Search engine optimization (SEO) is incredibly valuable, whether you run an online store, service-based business, or blog. Why? Because it helps you get in front of people who are actively looking for what you have to offer. And, long-term, it’s much more affordable than many other marketing strategies, like paid search ads.
But, in many cases, you’ll want a tool to help you optimize your site and gain valuable information about keywords and rankings. So let’s look at some of the best SEO tools and plugins for WordPress and compare them based on factors like features, ease of use, and pricing.
Important features of a WordPress SEO tool
When choosing a WordPress SEO tool and plugin, there are a few critical things you want to look for:
1. It meets your needs
This one seems pretty obvious, but it’s really important. There are so many aspects of search engine optimization, and tools and plugins cover different ones. Some integrate directly with your WordPress site and make on-page optimization easy. Others are more focused on researching and auditing. Still others provide niche functionality, like setting up redirects or building links.
So take the time to understand what you’re looking for and find the tool that meets your needs. And, of course, that may mean choosing more than one.
2. It’s regularly updated
The tool that you choose should be regularly updated to match Google’s algorithm, which changes somewhat frequently. And, if it’s a WordPress plugin, the developers should always ensure that it works seamlessly with the latest version of WordPress.
3. It provides specific suggestions for improvement
Whether the tool you choose works directly in the WordPress dashboard or is accessed externally, it should provide real tips that help you optimize your site. Those tips should be based on an analysis of your content, keywords, and search engine rankings whenever possible.
Of course, there are exceptions. For example, a tool that provides a niche piece of functionality, like creating redirects, won’t need to do this.
4. It utilizes white hat techniques
You want to avoid any tools or plugins that utilize or recommend unsavory search engine optimization practices — called “black hat” SEO techniques. Make sure that everything you do is above board, and avoid spammy SEO like hidden links and keyword stuffing.
5. It provides relevant data
If you’re looking for a tool specifically for researching keywords and monitoring search engine rankings, the more data it provides, the better. To determine effective keywords, look for information like search volume, level of competition, and user intent. And the ability to get regular updates that let you know where your website stands in the rankings is invaluable.
6. It meets your skill level
If you’re a beginner, look for a tool that explains things thoroughly and doesn’t require you to edit any code. And the more that’s automated, the better! But if you’re an SEO expert, you may want one that lets you take over some of the more intricate optimization strategies.
The best WordPress SEO plugins and tools
Now that we know what to look for in an SEO tool, let’s review some of the best options for all-around SEO research and optimization.
1. Yoast SEO
Yoast is a freemium SEO plugin built specifically for WordPress and boasts more than five million installations. The free version features everything that most sites will need, but there are premium add-ons and upgrades to provide more niche functionality.
This plugin goes behind the scenes to automatically provide technical SEO improvements (like structured data management and XML sitemap creation) so beginners and experts alike don’t have to deal with complicated code. It allows you to handle settings for things like search appearance, social media displays, breadcrumbs, and media URLs for your site as a whole.
For individual pages, posts, categories, and custom post types, the SEO analysis tool is invaluable. Yoast will analyze the page based on the keyword you choose and other ranking factors, then provide actionable recommendations for improvement. It also enables you to edit the page’s meta description, title, and URL for both search engines and social media platforms.
Want even more? Upgrade to the premium version for features like automatic redirects after updating a URL and internal link suggestions. Or take advantage of add-ons specifically for video, local, and WooCommerce SEO optimization.
Features of Yoast SEO:
- Automated SEO improvements (canonical URLs, meta tags, structured data management, etc.)
- An SEO analysis tool that provides suggestions for optimizing pages, posts, and more
- Advanced XML sitemaps that are created automatically
- A module that allows you to easily edit meta descriptions, page titles, etc.
- Simple breadcrumb creation and control
- Readability analysis to ensure your content is consumable by both humans and search engines
- A redirect manager that automatically creates SEO-optimized redirects when you update a page’s URL
- Internal link suggestions for pages and posts
- An orphaned content detector so you can identify pages without links pointed to them
- Support for keyword synonyms and plurals
- Structured data blocks for tables of contents, related links, subpages, and more
Pros of Yoast SEO:
- It’s a robust SEO optimization and management tool for WordPress sites of all kinds.
- It integrates seamlessly with WordPress and popular plugins like Advanced Custom Fields and Elementor.
- It can be used by beginners and experts alike.
- It provides both site optimization and analysis features.
- It offers the majority of functionality at no cost.
- It integrates with SEMRush so you can identify keywords directly from the WordPress dashboard.
Cons of Yoast SEO:
- It’s easy to get caught up in getting “green lights” on all of Yoast’s recommendations for a post or page you’re creating. Instead, it may be best to focus on better optimizing for real readers rather than bots.
- Yoast SEO doesn’t necessarily understand intent. “Intent” is the purpose that someone has when searching online (e.g. to make a purchase or to get information right now.) Search engines adjust results based on user intent, but Yoast currently doesn’t consider that when making recommendations.
Ease of use of Yoast SEO:
Yoast SEO is simple for both beginners and SEO experts. Features can be toggled on and off with the click of a button. Optimization recommendations are clear and come with explanations that help novices understand the changes they should make.
Pricing of Yoast SEO:
- The free version includes the majority of features at no cost.
- The premium version adds features like internal link recommendations and automatic redirects for $99 per year.
- Add-ons for local, video, news, and WooCommerce SEO are $79 per year each.
Google Search Console is, arguably, one of the most important SEO tools because it allows you to communicate directly with Google in regards to your website. After you verify ownership of your site, you can view your performance in search results, submit your sitemap for indexing, and check on potential security, responsiveness, and speed issues. You’ll also receive alerts if any problems arise so you can fix them before they cause serious ranking problems.
It’s an excellent way to troubleshoot problems, keep an eye on ranking performance, and have as much control (as you can) over your search results. And, when combined with Google Analytics, it’s a powerful tool for getting a complete view of website performance.
In reality, every single website, regardless of its industry, should connect to Google Search Console.
Features of Google Search Console:
- Data showing which pages and what keywords your site ranks for
- Information about which pages Google indexes on your site and problems they’re having
- The ability to fix issues with coverage and re-submit URLs to Google
- A URL inspection tool that enables you to analyze specific URLs and view technical information
- Insights into performance, mobile responsiveness, and user-friendliness
- The ability to submit your sitemap directly to Google, along with any updates
- Information about external links pointing to your website
- Notifications about security vulnerabilities and problems
- The ability to troubleshoot and fix penalties for hacks, spam, and more
Pros of Google Search Console:
- It’s the best way to communicate with Google about your website and understand any search engine specific issues that need solving.
- You can get automatic alerts for indexing and security problems, so you can be proactive about solving them before your rankings are seriously affected.
Cons of Google Search Console:
- Google Search Console presents a lot of information, which can be overwhelming for beginners.
- It lacks valuable information for websites that don’t yet receive a lot of search engine traffic.
Ease of use of Google Search Console:
In general, Google Search Console is easy to use. However, it does present a lot of information that can be overwhelming for beginners who may just want to find out the basics. In addition, there are quite a few options for verifying site ownership, some of which require advanced experience with modifying DNS records.
Price of Google Search Console:
Google Search Console is free for all users and functionality.
Not only does Jetpack include tools specific to SEO optimization, it also has features that improve site speed, security, and user experience — all important factors when it comes to ranking well on search engines.
For example, you can start by using Jetpack’s SEO tools to craft meta descriptions for your pages and posts, preview them on search engines, and create an XML sitemap. Then, you can use the security features — like malware scanning, brute force attack protection, and spam prevention (including SEO spam) — to secure your site and keep it off of Google’s blocklist. Follow that up with Jetpack Boost, a speed tool specifically designed to improve core web vitals, and Jetpack Search to create a stellar user experience. Ultimately, this provides an all-in-one method of optimizing for some of the most critical ranking factors.
Features of Jetpack:
- The ability to customize content titles for search engines
- Custom meta descriptions for individual pages and posts
- Live previews of how your pages will appear on search engines and social media
- Creation of an XML sitemap
- Security tools like brute force attack protection, malware scans, and spam prevention
- Improved search capabilities to enhance user experience
- One-click speed optimization, focused on core web vitals
Pros of Jetpack:
- It was created for WordPress by the experts behind WordPress.com. That means that it seamlessly integrates with the platform and works with all major themes and plugins.
- It includes stellar support by WordPress experts.
- It covers a wide variety of ranking factors, from on-page optimization to site speed, user experience, and security.
Cons of Jetpack:
- While providing all the basics, the on-page optimization tools are relatively simple and are not as in-depth as some of the other options on this list.
Ease of use of Jetpack:
Jetpack was designed for WordPress users of all experience levels. All of its features can be enabled with just a few clicks, no code required.
Price of Jetpack:
You can either activate all of the tools available with the premium Jetpack Complete package, or mix and match free and premium features to create a custom solution.
- Jetpack’s SEO tools, brute force attack protection, and Jetpack Boost are completely free.
- Jetpack’s malware scanning feature and anti-spam tool are $9.95 per month each.
- Jetpack Search starts at $5.00 per month.
- Jetpack Complete includes all Jetpack features and is $99.95 per month.
Jetpack currently offers up to 70% off your first year too!
Google Keyword Planner wasn’t necessarily designed as an SEO tool. Instead, it was built to identify successful keywords for online advertising. However, it provides invaluable information about keyword performance and search volumes to help you identify the right terms to target on your website.
All you need is a starting point — either a website URL, product, or service — and Google will make a list of related keywords. You can find out the search volume, amount of competition, and ad bid for each one and use that information to choose the phrases you want to target. Ideally, you’ll start with keywords that have a decent search volume but not so much competition that you’ll struggle to rank for them.
Features of Google Keyword Planner:
- A keyword idea generator based on phrases related to your business
- Data about each keyword, including search volume, competition, and ad bids
- Search volumes and forecasts about existing keywords that you’re targeting
Pros of Google Keyword Planner:
- It provides important insights that help you create and narrow down lists of keywords to target for your website.
- It offers helpful filters to narrow down keyword information based on device, location, and more.
Cons of Google Keyword Planner:
- It doesn’t provide as robust information as some of the other keyword planning tools on this list.
Ease of use of Google Keyword Planner:
This tool is very easy to use for both beginners and SEO experts alike. There’s no need to install anything on your site or understand advanced SEO techniques to gain valuable data.
Price of Google Keyword Planner:
Google Keyword Planner is free for all users.
Semrush is a powerful, comprehensive SEO tool that offers more than 50 features that help with everything from on-page optimization and link building to content marketing and social media publishing. Their keyword research tools are impressive — enter an initial keyword (like a product, service, or industry) and you’ll get thousands of ideas with a single click, along with data about each one. You can also analyze competitors’ strategies and rankings to better your own and receive alerts and summaries of your site’s performance.
Semrush will also run in-depth audits of your website and provide actionable suggestions for improvements. Analyze your pages based on more than 130 factors, including crawlability, speed, internal links, and technical considerations.
Want even more? Semrush also provides tools for content creation, website monetization, PPC keyword research, market analysis, and more. They also offer a completely free tool called SEO Writing Assistant that analyzes your content as you’re writing to improve its ranking chances.
Features of Semrush:
- In-depth keyword data, covering everything from search volume and user intent to competition level and ranking difficulty
- Competitor analyses with lists of your rival’s keywords and search results
- A keyword generator that creates thousands of ideas based on the phrases you enter
- Website audits with actionable solutions to enhance your SEO
- Automatic submission to a variety of directories to improve your local SEO
- Position tracking that sends you regular updates on your site performance
- Backlink analytics and automated link building campaigns
Pros of Semrush:
- Semrush is incredibly comprehensive, providing effective tools for not just keyword research and SEO audits, but also related areas like social media.
- The data provided around keywords is very in-depth and goes beyond most of the other tools on this list.
- The SEO Writing Assistant plugin is a great bonus that helps you craft content that will rank for your target keywords.
Cons of Semrush:
- While Semrush does offer a few basic tools for free, the entire suite is quite expensive. This makes it a better fit for larger websites or agencies rather than individuals.
- It only provides data from Google rather than also including Bing and other search engines.
Ease of use of Semrush:
Even though Semrush provides a lot of tools and data, it’s presented in a way that’s consumable rather than overwhelming. It’s generally easy to use, though it can take a bit for beginners to learn.
Price of Semrush:
- Semrush does offer several free SEO features, like limited keyword research, auditing, and tracking. The SEO Writing Assistant tool is also available at no cost.
- The Pro plan includes five projects, 500 keywords, and all core features for $119.95 per month.
- The Guru plan includes 15 projects, 1500 keywords, the content marketing platform, and additional advanced tools for $229.95 per month.
- The Business plan includes 40 projects, 5000 keywords, additional tracking information, and API access for $449.95 per month.
The features and limits vary dramatically based on the plan you choose. For a full list of plan features, see this comparison table from Semrush.
6. Rank Math
Rank Math is a freemium WordPress plugin that calls itself the “Swiss army knife of WordPress SEO.” And it’s just that, providing powerful AI-based tools to improve your website content. Rank Math will analyze your site, considering everything from alt text and meta descriptions to performance, responsive design, and technical SEO factors. Then, it will provide recommendations you can use to improve your rankings.
But it goes even further with tools that help with sitemaps, URL redirects, structured data setup, and more. One of the most unique features, however, is its Content AI tool, which makes suggestions for you as you write posts and pages. It will tell you how many words to write, what headings to use, how many links to insert, and where to insert keywords. It’s like having an SEO expert there to hold your hand as you write.
Features of Rank Math:
- Optimization for an unlimited number of keywords
- Integration with Google tools like Search Console and Analytics
- An AI-based content tool that makes suggestions for keywords, FAQs, external links, and more based on how you currently rank for your target phrases
- A 404 monitor that checks for broken links on your site
- Automated alt text and title tags for images
- Support for structured data and schema markup
- 301 and 302 redirect tools
- SEO audits of your entire site with 70+ tests
- The ability to measure and track search engine rankings
Pros of Rank Math:
- It’s a well-rounded, comprehensive WordPress SEO plugin that provides a lot of features.
- It integrates with tools like Google Search Console for a full picture of site performance.
Cons of Rank Math:
- You have to purchase credits for each piece of content you want to optimize with the Content AI tool. While some credits are included in plans, you can purchase additional ones or buy them separately.
- There are a lot of features available, not all of which are necessary for every site. This can feel overwhelming for beginners.
Ease of use of Rank Math:
Rank Math offers a simple getting started wizard that walks users through setup and optimization. It also automatically enables critical settings so that beginners don’t have to worry about which options are best for their site. However, since it has so many tools available, it can be a bit confusing.
Pricing of Rank Math:
- The free version of Rank Math includes basic features like on-page optimization tools and SEO analysis.
- The Pro plan includes 15 Content AI credits, 500 keywords, and additional features like the Schema generator for $59 per year.
- The Business plan includes 125 Content AI credits, 10,000 keywords, and support for up to 100 client sites for $199 per year.
- The Agency plan includes 600 Content AI credits, 50,000 keywords, and support for up to 500 client websites for $499 per year.
Moz is an all-in-one SEO toolkit that provides virtually everything you need to choose keywords, optimize your website, and track your rankings. There are two primary product options: Moz Pro and Moz Local, but in this case, we’ll focus on Moz Pro.
Moz Pro is a suite of SEO tools for keyword research, rank tracking, site crawling, on-page optimization, and link research. Moz’s Keyword Explorer is very powerful, providing all the information you need to create and prioritize target keywords — search volume, ranking difficulty, click-through rate, and more.
Once you’ve determined your keywords, you can track your rankings in the SERPs over time, along with your competitors’. Moz will automatically crawl your site and perform audits on a weekly basis, so you always know ways you can improve and if there are any issues. You can even get content suggestions for climbing your way up in the rankings.
Features of Moz:
- A keyword research tool with information about search volume, competition, click through rates, and more
- The ability to categorize and prioritize keywords within a list
- The ability to track rankings for keywords over time and compare performance on mobile vs. desktop
- Information on competitors and how they perform
- Site audits that identify any issues with your site and send alerts if anything’s wrong
- Step-by-step guidance for on-page optimization
- Content suggestions based on target keywords
- Link profile analyses with information that helps you build quality backlinks
Pros of Moz:
- You get access to an entire suite of SEO tools that provide everything you need from start to finish.
- It includes ranking data from Google, but also other search engines like Bing.
- It also offers tools for local SEO that can be helpful for businesses with physical locations or that work in specific areas.
- It offers a variety of powerful SEO tools for free, though they do have limits.
Cons of Moz:
- While Moz includes quite a few features and tools, they’re not as comprehensive as similar options, like Semrush.
- Moz Pro can be expensive for smaller businesses and individuals.
Ease of use of Moz:
Moz is relatively straightforward, though some reviewers say that it’s not quite as intuitive as other options on this list. It may require some digging to find the specific information you’re looking for.
Price of Moz:
- Moz offers a variety of free tools, including their Keyword Explorer, Link Explorer, and Domain Analysis tool. Note that these do have low limits.
- The Standard plan includes the majority of features, along with three campaigns and 300 keywords for $99 per month.
- The Medium plan adds branded reports, along with ten campaigns and 1500 keywords for $179 per month.
- The Large plan includes 25 campaigns and 3000 keywords for $299 per month.
- The Premium plan adds their “speed crawl” feature, along with 50 campaigns and 4500 keywords for $599 per month.
For a full plan comparison, see this helpful table from Moz.
All in One SEO is a freemium WordPress SEO plugin that boasts a variety of features specifically for WordPress websites. It starts by adding an SEO analysis tool to pages and posts that makes recommendations for improvements based on your target keyword. You can also use this tool to edit meta descriptions, page titles, social media appearance, and more.
There’s an intuitive settings panel with options that control the search appearance of your site as a whole. It also includes premium options, like local SEO settings and redirects.
Features of All in One SEO:
- An on-page analysis tool that lets you edit titles, meta descriptions, keywords, and more
- Support for schema markup
- A video sitemap generator to help you rank in Google’s video carousel
- An automatic XML sitemap generator
- Social media integration to improve the look of your pages on Facebook, Twitter, and more
- WooCommerce support for product pages and categories
- An SEO audit checklist with actionable steps to improve your site
Pros of All in One SEO:
- The analysis tool provides an SEO score (called TruSEO score) with actionable steps to improve. This makes it a great option for those looking to optimize specific pages and posts.
- It provides really granular control over your sitemap, allowing you to set page priorities, update frequencies, and more.
Cons of All in One SEO:
- While All in One SEO is a good option for WordPress optimization, it doesn’t provide some of the heavy-hitting keyword research data that other tools offer.
- Premium features are visible within WordPress, though can’t be used without purchasing an upgrade. This can be confusing and frustrating for new users who see a lot of options they can’t take advantage of.
Ease of use of All in One SEO:
All in One SEO is easy to use for beginners and experts alike. Upon installation, you’ll see a setup wizard that walks you through all of the basics for getting started. Plugin settings also have an intuitive interface with clear options.
Price of All in One SEO:
- The free version contains critical features, like the analysis tool and sitemap generator at no cost.
- The Basic version works for one site and includes tools like unlimited keywords and smart schema markup for $49.50 per year.
- The Plus plan works for three sites and adds tools like the local SEO module for $99.50 per year.
- The Pro plan works for ten sites and adds tools like the redirection manager and internal link assistant for $199.50 per year.
- The Elite plan works for 100 sites and is $299.50 per year.
Niche SEO plugins and tools for specific needs
All of the tools above are well-rounded, comprehensive options. However, there are some cases in which you need to meet a very specific need. So let’s take a look at some SEO plugins and tools that provide just one or two pieces of functionality.
1. Schema Pro
Schema Pro adds accurate schema markup to your website without requiring any complicated code on your end. It includes support for all major schema types, including recipes, articles, courses, services, and more. You can easily choose options for your pages and post types, then let the plugin map fields and mark up your entire site at once. It’s a super simple, automated process that’s perfect even for beginners.
Price: $79.00 per year or $249 one time
The Redirection plugin is designed to make setting up redirects on your WordPress site super simple — there’s no need to mess with cpanel settings or edit your .htaccess file! All you have to do is enter the original URL along with the target URL, and the plugin will do the rest for you. But if you do want more control, you can set conditions for the redirect (like login status or browser type) or query parameters.
Internal links are an excellent way to help with user experience and show search engines how your content is related. The Internal Link Juicer plugin simplifies this entire process by automatically setting internal links based on your target keywords. You can also view important information, like how many links are on each page and linking behavior for specific keywords. And the premium version contains even more features, like support for taxonomies and external links.
Price: The free version contains the majority of features, but there’s also a premium option for $69.99.
Pitchbox is a powerful tool that covers a specific area of SEO optimization: link building. It takes a lot of the work out of your hands, providing contact information for related websites, smart templates for blogger outreach, and automatic email follow-ups. Plus, it includes a link-building-centric CRM tool that helps you manage relationships with website owners. It is important to note, however, that this tool is a better fit for large websites, businesses, or agencies, as most smaller sites will be able to handle link building on their own.
Price: This is custom and based on each individual website. You can schedule a demo to get a better idea of cost.
Reviews — especially reviews on Google — can help improve your search engine rankings because they show that you’re trusted. The Widget for Google Reviews plugin serves two primary purposes: showcase reviews on your site and encourage visitors to leave a review on Google. And with the premium version of the plugin, you can also add reviews from other platforms like Facebook.
Price: The free version includes the majority of features, but for additional tools, you can upgrade to the Business plan for $85 per year.
Harness the power of tools and plugins to improve your SEO
As you can see, there are lots of great options out there and you may even combine several platforms to put together the right toolkit for your website.
If you’re looking for a WordPress plugin that will help you with on-page SEO optimization, Yoast SEO is the way to go. It’s super powerful, provides all the features you need, and offers the majority of functionality for free.
If you want a full-scale SEO research and strategy tool, then Semrush may be the perfect fit for you. Though pricey, it covers virtually all areas of SEO, from keyword research and audits to link building and position tracking.
It is important, though, to remember that there’s more to SEO than on-page optimization, link building, and choosing the right keywords. Security and speed are both critical ranking factors. After all, search engines want to send people to websites that provide high-quality experiences for their users.
That’s why we also recommend Jetpack to help with SEO. It provides high-quality WordPress security tools that protect your site, notify you if anything’s wrong, and enable you to restore a backup if needed. Learn more about securing your website.
But no matter the tools you choose to work with, remember that SEO is all about optimizing your site for real people. Focus on providing an excellent user experience and creating high-quality content, and you’ll be on the right track to search engine success.
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