Whatever niche you choose, there are at least thousand blogs on the same category and whatever topic you choose to write your article on, there will be at least hundred blogs covering the same topic. So, to rank high from all other blogs in search engines who are covering same topic, SEO is necessary.
With other blogging platform like Joomla, Magento, Drupal, etc. managing SEO factors of a website can be tough but if you have created your site using WordPress CMS, you are lucky because it has many free SEO plugins available in its repository which WordPress users can install in their website to boost SEO of their website or blog.
However, choosing best and only necessary WordPress SEO plugins can be tricky because not every SEO plugin will work great with your website. Some are good for content-rich blogs, some work better with static content sites. Some are meant to use only for news websites and some with work great only with photo galleries.
And, the latest Google SEO Trends also changed priorities of SEO plugins. Some plugins which worked great in past years are obsolete now and some new plugins have become essential. All because of the change in SEO strategies.
So, considering the changes and modifications (both in Google and other search engines) here I am telling you the latest top 15 free WordPress SEO plugins keep up with latest SEO factors which you MUST install in your WordPress blog to and boost your website’s search engine ranking in 2017.
WordPress SEO by Yoast
WordPress SEO by Yoast is all in one SEO plugin which has every SEO feature you require for your website. It can rewrite your homepage, archives, post and pages title to add SEO to them. Using this plugin you can add custom SEO Title, META description to your posts and pages, add custom social messages for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc., optimize your post against a focus keyword to make sure that the article will rank for that specific keyword.
Yoast SEO provides all necessary SEO Tools, powerful sitemap, advance linking structure, breadcrumbs, RSS Feed modification, canonical URL, open graph tags, etc. Every feature is available in its very simple interface and Yoast SEO WordPress plugin already comes with all recommended settings which are necessary for almost every website. So, install and activate WordPress SEO by Yoast and it will supercharge your website’s SEO.
All in One SEO Pack
All in One SEO Pack is another powerful WordPress SEO plugin to add all necessary SEO elements, META tags, URL SEO modification tools, XML sitemap support, etc. It has built-in Google Analytics, Google AMP support and if you install the plugin, Nonce security support comes along. AIOSEO notifies Google and Bing search engines about new posts or changes on your website to invite their crawlers to index those pages quickly.
It has very simple interface that a beginner can easily use but if you want more advance SEO control, you can enable to All in One SEO Pack advance settings to fine tune everything.
SEO Friendly Images
SEO Friendly Images is the free WordPress SEO plugin to add SEO support to your website images. It is the WordPress SEO plugin which automatically updates all images with proper ALT and TITLE attributes for SEO purposes. If your images do not have ALT and TITLE already set, SEO Friendly Images will add them according the options you set. Additionally this makes the post W3C/xHTML valid as well.
As ALT Tags are important for images to rank in search engines (Google Images, etc.), adding this SEO plugin will enhance Images’ SEO of your wordpress website and help you drive more traffic from Google Images too.
Google XML Sitemaps
If you are using plugins like Yoast SEO which has built-in sitemap functionality, you might not need this but if you don’t have any plugin to create sitemap of your website, you must need a plugin which will generate search-engine friendly sitemap of your website. Among such plugins, Google XML Sitemaps is the best.
This plugin automatically generates and updates sitemap of your website whenever you publish new article and add important details like URL, timestamp, type of URL, etc. to make web crawlers understand which type of link you are submitting to them. Hence, it ensures fast crawling of website’s URLs.
SEO by Squirrly
SEO Plugin By Squirrly is for the NON-SEO experts. Get Excellent SEO with Better Content, Ranking and Analytics. For Both Humans and Search Bots. You’ll get to improve your rankings, while providing your readers with great content. SEO by Squirrly is a freemium WordPress SEO plugin which even with its free version comes with powerful tools like runtime SEO checker for your post when you are writing it. It highlights all those SEO factors which you have in your article and tells the ones you need to add.
See Your SEO Stats, get a weekly SEO Audit and find the best keywords, tracks all the aspects of your Content Marketing Strategy, get copyright-free images to use in your article and a lot more, ALL FREE.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
AMP is the new SEO factor which Google has started to consider to rank webpages on Mobile Web. AMP pages loads instantly fast even in slow mobile network connection. So, to rank high in mobile search, you need to make your website pages AMP-compatible. To do this, just add this free WordPress plugin which is developed by creators of WordPress.
AMP WordPress Plugin will add the basic AMP feature to your website but if you want more like customizing AMP webpage design, insert advertisements, etc. you might need to consider other advanced AMP plugins like AMP for WP – Accelerated Mobile Pages which comes with 2 design layouts, related posts, unlimited color schemes, ad spaces, custom design etc.
W3 Total Cache
Google and users love those webpages which loads fast. If your website takes too much time to load then the user who came to your website might go back and choose to browse different website. So, to stop this from happening, install W3 Total Cache which have very powerful settings to boost speed of your website. It is the most advanced webpage optimization plugin too decrease loading time of your website.
So, install the plugin and implement recommended settings as told in the plugin’s documentation and you will be able to make your website extremely fast without compromising against its looks.
Broken Link Checker
Whether internal of external, if your website has broken links, they are not good. Users never like getting redirected to 404 error pages and so Google. But you can’t manage them easily, if you want to do this manually because even you might not remember the recent image, post, tag, you’ve deleted from your website is inter-connected to which posts. Also, you don’t have control over 404 coming from external links.
So, to make the task of finding and replacing broken links easier, install Broken Link checker which will check your posts, comments and other content for broken links and missing images, and notify you if any are found. Then you can track them, remove or replace them easily.
NoFollow External Links
Whenever you provide link to some external website, you’re giving some of your authority to that linked URL. To stop giving authority, you need to add rel=”nofollow” attribute to the external link. If you don’t want to do this manually, install NoFollow External Links plugin which will add the check boxes which you can quickly select to add rel=”nofollow” and target=”_blank” to the an external link without manually typing these attributes.
By doing this, you can stop giving authority to every external link you are putting on your website and give it selectively to only those links which you really want.
SEO Ultimate is another cool all-in-one SEO plugin for WordPress. Available for free to use, this plugin not only adds basic SEO features and functionalities which I discussed above with other such plugins but it goes one step further to provide premium SEO analysis and management features like auto-linking, link masking, 404 monitor and many other useful tools like Code inserter, Author Highlighter, Rich Snippets adder, social sharing buttons and much more.
Scribe – SEO Made Simple
Scribe is very simple SEO plugin which was developed to help content writers manage SEO of their article while writing content. It provides readability score, allows you to set main focus keyword of your article and optimize your article against it. Not much to do but if you are concern about readability and SEO coordination in your article, have this plugin installed right now.
All in One Schema.org Rich Snippets
Rich Snippets are important as they add special tags in your content to tell Google what type of content is it. Is it Review, Event, People, Product, ?Recipe, Software Application, Video or Article. You can select what type of content you are writing, enter its required richsnippets details. Google can then understand your content in much better way and show your website’s content in special syntax to attract more visitors towards your website.
Remove Query Strings
Query Strings are strings with ? or & in URL. There can be plugins, theme files, custom scripts etc which are adding such strings in static content like JS code, CSS, etc in your website and making it load slow. Install this plugin and it will remove such unnecessary query strings from your website’s source code which will result in fast page loading and high page speed score.
SEO Smart Links
Having relevant and high number of internal links in an article is good it increases SEO of a webpage and also encourage visitors to read other related articles in your website. But, doing this manually is tough and we can’t do much. Installing SEO Smart Links can ease our this task very much. Just install and activate this WordPress SEO plugin, define maximum number of internal links to add using SEO Smart Links and this plugin will then automatically link keywords in your articles with relevant post you have published earlier in your website. Cute, isn’t it?
XML Sitemap & Google News Feed
I already told you the necessity of having XML Sitemap in your website. While the above plugin is good for normal website or blog, it can’t do much if you want your website to appear in Google News because it require different syntax of sitemap. The XML Sitemap & Google News Feed WordPress plugin complies with Google News and provide Google News compatible sitemap which is SEO Friendly both for Google News and normal Google search. Install the plugin if your site needs it.
With all these free WordPress SEO plugins, I have told you all the plugins which can add necessary SEO factors in your website whether it is related to content, syntax, meta tags, speed or website design. Choose only those SEO plugins which your site requires right now and do not use two similar SEO plugins simultaneously because instead giving boost to your website’s seo, they will hinder it.
If you know any other free SEO plugin which I might have not included in this list of 15 essential free WordPress SEO plugins, feel free to tell it in comments section below.