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The Concise List of Must Have SEO Plugins for WordPress


I think I’ve researched every WordPress SEO plugin in existence. The list I amassed was daunting. I had plugin anxiety. All In One SEO Pack or Platinum SEO? Many of them had features that overlapped. The thought of having to install all those plugins and to get them to work with each other was a developer nightmare.

Due to some fortuitous Tweeting, Joost DeValk, the WordPress SEO Guru, picked up on my Tweet and offered to go over my massive list of 30 SEO plugins via Skype, and eliminate the chaff. Granted he wrote many of these – but that’s why he’s the WordPress SEO guru. If you care about WordPress SEO, you oughta mosey on down to Joost’s site and read his WordPress SEO Bible.

Must Have WordPress SEO plugins

The list of plugins below should have your site covered for all things SEO.

HeadSpace2 – HeadSpace is a powerful all-in-one plugin to manage meta-data and handle a wide range of SEO tasks. With it you can tag your posts, create custom titles and descriptions that improve your page ranking, change the theme or run disabled plugins on specific pages, and a whole lot more.

Google XML Sitemaps – An essential tool in any blogger’s armory of SEO tools.  While the name only mentions “Google” this plugin creates an XML-sitemap that can be read by Ask, MSN and Yahoo also.

Redirection – For any number of reasons you sometimes need to move a page from one spot on your blog to another, but then you risk losing that page’s status in search results.  Redirection helps you with your 301 redirects, captures a log of 404s so you can work on correcting them, sets up an RSS feed for errors and more.

SEO Friendly Images – Yoast is on the fence this. I kind of like it.  Images can be a great source of traffic as people search for images of various subjects, and this plugin helps you with making sure that you have “alt” and “title” tags on all of your images so that the search engines can properly index them.

Meta Robots WordPress plugin – An easy solution for adding robot metadata to any page you choose on your blog.  You can use it to make your front page links into “nofollows,” prevent indexing of search pages, disable author and date-based archives, prevent indexing of your login page and numerous other features. Some of the great things it does includes:

  • Prevent indexing of your search result pages, while still allowing the search engines to follow the links on them, by adding noindex,follow robots meta tags.
  • Prevent indexing of the subpages to your homepage, by adding a noindex,follow.
  • Prevent indexing of your login, register and admin pages by adding noindex robots meta tags.
  • Add noodp an noydir meta robots tags, allowing you to opt out of DMOZ and Yahoo! Directory descriptions
  • And more!

RSS Plugins

MediaRSS – MRSS is an RSS extension used for syndicating multimedia files (audio, video, image) in RSS feeds. MediaRSS is a way of embedding media into your feeds. This plugin is equipped to locate img tags in your posts and generate XML code that can be used by feed readers.
RSS Footer – This very simple plugin let’s you add an extra line of content to articles in your feed, defaulting to “Post from: ” and then a link back to your blog, with your blog’s name as it’s anchor text, which you can edit like this:

Social Media Plugins

Sociable is a social sharing plugin with big, plush social media buttons that you just want to press. It’s much more attractive and noticable than Share This.

Post Ratings – Adds an AJAX rating system for your WordPress blog’s post/page.

Twitter Plugins

Choices abound on Twitter plugins. I would do Retweet first and then the Twitter Box once your account is up and running.

Retweet Button – The TweetMeme retweet button is for website and blog publishers who want to encourage their audience to tweet their content on twitter.  The button shows a live count of the number of times your webpage or blog post has been tweeted.
Tweetbacks – People are talking about your posts, and not only in the comments to your post. A lot of that conversation is happening on Twitter, and now, you can take that conversation right back to your blog! This plugin imports those tweets about your posts as comments. You can display them in between the other comments on your blog, or display them separately.
Twitter Box – Provides on how to create a fancy box that displays your latest Twitter rants in your sidebar without having to turn to clunky plug-ins that bog your blog down.

Content / Media

Yet Another Related Posts Plugin – Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP) gives you a list of posts and/or pages related to the current entry, introducing the reader to other relevant content on your site. Key features include:

  • An advanced and versatile algorithm: Using a customizable algorithm considering post titles, content, tags, and categories, YARPP calculates a “match score” for each pair of posts on your blog. You choose the threshold limit for relevance and you get more related posts if there are more related posts and less if there are less.
  • Related posts in RSS feeds: Display related posts in your RSS and Atom feeds with custom display options.

Video Player Quicktags – This plugin adds a button to your editor that allows you to paste the URL that the video is located at into the prompt box. You can fully configure how the videos are displayed (width, height, colors, alignment on the page) and much more. Your site will even stay (X)HTML valid unlike with the code provided by most video sites.
SlideShare – This plugin allows you to easily add SlideShare presentations to your blog by just copy pasting the default WordPress embed code.  It has one (!) setting, “default width”. If you set that setting, it will make all presentations appear at the width you set there, allowing you to easily adapt the width to your theme’s content width.
Smush.it – Reduce image file sizes and improve performance using the Smush.it API in WordPress. Every image you add to a page or post will be automatically run through Smush.it behind the scenes. You don’t have to do anything different. Smush.it optimizes images by:

  • stripping meta data from JPEGs
  • optimizing JPEG compression
  • converting certain GIFs to indexed PNGs
  • stripping the un-used colours from indexed images


Subscribe to Comments – Subscribe to Comments 2.1 is a plugin that allows commenters on your blog to check a box before commenting and get e-mail notification of further comments. It is one of the most popular WordPress plugins out there for the simple reason that it helps foster a community around your blog by encouraging commenters to come back and stay engaged in the dialog

WordPress Maintenance plugins:

W3 Total Cache – W3 Total Cache is a performance optimization plugin for WordPress, in other words, it speeds up the performance of your WordPress site so that you don’t lose traffic and you rank better in Google. Written by Frederick Townes, a social media designer and  the CTO of Mashable, W3 Total Cache is designed to include every speed enhancing feature possible, and optimized to handle all hosting environments.
WP Database Backup – Manages your WordPress database. Allows you to optimize database, repair database, backup database, restore database, delete backup database , drop/empty tables and run selected queries. Supports automatic scheduling of backing up and optimizing of database.
No Self Pings – Some people really like that WordPress sends pings from your own site to your own site when you write posts; it lets them easily leave a trail of related posts.  Some people do not like this behavior; it clutters up their comments.  So here’s a plugin to disable self pinging.
Zemanta – Zemanta provides contextual content recommendations to you while you write. It enhances your blog post with relevant images, videos, links, and SEO optimized tags. All recommended content is blogger friendly with clearly marked licenses (Creative Commons or similar).

Other Tips:

Sitemaps are now a part of core WordPress functionality. According to Yoast a traditional sitemap can actually be done within the theme, so there is no need for a plugin.

Breadcrumbs used to once require a plugin but are now incorporated into native WordPress functionality as well.

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  1. […] to get the right site design, choose the right web host, find consultants and even selecting the best plugins to save you time. Plugin Picks of the […]

  2. Thanks for featuring my Twitter box tutorial!

  3. lorna li says:

    @morten Thanks for creating it!