Seriously, I don’t use them at all. I don’t need them. And I’m willing to bet you don’t need them either.
I don’t know why so many people are so surprised by this.
You don’t need SEO plugins for good SEO
Yes, I’m dead certain of this. I’ve had nearly all my sites rank on the 1st page of Google search results without any SEO plugin ever. And this is going back for over 10 years now.
In fact, I think SEO plugins are more unnecessary now than ever.
Search engines keep getting smarter. They can guess what your page is about, and find its links quickly, and show the most relevant information. They already know how users find you, and what things users interact with the most on your site. They don’t need help. If anything, SEO tools are for you more than for Google.
The history of SEO plugins
Let me go over some WordPress history for y’all. If you haven’t noticed, the current trend for today’s WordPress themes is SPEED. All of them are advertising themselves to be the most fastest and lightweight theme ever created.
Well back in the days (like 8-10 years ago), the buzzword was “SEO”. Every WordPress theme was advertising itself as being the most “SEO-friendly theme” ever. And it was IMO the funniest most wild-wild west era of WordPress theme development ever.
There was much debate about:
- What were the best practices for optimal SEO?
- Which should handle SEO, the theme or the plugin?
- How to make SEO tools user-friendly for regular users?
- Do you even have to “optimize” for SEO?
Back then, SEO work was seen as being mostly content-optimization. Making sure your titles were wrapped in title tags. Making sure your site description was put in a meta-tag. Tag this, tag that. That’s literally what SEO experts were doing if you hired them. They created content (if needed), then optimized the content, and then probably did off-page stuff like linkbuilding and submitting to indexes and directories.
Well, WordPress themes quickly caught up. All the new ones were automatically wrapping titles in H1 and title tags and all the basic standard SEO practices. It’s not that hard! As it seemed…SEO was the easy part. The hard part was actually having content to optimize!
But who wants to create content? Hahahah. (Not most people.) Most people wanted to believe their poor SEO rankings were due to not having optimized enough. So in came the new batch of SEO plugins…each toting more “SEO features/functions” than the next.
So what do SEO plugins do?
Most SEO plugins do nothing other than teaching you basic SEO practices. They give little cues and indicators of places where you could have used your keyword more. Honestly, they’re just automated “content directors”. Or another way to think of them is as “live SEO checklists”. They’re like those free SEO report tools but they report to you live from your site.
Maybe they help you add tags and keywords to things like images. Maybe help you create inbound links. They help other content/search engines quickly figure out your content date, author, social media share image, and other data snippets.
- Do they actually write your content? – NO.
- Do they actually optimize your content? – MOSTLY NO. (You theme already does most of it.)
- Do they speed up your indexing rate? – NO.
- Do they have secret knowledge of Google’s algorithms? – Of course not.
See for yourself. What the hell do those SEO plugins do? Most of their functions are not even related to SEO. Just basic website stuff that can affect your traffic and search engine standards but don’t actually help your SEO. You’ll see functions like REDIRECTS, SITEMAP, 404 MONITORS, SOCIAL NETWORK LINKS/IMAGE. Not much else!!!
And most of these functions are better handled via other plugins or other services. Or not even necessary at all. You really think a small 15-page website needs a sitemap? Heck even if you had a 400-page site, if you need a sitemap you’re doing it wrong.
So nobody really needs an SEO plugin?
Yeaup. You don’t need it at all. If you understand basic SEO principles. And you’re using a well-coded theme (or even just a run-of-the mill one), I’m quite confident it’s already coded well enough for standard SEO practices. And that you don’t need anything else other than to make great content and share it.
By all means, keep your SEO plugin if you like it and you feel it’s helpful. Can also keep it if you like certain functions. But if you’re only keeping it around for the fear of being penalized without one, I’ll happily reassure you that won’t happen. SEO plugins can be useful; all I’m saying is you don’t need them for high search engine rankings.