When it comes to using WordPress as your CMS, there are a lot of plugins that make life easier, including ones that will help you optimize your site for search. I’m personally impressed with how far plugins have come — from content delivery networks (CDNs) to schema markup, WordPress plugins are more flexible than ever before. And plugins like GIPHYPress just make writing a lot more fun.
 
Whenever I’m looking to download a new plugin, there are three criteria that I always consider:
 
a) Overall number of ratings and reviews
b) Qualitative feedback
c) Date the plugin was last updated
 
Below, you’ll find a list of plugins that I currently couldn’t live without — because who wants to struggle to integrate their tracking code into their website or have every page inherit the same meta description?
 

Insert Headers and Footers


 
Stars: 4.3 out of 5 stars
 
Reviews: 34 reviews
 
Active Installs: 200,000+
 
Download: https://wordpress.org/plugins/insert-headers-and-footers/
 
This is a really simple plugin if you’re looking for one that will help you add scripts to the head of your website, particularly useful for Google Analytics and Search Console verification. If you ever need to add additional scripts, then all you have to do is add them to a simple text field.
 

Schema.press

 

 
Stars: 4.8 out of 5 stars
 
Reviews: 44 reviews
 
Active Installs: 10,000+
 
Download: https://wordpress.org/plugins/schema/
 
Created in July 2016, this light-weight and free WordPress plugin is perfect for adding schema.org structured data to your site. You can use the recommended JSON-LD format to apply schema to multiple product or services pages to help Google better understand the type of content on your site.
 

Ultimate Noindex Nofollow Tool II


 
Stars: 3.4 out of 5 stars
 
Reviews: 7 reviews
 
Active Installs: 10,000+
 
Download: https://wordpress.org/plugins/ultimate-noindex-nofollow-tool-ii/
 
Even though this tool hasn’t been updated for awhile, I find that it’s really effective for noindexing and nofollowing pages across your site. If you used tags actively across your site, then you can prevent duplicate content by blocking them with a meta noindex tag.
 

W3 Total Cache

 

 
This SEO plugin for WordPress is perfect for improving site performance through caching and content delivery network (CDN) integration. I was able to get some meaningful page speed performance out of using W3 Total Cache and have been impressed with robust free and paid features, from minification to easy purging of caches and CDN.
 
Stars: 4.3 out of 5 Stars
 
Reviews: 3,765 reviews
 
Active Installs: 1+ million
 
Download: https://wordpress.org/plugins/w3-total-cache/
 

Far Future Expiration Plugin

 

 
In the spirit of improving site performance, this plugin accesses your .htaccess file and inserts a snippet of code to set an expiry time to prevent browsers from continually fetching your images, CSS, and javascript files that you haven’t changed. In other words, it sets code that makes your site faster because each page load requires less resources to fetch.
 
Stars: 4.2 out of 5 stars
 
Reviews: 15 reviews
 
Active Installs: 10,000+
 
Download: https://wordpress.org/plugins/far-future-expiry-header/
 

Yoast

 

 
Not a big surprise to most people who have been around the WordPress Plugin world, Yoast is one of the leading players in the SEO space. From customizing title tags and meta descriptions to submitting XML sitemaps, Yoast makes handling all the fundamental building blocks of SEO relatively easy.
 
Stars: 4.8 out of 5 stars
 
Reviews: 15 reviews
 
Active Installs: 3+ million
 
Download: https://wordpress.org/plugins/wordpress-seo/
 

WP Post to PDF

 

 
There is a good amount of keyword research out there to be had for queries that contain PDF at the end. If you’ve answered the same question in your blog post as you would in a separate PDF, then why spend the time creating an entirely different document? This allows you to turn your blog post into a PDF so readers can download information from your site.
 
Stars: 4.6 out of 5 stars
 
Reviews: 15 reviews
 
Active Installs: 4,000+
 
Download: https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-post-to-pdf-enhanced/
 

WP Google Analytics Events

 

 
By creating custom class names for action items on your site, this events plugin allows you to track how many people click on your sign up form or contact button, and much more. All you need is a Google Analytics integration code and the ability to create custom classes around discrete elements.
 
Stars: 4.6 out of 5 stars
 
Reviews: 15 reviews
 
Active Installs: 10,000+
 
Download: https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-google-analytics-events/
 

TinyMCE Advanced

 

 
Chances are if you’re using WordPress, you are regularly accessing and editing the content on your site using TinyMCE. This advanced WordPress Visual Editor gives you more options — from setting family font and sizes to creating and editing tables.
 
Stars: 4.6 out of 5 stars
 
Reviews: 15 reviews
 
Active Installs: 2+ million active installs
 
Download: https://wordpress.org/plugins/tinymce-advanced/
 

Ninja Forms

 

 
Ok, even though a form technically won’t help you rank better in search — you’re going to need to do something with the traffic that lands on your site. Ninja Forms is my favorite plugin right now for creating and styling contact forms and managing leads. Their interface makes it easy to see which forms people used the most on your site and respond to different types of inquiries.
 
Stars: 4.5 out of 5 stars
 
Reviews: 776
 
Active Installs: 800,000+
 
Download: https://wordpress.org/plugins/ninja-forms/
 
With these plugins, you should be able to cover both beginner and advanced SEO. Are there any other plugins you’re using to optimize your site?