Do You Need WordPress SEO Plugins?

A photo showing some SEO plugins that can be found for installation within WordPress.

In the world of websites, search engine optimization is essential. SEO plugins can help you optimize your website. So, do you need WordPress SEO plugins? And you’ve probably already heard the answer – it depends! To help you decide whether you need SEO plugins, we will explore the cons and pros of SEO plugins, when and how they can’t and can help, and when to use them and when not to. Well, let’s start over.

What is WordPress?

WordPress is the most famous CMS – Content Management System in the world. It is an open-source project that is free and relatively easy to use. In addition to the above, its popularity is also due to its flexibility. You can use it without any knowledge of code or any programming language. However, the more you know, the more opportunities you have.

Considering the above, it is not surprising that WordPress is the most popular and used CMS among all websites that use some CMS. 63.3% of those websites use WordPress.

Percentage shares of CMS on the market in 2023

Data source: Search Logistics

What are WordPress Plugins?

Plugins are pieces of software that enable additional functionality within WordPress. If the theme on which you are building your website does not have some of the options you want, there is certainly a plugin that can help you. So, you can find plugins for:

  • adding galleries,
  • share buttons for social networks,
  • navigation changes,
  • performance improvement,
  • adding various forms,
  • content optimization,
  • et cetera.

They are straightforward to find and install. Choosing the one that best suits your needs is a little more complicated. And the most important thing is to learn to use it correctly.

WordPress SEO Plugins

Among the many plugins, the popularity of WordPress SEO plugins is growing. They usually help website owners optimize on-page SEO elements. Their purpose is often to help optimize content for ranking within organic search results. Research shows that over 60% of WordPress sites use some SEO plugin. Yoast SEO, All in One SEO Pack, and Rank Math SEO are the most popular.

Facts about the most popular WordPress SEO plugins

So, do you need WordPress SEO plugins?

Why and When Not to Use WordPress SEO Plugins?

Although it may seem that plugins can solve all your problems, be careful. Think of them like any other tool. Take, for example, scissors. In your hands, it is a handy tool you use daily. However, in the hands of a two-year-old, it is a great danger. Also, if you need precise cuts on plastic materials, you would be better off using a scalpel. And if you need to cut a piece of metal, scissors are not helpful. SEO plugins can also be unnecessary, useless or dangerous.

Negative Sides of Using SEO Plugins

Let’s consider some of the potential downsides of using plugins.

  • Plugin quality. Many plugins on the market are poorly programmed, poorly maintained, ineffective, or don’t do what they claim.
  • Security threats. Plugins are often the source of malware. The extensive research revealed 47,337 malicious plug-in installations on 24,931 unique websites, and 94% were still active at the end of the study in 2022. Also, hackers are constantly targeting some of the most popular plugins (precisely because of their popularity and installations on numerous websites).

  • Impact on website speed. Often, plugins are (unnecessarily) too big, and we clutter the website with too many plugins. All this requires significant resources when loading, which can affect the speed of your website.
  • Plugin dependency. On the one hand, relying on plugins can reduce your understanding of SEO principles. On the other hand, if you manage to make good use of the offered options for on-site optimization, stopping the use of the plugin can lead to a drop in your performance.
  • Unnecessary costs. Some plugins are too expensive and unprofitable. If you need help understanding what the paid version of a plugin additionally offers, then you don’t need it. The fact that you pay for the plugin DOES NOT mean that it will do anything extra for you. You should only use the paid version of the plugin if you have the knowledge and understanding to use its options. Otherwise, it’s a waste of money.
  • Complexity. SEO plugins can be too complex, making their use complicated. In addition, managing numerous plugins can be extremely complicated. Also, there are often mutual incompatibilities and conflicts between various plugins.

Presentation of the negative sides of using SEO plugins

When, for What and Why They Are Not Useful

Considering the above, it is clear that there are situations when SEO plugins are not helpful, and you should not use them.

The first situation in which you do not need SEO plugins because they cannot be of much help is if you have a website with complex SEO needs. For example, a news site or a large web shop (either with products or with services). In such situations, we advise you to hire an SEO expert.

Also, you generally do not need SEO plugins if you have advanced search engine optimization knowledge and resources. 🙂

You do not need SEO plugins for the basic optimization of posts and pages because WordPress and the theme you use already have some essential tools for creating SEO-friendly content. In addition, WordPress is highly adaptable, so with a bit of knowledge, it is possible to change site settings and theme files or adapt WordPress to your needs with your own PHP code.

(Mis)understanding of SEO

WordPress SEO plugins usually instruct what else you need to do to get the “green light”. However, you don’t always have to get the “green light”. Understanding each instruction the plugin gives you is vital to knowing what and why you need it, what you want, and what is unnecessary. To do that, you need to know how to do SEO. Unfortunately, a superficial knowledge of SEO can often mislead you.

Limitations and Disadvantages

It is essential to know that search engine optimization is an extensive process. It includes technical optimization, on-site optimization, and off-site optimization. Knowledge and understanding of your business and specific needs and goals are significant for the entire process. So, using the most essential SEO tool – the brain is crucial. Unfortunately, plugins don’t have a brain, so they can’t help you with:

  1. In-depth SEO analysis. When it comes to technical analysis, SEO plugins usually offer elementary tools. They can’t analyze complex technical issues that may affect a website’s ranking in depth.
  2. Keyword research. Although some plugins do this, they cannot identify the real potential of individual keywords, their interdependence, and the real intentions of users. They cannot understand and advise you which keywords to choose, for what, and why when there are numerous keywords. You will need an SEO expert for that, in any case.
  3. Design of website architecture. A well-designed website architecture ensures smooth crawling for robots and easy user navigation. To succeed in this, you need to understand human behavior, know what good UX is, and comprehend the specific offers and needs of the business for which you want to create a website. Brainless plugins do not have these capabilities.Brainless plugin sits by the keyboard. Created by Copilot
  4. Create quality content. SEO plugins can advise you to add a keyword to the title, shorten paragraphs, add internal links, etc. However, they cannot create quality content that attracts users and achieves results. Human creativity and expertise in (SEO) writing are necessary for this.
  5. Personalization and tailoring. As already mentioned, SEO plugins offer generic tips and recommendations. They are not tailored to your specific needs or the peculiarities of your niche. You need a human for a deeper understanding and adjustment.
  6. Monitoring and adaptation. SEO is a dynamic process. Plugins cannot automatically adapt to algorithmic changes and new possibilities or make strategic decisions about website optimization. It requires constant monitoring of SEO trends and manual adjustment of the strategy.
  7. Building backlinks. Plugins cannot build backlinks themselves. That requires creating outstanding content that others will want to share or mention, conducting outreach campaigns, and designing a strategy.

Aleyda Solis, an international SEO consultant, said:

“While SEO plugins are helpful in ensuring you’re meeting basic SEO standards, they can’t replace the need for a comprehensive SEO strategy. They are excellent for on-page SEO tasks but should be complemented with other techniques and tools.”

Source: Aleyda Solis’ Blog

What are WP SEO Plugins Good for?

If you need help with search engine optimization and are unable or unwilling to hire an SEO expert, SEO plugins could be beneficial.

Positive Sides of Using SEO Plugins

SEO plugins have some good sides that speak in favor of their use.

  • Automation of basic SEO tasks. WordPress SEO plugins can automate several tasks, such as creating a sitemap and updating it with new pages.
  • Saving time. Automation of functions itself can save you a lot of effort and time. Suppose you still need to become more familiar with the basic on-site optimizations and the preferred web writing rules. In that case, the plugins’ instructions can also reduce the time you need to research and try to remember everything repeatedly.
  • SEO performance monitoring. Some plugins offer tools for tracking keywords, traffic, and other metrics important in SEO analysis. Those data can give you some valuable insights into the current state of your website.
  • Additional functionalities. Some SEO plugins offer additional functionalities, such as social networking tools and integrations with email marketing tools.Picture of image results in Google for search "SEO plugins".

When, for What and Why They Are Useful

Based on everything mentioned, it is easy to conclude which situations WordPress SEO plugins are helpful in.

All SEO beginners can benefit from using them. Within SEO plugins, they will come across some concepts and ideas to start their research and learning. In addition, the plugin can serve as a checklist for them to check what they have done.

Also, using plugins can be helpful for small businesses and small websites that lack the resources for comprehensive, professional SEO services.

Useful Functionalities

In search engine optimization, you need to optimize many things, and you should do it well. When you know what you need to do, you need someone who knows how to do it. Suppose your developer isn’t capable, or it’s too much of a financial investment for you. In that case, there are items that WordPress SEO plugins can help you with quite well. These are:

  1. Adding a meta description. More than just appearing in the search results is required to achieve organic results and increase organic traffic to your website. It is also necessary to persuade the person viewing the results to click on your listing. The meta description, along with the title tag, serves this purpose. It is a description with which you will tell the user what to expect on that web page and why clicking on that result is his best choice.
  2. Setting up indexing instructions. There are often web pages that you want to avoid being indexed and displayed in search results. You can indicate this with the “noindex” tag on those pages.
  3. Redirect management. Although a 404 response is not harmful or dangerous, it is essential to manage redirects. You need to know which one you need, when, and why. The most used are 301, 302, and 410.
  4. Adding structured data. Schema markup helps search engines better understand the context of your website’s content and its interrelationship. Some of the structured data increases your chances of appearing in rich results if you appear in the search results.
  5. XML sitemap generation. Although a sitemap is unnecessary since Google also finds and crawls URLs in other ways, it can be beneficial. It shows crawlers the structure of your web and helps them crawl and index it more easily.
  6. Content analysis. When you write a lot and publish articles on your website, help in the form of various analyses can be more than welcome. For example, your content is intended for Generation Z. In that case, it certainly does not need to have the same readability score as content for experts in a technical field.

Joost de Valk, founder of Yoast (whose Yoast SEO plugin is), said:

“SEO plugins are incredibly helpful for making sure you’re covering the basics of on-page SEO. However, they’re just one piece of the puzzle. You still need to think about overall site structure, mobile usability, and high-quality content to really perform well in search engines.”

Source: Yoast Blog

Best Practices for Using WordPress SEO Plugins

If you decide to use plugins, take care of a few things:

  • do not install plugins from unverified and suspicious websites,
  • update them regularly,
  • be careful when combining plugins,
  • if the plugin is outdated and does not have regular maintenance and updates, replace it.

Women sitting and asking herself: "Do you need WordPress SEO plugins". Created by Copilot

In Conclusion

It is very important to understand and remember that WordPress SEO plugins will not do the work for you by themselves. You are mistaken if you rely on an SEO plugin and count on it to provide you with good positions in the search results. They do not improve rankings or traffic.

While they can be helpful, they are no substitute for a comprehensive SEO strategy. Counting solely on them is not good (and can be dangerous), especially if you lack a deeper understanding of what they offer. Small personal and blog sites may be able to afford the risk.

However, if your website is essential for your business or your entire business is based on it, we recommend consulting with SEO professionals and using customized solutions. Think about your needs and possibilities and decide accordingly.