No matter what the goal of your website is, you need a WordPress SEO plugin. Whether you’re a blogger, e-commerce site, or website of a brick-and-mortar business, having the best WordPress SEO plugin will help you gain visibility. Greater visibility leads to more customers.
As with other WordPress plugins, searching through the smorgasbord of software alternatives can be overwhelming. There are so many options it can be difficult to know where to begin. How do you select a single SEO plugin from all of the choices that are out there? How do you even begin going about making that choice?
While there are many options available for the best WordPress SEO Plugin, a few stand out above the rest. To narrow down the choices further, we’ve investigated a few of the most popular SEO plugins for you here.
Top 4 Best WordPress SEO Plugins
The top 4 best WordPress SEO plugins are Yoast SEO, SEMRush, Google Keyword Planner, and Open Site Explorer. They can be used interchangeably. It’s widely recommended that you don’t limit yourself to just one SEO or keyword tool. They all have different features that complement each other.
Still, Yoast SEO is the most comprehensive and easiest to use of all the WordPress SEO plugins. In our opinion, Yoast SEO is the way to go if you’re in doubt.
SEMRush gives you detailed information about your competitors and is used by many of the biggest names in the business.
Google Keyword Planner works well for choosing the best keywords for your content.
Open Site Explorer provides good link-building tools while also allowing you to examine the links of your competitors as well as their “domain authority.”
Let’s take a closer look at each of these 4 best WordPress SEO plugins.
Yoast SEO for WordPress
Yoast SEO is one of the most downloaded WordPress plugins ever, period. Over 5 million people have it installed on their WordPress sites. Yoast SEO uses red, yellow, and green light icons to give you an approximation of how well your WordPress content is doing in terms of SEO.
Yoast SEO has two broad categories that it analyzes your web copy for readability and SEO. Each of these gets broken down into further subcategories that detail how you can improve your content for greater search engine optimization.
The readability section includes metrics for things like use of passive voice, number of words following each H2, and overall readability according to the Fleisch readability test. The Fleisch readability test takes into account aspects of your content like the use of big and confusing words, use of passive voice, length of sentences, and length of paragraphs.
Sometimes it’s just not feasible to get a green light on readability. Passive voice is sometimes unavoidable, and not all web copy will be suitable for elementary school readers. But you should always try to at least get a yellow light.
The SEO feature gives you an even longer list of metrics, including:
- Metadata (meta title, meta description, and URL slug)
- Focus keyword
- Keyword density,
- Images and alt text
- Inbound/outbound links
It’s not that difficult to get a green light on your overall Yoast SEO score. And doing so will mean your content is way ahead of the pack as far as SEO is concerned. The free version of Yoast SEO provides many of the most important features.
This WordPress SEO plugin is both useful and easy to use. Some might even say it makes SEO fun!
We give Yoast SEO a 5 out of 5.
SEMRush gives you detailed information on your competitors – for a monthly fee, that is.
It’s used by top industry experts and leaders – big corporations and major content managing companies that need every possible edge they can get. Overstock, eBay, and SEO Book are a few examples of big names that use SEMRush.
One useful feature of SEMRush not provided by other WordPress SEO plugins is a social media engagement measuring tool. This allows you to see how people on different social media platforms interact with your content over time. The data is presented in the form of a bar graph and can be compared to that of your competitors.
If you’re a small-time blogger or new e-commerce site, SEMRush might not be for you. Not only will it make a dent in your budget, but you can probably do just fine with a more basic, free SEO plug-in like Yoast SEO.
We give SEMRush a 4.5 out of 5.
Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner is a part of the Google AdWords advertising program. As such, it can only be used by participants of Google AdWords. It’s not suitable for everyone and should never be used by itself as your only SEO tool.
Obviously, Google has the greatest insights into what people are searching for. Google Keyword Planner is great for (you guessed it) planning keywords! You can get free ideas for keywords straight from Google itself.
Google Keyword Planner’s primary goal is to let advertisers know about the focus keywords they might want to bid on for their ad campaigns. It assists advertising in determining the best keywords by showing the estimated search volume, difficulty level, and the number of results.
The higher search volume and lower difficulty a keyword has, the easier it will be to rank for. This information is critical for those who need to drive search traffic to their website. In other words, pretty much everyone with a website.
When you’re wondering what keyword you should use for your next article, turn to Google Keyword Planner.
We give Google Keyword Planner a 4 out of 5.
Open Site Explorer
Open Site Explorer is a link-researching tool. This WordPress SEO plugin allows you to discover links that could potentially hurt your site’s SEO, find link-building opportunities, and research backlinks. Using this tool, you can evaluate inbound links to your own sites, your client’s sites, or those of your competitors.
Open Site Explorer deals with one specific aspect of SEO and should not be used by itself. If you were to only use this plugin, you would be missing out on a whole lot of important SEO metrics.
That said, link building and researching is an important part of SEO, and Open Site Explorer offers in-depth information about links that you simply can’t find elsewhere.
We give Open Site Explorer a 4 out of 5.
How We Chose Our Ratings
We value honesty and accuracy. We spend time considering as many user reviews and testimonials as we can to get a clear picture of how people perceive and interact with the products we review.
Combined with the general reputation of the brand, this information can lead to insightful conclusions about the quality of the product and also reveal any potential difficulties you might encounter when using it.
Let’s look at some user reviews for the 4 best WordPress SEO plugins.
Yoast SEO has a 4.5 out of 5-star rating on TrustRadius.com. It has similar ratings just about anywhere else you look, too. We’re surprised it doesn’t have a 5 out of 5 overall, considering the vast majority of user reviews online give it the highest rating possible.
Gwendolyn K, a marketing communications specialist at Mindlance, insists that Yoast SEO is a “must-have for every WordPress site.” She notes that it works well for novices who don’t know a thing about SEO. The only negative she cites is that the tutorials provided don’t always keep pace with the plugin’s updates.
Seth T. a growth hacker at CourseStorm, says that “Yoast is awesome!” He recommends the plugin to anyone unfamiliar with SEO. The only drawback he notes is that Yoast doesn’t dive into some of the more in-depth aspects of SEO.
Out of 19 ratings on FitSmallBusiness.com, SemRush has earned 4 out of 5 stars.
Lisa T. says SEMRush is great all around, despite being “a little pricey” for some businesses. Putting in the time and effort required to use it will yield some “amazing results” according to this user. Her sole complaint lies in the fact that for a relatively expensive service, the trial period is rather short. It takes a while to become familiar with the software, she says.
Chandler E. is a big fan of SEMRush. He claims there is “nothing else like it.” It’s simply the best WordPress SEO plugin on the market, according to him. His only complaint is that the platform is not so easy to use.
Google Keyword Planner doesn’t have a lot of user reviews out there. This suggests it’s one of the less-popular keyword planning tools.
Abhishek K of Infosys gives Google Keyword Planner 4.5 out of 5 stars. He says the tool is suitable for all business categories and has a user-friendly interface. His only complaints are that the Google Keyword Planner is missing some key features. Namely, there is no tool to check for keyword density, no negative keyword list, and long-tail keywords aren’t suggested for certain categories.
Out of 17 reviews on Trustradius.com, Open Site Explorer has earned a 4 out of 5-star rating overall.
Amber S. of “Salem Communications” describes Open Site Explorer as a “useful link building tool.” According to her, this WordPress SEO plugin does its job well when it comes to building links. However, she also notes that its functionality is limited to just that – link building. Even though she lists far more pros than cons, she only gives Open Site Explorer a 3 out of 5 rating.
Susan S. of “The Search Guru” says that Open Site Explorer is “a must for SEO.” According to this user, the most valuable feature of Open Site Explorer is the “domain authority” tool, which provides data on the influence a given site has on search rankings.
As is most often the case regarding WordPress plugins, the best choice varies depending on your site, business, and needs. When it comes to SEO, you’ll probably want to use some combination of the 4 best WordPress SEO plugins.
But if you’re just starting out and aren’t sure exactly what you need, or if the term “SEO” is just a strange-looking acronym to you, you should definitely give Yoast SEO a try.
Top 4 Best WordPress SEO Plugins Summarized
When all is said and done, the top 4 best WordPress SEO plugins all have useful features. While Yoast SEO is as close as it gets to an all-in-one best choice, it lacks many of the more in-depth features provided by the other SEO plugins.
To truly manage your SEO using a WordPress plugin, you will have to use several of them together. Google Keyword Planner can be used to determine keywords. SEMRush works well for in-depth information on competitors. And Open Site Explorer helps with link-building.
Both Open Site Explorer and SEMRush are geared toward larger businesses who need an extra edge over their competition. Yoast and Google Keyword Planner are made for smaller businesses and beginning bloggers.
Overall, however, Yoast SEO is the best WordPress SEO plugin for beginners. On this point, many millions of people agree.