Best Free SEO Plugin for WordPress (And Paid)
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The best SEO plugins for WordPress has been a hot-button issue in the community, and there doesn’t seem to be any kind of consensus from one professional to the next as far as which plugin for WordPress reigns supreme. One thing that is certain? These SEO tools are great to have at your disposal.
If you’re a member of any SEO group on Facebook and social media, you’ve more than likely seen polls and comment sections on the topic of “best WordPress SEO plugins” that provide no real conclusions no matter how opinionated and insistent some supporters may be.
Having said that, Yoast SEO, All-In-One SEO Pack, SEOPress, The SEO Framework, and Rank Math are the most popular SEO plugins for WordPress right now and are the best SEO plugins that we’ll be discussing today.
Although the choice of SEO plugins for WordPress don’t matter much for the large majority of people (what?!), we’ll be walking you through some differences and options to help make your choice of WordPress plugin a bit easier.
Why Your Choice of SEO Plugin Doesn’t Matter
For most people, the choice of SEO plugin doesn’t matter because the free version of each SEO plugin features more or less the same things.
Some of the useful features that come with a free plugin usually include:
- XML sitemap
- Ability to edit SEO titles and meta descriptions (plus inner URL slug, social media info)
- A bit of schema / structured data
- Breadcrumb management for guiding users / search engines to your website
Many of the best SEO plugins for WordPress also offer some features we advise you to never use – anything that has to do with keywords, keyword research, and linking recommendations (e.g. internal linking). Even if you are very new to SEO, you would be much better off spending an hour learning on-page SEO to optimize your website and blog posts with these elements yourself.
By doing this, you’ll get better results and save time by not making optimizations that are irrelevant or ineffective. The idea of a free version plugin telling you how to best optimize your pages is awesome, but they still have a long way to go before becoming useful tools for SEO strategy.
The majority of what is different between the best WordPress SEO plugins lies in the pricing of the premium version or premium SEO pack (i.e. paid). Again, the premium SEO version usually includes the same features like:
- E-commerce options
- Video options
- Extra local SEO features
As previously mentioned, the large majority of website owners do not need a premium SEO pack add-on and would be better off going with the SEO-friendly free version of their WordPress SEO plugins.
For the rest of this article we’ll be going over the actual differences between these WordPress SEO tools and their features, such as differences in paid-option pricing and our professional opinion of each.
Yoast is currently the market leader and has been for a long time. It has over 5 million active installs and almost 25,000 five-star reviews, with it being heralded by many as the best SEO plugin for WordPress (and one of the most SEO-friendly for beginners).
Is Yoast dead? Absolutely not.
We use the Yoast SEO plugin on almost every WordPress website we have without a second thought. This is because we only need the free version and are creatures of habit. We’ve been using the Yoast SEO plugin for a long time, and there aren’t any big enough reasons for us to make the switch to another WordPress plugin.
The free version of this WordPress plugin gives us all the tools we need to touch-up our blog posts and site pages:
- Editing SEO titles and meta descriptions (plus variables for meta tags)
- Set the URL slug
- Optimize for our social media posts
- Access XML sitemaps
Also, the WordPress dashboard is clean and easy to use. Having said that, there are three issues with Yoast that need to be talked about which may be deal breakers for some people.
Yoast Caused Major Problems in Early 2018
In February 2018, a Yoast SEO update caused major ranking losses for many sites it was installed on. It took them over 2 months to fix the issue despite being talked about everywhere. They eventually fixed it with an update and haven’t had any problems since then.
For some people, this could be enough to choose an alternative SEO tool to Yoast. Others, like us, have decided to stay with this solid WordPress plugin.
We hope that Yoast has learned it’s lesson from this experience and steps have been taken to prevent such problems in the future. Another huge issue like this would probably be enough for us to jump ship.
Yoast is Bloated
Complaining about SEO Yoast being a bloated WordPress plugin that decreases site speed is very popular with people who spend hours arguing about the best WordPress SEO plugins in comment sections within the blogosphere.
Yoast SEO has a lot of features and tools that may affect your site speed (and many which we don’t use). Some of these features / tools include:
- Schema controls to describe your webpages to search engines like Google
- Blocks to improve internal linking
- Keyword and attribute checkers
- Readability analysis that analyzes your content in the background (i.e. a writing assistant for your blog post)
- SEO analysis tools
Page speed does slightly influence rankings as discussed in our on-page guide that teaches you how to optimize your website, but we’ve determined that the speed loss due to Yoast is negligible and does not influence rankings in any way.
This might be important to a few people, but it’s not something we’re even slightly concerned about – and most of you shouldn’t be either.
Yoast’s Paid Options are Expensive
This is the main issue with Yoast that carries the most weight. With Yoast’s paid options, you will be paying a pretty high price on a per-site basis. Many of the other WordPress SEO plugins simply blow their prices away while offering the same SEO tools and features.
We don’t use the paid version of any WordPress plugin, so it’s still a non-issue for us. However, if you’ve determined that you need the paid features on more than one WordPress website, you’ll want to look at the following Yoast alternatives:
All-In-One SEO Pack
As far as popularity for WordPress SEO plugins goes, we have All-In-One SEO Pack at number two. With over 2 million active installs and 300+ five-star ratings, this SEO tool is doing quite well for itself.
Many SEOs have been using this SEO plugin for a very long time, so All-In-One has amassed a large amount of loyal followers and website owners.
The All-In-One SEO tool claims to have the only free integration for e-commerce sites out of all the other plugins on the market. Many website owners also prefer the interface and usability of All-In-One SEO Pack over Yoast, but it’s ultimately a matter of preference.
All-In-One SEO Pack makes a good Yoast alternative because it basically offers the exact same SEO WordPress features.
However, if you need the paid version (especially if you need it for more than 1 site), then you could save a lot of money with All-In-One SEO Pack over Yoast and some other WordPress plugins. Their prices are quite a bit lower, and they have packages for 10 sites and unlimited sites.
It’s worth mentioning that this SEO plugin does not have the same keyword and link suggestions as Yoast. But like we mentioned before, we strongly believe you should not be using these suggestions to optimize your websites. It’s better to perform your own in-depth SEO analysis.
Next up, we have an excellent WordPress plugin with over 40,000 active installs and almost 300 five-star ratings. SEOPress is more of a newcomer to the WordPress plugins market, but this SEO tool is making waves and it’s easy to see why.
The biggest factor for going with SEOPress is the price for their paid version (if you need it’s features).
For $39 you can install the plugin on unlimited sites, which absolutely demolishes the pricing of both Yoast and All-In-One SEO Pack.
The price is rumored to be going up in the future, but even if it goes up significantly, it’s still a much better deal.
Website owners also like SEOPress for it’s minimal, easy to use design and it’s speed. Yes, it’s supposed to be faster than Yoast. Honestly, we can’t tell the difference.
Having said that, this WordPress SEO plugin is absolutely worth a shot – especially if you are going to be installing the premium version on more than one WordPress website.
Some of the features included with this WordPress plugin:
- Social media integration
- Content analysis
- Image optimization
- Google Analytics
The SEO Framework
The SEO Framework plugin was designed with minimalism and WordPress site developers in mind. It’s an extremely clean and fast plugin with much the same functionality as the others. It currently has over 90,000 active installs and almost 200 five-star reviews. Oh, and it’s a completely free plugin (with paid options).
It’s fast, minimal design is a dream come true for many users. It just works and stays out of your way. Some users, however, have complained that it doesn’t have an intuitive WordPress dashboard or user interface. You’ll have to make that judgement for yourself.
However, The SEO Framework has some SEO tools that it’s proud of:
- SEO audit with over 70 checks for pages and terms
- Real-time website caching
- Smart generator for meta tags, meta descriptions
- A focus on white-hat SEO techniques
- Privacy by design (no SEO data collection or tracking)
The pricing for the premium options is more in line with All-In-One SEO than Yoast or SEOPress. It falls somewhere in the middle of the pack, making it a significantly better deal than Yoast but not quite the absolute steal that is SEOPress.
So, if you’re looking for a clean, simple, un-bloated WordPress plugin alternative to Yoast, this could be the search engine tool for you. Many people would congratulate you on finally making the switch.
Rank Math is the newest major WordPress SEO plugin of the bunch. It currently has over 20,000 active installs and almost 200 five-star reviews, and many SEOs are calling it the best free SEO plugin for WordPress.
So why is everyone raving about this SEO plugin? Well, it’s because Rank Math currently gives you everything the other plugins give you in their premium versions (and sometimes more)… for free.
However, Rank Math is also the only WordPress SEO plugin on this list that we can’t endorse right now. There are a few reasons for this:
- There has been chatter on Facebook, Reddit, and Blackhatworld that Rank Math is spyware.
- Because it’s such a new search engine tool, there are still lots of bugs and issues being reported.
- Reports of very heavy and deceptive marketing tactics (from fake reviews to paid posts).
We advise that you read into all of the above issues so that you can make your own educated decision about this free plugin for WordPress. There is no doubting the appeal of Rank Math, and if you can look past the above issues, this could be the the best WordPress SEO plugin for your website.
Best WordPress SEO Plugins – Conclusion
Four out of five of these all-around SEO WordPress plugins get our endorsement, and all five could potentially be the WordPress SEO plugin that you’re looking for (free version or not).
That being said, we firmly believe that your choice of WordPress SEO plugin will not make a significant difference for your on-page SEO strategy. None of these WordPress plugins will make you rank better in the Google search engine results, but some could be easier to use and cost less if you need the premium options (but most people don’t).
Bear in mind, we are not saying that WordPress site plugins are practically useless in the grand scheme of things! We are saying that the SEO tools and features that come with the free version (or paid) of any of best WordPress SEO plugin is not going to magically boost your rankings in the Google search results. Never count on a plugin to do the heavy work for you… even if it’s the best SEO plugin for WordPress.
For better rankings in search engines, you need to be concentrating on the stuff that really matters: on-page SEO and solid backlinks. On-page search engine optimization, for example, is the foundation of any SEO strategy for building websites and is absolutely necessary to get your WordPress site to start ranking in search engines. You don’t necessarily need a plugin to edit on-page elements like meta descriptions and titles. But you need to understand why they are important to your website.
Hey I'm Chris, one of the founders here at SirLinksalot. I'm into building internet money machines (affiliate websites) and specialize in building backlinks. Find out more about me and my link building team.
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