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The 29 Best WordPress Plugins (Organized by Category)

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WordPress plugins make your life easier by allowing you to add features to your website without learning to code or hire a developer.

However, over 60,000 WordPress plugins are available, and more are released every day. Plus, installing too many plugins can cause slow website loading speeds, so you want to avoid adding too many of these plugins.

To help you limit your installed plugins to only the most worthy, I’ve compiled this list of the 29 best WordPress plugins categorized by what they’re good for. 

This list comes from my more than 12 years of experience building WordPress websites and working closely with my WordPress developer.

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Best WordPress plugins for website design

First up, we have some plugins to help you design and add specific functionalities to your WordPress website.

Elementor

Elementor drag-and-drop page builder example

Cost: Free ($59/year for premium)

Useful for:

  • Building a website theme with drag-and-drop editing 
  • Easily creating custom landing pages

Elementor is awesome for anyone who wants a custom-looking website without learning how to code or being limited to a pre-built theme. But it also has pre-built themes you can customize to streamline the process.

Be aware that using any kind of drag-and-drop editor like this will slow down your site.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce product display blocks

Cost: Free

Useful for: Turning your WordPress website into an e-commerce store

WooCommerce is the best plugin to start an e-commerce business on your WordPress website. It allows you to easily create product pages and collections.

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You can combine it with WooCommerce Payments to easily collect customer payment information.

Advanced Custom Fields Pro

Advanced Custom Fields Pro WordPress UI

Cost: $49/year for a single site

Useful for: Creating custom widgets to use anywhere on your site 

If you know how to code, Advanced Custom Fields Pro allows you to take full control over your WordPress edit screens and custom field data.

WPCode

WPCode user interface explanation

Cost: Free ($49–$399/year for premium)

Useful for: Inserting code into your headers and footers

Formerly called Insert Headers and Footers, WPCode is the easiest way for non-developers to add code snippets anywhere on their website. 

For example, you may have to add a code snippet to your website’s header to connect it with Google Analytics or to add the Facebook Remarketing Pixel.

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WPForms

WPForms form editor UI

Cost: $49.50/year

Useful for:

  • Creating forms for contact pages, newsletter sign-ups, and more
  • Building surveys for your site visitors

WPForms is a drag-and-drop WordPress form editor. It’s super intuitive and easy to use.

TranslatePress

TranslatePress language translation plugin

Cost: €89/year (~USD 95)

Useful for: Translating your website into other languages

TranslatePress makes it easy to create translated versions of your website in other languages. It also automatically adds the hreflang tags for each language, so it’s also good for SEO. 

Formilla

Formilla live chat WordPress plugin

Cost: Free (varying premium plans starting at $19.99/month)

Useful for: Adding a live chat feature to your site

Formilla is a live chat plugin for WordPress. You can offer live chat support or use it to answer visitors’ questions automatically using a bot—although that may annoy them.

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Best WordPress plugins for website management & security

Next up, we’ve got a whole suite of plugins that help you make your website more secure and easier to manage. WordPress sites are often vulnerable to hacking, so these are important.

Wordfence

Wordfence dashboard

Cost: Free ($119/year for premium)

Useful for: Keeping your website safe from hackers and malware

Wordfence adds a robust firewall and malware scanner to protect your site from hackers and malicious software. You can also use it to add two-factor login authentication, have rate limiting, and run security diagnostics on your site—to name a few of the features. 

UpdraftPlus

Cost: Free ($119/year for premium)

Useful for: Backing up your WordPress website

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It’s important to back up your website every so often to avoid losing your content in the event of a plugin clash, hack, or even accidental deletion. UpdraftPlus makes this easy for you.

Wordable

Cost: Free ($50/month for premium)

Useful for: Uploading content from Google Docs to WordPress at the click of a button

Wordable makes it easy to upload content from Google Docs to your WordPress website (including images, formatting, etc., without any extra hidden code). It’s saved me a lot of time and money not needing to do it myself or having my virtual assistant to do it.

PublishPress

PublishPress role capabilities dashboard

Cost: $129–$399/year (depending on tier)

Useful for: Managing a team of writers and editors on your website

PublishPress makes it easy to manage multiple writers and editors on your site, with the ability to manage their permissions of what they can do and see. It also includes an editorial calendar, new blocks for the Gutenberg editor, and more.

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MemberPress

Membership site built using MemberPress WordPress plugin

Cost: $179.50–$399.50/year (depending on tier)

Useful for: Creating a membership website

MemberPress makes it easy to turn your WordPress website into a paid membership site, allowing you to build and sell courses and forums and put them behind a paywall.

Uncanny Automator

Cost: $149–$399/year (depending on tier)

Useful for: Automating tasks on your website

Uncanny Automator is like Zapier but for WordPress. It can automate tasks like sharing a post to social media or in a newsletter when it’s published, track data in a spreadsheet whenever a product is purchased, and a million other things. Its only limit is your own creativity.

WP Simple Pay

WordPress payment forms using WP Simple Pay

Cost: $49.50–$299.50/year (depending on tier)

Useful for: Adding a simple Stripe payment processor to your site

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WP Simple Pay makes it easy to accept Stripe payments on your website. This is great if you only sell a few products or services and want to avoid the trouble of setting up the WooCommerce plugin and connecting it with a payment processor and your bank.

WP Mail SMTP

Cost: $49–$399/year (depending on tier)

Useful for: Improving email deliverability

WP Mail SMTP allows you to set up SMTP and PHP mail servers to improve your email deliverability whenever you send customers or visitors an email from your site.

Best WordPress plugins for site speed optimization

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A quick-loading site is vital for audience retention, conversions, and SEO. To help you speed up your WordPress site, you can consider using these plugins.

NitroPack

Cost: $17.50–$146.67/month (depending on tier)

Useful for: An all-in-one tool to speed up your website

NitroPack is my favorite all-in-one speed enhancer, with smart caching, image optimization, a built-in CDN, and more—all without needing developer experience. However, it’s not cheap. If you need a more affordable option, look at the next two plugins.

WP Rocket

Cost: $59–$299/year (depending on tier)

Useful for: Adding website caching

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WP Rocket adds caching to your WordPress website, allowing you to improve your loading speeds and Core Web Vitals score. However, it doesn’t have image optimization or a CDN, so it’s missing features compared to NitroPack. That’s where the next plugin comes in.

Autoptimize

Cost: Free

Useful for: Adding website speed optimization features like image compression

Autoptimize fills in the gaps left by WP Rocket. It can aggregate, minify and cache scripts and styles, inject CSS in the page head by default, optimize and lazy-load images, and much more. However, it does require some learning and tweaking, so it’s not very beginner-friendly.

Best WordPress plugins for marketing

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Traffic is what makes your website valuable. Here are some of the best WordPress plugins to help you promote your site.

PushEngage

Cost: Free ($9–$49/month for premium)

Useful for: Adding push notifications to your website

PushEngage is the best push notification plugin I’ve found. It lets you easily advertise push notification services to your visitors and sends the notifications in a way that is well designed and easy to use. 

Keep in mind that push notifications can be extremely annoying to visitors if you’re not cautious about them.

RafflePress

Cost: $39.50–$499.50/year (depending on tier)

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Useful for: Running viral raffles and giveaways

RafflePress makes running raffles and giveaways on your site easy by giving visitors single-click options to earn entries. They can follow, subscribe, like, and comment just by clicking each button on your giveaway and get extra entries for each task they complete.

OptinMonster

OptinMonster form editor

Cost: $9–$49/month (depending on tier)

Useful for: Creating beautiful opt-in forms and gamified wheels

OptinMonster is a form-builder plugin that helps you optimize conversions to grow your email list. It also has gamified wheels, which I’ve never used. But it seems like a fun thing to test for e-commerce websites.

Thrive Quiz Builder

Cost: $99/year (or $299/year for the entire Thrive Suite)

Useful for: Creating quizzes on your site that are easily shareable

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Thrive Quiz Builder makes it easy to, well, build quizzes. You can use it to make one of those viral Facebook quizzes moms love to take and share their results. 

Smash Balloon

Cost: $49–$299/year (depending on which feeds you want)

Useful for: Adding social media feeds to your website

Smash Balloon makes displaying feeds from your social media profiles on your WordPress website easy. This is helpful if you want to showcase your photography or video services or rely heavily on social media for sponsorships. 

Best WordPress plugins for SEO

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Search engine optimization (SEO) is an important part of growing your website. In my experience, the following plugins are the best WordPress SEO plugins.

Yoast SEO/Rank Math/SEOPress

Rank Math blog post SEO settings

Cost: Free (various paid options)

Useful for:

  • Basic on-page SEO
  • Creating a robots.txt file and sitemap
  • Easily editing metadata 

These types of plugins are essential for a WordPress website. They allow you to edit important SEO options on your pages and make implementing SEO on your site much easier and more streamlined.

Of these three, my personal favorite is Rank Math. I have used Yoast SEO and SEOPress, but I like the team behind Rank Math the most and find the plugin to be easy to use with a solid UI. They’re all great, however, and do pretty much the same things. Just pick one.

Ahrefs’ WordPress SEO Plugin

Ahrefs' WordPress SEO plugin dashboard

Cost: Free

Useful for: Suggesting ways to better optimize your content to rank higher in search results

Our SEO plugin makes it easy to automate content audits, monitor backlinks, and grow organic traffic to your WordPress website. It’s free, so try it out.

MonsterInsights

MonsterInsights analytics overview dashboard

Cost: $99.50–$399.50/year (depending on tier)

Useful for: Gathering helpful insights into your site traffic 

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MonsterInsights is a WordPress analytics plugin that shows you insights into how much traffic you’re getting, which pages people are visiting, and what they’re doing. It also provides e-commerce insights like goal conversions and also integrates with Google Analytics. 

Best WordPress plugins for affiliate marketing

Last but not least, the following plugins are excellent to help you make more money from affiliate marketing.

Lasso

Cost: $39–$299/month (depending on how many sites you want it for)

Useful for: 

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  • Tracking, managing, and automating your affiliate links
  • Creating product display boxes and comparison tables
  • Getting suggestions for new affiliate programs

Lasso gets my favorite plugin of the year award. It makes tracking, managing, and automating your affiliate links easy. Plus, you can create conversion-optimized product display boxes and tables, get suggestions for affiliate programs for products you’re mentioning but not affiliated with, and more.

AffiliateWP

AffiliateWP dashboard

Cost: $39–$299/month (depending on how many sites you want it for)

Useful for: Adding an affiliate program to your website

AffiliateWP allows you to create and manage your own affiliate program so you can have affiliates promote your products for you.

AdSanity

Cost: $59–$179/year ($499 for lifetime access)

Useful for: Managing ads on your WordPress website

AdSanity makes it easy to manage ads on your site and add them using widgets, shortcodes, or template tags. It also gives you publishing options to create start and end dates, analytics reporting to see your ads’ effectiveness, and more. 

Final thoughts

There are a lot of WordPress plugins out there. Many are unnecessary, and having too many can add code bloat and drastically slow down your website.

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Hopefully, you’ve found the right plugins in this list to install only the ones you really need and avoid others you don’t. 

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How We Built A Strong $10 Million Agency: A Proven Framework

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How We Built A Strong $10 Million Agency: A Proven Framework

Building a successful agency can be a daunting task in today’s ever-evolving space. Do you know the secrets to succeeding with yours?

Watch this informative, on-demand webinar, where link building expert Jon Ball reveals the closely guarded secrets that have propelled Page One Power to become a highly successful $10 million agency.

You’ll learn:

  • The foundational principles on which to build your business to succeed.
  • The importance of delegation, market positioning, and staffing.
  • More proven lessons learned from 14 years of experience.

With Jon, we’ll provide you with actionable insights that you can use to take your business to the next level, using foundational principles that have contributed to Page One Power’s success.

If you’re looking to establish yourself as a successful entrepreneur or grow your agency in the constantly evolving world of SEO, this webinar is for you.

Learn the secrets of establishing a thriving agency in an increasingly competitive SEO space.

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View the slides below or check out the full webinar for all the details.

Join Us For Our Next Webinar!

How An Enterprise Digital PR Firm Earns 100’s Of Links In 30 Days

Join us as we explore how to scale the very time-consuming and complicated process of earning links from digital PR, with proven case studies showing how you can earn hundreds of links in 30 days.

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SEO Woe or a Load of Baloney?

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SEO Woe or a Load of Baloney?

Toxic backlinks are links that some SEO tools say could hurt your website’s Google rankings. The implication is that you should disavow them to keep your site safe.

But there’s some disagreement and confusion among SEOs as to whether “toxic” links are actually a thing and what, if anything, you should do about them. 

If you believe Google’s John Mueller, they’re not: 

Yet, according to my poll, the majority (just!) of SEOs think they are: 

So… what’s the deal here? Are toxic backlinks actually a thing? Are they hurting your site? And if so, what should you be doing about them? 

Before we can answer those questions, we need to understand the terminology… 

Every website has some spammy backlinks that just don’t make sense. But that doesn’t necessarily make them manipulative or “toxic.”

For example, here are a couple of obviously spammy links to our site: 

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Example of spammy links, via Ahrefs' Site ExplorerExample of spammy links, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

We didn’t build or buy either of these, so they’re not “manipulative” by definition. They’re just low-quality links we’ve attracted over time because the internet is rife with spammers. 

If you study Google’s link spam documentation carefully, you’ll see that, in theory, these aren’t the kind of spammy links they have a problem with. They warn only against the ill effects of spam links intended to manipulate rankings. 

Google uses links as an important factor in determining the relevancy of web pages. Any links that are intended to manipulate rankings in Google Search results may be considered link spam. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site. 

Here are the examples Google gives of these manipulative links: 

What Google says are manipulative linksWhat Google says are manipulative links

As for “toxic backlinks,” this is just a term made up by certain SEO tools to describe backlinks they think could hurt your rankings based on several so-called “markers.”

Key takeaway

  • Spammy links are low-quality links that every site attracts through no fault of their own. 
  • Manipulative links are links built or bought solely to improve Google rankings. 
  • Toxic links are links that certain SEO tools say could hurt your website’s rankings. 

If you asked this question before September 2016, the answer would have likely been “yes.”

So what changed? 

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Penguin 4.0.

With this algorithm update, Google switched from demoting pages to a system that tries to ignore bad links.

Penguin is now more granular. Penguin now devalues spam by adjusting ranking based on spam signals, rather than affecting ranking of the whole site. 

Since then, Google’s stance has been that you can ignore spammy backlinks. 

If you’re seeing individual links that pop up and you say, “oh this looks like a spammer dropped the link” or whatever, I would completely ignore those. […] because these spammy links happen to every website and Google’s system has seen them so many times over the years that we’re very good at just ignoring them. 

John MuellerJohn Mueller

But is this true? Is Google really as good at ignoring low-level spam as we’re made to believe? 

Judging by my colleague Chris’s recent poll on LinkedIn, a good chunk of SEOs (38%) don’t think so, as they’re still disavowing them. 

Most SEOs either disavow or do nothing about spammy backlinksMost SEOs either disavow or do nothing about spammy backlinks

Does that mean they’re right to do so? Not necessarily. It just means they don’t fully trust Google that they won’t do any harm. They’re being careful. 

Personally, the person I trust most to answer this question in 2024 is Dr. Marie Haynes. I don’t think anyone’s done more research into this than her. She’s spent well over a decade working to understand Google’s search algorithms and auditing link profiles on behalf of business owners. 

Now, the interesting part of that statement (and why I actually trust her!) is the obvious conflict of interest. Until fairly recently, she made her living selling link audit and disavow file creation services—and for a pretty hefty sum at that! 

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Pricing from Marie's link audit services page in March 2023Pricing from Marie's link audit services page in March 2023
Pricing from Marie’s link audit services page in March 2023

Clearly, it would be good news for Marie if Google were still terrible at ignoring spammy backlinks because she could sell more link audits! 

Yet, these days, she no longer appears to offer such services. In fact, she’s actually been warning folks against the need to disavow low-quality, spammy backlinks for a few years. 

Here’s a quote from a 2022 blog post of hers:

While there is no harm in disavowing low quality spammy links, it likely does not help improve rankings. We believe that Google’s algorithms are already ignoring these links. […]. When we do see improvements these days after disavowing, it is always in sites where we have disavowed links that were purposely made for SEO and very little else. 

Marie HaynesMarie Haynes

It’s clear that Marie is being cautious with her words here. But overall, her opinion after digging into this for many years seems to be that, yes, Google is now pretty good at ignoring most low-quality spammy links. 

Does that mean they’re perfect? No. But it does mean that worrying about obvious low-quality link spam is probably a waste of time for most people.

If you’re buying or building the types of links that Google class as “link spam” then, yes, they can absolutely hurt your rankings.

But before you panic about that link exchange you did with your best friend’s wife’s brother, Google is likely looking for patterns of manipulation here. In other words, manipulative link profiles rather than manipulative individual links: 

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Danny Richman, founder of Richman SEO Training, agrees: 

Here’s a bit more context from Danny: 

As for Marie Haynes, she echoes a similar sentiment in this post. She states that manual actions aside, she would only recommend a client disavow links if they have “a very large number of links that [they] feel the webspam team would consider to be ‘manipulative.’ ”

In these cases, Google often slaps the worst offenders with an unnatural links manual action. If you get one of those, that’s Google telling you, “Hey… you’re being demoted in search because we think you’ve been trying to game the system with manipulative links.” 

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But this doesn’t have to happen for manipulative links to be a problem. It’s possible for Google to algorithmically demote a site if they detect a large volume of spammy and manipulative links, at least according to John Mueller.

If we see a very strong pattern [of spammy links] there, then it can happen that our algorithms say well, we really have kind of lost trust with this website and at the moment based on the bigger picture on the web, we kind of need to be more on almost a conservative side when it comes to to understanding this website’s content and ranking it in the search results. And then you can see kind of a drop in the visibility there. 

John MuellerJohn Mueller

Either way, the point remains: it’s patterns of manipulation that are likely to hurt rankings. There’s very little chance that you need to worry about the odd potentially dodgy link here and there. 

While it might be tempting to use an SEO tool that finds “toxic backlinks” for you, I’d seriously urge you to reconsider. Trusting these can do more harm than good. Way more. 

Just look at this unfortunate Redditor’s reply to John Mueller: 

Someone on Reddit's traffic tanked 60% after disavowing "toxic" backlinks in one SEO toolSomeone on Reddit's traffic tanked 60% after disavowing "toxic" backlinks in one SEO tool
A 60% drop in traffic! That’s no joke! 

Even if this is an extreme case, worrying about these links likely only wastes time because, according to Marie Haynes, they’re rarely truly toxic: 

I find that the truly toxic links…the ones that could have the potential to harm your site algorithmically (although you’d have to really overdo it, as I’ll describe below), are rarely returned by an SEO tool. 

Marie HaynesMarie Haynes

Sam McRoberts, CEO of VUVU Marketing, seems to agree: 

So… how do you find truly toxic backlinks that are likely to be hurting your site? 

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The truth? You might not even need to look for them. If you haven’t built or bought links that Google considers link spam at any reasonable scale, chances are you’re good. 

If you’re not confident about that, do a manual backlink audit with a tool like Ahrefs’ Site Explorer.

The Anchors report is a good starting point if you’ve never done this. It shows you the words and phrases people use when linking to you. If they look unnatural or over-optimized (lots of exact matches of keywords you’re trying to rank for), that could be a sign you have paid or other links intended to manipulate rankings. 

Example of keyword-rich anchors, which are often a sign of paid backlinksExample of keyword-rich anchors, which are often a sign of paid backlinks

If things look fishy there, use the Backlinks report to dig deeper and check the context of those links. It’s usually quite easy to spot paid and unnatural ones. 

The Backlinks report in Ahrefs' Site Explorer showing the context of the backlinkThe Backlinks report in Ahrefs' Site Explorer showing the context of the backlink

Just remember that you’re looking for patterns of unnatural links, not just one or two. 

WARNING

If you’re not 100% sure what you’re looking for when doing a backlink audit, hire someone who knows what they’re doing. You need to be confident that the links are truly “toxic.”

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If you have a manual action for unnatural links or a bunch of what you believe to be truly toxic backlinks, yes. Google’s advice is to disavow them (assuming you can’t get the links removed). 

You should disavow backlinks only if: 

You have a considerable number of spammy, artificial, or low-quality links pointing to your site, 

AND

The links have caused a manual action, or likely will cause a manual action, on your site. 

Marie Haynes advises the same: 

There are two situations where we will recommend to our clients a thorough link audit followed by filing a disavow: 

  1. The site has a manual action for unnatural links in GSC. 
  2. The site has a very large number of links that we feel the webspam team would consider to be “manipulative”.
Marie HaynesMarie Haynes

If you just have a bunch of spammy backlinks that most sites naturally attract or the odd paid backlink, probably not. Google probably ignores most, if not all, of these links, so disavowing them is likely a waste of time. 

While there is no harm in disavowing these links other than the time spent analyzing them, there is likely no benefit either. 

Marie HaynesMarie Haynes

But what about negative SEO?

Being the victim of a negative SEO attack is indeed the possible exception here. This is when a competitor sends a load of spammy or toxic backlinks your way to try to get your site penalized. 

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Google remains adamant that it basically never works, but it really comes down to what you believe. 

[I’ve] looked at hundreds of supposed cases of negative SEO, but none have actually been the real reason a website was hurt. […] While it’s easier to blame negative SEO, typically the culprit of a traffic drop is something else you don’t know about–perhaps an algorithm update or an issue with their website. 

Gary IllyesGary Illyes

If you see a traffic drop after an influx of backlinks in Site Explorer, I’d say that it’s at least worth a bit more investigation. 

Site with traffic drop coinciding with an influx of backlinksSite with traffic drop coinciding with an influx of backlinks
This site experienced a traffic drop coinciding with an influx of referring domains. Maybe there’s benefit to disavowing here… and maybe it’s something else!

As Gary said above, something else could be to blame—but you never know. There’s always a chance that Google’s algorithms rule it was you who built or bought those backlinks to try to manipulate rankings and penalize you for it. 

If you just found a bunch of so-called “toxic backlinks” in an SEO tool, probably not. Again, most of these are probably just link spam Google already ignores. 

Here’s yet another quote from Marie Haynes backing this up: 

While there is probably no harm in disavowing [links reported as toxic in SEO tools], you are not likely to see any improvement as a result. Disavowing is meant for sites trying to remove a manual action and for those who have been actively building links for the purpose of improving rankings. 

Marie HaynesMarie Haynes

There’s also the risk that you could end up disavowing links that are actually helping you… 

Patrick showed further evidence that this can absolutely happen when he experimented with disavowing links to the Ahrefs blog. Traffic dipped, then went back up after he removed the disavow. 

The impact of disavowing links to the Ahrefs blogThe impact of disavowing links to the Ahrefs blog

Final thoughts

“Toxic backlinks” is a term made up by certain SEO tools to scare you. That’s not to say bad links can’t hurt your site. They absolutely can. But fortunately for most site owners, it’s rarely a problem worth worrying all that much about. 

Got questions? Disagree? Ping me on Twitter X.

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On-Page SEO Checklist for 2024: A Comprehensive Guide

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On-Page SEO Checklist 2024

On-Page SEO Checklist 2024

Want to make your pages rank high on Google? You won’t be able to do that if you don’t know where or how to start your on-page SEO — and with each Google update, this pillar of SEO gets more and more complicated. To keep you updated with the best and most relevant practices when it comes to this aspect of your website, I have prepared an on-page SEO checklist for 2024. 

On-Page SEO Factors

On-page SEO, in simple terms, is all the ways you can optimize your website take place on your website. Tweaking certain elements of your pages can enable them to climb very quickly up the ranks when done right. These elements include essentially everything you can see on your webpage, like its title tags, headers, and images.

Webmaster’s Note: This is part two of our SEO checklist series. Part one covers our technical SEO checklist, so go back if you haven’t seen that yet. I also do deep dives into other aspects of on-page SEO in other articles, like the best content strategy for SEO, how to hack on-page factors, and ways to dominate niche keywords in your industry.

1. Identify Your Target Keyword

This is where any SEO effort should start. Identify which basic keywords you would like each page to rank for. From there, you can expand into common phrases, questions, and related words people use to find pages like yours through keyword research. 

Key Aspects of Keyword Optimization:

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  • Keyword Research: Identifying the right keywords that your target audience is searching for.
  • Keyword Placement: Sensibly incorporating keywords in titles, headings, the first paragraph, and throughout the content.
  • Searcher Intent: Catering to why someone is performing a search, whether it’s to find information, make a purchase, etc.

Effective keyword optimization allows you to create pages that best meet user intent. This boosts your chances of ranking highly for your chosen keywords. 

Using a Keyword Research Tool for On-Page SEOUsing a Keyword Research Tool for On-Page SEO

I have longer guides on the types of keywords you should look at, and another on how to do keyword research you can follow for this step.

2. High-Quality Content Creation

Quality content is the keystone of on-page SEO. It is, after all, fundamental to the selling point of Google — which is that it is the go-to place to find answers to your questions. It’s why Google pushes Helpful Content Updates every so often.

So, your content must meet Google’s standards of quality in order to make it to the top. To do that, your content must be authoritative, valuable to the reader, and deliver on the promises made by your meta tags and headings.

What Constitutes Quality Content:

  • Originality: Your content must be unique and offer fresh insights.
  • Relevancy: It should align with your target user’s intent and be updated regularly.
  • Engagement: Content must encourage users to spend time on your site and interact with your offerings.

Creating content that exceeds user expectations can dramatically bolster your SEO as it can directly affect user engagement metrics and boost the credibility of your site. 

Webmaster’s Note: Beyond making sure all new content is high-quality, however, is ensuring all of your existing content is also up to par. I’ll be covering that in part four of this series, so keep an eye out for that. 

3. URL Structure

URLs are not only a ranking factor but also enhance the user experience when structured logically. 

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Features of an Effective URL Structure:

  • Concise and Descriptive: A URL should be concise and explain your page content. No stop words.
  • Keyword Inclusion: A relevant keyword can enhance a URL’s performance.
  • Use Hyphens instead of Underscores: Conventional use dictates using hyphens to separate words.

A clear URL helps users and search engines make sense of the page’s content before they even reach it.

Here’s an example of a bad URL slug. 

Example of Bad URL StructureExample of Bad URL Structure

And here’s an example of a good, optimized one.

Example of Good URL StructureExample of Good URL Structure

4. Title Tag and Headings

I find that certain practices for these two elements give the most benefit to a page’s SEO. 

Best Practices for Title Tag and Heading Optimization:

  • Use a Keyword-First Approach: Place keywords first in your title tag, as uninterrupted by stop-words as possible.
  • Keep it Simple: Title tags should be concise to ensure the entire tag is displayed on the SERPs.
  • Same Keyword, Different Phrasing: Use the same keyword in your title tag and heading 1. However, use different phrasing or wording for each. 
  • Insert Related Keywords: Do this for your heading 2, 3, and so on, where it makes sense.
  • Avoid Duplicates: Use different title tags and headings for every unique page.

4. Meta Tags Enhancement

Meta tags, such as the meta description, serve as a brief pitch to users on search engine results pages. Other meta tags, like your image alt text and links, provide important context to both the user and crawlbot.

Tips for Enhanced Meta Tags:

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  • Compelling Copy: Write title tags and meta descriptions that accurately summarize the page content and entice clicks.
  • Keyword Usage: Try to insert target keywords and/or related keywords effectively in your meta descriptions, and within the limit.
  • Uniqueness: Each page should have unique meta tags. 
  • Be Descriptive: Your image alt text should not only include a related keyword but should also adequately describe what is seen on the image. 
  • Add internal and external links: Semantic search means Google can use the links in your pages to gain a better understanding of its content. Always add relevant internal links, and only include external links from trusted websites. 
  • Use Noindex Robots Meta Tag: Add this to prevent any pages with thin content, or pages with little value and no intent from appearing in the SERPs.
  • Use rel=”canonical” Link Tag: Use this for any duplicate pages you have on your website. Doing this can help you control which version of the page gets indexed and ranks for your targeted keywords. 
  • Set your Open Graph Meta Tags: This will let you optimize how your pages look when they’re shared on social media.
  • Set your Viewport Meta Tag: This configures how your pages are scaled and displayed on different devices and platforms, which is important for user experience (more on that later). 

To get the most out of your SEO, don’t neglect this part of your on-page SEO checklist. The small tweaks here can add up to the big picture. 

Well-crafted meta tags have the potential to increase click-through rates, boost your visibility on organic search and image search, enhance user experience, and also distribute link equity throughout your pages. All these contribute to how well your page ranks. 

5. Internal Linking

Internal linking spreads link equity throughout your site and can help search engines discover new pages. Always link back to pillar content, or other high-value content on your website. 

Benefits of Strategic Internal Linking:

  • Navigation: They guide users through other relevant pages on your website.
  • Page Authority: Anchor text can help to convey what the linked-to page is about, which can aid in ranking for those terms.
  • User Time on Site: Providing relevant links can keep users engaged on your site for longer periods.

Good internal linking can significantly increase your engagement rates and contribute to building a robust site architecture. I have a separate post on how to build topical authority through internal linking you can check out.

6. User Experience (UX)

User experience affects on-page SEO because search engines favor websites that provide a positive user experience.

UX Factors to Consider in Your Website Design:

  • Mobile-Friendliness: The site must perform well across all devices — but especially on mobile-view, as most users use Google through their phones.
  • Ease of Use: The site should be navigable and logical in its layout. Navigation bars and other menus should be intuitive and prioritize the most important pages of your website.
  • Page Speed: Pages should load quickly to reduce bounce rates. Follow this guide to site speed optimization for this point.

As UX becomes an even more important ranking factor, I find it is necessary to add to this on-page SEO checklist. Sites that deliver a high-quality user experience will dominate search engine results pages.

Key Takeaway

Mastering this pillar of SEO is crucial for achieving high rankings on Google, and staying updated with evolving best practices is essential. But with every update, what works best changes. 

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My 2024 on-page SEO checklist provides basically the most up-to-date practices for the elements on your website. Follow it, and you should be able to boost your website’s authority, credibility, and long-term SEO performance.

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