SEO plugins can help simplify the SEO process, and give you step by step instructions to set foundational SEO elements about your website.

Do I need an SEO plugin?

Technically, you don’t have to use an SEO plugin, but it sure does make life easier. Besides, there are plenty of great free options on the market, so there isn’t any added cost involved.

By using an SEO plugin you can apply the appropriate markup that will improve your rankings in search engines and drive more traffic to your website. SEO plugins make this easy for even a beginner to configure.

What SEO plugin should I choose?

While there are many SEO plugins in the repository, it’s usually best advised to stick with one of the popular ones. They will give you the most options, the ability to import or export data, and be the most user friendly.

SEO plugins in the WordPress repo
SEO plugins in the WordPress repo

Some of the most popular plugins include: Yoast SEO, Rank Math, SEOPress, and The SEO Framework.

Like many things in the WordPress ecosystem, which SEO plugin you choose comes down to your personal needs and taste. If it’s your first time working with an SEO plugin, try a few of the free versions out and see which one feels most comfortable to you.

Getting started with an SEO plugin

There are plenty of free options for SEO plugins inside the WordPress repository. From the dashboard of your website hover over ‘Plugins’ then click ‘Add New’. Do a search for one of the SEO plugins listed above (or any other you might want to try), then install and activate the plugin.

After you install and activate your chosen SEO plugin, most will provide you with a Setup Wizard that will get you started with the basic information, like: company name, contact information, social media channels, etc.

SEOPress setup wizard
SEOPress setup wizard

Beyond the basic setup, the companies listed above have plenty of documentation that will go more in-depth with all the settings you can apply using an SEO plugin, including: page titles, meta descriptions, sitemaps, and even Schema.

Do I need to pay for an SEO plugin?

This decision is up to you, ultimately. Many SEO plugins have both a free and a paid-for version. Typically some of the more advanced (and powerful!) features are locked away in the premium versions.

The price for premium SEO plugins can vary pretty dramatically, but in my experience the price does not directly correlate with the quality.

Rank Math, for example, has exploded in popularity starting in 2019— only offering a free version. Even though there is no paid option, the free plugin offers most (if not all) of the features of a premium SEO plugin.

More information on SEO plugins

Keep in mind a SEO plugin does not guarantee any results. It’s simply a tool that will help you apply some SEO techniques. Beyond needed some basic understand of SEO best practices, there are other factors that affect SEO that a SEO plugin doesn’t address (like page speed, content quality, traffic, etc.)

Ahrefs provides a very detailed list on 15 of the best SEO plugins for WordPress. Be sure to also search on YouTube where you can find loads of tutorials on the subject.