In preparation for a consultation today I was considering how often this type of thing comes up in discussions I’ve had with clients over the years.
Namely, that business owners trying to be proactive about their marketing and SEO put a lot of energy into researching all the SEO plugins and worrying about making the right choice.
In truth, it doesn’t generally make much difference.
Sure, I have blogged in the past about seeing some benefits from switching from Yoast to The SEO Framework. But changes like that aren’t everyday and aren’t nearly as important as other aspects of SEO.
SEO Plugins Help With Foundation, But It’s Still Crucial To Keep Going.
This is an area I think a lot of folks get confused about because of all the commercials out there by Wix and other builder platforms making statements like, “…with all the tools needed for SEO!” while showing options for meta titles, descriptions, and things like that.
The average person seeing that is going to think that that is what SEO is, and might end up confused why they make that step and still don’t see any results.
The truth is that while SEO plugins allow you additional settings your site doesn’t natively have for presenting your site to Google, all of this is really just a first step.
Time one might have spent agonizing over whether AIO SEO is better than All In One SEO or Yoast is time that person could have instead been optimizing content, writing new material, or working on getting links.
Most of these WordPress SEO plugins essentially do the same things as each other, and while some features are different you can get where you need to be rankings-wise with basically any of them.
Technical SEO Matters, But So Does Content Strategy.
There’s no shortage of websites offering assessments, website graders, speed tests, and other metrics (free and paid) to look for opportunities for tweaks and corrections.
These have their place in an SEO campaign, for sure. But too often, in my experience, focusing here ends up being a distraction or an excuse to avoid other things.
“I can’t write that new blog post,” one might say, “because I have this 10-page report of issues to fix!”
Take recommendations from many of these free tools with a grain of salt. Remember, these reports exist to make it seem like your site desperately needs them, so while they can contain good info they also can have a tendency to exaggerate the importance of certain things.
Two business sites being otherwise fairly equal:
- One focused on plugins and 10+ page assessment reports at the expense of an SEO strategy beyond those things
- One aggressively and ongoingly working on optimized content to suit a specific SEO action plan
#1 is not likely to outrank #2 in a competitive setting.
That’s not to say reports and technical tweaks are irrelevant, but in my experience they function better as tasks to reinforce and serve the rest of the campaign and not the other way around.
Technical SEO like schema data etc. can help Google understand your website better, which can improve how it ranks. At the end of the day, though, what Google is delivering to users is answers and content.
It’s crucial, consequently, that the content is perceived as valuable and in-depth enough to demonstrate real experience.
There’s no shortcut for that, nor can you accomplish it with a set-and-forget plugin.