#WeBuildWednesdays 58: Five Must-Use Plugins for WordPress SEO

Enhance Your SEO with WordPress Plugins

Mike: What’s going on guys? Happy Wednesday! This is Mike, I’m here with Eric and Tara – brought in some SEO gurus to talk to you today about five plugins that will undoubtedly help your WordPress SEO. So these two know WordPress SEO like the back of their hands, I’ll tell you that right now Eric is our Director of Search, you may have seen him from previous videos and Tara is our Senior SEO Specialist here and between the two of them, they have more SEO knowledge in their little fingers and I probably have in my entire small brain here. So I’m gonna turn it over to you guys which plugin are we talking about first?


Tara: Yeah, so there are a few that we really stick to with most of our WordPress sites obviously, some sites are older but if we’re focusing on site speed one of the biggest ones we so we focus on is Smush. I know here at Youtech we use the pro version which we found is totally worth it. When sites come in with a ton of pictures, when you upload those pictures it’ll automatically smush those and compress it for the best site speed.

You can also set your own settings depending on how big the pictures are. You can make it so that some of the bigger pictures don’t get smushed if it’s for certain pages so it’s really, we’ve found that the pro version you can really customize it to exactly how you want. It also you can enable lazy load – sorry cut out there for a second – but you can enable these lazy loading, you can do your own picture settings like I said. So Smush pro we found is really one of the best as far as site speed goes and it can do thousands at once which is really great especially for maybe blog pages or I mean sorry blog sites that have pictures on every page. So there’s really quite a lot you can do within that one Smush plugin and that’s really one of the biggest ones we stick with for all of our WordPress sites.

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Mike: And it’s easy too! I can do it. I just go in and click Smush and bam!

Eric: Yeah, more so I set it and forget it pretty much tool.


Mike: Yeah, exactly! You don’t even need to click smush if you have the auto settings on.


Tara: Yeah, you know if you’re not as familiar on the design side or that with the pictures you can totally go in let it do its thing, you don’t need to be a pro in that area to understand that plug-in at all.


Mike: It does provide a noticeable increase in site speed. I think that’s important because there are so many things out there – like if some runs the Google speed test, I forget what it’s called, but the Google speed test thing or whatever. I know people are always looking at that, they look at their number, and the number is not good and they’re like “what can I do?” “what can I do?” and all this stuff. Some of the things on there, they’ll increase your site speed but it’s going to be pretty minuscule and you might not even notice, but if you’re using Smosh and you’re really compressing or resizing those images it’s gonna be good.


Tara: Yes, and like I said here is a free version that I don’t think it auto compresses the images maybe or compresses as many at once. But there is a free version that still does your site good if you’re not looking to pay for something.


Mike: Yeah. What other plugins we got Eric?


Monitor Your Site with Hummingbird

Eric: To go kind of hand-in-hand with that one, same company called WPMU Dev. They do Smush Pro, they do this one, it’s called Hummingbird which goes along with the speed testing. Essentially Hummingbird is kind of a monitor tool. They will notify you when your site’s pretty slow. They notify you when there are certain pages on your site that is slow. And they have the Google speed test built into it so it’s consistently running through it and it notifies you what could be changed. So they can minify and they can actually combine different sets of files on your site so it’s definitely multiple ones that can compress them together. This way there’s less a real chunk on your site and with that helps a lot with file compression, more so as gzip and things like those.

So essentially what it does is it takes your file and it will compress them down for you. So that those are really the big bulk of the back end of the site. If you have a designer or a coder they’re adding all the codes to the back on the site for them, they’re not really thinking of the speed of it they’re thinking the functionality and a design of it so this one’s kind of a good tool to have with you to really meir all that and get notifications when it happens. It’s an awesome tool we have, we put on every single site that we use, just to pretty much monitor everything. It’s the same type as Smush too where you can set all the settings and then from there you’re pretty much good, you don’t really have to do anything. It’ll notify from there and then minify anything you deem as something that shouldn’t be compressed.

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Mike: I might be wrong on this so correct me if I’m wrong but it also can monitor your site for uptime as well right? So if your site goes down or anything it can shoot you a notification?


Eric: So that one the one that knows the downtime is called Defender. It’s with WPMU Dev and if anyone was looking for a suite of plugins that is by far the coolest one that we found most useful. It’s a monthly fee you can add to all the WordPress sites that you want. But that one does do a great job as far as notifying if people are trying to hack your site, if there’s malware, if there’s a lot of IP addresses that contain to try it consume site, and also downtime as well. So if there’s any time in all that the site went down they’ll shoot you a notification.


Mike: Well it is cool that they all go hand in hand like that – and like you said it’s an entire suite and I think there are upwards of a hundred different plugins in just that suite so you just purchased the whole thing at once then you get access to everything.


Eric: Yes it’s if you’re agency style, or if you have multiple sites that’s definitely something you should definitely look at.


Tara: Like Eric said too, when developers and designers are creating sites they don’t often think of site speed. So things like Smoosh, and when you need to minify files, it’s just super helpful because they don’t think about that side but it’s extremely important for SEO and user experience.


Mike: Yeah, absolutely. What are some other plugins you guys use?


Conquer On-Page Optimization with Yoast

Tara: So, Yoast is another huge one. I’m sure if you’ve done any kind of SEO research at all you’ve heard of Yoast. It’s pretty much all-in-one for page optimization. You can do title tags, you can do meta descriptions, you can go in and make pages no index, you can get an evaluation from Yoast on how that specific page is performing – not performing – but how the SEO on that page looks. So you can control category pages, tag pages, things like that. You can go in and add Bing certification, Google search, being places certification, Google search console, really all in one place for a lot of optimization tools. That’s something that we use on top of a few other optimization plugins for the site but that’s really where we focus our – what you see in the search engine results page, a lot of that comes from what we do in Yoast in the plugin.

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Mike: Yoast really does make it easy too. I’ll tell you what, if I had to go into a WordPress site, and I had to modify a meta description and I didn’t have an SEO plugin to do it, I don’t think I’d be able to do it.


Eric: Yeah, super user-friendly.


Tara: You can also add redirects through Yoast too. So if you have 404 pages, if you have pages that you’re deleting you can also add redirects from the Yoast plugin as well which is super helpful, it makes it super easy for people who aren’t necessarily an agency or they’re doing SEO on their own website and it makes those things that sound overwhelming super easy for us.


Mike: Yeah, and if you are someone who’s doing it on your own I think if there’s one plugin to download for SEO it’s probably Yoast. That’s going to be the one that’s going to give you the most impact out of anything that we talked about here today.


Tara: Yeah, for sure.


Eric: Definitely.


Mike: Anything else Eric?


Enhance User Experience with WP Structured Data Schema

Eric: Yeah two more of the ones that we deem as probably the most important ones. So these are the five that we have on every site as far as WordPress goes. The next one is called WP Structured Data Schema. This plugin is awesome because essentially structured data is not really new but it’s still something that I feel like a lot of people don’t understand.

Essentially what structured data does is it’s extra snippets of code that goes on your site – so say you wrote about a blog or a recipe. They are deeming different categories of what they should say so, the date that you launched it, the day it’s modified, your short description, your long description, your title, etc. Depending on what you’re writing there are different criteria of what you’re going to put. So when you fill this all out, essentially to get put structured data on the back end of that page, and that page will take that information and then share it with search engines to better understand what the data means.

So when search engines are crawling your site it’s gonna look at this information and then pull that out so you may have a better chance of showing up in different SERPs of pages and you also could have a better chance of ranking. It’s technically not a ranking factor, but it still has an influence on the type of search that you could show up in. This tool, instead of having a hand code this stuff, this allows you to go in there if you’re a blog or a service page or though is it a product whatever it may be you easy you can click on that and then it gives you the information of what you need to fill out. The cool thing about this tool is you can use a free one or there’s also a paid one which you can automate it and then it pulls the information for you, and you basically just fact check it. As far as taking your SEO to the next level, that’s probably one of the most important things just because it is becoming more increasingly important, and the fact that Google is playing a lot more with these SERPs and changing the way they look, how they factor into different rankings as well.

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Mike: Just for the more casual viewer here, what types of information lets you highlight with the tool like that?


Eric: Yeah. So okay, say you’re doing a blog, and let’s just say this is for a blog you’re updating. When you do a blog in there it’s going to ask you a few questions: what’s the title of that blog, what’s the URL, who is the author of it, the featured image you’re using, the date you posted it, or the date you modified it, a short description and a long description. So that’s all it’s going to ask you for a blog. Depending on if you use another type of category or product or service it may be a little different. So then that information is then going to be transferred into the code and then put into those pages so that those search engines can then better understand it.


Mike: Excellent, that’s a good description.


Tara: It provides a good user experience in the search engine results page too. Say you have a restaurant it could help the restaurant, I’m sorry, the menu options show up beneath the main listing on the Google search engine results page. So it really enhances the user experience for any type of content in my opinion, which ultimately improves SEO.


Mike: You can do other things like showtimes?


Eric: Yeah. So there’s recipe, products, reviews, showtimes, menus. You can also put in their FAQ’s, the list really goes on, and they’re continuously adding different things in there as well.


Tara: Yeah. And I think Eric mentioned, you can check to make sure that was all inputted correctly in the Google structured data testing tool.


Eric: Yeah, if you just type in Google structured data testing tool, it’ll pull up the screen and essentially you just take your URL, you paste it in there and then test, and then it’s get pull everything up and it’ll tell you: okay there’s an error here, or there’s an issue here, and it’s get tell you exactly what you need to fix or add.


Mike: This is the kind of information –  this is why I brought you guys here. This is that advanced stuff.


Eric: It’s nice too because as long as you have your search console hooked up and connected to your account, your analytics account, it will pull that stuff up automatically just in case you have errors.


Mike: So, I know we mentioned there were going to be five plugins at the beginning of the video. We’ve covered Smush, we’ve covered Hummingbird, we’ve covered Yoast, and we’ve covered – I forgot the name of the last one.


Eric: WP SEO Structured Data Schema.


Mike: WP SEO Structured Data Schema.


Eric: Yes.


Mike: That is a mouthful – they might want to rename that. What is our fifth plugin?


Track Your Form Submissions with Gravity Forms

Eric: The fifth one, and then probably one the most important, it ties back into a video we did a couple of weeks ago, is Gravity Forms. Basically, Gravity Forms allows you to create a form on your site and when users go in to fill out a contact form, you can have it set up so it redirects you to Thank You pages. And the reason this is so so so important is because you need to track this stuff whenever you’re using Google Analytics, so you can know – okay did that lead come from organic, did it come from social, or direct. And this ties back to the video that we did a couple of weeks ago, they played the link in this, but that information is so so important to you because you need to know is your SEO efforts working or is your paid efforts working.

And this form essentially makes it so easy for you to go in there, pick what criteria you want, pick where you want to redirect into so whenever you fill out a form you if you ever get redirected to you a Thank You page and the URL really says thank you, essentially they’re tracking every time someone fills that form out. It’s super easy to use too, if you’re not a designer you can get that done and that also gets more complicated to the fact if you want to customize to see a massive CSS of this and see what it looks like you can also under design as well. It’s big into making sure if you’re a service-based company we do a lot of  HVAC, so we need to make sure that all of these forms that we have in these pages have the right options, have the right information so that when we’re gaining this information from the customer, we know that this is information that our clients use and need to contact them to get the job done. So it’s big on both parts of getting the kind of information you need and also tracking as far as your analytics side goes.

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Mike: Yeah and we used to use contact form seven all the time, and we started to use Gravity Forms and we never look back – that was years ago.


Eric: And that’s the thing too, contact forms seven was awesome and then they made all these updates and they’ve really fallen off since then. And you had to use two plugins to use it so you had used contact form seven you can use flamingo and essentially what we happen is contact forms seven would allow you to create the forms but then flamingo would capture your forms so you can look at them later. Gravity Forms has all it built into one, so if you have form one, two, and three, you can see exactly who filled out each one of those forms rather than have a few plugins because then two plugins mean your site might be slower because you’re running more in the backend.


Tara: Yeah, it’s pretty user-friendly and I’m always surprised to see how many people don’t have it or aren’t tracking something like this when they come to us. And we’re able to set that up for them with Gravity Forms.


Mike: And there are a lot of integrations with Gravity Forms too.


Eric: It connects to pretty much everything you use, Zapier all that stuff.


Mike: Yeah, and if you connect to Zapier, you connect everything. Alright cool, so quick recap: Smush, Hummingbird. Yoast, we’ll see if I do this WP SEO something schema something.


Eric: WP SEO Structured Data Schema. Long name. Mouthful.


Mike: What he said. And then Gravity Forms, that would be our fifth one. So if you use all five of those plugins you’re going to be in pretty good shape. But like I said earlier, if you’re looking to just do a little bit of SEO on your own. Start off with Yoast, knock that out, go through all your pages. It has a really nice setup wizard kind of thing now too so it walks you through everything that you should be doing which is great. And then Smush is probably another good one if you want to just install that right away, click smush, it’s gonna compress all your images, you’ll see a noticeable increase in site speed. Hummingbird is also pretty easy. And then with the other ones, if you’re happy with how your forms currently are, maybe don’t look into Gravity Forms yet but it’s still probably better than whatever it is you’re using. And then the other one that I can’t pronounce, that’s a little bit more advanced if you want to take your SEO to the next level.


Eric: Yeah.


Tara: Yes.


Mike: Alright, well thank you guys so much for joining us today and happy Wednesday to all of our wonderful viewers out there. I hope you had a great Valentine’s Day. We’re actually filming this on Valentine’s Day so I brought a little gift for you for watching. Thank you very much. Yeah, that’s. Anything else from you guys?


Eric: Nah


Tara: Good here.


Mike: Happy Wednesday guys, see ya!


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