If you’re a small business owner, the odds are good that you are currently using WordPress, or you have seriously considered using the platform for your website. Some of the top websites in the world rely on WordPress, such as CNN, Ebay and the New York Times. WordPress has proven itself to be a flexible and reliable content management system and has been downloaded more than 65 million times since its initial release in May of 2003.
Best of all, the platform and most of it’s themes and plugins are FREE and over the years, WordPress has been vetted and developed by some of the greatest web developers in the world! WordPress is remarkably flexible and capable of meeting just about all of your most complex demands, whether you are building a simple company blog or a complex eCommerce website. WordPress has you covered.
One of the greatest perks of the WordPress platform is its endless affinity for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). There are many useful SEO tools in the WordPress arsenal, from internal permalink settings to SEO-friendly navigation and site structure that the platform really has no equal.
One of the best ways to optimize your WordPress website is with one of the many free SEO plugins kicking around.
But there are a great many SEO plugins to choose from and it’s difficult to determine which one is the best fit for your needs. Researching SEO plugins can be even more confusing as it seems that everyone has their favorites.
Here are my top picks:
SEO Ultimate: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/seo-ultimate/
This is a very well thought out and feature rich SEO plugin. It allows for complete control of your on-page SEO with user-friendly settings and tools for optimizing your titles, meta data, robots tags, canonicalization, auto-links, post slugs, and much more. Added features such as Competitive Analysis for Keyword Research, the Deep-link Juggernaut, Link Box Insertion, Social Sharing Capabilities, Tag, Title and Description Re-Writer (Altogether Or Post-By-Post: Nice!), Post Slug Optimizer and 404 Monitoring make this a tool to be reckoned with. One of the best features of this tool is its simple insertion of schema.org rich snippets which can significantly positive effects on your search rankings. This is a great feature for review sites and other product related websites. Automatically inserts the Google+ Authorship data.
WordPress SEO by Yoast: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wordpress-seo/
WordPress SEO is one of the most complete SEO plugin that exists today for WordPress.org users. It incorporates everything from a snippet preview and page analysis functionality that helps you optimize your pages content, images titles, meta descriptions and more to XML sitemaps, and loads of optimization options in between. SEO by Yoast offers systematic control over your Post Titles and Meta Descriptions, Robots Meta Configuration, Canonical Links, Breadcrumbs, Permalink Organization, XML Sitemaps, RSS Feeds, editing of your robots.txt and .htaccess files, and header code. One of the best features of SEO by Yoast is the page analysis data which scores you on things such as keyword density and readability. This is the perfect plugin for the serious blogger, or informational type website. Automatically inserts the Google+ Authorship data.
I would highly recommend using either plugin, based on the type of website you operate. Many WordPress users gravitate to the All-In-One SEO plugin, which isn’t a terrible plugin if you’re looking for something you can set and forget. But if you are serious about your SEO, you will need a plugin that offers greater flexibility in customizing things such as meta descriptions and includes such tools as anchor text linking and authorship markup.
They’re both great and they both offer unique and compelling features. I love SEO Ultimate’s options for including schema data as well as the automatic linking of select anchor text – two very juicy features. But I will admit, in general, I am a little more partial to the Yoast plugin, as it pulls in extremely useful page analysis data from Linkdex, which for general SEO purposes makes life a heck of a lot easier!
(Note: The nitty-gritty fundamentals of SEO are beyond the scope of this article, but if you would like to learn more, a great place to start is with SEOMOZ’s Free SEO Beginner Guide which can be found here: http://www.seomoz.org/beginners-guide-to-seo. I also recommend Yoast’s WordPress SEO guide: http://yoast.com/wordpress/seo/ )