Our Favourite CMS Plugins: WordPress SEO by Yoast
Welcome to a new series showcasing some of our favourite open source CMS plugins.
At Moore-Wilson we are passionate about open source content management systems (CMSs) because of the accessibility, flexibility and power that they offer. Supported, as they are, by their ardent communities of developers, much of their power lies in the conveyor belt of modules, plugins and extensions that are constantly pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved. It’s no surprise then that we have teams of developers actively building websites in Drupal, WordPress and Umbraco and so we thought we’d share with you some of our favourite plugins...
Having started off life in 2003 as a humble blogging platform, WordPress has evolved to become the most commonly used content management system (CMS) on the web today. It is estimated that over 5% of the web’s sites have been built in it (that’s a whopping 47% of all CMS based sites) for a good reason. Despite its innate suitability for blogging (and therefore smaller homespun sites) its general ease of use and, ultimately, its flexibility means that it is great for building full-blown websites too. Here at M-W, we certainly think so which is why it has an important place in our roster of open source CMS solutions.
But there’s no point having a great website if no-one knows you’re there, so every great WordPress site needs great search engine optimisation (SEO). Luckily, the extensive WordPress open source community has done a lot of the hard work for you and come up with some invaluable plugins which make it easier to optimise your site, ensuring it is relevant, discoverable and enticing. There are many such plugins out there but perhaps our favourite is this little corker:
WordPress SEO by Yoast
Community Rating*: 4.7/5
Yoast is arguably the leader in the field of WordPress SEO plugins, and for good reason. The plugin not only provides you with the necessary tools to ensure that your website is technically configured to appeal to search engines, but also provides assistance in ensuring that the best content is placed on your site.
On the technical side, Yoast will help you ensure that the right pages are indexed by the search engines with the ability to create both dynamic sitemap (telling the search engines which pages exist) and robots (telling them which you’d like them to ignore) files and then manage the pages and folders that each one specifies. In addition, it gives you the ability to easily verify yourself as the site owner on numerous Webmaster services, including the important Google and Bing versions, which in turn unlock a wealth of vital SEO tools.
Title Tags & Meta Tags
The plugin gives you an easy way to manage your title tags, meta descriptions and meta robots tags with fields to set default options per content (pages, posts etc) and taxonomy (categories, tags etc.) types and then manually override specific posts etc when required, at the point of editing each content item. As every good SEO’er knows the former of these tags, the title tag, is one of the strongest signals to search engines as to what your page relates to, whilst both these and your meta descriptions are usually the only pieces of information that your visitors see before deciding whether or not to click through to your site from the search engines. In other words, they’re essential factors in reaching the right audience.
Increasing in importance in SEO is the social media factor, and Yoast’s plugin provides full social media integration including the ability to configure Open Graph metadata for Facebook integration and Twitter Cards for richer Twitter shares.
One of the things that stands Yoast’s plugin apart is its inbuilt tools for optimising the content you are producing, as and when you are doing so, for the search terms for which you hope to rank. Against each post, you are given the option to specify a focal ‘keyword’ and then see the frequency with which they are using that term though, not only the standard page copy but also the higher impact headers, page titles and URL paths. This is a simple but very effective tool to ensure that your posts fully target your primary search terms without becoming artificially crammed with keywords.
Here we are highlighting the free version of Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin but for those who want to part with a little cash, the out-of-the-box plugin can be supplemented with a local SEO plugin - helping your site to become more relevant for specific locations - and a video SEO plugin - to rank your videos within video search results. What’s more, Yoast offers a premium version of the plugin with one-to-one support, a 301 (permanent) redirect manager and fuller Google Webmasters integration displaying more data on how successfully the search engine has accessed your site... but we think you can’t go too far wrong by starting with the free version.
Pros - a user-friendly plugin that covers the essential technical on page search engine optimisations, plus makes it very easy to ensure relevancy in your content as and when you create it.
Cons - lacks a few monitoring features such as Google Analytics tracking code management and broken link reporting.
We’ll be back soon with some more of our favourite open source CMS modules from across our developers and search marketers so keep your eyes peeled.
* As at date of publication