Often we’re asked about what are the best WordPress SEO plugins and tools that we recommend.
That’s because search engines are a major source of traffic for most websites on the internet. Optimizing your website for search engines can help you rank higher in search results and significantly grow your business.
In this article, we will share the best WordPress SEO plugins and tools that you should use. Some of these tools offer similar functionalities, so we will also highlight which ones are the best for specific use-cases.
Things You Must Know About WordPress SEO Plugins & Tools
When reading SEO tips or searching for “best free WordPress SEO plugins”, you will come across articles that feature several dozen tools.
This can be quite overwhelming for beginners and non-techy users.
The truth is that you don’t need dozens of top SEO tools to get higher search rankings.
While most blog posts (including ours) will share the top most popular SEO plugins, it is extremely important for you to understand the use-cases of each tool.
For example, you never want to use more than one WordPress SEO plugin on your website. We will mention Yoast, All in One SEO, Rank Math, and SEOPress. You need to pick only one to avoid plugin conflict.
We’ll mention SEMRush, Ahrefs, and few other powerful tools, but you don’t need them all when you’re first starting out since they have similar feature set. We will share what tools we use in our business, and which features are the best among each tool.
With that said, let’s take a look at our expert pick of the best WordPress SEO plugins and tools.
Yoast SEO is the best WordPress SEO plugin on the market. It offers a complete website optimization tool that helps you improve your website.
It lets you easily add SEO titles and descriptions to all posts and pages on your website. You can also use it to add Open Graph metadata and social media images to your articles.
Yoast SEO automatically generates an XML sitemap for all your website content which makes it easier for search engines to crawl your website. It also helps you easily import your SEO data if you have been using another other SEO plugin.
SEMRush is the best overall SEO tool on the market. Used by professional SEO experts, marketers, bloggers, and businesses of all sizes, it provides a comprehensive set of tools to grow your traffic.
You can use it to find organic keywords and search terms that you can easily rank for. It also allows you to do competitive research and see which keywords your competitors rank for, and how you can beat them.
SEMRush SEO Writing Assistant tool helps you improve your website content to beat the top 10 results for your focus keyword. It integrates with WordPress, and this will help you write more SEO friendly content.
Google Search Console is a free tool offered by Google to help website owners monitor and maintain their site’s presence in Google search results.
It alerts you when Google is unable to crawl and index pages on your website. You also get helpful tips on how to fix those crawl errors.
Most importantly, it shows which keywords your website is ranking for, anchor texts, average position, impressions, and more. You can use this data to find keywords where you can easily rank higher by simply optimizing your content. You can also use this keyword data to come up with new blog post ideas.
Ahrefs is an all-in-one SEO tool for marketers, bloggers, and businesses. It is a popular alternative to SEMRush and offers a lot of similar tools and features.
It allows you to do keyword research, competition analysis, backlink research, monitor keyword rankings, and more.
It also offers a detailed content analysis tool that helps you improve content while targeting specific keywords.
While there’s a huge feature overlap, what Ahrefs does really well is backlink analysis. We can use it to see which sites are linking to multiple competitors, but not us. This helps us get more backlinks and build more partnerships.
They also help us identify which content multiple of our competitors are ranking for that we aren’t, so we can create content on those subjects to get more exposure.
Last but not least, Ahrefs helps us better identify duplicate content and keyword cannibalization which helps us merge and upgrade the right content to boost our rankings.
For the reasons above, we pay for both SEMRush and Ahrefs because they’re both good for specific use-cases.
All in One SEO Pack is a popular WordPress SEO plugin offering a comprehensive set of tools to improve your website. It allows you to easily add SEO title and meta tags, open graph meta tags, XML sitemaps, image sitemaps, and more.
It works out of box with WooCommerce to optimize your online store for SEO. It comes with easy setup and allows you to control access to different settings using a feature manager.
SEOPress is another simple yet powerful WordPress SEO plugin. It includes all the features you would expect from a SEO plugin like meta title, description, open graph support, image and content XML sitemaps, redirects, and more.
It comes with easier setup for beginners and advanced controls for more experienced users. It is comparable to all top WordPress SEO plugins on the market in terms of features and ease of use.
A big reason some users choose SEOPress over Yoast SEO is because the premium version is significantly cheaper and comes with a lot of the similar features.
Note: SEOPress is a Yoast SEO alternative. Remember, you only need one WordPress SEO plugin on your site.
Rank Math is a fast growing user-friendly WordPress SEO plugin that allows you to optimize your website for search engines and social media. It comes with a setup wizard and allows you to import data from other SEO plugins during the setup.
It allows you to easily add meta title, description, and Open Graph metadata to your blog posts. The plugin also allows you to generate an XML sitemap, connect Google Search Console, and control access to plugin features based on user roles.
Note: Rank Math is a Yoast SEO alternative. Remember, you only need one WordPress SEO plugin on your site.
Keyword Tool is one of the best free keyword research tools available right now. It allows you to simply generate keyword ideas by typing in a keyword. These keyword suggestions are gathered from Google’s autosuggest feature. It also shows you keyword suggestions from Bing, YouTube, Amazon, and more.
These keyword suggestions are a treasure of information. You can also get search volume, cost per click, and other data for each keyword by upgrading to their paid plan.
Broken links can affect your site’s SEO and create a bad experience for your users. If you have been running a blog for some time, then you should check your site from time to time for broken links and fix them.
Broken Link Checker is a free WordPress plugin that allows you to find broken links on your WordPress site. You can then fix those links without even editing your posts. See our tutorial on how to fix broken links in WordPress with Broken Link Checker.
It is a highly useful plugin, and it’s totally free. The only downside is that it can become resource-intensive and may slow down your WordPress hosting server. Some hosting providers like WP Engine already block this plugin.
Because this plugin can slow down your site if you have a lot of content, we use Ahrefs tool for broken link detection because it helps us make sure our website is always fast.
Bonus:Redirection is a free plugin that helps you redirect broken links to an appropriate page on your website.
SEOquake is a useful SEO tool for website owners. It is available as a browser addon for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and Safari web browsers.
It provides SEO related information for any website. This data includes page health, age, last updated, Alexa rank, and many other parameters. It is one of the most downloaded browser addons by SEO professionals.
Apart from that, the SEOquake toolbar can show you all the same data search results when you type in a keyword. This information can be extremely useful if you are gauging competition for different keywords. You can even download search results in CSV format and prepare your own excel sheets of search data.
Bonus Plugins for WordPress Website Owners
These tools give you additional advantage when optimizing your website for SEO. They do not advertise themselves as SEO tools but they are essential for every website and play a significant role in your website’s search performance.
Site speed is a major factor in search rankings. That’s why you need to monitor your website speed & performance to make sure it’s not affecting your SEO.
The easiest way to boost your website speed is by enabling caching. WP Rocket is the best WordPress caching plugin on the market, which allows you to set up caching without diving into any technical stuff.
It tells you where your users are coming from, your top content, what users do on your website, and more. It also allows you to track your WooCommerce SEO by seeing which products are popular and where you are losing customers.
Newspack is a project of Automattic, the parent company of WordPress.com. Its goal is to work with leaders in the news industry to create a platform that brings WordPress to more newsrooms. This year, the team behind Newspack has worked with several publications to address obstacles in journalism on the web.
The Newspack team was primarily advised by 12 publications during their first phase. Most of those publications are based in the U.S., but a few, such as El Soberano, are from other countries. The Daily Maverick from Johannesburg, South Africa, and Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting from California came on as advisers from the outset. However, they may also launch on Newspack sometime in the coming months.
“We had 10 sites that we’re going to launch as soon as possible,” said Steve Beatty, head of Newspack Communications. “Of the 10, one dropped out as they changed publishers. So that leaves El Soberano and eight others, and those eight should launch in the coming weeks — certainly by year’s end. We’ve got the next few queued up.”
During the initial phase, Beatty said the team was looking for small to medium-sized newsrooms that were covering local news or niche publications. The development hurdles would likely have been much higher starting with large organizations.
“We wanted newsroom leaders who were willing to experiment and try something bold and different, knowing that there was a very real chance of growing pains,” said Beatty. “The partners in our pilot newsrooms have been incredibly helpful, patient, understanding and cheerful. I’m not sure we screened for all that in the application process, but it’s worked out quite well.”
El Soberano is a Fitting Launch Partner
WordPress.com claims its “mission is to democratize publishing one website at a time.” El Soberano, based in Santiago, is a smaller news publication with three people on the current full-time staff. Their goal is to connect citizens with organizations that will help defend their rights. The publication covers social movements within the country and to be an outlet for independent journalism.
“In our news outlet we believe that only the organized people are sovereign of their destiny,” said Roberto Bruna, Content Director at El Soberano. “Our name ‘El Soberano’ is all about el pueblo soberano, the ‘sovereign people’ in English. For us, individual rights and freedoms are crucial. Then, things like a secular state and civil rights, such as the legalization of cannabis, homoparental adoption or the right to a safe abortion, are things we report about.”
Bruna further defined the publication’s goals.
In El Soberano we defend an environment free of contamination; equal opportunities for women, ending the precariousness of their lives; a real pension system for citizens; sexual dissidence, to guarantee their equal rights and inclusion; a new development model based on innovation and knowledge; a secular state and freedom with critical thinking; urban planning and good housing solutions; consumers and a healthy and sustainable market and, finally, mechanisms that aim to create truly democratic constitutions for our countries.
El Soberano does not give space for other interest groups because such groups have the means to make their opinions publicly available. Instead, its mission is to report on social issues directly from citizens. “In them lies the power of decision regarding the direction that our democracies must take,” said Bruna.
Launching El Soberano with Newspack
As one of the first publications to launch with a new system, it’s tough to be a pioneer when a lot is riding on success. Ana Arriagada, Executive Director of El Soberano, was ready to take the news website to the next level after three years.
“When we decided to take the next step and transform El Soberano into a sustainable environment, it was a great achievement for us to be chosen for the Newspack pilot with other eleven news outlets,” said Arriagada. “We were the only news site in Spanish and from Latin America, so we felt very proud.”
Arriagada has worked with the Newspack development team over the past six months to help guide them on what tools are needed to run a newsroom.
The decision to apply for the Newspack pilot program was in part due to avoiding pitfalls they had seen with other digital media websites. “Friends with their websites hijacked by a former ‘friend’ developer when they try to move to a new platform, custom developments that only the author understood, huge invoices for maintenance hours, or even spending months working on a design that was not possible at the end,” said Arriagada. They wanted to avoid other problems such as taking too long to apply changes to the homepage in the fast-paced world of journalism where new stories should be front and center.
Arriagada said such problems were resolved with Newspack and their team can concentrate on editorial and revenue generation.
El Soberano originally launched on WordPress.com in January 2016. Arriagada said it was nearly impossible to find a good selection of templates that were built specifically to solve the problems of the news industry. “In Newspack we have the chance to combine different content blocks adapted to our needs, showing content in flexible ways,” said Arriagada. “Now we have tools designed to generate revenue with the experience and best practices from world-class digital media.”
Arriagada called working with the Newspack team a “journey of discovery.” In the beginning, it wasn’t clear how the team would use the information they were collecting from El Soberano and other publications or how the team would resolve issues based on the information provided. Eventually, they received design proposals, which allowed them to get a feel for what they wanted and to further provide feedback to the Newspack team.
“Later, we received the access to the platform where we were able to play around, putting things in order, creating and implementing what we were looking for,” said Arriagada. “More feedback, corrections, hopes, and dreams.”
She said that working with the Content Blocks system allowed her team to better create and assemble their homepage and articles. “But maybe the most interesting thing for us,” said Arriagada, “was that Newspack team and other news sites from the pilot program proposed things that we don’t consider for our site, such as an ultra-flexible donation system or workflow systems. We see a lot of power in that collaborative way to develop a product.”
The Future of Newspack
Newspack launched phase two of its program in July, which sought to bring 50 more newsrooms to the platform. The new publications should be announced shortly.
“Both the initial pilot group and this group of 50 (or so) are part of the one-year development period, which ends on February 29,” said Beatty. “We’re still determining what will happen on March 1. We’ll have a better sense of that when we start working with the 50 and see how quickly we can turn them around.”
Like much of Automattic’s work, it is open source and freely available to the public. Newspack is a collection of packages to create a platform for newsrooms. Of note are the following repositories.
Do you need to change your WordPress URL? Whether you’re moving from HTTP to HTTPs, changing your domain name, migrating from local server to live site, or transferring to a subdomain, you will need to know how to change your WordPress site URL.
The WordPress address and site address are extremely important fields because they reference the address of your website on the internet and the location of your website files.
When changing WordPress site URL, you will need to update two separate settings: WordPress Address and Site Address.
This can be confusing for many beginners because they don’t know what’s the difference between the two settings.
Your WordPress Address (URL) is the address where WordPress files and folders are stored including your admin pages, media files, plugins, themes, etc.
Your Site Address (URL) in WordPress is the public facing part of your website. This is what your visitors will type in to reach your website. This is also the link that you put on your business cards.
For majority of users, the WordPress Address and Site Address URL will be the exact same link.
However in some cases, large companies may host their WordPress site on a different server because their corporate website has many other applications, and they want to isolate where each app is hosted.
But for majority of users, these two WordPress URLs need to stay the same.
That being said, let’s take a look at how to easily change WordPress site URLs. We will show you the following methods, and you can choose the one that works best for you.
Ready? let’s get started.
Method 1. Change WordPress Site URLs from Admin Area
This method is the easiest. If you can already access the WordPress admin area, then we recommend using this method.
Simply login to your WordPress website and go to Settings » General page. From here you can change WordPress site URLs under the ‘WordPress Address’ and ‘Site Address’ options.
WordPress Address and Site Address are usually the same address.
Don’t forget to click on the ‘Save Changes’ button to store your settings. You can now visit your website to make sure that everything is working OK.
Method 2. Change WordPress Site URLs Using functions.php File
This method is recommended for users who cannot access the admin area of their WordPress website.
Simply connect to your WordPress site using an FTP client and go to /wp-content/themes/your-theme-folder/.
From here you need to locate the functions.php file and edit it using a plain text editor like Notepad or TextEdit.
Next, you need to add the following code at the bottom:
Don’t forget to replace https://example.com with your own site URLs. You can now save your changes and upload the file back to your website hosting using FTP.
You can now visit your website to see if everything is back to normal.
The advantage of this method is that it updates the site URLs in the database. WordPress updates the database option for site URLs every time your functions file is loaded.
Once everything gets back to normal, don’t forget to remove the two lines of code from your WordPress functions file.
Method 3. Change WordPress Site URLs Using wp-config.php File
This method is only recommended if you are unsure which WordPress theme you need to edit or cannot find the functions.php file.
For this method, you will be adding the site URLs to your WordPress configuration file called wp-config.php. This file is located in the root folder of your website and contains important WordPress settings.
Simply connect to your website using an FTP client and edit the wp-config file. You need to add the following code just above the line that says ‘That’s all, stop editing! Happy publishing’.
Inside phpMyAdmin interface, you need to click on your WordPress database from the left column. The app will now display tables inside your WordPress database.
Next, you need to scroll down to the options table. By default the database prefix is wp_ but since you can change WordPress database prefix, your screenshot may have a different prefix.
PhpMyAdmin will now display the rows inside the options table. You need to locate the rows where option_name is siteurl and home.
Next, click on the pencil icon on the left to edit each row and change the option_value field to the new site URL. After that, click on the tiny Go button at the bottom right corner to save your database changes.
You can now visit your website to see if everything is working fine.
Why are my WordPress Address and Site Address fields greyed out?
If the WordPress address (URL) is greyed out on the settings page of your admin area, then it means that the URLs are hard coded in the wp-config.php file.
To change your WordPress URL, you will need to follow method 3 in our article to edit the wp-config.php file and change the URL accordingly.
How to recover WordPress after url address change in settings?
Sometimes non-techy users can accidentally change WordPress URL and Site Address settings from the WordPress admin area. To recover from that, you will have to follow our guide above to change the WordPress URLs back using functions.php, wp-config, or the database method.
Is there a WordPress change URL plugin that can bulk update URLs in all blog posts, pages, and other content areas?
Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, WooCommerce, and various other products, announced earlier today that Mark Davies has joined the team as its Chief Financial Officer (CFO). This news comes fresh off the heels of Automattic’s acquisition of Tumblr in August and a $300 million Series D investment from Salesforce Ventures in September. The investment round gave the company a $3 billion valuation after the funding.
Davies graduated from Western Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and earned his MBA in finance at Arizona State University. He has since worked for large companies in key roles. Prior to taking the position with Automattic, Davies served as the CFO at Vivint, a North American smart home technology company.
Vivint was founded in 1999 and claims over $1 billion in annual revenue. In 2012, The Blackstone Group purchased the company for over $2 billion. Davies came on board in 2013 and would have played a large role in growing the company’s annual revenue.
Vivint announced on October 15 that Davies was leaving the company. “Mark has created a talented and experienced finance team with a solid track record of growth and financial discipline,” said Todd Pedersen, co-founder and CEO of Vivint Smart Home. “We thank him for his six years with the company and wish him the best in his next role.”
Before joining Vivint, Davies served as president of global business services with Alcoa. He was also a member of the Alcoa Executive Council. Prior to that position, he spent 12 years at Dell Inc. in various roles. His most recent position was as the managing vice president of strategic programs. He earlier served as the CFO of Dell’s Global Consumer Group, which is a $14 billion enterprise with operations across the world. He held positions with Applied Materials and HP earlier in his career.
Davies should play a key role in helping Automattic grow beyond its current levels of revenue. He has the credentials and experience to do so.
“Automattic is creating the operating system for the web, from websites to ecommerce to social networks,” said Matt Mullenweg, founder and CEO of Automattic and co-founder of WordPress. “As we zoom past 1,100 employees in over 70 countries, we wanted a financial leader with experience taking businesses from hundreds of millions in revenue to billions and even tens of billions, as Mark has. I’m excited about working alongside such an experienced leader day-to-day to build one of the defining technology companies of this era.”
Mullenweg if often cited saying that he would like to see WordPress have an 85% share of the web. Currently, WordPress runs over 34% of the top 10 million websites. Automattic would certainly play a role in pushing the platform toward that lofty goal. He and David Heinemeier Hansson discussed the dynamics of power in open source communities and whether such a goal was healthy for the web earlier this month. In the discussion, Mullenweg clarified that 85% was a “trailing indicator” rather than a goal.
Stuart West served as Automattic’s CFO for the last seven years. He will continue working within the company, but there is no word on what that new role is. “I want to thank Stu for his significant contributions to Automattic during his seven and a half years as CFO,” said Mullenweg. “He built a talented finance team during a period of 10x growth in staff and revenue and played an essential role in the success of our company.”
Would you like to write for WP Tavern? We are always accepting guest posts from the community and are looking for new contributors. Get in touch with us and let’s discuss your ideas.
One of the best things about WordPress is the easy customization options that you get with WordPress themes and plugins.
You can also take these customizations to the next level by adding your own code snippets and CSS styles to your WordPress theme.
The problem arises when an update becomes available for your theme. If you are not careful, then there is a high chance that you’ll lose some of those changes you made to your theme.
In this article, we will show you how to easily update a WordPress theme without losing customization. We will also cover how to properly customize your themes, so you are not affected when a new theme update is released.
How Theme Updates Work in WordPress?
WordPress comes with a powerful system to install updates for not just WordPress itself but for plugins and themes as well.
Your WordPress website regularly checks for updates and display them under Dashboard » Updates page.
When a theme update becomes available, you’ll also see a notification on the Appearance » Themes page.
Updates are really important for the security and performance of your WordPress website. Aside from security and bug fixes, theme developers can also introduce new features with these updates.
You can simply click on the update button to install the new version.
WordPress will then download the theme package, unzip it, and replace the old files with the newer version.
This will overwrite all old theme files installed on your website. If you manually added custom code to your WordPress theme files, then you’ll lose those changes.
That being said, let’s take a look at which theme changes are safe and which customizations will be erased.
What Type of Theme Customizations Can You Lose During an Update?
There are multiple ways you can customize a WordPress theme. Some of these theme customizations are safe because your changes are stored in the WordPress database itself.
This includes all changes made through the built-in WordPress theme customizer which you can access by visiting Appearance » Customize page.
The theme customizer allows you to modify your WordPress theme and store all changes in the WordPress database. You can change the header image, colors, layout, custom CSS, and more.
Your WordPress widgets and navigation menus are also not affected by the theme updates.
Popular WordPress themes like Astra and Ocean WP now come with companion plugins. These plugins are used to add extra features to your theme. Any theme changes made using these companion plugins are also not affected by the theme update.
It allows you to safely add custom code snippets without breaking your website, and your changes will not be affected by theme updates. You can even change your WordPress theme without losing those changes.
For CSS code, you can save it all under the theme customizer’s ‘Additional CSS’ tab.