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You Don’t Need a WordPress SEO Plugin and Here’s Why

Don’t bog down your WordPress SEO with too many plugins. The truth is, plugins can make your website take longer to load with extra requests and other things that slow down websites. Trim them down when you can. 

I’m not going to give you a limit on how many you should have. You should reduce as many as you can by finding other ways to add those functions natively. That way it is under your control. 

Here are a few things that you can add on your own without using a plugin. This will require that you have access to your WordPress theme and can edit the PHP templates. You may want to create a child theme first and make changes there. 

Schema

You don’t need a plugin to generate this structure for you. You can edit your Single.php template to add the proper schema. I use the blogposting schema. If you need help marking up your template use this guidance. This boosts your WordPress SEO by making the content of your website more portable. Search engines and social media might use this information to import and display information about your blog. 

Open Graph Tags

You can add open graph tags to your Header.php template between the <head></head> tags. You want to add them below <head> and before </head>. To do so, follow the guidelines given by the social network. You can also simply copy and paste the following into your header. 

(When creating a blog post you will need to add a custom field with the name “desc” without the quotes and for the value field  you should write your description)

Title, URL, and Meta Description 

You don’t need an SEO Plugin to generate your title or URL slug. Both of these can be done within WordPress itself. Your title is the same as the title of your blog post. That simple. 

URL Permalink

You can edit your slug on the blog edit screen. You want to make sure that your settings are showing. That’s the gear icon next to the Update button. It is black when settings are showing. Then you are going to want to be on the post screen. There you will find the field for the permalink where you can create any URL slug that you want! I try to make them the same as the keywords for the post. You should be using unique keywords every time you write a blog. 

Meta Description

You can add your Meta Description tag using custom fields. Like before, add this tag between your <head></head> tags in Header.php.

(When writing a blog you will need to create a custom field named “meta” without the quotes and the value should be your description.)

<meta name=”description” content=”<?php echo get_post_meta( get_the_ID(), ‘meta’, true);?>”>

Focus Keyword

There are two ways that you can track your focus keywords. I use a Spreadsheet. That way I can keep track of all the keywords that I’ve used in one place. Making sure that I don’t repeat any. 

Another option is to create a custom field where you can store the value of the keyword. You don’t need to display this on the WordPress front-end so no need to worry about code. This way you can go back to any blog post and know what keyword you optimized for. 

Grammar and Readability 

The Yoast SEO plugin adds in a feature for readability. There are other ways to check for this. My favorite way is using the Hemmingway Editor. It makes sure that your content is readable on the 8th-grade level or younger.

You should always proofread your content before it goes live. One way to help with this is to use a service like Grammarly. You don’t want to delegate this task purely to an app. While it certainly helps, it may not catch all errors. It also might correct something which is fine because it doesn’t recognize how things are phrased. 

Technical WordPress SEO 

These WordPress SEO tweaks are very technical and you should feel comfortable using a text editor to add these tags to your templates. For safety, you can create a child theme first and update your files there. This will preserve your changes when the parent theme is updated.  

As you can see, many of the functions of a WordPress SEO plugin can be taken care of natively. Although I will admit, many plugins come with even more functionality than you might want. For example, Yoast creates an XML sitemap that disables the new default one in WordPress 5.5+. You can also mark your archives as no index so that you don’t have duplicate content issues. 

For those starting on their SEO journey, you may want to use a plugin for guidance. Yoast SEO will teach you the ropes and how to think about using keywords and related keywords. It will keep you focused on what matters for rankings. I could understand why you would want it. 

These aren’t issues for me. I prefer to reduce my WordPress plugin bloat for more speed and control.

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