Most people who start a WordPress website for the first time need help deciding which SEO plugin to choose. The options are endless: Yoast SEO, Rank Math, All in One, SEOPress, etc. But there’s one thing most webmasters don’t know—you don’t need an SEO plugin to rank on the search engine results page (SERPs).
Let’s look at some of the reasons why your WordPress website doesn’t need an SEO plugin.
1. SEO Plugins Over-Complicate Basic Concepts
Most WordPress SEO plugins have a checklist that you need to follow to improve your SEO score, which according to the plugins if left undone, will make your on-page SEO weak. In reality, this can’t be further from the truth.
The checklist usually includes adding the focus keyword in the meta description, article title, permalink, first paragraph, final paragraph, and image alt texts. There’s nothing wrong with that, but adding a single keyword several times on a web page is a bad SEO practice, and can get you penalized for keyword stuffing.
A better approach is to find Natural Language Processing (NLP) terms, Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI), and related keywords to include in your content. This ensures that you’re using variations of the parent keyword on your web page, hence minimizing the chances of search engines penalizing your website.
Also, keywords can make or break your website’s SEO. Keywords usage and research are complicated concepts, even for experienced SEOs. But plugins oversimplify them by recommending you use a single focus keyword in multiple locations.
There are options to add multiple focus keywords too, but still, it isn’t as effective as carefully placing keywords without relying on a plugin.
WordPress plugins make you chase the green 100 score, which isn’t the most accurate reflection of good SEO.
2. You Don’t Rank With a Good Plugin but With Good SEO
The more details you worry about, the more complex SEO seems. On the contrary, SEO is simple if you have the skills and patience to tweak things using the data at hand. Learning SEO both theoretically and practically is the only way to master it.
Search engines and SEO existed way before WordPress was introduced. So it’s apparent that you don’t need a plugin for SEO. Instead, you can craft your own checklist and follow that.
Plugins also put unnecessary load on your web server and negatively impact the website speed and serving time by hogging server resources.
3. WP Plugins Mostly Focus on On-Page SEO
Most WordPress plugins focus more on the on-page side of SEO, and a bit of technical SEO. Search engines, however, judge each website holistically, assessing off-page, on-page, and technical SEO before deciding which page to rank higher.
The three SEO types are a foundation upon which your website is built, and even a single improperly laid down pillar can negatively affect your website’s authority. In reality, you need to master all three types of SEO to outrank your competitors.
4. You Can Customize WordPress for SEO
WordPress is highly customizable, and that’s true even from an SEO point of view. You can use plugins, modify site settings, change theme files, and add your own PHP code to customize WordPress to fit the bill.
Site architecture is an important part of technical SEO, but WordPress SEO plugins don’t focus much on that front. You can use SEO plugins to improve your site architecture, no doubt, but it’s also possible, and honestly, much more efficient, to do without a plugin.
5. WordPress Plugins Are Vulnerable
According to Colorlib, approximately 13,000 WordPress websites get compromised every single day. A huge share of these hacks are caused by vulnerabilities in WordPress plugins, especially those that aren’t actively developed.
Therefore, to maintain security and performance, it’s advised that you use as fewer plugins as possible. Even if you do install plugins, make sure to check if the developer is still working on the project and if the plugin you’ve downloaded is the latest version.
Stay away from cracked or nulled plugins. Most of the time, they’re a trap and not worth it!
It’s not entirely possible to prevent WordPress attacks, but if you stay vigilant and follow best practices, you can reduce the chances of your website getting compromised.
When Should You Use an SEO Plugin?
Even though there are several reasons to not use an SEO plugin, there are situations when you should consider installing one.
1. For Adding a Sitemap
The sitemap is one of the most important parts of your website. It lists all the posts, pages, authors, and media URLs currently on your website, and is used by search engines to crawl your website. It also ensures that search engine spiders have access to a neatly organized list of pages to index.
SEO plugins automate the creation and management of sitemaps (both XML and HTML) and let you set up which URLs to include in the sitemap.
Without an SEO plugin, you’d need to manually create a sitemap page and add links to it every time you create a new page on your website.
2. Adding Indexing Rule Sets
Sitemaps let you define pages that you want to index. On the other hand, there are pages on your website that you might not want search engines to index. These include author profile pages, taxonomy pages like categories and tags, search archives, media links, and more.
SEO plugins help you define indexing rule sets for these pages and allow you to remove them from the search engines if already indexed.
WordPress SEO Plugins Help, but They Aren’t Necessary!
To sum up, WordPress SEO plugins can help you in your journey to ranking number one on the search engine results page, but they aren’t particularly necessary. You can easily go about acing at Search Engine Optimization even without an SEO plugin.
But there are other plugins that are important for a beginner WordPress webmaster. Your new WordPress website might need security plugins, backup tools, and page builders, depending on the functionalities you want to integrate into your website.