Slows down Yoast SEO websites

The 18 best SEO plugins for WordPress in 2021 (and 3 insider tips)

There are around 1,000 SEO plugins in the WordPress repository alone.

There are also hundreds of premium plugins, all of which promise better rankings….

But which of them are really recommended now? Which tools do you really need and which can you safely do without?

To answer these questions, I have put together my 21 favorite plugins for you.

Plugins that help you enormously with the on-page optimization of your WordPress website and can save you a lot of work.

I've tried all the plugins myself and some of them have been using them for years.

There are also some real secret tips!

And no, in case you are wondering:

Yoast SEO is not (anymore) one of them.

But more on that in a moment ...

1. General SEO plugins

Before installing special plugins for fine tuning, you should install a general SEO plugin.

A general plugin supplements WordPress with the most important SEO functions such as:

  • Set meta title and description
  • Creating a sitemap
  • Definition of robots meta tags (noindex, nofollow etc.) for individual posts, post types and taxonomies in WordPress (translated: you want to be able to control which pages end up in the Google index and which do not)

1.1 Rank Math

Yoast SEO has long been the undisputed top dog among SEO plugins.

These times are slowly coming to an end.

Because, on the one hand, Yoast SEO has shot itself out through several things in recent years:

  • Bad performance (which is why I disable features like the text link counter and link suggestions by default)
  • Oversleeping important SEO developments (e.g. Yoast SEO Premium has only been counting different spellings of a keyword as one keyword since version 10, introduced in March 2019, and until today only in English)
  • Partly creepy development errors (e.g. with the introduction of Yoast 7.0, the setting for forwarding media URLs was accidentally set to No)
  • Last one dubious promotion on Black Friday 2019 (in which an advertising banner was displayed in the entire WordPress dashboard. Ugh!)
  • Too expensive a premium version (Especially for agencies, there is a 40% discount for 100 licenses, but Yoast SEO Premium still costs 4,345 € per year)

On the other hand, a new stag has entered the area:

The Rank Math plugin from MyThemeShop.

And it has it all!

Because the still quite young plugin (introduced in November 2018) offers all Features that Yoast SEO Premium offers (Yes, that's right, the premium version!).

With a small but subtle difference:

It is completely free and does not cost € 79 per year!

It even offers a little more than Yoast SEO Premium, such as: B. a module for local SEO, settings for rich snippets and an interface to the Google Search Console.

Rank Math also offers more settings for advanced users:

So you can z. B. Define the meta tags introduced in September 2019 to control the maximum text length, preview video length and preview image size.

Or set whether to automatically add empty category and tags noindex should be asked or not.

I also think that's great about Rank Math:

It is possible (by adding a small filter) to include more than 5 focus keywords, which was the final reason to turn your back on Yoast:

2. Loading time optimization

The loading time of a website has been a ranking factor since 2010.

In recent years, however, it has grown in importance. The proportion of users who surf on mobile devices has grown steadily and has long overtaken the proportion of desktop users.

In the following, I will introduce you to 6 plugins for loading time optimization that have it all:

2.1 WP Rocket

WP-Rocket is one of the best all-in-one plugins for optimizing loading times.

It not only offers a very good page caching function (with preloading), but also various other functions:

  • Summary and minification of HTML, CSS and JS
  • Loading Critical CSS (one of my favorite features!)
  • Deactivating emojis and embeds
  • Summarizing Google Fonts
  • Controlling Heart Beart
  • Lazy loading for pictures, videos and iframes
  • Database cleanup

It is also completely in German, has an active Facebook community and is very well documented (the documentation is also available in German).

Do you have a reasonably well-programmed theme, good WordPress hosting and not hundreds of plugins installed?

Then it is quite possible to achieve loading times of well under a second and high PageSpeed ​​scores of 70 - 90 with WP Rocket:

Of course, WP Rocket is not a must.

You can also achieve many of the functions through a combination of your own entries in .htaccess (for gzip, browser caching, etc.) and free plugins, such as: B. Autoptimize and Cache Enabler.

But, if you want to save yourself fiddling and just want to install one plugin instead of three, four or five, then WP Rocket is the right one for you.

2.2 EWWW Image Optimizer

Images that are not optimized can have a major impact on the loading time of your own website.

This is neither good for visitors nor for the ranking!

EWWW Image Optimizer helps by automatically compressing all PNG and JPG files that you upload to WordPress (which can reduce their size by 40 or 50 percent).

In addition, you can use the EWWW Image Optimizer to massively optimize all images that you have uploaded in the past. Even images that are not in the WordPress upload directory, such as B. images integrated into the theme or in your own image directories!

2.3 Autoptimize

Autoptimize is by far the best free plugin to reduce the size and number of your requests to your website.

To do this, Autoptimize combines the CSS and JavaScript files that are loaded by the theme, plugins or WordPress itself into fewer files. In addition, these are made smaller by the plugin removing unnecessary spaces or comments from the files.

Especially with overloaded themes with a large range of functions (e.g. Avada, Enfold or other themes from ThemeForest), the loading time can be significantly reduced.

In the past the plugin didn't run that smoothly and it often blew my design apart. Now, however, Autoptimize is compatible with most themes and plugins!

If the use of Autoptimize does lead to display errors, you can usually fix this by experimenting with the settings.

For example, you can exclude certain CSS files from the minification and summary or, if necessary, switch off the minification or summary of either CSS or Javascript files entirely.

2.4 Regenerate thumbnails

Regenerate Thumbnails is one of the standard plugins that I have installed on each of my WordPress websites.

You can use it to regenerate the images generated by WordPress in different sizes. This is extremely useful if you change the theme of your website or change the image sizes in your theme settings (e.g. your featured image).

By regenerating you ensure that your pictures are the right size:

Neither too small, which can look stupid when the images are stretched, nor too large, which can have a negative effect on the loading time.

2.5 Cache Enabler

Page caching is one the mostimportant Measures to increase the loading time of a WordPress website.

This is because WordPress pages are loaded statically and no longer dynamically through caching.

And that brings enormous advantages, especially for large websites with many posts, menus and plugins. This means that there are significantly fewer database queries when the website is loaded.

For beginners in the matter, I recommend Cache Enabler, since the plugin does not require any further settings in contrast to bolides like W3 Total Cache.

Download, activate, done!

2.6 Insider tip: perfmatters

Lots of plugins and themes have a nasty problem:

You load your CSS and Javascript globally. This also means on the pages where it is not needed.

A prominent example is the popular Contact Form 7 plug-in.

Usually it was only included on the contact page. However, it is also uselessly loaded in blog articles, categories, and any other page that doesn't include it.

The small but ingenious plugin perfmatters provides a remedy:

The built-in Script Manager allows you to enable or disable loaded Javascript and CSS either globally, specifically for a certain post type or for a certain URL.

This is how you can set that Contact Form 7 is only loaded on the contact page:

In addition, perfmatters offers various settings to remove superfluous functions or unnecessary scripts that are loaded by WordPress itself:

And yes, in case you are wondering:

perfmatter also works very well in combination with WP Rocket, Cache Enabler or Autoptimize!

3. Internal linking and outgoing links

Good on-page optimization includes, on the one hand, checking outbound links (e.g. you shouldn't link to pages that generate an error code) and, on the other hand, good internal linking.

The following plugins can help you and relieve you of a lot of work:

3.1 Insider tip: LinkWhisper

LinkWhisper is now part of the standard repertoire of my WordPress websites.

It is used to find broken links and posts that are not yet well linked internally.

And it does better than any other plugin.

With the clear dashboard you always have an overview of all possible link statistics and problems:

In the Internal Links Report, a sortable table is created with the number of incoming internal links, outgoing internal links and outgoing external links for all your posts (optionally including pages or categories):

By clicking on the numbers, a list with all the links or linked articles will expand.

Simple but ingenious!

3.2 Broken Link Checker

With the Broken Link Checker you can find out if there are any websites on your page that are reporting an error code, e.g. B. because the linked page no longer exists.

This saves you having to manually search the entire page for broken links, which can be a pain, especially on large pages with many posts.

The plugin also offers a great advantage over external broken link checkers and site audit tools such as B. Screaming Frog or OnPage.org:

Not only can you find broken links, but you can also fix them right away.

If you have your website on a shared hosting package or a smaller vServer, you shouldn't leave the Broken Link Checker running permanently. Because a lot of database queries can slow down your website.

3.3 Contextual Related Posts

The display of related posts, i.e. thematically similar posts, ensures better internal linking and can sometimes increase the length of time visitors spend on your website.

Some themes support such a function by default.

For themes that can't do that, there's the Contextual Related Posts plugin, which I've been using for years.

It harmonizes with most themes, supports custom post types, does not let the loading time explode and offers many setting options.

And it's free too!

What more do you want?

3.4 Breadcrumb NavXT

As the name suggests, with Breadcrumb NavXT you can embed breadcrumbs (also called breadcrumb navigation) into your WordPress website.

Breadcrumbs not only ensure greater user-friendliness, but also ensure that your pages and posts are linked more often internally with the appropriate anchor texts.

Rank Math has already integrated a breadcrumb function as standard. Breadcrumb NavXT is only worthwhile if you want advanced setting options.

3.5 Ultimate nofollow

Ultimate nofollow is a simple plugin that adds a small but useful addition to the Classic Editor:

You can add the attribute to a link.

Unfortunately, the plugin does not work for the Gutenberg editor. However, Rank Math can be used for this purpose, which adds the options and to links.

3.6 Redirection

404 errors are (in most cases) not good. Neither for visitors nor for your Google ranking.

Because if z. For example, if a backlink points to a subpage that shows a 404 error, the PageRank that flows to your page via this link is lost.

This in turn means that your page will lose authority and possibly relevance for certain keywords.

Even internal links that go nowhere are not exactly user-friendly (and therefore also stupid for the search engine).

And sure, that might not be a problem with a few links.

But if you z. B. Changing your entire or a larger part of your URL structure, which happens more often than you think, can have fatal consequences for your rankings.

Therefore, you should forward 404 errors with a 301 redirect, i.e. a permanent redirect (unless you want a page or blog article to be permanently unavailable, of course).

You can do that via