Warm welcome to my personal blog on marketing and ecommerce. In one of my earlier posts I talked about the importance of performing Search Engine Optimization on a continual basis. Since WordPress is the most popular free CMS around, and websites built with this platform rank so well. Today I want to tell you about the absolute best SEO plugin for WordPress you can use for free. I will also share Page Optimization strategies.
In my experience the more plug ins I use the slower the server becomes, the more the pictures break and the poorer the user experience. The reason for this, is because plug ins consume resources the server needs. However, there are certain plug ins you can use with your WordPress website which can greatly improve the performance and browsing experience of your site. In this post you can find some of the best WordPress plug ins I’m using to improve page load speed, SEO strategy and content delivery. I have seen 9-10 times better performance after implementing the information in this post.
By the way if your online business is not working out and you are doing everything all by yourself. Here are some of the most important lessons I have learned in the last few years which can help you see everything from a different perspective. I can assure you the information will get you much closer to your goals.
NOTE: Since I last created this post I have found more optimization gems. Part of my goal with this project is to advance my technical aptitude to a senior level. So I took advantage of Siteground CyberMonday deal and got myself staging capabilities. This allows a test environment for plug ins and code, so if the website breaks the user experience remains untouched! Since the upgrade working on the back end is so much pleasing!
One of my goals in the near future will be to test which of the two contenders is actually the best alternative for Yoast plug in. RankMath or SEO Squirrly. So far I’m loving RankMath. Many of my featured snippets are starting to be shown on Google which is great indication is working!
Best Free SEO Plug In For WordPress – RankMath
For a long time Yoast had been the #1 SEO plug for WordPress. However, the landscape has changed and a new contender has emerged to crown itself as the best all in one SEO tool for WP. The value currently offered by this one company is amazing. The fact is they are giving pretty much all of the Premium Features of Yoast with their free plug in RankMath.
RankMath has amassed close to 500 5-star reviews in record breaking time. This is no coincidence, as their plug in performs better than Yoast and it also allows the SEO power user to customize all important features and more.
One of the nicest features of this plug in is that it allows you to import all your settings from Yoast with an interactive clickable menu. Then you can customize the other details and features as needed. If you are a beginner with little SEO background and have a WordPress site set up (or which you will be launching), check the video below one of my friends made. It will show you how to set up RankMath from start to finish and the best options.
I have already installed this plug in on my site successfully. I loved how there is an integration with Google Search Console to track keyword metrics. The team is also expanding this feature to list all the keywords in upcoming updates. Something else which stood out is that now I’m able to configure Rich Snippets and Schema Data using RankMath.
Previously I was using WP SEO Structured Data Schema, to handle Rich Snippets and Schema data. This is an amazing plug in for what it does but is better to just use RankMath to handle everything. Results and productivity will increase.
TIP: Is best to use a single plug in to perform a specific task. Redundancy in this case results in waste and bad performance. So I recommend you to set everything through RankMath. Every plug in you install and use, references various libraries and API’s and takes memory away from the server. This slows down performance and load speed has become an important ranking metric which when optimized results in better User Experience. Some reputable resources online even claim Page Load Time will become the most important SEO indicator during 2020.
By this point I expect you already finished watching the YouTube video and setting up RankMath with the best optimization settings. If you have not go do it now!
NOTE: I’m not too sure how RankMath generates income at the moment, given this is a free plug in. Probably they are trying to build a big email list to advertise to. At the same time they will probably also roll out some premium features in the future. I hope they keep this plug in free cause we all love free stuff!
So, if you are using Yoast, you can decide if you want to delete it or not. I have chosen to leave it deactivated for now while I test RankMath further. Thus far I have been able to measure better performance using GtMetrix and the website is working just fine.
If you are happy with the upgrade I recommend you to delete every plug in from your server you no longer need. Every little space counts and helps to optimize your website for performance. The faster the loading speed. The better your rankings and the better the user experience.
TIP: Also remember the most important optimization decision you can make is to use better hosting. Siteground is among the best performers in the hosting space at this time, and their plans are economical. Their business model is not focused on paying affiliates to recruit many people to join and overloading servers with websites. Siteground doesn’t pay commissions. When you join with my link you get the best hosting and I get another month of awesome hosting!
Let’s Keep Optimizing Your WordPress Website Further – Here Are More Awesome Plug Ins
This brings me to another couple plug ins for WordPress I want to share with you which will help you make your website load much faster. The first one is Shortpixel Image Optimizer. I’m a junkie when it comes to optimizing images because, (after chosen hosting solution) I know this media contributes the biggest factor when it comes to loading speed of a website for 99% of all websites out there.
Heavy images slow down websites considerably. We got to get this to fly.
From my own experience, I have tried and compared all sorts of compression tools to optimize images for the web. I have done this using premium Photo Editing Software like Phothop and also web based solutions, like tinyPNG. None of the dozens of tools I have tried have performed better than Shortpixel.
I know ShortPixel is the real deal because my main image in the front page weighted over 700 KB. After using the compression tool the same picture is now under 60 KB and it still looks as sharp and accurate to the human eye as it did before. However, there is a catch with this tool…
There is a data bucket or allowance of 100 Images that can be optimized per month. You can earn a bigger quota by either purchasing a premium trial. Otherwise, you can also share this compression tool with other people. Every time someone new signs up and compresses at least 50 images they will give you more credits you can use for yourself. Whoever joins with your link, will also get more credits as well. Double the quota with 200 pictures to start with.
If you do have a big website, and you have never done this kind of optimization I highly recommend you to purchase the premium trial and optimize everything.
After that, with the 100 images per month allowed each month you should be fine. This tool will optimize pretty much every image on your site, including thumbnails. Since images play such a big role on website speed, optimizing with shortpixels can results in your website being 60-70% lighter than it used to be which will make it much faster.
On average, I saw a 39% compression across all of the images, most of which I had already optimized with tinyPNG. So in reality the true compression was of 70-80% across all images on the lossless setting.
Here is a ShortPixel tutorial you can watch to optimize all your images and make your website much lighter.
My website instantly became snappier and it loads much faster. I shaved over 1MB of data that no longer has to load which is great because the faster the load speed, the better the user experience and also the more Google ranks websites since this is now one of the key metrics inside the algorithm.
Next Let’s Boost Crawl Rate By Optimizing Videos
Great! So far I told you about the best SEO tool for WordPress which at the moment is RankMath. I have also given you the best image compressor on the market, which although is not completely free, you can optimize your website with a premium trial and then start using the free quota afterward.
The free version will suffice for the bigger majority of bloggers and websites out there, unless we are talking about a large corporate website, blogging network, ecommerce website or online magazine which uploads a lot of images. In that case you may need the premium version because you will only have a compression bucket of 100 images each month. Since I’m referring you to ShortPixels, you can start with 200.
As I have said it before I’m active in a bunch of communities and forums to do with ecommerce and digital marketing. Some of the forums I frequently visit are SEO forums. I’m the kind of person who is always testing and learning stuff. I’m always asking questions and I never assume the answer is right. I test ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING. So I will share more ways to super optimize your site!
I have known for a long time that Video is the most consumed media on the web right now. Instead of writing text, I should be grabbing my phone and recording stuff to put on YouTube, Instagram and the other growing Social Media Networks which include Tik Tok.
Check this video my friend Sean from ThinkMedia made. He is correct with a lot of what he is saying. Video is huge.
If you want to succeed much faster with blogging or anything to do with building an online business VIDEO is ABSOLUTELY essential. Currently with all the voice assistants receiving more search queries than ever before. Google being able to understand Natural Language. It won’t be long until the bigger majority of search results become videos. A new branch of SEO has emerged to optimize articles and video for voice assistant queries.
I don’t like the idea of getting in front of a camera. But this is part of entrepreneurship. The marketplace shapes you. If video is what is working. We have to do video or add someone to our team who has the skill. Period. Point. Blank.
Anyway, currently the crawl rate for pages which have videos within them is much higher than those who don’t. When you add a video to your blog posts, or your ecommerce listing, you are in the priority list for Google to come visit your website, crawl and index everything you have in that page.
In order to add video to your website most people out there will recommend you to embed a YouTube iframe or Vimeo player link. Since the video is hosted on YouTube, this is space which is not being consumed on your website so it can run much faster.
If you were to upload video directly to your website it will quickly become very slow because video is a composite of high quality images. Remember the second most important factor for PageSpeed? You can’t possibly optimize thousands of images that make up a video. Is just too much data.
However, even with the embed link from YouTube or Vimeo, most videos will still add 400-600 KB more data on the page. This is each video. It may not seem like much but it adds up quickly.
So the best way to add videos to your WordPress website is to use the WP Rocket Lazy Load plug in. This plug in will allow you to lazy load images and videos which will result in the final optimization for a much faster, reliable, engaging website with better rankings.
Here is a tutorial video on how to add and use WP Rocket Lazy Load.
Before I conclude this post I also want to give you one last plug in which may be really useful. Currently it has over 2 million active installations. I’m talking about WordFence which is a plug in that can help maintain your WordPress website secure from breaches. This plug in is more advanced to use and I’m still reading about it. Here is a tutorial you can follow if you are interested.
What I really like about it is that since I installed it I’m no longer getting spam email from people using Russian email addresses. Also this plug in blocks botnet traffic and malicious traffic which consumes resources from the server hosting your website. Leaving more raw server power to serve real, valuable web surfers.
By Following the information on these resources now I get about 10xs better performance than I did previously. Here are screenshots of the final results.
I’m really happy to see this kind of results because a ranking factor right now for SEO is page speed. Also there are many new users entering the web from countries outside United States where internet speed is really slow. So optimizing the website and integrating Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) can really help appeal to that user base.
Often times I find digital marketers who dismiss countries where the standard of living is low. But something I have learned (the hard way) so to say, is that traffic coming from these sources (if is not spam), is in fact very valuable to rank a website specially in the beginning. In a world which has become so competitive using every advantage is really important in order to become successful faster. That or to even have a chance!
As for RankMath, it does contains functionality to help transform regular mobile pages into super fast AMP pages which load very quickly even when internet connectivity is slow. This, in addition to using a free CDN network like Cloudflare helps broadcast your digital assets on the web fast, even in remote locations thousands of miles away. The advantage is in providing better user experience which helps produce substantial growth.
I’m still becoming better at using RankMath, but I can clearly notice a bigger share of impressions on Google Search Console when I launch posts which have optimization scores of 80+ on RankMath. Later on I will create a test environment so I can also test Squirrly SEO.
In the end, I failed to make the page load in less than one second. I could do it if I don’t run any adds. Fortunately more important than the load time is the time it to takes render the page so it appears functional to the user. By using various clever tricks like lazy loading we are able to load just what is necessary, the section of the screen the customer is looking at, and nothing else. Try some of the information I shared and improve your results!
PS: For the super optimization junkies here is one last tutorial made by Louis Reingold, from Oxygen. He will show you how to turn off any libraries or API’s your website doesn’t need in order to achieve blazing fast speed under 1 second. If you choose to try this be ready to test your website with every change you make. The information this developer is giving is super valuable. If you use Adsense, your website may still seem to load slow but all the important content will load very fast which is what you need for better User Experience.