Who doesn’t like a kickass list of tools?
And no, you won’t see ThemeForest, Bluehost, All In One SEO, Google Keyword Planner, and other runner-ups in this list. These are all tools that… what many people say are… the BEST!
If you’re looking for affiliate marketing programs specifically for WordPress I have a separate list for that – it includes 35 programs and is how I made enough $ to move to Denver, buy a car, donate to GoFundMe, basically start my life :) but I tried to leave most aff links out of this post.
The list is full of plugins, SEO-friendly Genesis themes, keyword research tools like Mozbar which helps estimate keyword competition… or the fact that Google’s Mobile Testing Tool only tests 1 page on your website (Google Search Console tells you all of them). Beginner or advanced I can pretty much guarantee you’ll learn something new. Comment with questions!
Here they are…
Yoast – most of us agree it’s the best WordPress SEO plugin but most of use don’t use it correctly. See my complete guide to Yoast to learn how to configure the settings, research keywords and their competition, and properly optimize content (instead of just trying to get your bullets green). Yoast has a premium version but in my review you’ll see why I’m not a fan – most features either don’t help you or can be done using free plugins without paying $69/year. Keyword research + content optimization is by FAR the most important thing you can do to optimize your site (eg. making sure your content is structured around the right keywords) so don’t do ANYTHING else for SEO until you master Yoast. My video tutorial is a good start.
Yoast Premium – $69/year with features like a redirect manager, option to set multiple focus keywords, social previews, and premium support. Though it all sounds nice, redirects can be done using the free Quick Page/Post Redirect plugin (see below). Multiple focus keywords are useless since optimizing for 2 keywords involves using partial matches (Yoast only detects exact matches) so your bullets will be red anyway. Social previews aren’t needed as long as you’re optimizing content for social and using the correct dimensions. Here’s my review of Yoast premium just know it won’t help your SEO as long as you’re doing these things anyway.
WP Rich Snippets – add review stars, recipe information, and other data types to snippets. Premium plugin but is much more robust (and looks better) than All In One Schema.org. If you’re using the Genesis Framework you will need to also install their Schema Removal plugin.
Yoast Local SEO – adds a KML file, schema.org output, and other technical optimizations needed for local SEO with the option to embed a Google Map + store locator on your site.
Yoast WooCommerce SEO – improves social formatting when content is shared on social media, excludes unnecessary pages from Yoast sitemap, and adds Yoast breadcrumb option.
Quick Page/Post Redirect – free redirect plugin which is able to fix crawl errors shown in the “Search Console” tab in Yoast. Be sure to redirect pages anytime you change a permalink or delete a page. Install the plugin, go to Quick Redirects, then add the old/new URL in the fields.
Broken Link Checker – I don’t recommend leaving this installed since the ongoing scans (as with any plugin) will increase CPU usage and slow down your site. But it’s good to check for broken links occasionally, and Broken Link Checker makes it super easy to find and fix them.
Open Site Explorer – your website’s domain authority (DA) should influence how many monthly searches your keywords have. The higher the DA, the more searches they can have when researching phrases in tools like Moz Keyword Explorer or even Google Keyword Planner. Use OSE to check your domain authority, inbound links, and other data on your SEO.
Google Autocomplete – I ALWAYS start keyword research with Google Autocomplete. Make sure you’re using Google Chrome then go to your search settings and select “Never Show Instant Results.” This will make Google show up to 10 autocomplete results instead of just a few. Now go to google.com and start typing in a phrase. You can either have Google complete the phrase, or use the underline character _ to have Google fill in the blank (see screenshot). You will need to end on the underline character if you want Google to complete the phrase.
Moz Keyword Explorer – a better alternative to Google Keyword Planner. Learn each keyword’s monthly searches and use filters to group related phrases (so you’re not browsing through the same ones), while filtering by search volume, broad, specific, and questions.
Hubshout Webgrader – view up to 3 competitor’s full keyword list and compare it to your own. See each competitor’s estimated monthly traffic value, backlinks, domain authority, and more. A great way to get new keyword ideas by running sites (in your niche) through this tool.
Mozbar – Google Chrome extension that estimates a keyword’s competition. Once installed, you can Google any keyword and see each result’s PA (page authority) and DA (domain authority). Remember to check your DA in Open Site Explorer and compete within your range.
NAP – (business name, address, phone) should be consistent across your website and ALL online profiles (called citations). This is mentioned multiple times in the 2017 local search ranking factors so fixing this is a great first step. Listing all relevant categories (with your primary category listed first), listing the correct www version of your website, and writing an ideally 400+ word business description are also super important when filling out citations.
Google My Business – verify your page, set a custom URL and even get a 360° virtual tour from a Googled preferred vendor (optional but helps some brick and mortars). Go through ALL profile information in your account and fill out EVERYTHING while uploading as many professional photos as possible. Also label/optimize photos before uploading them!
Moz Local – find and fix incomplete, inconsistent, and duplicate citations on your top 15 profiles. Citations are about 20% of local SEO and especially important for ranking in Maps.
Top Citations By Country – DIY citation building list by Whitespark.
Top Citations By City For USA, CAN, UK & AU – DIY citation building list by Whitespark.
Top Citations by Category For USA, CAN, UK & AU – DIY citation building list by Whitespark.
Whitespark Citation Building Service – pay Whitespark $4-5 per citation and they will build them for you. They have a perfect 5/5 star review with 150+ reviews on their GMB page and I use them for nearly every local SEO client as it can greatly improve rankings in Google Maps for multiple keywords. Just fill out their intake with your business information and they will build the citations in a few weeks. Upon completion they send you a report with all profile links and 1 universal login. This and my freelancer’s speed services are the only things I feel 100% comfortable outsourcing. They also have an affiliate program if you write tutorials like me.
Whitespark Citation Cleanup Service – if your citations are a mess you can pay $400+ to have them clean up incomplete, inconsistent, and duplicate citations. Since it can be a headache…
Whitespark Local Rank Tracker – measures local SERPS, queries, and other SEO data with ability to filter by Google Maps (local stack), Google organic, Bing pack, Bing organic, more.
Local Business Orders And Appointments – allow customers to make reservations, appointments, or order food directly through your Google My Business page. Just fill out this form. You must be using a third-party booking and ordering service such as seamless.com.
WP Rocket – #1 rated cache plugin in a popular Facebook poll, is $39, and is what I use. Robust features, easy configuration, and no bugs (that I’ve had) make it a great plugin which can fix many items in Pingdom/GTmetrix. Integrates with Cloudflare + MaxCDN and you can use my WP rocket tutorial to set it up. WP Fastest Cache was rated 2nd and I have a tutorial for that. W3 Total Cache was 3rd and yes, I have a tutorial for that. Autoptimize is also a great speed plugin but I would most definitely use WP Rocket if you don’t have it already.
Cloudflare – free CDN and speed/security service which mirrors your site (and offloads resources) on over 115 data centers. Integrates with most cache plugins with option to use aggressive minification, Railgun, and hotlinking. All my cache plugin tutorials include Cloudflare setup instructions and don’t forget to setup page rules for your WordPress admin.
MaxCDN – hosts your files on multiple servers around the world (as oppose to 1 origin server), reducing the geographic distance between your website and visitors – a recommendation in the WordPress optimization guide. Paid service ($90/year) or sign up for a free test account.
WP Disable – turn off unnecessary settings in WordPress core, disable the WordPress heartbeat API, schedule spam deletion, load Google fonts asynchronously, limit the number of post revisions stored, and disable other WordPress settings that consume CPU and slow down your site (pingbacks, trackbacks, Emojis, Gravatars, autosaves, feeds, XML-RPC, and more). A highly respected plugin in the WordPress speed community which also has amazing reviews.
Imagify – lossless image compression (one of the few good plugins and is what I use).
Complete Analytics Optimization Suite (CAOS) – plugin that fixes the “leverage browser caching” item for Google Analytics often seen in GTmetrix, Pingdom, and Page Speed Insights.
Glue For Yoast SEO & AMP – since the AMP plugin changes your mobile layout/design, this plugin helps you customize the design (colors of text, links, hover text, and other elements).
WP Optimize – cleans up junk files in your database, though WP Rocket has this built-in.
Lazy Load For Videos – improves initial load times by delaying loading of videos until you scroll down the page and actually see the video. WP Rocket has this built-in (for images too).
Heartbeat Control – the WordPress heartbeat API lets authors know when other authors are editing a post, but this can consume resources and slow down your site. Install it, then either disable heartbeat API completely or increase the number (eg. to 60 seconds) in the settings.
P3 Profiler – find your slowest loading plugins, though this hasn’t been updated for years.
Plugin Organizer – selectively disable plugins on chosen pages/posts (reducing their load times) and change the order in which plugins load. Great reviews and is updated frequently.
Freelancer.com – this is where you can hire my WordPress speed optimizer (his name is Pronaya and I’ve been working with him for 5 years). He’s $40/hour and has a perfect 5/5 star review with 19 reviews (just sign up for a Freelancer account and search for user BDKAMOL). If you think I’m good at speed optimization, Pronaya is way better. I’ve also been working with Usama (username I333) who is cheaper but is also amazing with 4.9/5 stars and 375+ reviews.
WordPress Speed Up Facebook Group – super helpful group where you can ask/answer questions. Ivica runs the group and is AMAZING about posting resources and answering questions. They also have files for 60+ speed tools and plugins that cause high CPU usage.
My WordPress Speed Optimization Tutorial – has 175+ comments with people saying things like “My page speed score on gtmetrix went from 69 to 93” and “this might be one of the most helpful posts I’ve ever read.” Tons of people have used it to improve Pingdom/GTmetrix scores.
GTmetrix – good for identifying images that need to be optimized using the 3 methods: serving scaled images (resizing them), specifying images dimensions in the HTML/CSS, and optimizing images (lossless compression). GTmetrix recently switched to a fully loaded time metric which shows a longer load time than previously. Their waterfall tab measures individual slow loading elements, and if your time to first byte is long that indicates your hosting is slow.
AWStats – learn what files, crawlers, and search engines spiders are consuming the most CPU and slowing down your site. This is built-in to most hosting cPanel in the “statistics” section.
Bad Bots .htaccess List – extensive list of spammy bots which when blocked by uploading to .htaccess may significantly reduce CPU usage. You can find out if spammy bots are crawling your site using AWStats (listed in the Analytics tools section). Configuring Wordfence’s crawl limiting rules will also help block fake Google crawlers, spammy bots, excessive crawling, etc.
SiteGround – you’ve probably seen me mention the Facebook poll where SiteGround was rated the #1 host by WordPress Hosting Facebook Group where over 300 knowledgeable people voted, and how they’re the only host listed on all 3 WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal recommended hosting pages. If not, read my SiteGround review since it’s loaded with evidence on how Bluehost, HostGator, and other hosts are not good at all while SiteGround is respected in the WordPress community with an average load time of 1.3s. My review covers their plans (starts at $3.95/mo), speed, uptimes, security, amazing support and more. If you’re just starting a website or have slow load times in GTmetrix/Pingdom, fast hosting is the #1 factor in the WordPress optimization guide and SiteGround can cut load times by seconds (it did for these people) and not 1 person cancelled out of the last 50 people I referred. And if you sign up with affiliate link you’ll be helping me donate $3,000 to a good cause on GoFundMe.
*You can run your site through Google Page Speed Insights and if “reduce server response time” is in your report it means your server (hosting) is slow. This happens a lot with Bluehost, Godaddy, HostGator, and other bad hosting companies. Do yourself a favor and get tested :)
WordPress Hosting Facebook Group – get unbiased opinions about WordPress hosting.
Search Analytics (Google Search Console) – way better at measuring SEO than Google Analytics. Cross reference queries, CTR, position (SERPS), pages, mobile pages, and compare SEO traffic from month to month or week to week. Here are some ideas for measuring SEO.
Google Analytics – have yet to write a full blown tutorial for this (working on it!) but my custom dashboards are a great start… they break your traffic into SEO, social, mobile, geography, technical stats and more. Be sure to setup your admin page, set goals like contact form conversions, and browse through the different tabs on the left side of Google Analytics.
AWStats – identifies crawlers (bots), IPs, images, downloaded files, and other elements that slow down your site. Super helpful if you’re getting CPU overages (also called bandwidth limitations) from your hosting company. However any program that collects stats on your website, including plugins, will also cause higher CPU. So try to disable it when you’re done.
SEM Rush – an “all in one” SEO tool to help you research and measure keywords, segment traffic, track SERPs, and find better opportunities for your AdWords campaign. And it’s free.
Google Search Console – over 26 ways to find technical errors, measure search analytics, submit your Yoast XML sitemap, and plenty more. If you haven’t read my Google Search Console tutorial it literally shows you everything about it including integration with Yoast. Both Google, Bing, and Yandex can be verified in Yoast (SEO > Dashboard > Webmaster Tools). When signing up, verify using the “HTML tag” and delete everything outside the quotations.
Bing Webmaster Tools – Bing’s version of webmaster tools (at least submit your sitemap).
Yandex Webmaster Tools – Russia’s largest search engine (at least submit your sitemap).
StudioPress – used by most top WordPress people like Yoast, Google’s Matt Cutts, and WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg. StudioPress’ Genesis Framework supports design that is lightweight, fast loading, mobile responsive, HTML5, and it has built-on security through great coding. It’s what I recommend EVERYONE use when starting a new website. They have tons of themes for business, blogs, eCommerce, real estate and more. The Eleven40 Pro theme is great for blogs and I use the Outreach Pro theme on my Genesis-powered WordPress site.
Hello You Designs – third party, designer quality Genesis themes (most are eCommerce).
Pretty Darn Cute Design – feminine Genesis themes.
Genesis WooCommerce Themes – my own list which I update frequently.
Weighting The Cluster Of Google’s Algorithm – although outdated, the core national ranking factors have not changed in years it’s still one of the best pie charts I’ve seen (posted by Moz).
Anatomy Of A Perfectly Optimized Page – Baclinko’s post on on-page SEO.
Visual Guide to Keyword Targeting and On-Page SEO – Moz’s post on on-page SEO.
Ahrefs – backlink tool which finds new, lost, or broken links, anchor text, referring pages, etc
Google Resources – Google has TONS of tools/resources (keep going because the end has less obvious ones)… SEO starter guide, Autocomplete, Keyword Planner, Trends, Page Speed Insights, mobile testing tool, structured data testing tool, qualified structured data types, featured snippets, search gallery, site attributes, and a plethora of SEO tutorial videos.
WooRank – SEO audit tools are not good at all, but this is simple, free, and somewhat decent.
So…….. did you find something good?
Hope you found something you like! If you have any questions about these shoot me a comment and I’ll get back to ya! Seriously, I love hearing from you guys. Just please don’t spam me asking if I can include your plugin (or any other tool) in this list – I’m not about that!