It’s easy, and it’s simple.
It’s fast; and effective.
Hello! Have you not seen the title?
Table of Contents:
- “Best SEO plugins for WordPress- the ultimate and beyond guide”
- #1. Content Tables for SEO- There’s Value in Keeping Things Organized
- #2. Change a post into a page- Super hack for an immediate SEO boost (with example)!
- #3. HTML Sitemaps- SEO of Yore to Help You Rank Today
- #4. Take Care of Your Broken Links, so They don’t Break You (or Your Site)
- Conclusion- The Best SEO Plugins for WordPress are…?
“Best SEO plugins for WordPress- the ultimate and beyond guide”
This post is all about it.
BUT (and a big one indeed)
those plugins are common, played out and unlikely to help you get an edge. And my post brings something completely new- it’s vastly different from the lot.
I’m here to tell you about several simple, unassuming plugins, and how you can use them in surprising and new ways to boost your SEO in ways you can’t even imagine.
I know it was a long sentence, but I also know that being creative is the name of the game and that tricks you’ll learn now will serve you well in the future.
The best part?
These techniques are based on intimate knowledge on how Google ranks websites. This means that hardly anyone is using them the way I’ll show you. You do it and you’ll be the king of the SEPRS;
Or on your way to becoming one.
#1. Content Tables for SEO- There’s Value in Keeping Things Organized
Table of content (TOC) at the beginning of your post/page can become your secret weapon for gaining a SERP upper hand.
They offer four distinct SEO benefits; these are user experience signals Google drools over very much; it pays to pay attention to them.
And once you learn what they are, and how content tables help your SEO, you’ll wonder how you ever went without them.
a) Decrease Your Pogo Sticking and Increase Your Dwell Time
First (and real quick):
It’s when people land on your site from search, and then quickly go back without reading or staying.
This sends a very strong signal to Google that your site is NOT what the people wanted- and that it should be removed ASAP.
Don’t take pogo sticking lightly.
It is such strong a signal; it can nullify your carefully built links like nothing. It can erase a thousand of them in the blink of an eye.
Because ultimately- it won’t matter. Google wants to please the users and if your site doesn’t… you know what follows, right?
Do it by creating a GREAT site, and a GREAT page.
Have a TOC at the beginning of your post.
A content table will outline the article and give people a glimpse of things to come; crucial, vital information that can help them earn more traffic and money, and that is only a scroll away.
And when they do scroll, they’ll stay longer; read more; convert more; like you more; and your overall score will skyrocket.
And it’s at this point that dwell time kicks in.
What is it?
It’s the total time folks spend on your site. You want that number to be astronomical, for two reasons:
- Google seeing people peruse your page is a sign of quality for you.- your rankings will increase for each keyword the page ranks for.
- That page will generally rank for more stuff, and the rankings will stick. Because it’s now a proven content piece and Google will always fall back on it when in doubt as to whom to rank.
Think of it as an unfair advantage for you, one that perpetuates itself into eternity AND grows stronger over time:)
Did I mention your rankings will stick? 🙂
b) Lower Bounce Rate
Bounce rate is the percentage of people that leave your site after having perused just one page.
One page is enough if it provides value (a voluntary bounce), but generally- you want more. You want every reader to click around and stay for as long as possible.
How to achieve it?
Content tables will get you far, but they’re not enough. You also need the help of little things called internal links. These are lesser known, often despised brothers of their external brethren, but they sure pack a punch when done right.
Great internal linking strategy can:
- Pass authority and freshness from your strongest and newest pages, helping your whole site rank better
- Guide visitors where they want to go- a happy user is a repeat reader.
- Show off your content to a bigger audience, giving you a chance for amplification (links, shares and mentions) in the future.
Linking internally is gold, but here’s the problem:
The links lie smack in the middle of your blog post, often invisible for skimmers and light readers (nearly everyone)
You can probably see where I’m going with this…
TOC at the beginning draw people in and once they discover those links; they click; and magic happens
Bonus- Earn more money with the fuel called- engagement
Do me a favor RIGHT NOW!! (pretty please 🙂 ).
I want to tell you about how TOC’s can help you earn more money (no joke). But I’ find it redundant to put it on paper here because it’s exactly the same story as with internal links.
So, take everything you learned about the awesome synergy of internal links and content tables and just… Replace the word “internal with “affiliate”.
Forget SEO! This is making real money online.
c) Higher CTR with content tables
This is SERP magic, meaning it happens before people even click.
Have you noticed that, when browsing, Google sometimes shows a string of links below the result?
These are called sitelinks and they’re CTR boosters like no others.
Here’s how you can get sitelinks to appear under your listing
Google takes the clickable anchors from content tables and displays them in the SERPS right bellow the meta description. It’s their bid to show the users that particular result has exactly what they need. So they remove any click fear the readers might have had.
Care for an example?
Here’s what I get when I type “Turmeric” in Google.
The first result is from Wikipedia, and it has sitelinks.
Wikipedia reigns supreme for this query because of 3 reasons:
1. It’s a great piece of content.
I checked out the page. It’s awesome. Informative, well-written, with links to other helpful resources.
It deserves to rank well.
And it also satisfies search intent completely. People typing “Turmeric” into Google want to learn about Turmeric, and Wikipedia delivers.
2. It’s freaking Wikipedia!
Wikipedia is the most authoritative non-Google-owned website online
3. It gets amazing CTR
CTR as a ranking factor comes in play when you’re on the first page of Google, but further down, for example sixth.
Sixth result normally gets 2.5% CTR, but if you can get it to be much higher (with the help of site-links and some clever copywriting) you can get a much better percentage of clicks, and this in turn will give you a ranking boost.
In this case, high CTR that WIKI naturally gets (because it’s number 1) reinforces other positive signals Google likes to see:
- High dwell time
- Low bounce rate
- Low pogo sticking
Its’ a snowball effect and the base of the hill in nowhere in sight for Wikipedia.
As for you…
If you can’t beat them- learn from them (so you destroy everyone else)!
Bonus- Weird SEO theory that totally makes sense
I want to hand you over my little relevancy booster secret.
It’s completely passive, meaning it happens on its own and you don’t have to lift a finger. But it’s worth knowing about as it’ll force you to put some thinking into your subheadings.
Don’t you think that those handy internal anchors (so basically- links) are additional signals to Google what certain parts of the page are about? And in turn, what the whole page is about?
I think they do tell, on other words- they’re relevancy boosters.
So for example, in this guide, we have subheadings like
- Content Tables for SEO- There’s Value in Keeping Things Organized
- Change a Post into a Page- Super Hack for an Immediate SEO Boost (with example)!
- HTML Sitemaps- SEO of Yore to Help You Rank Today
All found their way into the content table for this post.
So they signal to Google that the page is about
- Creative use of content tables, so they boost your SEO
- Converting a page into a post and how to do it
- HTML Sitemaps and the unexpected benefits they give
It’s little things like this that help you reach SERP positions that you normally would only dream about.
How to Install and Set-up Content Table Plugin for SEO
Short answer- use this plugin
Long answer– Easy Table of Contents is very simple to set-up, regularly updated and universally functional (works on all WordPress themes,).
So, find/install it in your WordPress dashboard. Then go Settings»Table of Contents
- Enable support– Pages and Posts. Two content formats suitable to host long-form content
- Auto Insert– Pages and Posts
- Position– Before the first heading. This places it between the first heading (H1) and first H2 subhead. Great because it leaves a place for a good intro that segues into the content table (content outline)
- Show when- What is the minimum number of sub headers needed for the table to be created. I suggest 4+; because short form content and content tables don’t get along. In fact, they’re mortal enemies:)
- Display header label– The choice is yours. I see no use for it.
- Allow the user to toggle the visibility of the table of contents- Yes, because more choice is better.
- Show as a hierarchy– Yes, because heading tags will match the logical flow of your piece.
- Counter– Decimal, because numbers are universally. recognizable.
These were basic options you must set-up to have a functional and beautiful table of contents.
You don’t need to do anything else.
However, there’s some advanced stuff that can work wonders for your brand (simple, I promise)
I think default settings are fine for any site, but this adds a nice touch to your tables.
I suggest you use your brand’s colors to spruce up your TOC and make it a match for your website. On my site, I use a shade of orange (that I stole from Neil Patel) AND Microsoft link blue
But since i’m guest posting on Ronald’s site, I need to, no, I want to conform to his brands colors.
So here they are:
- Powerful yet gentle BLACK;
- Hopeful BLUE;
- Calming and inspiring GREEN;
- Strategic WHITE (That’s white)
Let’s take a look:
You can include/exclude headings within your content table.
I decide based on the article length and whether there are many types of different headers. If there are only two or three h4’s- I don’t include them. If there are a dozen or so- I do.
It’s a post-per-post decision but the basic logic is this:
If lesser subheadings include important info- include them.
If they don’t- don’t.
Phew! That’s it.
Now that you know how to create and add a content table to your WordPress posts and pages- my work here is done.
Or is it?
#2. Change a post into a page- Super hack for an immediate SEO boost (with example)!
Let me be blunt:
Converting a page into a post does absolutely nothing in the eyes of Google. Page or post; post or page – they treat it just the same.
So what’s the point in doing it?
The secret lies in what you do after you’ve promoted your humble page into a mighty post.
Here’s my reasoning:
a) Promoting your page like a boss
And I don’t mean “promote” as in do email outreach, I mean- place it in your omnipresent navigation bar.
Do it, and your “new” page will suddenly get an influx of fresh internal links. In fact , every other page and post on your site will link to it and give it it’s fair share of link juice.
This authority boost alone can often bring about a massive SERP shake-up (hint– keywords from that page will rank higher)
b) The page is “important” now
Having that page so high up in your site’s architecture tells Google that content of that page is “special “and thus deserves to be looked on with more attentive eyes.
What it is exactly- I don’t know. I do know you can influence Google by putting a spotlight on a page of your choosing.
c) A little know hack (extremely powerful)- Keyword rich labeling
Since that link will be so high up, you must be mindful of the anchor text you use. Namely, when two links point to the same page, Google only counts the first anchor text (the first anchor rule)
To get the benefit I talk about, you have two choices for your label.
- make it exact match anchor
- or make it descriptive.
The former is stronger. The latter safer.
1. Exact match
If you have high-risk tolerance and need a quick and powerful boost you can have an exact match label
This will give it a huge boost because that same anchor will be repeated across your entire site; and since they’re internal links, Google will turn a blind eye over you having so many exact match anchors.
A few years ago, I had a site called Build Yourself a Brighter Future. It was my first venture into affiliate marketing and I was proud of it. I still am.
There, I had published another Wealthy Affiliate review. Within that review, I tried to be unbiased and thorough. Was it the best ever?
Not by a long shot. I do know it was decent though. And I do know I didn’t rank with it; at all; for any keyword; not even for the longest of long tails.
- I wasn’t a writer I’m today.
- I had no backlinks pointing to my site. I was scared of link building and thought them the devil and his legion of doom,
Yeah, I was such a greenhorn:)
Still, I had to do something.
And indeed I did.
I changed my nav label from “my #1 recommendation” to “Wealthy Affiliate Review”.
Can you guess what happened next?
Yes- I jumped. And it was big. I don’t remember the exact position I was in beforehand, but the jump was drastic. I climbed overnight like 8 pages in Google, from position 120 something to 30 something. And for Bing it was even bigger of an increase, almost cracking the first page….
All that from changing one navigation label, for a well optimized, but weak page, on a new-born, infant website.
I had no links whatsoever!
Do you realize what this means? What it could mean for you? It was crazy. I got scared and returned it the way it was the following day
I was terrified that an overnight change like that is bound to attract some kind of penalty. Simply because it was so large and fast. It had to be “illegal”.
I haven’t tried that since but I’m sure it would work just as well.
And now, my experience tells me it’s really not so dangerous to do.
It’s just a handy label that tells people exactly where they’ll go if they click. SEO gains come second to UX benefits.
To prove my point (sort of) take a look at the conversation I had with Cyrus Shepard on his site architecture guide.
Did I ask him about nav labels and keywords, and the gist of his response?
It’s worth testing:)
Now, if you don’t want to risk it…
Use Partial Match Anchors
This way, you still get the benefits of keyword-rich labeling, but with no danger of incurring a penalty. But it won’t be as strong as from the example I gave above.
When to Use and One Downside of This Technique
There’s a big issue with this tactic.
You’re repeating one anchor across the entire site, and removing the chance to feed other relevant anchors into Google’s algorithm. And internal links are powerful messengers on what your page is about.
Plus, in-body internal links are much more powerful than all other types (navigation, sidebar and footer links)
So it’s a trade-off you need to be aware of.
I won’t be using this technique anytime soon, but if you want to, make sure you do for a really important keyword, and where there aren’t many long tails you could be missing on.
Or simply get more backlinks, that’ll solve everything:)
How to Change Posts into Pages in WordPress (with an example)
With a plugin called Post Type Switcher. It’s insanely simple, to use, there’s no need to set it up and it’s updated and popular.
- Install/activate from your WordPress dashboard
- Enter the “edit mode” of a published post you want to be converted to a page
- Change the “post” label with the “page” one, and then update the page
And that’s all there is to it. This new page will now be promoted and get all the SEO goodies I mentioned above.
Use them wisely:)
A while ago, when I still had my previous website (buildyourselfabrighterfuture.com) I made a video tutorial on how to use this plugin. It accompanied my article on converting posts into pages and pages into posts.
That post is long gone now, but the video remained:
Enjoy, and please don’t cringe with how bad it is. It was my first video ever, I had no equipment or software, and I’m a highly introverted person. You can imagine what demons I had to face while making this recording.
But in retrospect- it was a lot of fun:)
#3. HTML Sitemaps- SEO of Yore to Help You Rank Today
HTML sitemaps are very old, having been around since forever. But they also look to be a forgotten part of SEO and UX, hardly any website uses them anymore.
Why is that?
Is it because people think that Google is so good at discovering content that sitemaps have no purpose? Or perhaps they think that all they need is an XML sitemap, and can’t be bothered to create one for the visitors?
It’s a lulling feeling I know; ah, to be able to check off yet another SEO task of the list… forever
However… you knew it was coming, right? 🙂
Yes, Google probably doesn’t need your list of links (though they still recommend them)
Yes, most sites don’t have HTML sitemaps but are still crushing it with their SEO.
But you DO need them.
And here’s exactly why
The SEO/UX Benefits of HTML Sitemaps
Smaller sites can benefit from them too.
Folks often have trouble navigating websites, and well-placed sitemap can quickly get them where they want to go.
To you, it means more people will consume your stuff.
And this alone will help:
a) Your Long-Term SEO
More content exposure and more time on site send all kind of positive signals to Google that your site is high quality. And you know what that means, don’t you?
b) Brand Building
The longer someone stays on your site, the more they develop a positive brand bias towards you.
My brand is my name- Nikola Roza.
So here you are reading my guest post on Ronald’s website, and that is your first contact with my name. But then you reach the end (congratulations) and you decide to click on my author bio link and visit my site.
Now, right there! That’s already your second contact with my brand. My name doesn’t look so foreign to you anymore, right:)
And then you read, and browse, and scroll; and click on internal links. You get genuine value from visiting my site and you grow a subconscious liking for me and my brand.
So next time, when you see me in the SERPS, competing against other people of whom you know nothing about, you’re going to choose me over them… even if I’m not number 1 for that particular keyword.
You will learn to associate Nikola Roza with:
- Writes awesome content
- Knows SEO
- Likes to brag a bit
- Funny guy
And I see nothing wrong with that:)
c) Anchor Text Manipulation
Don’t let the word scare you. You’re not manipulating the algo, you’re simply sending keyword-rich anchor texts to their target pages.
And since that page is linked to from everywhere (because it’s in the footer or navigation), it’s authoritative and those links become very strong, very fast.
Here’s how to tap into that strength:
First, learn to write great headlines.
Best headlines in the world are those that:
- entice to click
- are keyword abundant
- promise a benefit
- are followed by delivering (and over delivering) on that promise
Second, Add some unique text to your sitemap.
Google probably ignores HTML sitemap links:
They do it because they get no value from it, and don’t want to give value to such a page.
But you can circumvent this by adding unique text to the page. It doesn’t have to be much. Just a little intro about the type of content you write about, and a call to action to get people to use your links.
That’s words aplenty.
This will help it get indexed (and perhaps rank even), and it’ll provide relevance and strength to all your links on that page.
One Last Tip
As you hopefully learned by getting this far, links in your site’s navigation are given special treatment by Google.
By placing your sitemap there, and not in the footer (where most sites do wrong), you’re telling Google that the page is important and that its content is important too.
For example, Crazy Egg has an excellent sitemap (image from above). It’s divided into categories that funnel authority to all posts that belong to those categories. It’s a good example of excellent site architecture where each published post can be reached in just two clicks.
But their sitemap is just linked with no text. Who knows how Google treats it, and I’m sure that, if they were to add some unique content to it, those links would become stronger.
#4. Take Care of Your Broken Links, so They don’t Break You (or Your Site)
Broken links lead to broken pages. No that’s not that. Let me start over. Links are broken, but the pages are not. They still exist and you want to establish contact ASAP
Here are 3 excellent reasons why:
a) Broken Links Leak Authority
They do, and you need to fix them if you want to rank in Google. Google’s algorithm lives off links and those pass link value (PageRank, equity metric and who knows what else).
The more quality backlinks you have, the easier it is to rank- simple
b) Broken Links Lower Your Site’s Quality Score
One or two faulty links- no big deal. But have too many and Google could start to view your whole site as untrustworthy.
Can you guess where untrustworthy sites dwell? You can; it’s easy. But you can never verify it, because it’d take you forever to find them- on the last pages of Google
c) Broken Links Leak Trust
And I don’t mean trust as a ranking factor. I mean confidence your site’s visitors have that yours is THE ONE TRUE site that can solve their troubles.
I mean, how can they trust you when you’re obviously incompetent? You can’t even take care of a few broken links
Oh but you can!
And it’s easy.
How to Find Broken Links (404 errors) in a Self-Hosted WordPress
With a plugin of course. There are plugins for everything in WordPress and now we require this one
Install and activate it.
Once done head on over to Tools»Broken links.
And you’ll get something like this:
this plugin is a huge time-saver because it allows you to correct those links within the dashboard itself. So you don’t have to waste time hunting for individual links across many pages.
Here are your options:
- Change URL- If you’ve done a 301 redirect, you can change the URL here, so the link stops giving a 404 error
- Unlink– removes the link
- Not broken– tell the plugin to treat is a functional link
- Dismiss– tell the plugin to stop reporting it
- Recheck– once you’ve fixed the link, recheck it so it gets green-lighted by the almighty plugin.
Note: This plugin is resource-intensive. Meaning it’ll make your site a lagging experience before you know it.
My advice- once you’ve checked and fixed broken links- turn it off.
How to Fix Broken Links (404 errors) in Web 2.0 and Free Websites?
- Site Rubix
- Square Space
There are hundreds of them. These are platforms that allow you to create a free account and just… start blogging.
- everything else
All taken care of for you- yours is just to produce content.
Free sites are great for beginners but they also come with big limitations. And no, you definitely can’t install plugins, which means, no Broken Link Checker:(
So, does that mean you’re doomed to live with broken links forever, especially now that you are aware of how they hurt you in more ways than one?
Of course not!
Introducing Broken Link Check.com
It’s an online tool that can scan up to 3000 pages on your site, and for exactly $0!
So, click the link above and paste the URL you want checked
I will use my half-abandoned Tumblr property
Here’s the result.
I have just one 404 error, which is nothing. But this site is tiny, with just 3 published posts, Yours will probably have many more.
Get them fixed before they cause trouble!
Conclusion- The Best SEO Plugins for WordPress are…?
Phew, and we are done
Best SEO plugins for WordPress?
WHAT are they?
WHERE are they?
They’re here there and everywhere!. Earlier you couldn’t notice them, but now you can.
And my article’s purpose is fulfilled.
But what about my secret goal?
“What secret goal”- you ask.
The idea that drove me to write this guide is to show folks that almost any plugin can be used beyond it’s intended purpose. By thinking a bit and tinkering a lot, you CAN extract SEO value in situations where others see yet other plugins to burden their site.
Make plugins your easiest points to win in this SEO race, and… see you at the goal!
Be sure to share first, and leave a comment second;
I’m curious to hear what you think…