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How to choose the right SEO plugin for WordPress

It’s easy to make the blanket statement that all WordPress websites need an SEO plugin. I feel like they do, for lots of reasons. If that’s the case, hen the question becomes, which SEO plugin should you use? In this article, I’m going to share how to choose a main WordPress SEO plugin for your WordPress website, based on your needs and goals.

A WordPress SEO plugin can bring powerful functionality to your website, including the ability to:

  • Create custom keyword-rich title tags,
  • Develop awesome meta descriptions,
  • Adjust crawl settings for content types,
  • and more

Read on to understand points to consider when it comes to selecting the SEO plugin that best fits your needs.

Think about the impact on your goals

Think about the purpose of your site and your website goals when you’re considering adding an SEO plugin, or even switching from one you’re using, to a different one. Can the SEO plugin you’re considering help you reach your goals? How can it help you reach those goals? Can it help improve your workflow? Can it save you time or money? Answer these questions truthfully, especially if you’re thinking about switching SEO plugins.

Start out with research

Product research is key. You just need to know what to evaluate. I’ll share some of the things I look at to decide whether or not I’m going to use a plugin.

What do the reviews tell you?

Reviews are low hanging fruit.  You can quickly glance at the reviews and get a feel for how users feel about the plugin. All of the plugins on the WordPress plugin repository allow users to leave reviews and feedback. When you are evaluating a plugin, go to the reviews section and see what users are saying. Are there consistently bad reviews? Are there consistently good reviews? Is it a mixed bag? Is there a low volume of reviews?

One thing to keep in mind is that any plugin developer can pay individuals or companies for good reviews. Having said that, there’s a good chance you’ll find genuine consumer reviews with honest feedback in your research. Use your best judgment and take the reviews seriously.

How many installs does the plugin have?

A high number of installs could indicate that the users find the plugin valuable. Low installation numbers for a plugin could be a red flag that users didn’t have a good experience. Generally speaking, I stick to using WordPress plugins with a medium-to-high number of downloads. Those plugins tend to be well-liked, and are usually updated frequently. That point leads us to the next question to ask.

How often is the plugin updated?

Looking at the version number of a given plugin will tell you whether or not a plugin is updated often. The repository will also tell you the last time the plugin was updated. Regular updates are important for both security and functionality purposes. For example, Yoast has its own changelog which details the last update along with what was new, updated, or fixed with the latest release.

Take stock of the plugin’s features

The goal of adding one of these plugins to your WordPress site is to unlock functionality that could help you optimize your content for improved organic search performance. Having said all of that, not all SEO plugins are created equal. Although many of them have similar features, it’s good to compare the different features from a couple of different plugins to determine which one might be the best fit for you.

Let’s look at an example. At the time of writing this post, Yoast Premium SEO offers a redirect manager. Essentially, this functionality lets you manage redirects within Yoast itself. The free version of Yoast does not offer this functionality, so if you’re using the free version, you’d have to use it with a redirect plugin, like Redirection, if you needed that functionality. It’s the same story if you’re using the free version of the All in One SEO Pack. In contrast, Rank Math, a WordPress SEO plugin, offers a built-in redirection functionality for free. So as I said, different SEO plugins offer different options. Only you can determine what set up works best to help you accomplish your goals.

Take the plugin for a spin

One of the best ways to know if a plugin is for you or not is to dive right in and start using it. It takes little time and effort to create a WordPress staging site, where you could try out different SEO plugins and see which one you think will work best for your WordPress site.

Wrap up

There’s a lot that goes into choosing your main WordPress SEO plugin. The question isn’t, “what is the best SEO plugin for WordPress?”, it’s, “what’s the best SEO plugin for my WordPress site?”. Map our your goals, costs, do your research, compare options, and try things out. If you’re stuck, we’re here to help. Bring us in for an SEO consultation.

Josh Gellock

Josh is the principal SEO consultant at Expander Digital, an SEO studio he founded in 2014. He's been in the SEO space since 2011 and helps businesses manage their SEO through projects, consultations, and campaigns. When he’s not meeting with clients, you can find Josh spending time with his children or on a bike.

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