Designing a WordPress website means having access to a ton of awesome plugins and themes. Plugins add functionality to WordPress, and what’s possible is only limited by the developer’s imagination.

There have been countless plugins created over the years, and many have been geared toward helping website designers with their SEO. Getting SEO from a plugin sounds fantastic when you don’t have the time or money to hire a professional marketing agency. However, there’s a dark side to plugin-based marketing.

What’s wrong with SEO plugins?

What’s wrong with SEO plugins?

Generally speaking, there are two main categories for SEO plugins: on-page and off-page. On-page SEO plugins, when built correctly, are fantastic. However, plugins that promise off-page SEO results, like backlinks, are suspect.

Ultimately, a WordPress plugin is no substitute for a genuine search engine optimization strategy. You’ll never rank for your target keywords by using a plugin. However, SEO plugins can make on-page SEO easier. For example, some plugins give you the option to customize page titles and meta descriptions in the content editor.

SEO plugins designed to enhance your on-page SEO are usually helpful. However, plugins get sketchy when they attempt to automate backlink building.

What is a WordPress automated backlink plugin?

For at least ten years, developers have been creating WordPress plugins to automatically generate backlinks. These plugins work in conjunction with private blog networks – one of Google’s biggest pet peeves.

Here’s how it works. Once you install the plugin, it will automatically take excerpts from your blog posts and publish them on other WordPress websites across the private blog network. You’ll be credited as the author, and each new post provides a link back to your blog post. Backlinks are amassed automatically, and the more posts you publish, the more backlinks you’ll get.

This sounds like a great way to get backlinks to your website, but it’s actually a quick way to get your entire domain blacklisted from Google.

What’s wrong with generating inbound backlinks with a plugin?

Everyone wants backlinks to their website. Naturally, because a strong backlink profile is the center of every good SEO strategy. However, backlinks can’t be generated legitimately through a plugin.

Private Blog Networks

First, private blog networks go against Google’s terms of use. While these networks have evolved over time and don’t always appear to be spammy, they’re still not part of a legitimate SEO strategy.

Second, getting backlinks from posting excerpts isn’t going to provide much value in terms of ranking or authority. Sure, you can amass a large quantity of links in a short period of time, but quality matters more than quantity.

For example, ten thousand poor quality backlinks spread across a private blog network won’t help as much as ten high-quality, targeted backlinks from high-authority, high-ranking websites. Google knows when backlinks are spammy, paid, or otherwise questionable.

Third, allowing so much of your website’s content to be copied and pasted onto other websites could be considered duplicate content. Even if you manage to get away with all of this and fly under Google’s radar, PBN sites don’t usually rank in the search engines. That means you won’t even get genuine traffic from your efforts.

How to avoid the trap of automated inbound backlink plugins

Now that you know why automated backlink plugins are a bad idea, it’s time to explore the different ways to ensure you don’t get caught in one of these traps.

1. Work with a professional SEO agency

The most effective way to ensure you never get caught in an automated backlink scam is to work with a professional SEO agency. While you can perform some of your own SEO, it really takes a professional to craft the right strategy.

Backlinks are an aspect of SEO that can’t be automated. To generate backlinks, you either need people to cite your content as a resource or you need to produce new content that gets published on high authority websites. None of this can be automated.

2. Avoid “SEO plugins”

Some marketers take advantage of the desire to get quick SEO results and advertise their plugins as “ultimate” SEO plugins, making wild claims that can’t be substantiated.

The only WordPress plugins you should be using for SEO are ones that make it easier for you to set your page titles, meta descriptions, and manage other on-page elements.

Off-page SEO can’t be performed through a plugin. If you see plugins that promise to help you get backlinks, generate content, or boost your ranking, skip them.

If you don’t already have a good on-page SEO plugin, check out the differences between Yoast and All in One SEO Pack and try them both if you’ve never used either. Both plugins are great options for on-page SEO.

3. Don’t pay a monthly fee for SEO plugins

If your SEO plugins come with a monthly fee, you might be paying for a backlink generating service without realizing that’s what you signed up to receive. This is especially true if you don’t manage your own site, or you’re just winging your website development.

Check into any SEO plugins that you pay for monthly. Double check what services are being provided and if anything mentions a blog network, a private network, or backlinks, it’s probably the kind of service you don’t want.

4. Don’t pay for backlinks

You might not be using a WordPress plugin to generate backlinks, but that doesn’t mean someone isn’t using one (or something similar) on your behalf. If you hire someone to generate backlinks for your website, and you’re paying a fee for a set number of backlinks, they’re definitely automating the process.

At the end of the day, you don’t want to pay for backlinks because they won’t be high quality. However, there are legitimate services that will get you backlinks. The difference is, a legitimate service doesn’t automate the process and each backlink is generated manually through content marketing.

Some link generating plugins are legitimate

Wait a minute, aren’t all link generating plugins bad? Not exactly. There are two kinds of links: inbound links and internal links. Inbound links, also known as backlinks, are links to your website published on other websites. Internal links are links on your website that lead to other pages throughout your site.

If you want to generate backlinks to your website, a plugin service will only create low-quality links that can potentially get your site blacklisted. On the other hand, plugins are a fantastic way to generate internal links throughout your site. They’re also a great way to discover where your site is being linked and to see if you have any spammy backlinks.

How beneficial link plugins work

While generating backlinks through plugins is a bad idea, not all link-related plugins are bad. In fact, some are beneficial, including the following types:

Internal link generators.

Plugins that automatically generate internal links are an easy way to stay on top of internal link building services.

Just like backlinks, your internal links play a role in how your pages rank in the search engines. Google uses your internal links, including your anchor text, to determine what your pages are all about. This information is then contributed to the overall ranking of your pages based on search queries.

Internal links also tell Google which pages on your website are most important. When Google notices you have more links pointing to a certain page, the algorithm will assume that page is more important than others that aren’t linked throughout your site.

No matter what plugin you choose, pay close attention to your settings. Make sure your settings limit the number of instances that get linked throughout your site and per page. For example, you don’t want the plugin to automatically link every instance of a keyword. Allow the plugin to link the first instance of a keyword on each page only. Also, keep your total links per page low. You don’t need to insert 20 internal links on every page.

Backlink monitoring.

backlink checker tool

You can use a backlink checker tool to find out where your backlinks are coming from, but it’s convenient to have that information right inside your WordPress dashboard.

This type of plugin will scour the internet for backlinks to your site and produce a list for you to view. Having this list allows you to analyze where your links are so you can work on removing links you don’t want. For example, you might find spammy links or links on sites that aren’t related to your industry.

Advanced backlink monitoring plugins will tell you what the anchor text is for each backlink, whether the link comes from an image, and if it’s a follow or nofollow link. You can also identify broken links.

Be prepared to pay for this type of plugin on a monthly basis. When discussing why you shouldn’t pay monthly for plugins earlier in this article, that only applies to plugins that generate backlinks.

Backlink monitoring is a legitimate and valuable service that is worth the cost. If you don’t pay for this service through a plugin, you’d pay for it through an agency all the same.

Competitor analysis.

If you’ve ever wanted to run an analysis on your competitors, you can do some of that work with a plugin. For instance, you can enter your competitor’s website and get information including their WordPress theme, which plugins they’re using, where their backlinks are sourced, and more.

The right plugins will help your SEO efforts

WordPress plugins get a bad rap sometimes, but it’s not always deserved. Like any tool, plugins aren’t inherently bad, but how they function makes them useful or not.

In general, plugins that generate backlinks to your website by publishing content to other sites are detrimental to your SEO efforts. These plugins generate poor-quality, spammy backlinks that will only hurt your website rankings in the search engines.

On the other hand, helpful link-based plugins can be used to automate your internal link building efforts, keep track of your backlinks, and analyze your competitors.

Confused about which SEO plugins to use for WordPress? We can help!

If you’re looking for the right plugins to help you manage your on-page SEO efforts or automate your internal links, you’ve got a variety of plugins to choose from. Which plugins are best? What are the right settings? If you’re not sure, one of our WordPress developers can help.

At, we don’t just build new websites – we can edit, update, or install new plugins for you to help you accomplish your goals. When you already have a WordPress website, but you need some help with setting it up, our team has you covered.

Contact us today to get a free quote. One of our WordPress developers will get in touch with you as soon as possible.

Ryan Nead
VP of Business Development

Ryan is the VP of marketing at and Website.Design. He is focused on growth initiatives in providing the best custom software development and website design/UX experiences for clients worldwide.

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