rank it in the SERPs?
If you’ve not known any of these basic facts then you’ll need to read the next paragraph carefully because it is important if you want to optimize your blog for the search engines.
Your blog’s title, description meta tag, content, keyword density and links form the essential SEO elements which the search engine spiders focus on when they crawl your blog. It is the information they gather from these elements that they use when they index your blog.
That is worth noting because it should form the bedrock of your wordpress seo.
Whenever someone request information through a search, the search engines check the keyword phrases used against the information indexed and then returns the pages that best agree with those keyword phrases. Because of this, it’s important that you focus on these elements no matter the niche you’re targeting.
And so, in this article I want to present to you some wordpress plugins that will help you deliver your content to the search engines in a way that will make it much easier for them to read it, understand it, digest it and then rank your blog well.
WordPress SEO - Using the Right Plugins
There are presently over 15,000 plugins that will help you do almost anything you can imagine with your wordpress blog. Most of these plugins are built to enhance particular operations of wordpress. One of such area is wordpres SEO. We know search engines have a special favor for blogs because they are frequently updated and have lots of relevant content. But as we have said, wordpress default settings sucks when it comes to SEO. The use of these pugins therefore is to garner some more love from the search engines for your blog.
To help you digest this article much better I’ve laid it out under 3 major subheadings. These are:
1. Operation Related WordPress SEO
2. On-Page WordPress SEO, and
3. Link building WordPress SEO
For each of these areas you’ll be presented with various options of plugins that will enhance your work.
So let’s begin.
Operation Related WordPress SEO
One very important element Google uses in ranking sites is the site’s loading time. The reasoning for Google is that a slow loading blog is poor in terms of site usability. Some of the things Google takes into consideration here is the bounce rate and repeat visitors. Where the bounce rate is high and the number of repeat visitors is low, Google reasons that something is wrong with that site. It is a wise thing therefore to work on reducing your blog’s load time.
Here are 2 suggestions on reducing your blog’s load time:
1. Use Cache To Retrieve Information
There are various ways of implementing cache in your blog but the easiest way, and of course the wisest if you know nothing about coding like me, is to use plugins.
Here is a list of a few you would want to check out:
WP Super Cache – Many bloggers tell of how wonderful this one is but I’ve never had any success with it! I tried implementing it a couple of times but each time it changed the blog’s appearance. This to me was not good enough. However, like I’ve said, many bloggers have some very good words about it. My only advice is, use with care and ensure you get good guidance unless you know what you’re doing.
W3 Total Cache – This is a newer alternative to WP Super Cache. In fact, it is presently rated far above all others. But unfortunately again, my experience with it is nothing different. Ok, maybe I’ve problems with the settings and nothing stops you from checking it out.
Quick cache – This is the one I’ve found to work without any problem so far. If you’re technically challenged like me, then I advise you go for this one.
FV Gravatar Cache – Every WordPress blog today uses gravatars in the comments. Unfortunately, gravatars are not very good when it comes to site optimization because every gravatar image is a new HTTP requests (a page with 100 comments would have 100 additional HTTP requests. Funny right, but the trut is that while you’re working to have more comments on your blog, you’re unknowingly working against your blog’s SEO?). Ok, that was on a lighter mood. But nevertheless, gravatars are a big problem. But Cache Gravatars will give you the power to cache all gravatars locally thereby reducing their load time.
WP Smush.it! – Ok, this one is not a cache. Its work is to optimize your images, by reduce the image file sizes thereby improving performance. If you use graphics a lot, like I use on this blog, then WP smush.it is the plugin for you. On your first install, this plugin will automatically optimize every image in your images folder. Subsequently, every image you add to a post will be automatically optimized once you publish the post.
2. Optimize Your Blog’s Database
Most times the cause of a slow loading blog is not the size of the pages or images but the database tables. To overcome this problem the database tables should be optimized from time to time. The following are some of the plugins I have found useful for repairing and optimizing your blog’s database:
WP-DBManager – this plugin actually has different functionalities. It has a database backup, database repair, etc. With WP-DBManager you simply schedule and forget, and the plugin will take care of all the work automatically. It is a plugin that every blog must have.
WP-Optimize – This is database cleanup and optimization tool. Some of the things you can do with this plugin is removing post revisions (one big culprit of a bloated database), comments in the spam queue and un-approved comments with just a few clicks. Additionally you can use it to rename any username to another username with ease. For example: If you want to rename default 'admin' username to 'someothername' the plugin will do it for you.
TentBlogger Optimize WordPress Database – This is another simple one to implement for optimizing your blog’s database. As seen on the plugin’s page, the goal of this plugin is to be the easiest and most intuitive optimization process for your blog. It simply optimizes your WordPress MySQL database with a click of a button and then lets you get back to writing! It's intuitive! It'll let you know if you need a "tune up" by giving you a message that you should optimize. If not then you can just get back to writing!
On-Page WordPress SEO
The importance of using your target keyword phrase in your title tag is a search engine optimization strategy that everyone agrees on. It is one way of telling the search engines what your content is really about. Of course many bloggers will want you to believe that simply creating and publishing content is enough to rank high on the search engines but that is not really true. Whenever someone makes a search on the search engines, they want to know what your page is about before returning it in the SERPs. To know this they check your page title slug, the headline and the content against the keyword phrase the searcher is using.
For example, I did a search with the keyword phrase “make money blogging” and here’s what the search engines returned. Note the titles and the descriptions.
The first one is actually an ad so we are not taking that into consideration. But note carefully the ones I’ve marked as #1 and #2. Look at the titles and the descriptions. Now take a look at #3 and #4.
If you are the one searching for information on “make money blogging” which of these ones will you click on? Is it the one ranking #1 or #2? Or will you go for #3 or #4? You may want to give your answer in your comments below!
But for clarity sake, that graphic tells us one thing, leaving the search engines to determine what they should index for your article is a gamble you must not take. This is because what the searcher sees in the SERP will determine to a great deal the traffic that will come to your blog. It doesn’t matter its position in the SERPs.
The purpose of the following plugins therefore is to help you “instruct” the search engines on what to focus their attention on once they are on your blog and then index what you want. Used effectively these plugins will guide the search engine spiders to pay special attention to your blog titles, descriptions, links and tags.
SEO Slug - In part 1 we learnt how to enabled custom permalinks using your post name (title) as the slug. As much as that helps in creating SEO friendly URLs, there is however another flaw in WordPress that this plugin takse care of. WordPress is built to take the whole title of a post as you entered it and simply add dashes between the words to create the permalinks. Unfortunately the search engines hate this with a passion! They prefer something short with your keyword phrase contained in it. What this plugin does therefore is to strip common words like "what", "you" or "can" out of your post slug to make it more search-engine-friendly.
NOTE: I must say that I prefer using the url shortener on the writing pane to do this. For one it gives me the power to choose what I want to put in the post slug and again it’s a way of using less plugins thereby reducing the load. However, if you feel you don’t have the pleasure of handcrafting your post slug, then using this plugin is a good decision.
For example, I’ve shortened this post slug from:
All-In-One SEO Pack – This one, as the name implies, is truly an all-in-one solution to most of the problems of WordPress's on-page SEO. Most of what you need for an optimized blog is packed in this one. With it you will be able to put your post and page titles before the blog name which is good for SEO. For your blog home page you will be able to choose a title tag, description, and target keywords. This is very important because the home page usually hold different posts targeting different keyword phrases. Left for the search engines they will simply pick whatever comes handy and most times that will not be what you want! Just as we have seen in the graphic above.
Again using this plugin you can actually choose a different title for your human readers and another one for the search engines.
For example this article is titled: “Wordpress SEO Part 2: Enhancing Your Blog’s Essential SEO Elements with Plugins!” but for the search engines I’ve used, “Wordpress SEO: Optimize Your Blog like the Pros Using Plugins!
You can check that by simply looking at your browser’s title bar. Read this post how I did that.
Here are some alternatives to All-In-One SEO Pack:
WordPress SEO by Yoast
Platinum SEO Pack
NOTE: Recently I started using WordPress SEO by Yoast and have found it to be a great plugin. Apart from the above mentioned features in All-In-One SEO Pack there is a powerful feature that I’ll be writing about in a later post. If you’ve not used this one before you’ll do yourself a lot of good if you’ll try it out!
SEO Friendly images - One powerful on-page SEO tactic that is very important is using the ALT and TITLE tag for your images. Why you should do this is because the search engines cannot read the images on your pages. The only way you can tell them what the images are is using the ALT and TITLE tags. This plugin saves you the time of manually adding a title and alt every time you add a new image. Besides, once you activate it, it will automatically optimize all the images on your blog.
Link Building WordPress SEO
Another crucial element in search engine optimization is link building. This consists both off-site links pointing to your blog from other blogs and on-site links linking your blog posts one with another. Indeed most times the off-site links cannot be controlled by you. But you can take full control of the internal links structure which will impact positively on the rankings of your blog.
The good thing is that there are some plugins that, when used, will effectively funnel link juice within your blog thereby giving your interior pages the ranking juice needed to get on page one of the search engines.
Here are a few:
Internal Link Building – As the name suggest, this plugin allows you to maximize the internal contextual anchor text links, which are incredibly powerful. It also has the options of using a variety of anchor text. To use simply go to “settings” and then add the keywords and the post slug you want to link within your blog. This is really great for SEO.
An alternative to internal link building is SEO smart links which will automatically link keywords and phrases in your posts and comments with corresponding posts, pages, categories and tags on your blog.
Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP) – This one is quite common on blogs and that is because of its usefulness. Its purpose is to display at the end of a post a number of relevant posts that are related to the current one. Doing this leads to visitors reading more of your content thereby staying longer on your site.
All Category SEO Updater – This one works in tandem with All In One SEO to deliver high quality SEO for your main category pages. With it you’ll be able to further customize category pages as well as additional SEO function.
One big alternative to this one is TentBlogger SEO Categories which optimizes your permalink structure at the category level to make them as functional (and pretty) as possible for both your users and the search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo) that index your content!
How about off-line links?
As I mentioned, the off-site links cannot really be controlled by you but there are a few things you can do to have some good links pointing back to your blog. With the popularity of social media you can actually use these to put your blog content out there increasing the chances of your content being noticed. If this is done well and the right buzz is created about it in the social media sites, it can help your blog’s rankings. (If you want a software that can help you easily do this, then check out the Magic Submitter. It's a powerful tool for building one way links using the social media sites.)
Here are some plugins that will help you get your content out there:
BWP Google XML Sitemaps – This is a powerful plugin I discovered recently. A few weeks ago I had problems with Google XML Sitemaps. In my search for an alternative I came across this one and now nothing is going to make me go back to Google XML Sitemaps! Get the details and download here.
cbnet Ping Optimizer – This is another critical plugin you should install as it corrects another of wordpress’ default problems. . Every time you edit a post WordPress by default sends a message to your ping lists. Unfortunately this can label you as a spammer if not done well. So it’s either you take control or you run into problems. This plugin will help you out.
WP OnlyWire Auto Poster – This plugin will syndicate your blog posts to over 20 social networking sites simultaneously using the OnlyWire infrastructre when you publish a post. It is indeed an automated way of increasing your blog traffic overnight.
Read this post to discover how OnlyWire auto poster works.
Now, a Word of Warning!
Before rounding off this article it is important to sound this note of warning. As you’ve seen in this article your blog load time is very important seo-wise. Too much of plugins can cause more harm than good! Instead of using too many plugins a wiser option is to get a search engine optimized wordpress theme like the Genesis Framework. With Genesis Framework most of the functionalities of these plugins are already built in making their use unnecessary.
Conclusion: This list of wordpress SEO plugins is by no means exhaustive. You can use the 3 subheadings laid out in this article to search for more. Indeed the list may be overwhelming but once you’ve mastered how to use them you’ll be able to better present your content to the search engines. Using these plugins will truly improve your wordpress blog’s seo potentialities making your content more visible which could lead to more traffic from the search engines.
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