Top plugins every WordPress site needs

Search Engine Optimization

Who doesn't want their website to be search engine optimized? Nothing better than some good old organic traffic, for this reason I choose SEO plugins as our next must-have for every WordPress site.

Check out the ones I choose to evaluate:

While I was evaluating the above plug-ins, one of them really stood out to me and surprisingly it wasn't Yoast. I really felt as if I had found a hidden gem, but as the old saying goes if something is too good to be true...

Common features shared by all the above plug-ins are:

  • Customize meta data for pages, posts, titles, images and descriptions that show up in search engine results.
  • Automatic generation of Sitemap XML.
  • Front-page optimization.
  • Webmaster verification for use with Google Webmaster Tools, Bing Webmaster Tools and Pinterest site verification

SEO Ultimate

Features:

  • Logs all 404(Page not found) errors.
  • Code Inserter: Allows you to write code that will show up on every page or post, be it the header or footer.
  • Deep Link Juggernaut: Searches your site's content for anchor texts you specify and automatically links them to a destination of your choosing. Lets you easily build internal links to URLs, posts, pages, attachments, custom post type items, categories, terms, post format archives, and custom taxonomy term archives.
  • Allows you to directly edit your robots.txt file and .htaccess file but this is for advanced users only.
  • Link Mask Generator: Masks your URL's with one of your choosing, can be done for all posts or on specific posts.
  • Gives you control over what pages, posts, media get indexed by search engines.
  • Out-of-the-box functionality auto generates Open Graph data for your homepage, posts, pages, attachments, custom post type objects, and user profile pages.
  • Canonical URLs: This option will automatically generate Canonical URLs for your entire WordPress installation. This will help to prevent duplicate content penalties by Google.

Downfalls:

  • Feature rich but not very user friendly, not a plug-in you can just install and start using it to its full capabilities. It does have training videos available to help you along though. Good for advanced users who already know a bit about SEO.

All In One SEO

Features:

  • Social Meta: This feature adds Social Meta data to your site to deliver closer integration between your website/blog and Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
  • Generate and validate your robots.txt file to guide search engines through your site.
  • Edit your robots.txt file and your .htaccess file to fine-tune your site.
  • Performance Optimizer: Optimize performance related to SEO and check your system status.
  • Canonical URLs: This option will automatically generate Canonical URLs for your entire WordPress installation. This will help to prevent duplicate content penalties by Google.
  • Autogenerate Descriptions setting will autogenerate a Meta Description for any Post Type using the first 160 characters of the content.
  • Gives you control over what pages, posts, media get indexed by search engines.
  • Allows you to write code or content that will show up in the header of every page or post.

Downfalls:

  • Not super-user friendly but not bad either. Support is available in a side content bar of the plug-in in the form of documentation and video tutorials.

Squirrly

Features:

  • Intuitive and user-friendly setup wizard to get your site optimized.
  • Keyword Research Tool: Allows you to pick a keyword and generates a list of words and phrases you can use on your page and post. Also shows you the monthly search rate for that words or phrase, competition level and whether it is trending up or down.
  • Squirrly SEO Live Assistant: tells you images, blogs and news stories which are related to your keyword along with listing out all the improvements you can make to your page and post to increase its optimization to your chosen keywords.
  • Scans for SEO errors and gives you the option to have them fixed automatically.
  • Works with other SEO plugins like Yoast and ALL in ONE bringing its unique features to theirs.
  • Emails a detailed audit of your website SEO performance and how to improve it.

Downfalls:

  • I know what you were thinking, because I was thinking it too. This is awesome. Great value and easy to use! That was until a few days later when the Keyword research tool and SEO live assistant tool was taken away... so I could opt for the paid pro version. This wouldn't have been as disappointing if I was at least fully informed prior that all these goodies were temporary. If you are willing to pay the monthly fee, it's great. Otherwise it doesn't stand out from the others in terms of features.

Yoast

Features:

  • Page Analysis: gives you a rundown of what is SEO:Good about your page, SEO:OK and SEO: Bad and how to go about fixing them.
  • Gives you control over what pages, posts, media get indexed by search engines.
  • Canonical URLs: This option will automatically generate Canonical URLs for your entire WordPress installation. This will help to prevent duplicate content penalties by Google.
  • Deep social media integration with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram and – gasp – MySpace.
  • Breadcrumbs: Creates a menu link trail as you navigate your website eg: home>tutorial>html>step 1 etc.
  • Clean Permalinks: This helps you to create cleaner URLs by automatically removing the stopwords from them. On a large site can mean a huge improvement in crawl efficiency for search engines when you have a lot of comments.
  • Auto generates Open Graph data for your homepage, posts, pages, attachments, custom post type objects, and user profile pages.

Downfalls:

  • No significant downfalls I can mention here except that it is not as user-friendly as Squirrly in the beginning but still definitely holds its own. A website owner starting out will be able to plug in and play immediately and can opt for pro features if needs be.

Next page: Performance plugins