Search Engine Optimization in 2023: The Best SEO Content, SEO Strategy, and SEO Tools

By Ryan Thrash & Mat Dave Jones  |  Updated: February 16, 2023  |  12 min read
Search Engine Optimization in 2023: The Best SEO Content, SEO Strategy, and SEO Tools

Over the years, we have seen many migrations from WordPress to MODX—often to address website speed and website security. One area that is particularly important when considering changing platforms is SEO, or “search engine optimization”. In the world of WP, that usually means Yoast SEO. This article serves as an SEO primer, a high-level overview of what Yoast offers, and how to accomplish similar things in MODX … or not!

Why does SEO matter? An SEO primer.

SEO is valued because it can help you get more visitors to your website and hopefully convert some visitors into customers.

For people who may not be familiar, here’s a short explanation of how it works: when you type something into a search engine like Google, it looks through all the websites on the internet to try and find the ones that are most relevant to what you’re looking for. Websites with better content will be listed, or rank, higher on the “search engine results page” (SERP). Ideally, you want your website to be on page 1.

Note: whether you like Google or not, as Google search goes, so does the state of search today. Generally speaking, if you do well with Google SEO, your digital marketing and organic SEO in all search engines will mirror Google.

How do you get to the first page in Google (“Page 1 SEO”)?

Many tricks previously worked for gaming search results, like loading pages with repeated variations of the same keywords, or buying links from low-quality link farms. This led to a cottage industry of self-professed SEO experts who constantly tried to figure out how to game Google’s algorithms and create content that would temporarily help them to rise to the top—often a never ending vicious cycle.

Today, however, major search engines increasingly care about what a real human would think about the content of a page. The old tricks that used to work can penalize your SERP rank today or even push you out of the search index altogether. So, you must be careful—yesterday’s trick could be today’s downfall.

Proven “white hat SEO” practices will contribute to good SERP results today and get you off the treadmill of constantly chasing the latest, often questionable, SEO “tricks”:

  1. Write great content that a real person would want to read. Previously, you could stuff an article with enough keywords and phrases, and it would often percolate to the top, even if it were difficult to read by a person. This is no longer the case, and Google can and will penalize you for content like this. Write interesting articles, run them through writing tools to polish them up (e.g., Grammarly), and update them as appropriate over time.
  2. Make sure to include the right ratio of keywords to content. While Google is really smart, it still helps today to make sure you have keywords and phrases in your content. (But don’t overdo it or resort to “word salad”…)
  3. Serve pages quickly via HTTPS and make them look great on mobile browsers. Google strongly weighs the site speed and how your content looks on mobile browsers in its SERP results. If your site loads too slowly or is hard to read on a mobile device, your SERP rank will be penalized (or non-existent). If your site doesn’t serve pages via HTTPS, they will be excluded from Google’s search results.
  4. Give visitors a reason to come back to your website. The more frequently people visit your site, the more “domain authority” Google will attribute to your site, an important ranking signal. If you rarely update your site, Google might consider it stale and assign it less authority, and visitors may not return because there’s nothing new to see. Keep articles updated and write new ones (that real humans outside your own company would care about) when possible.
  5. Make content easy to find and use. This gets into the technical SEO realm, the high-level overview is that proper meta-data about your site content can help Google and other commonly shared places like Twitter and Facebook show relevant content to website visitors. Internal linking and external links can also tremendously affect this factor. This is where solid SEO tools can help tremendously.
  6. Keep your site secure. There is no better way to dissuade a visitor—and get hammered by search engines—than having a hacked site that (now) sells little blue pills, redirects to NSFW content, or turns into a distribution hub for adware, malware or spam. Always keep your CMS and plugins or Extra updated and served over an HTTPS connection.

Other factors that help SERP rank, some implied above, are the quality of inbound links to your site, the credibility of the content as it relates to other content on your website, the age of your website URL, stability of content shifting on the page (CLS, part of “core web vitals”), the reputation of your website server’s IP address, and various other items that are beyond the scope of this article.

Is there such a thing as an SEO-optimized CMS (or SEO CMS)?

You ideally want your CMS, and its plugins, to get out of the way and not create problems for popular content. Adding more plugins shouldn’t slow things down, but this is too often the case. Being able to quickly change meta-data to match emerging opportunities or updated guidelines is similarly important. As a site owner or digital marketer, you should be in control.

You shouldn’t have to hire a developer—or wait on a plugin author—to catch up.

Fortunately, MODX Revolution is exceptional on this front. It has a stellar security track record and is fast, thanks to robust built-in caching (see links in the first intro paragraph). It was also designed to make it super-easy for front-end developers to quickly modify 100% of the markup that MODX generates without needing to dig into PHP development.

What is the best tool to help me optimize my content for SEO?

For WordPress, Yoast SEO is a popular plugin that helps users optimize their websites for search engines. The free version of the plugin includes features such as page analysis, the ability to add meta titles and descriptions to posts and pages, and the option to add open graph metadata to improve the way your website is shared on social media.

The premium version of Yoast SEO ($99/year) includes additional features such as the ability to optimize for multiple keywords, a redirect manager to help you manage and create redirects on your website, and support for more advanced SEO techniques such as internal linking suggestions and the ability to preview your page in Google search results. The premium version also includes access to premium support and regular updates to the plugin.

Overall, the premium version of Yoast SEO offers more advanced features and support for users who want to take their SEO efforts to the next level. It is important to note that while the free version of the plugin can be a useful tool for basic SEO optimization, it may not offer all the features and support that more advanced users or larger websites may need.

In MODX, you use a combination of Snippets to accomplish the same things as Yoast.

SEO Tools for MODX Revolution

MODX Extras are almost universally flexible and can be used for various use cases. For example, GetResources can be used not only to create a blog landing page but it can also be used to create many of the internal link blocks mentioned below, press release archives, team bio pages, testimonial listings, and more. Furthermore, its output is very easy to change, even for non-developers.

Redirect Manager

Successfully managing redirects is an important way to help maintain search relevance, even when you change a web page’s location or URL.

Yoast Premium has a feature to create redirects for you when you move pages or change the URL slug. Automatically creating 301 redirects to avoid 404 not found errors when you move content has been a free part of SEO Suite for years.

Once you see how often your redirects are hit (a built in part of the SEO Suite Extra for MODX), you can decide if you want to create more efficient redirects using NGINX web rules or Apache rewrites.

Suggested Redirects for 404 not found content

If your site has a lot of content that used to be on your site but is no long at the original URL, chances are a visitor, and search engines, will get a page not found error when following that link: a 404. This is not good at all for SEO.

Fortunately, SEO Suite is a MODX Extra which can automatically fix 404 errors on your website by searching for related content and creating a 301 redirect to that page. It also comes with a convenient Dashboard widget for the Manager to show you recent 404s so you can be on the lookout for problems and fix them fast.

Internal Link Blocks

Internal links not only help end users find content on your site, but they also play a key role in making your pages discoverable for SEO.

  • BreadCrumb is an easy-to-use extra which follows the BreadcumbList scheme to create a “breadcrumb trail” on your site. This makes it easy for visitors to determine where they are on a site and surface towards higher-level content.
  • TableOfContentsX allows you automatically to create a Table of Contents, or TOC, with very little effort. Adding the provided output modifier will not only generate a TOC but also add the appropriate anchors to the heading tags in your content.
  • GetResources is the workhorse of MODX content strategy. It is a long-standing and efficient tool for pulling content from other pages. This can be paired with a tool like Tagger to build lists of related content based on tags, matched with UltimateParent for lists of sibling content, or inserted into a GetPage call to build out a paged index of articles within a Collections container.

Orphaned Content

On the opposite side of internal linking is finding content that has been forgotten or “orphaned.” The Link Strategy extra scans your site for internal links and helps you find pages without inbound links from other internal content. This is important because getting orphaned content to show up in search engines can be difficult, if not impossible.

Structured Data and Schema Generation

If you are trying to rank for Google News, you have probably heard of structured data or schema markup. For the rest of us, schema markup is a framework that tells search engines like Google what your page is about and can be used to improve the listing of a page. While schemas can be complicated, MODX has the AutoSchema Extra, simplifying the task by generating it for you.


Search engines continue to use sitemaps as an important tool for crawling the pages of your site. They are especially useful for highlighting recently updated content in sites that feature blogs or rotating news. MODX has many solutions for building out sitemaps, one of the easiest being SEO Suite's built-in sitemap generator. With SEO Suite, you can easily manage the appearance and listing of items on your sitemap on a per-resource basis.

Yoast SEO features compared to MODX SEO Extras

Yoast has two versions—free and $99 per year. Some features also come with an additional annual subscription, too.

Yoast SEO Free Features

Feature MODX Solution
File editor for robots.txt Use standard MODX file browser or Static resource. MODX Cloud allows multi-site specific unique robots.txt files.
Robots meta tags Use standard MODX Template features
Breadcrumbs with controls Breadcrumbs Extra + Template Variable
Canonical URL tags Use standard MODX Template features
XML sitemaps SEO Suite Extra
Google preview SEO Suite Extra
Meta tag variables Use standard MODX Template features
Meta descriptions Use standard MODX Template features
Keyphrase density Free in SEO Suite
Structured data ( with controls Use standard MODX Template features
Redirect attachment URLs Standard MODX Template behavior
How-to block Use MIGX or Collections Extras
FAQ block Use MIGX or Collections Extras
Internal linking blocks See Internal Linking Blocks, above
Enhanced Slack sharing Standard MODX Template behavior
Elementor integration Use with Fred Extra

Yoast SEO Premium Features

Yoast SEO Premium ($99 with 1 year of updates and support per website) also has bundles available for specific features: Local SEO, WooCommerce SEO, Video SEO, and Google News SEO. Two-plugin bundles tare typically $145. All plugins are available for a $229/year subscription with automatic billing per website. Yoast SEO Premium Features are described below.

Feature MODX Solution
Redirect manager Included in SEO Suite Extra (free)
Social Media Previews Included in SEO Suite Extra (free)
CSV import/export Included in SEO Suite Extra (free)
Orphaned content finder Link Strategy Extra (free)
Advanced Text and Keyword Analysis (Yoast SEO Premium analysis) Use a dedicated tool, like SEM Rush
Zapier integration Zapier Extra (free)
Estimated reading time Reading Time MODX output filter (free)
Crawl settings Use standard MODX Template features with Template Variable (TVs) settings
Word complexity Use a dedicated writing tool via a web browser plugin, like Grammarly
Local SEO ($79) Use a dedicated SEO tool, like Moz local
WooCommerce SEO ($79) Use standard MODX Template features
Video SEO ($79) Use standard MODX Template features
News SEO ($79) AutoSchema Extra (free)

Missing Features?

Are there any Yoast features we’re missing that you just can’t live without? We’d love to hear from you to discuss a workflow problem or tool you need to keep your site growing. Some of those things might be similar to other features that Yoast has that we don’t currently address, yet, like:

Feature Notes
Outbound links checker Don’t randomly link to off-topic pages that have nothing to do with your site, no matter how much that outbound link builder is offering to “exchange” with you! Visitors and search engines will appreciate refrencing topical supporting external references.
Yoast SEO analysis This is a neat scorecard that gives you red/orange/green ratings for important guidelines covered by Yoast features. Dedicated SEO tools and services will provide more in-depth analysis.
Duplicate keyphrase check There should be only one page about an important keyphrase, or you’ll compete with yourself and weaken a page that might otherwise rise in SERP.
Image alt attributes check Descriptive alt tags on images help search engines and those that use assistive technologies like screen readers have a better understand and experience your website.
Function words check Check your keyphrases for articles and non-specific/generic terms to help you craft things that rank better.
Wincher integration Convenient view of Wincher’s service directly inside your site.
Readability analysis Help you figure out the goal of “explain it to me like I’m a 6th grader…”.
Keyword data via Semrush Convenient view of Semrush’s service directly inside your site.
Stale cornerstone content finder Use getResources and/or getTag to build a report, sorted by last-update and excluding anything updated in the last X months or weeks.
Internal linking suggestions Premium feature only. Helps support your cornerstone content by suggesting other related pages to link to.
SEO workouts Premium feature only. YouTube has an endless amount of SEO content, or look for courses on Udemy, Coursera, and other online learning sites