There are around 1,000 SEO plugins in the WordPress repository alone.
There are also hundreds of premium plugins, all of which promise better rankings….
But which of them are recommended now? Which tools do you need and which can you safely do without?
To answer these questions, I have put together my 21 favorite plugins for you.
Plugins that help you enormously with the on-page optimization of your WordPress website and that can save you a lot of work.
I’ve tried all the plugins myself and some of them have been using them for years.
There are also some real secret tips!
And no, in case you’re wondering:
Yoast SEO is not (anymore) one of them.
But more on that in a moment …
1. General SEO plugins
Before installing any special plugins for fine-tuning, you should install a general SEO plugin.
A general plugin supplements WordPress with the most important SEO functions such as:
- Set meta title and description
- Create a sitemap
- Definition of robots meta tags (noindex, nofollow, etc.) for individual posts, post types, and taxonomies in WordPress (translated: you want to be able to control which pages end up in the Google index and which do not)
1.1 Rank Math
Yoast SEO has long been the undisputed top dog among SEO plugins.
These times are slowly coming to an end.
On the one hand, Yoast SEO has shot itself out in the last few years due to several things:
- Bad performance (which is why I disable features like the text link counter and link suggestions by default)
- Oversleeping important SEO developments (e.g. Yoast SEO Premium has only been counting since version 10, introduced in March 2019, different spellings of a keyword as a keyword and until today only in English)
- Partly creepy development bugs (with the introduction of Yoast 7.0, for example, the setting for forwarding media URLs was accidentally set to No)
- Most recently, a dubious promotion on Black Friday 2019 (in which an advertising banner was displayed throughout the WordPress dashboard. Ugh!)
- A premium version that is too expensive (especially for agencies, there is a 40% discount for 100 licenses, but Yoast SEO Premium still costs 4,345 € per year)
On the other hand, a new stag has entered the area:
The Rank Math plugin from MyThemeShop.
And that’s what it takes!
Because the still relatively new plugin (only introduced in November 2018) offers all the functions that Yoast SEO Premium offers (yes, that’s right, the premium version!).
With a small but subtle difference:
It’s completely free and doesn’t cost € 79 per year!
It even offers a little more than Yoast SEO Premium, such as B. a module for local SEO, settings for rich snippets, and an interface to the Google Search Console.
Rank Math also offers more settings for advanced users:
So you can z. For E.g. the meta tags were introduced in September 2019 to control the maximum text length, preview video length, and preview image size.
Or specify whether empty categories and tags should be automatically set to noindex or not.
I also think that’s great about Rank Math:
It is possible (by adding a small filter) to include more than 5 focus keywords, which was the final reason to turn your back on Yoast:
2. Loading time optimization
The loading time of a website has been a ranking factor since 2010.
However, in recent years it has grown in importance. The proportion of users who surf on (mostly slower) mobile devices has grown steadily and has long overtaken the proportion of desktop users.
In the following I will introduce you to 6 plugins for loading time optimization that have it all:
2.1 WP Rocket
WP-Rocket is currently the best all-in-one plug-in for optimizing your loading time and your core web vitals.
I have already tested various other optimization plugins (such as NitroPack or Flying Press), but I get the best results with WP Rocket.
It not only offers an excellent page caching function (with preloading) but also many other functions to improve the performance of your WordPress website:
- Summary and minification of HTML, CSS, and JS
- Loading Critical CSS (one of my favorite features)
- Deactivating emojis and embeds
- Summarizing Google Fonts
- Controlling Heart Beart
- Lazy loading for pictures, videos, and iframes
- Database cleanup
- Remove unused CSS (since version 3.9)
It is also completely in the Native language, has an active Facebook community, and is very well documented (the documentation is also available).
I get PageSpeed scores of 95 to 100 for most of my blog articles and pages on Blogmojo with WP Rocket.
And yes, not only on the desktop but also on the move:
In addition, my pages achieve very good values for all three core web vitals (CLS, FID, and LCP):
And no, of course, WP Rocket is not a must.
You can also achieve many of the functions through a combination of your entries in .htaccess (for gzip, browser caching, etc.) and free plugins, such as B. Autoptimize and Cache Enabler.
But, if you want to save yourself fiddling and just want to install one plugin instead of three, four, or five, then WP Rocket is the right one for you.
2.2 EWWW Image Optimizer
Images that are not optimized can have a major impact on the loading time of your website.
This is neither good for visitors nor the ranking!
EWWW Image Optimizer helps by automatically compressing all PNG and JPG files that you upload to WordPress (which can reduce their size by 40 or 50 percent).
In addition, you can use the EWWW Image Optimizer to massively optimize all images that you have uploaded in the past. Even images that are not in the WordPress upload directory, such as B. images integrated into the theme or in your image directories!
Autoptimize is one of the best free plugins to reduce the size and number of your requests to your website.
Especially with overloaded themes with a large range of functions (e.g. Avada, Enfold, or other themes from ThemeForest), the loading time can be significantly reduced.
In the past, the plugin didn’t run that smoothly and it often blew my design apart. Now, however, Autoptimize is compatible with most themes and plugins!
If the use of Autoptimize does lead to display errors, you can usually fix this by experimenting with the settings.
2.4 Regenerate thumbnails
Regenerate Thumbnails is one of the standard plugins that I have installed on each of my WordPress websites.
You can use it to regenerate the images generated by WordPress in different sizes. This is extremely useful if you change the theme of your website or change the image sizes in your theme settings (e.g. your featured image).
By regenerating you ensure that your pictures are the right size:
Neither too small, which can look stupid when the images are stretched, nor too large, which can hurt the loading time.
2.5 Cache Enabler
Page caching is one of the most important measures to increase the loading time of a WordPress website.
This is because WordPress pages are loaded statically and no longer dynamically through caching.
And that brings enormous advantages, especially for large websites with many posts, menus, and plugins. This means that there are significantly fewer database queries when the website is loaded.
Download, activate, done!
2.6 Insider tip: Perfmatters
Lots of plugins and themes have a nasty problem:
A prominent example is the popular Contact Form 7 plug-in.
Usually, it was only included on the contact page. However, it is also uselessly loaded in blog articles, categories, and any other page that doesn’t include it.
The small but ingenious plugin perfmatters provides a remedy:
This is how you can set that Contact Form 7 is only loaded on the contact page:
In addition, perfmatters offers various settings to remove superfluous functions or unnecessary scripts that are loaded by WordPress itself:
And yes, in case you are wondering:
perfmatter also works very well in combination with WP Rocket, Cache Enabler, or Autoptimize!
3. Internal linking and outbound links
Good on-page optimization includes, on the one hand, checking outbound links (e.g. you shouldn’t link to pages that generate an error code) and, on the other hand, good internal linking.
The following plugins can help you and relieve you of a lot of work:
3.1 Insider tip: LinkWhisper
LinkWhisper is now part of the standard repertoire of my WordPress websites.
It is used to find broken links and posts that are not yet well linked internally.
And it does better than any other plugin.
With the clear dashboard you always have an overview of all possible link statistics and problems:
In the Internal Links Report, a sortable table is created with the number of incoming internal links, outgoing internal links, and outgoing external links for all your posts (optionally including pages or categories):
By clicking on the numbers, a list with all the links or linked articles will expand.
Simple but ingenious!
3.2 Broken Link Checker
With the Broken Link Checker, you can find out if any websites on your page are reporting an error code, e.g. B. because the linked page no longer exists.
This saves you from having to manually search the whole page for broken links, which can be a pain, especially on large pages with many posts.
The plugin also offers a great advantage over external broken link checkers and site audit tools such as B. Screaming Frog or OnPage.org:
Not only can you find broken links, but you can also fix them right away.
If you have your website on a shared hosting package or a smaller server, you shouldn’t leave the Broken Link Checker running permanently. Because a lot of database queries can slow down your website.
3.3 Contextual Related Posts
The display of related posts, i.e. thematically similar posts, ensures better internal linking and can sometimes increase the length of time visitors spend on your website.
Some themes support such a function by default.
For themes that can’t do that, there’s the Contextual Related Posts plugin, which I’ve been using for years.
It harmonizes with most themes, supports custom post types, does not let the loading time explode, and offers many setting options.
And it’s free too!
What more do you want?
3.4 Breadcrumb NavXT
As the name suggests, with Breadcrumb NavXT you can integrate breadcrumbs (also called breadcrumb navigation) into your WordPress website.
Breadcrumbs not only ensure greater user-friendliness but also ensure that your pages and posts are linked more often internally with the appropriate anchor texts.
Rank Math has already integrated a breadcrumb function as standard. Breadcrumb NavXT is only worthwhile if you want advanced setting options.
3.5 Ultimate nofollow
Ultimate nofollow is a simple plugin that adds a small but useful addition to the Classic Editor:
You can add the rel = “nofollow” attribute to a link.
Unfortunately, the plugin does not work for the Gutenberg editor. For this, however, Rank Math can be used, which adds the options rel = “nofollow” and rel = “sponsored” to links.
404 errors are (in most cases) not good. Neither for visitors nor your Google ranking.
Because if z. For example, if a backlink points to a subpage that shows a 404 error, the PageRank that flows to your page via this link is lost.
This in turn means that your page will lose authority and possible relevance for certain keywords.
Even internal links that go nowhere are not exactly user-friendly (and thus also stupid for the search engine).
And of course, with a few links that might not be a problem.
But if you z. B. Changing your entire or a larger part of your URL structure, which happens more often than you think, can have fatal consequences for your rankings.
Therefore, you should forward 404 errors with a 301 redirect, i.e. a permanent redirect (unless you want a page or blog article to be permanently unavailable, of course).
You can do this via .htaccess, but it’s easier with the WordPress Redirection plugin.
Not only does it allow you to conveniently add redirects via the WordPress admin, but it also logs all 404 errors from your website.
If you use Rank Math, you can do without the redirection plug-in (or other forwarding plug-ins), because it comes with both a 404 monitor and a redirect manager as switchable modules.
Here you can find all the plugins that help index your WordPress website.
4.1 Insider tip: Instant Indexing for Google
The Instant Indexing for Google plugin also comes from the developers of Rank Math.
It has a simple but powerful function:
It ensures that your posts land in the Google index in a flash!
To do this, the plugin uses the Google Indexing API, through which your new posts are automatically transmitted to Google.
Mass transmission of URLs to Google is also possible with the plug-in.
The Google Indexing API is only intended for job advertisements and live streaming, not for normal blog articles. Use at your own risk!
4.2 XML Sitemap & Google News
You no longer need a separate sitemap plugin, as Yoast SEO and Rank Math already have very good sitemap functions.
However, XML Sitemap & Google News offers something that Rank Math and Yoast SEO do not offer (in the case of Yoast at least not without a paid add-on):
A sitemap for Google News, which is essential for your articles to appear in the news.
If you’re using Yoast SEO, it does indicate that sharing can lead to errors (probably so that you upgrade to the paid Yoast News SEO add-on), but in my experience, the plugins don’t rub.
5. Keyword research and monitoring
The following plugins allow you to do keyword research and/or keyword monitoring in WordPress directly in the dashboard:
5.1 Banana Content
The plugin bananacontent by Jonas Breuer extends general SEO plugins such as Yoast SEO or Rank Math with useful functions, such as B .:
- Keyword research directly in the WordPress dashboard
- Internal link options
- Influencers search for the link and share requests
- An overview of linked external content
- weekly reporting of your rankings
- Keyword monitoring with ranking history
The plugin is kept very simple and is also suitable for beginners.
For example, keyword research looks like this:
With the competition analysis, you can see which backlinks the articles of your competition have.
For example, here you can see that one of my competitors forwarded a domain to their article for the keyword WordPress SEO plugins:
The data from bananacontent is provided through API interfaces to MOZ, APImetrics, or KeywordTool.io.
So it enables you to use the data and functions of professional tools that would cost more than 100 € per month together.
With bananacontent, you can get started for as little as € 29 per month.
I openly admit:
I prefer to use external tools because I don’t like my WordPress dashboard and editor to be cluttered.
If you want to save money on keyword research, monitoring, and backlink checkers, however, bananacontent could be for you.
You can test it for 30 days for free.
Read also: Top 7 Best Free Plagiarism Checker – A Good Idea
Rankie is a relatively unknown keyword monitoring plugin from ValvePress.
It allows you to track rankings for certain keywords of a domain (your own and other domains!) And to see for which keywords you have been promoted or relegated over time:
That doesn’t sound breathtaking in and of itself, as many other tools and services can do the same, such as B. Dynapso, SISTRIX, Xovi, SERPWatcher, or Linkbird.
However, it is much cheaper:
You pay $ 21 once and then you can use it indefinitely.
6. Rich snippets and structured data
Here you will find all WordPress plugins that will help you to get rich snippets in the Google search and to enrich your content with structured data:
6.1 LuckyWP Table of Contents
A table of contents plugin has become indispensable for WordPress SEO.
On the one hand, tables of contents increase the clarity of articles (especially long ones) and allow readers to jump to the content that interests them.
On the other hand, jump mark links are picked up by Google and displayed in the search results.
Either as sitelinks under the search result or as a link in the meta description as in this example:
For a long time, I recommended TOC + or its Fork Easy Table of Contents as a table of contents plugin.
That’s why I recently started recommending LuckyWP Table of Contents:
It is super lightweight, offers just as many setting options, is compatible with Gutenberg, and is updated at regular intervals.
The only negative thing I noticed about LuckyWP Table of Contents was that umlauts are incorrectly transliterated (the plugin turns ö, ü, and ä into o, u, and an instead of oe, ue, and ae).
That’s why I recommend using the following filter, which you have to insert into the function.php of your theme:
add_filter (‘lwptoc_force_wp_transliterate’, ‘__return_true’);
6.2 WP Recipe Maker
WP Recipe Maker from Bootstrapped Ventures is our recipe plugin of choice.
We have been using it for a long time in all of our recipes on Faminino.
The best thing about it is:
With WP Recipe Maker, recipes not only look nicer in the post but are also displayed more prominently in Google search results thanks to structured data.
On the one hand, the plugin enriches your snippet with star ratings, recipe data (such as the preparation time), and a recipe image:
On the other hand, thanks to the structured data, it also appears at the top of the search in the recipe carousel:
6.3 Schema Pro
Schema Pro by Brainstorm Force (the makers of the Astra Theme) is a great all-around plugin for adding structured data to your WordPress website.
It supports a total of 11 different schema types:
- Local business
- Job posting
- Software application
- Video Object
What distinguishes Schema Pro from other schema plugins is its easy setup and clarity.
The plugin comes with a setup wizard that guides you step by step through the general setup:
There is also a setup wizard for adding individual schemes:
The highlight is that with the setup wizard you can not only define schemes for a single page or a single post, but for hundreds or even thousands at the same time!
You can include or exclude individual posts, post types, or taxonomies:
It couldn’t be easier, right?
7. Other SEO plugins
Here you can find other useful SEO plugins that don’t fit into the other categories:
7.1 Hide SEO Bloat
Do you want to continue working with Yoast SEO and not switch to Rank Math?
Then use it in combination with the Hide SEO Bloat!
The plugin can hide advertisements, redundant elements, and annoying notifications from Yoast SEO in the WordPress dashboard, such as B .:
- The boxes “Problems” and “Notifications”
- The sidebar “Yoast recommendations for you”
- The box “Upgrade to Yoast SEO Premium” at the end of all Yoast settings pages
- The problem counter in the menu
- The menu item with the Yoast icon in the top menu
You can choose which elements you want to remove from Yoast and which you want to keep.
Here you will find answers to frequently asked questions about SEO plugins:
8.1 What are the best alternatives to Yoast SEO?
The Rank Math I mentioned is currently the best Yoast alternative in my opinion.
If you can do without keyword analysis, then the All in One SEO Pack is also worth a look.
I also know some who swear by SEOPress. I’ve only just started testing it, but it looks promising too.
8.2 Which plugin is best for WooCommerce?
Rank Math comes with a module for WooCommerce that you can optionally activate to optimize WooCommerce product pages.
8.3 Is WordPress SEO also possible without a plugin?
Since WordPress does not come with many important SEO functions out of the box, my clear answer is:
You need one or more plugins that supplement at least the following functions:
- Set meta title and description
- Creation of a sitemap
- Definition of robots meta tags (noindex, nofollow, etc.) for individual posts, post types, and taxonomies