Blogging is a major part of the internet and the world of small businesses. Families, as well as companies, are supported by something as simple as a blog. Perhaps you are interested in joining the blogging world too, maybe just as a hobby or perhaps you are trying to make some new income and build your brand. Either way, starting out can feel like trying to navigate through an ocean of information. In this post I am going to give you the run down of the Best WordPress Blog Plugins to get you started off on the right foot.
Let me just forwarn you, there are A LOT of plugins out there and you want to make sure you are choosing the essential ones and not getting to plugin “happy” and bogging down your site. Yes, having too many plugins can slow down your site. Let me share with you the best WordPress blog plugins you should have!
The Basics – What is a Plugin
Yes, most of you are probably aware of what a plugin is in generally, but I always like to try and boil things down to the basics so we can all start off on the same page. A plug-in is simply this – a software component that adds a specific feature to an existing program, in this case that existing program would be your WordPress blog. The program (your blog) supports these individual plugins and enables site customization by enhancing your blog’s capabilities.
When a new reader lands on your site very rarely do they come in on the home page or your about page. Instead they usually find a post of yours they are interested in and read it, but by the end of the post the reader likely wants to know who you are. Using this easy author box plugin does that job well. It’s like having a mini about page at the end of each post. You can even add your social medias so they can instantly follow you!
Cost: Free or upgrade to an even fancier version!
Comment Luv is a really nifty plugin that allows people to easily leave comments on your blog while also leaving their most recent post link as well for their own blog. Yes, this can seem like a double edge sword because we all want genuine comments not spammy ones. However, all in all, I have found Comment Luv can be a useful tool to have and because people are leaving behind there blog post links it may lead to some collaboration opportunities!
Even though we want comments on our new blog we also do not want spam! Adding the Akismet plugin to your Worpress will take care of that for you and it is the top anti-spam plugin available on the market.
If you have spent even five minutes in the blogging world, you know that Yoast SEO is the go to plugin for creating good search engine optimization and an improved Google ranking. Yoast is pretty straight forward and is a plugin that every blog should have hands down.
Ahhh analytics. You will need to know how the blog is doing, right? In other words, you will want to watch and track your traffic from Google. Even more than that; you can use Google analytics to learn more about your audience’s behaviors, what posts are doing well and why etc. It is a great way to narrow down your niche and avatar so you can better cater to what your readers love the most.
Have you every been on one of your favorite blogs and noticed how easily accessible their share buttons are? They probably are using a plugin like Social Warfare; my favorite here on Pomsly! By adding these customizable share buttons to your blog you can help increase engagement and drive more traffic to your site. Social Warfare allows you to post the share buttons at the top or bottom of the post or you can have a floating sticky set of buttons that follows the reader as they scroll through the article. With their premium packages you can even customize brand colors!
When you set out to blog you need to make sure your readers have a way to talk to you personally, not just through comments. Adding a simple contact form easily takes care of this! Contact Form 7 is the most popular contact plugin on the market.
The sad fact is that thousands of websites are hacked everyday. You can help protect you site by installing iThemes Security (formerly Better WP Security). This plugin gives you over 30+ ways to secure and protect your WordPress site
Here is a question, what do you generally do when a site won’t load after 5-10 seconds? You leave. Don’t let that happen to your new blog! Installing WP Super Cache helps your web-server process your scripts faster and easier so you website loads quicker.
Making money at blogging doesn’t stop at ads or affiliate links, you can create an entire ecommerce shop right on your blog easily using Woocommerce! Creating an awesome store extension off of your existing blog is super easy using this plugin! There is a little learning curve, but Woocommerce does a pretty go job of taking the headache out of building a shop.
Jet pack is like an all in one plugin with multiple functions. Two of the most common functions I personally use are the site statistics and the related post features which helps improve your bounce rate and keeps people hanging around for more articles.
Backing up your hard work is extremely important. Backup Buddy is the most common backup plugin on the market. It is easy to use and you can schedule backups on a regular basis plus send them to an offsite destination for safe keeping like Dropbox, Stash Live etc.
I was trilled when I learned about this simple plugin! You will find out pretty quickly how often you need to insert a bit of code into your header or footers of your site. Instead of messing around in the core HTML files just use this plugin to easily track what you are adding in.
Yellow Pencil is a visually CSS editor. Basically, it allows you to manipulate your blog’s layout in real time; moving, adjusting or deleting widgets on your blogs pages. The plugin allows you customize any page and theme without coding. By clicking on an element you can easily start visual customization – like adjusting colors, fonts, sizes, positions and more.
Sumo is a plugin that can integrate with your blog to collect emails. But it is not just a boring pop up although that option is still available. Sumo plugin offers fully customization welcome mats, heat mats (reader clicking tracker), scroll boxes, smart sticky bars, image shares and fancy pop ups to name a few of it’s features. This plugin easily integrates with your email service like Convert Kit, Mailchimp etc.
Cost: Basic version is free or upgrade when you reach 200+ subscribers for plans of $24 or $59 a month
Yes, blogging does require you to dip your toes into legal disclosures. The FTC requires that businesses and blogs disclose with they are promoting affiliate links. Don’t worry this doesn’t have to be hard. Just download this plugin and use the statement they already have for you or create your own!
Circling back to optimizing your site. Images are key to any website design but you want to make sure that your images are not slowing down your website’s load time especially if you are in a niche that requires a lot of images like DIY projects, crafts or recipe bloggers. Installing this plugin allows you to compress your images without loss of image quality. This save room on your data and helps to optimize your site! Win win!
I’m throwing this one in because i’m a big believer in using a service such as Leadpages. Leadpages allows you to build stunning opt-in campaigns that capture leads, convert customers, and integrate across all your favorite marketing tools including your blog. If you are planning to capture leads through advertisement to sell things like courses or product, Leadpages is a great resource and can be easily integrated with WordPress to send your customers right to your site!
With plugins it is important to remember that less is usually more. You don’t want to go plugin crazy and slow down your site or overwhelm the pages or posts with tons of integrations that distract from the point the reader clicked to read. Make sure you are always keeping your plugins up to date (WordPress will notify you) and if you are not using a plugin, then get it deleted. As you start your blogging or small business journey consider the importance of these plugins and how they can enhance your website!
Do you think there are any other essentials I should add to this list? Tell me below!