To do SEO for WP Sites without Plugins Rankmath or Yoast

Prerna
How can we do Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for WordPress sites without an SEO plugin (i.e. Rankmath, Yoast etc.)
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Mišo
If you write code to automate anything, essentially you have a plugin, again.
If you want to avoid plugins, you need to place all the metas by yourself manually, schema, OG etc. You'd need to generate your own sitemap, and keep it updated and in sync.
You would have to use code to add canonicals and metas to post types. You'd have to write code to keep search results noindexed and Media attachment redirected…
Is it worth it? Why avoiding plugins? The best ones are just a tiny resource hog.

Patrick » Mišo
currently doing that because of the way our sites have been built… it's not worth the hassle if the sites can use 3rd party software and plugins… they're more efficient
Prerna ✍️
Do these SEO plugins have any impact on the page speed of website? Or any other bad impact…
Mišo » Prerna
it probably depends which one you use. I have tested Yoast few times and haven't got any notable slowdown. Especially after they introduced "Indexables" custom data.

Jonathan
Just write content that solves your viewers problems… Google does the rest 👍😉
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Mišo » Jonathan
, if it is all the same, how do you explain the major drop in rankings when Yoast SEO made an update that accidentally turned off keeping Media Attachments out of Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs)?
Milaković
It is that simple. Don't use Yoast and you won't be having that problems. Not only that, but removing Yoast will even help your site up in rankings. Rank Math is much better, just not in any SEO terms, but it can make your life much easier with things like connecting Google Search Console (GSC), Google Analytics (GA), redirects and those sorts of things.
SEO plugins can only cause problems.
Only thing except writing content is to try and naturally build links. Naturally is main keyword here.
Jonathan » Mišo
part of content are the images with names and alt tags that Google can understand. Again just good content and SEO practice – no SEO Plugins required.
Prerna ✍️ » Milaković
thanks… I think I got my answer.. 😊
Prerna ✍️ » Jonathan
can you provide any link which explains the method (doing SEO without plugins)… it will be more helpful!
Mišo » Jonathan
so what Media attachment pages have to do with images and their alt text? (There are no <alt> tags, btw). 🙂
» Milaković If Yoast was that bad, I certainly wouldn't ranking top financial terms above banks and credit card companies.
Also, I don't need Rankmath to make amateur-level crippled connecton of Google Analytics (GA). I'll rather use GTmetrix, thank you. 😉
Also, Rankmath is so much "better" than Yoast that it also offers a redirect modul to redirect every 404 to homepage. Bravo for plugin authors. Lol.
Jonathan » Prerna
Yes of course… why not consult the guide: https://developers.Google.com/search/docs/beginner/SEO-starter-guide – It tells you ALL you need to know…
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide | Google Search Central
Mišo » Jonathan
your link is the essential documents everyone needs to read. However you are misleading Prerna. That has nothing to do with solving WordPress dynamic needs and its SEO nonsenses. You do need a lot of custom code that hooks into the database, which brings you back to plugins.
Jonathan » Mišo
"… solving WordPress dynamic needs and its SEO nonsenses… " Please elaborate. Thought his question was how to do Search Engine Optimization (SEO) without using an SEO Plugin?
SEO if more than feasible without using any SEO plugin; done it many times myself and it works well. As long as you stick to the Google guidelines. At then end of the day there is no fooling Google with a clever plugin. Google is just looking for good content that is 'relevant' to what the user typed in and comprehensive in answering their question.
My advice to Prerna is to build quality content. Do the usual 'On Page' stuff, reach out via social networking, and finally 'hang out' where her clients hang out. Answer their questions, become a resource for them, a quality 'go to' for their questions.
Use the Google tools to let it know when new content is available. Don't even essentially need a 'sitemap' as if the menu and internal links are good, Google will find the content and index it properly.
There's no plugin out there that will do that for her. Not sure what WordPresses 'dynamic needs' have to do with it. WordPress is just a plain old Content Management System (CMS). It's up to us as content creators to provide answers.
Jonathan » Mišo
Yes, yes and yes. Alt tags, filenames and if you are providing local services – adding GPS location info to your images is essential for Google. Image search on Google is huge. If you are not telling Google 'what' the image is via the ALT tag and filename plus perhaps eXIF information; you are not helping yourself.
Regarding the 404 and other so called 'features' that these SEO plugins provide, they are just gimmicks. All 404 and other handling can be done via the hosting cPanel if required. If you have a lot of redirects (i.e. you have changed the structure of your website) use the 'redirection' plugin or find someone to edit your .htaccess file in your website root. It will do all your redirections before hitting the website and therefore improve performance at the same time.
The main reason "Rank Math" became so popular is because it used a lot of 'schemas' to improve the structure of the content. Yes, this is very useful to Google as it then knows the 'type' of content it is indexing and can index it better. Can you do this without Rank Math? Of course. It's more work. Most SEO plugins have or are moving more focus into Schema's to help in this area. Of course Schema's have been around for a few years now, but it's only been the last year that SEO plugins have tried to actually integrate these properly.
Always think about 'how' Google is going to view your pages. It strips out all the crap (formatting, pretty stuff) and looks for the key signs. Title tag, Description Meta, first main para, first H1, page structure (headings, bullet points, bold, links, etc.) – that's a given. IF you are not doing that… don't even think about SEO plugins. Get your "On Page" stuff sorted and tick all the boxes that help Google understand the content. There's no short cuts to this. It takes time and effort. That what separates the folk that in the top 10 ranking vs. everyone else.
Read my other rants on this post. Images are of course 'essential' for any website and should be SEO'ed correctly. You certainly do not need a plugin for this…
Mišo » Jonathan
, I will invest a bit more of my weekend time into replying you, despite the fact that after all above you should have understand what I was talking about.
"SEO if more than feasible without using any SEO plugin". – Sure, but not WordPress SEO. Tell me, how are you going to add meta content to Taxonomies, or how are you going to place a canonical to page 2 of the Blog index page? How are you going to noindex site search results? How are you going to remove autogenerated thin content from search results? You need php code. It lives either in functions.php, or in a form of a plugin. There is no difference between them, except if it is a plugin, it is "pluggable".
"WordPress SEO nonsenses?" – Media attachments, Auto-generated thin content, Indexed search results, to name a few.
I am ranking site at the top for 10 years without link building, so you don't have to tell me about inbound marketing and top-class content. Trust me. 🙂
I know that Google can work out content without sitemap, but it works harder. It is not essential, but it is a great practice. If you do have it, you need to keep it in sync with canonical and indexation state of all pages, which is extremely hard without automation. (A plugin).
"Not sure what Wardresses 'dynamic needs' have to do with it. WordPress is just a plain old CMS. It's up to us as content creators to provide answers." – I am not even sure anymore you have a clue how WordPress stores data. Refer to my first paragraph in this answer. Again, Technical SEO has NOTHING to do with content quality, and I am not talking about that. It is entirely different topic. No need for you to push it here.
You are teaching me about redirection? Why? What makes you think I don't know that? I can write REGEX redirect rules in htaccess, lol. Can you? Or you are redirecting page by page?
"Yes, yes and yes. Alt tags, filenames and if you are providing local services" – You should stop doing that. With each reply you are demonstrating more ignorance, and lack of respect. Before you start replying like that, at least look things up before. No, no and no. Educate yourself about the difference of Media attachments and Media files. You are lecturing me about SEO basics any rookie learns in first few hours, totally unnecessary. I am NOT talking about images. I am talking about WordPress Media attachments that are auto-generated thin content which can badly hurt your website, and that is well documented. Most SEO plugins are redirecting attachment pages to actual media files. That is a necessary thing to do, unless you really intend to use attachment pages.
second "No" is about alt "tags". You should listen more carefully. There are NO alt tags. In HTML, image alt text is presented as attributes, not tags. Again, you are patronizingly teaching me about basics. At least make sure you understand the subject. Alt text is first and foremost an accessibility feature. You actually didn't even mentioned factors that are mostly influencing images SEO, possibly because you don't even know them. Surely alt text isn't the most important one. Do some experimentations on Google image search and write down patterns. You may end up surprised.
You also conclude that you should teach me Schema. I am perfectly capable of creating JSON-LD and manually adding to the site. I actually do that often if no automation is needed. But since you are so pushing this, let me ask you, how are you connecting Schema types on the single page, when more than one is needed. It usually is.
"Always think about 'how' Google is going to view your pages." – Lol, more patronizing. No, it isn't. It actually needs access to site's JS and CSS and it is able to render the full page. Many rookies are blocking these resources with robots.txt, because they have read some 10-year old article.
"IF you are not doing that… don't even think about SEO plugins." well, I do all that. And that was NEVER even a topic. The op's question is about Search Engine Optimization | SEO without plugins, and plugins are doing two things. 1. they are solving the technical SEO aspect and 2. they are trying to help users to properly format content for SEO. You DO need code for that. Yes, you don't need a plugin to do proper content research and presentation.
Okay, this is my last reply to you. I understand that you have a need to prove yourself, but you are doing it wrongly and in the wrong place. Don't mix apples and oranges. Bye.
Jonathan » Mišo
wow nice reply mate. Will read and get back to you. Nice to see you are passionate about the subject 👍.
Well… read your reply. Very comprehensive. We are developers since the start of the Internet and a long time before… so understand a thing or three about the way WP works…
My comments were aimed at Prerna and the original question.
Yes, of course I know how WP stores data, it’s in the etherweb thing’y magic right? The cloudy thing. I personally think this internet thing will never catch on and long for the day when good old pen and paper comes back into fashion. In fact had to write this out long hand first with my quill…
Regex expressions, I tried them but still had indigestion.
Please excuse my ignorance, 40 years as a developer has obviously taught me nothing. Bring back the slide rule I say…
I will look up this ‘media attachment’ thing you talk about. Attachments are good, but not convinced as they can get possessive, and that’s plain not healthy!
You say attributes correctly, tags are for the clients, easier for them to understand, poor things. Tried attributes a while back but they thought I was talking about attitudes…
Love that you hand code json, ‘old school’ just like me although for the last 10 years I just use a generator, far quicker, you should try it.
Lastly, nothing to prove Miroslav. Too old now to want to or have the effort to prove anything. Those wasted days are far gone. I bow to your superior knowledge, if only I was young again I too would know it all as well…
Some good comments and points made. Although a bit aggressive I felt. I too have personally created 100’s of sites for clients over many many years. It’s good fun isn’t it…
Prerna ✍️ » Mišo and Jonathan
Thanks a lot to both for this discussion, I have learned a lot only from your comments, thanks for your time and response.. 😊

Jordan
On-page SEO is all applied to the HTML of the post/page regardless of whether or not you're using a plugin. but if you can understand html, you can simply do it yourself on the page. This might complicate things if you're an individual that exclusively uses page builders. but if you're even asking about not using a plugin, I guess you aren't.
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Prerna ✍️
Thank you for the reply Jordan, I have a professional web design team with me (https://www.facebook.com/elixirinfo/ ) and I just want to determine that do this method (not using any plugin) have any benefits in Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? If yes then please brief if no then please let me know what are disadvantages.
Jordan
No inherent benefits i would say. using a plugin doesn't exclude you from doing things manually anyway. it's still just a tool.
Prerna ✍️ » Jordan
don't you think these plugins impacts page speed in any way?
Jordan
significantly? not really.
Prerna ✍️ » Jordan
alright… Thank you for the quick replies… Have a good day 👍

Kumar
Hi Prerna, apart from writing meta titles and descriptions in WordPress, there are many more things that these SEO plugins do. Like indexing, no indexing a particular page, open graph setting, canonical URL setting, schema markup, noindexing categories & archives, truncating URLs, etc. There are so many things which you cannot achieve without SEO plugins in WordPress.
In non WordPress sites you'll have to do these things by editing web files, which definitely needs to hire someone who is experienced in web development.
I agree good content is the main thing for SEO, but what will you do when the technical aspects starts raising their hands for attention.
My recommendation, use SEO plugins when using WordPress.

Prerna ✍️
Hello Anand,
Thank you for a nicely explained reply. Please let me know if there are any advantage of this method in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Will not using any plugin benefits us in SEO?
As I am having a professional team with me, so for now I am putting all the difficulties aside and just want to know if there are any benefits, if yes then I am surely gonna try this!
Kumar
There are not any advantage of not using SEO plugins in WordPress, but you get advantage when you use.
You can do SEO without plugins, but as I told you, for technical aspects you need SEO plugins.
Prerna ✍️ » Kumar
thank you for the help… have a good day.. 👍
Jonathan » Kumar
You are right about canonicals, schemas, and other nice to haves. The issue in my experience is that most people rely on the SEO plugins as some sort of 'magic tool' to get them to the top of the rankings. Never happens.
When we take over a website for SEO work, generally we find 90% of the pages / posts / CPT's are just not SEO'ed – a lot of time, at all! The work of an SEO company is to help the client to 'understand' the process of creating decent content that Google will like. The SEO company cannot hold their hand forever. In fact it does not want to – holding hands for a long time will just create Burnout with the SEO company. They cannot sustain the effort. The client needs to be more 'aware' of what they should be doing.
Sure people will say; "Well it's good money to keep charging customers to optimize content… ". The reality is that most if not all SEO companies put a LOT of time and effort in to a new client site for about a month or 2. Then the push starts to get a pain, they lose drive and of course in the meantime they have several other new clients to do work for… The initial work is good but it needs to be a sustained effort. The client needs educating to provide 'better' content, better articles, better images, better everything. Eventually the SEO company will burn out with that client, the law of diminishing returns kicks in and the client no longer gets value for money.
IMHO better to educate them, and work with them to improve their understanding and content. Ooops lost track of what this was about LOL. Better stop here…

Pearson
1. Learn to code.
2. Build WP site.
3. Realize you learned to code, but still built a WP site, and one of the first two steps was redundant.
(Or, you know, just use a plugin)

Prerna ✍️ » Pearson
thanks I appreciate your response… 😊
Pearson
Thanks for taking it in stride. All in good fun. But real talk, leveraging WordPress is about using the tools available to do things efficiently. The basic on-page stuff is pretty straightforward.
But, there are diminishing returns when it comes to reinventing the wheel in terms of plugins.

Jonathan
SEO Plugins are a lazy way to think that a magic bullet can do everything for you and make your site rank well. The ONLY way to make your site rank well is to ANSWER problems that your CLIENTS / PUBLIC have with long form, well written SOLUTIONS. That's it. Nothing else is needed. THERE IS NO MAGIC SOLUTION OTHERWISE EVERYONE WOULD RANK IN THE TOP 3 WITH JUST A PLUGIN!!
STOP looking for the MAGIC "plug and rank". STOP wasting time. WRITE CONTENT that solves PROBLEMS. How many more times do people need to hear that before they FINALLY GET IT??????

Mišo » Jonathan
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) best practices and knowledge has nothing to do with WordPress dynamic environments. You need custom code that talks to database to handle the technical part of SEO, plus solving WP SEO nonsenses.
Not everyone is a developer to build a custom solution, nor it makes sense to make something others have solved perfectly.
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Eoin » Jonathan
you still need all that meta data, schema etc which many don't know how to code.. but if you know how to code then no need for plugins
Jonathan » Mišo
There are NO technical parts of SEO… that's just SEO plugin writers hype and marketing. Ask Google…
Jonathan
Yes I kind of agree. Trouble is most clients think that a 'magic plugin' will get them to No.1 spot on Google. Sure they tick some boxes for Google, but without the good old 'content' stuff nothing happens.

Rajesh
As a a developer of an SEO plugin, let me explain this:
1) You need a sitemap. Are you going to use a separate plugin or write your own code? WordPress has a built-in sitemap but it lacks a GUI and several functionalities. Hence many SEO plugins continue to use their own code except in my plugin where I make use of the default WordPress sitemap generator code, enhancing it for the features like images in sitemaps etc.
2) Most sites now use schema and SEO plugin generate them automatically while a few like mine lets you generate the schema/schemas you want and then just insert the schema code into the plugin settings. This not only eases maintainability but also lets you insert any custom schema you want.
If you have a multiuser site, then my SEO plugin has a comprehensive role manager that lets you define which role can access which settings page/tab of the plugin.
The SEO plugin is also modular, meaning you can turn on only the feature you want. Thus, only the code that is needed for the functionality you use on any post or page is executed. But several people don't seem to understand modularity or how only the relevant code is executed.
These are just a few in addition to several others like Redirections, 404 Manager etc. which are available for free in my plugin. My premium plugin even offer an automated audit functionality.
It is not only a waste of time to rebuild what is available but also several may lack the skill to implement them properly.
Hope this helps.

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