You ask for a solid list of WordPress SEO and speed optimization tools, I’ll give it to you.
Paid services are highlighted and I use most of these on my own WordPress site. Use the table of contents to find what you need, otherwise I hope you enjoy the tools. I worked hard on it :)
All In One Schema Rich Snippets – adds rich snippets but has minimal settings and customization options – so the markup doesn’t look as fancy when displayed in the content. It’s free and supports review, recipes, and event rich snippets, but I prefer (and use) WP Review by MyThemeShop. It looks nicer and has more options. Here’s a page I use it on.
All In One SEO – alternative to Yoast, but I still use Yoast.
Automatic Image Alt Attributes – automatically adds alt text using the image file name (saves lots of time). You would otherwise need to add alt text to each individual image manually.
Better Search Replace – bulk update links, images and other content. Helpful if you changed www or HTTPS versions and need to bulk update all images/links to the new version. Or, if you’re like me and need to update an image that is on multiple pages, this saves lots of time.
Broken Link Checker – detects broken links on your site. Dr. Link Check is good, but this plugin lets you fix them inside WordPress with 1-click options to edit or unlink each one. Drawback is that it consumes high CPU (so uninstall the plugin immediately when you’re done fixing links).
Easy Table Of Contents – adding a TOC to long posts is incredibly beneficial to users and search engines. However, I recommend not using a plugin for this and instead, manually coding an HTML table of contents which allows users to jump to specific sections (and link to them). Assigning name anchors will also give you a chance of Google awarding you jump-to links.
Google Site Kit – still in beta, this combines Google’s most popular website management tools (Google Search Console, Analytics, AdSense, PageSpeed Insights) into 1 WordPress plugin.
Quick Page/Post Redirect Plugin – fix broken pages or URLs you changed or deleted using redirects. Check crawl errors in Google Search Console (or in Yoast) to find your broken links.
Rank Math – promising SEO plugin by MyThemeShop with a ton of built-in features like rich snippets, Google Search Console integration, multiple keywords optimization, keyword rank tracking, LSI keyword tool, local SEO options, internal linking suggestions, and much more.
Really Simple SSL – automatically configures your site to HTTPS. You will still need an SSL (I use the free Let’s Encrypt SSL from SiteGround), but this plugin makes it very easy to setup.
Republish Old Posts – makes your content look fresh by updating all your post modified dates to current day, which will be reflected in search engines. This is cheap (since you didn’t update the post with new content), but it keeps dates current and can increase click-through rates.
WP Review – rich snippets plugin I use (here’s a page I use it on). Other plugins aren’t very good… WP Rich Snippets was abandoned by the developer, and All In One Schema is boring and lacks customization options. WP Review supports 14 data types including reviews and recipes, is updated frequently, looks nice, and is supported by the team at MyThemeShop.
Yoast – most popular SEO plugin. You can break Yoast down into 3 steps: configure the plugin settings, researching keywords, and creating optimized content about those keywords. These are key steps, but most people get them wrong, so see my Yoast guide to learn how to do them.
Yoast Local SEO – adds a KML file for Google Maps, schema.org, and other optimizations for local SEO, with the option to embed a Google Map and store locator. Probably won’t improve rankings as these are such a micro part of local (I would check Google’s local ranking factors).
Yoast Premium – won’t actually improve your rankings, but (in my humble opinion), includes fancy features which you really don’t need. Redirects can be done using a free plugin, multiple focus keywords often require using partial matches (which Yoast’s SEO analysis doesn’t always detect), and I have heard support just refers you to their tutorials. IMO, not worth $89/year.
Yoast WooCommerce SEO – improves social formatting when content is shared on social media, excludes unnecessary pages from your sitemap, and adds a Yoast breadcrumb option.
AMP For WP – adds AMP (accelerated mobile pages) to make mobile pages load faster while giving you an AMP icon in mobile search results. The drawback is that it changes your mobile design which can decrease conversions. For this reason, I decided against using an AMP plugin.
Cache Plugins – here are the top rated cache plugins (you only need 1).
- WP Rocket – #1 rated cache plugin in many Facebook polls, is $49, and is what I use. WP Rocket has many features most cache plugins don’t and is therefore able to give you better scores and load times in GTmetrix + Pingdom. These built-in features include database cleanup, Cloudflare, CDN URL fields, lazy loading, and hosting Google Analytics code locally. With WP Rocket, you don’t need extra plugins as these are built-in. The settings are easy to setup and it comes with great documentation + support.
- Swift Performance – usually the #1 free cache plugin in Facebook polls and comes with many features included with WP Rocket. It has great feedback in the WordPress Speed Up Facebook Group with many people saying it’s the best free cache plugin. The settings can be quite overwhelming to configure, but it does have a setup wizard.
- SG Optimizer – this is SiteGround’s cache plugin (only works if you’re on their hosting). It’s caching is faster than any other cache plugin, but (even after their big updates to it) still lacks many features included with other cache plugins. I use SG Optimizer strictly for caching (with all other options turned off) then use WP Rocket for everything else.
- W3 Total Cache – free cache plugin with robust settings, but a history of causing errors. However, the developer has recently made many updates and it seems like the plugin’s reputation might be coming back, as it was once a great cache plugin.
- WP Fastest Cache – free cache plugin that is easy to configure with options to integrate Cloudflare, StackPath, and other CDNs (but I still use WP Rocket).
CAOS For Webfonts – loads Google Fonts, Font Awesome, and other external fonts locally.
CDN Enabler – includes a CDN URL field to help you setup your content delivery network.
Clearfy – speeds up website by disabling unnecessary WordPress functions (similar to WP Disable) and includes some SEO + security features. Great reviews/ratings on WordPress.
CSS Sprite Generator – combines multiple images into 1 single image, which makes them load much faster. This is usually only done with decorative images, such as icons. I did this on my homepage… instead of loading 30 icons (which would be 30 requests), it loads 1 (1 request).
Display PHP Version – shows which PHP version your site runs, which should be 7.0 or higher.
GTmetrix For WordPress – schedule GTmetrix reports and see them directly in WordPress dashboard, or through scheduled email reports. Great for monitoring your site speed + scores.
Lazy Load For Videos – delays loading of videos until you scroll down the page and actually see them, which can significantly reduce load times for content with videos. You do not need this if using WP Rocket since it has lazy loading built-in to the settings. I suggest only lazy loading videos (not photos) as it’s annoying for users to constantly load images as they scroll.
P3 Profiler – finds slowest loading plugins, though this plugin hasn’t been updated for years.
PHP Compatibility Checker – checks plugins/theme to ensure compatibility with new PHP versions, however it doesn’t have great reviews because it can often skip over larger plugins.
Plugin Organizer – selectively load plugins on specific content. The most common example is loading your contact form only on your contact page (so it doesn’t load on every single page).
WP Disable – disables unnecessary WordPress settings like autosaves, post revisions, Gravatars, emojis, and other features in WordPress core. It also has addition speed options like heartbeat control, hosting Google Analytics code locally, and minimizing requests.
WP-Optimize – cleans WordPress database by removing post revisions, spam/trash comments, transients, and unused database tables. If using WP Rocket, you do not need this as it’s built-in to the WP Rocket settings. Always take a backup before cleaning your database.
StudioPress Plugins – all lightweight, free, and developed for the Genesis Framework. Using lightweight plugins is one of the best things you can do to make sure your website loads fast.
Google PageSpeed Insights – speed recommendations which many people don’t find helpful since it doesn’t even measure load time (the primary metric in site speed). But it does measure server response time which indicates your hosting (server) is slow and should be under 200ms.
GTmetrix – speed recommendations I find most helpful out of all tools, especially for finding unoptimized images, and using the Waterfall tab to see your slowest loading plugins/elements.
HTTP/2 Test – check if your website (hosting) supports HTTP/2 which makes your site faster.
Query Monitor – check your slowest loading plugins, scripts, etc. Great alternative to P3.
Cloudflare – free CDN with 165+ data centers that makes your site faster, with speed/security options like accelerated mobile links, hotlink protection, Railgun, Page Rules, and caching. Easy to setup with most cache plugins, and some hosts have an option to enable it in the cPanel. This requires signing up for a free account, changing nameservers, and configuring the settings.
Transfonter – fix font-related errors in GTmetrix/Pingdom by using Transfonter to convert fonts (eg. Google Fonts) to web fonts, upload them to WordPress, then add them to your CSS.
Answer The Public – my favorite keyword research tool which pulls keywords from Google Autocomplete and breaks them down into question, preposition, and comparison keywords. Reviewing “question keywords” is a great way to make sure your content is comprehensive (it answers all questions people have about that topic). It also shows each keyword’s estimated competition (each keyword has a green circle, and the darker it is, the more competitive it is).
Google Trends – see keyword trends and what region they’re being searched the most.
Google Autocomplete – keyword suggestions based on people’s previous search history. Have Google complete the phrase, or use the underline character _ to have Google “fill in the blank.”
Google Keyword Planner – one of my least favorite keyword research tools since it was specifically built for Google AdWords, and does not reflect data in organic results (SEO).
HubShout WebGrader – see keywords you rank for, competitor keywords, and compare your keywords, domain authority, links, top content, and referring domains against competitors.
Keywordtool.io – pulls keywords from Google Autocomplete (my favorite source).
Keywords Everywhere – shows monthly searches, CPC, and estimated competition directly in search engines and other platforms (Google, YouTube, Amazon, Etsy, Moz, Google Analytics).
Moz Keyword Explorer – a better keyword research tool than Google Keyword Planner. Learn each keyword’s monthly searches and use filters to group related phrases (so you’re not browsing the same ones) and filter by search volume, broad/specific keywords, and questions.
MozBar Google Chrome Extension – lets you Google any keyword and estimate the competition based on each search result’s DA (domain authority) and PA (page authority).
Ubbersuggest – Neil Patel’s keyword suggestion tool which estimates the keyword’s competition in organic results, however I always like to review the top results manually.
vidIQ Chrome Extension – analyze competition for YouTube keywords by installing this extension, searching your keyword in YouTube, and clicking the top results. The extension generates an SEO score based on the video’s likes, views, comments, social shares, subscribers, view times, and other metrics about the video. See what tags are used and description length.
Check My Links – Chrome Extension that checks and highlights broken links on a page.
Dr. Link Check – find broken links on your WordPress site. Scans 7,500 links/month for free.
Google Disavow Tool – if you hired a link builder who created spammy links and are worried about your rankings being harmed, use this tool to ask Google not to take these into account.
Moz Link Explorer – check your website’s domain authority, inbound links, anchor text, and link metrics with an option to upgrade. Helpful for finding link opportunities from competitor sites. This tool can also be used in conjunction with MozBar to make sure your keywords aren’t too competitive (try competing with websites that have similar domain authority as your own).
Google Local Orders & Appointments – feature for Google My Business that lets people book appointments, reservations, place orders, view menus, and search information on your business. Fill out this form and use a third-party booking/ordering service like seamless.com.
Google My Business – the single most important factor in local SEO and is now 25% of 2018’s local search ranking factors. Make sure you verify ownership and fill out everything including: photos + videos, categories, description, address or service area, attributes, menu/services, special hours, questions, custom URL, 360° virtual tour (if it makes sense). You should respond to reviews and respond to people’s messages. Posting updates has become increasingly important. You can also use local business URLs (eg. appointments, reservations, bookings), and hotels can add class ratings and amenities. Lastly, read the Google My Business guidelines.
Moz Local – fix incomplete, inconsistent, and duplicate citations. A must-have tool for local SEO and your goal should be to get your Moz Local scores as close to 100% as possible.
Whitespark Citation Building Service – buy citations for $4-5 each which can improve local rankings especially in Google Maps. I have used Whitespark for many clients and they get great results with detailed reports, links to your new citation profiles, and 1 universal login. Citations have become less important in local ranking factors, but you should still do them.
Whitespark Citation Cleanup Service – if your citations are a mess (eg. in Moz Local), you can pay $149+ to have Whitespark clean up incomplete, inconsistent, and duplicate citations.
Whitespark Local Rank Tracker – measures local rankings in Google/Bing in both organic results and Map results. A super easy and most user-friendly way to measure local keywords.
AWStats – learn if something is causing high CPU usage (bandwidth) on your site like specific crawlers, images, file downloads, and IP addresses. Reducing CPU consumption can make your server/website load faster. This is built-in to many hosting cPanels in the “statistics” section.
Google Analytics – has almost everything you need for analytics, and as long as you’re familiar with the tabs on the left, you can vastly improve your content, SEO, and conversions based visitor data including gender, age, geography, device, content, CTR, average time on site, etc. Click the “acquisitions” tab and go to “Landing Pages” for a snapshot of content performance.
Screaming Frog SEO Spider & Crawler Tool – desktop program (for PC or Mac) that tells you about broken links, page titles, meta descriptions, URLs, images, and lots of other SEO data.
Search Analytics – feature in Google Search Console that measures your website’s keyword position, click-through rates, and has filters for countries/devices/pages/queries. Lets you compare data to the previous 28 days, and is a great tool for measuring SEO performance. I use this over Google Analytics as keywords, CTR, and ranking positions are my main concern.
SEMRush – all-in-one SEO toolkit with literally a plethora of analytics on keywords, backlink profile, citation listings for local SEO, and auditing + reporting tools. For example, I can see how many backlinks I have gained vs. how many I’ve lost, letting me monitor links if I lose them.
*These tend to be the 4 top hosting companies in the WordPress Hosting and WordPress Speed Up Facebook Group which are well run and have 10,000 members in each group. The general consensus is to stay away from EIG brands who owns 60+ different hosting companies including Bluehost, HostGator, iPage, Site5, and many others. They are known for packing too many people on the same server (resulting in slow load times) and mediocre support/uptimes.
Cloudways – usually rated #2 after SiteGround, but with no CPU limit issues. Chat support is lacking, but are good if you want pure speed and a clean interface. Plans start at $10/month.
Kinsta – one of the best all around hosts, but plans start at $30/month. They guarantee 100% uptimes and I’ve heard nothing but great things about their speed, uptimes, and support.
SiteGround – rated the #1 host in 10 Facebook polls and is who I use. They’re recommended by WordPress and do free migrations. Higher plan like their semi-dedicated GoGeek plan come with more server resources (#1 speed factor) and all plans come with many WordPress features like Cloudflare and free SSL. There’s more to speed than hosting, but I have <1s load times with SiteGround and 100% GTmetrix reports. Plans start at $3.95/month (promo price).
WP Engine – managed WordPress hosting with plans starting at $35/month. They recently acquired StudioPress and seem to be cornering the market, but they’re a good options. They have their own built-in caching and hold up well for websites expecting high spikes in traffic.
Divi – one of the most popular WordPress themes, developed by Elegant Themes.
StudioPress – reliable WordPress theme store and developers of the Genesis Framework. The place I’d go if you want a theme that is SEO-friendly, mobile responsive, HTML5, and secure.
Other SEO Tools
Data Highlighter – feature in Google Search Console which helps you add rich snippets.
Fetch As Google – tests whether Google can access a page, how it renders it, and any resources (eg. images or scripts) that are blocked from Google. Can help debug crawl issues.
Freelancer.com – hire freelancers to help you with WordPress design, development, speed optimization, graphic design, copywriting and more. This was a savior when I started my career and I still use user BDKAMOL and I333 for WordPress development and speed optimization.
Google AdWords – PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns if you want to advertise your site in Google.
Google News – get your articles published in Google News for an additional source of traffic.
Google Posts – allows people/businesses to create content directly on Google which appears highly ranked in Google for their names (Search Engine Land calls them “business cards”).
Google Site Attributes – enhance your business information in Google’s search results and knowledge graph with your business name, location, contact info, logo, social profiles, etc.
Google Structured Data Testing Tool – tests for errors when adding rich snippets to your site.
Google Tag Manager – optimize your traffic and online marketing using tags – without code.
Moz Pro – comprehensive SEO suite allowing you to track rankings, keywords, links, and optimize pages. I don’t use it (too expensive) when I can track keywords in Search Console’s Search Analytics, I already know how to do on-page SEO, and most things I can do for free.
Siteliner – scans entire website for duplicate content, broken links, and technical SEO errors.
Structured Data Markup Helper – if your structured data isn’t working, use this tool.
Sucuri Checker – checks malware, blacklist status, website errors, and out-of-date software.
WooRank – most SEO audit tools aren’t good, but this is simple, free, and somewhat decent.
TubeBuddy – tools built-in to the YouTube website showing you mentions of your brands, statistics/rankings on videos, and video SEO suggestions. Recommended by Backlinko.
BuzzSumo – popular email software and WordPress plugin, but can slow down your site.
Copyscape – plagiarism checker that detects duplicate articles, which can penalize your SEO.
Embed Code Generator – credits your infographics/videos by giving readers an embed code.
Genesis Framework – WordPress framework developed by StudioPress which keeps your site running fast and reliable. Recommended by top people (Yoast, Matt Cutts, Matt Mullenweg). I generally recommend using StudioPress themes but there are other third-party Genesis theme stores too, like Hello You Designs, Restored 316 Designs, and Pretty Darn Cute Design.
Let’s Encrypt SSL – free and trusted SSL you can use to make your website secure. Some hosting companies (like SiteGround) have an option to enable this in your hosting cPanel.
Snippet Variables – templates for SEO titles + meta descriptions which are customizable in Yoast’s settings, however writing these manually is always better. The typical snippet variable for pages/posts is %%page%% %%sep%% %%sitename%% which in my case, would read as: Page Title – Online Media Masters. This would only be used if they’re not written manually.
Thirsty Affiliates – affiliate link management plugin I use which cloaks, nofollows, and help you categorize affiliate links. Premium version comes with lots of great features like automatic keyword linking, statistics, and Google Analytics Events and Tag Manager integration.
Yoast Bulk Editor – edit SEO titles + meta descriptions in bulk which is an easy way to increase CTRs. The bulk editor doesn’t detect character length or focus keywords, so make sure you’re including you’re taking this into account (around 55 for SEO titles, 155 for meta descriptions).
Yoast SEO Analysis – content optimization suggestions based on whether your focus keyword is used in the content, plus other factors. Yoast will only detect exact matches of your keyword (no partial matches) and it’s OK for some lights to remain red since synonyms can be often be used (if my focus keyword is SEO Consultant and I use SEO Consulting, Yoast won’t detect it). Or maybe your “sprinkled” your keyword in the headline to make it sound better since an exact keyword match sounds spammy. Some of these can be taken with a grain of salt.
Yoast Metabox Insights – shows which words are used most in content (I have this disabled).
Yoast Readability Analysis – tells you whether sentences/paragraphs are too short, long, whether you’re using transition words, etc. I don’t find this very helpful and have it disabled.
Yoast Ryte Analysis – detects whether your website is indexed in search engines.
Yoast Text Link Counter – counts how many internal links are used in your pages/posts.
YouTube Autocomplete – start typing a phrase in YouTube to find video keyword suggestions.