Search engine optimization (SEO) is a requirement if you want your website to be found in the search engines.
Ranking in the search engine results pages (SERPs) and getting organic traffic from Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines won’t happen on its own.
Although there are many different ways to generate traffic to your website, you can’t compete in today’s marketplace without search visibility.
Nearly 93% of all traffic comes from search engines, with Google providing the lion’s share.
Hopefully, you’ve already started optimizing your website for search, but if you’re relying on SEO plugins to do ALL the work, your efforts will fall short.
All too often, business owners learn about SEO plugins and think they’ve found a shortcut to ranking in the SERPs.
However, this is a misunderstanding about what these plugins do and how they work.
Table of Contents
What SEO plugins are not
The various plugins available for SEO are not:
- An SEO tactic, strategy, or method
- A way to optimize your website without any SEO knowledge
- A cheap or free way to bypass professional SEO work
What are SEO plugins?
Plugins are software applications that extend the functionality of a website.
SEO plugins specifically add search engine optimization functions to a website.
In other words, they are a tool through which SEO is performed. They are not, in and of themselves, an SEO tactic.
Generally speaking, sites built with a content management system aren’t easy to optimize for search and plugins were created to solve this problem.
Do SEO plugins actually work?
Yes and no. SEO plugins work, but they aren’t magical applications that make websites rank.
If that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll be disappointed because no such thing exists.
SEO plugins work when used as they have been intended. An SEO plugin alone won’t increase your search engine rankings. It’s a misunderstanding that adding a few plugins to your website will help your site rank better. SEO plugins are tools designed to facilitate search engine optimization on content management platforms that create dynamic content connected to a database. You still need to do 100% of the work to optimize your pages. A plugin just makes it easier.
SEO plugins provide a user-friendly interface for optimizing a website with dynamically generated content. Without an SEO plugin, you wouldn’t be able to add meta tags and other SEO elements to individual pages unless your theme is specifically built to allow it. Most themes do not include this type of feature, so a plugin is required.
Plugins facilitate on-page SEO for dynamic content
There is a difference between performing SEO on a static HTML/CSS website and a site that generates content dynamically, as with a content management system.
On a static HTML website, the source code for every page is readily available to edit at any time. Performing on-page SEO is as simple as opening the file and writing the code. For example, you can open an HTML file and replace the page title with something better, or edit the meta description to influence more people to click. Once your HTML file is open, you can change anything easily, as long as you know HTML.
On the other hand, when your website is built on a content management platform (CMS), like WordPress, you don’t have easy access to the source code for each page because your pages don’t technically exist until a user visits the page. Since pages are created dynamically by pulling data from the database on demand to construct the page, there are no “page files” to open and edit.
You can edit individual template files for your header, footer, and sidebar, but that’s not going to help with your on-page SEO needs. If you want to perform on-page optimization on dynamically generated pages, it has to be done differently than on a static site, and that’s what plugins help you accomplish.
To summarize, the SEO work required to rank static and dynamic sites is the same. The only difference is, with a static site, you edit your HTML files directly. With a dynamic site, you use a plugin to ensure your SEO elements are added to each individual page as they are created for each user.
Plugins aren’t a substitute for an SEO strategy
Now that you know more about how SEO plugins facilitate search optimization, it’s easy to see that a plugin isn’t a replacement for an actual SEO strategy. A plugin is only as good as your ability to implement a good strategy.
If you’ve been trying to make SEO plugins work for your site and you haven’t been getting good results, it’s probably because you need a better strategy.
4 SEO tips for optimizing a site with dynamic content
Whether you’re running a site on WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, or any other CMS, here’s what you need to do to rank your site better in the SERPs.
1. Don’t get lost in the sea of SEO plugins
You’ll find tons of SEO plugins out there, and some are better than others. Considering how much time it would take to personally test each plugin, you could spend years trying to figure out which one to use. You wouldn’t even know right away since SEO takes time to see big results. That’s not only an inefficient way to choose a plugin, but it will force you to waste a lot of time.
While there are differing opinions, in general, Yoast SEO is considered the best all-in-one SEO plugin for WordPress that doesn’t require any technical knowledge. There is a free and premium paid version if you want more features. SEOPress and Rank Math are also popular choices. If you don’t want to do any guesswork or take chances, start with Yoast SEO and learn the basics to get the best head start.
2. Set unique page titles
Do you define your page titles intentionally? If not, this is a critical optimization task you should start doing right away. Ranking is great, but if nobody clicks, a #1 first-page ranking is useless.
In the search results, page titles act like hooks to get search engine users to click through to your website. When intentionally crafted, great titles can generate significant traffic.
By default, most content management systems automatically create page titles based on the URL. You can customize your URLs to get the page title you want, but you don’t always want a page title to be the same as your page URL.
An SEO plugin will make it possible to set your page titles independently of your page URLs. This is important because for many of your pages, you’ll want to set URLs as short as possible to improve your click through rate. For example, your “about” page URL can simply be www.YourDomain.com/about.
The “short” concept doesn’t apply to page titles because they need to be more descriptive to be effective. Titles are displayed in search results and have a hand in influencing users to click. To be effective, your page titles need to be more than one word.
Unless your CMS or theme has a built-in feature to define page titles and URLs separately, the only way you’ll achieve this important SEO task is with a plugin.
3. Reduce the number of dynamic elements on each page
Technically, there are two types of dynamic content. The first is content that comes from a database and is used to create a page that displays the same content to all users. This is how CMSs like WordPress and Drupal work.
The second definition is content that is programmed to change each time a user visits the site and not everyone sees the same content. For example, dynamic ads will change based on how each user is being tracked across the web, or home page content might be programmed to display the latest comments in a widget, which will change day-to-day.
The former is not a concern where reducing elements are concerned. You don’t need to worry about running a website that generates pages dynamically when the content is static and displays the same to all users. What you need to pay attention to is content that changes for each visit.
When Google and other search engines crawl your website, they look at the information in order to determine what your site is about. If the content on your pages changes constantly, it’s going to send mixed signals to Google, which can influence your ranking up and down for all kinds of search terms.
For example, if you have a sidebar widget that always displays your latest posts, this can work against you if your blog posts consist of vastly different types of content, like what you might get from guest posts. One week, Google might think your site is about dessert recipes, and the next week it could think your site is about teeth whitening.
4. Focus on PageSpeed
Dynamic content takes a bit longer to load than static content, but it doesn’t have to be slow. It’s possible to optimize the time it takes for your pages to load, and this is an essential part of SEO. PageSpeed is one of Google’s most important, direct ranking signals and should be prioritized. You can test your site speed here for free.
When it comes to ranking web pages, Google is always focused on the user experience (UX), and speed is the foundation for a great UX. If any of your pages don’t live up to Google’s expectations for speed, it will negatively impact your rankings.
There are many ways to increase PageSpeed, including using caching and other plugins that reduce website file sizes. One of the fastest ways to make your website load faster is to compress images. You’d be surprised at how much you can compress an image without losing the quality. If you don’t want to download software to do this, you can resize images online without even registering an account.
The benefits of professional services from SEO.co
Optimizing web pages to rank higher in search results requires a strong strategy and experience to get big results. You can try to learn SEO on your own, but it will take a long time – time you probably don’t want to waste.
A plugin isn’t a substitute for professional SEO services, but professional SEO companies do use plugins to get results for their clients. It’s all a matter of how it’s used to implement high-level, professional strategies.
If you’re ready to start ranking your website for valuable keywords and phrases in your niche, get in touch with us today and tell us about your business. We’d love to help improve your rankings and traffic so you can finally start generating the revenue you’re after. Connect with us today to learn more about our professional SEO services.
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