3 Free WordPress Plugins to Improve Your SEO

Even today, search engines — like Google — are a major source of traffic for most websites. That’s why it’s incredibly important that you maintain proper search engine optimization, or SEO, standards across your site. Even slacking off just a little can have a serious impact on your traffic — which more than likely relates to your earnings, too.

Since WordPress actually powers a significant number of websites on the Internet — more than 23% to be precise! — it makes sense to go over some plugins that will help you keep your search engine optimization in tip-top shape.

Keep in mind, these are not listed in any particular order. That said, the first one on the list — by Yoast — is my absolute must-have!

Yoast SEO

The WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast is self-explanatory if you already know the basics of SEO and have been working with WordPress for a while. It is one of the most — if not the single most — widely-used SEO plugins out there.

It augments the WordPress platform by adding a whole slew of essential SEO elements to both your website and regular content. For example, once Yoast is installed, fields to customize your focus keyword, SEO title and meta description appear on every post or page. In addition, the plugin ranks every single one of your pages with a corresponding light blip — green for good or red for bad — depending on how well they are optimized. It is a bit addicting getting them all to green!

Additional elements you can optimize include a custom title for your website, custom descriptions for your category and tag pages, archive info, Twitter cards, Open Graph data and more.

Perhaps the most important addition is the option to enable XML sitemaps. If you don’t already know, sitemaps are an important way for search engines to navigate your website. They arrange the pages of your website in a hierarchy and list them all out so crawlers can access every page. It’s basically like looking at a map or directory for a large shopping center. The search engines — or shoppers — can see every store that’s open for business.

To turn on sitemaps, simply navigate to “SEO > XML Sitemaps” in the WordPress dashboard and enable the appropriate functionality, as it’s not activated by default. For more detailed instructions see the XML sitemap guide on WP Beginner.

SEO Friendly Images

Many bloggers have been adding content to their blogs for a long time. Sometimes, we get lazy – who has the time to fill out an alt tag and description for every image they upload?

But these fields are very important to fill out for your SEO. Not only that, but Pinterest pulls the default image description from your alt tag!

Instead of sorting back through hundreds — sometimes even thousands — of archived images, you can install the SEO Friendly Images plugin by Vladimir Prelovac.

It will automatically set the alt and title attributes — which are the most important when it comes to SEO — for every image in your media library, according to the options you set.

Schema Creator

The Schema Creator plugin by Raven integrates Schema.org markup throughout your website. Ultimately, this allows crawlers — or search engine bots — to more accurately identify and categorize the information on each page of your site. There are many reasons you might want this functionality, but the most obvious is that it will help improve your SEO rankings.

If you run a review site, this plugin is especially helpful because Google crawlers can read the schema markup that’s provided — such as a star rating — to change the rich snippets potential visitors see in the search results. Long story short, it can take those star ratings and include them right in the Google search listings:

If you’d like to read more about schemas, you can head on over to the official website.

Of course, these aren’t the only SEO plugins available for WordPress. There are so many others you can download and install. I believe you’ll find the three above are among some of the most useful plugins, however!

Adrienne Erin is a freelance writer and designer who blogs at Design Roast. She has been blogging for the past 3 years and loves picking apart online campaigns to see what makes them tick. You can follow her on Twitter as @adrienneerin.