Search Engine Optimisation might sound very high-tech, but all it really means is that you want your website content to be as lightweight and load as quickly as possible in order to get the green light from Google.
There are a number of free plugins (think of them like apps you download onto your phone) that make your website function more efficiently. This can include plugins that reduce image size (without compromising on quality), plugins to clean up any unnecessary background text and the most useful of all- a plugin that allows you to customise the text that appears in the Google search results.
Many would agree that this is the best SEO plugin bar none- besides allowing you to customise the description that appears in Google searches, it also gives you feedback on every page on the readability, appropriate use of keywords and whether you have enough outbound links. Not only that, but Yoast SEO also has a little known feature which allows you to make sure the correct image is shown on your Facebook posts, which also helps with sharing on Pinterest.
You might ask what on earth is a cache? You’re not alone- but if you want a fast loading website it is your best friend. Caching is a web technology which helps to load your website faster. Without a caching plugin, when a visitor opens a page of your WordPress website it loads everything related to your page such as sidebar, plugins, images etc. from the WordPress database. This means lots of messages going back and forth to the server which makes it work much harder than it has to- like driving around with the handbrake on. Having this plugin installed lightens the load on your website’s server. For this reason, it has been downloaded more than 1+million times. With this plugin you don’t really need to know how it works, just that it is a must-have.
This plugin as the name suggests, offers several great features in one to improve your website- site security, performance, traffic growth, image optimisation, appearance and a lot more. It also features enhanced distribution to third party services like search engines and helps to increase your reach and traffic. This means that search engines can easily find your site. Most importantly, it monitors your site every five minutes and notifies you of any issues found.
If you have a blog where readers can comment, Akismet will check all comments and filter out any spammy comments. It’s free for personal sites and there are paid plans for commercial sites which have additional features.
The name might make you laugh but this plugin is another must have. Images really enhance the readability of your content and the look and feel of your website. Whilst they look great, images take up a lot of storage space and slow down the loading time of each page. What is so great about this plugin is that it compresses the size of the image without any noticeable effect on the image quality. You can set and forget- it will automatically ‘smush’ any image when you upload it. If you add it later you can also ‘bulk smush’ any existing images in one go.
In a nutshell
These are my suggested top 5 free WordPress SEO plugins. To really see what a difference they will make to your site I always like to suggest you do a before and after page speed test. Before you install them- visit https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ and run a test. You are aiming for 80/100 or greater. Install these plugins and re-run the test. You might be surprised with the improvements- without costing you a cent!
I’d love to hear what your before and after results are.