A lot of beginners think that they must install some kind of SEO plugin if they want to rank on Google. The main reason why a lot of people think that an SEO plugin is a must is that there are a lot of SEO gurus who claim that you need an SEO plugin, but not just any kind of SEO plugin, but the one which they are specifically promoting as they have a high commotion rate. Dodgy SEO gurus are an extremely big problem in the industry and a lot of beginners follow them blindly.
There is probably no reason in using an SEO plugin, most of them do not do anything and in the worst-case scenario they can cause deindexing problems, slow down your website, they do not rank your website, and they focus on keyword density which is an outdated way of thinking. Some of them come with the possibility to optimize tags, the problem is that tags are no longer used by Google, so why waste your time on them.
This is exactly the same when you are looking for something with the word “best”, you will see plenty of affiliate websites and all of them will say that the best SEO plugin is the one which they are promoting, and they will come up with some random reason why that specific SEO plugin is the best. Just because something is popular it doesn’t mean it is actually good for something, and some SEO plugins might actually do more harm than good.
The job of an SEO plugin is to allow Google to crawl the website easier, but if you have a simple WordPress website, just like mine than Google will have no problem crawling and indexing all of your posts, even without a sitemap. Old-time bloggers and webmasters have mostly stopped using SEO plugins years ago, most of these plugins are outdated and as you will find out in this article some of them can actually do more harm than good.
Sometimes an SEO plugin can deindex your entire website or some of your posts, you might think that this would never happen. The truth is that it happened with one of the most popular SEO plugins Yoast, and they did this twice in the past couple of years. Immagine adding an SEO plugin and thinking it will help you rank on google only to find out that a couple of days later you have lost all your ranks and you got your website deindexed https://wordpress.org/support/topic/yoast-causing-entire-blog-to-be-deindexed-in-google-not-media-attachment-urls/.
Luckily people who spotted this problem could reindex their website although this definitely took a long time and oftentimes the websites didn’t get back their previous rank for a couple of weeks or even months.
Slows down website
Some SEO plugins which are filled with a lot of bloat will slow down the website and will cause crawling problems for the google bot. Although if the website loads slow for the google bot you will probably not notice it if you use a caching plugin which makes your website load extremely fast for you.
SEO plugins do not increase your website’s ranking
This is an age-old myth that if you have a good SEO plugin then you will rank on Google and if you have the premium version of the plugin then you will rank even better. This is completely false if ranking on google would be so easy just by installing a plugin than everybody would rank in an instant. There are hundreds of factors that determine a website’s ranking, although two of them are the main ones.
Content and backlinks are the main cause of ranking on any given search term, and an SEO plugin doesn’t do either of them. Ranking without an SEO plugin and backlinks is completely possible, for more information check out my recent article Can you rank a website without Backlinks? ( Fact or Fiction? ).
Focusing on keyword density
Keyword density used to be a factor for ranking on Google, the problem is that most people thought that there is some kind of magic number which they have to use in their articles. Yoast gives an SEO score to each of your articles, mainly due to the keywords, how many times they are in the article if you have them in the headings and the subheadings. This is an old way of thinking, and if you focus on it then you will do more harm than good.
For the most part, keywords, as we have known them for years, are gone, google now focuses on user intent and topics, this is why you will see websites ranking for a keyword and they do not have the keyword in the article or the title.
There are some people who use SEO plugins only for the XML sitemap, although there are plenty of extremely good plugins that can handle the XML sitemap and they do not come with additional bloat like keyword density or some arbitrary scoring system which is irrelevant.
Tags are no longer used by Google for a couple of years already, using an SEO plugin to optimize your tags is irrelevant. On the other hand, Bing and Yahoo still use tags, this is because they are at least 10 steps behind Google. Google knows what your article is about, the crawler can identify the topic, the niche, and the relevancy just by scraping your content. Although tags won’t do you any harm, but why waste time on optimizing it if google ignores them.
As you can see there are virtually no benefits of using an SEO plugin, some plugins will claim that they have some super-duper important function which is a must, the truth is that most of it is just marketing BS. A couple of years ago some SEO plugins were extremely useful, but even the most popular ones have been left behind and they are still focusing on outdated things like keyword density and so on.