SEO Plugins for WordPress – What to look out for in 2020 Gallery

Getting traffic to your website is an ongoing battle faced by ever small and large

Getting traffic to your website is an ongoing battle faced by every small and large business owner. SEO – Search Engine Optimisation – is a major tool in organically driving visitors to your website. But improving your SEO can be difficult when you’re not employing the expertise of dedicated SEO experts. However, SEO Plugins for WordPress can help!

The value of SEO starts with search results, as without a decent SEO strategy it is highly unlikely that your website will ever appear as a recommended search result. Our first tip, and one that has inspired much of this blog’s content, is to invest in WordPress. WordPress is a blogging website hosting provider which allows a number of Plugins to make your life easier. All you have to do is determine which Plugin is the most compatible with your vision.

So, as we strive towards 2020, we’ve pulled together a list of some of the best SEO Plugins for WordPress.

Yoast

Yoast SEO is one of the most valuable Plugins on the market, with over 5 million downloads on a global scale. Simply by looking at this one figure you should already be recognising the popularity of Yoast SEO – and for good reason. Yoast handles a wide range of aspects across your WordPress site’s SEO. This includes metadata for both homepage content and individual articles, a detailed sitemap that is automatically shared with different search engines, SEO and readability.

And best of all, the basic Yoast SEO plugin is a free download for WordPress users. It has been built in a way that is perfectly user friendly for anyone – even complete beginners. Of course, there is a paid-for upgrade version as well which includes a few additional features, but the basic plugin does more than enough to help you see results. So, what are you waiting for?

Schema

Schema is what we call a rich snippet plugin. A rich snippet is an additional content that pops up as being immediately interactive, for example, user reviews. Generally, rich snippet content is visually presented and highly compelling, not only enticing potential customers but also enabling search engines to see exactly what your website is about.

Of course, adding rich snippets is only one part of improving your online presence. In order for that additional content to be viewed, you still have to have a solid SEO strategy. But with Schema – All In One Rich Snippets, you have the freedom to create a number of different types of content. Including reviews, events and videos. Schema supports the creation and use of rich snippets and is a goldmine of great content once you’ve got your head around how to use it.

Broken Link Checker

Managing a frequent series of blog posts can throw up unprecedented problems with links. As your site grows, the number of links your site is managing grows. Including both internal and external links in line with all those SEO tips that advocate the use of external links within your blogs. Well, that’s all very well, but what happens when things start to go wrong?

The Broken Link Checker Plugin does just that – it checks your content and flags up any broken links or missing images. It also tracks any broken comment boxes or edited URL’s that can damage your own links. Why is this important? Search engines can tell if your site is full of broken content and links, and this can impact on your SEO negatively. WordPress’s Broken Link Checker makes sure that doesn’t happen – so you can just sit back and enjoy creating content.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics for WordPress has millions of installations, with the Monster Insights version attracting the most popularity in recent years. This is because all of your Analytics content can be viewed from inside your WordPress dashboard. This makes the process very user friendly and streamlined – connecting the GA plugin with your WordPress site automatically.

There is both a free and a premium option for the Google Analytics plugin, with the free version providing you with the bare minimum of data you may find useful. The paid option delves a lot deeper into your website activity and as a result, becomes a lot more valuable in tracking site visits.

AMP

AMP deals mainly with mobile optimisation and the problems that arose when sites began to create content, especially for mobile. Though mobile optimisation seemed like the most important thing at the time, by creating great visual content for mobile the site creators began to impact on their response time. The more content is on the mobile page, the longer it takes to load – and the bounce rate went through the roof. The answer? Accelerated Mobile Pages.

AMP was created to optimise the loading of mobile pages, using specially created HTML code to make the page load faster. By downloading the AMP plugin for WordPress, you can rest assured that your website content will become quicker. And this makes it more user friendly for those visiting your site on a mobile device. And with its user-friendly interface designed for website owners as well, using the AMP plugin will improve the experience for you as well as your customers.

EWWW Image Optimiser

If your content relies on text, adding images and infographics is a must-do to liven it up. Not only do these reflect well on your SEO, but they also help your website to retain the attention of readers. The trick is to make sure that visually engaging content isn’t impacting on your web page load time.

The EWWW Image Optimiser was designed to optimise images whenever you upload a new one.  Ensuring it only takes up the amount of space it needs to across your site – with no limit on how many images it will upload. When you choose to download Image Optimiser, it will also give you the option to optimise all your existing images across your website. An added bonus that means you don’t have to go through and manually edit every image.

Jetpack by WordPress

This one was made by WordPress themselves. It’s a culmination of a number of other plugins you may have downloaded throughout your time as a WordPress user. Able to complete several tasks simultaneously, Jetpack covers SEO tools, analytics, site management and performance optimisation, image loading, site backup, security, and much more.

It’s a bit like an umbrella that sits atop all the other plugin experiences. Jetpack updates itself on a regular basis to ensure you always have the up to date new features and bug fixes.

All in One WP Security and Firewall

Added security is something we recommend investing in wherever possible, and All in one WP is one of the best. By guiding you and sitting across everything from password strength to Google reCaptcha, this plugin gives you live updates on the security strength of your website. Plus, it takes ownership across a number of important areas that could otherwise be vulnerable.

W3 Total Cache

In 2020 users are growing increasingly busy, with little to no time to wait for your website to load. Google and other search engines are also evolving to recognise site speed. It is fast becoming the element of your site that you simply cannot ignore. W3 Total Cache serves as a page store for each individual user. It ensures each time they open a page, there is no need for the page to reload completely.

For this reason, enabling page caching is probably the most important feature to note when you set up this plugin. In short, a cache is a form of memory that stores the pages visited. It ensures quick load time for all devices, delivers all the content to high quality, and is compatible with different types of hosting.

Ultimate Nofollow

For every link you include on your website, Google will backtrack to find out exactly where it came from and why you have linked it on your own site. And when you add in a link, selecting the Nofollow button will make clear to Google that your webpage ranking should not impact that of the link’s target. In short, you are telling Google that the link destination should not benefit from your site’s SEO.

Doing this in WordPress is a little more challenging than on any other site as there is no automated option, but the Ultimate Nofollow plugin provides an extra checkbox to your profile when adding new links.

Of course, all of the above Plugins cover very different areas of your WordPress site, and depending on your market and target audience, it is likely only a couple of these will be relevant to you. The thing to remember is that plugins actually can make your life a lot easier – and the millions who already use them serve as great advocates for their value. Trust the masses and start delving further into understanding your WordPress site and the options available to you.

Need help with your WordPress site?? Talk to us.

Back to Basics: Backup your WordPress

As a fairly new website ourselves, we know how important creating great content is. Gone are the days where every idea began as a scribble on paper, but in a world where everything is constructed directly onto a computer or other device, unfortunately, technology can still let us down. Don’t forget to backup your WordPress. We can’t say it enough.

Of course, this is something we’ve all learnt the hard way. Whether it was a dissertation draft back in your university days, or a company presentation that you were finalising for the next day. We’ve all experienced that drop in your stomach when you lose a piece of work and realise that it was never backed up. The mistake that so many of us make is believing this won’t happen when we work directly on a website build, such as WordPress. After all, it’s the internet. Nothing gets completely lost on the internet, right?

Wrong. If you strip your WordPress website down to the basics, it’s really just a jumble of characters and files and hyper-sensitive codes that link it all together. Mess with one of those codes, and you could well lose everything. You’d have to be very lucky for your site to get externally archived.

Our job is to make sure that doesn’t happen – and if it does, to make sure all your content is backed up safely and securely so that in case of a disaster you can restore your site easily. Without further ado, here’s our guide to backing up your WordPress site.

Download a plugin

In the technology world, a plugin (rather confusingly) is not something you actually plugin. Rather, it is a backup system you can download onto your device which is large enough to store everything you create. Key examples include Dropbox and Backup Buddy, which both sit comfortably on your desktop and allow you to arrange all of your content into different folders and areas for your ease.

The great thing with these plugins is that setting up an automatic back up process is super easy, ensuring that even when you forget to back your work up manually, your device will do it all for you without any prompt. We suggest setting the automatic back up to update at least once a week; sending an email to your own email address with a link to the latest version of your work.

That is not to say that you shouldn’t do a manual back up regularly, especially when making significant changes to the layout or formatting of your WordPress site. You never know when something could go wrong that just deletes everything, so ensuring you have the more up-to-date version saved before making any big changes could save you a lot of time and effort in the long run.

The manual back up

Backing up your WordPress site manually is no mean feat. We recommend investing in the plugin before playing around with the manual back up feature – just in case.

That being said, it is perfectly possible to perform a manual back up directly. Log into your server and delve into the developer tools of the site.

Logging in can be done either through cPanel or an SFTP program. The cPanel is all online and can be accessed through your web host. Navigate to the cPanel page and find your WordPress site folder in the file manager. Compress the WordPress folder into a small file (usually a zip file) and then download it for manual safekeeping.

Alternatively, you can use the SFTP program which requires downloading a file manager such as FileZilla. Once in your file manager, log in using your STFP details and download every item linked to your WordPress site. Pop it all in a zip folder for ease and save the file somewhere you can access easily anytime.

Backing up your work has never been easier – and it has also never been more necessary. Building a WordPress site takes time and your time is worth so much, that making life a little easier for yourself can only be a good thing. Now, go and back up your work immediately!

Theming your WordPress site

Theming your WordPress site is a big decision. Not only does it determine the colour scheme of your site, but it also impacts how user-friendly the site is both for yourself and for your website visitors. Your WordPress theme is essentially the template for your site with added bonus bits, including customised formats, fonts and backgrounds.

So how do you install a WordPress theme onto your website?

The easy route – from the inside

Using one of the built-in themes that WordPress advertises in its catalogue is by far the easiest way of installing a theme. Yes, your site may reflect the look of many others like it, but with quality content and some good marketing, you should be able to stand out from the crowd without too many problems.

If you’re brand new to WordPress and don’t yet have any selected themes to choose from, starting from scratch is simple enough. Click on ‘Add New’ in the menu under ‘Appearance’ and spend some time scrolling through the many hundreds of options available in the online library. A top tip we recommend is spending some time looking at all of the pages of themes – people in a hurry will often make their selection from the first few pages alone, making these themes the most frequently used. Make your site different by avoiding these most popular designs and picking something lower on the list.

Once you’ve selected your theme, switch to live view and explore. Once you’re happy with your selection, install the theme. Remember you can always return and change the settings as often as you like. And if you get bored with the theme you chose, the plethora of themes available will always be waiting on the menu.

Downloading an external theme

While WordPress offers a multitude of themes in its own database. Plus, the internet is full of creators who have designed and made up WordPress themes of their own to sell. Of course, this involves installing the theme from an external location; a slightly more complicated but entirely doable process.

First, you need to download the theme file and save it somewhere that’s easy to find. It’s likely this will come as part of a zipped file. (One which has been reduced in size in order to make download easy.) In order to access the contents, you then need to unzip the file.

Returning to the backend of your WordPress site, open your theme’s menu and click on ‘Add New’. Alongside the available options in the WordPress library, you will see an option to upload a theme from your computer. Click on this and then locate the file you just saved.

Once your chosen theme has been installed, it works much the same as an internal theme. This is in terms of editing the settings and formatting select areas. Make sure the theme you choose is compatible with the version of WordPress that you are working in. In a world where technology is constantly being updated and renewed, software updates are inevitable and regular. You need to ensure you keep on top of them when theming your WordPress site to keep your website looking great.

How to come first in WordPress site speed

The online world can sometimes feel a bit like the Olympics; jumping through hoops to please the search engines with excellent SEO, while racing to get the next blog post up quickly and overcoming the obstacles that are your competitor’s deals. But what about your WordPress site speed? With all the content and coding requirements we work to meet, it can be easy to forget that an increase in content means an increase in load time. And nothing is more likely to put your visitors off than an unreliable and slow website.

And it’s not just your visitors who will be unimpressed. Google has fast been increasing the emphasis it puts on site speed as a ranking factor, meaning that if your site isn’t up to scratch, you can rest assured Google won’t be recommending it in a hurry.

Here we unpick the best ways to rectify the situation before it does real damage to your website reputation in the online world…

The geography of your data centre is crucial

Your server is what pushes your site out to clients and potential website visitors, so making sure it is located close to that target market is crucial. It’s easy to find out the speed at which your site is being pushed out to Google at, from within your (webmaster tools) search console. Ideally this should be running to just a few hundred milliseconds at a maximum – any slower and Google will start to disregard your site.

geography

Dynamic Caching

Dynamic caching is one of those terms thrown around by online experts – but what does it really mean? Essentially dynamic caching deals with the problem created by page generation load time, as by default WordPress will load each page afresh every time a new visitor comes to your site. This obviously adds a delay to the load time of each page, which can cause a major problem for your overall site speed.

Dynamic caching deals with this delay by saving a copy of each page and then simply regenerating the copy to each visitor – rather than loading each page from scratch every time. This creates a more streamlined load time across your whole site by allowing the server to push content out to more individuals at once – more quickly!

In order to implement dynamic caching, users tend to opt for a plugin or by enabling it on the server itself via a user such as Hostgator. The latter option is easy for WordPress users who have optimised hosting as it is as simple as switching the feature on. For those who don’t, the plugin option is just as good and will perform the job to the same effect.

A Content Distribution Network (CDN)

A CDN allows your website server to find out the IP address of each visitor to your site, and deliver to them the recurrent content from a server nearest to them. By recurrent content we mean the things that never change – your images, backend coding and CSS to name a few. Engaging the use of the CDN through your hosting network means than users all over the world will receive content quickly and effectively, without long load times for those who live farthest away. Simply enable the CDN setting in the backend of your WordPress site and watch the visitors roll in – from all over the globe.

Understand Javascript and how to use it to your advantage

Javascript is great, and almost all the websites we can think of use it in some capacity. It enables your website to respond to the device it is being viewed on, resizing images and other content to maximise enjoyment. But that doesn’t mean it’s perfect, and it adds to page load time if you don’t optimise it to work in your favour. Essentially what you want to do is tell Javascript to start loading only after the page has loaded and is fully visible to the website visitor – and this requires help.

A plugin such as Autoptimize will enable you to aggregate Javascript. Then it only loads once your website visitor is enjoying the content. This means that by the time they get as far as the table of information you’ve included, it will have resized appropriately – without impacting on WordPress site speed.

The beauty of CSS

The point of CSS is to make your WordPress site look great. Loading CSS files take a while. In an ideal world, they would be delayed until after the page has loaded. But doing this would cause your webpage to look unstyled and unattractive. That’s why we turn to Inlining for CSS. It isolates the CSS rules that apply to the visible elements of your web page. Then applies them to every page of the website so that they load instantly.

This is a complicated one, but luckily online tools are available to help. Simply enter your URL into an online resource such as ‘SiteLocity.’ It will automatically generate the CSS for you. Copy the rules it presents to you and paste it into the Settings area of Autoptimize. (It’s something you should already have if you followed our tips for a successful Javascript!)

And voila! Beautiful web pages that load at the drop of a hat.

Images

We get it, images are vital to your website. Whether it’s photos of your work or images to supplement your content, you need them. But they’re also impacting WordPress site speed. They’re draining the web loading capacity and adding to your site speed.

That’s why we turn to lazy loading. By enabling this, images won’t be loaded until the visitor has scrolled down far enough to see them. This ensures that only viewed images are actually loaded. If the visitor leaves the page before they reach an image, no harm done as it didn’t load anyway!

Enable lazy loading from the settings inside your WordPress site. The images now appear by magic – as and when they’re needed.

Do you really need that smiley face emoji?

Emoji add a whole load of useless code to your website. These load fresh with every view. So your WordPress site speed takes a hit. Yet again we turn to Autoptimize to help us here. Simply selecting the option that removes WordPress’ core emojis from your CSS helps. And subsequently cleaning up your backend coding so that only the really vital information is being loaded.

Put this all together and you’re sure to place in the site speed race rankings. Don’t get lost in the world of site speed and allow your content to suffer. Online is all about balance and Google expects you to excel in all the relevant areas – not just one.

Need help? Talk to us.

 

Add Google Analytics to WordPress

Google Analytics is one of those tools that website developers throw at you as a tool you simply must use. You download it, you look at it occasionally, but you don’t necessarily understand exactly what it all means. All you know is that it’s full of graphs and percentages, and if the percentages are in green then that’s a good thing. To add Google Analytics to WordPress, you just need to follow a few steps.

Google Analytics is a tool designed by Google to look at the people visiting your website and then provide you with a breakdown of who they are. What did they search for in order to find your site? Which pages did they visit, and how long did they stay on our site? How many visitors did you have this week compared to last week?

By understanding this information, you have a great opportunity to tailor your website specifically for your regular audience, making sure the most popular pages are easily found and well optimised for different devices. You can also understand exactly which keywords are leading visitors to your website, allowing you to build your SEO around them.

When using WordPress, Google Analytics can be connected to provide you with seamless information at the click of a button – and here’s how to do it.

Get a plugin

Plugins are easy to use and highly regarded, especially in the world of SEO and Google Analytics. MonsterInsights is a popular one with both a basic package and a more premium option available, meaning no matter what level you are working at you will find a suitable analytics package. Once you’ve downloaded the plugin to your WordPress site, a menu called “Insights” will appear on your site.

Once you’ve completed the set up (through which you will be fully guided but the setup wizard) you can view analytics reports as often as you want, digesting the information into sections that work for you and are most applicable to your site and your audience.

Through Google itself

As a Google add-on, Google Analytics is, of course, available through the search engines own dashboard. To use this, you need to add a snippet of your site’s code to your google files, being careful not to destroy your own code in the process.

To do this, go into your WordPress theme’s manual code editing interface and find the header.php file. Paste the code from Google Analytics into this file after the ‘body’ tag and save the changes, before reuploading the file to your server.

Alternatively, you can update this through your WordPress functions file, which will automatically add the tracker to every page of your site. To do this, paste the following code into the functions.php file on your theme:

<?php

add_action(‘wp_head’, ‘wpb_add_googleanalytics’);

function wpb_add_googleanalytics() { ?>

// Paste your Google Analytics code here

<?php } ?>

This will then be live on your site, and you’ll be able to view your analytics reports as and when you need them.

How do I view the data?

We’ve referred a few times to the reports that will become available as a result of Google Analytics, but how do you view them? Give WordPress adequate time to update Google with your data before searching for the reports, as if you move too quickly the data will be out of date and useless.

To view the data, simply head to your Google Analytics dashboard and spend some time familiarizing yourself with what is available. You may find it useful to engage in different levels of activity week on week to see which is the most successful, before deciding on a long-term strategy moving forward. In the long-run, understanding your data can be a great tool for boosting sales and improving website traffic, so Google Analytics is well worth your time.