This article applies to all my WordPress users out there, so if you’re on another platform, I’m sorry. Then again, these WordPress plugins and their respective websites offer a lot of information you can transfer over to you blog even if you’re not using a WP engine. So, if you’re looking to make your blog reach wider and speed up your blog, this is all for you. Hooray, read on!
What are plugins?
Plugins add functionality and customization to your blog or website without any coding experience. You simply install them, activate, and they provide functionality like sign-up forms for mailing lists and displaying your Instagram feed. Then there are performance-enhancing plugins that do everything from caching to image optimization and SEO.
When I first started, I focused on WordPress plugins that made my site pretty. I legitimately had like 40 plugins because I got plug-in happy and thought that I was adding to my site. Now I know better (AKA, don’t do what I did).
It’s best not to get carried away with plugins since they can slow down your site dramatically. I have yet to get a developer to hard code some of the things my plugins do into my site. If you can code some of the functions that your simpler plugins do, it will minimize any conflicts/errors and lag on your site. Improving your site loading speed is a must for better SEO ranking, so keep that in mind.
These 10 Blogging WordPress Plugins Changed My Life
If you’re not using Yoast, and you’re on WordPress, you’re doing it wrong. I’m just going to lay it out simply: this plugin is an essential, so please download it right now. I can give you all the tech talk in here about your optimized permalink structure, your XML sitemap and even simpler stuff like the readability of your articles. The thing is, Yoast takes care of all of these things and then some. The most important thing is to set up your Yoast SEO by reading their guide. If you’re using a different platform, make it a habit of reading the Yoast blog for excellent SEO tips.
Jetpack (specifically, related posts & social sharing)
I hesitated with this one for a while because I thought it was very resource intensive, but it gives me so much functionality that it’d be silly to let it go. I first started using it for the Related Posts (one of the best I’ve found) and the analytics in my dashboard. Then I activated the social sharing, Omnisearch, and all the performance and security features. Overall, it performs so many functions that I wouldn’t dare turn it off at this point.
You know my friend CoSchedule, right? I mean, I only talk about it in every.single.blog.post. I don’t make money from recommending them FYI (but if you sign up, I do get a bit of free time on my subscription, which I’d pay for regardless). I genuinely love the editorial and social scheduling calendar. Ever since I started using it, it’s been a breeze scheduling everything out. The integration with WordPress is fantastic, and I can schedule all my social media messages directly from my post screen! Amaze.
It’s one of the simpler caching plug-ins out there. Super lightweight, easy to use, and reliable. Another option is W3, but I suggest you look up how to set it up if you go with it. There’s a lot more functionality that isn’t as user-friendly as WP Fastest Cache.
I’ve mentioned this before in my community building post. It took me way too freakin’ long (why’d it take you so long, Nat???) to make the switch to a proper commenting system that allows me to interact with my readers! It’s night and day. With Disqus, I’m able to build out a question and answer forum below my posts. The commenting system not only addresses people’s feedback to the post but allows me to keep track of the conversations and respond in a thoughtful manner.
Ok, this one might be more of an essential for me than for you at the moment, but it’s an essential. Hah, wait, it even has essential in the title. No joke, I just made the connection. Anyway, this is what I use in my resource library and for my portfolio (which is due for an update, now that I’m looking at it). The plugin allows for beautifully customized grids of photos or videos. It’s a bit of a learning curve when learning to use it, but once you get the hang of it, it’s incredibly easy to set up shortcodes and organize your photos and videos. If you’re thinking of creating a resource library, I highly recommend this. Mine came with my theme (thanks for rocking, X!), so it was a pre-integrated feature, but if you’re looking for Essential Grid on your site, the license is $26.
MailChimp is my list building buddy. Have you met him? If you haven’t, I want you to familiarize yourself and start building your list! MailChimp integrates with many different plugins that make opt-in forms easy. I found that MailMunch gives me a lot of different options, so I primarily use MailMunch (it’s the little guy that pops up on your screen once in a while asking you if you want more awesome advice in your inbox).
Pretty Link Lite isn’t an essential, but it adds so much regarding user experience. It takes ugly links and “prettifies” them. I.E. your bit.ly/474t7erfbr becomes styletomes.com/shoes when a user hovers over the link. Neat, right? I thought so.
Having a quickly loading website is critical for SEO, so after optimizing my images on my computer, I send them through “round 2” on my blog. Upon upload, EWWW Image Optimizer compresses my images further to save space on my server and speed up my blog.Related: Learn How To Optimize Your Images for the Web
Pinterest has been a HUGE driver of traffic to my site, so having a Pin it button that was customizable (BIG) and prominent was super important. The customization factor got me. I wanted something that went with my site’s color scheme and continued building my brand.
You can find out which plugins a website uses by doing a simple search on a site like WPThemeDetector, which also lists out the blog’s theme!