The WordPress platform is without a doubt the best platform to build your own blog with. I may be biased and I’m not the only one. The ability to design your ideal blog with WordPress is just one of the reasons I love it. WordPress plugins are another. In order to have all the functionality your little heart desires, you’ll need to add several WordPress plugins to your repertoire.
WordPress plugins are everywhere and each one offers its own characteristics and site functions. No matter what you need your plugins to do or how you want your plugins to work; you’ll find something that handles it.
Plugins are a small piece of software that contain functions (formulas) that tell your website what to do. They add features to your blog without you having to know or write code. It’s all encapsulated inside the all mighty plugin…so it’s a quick and easy way to make your site work in a certain way by uploading the WordPress plugins.
There’s a plugin for that!
Plugins can be found online (be sure to use reputable vendors) in FREE and PREMIUM versions. The difference in pricing is usually attributed to the functions that the plugin offers; obviously premium versions have more benefits for your reader’s experience and usually offer support from the developer. Compare the versions and decide if it’s worth it to pay and upgrade.
WordPress plugins you need to be using
SEO and Keyword Search
SEO stands for search engine optimization and it means that you’ve written your blog posts in the best possible light for search engines, like Google, to find you. Their little worker bees crawl around the internet looking for phrases and keywords in just the right spot, like headings and titles.
To grow a blog, you need to have traffic. You get traffic by optimizing your posts and pages in the right way. Plugins analyze your text and tell you when you’ve done a good job. You don’t get a sticker but you do get a green light!
Done right, SEO will grow your blog. It’s so important. Most newbies spend months worrying about the color scheme and logos for their blog and guess what? Google can’t see it anyway. They are only looking for the right words in the right format. Takes the pressure off, right?
Free: Yoast SEO [aff link]
- Optimize your website for search engines
- Teaches you to build your post to appease the Google gods
- Analyzes your keywords and content
- Helps you create optimized post titles and meta data
- Tells you whether the post is easy for your readers to read (go figure)
Premium: Yoast SEO [aff link]
- All of the above functions plus
- Multiple keyword focus
- Internal linking automatically
- Redirect manager
Index Your Site
Free: Google XML Sitemap
This free sitemap plugin is useful is you’re not using the Yoast SEO plugin. If you already use Yoast, then it offers a sitemap option and you do not need any additional WordPress plugins. If you’re not using Yoast, then grab this one.
This WordPress plugin will help search engines index your blog. It makes it easier for those crawlers (so weird) to see or “read” the code that makes up your site structure. It helps the bots retrieve the code and process it faster. And if that wasn’t enough, once your post goes public, this plugin will notify the major search engines to come check you out!
Yoo hoo, hey big search engine…over here!
Premium: SEO Pack
This WordPress plugin offers many features and one of them is Sitemapping. Check out all that it can do for your blog. Hint: I prefer Yoast.
Akismet is such a necessity that it’s always one of the first WordPress plugins that I ask my clients who work with me to enable. If you’ve got a blog, you’re gonna get spam. You can spend hours driving yourself crazy trying to decide if your comments are from real humans or you can activate this plugin and let it do the work for you.
PRO TIP: Let Akismet do the work for you!
The basic version of Akismet will analyze all of your blog’s comments and then move suspected bad guys to the spam folder. Once in there, you can do a quick review of the contents and then permanently delete if you agree.
Akismet can sometimes believe a real human is spam so it’s helpful to look over the folder before deleting. Once you agree that the email address is spam, all future tries from that spammer will be blocked. Denied Sucker.
Yep, depending on the type of business you have and the support that you’d like, there is a paid plan. The difference in pricing is around $60/year. You’ll get additional features like:
- Spam block for commercial sites
- Advanced stats so you can count up those blocked peeps
Akismet will ask you to open a WordPress dot com account in order to use, that’s fine. Just don’t use it to blog on. Or I’m comin’ for ya.
Free: Google Analytics
The Google Analytics plugin makes it easy to see your monthly statistics right inside your WordPress dashboard. No more logging in and out of the Google site. It’s really just a convenient way to see your stats immediately. You just add your GA tracking code to the plugin’s settings, omit yourself as a user (so it doesn’t count you as a visitor) and read the results.
Business owners that blog need to know their analytics inside and out, how else will you know that you’ve grown?
Premium: MonsterInsights Pro
For about $99/year, this plugin will show your Google analytics, your Adsense income, your 404 errors and much more. What I love about this plugin is that you can manage your time more efficiently by having a lot of information right in your WordPress dashboard. No more going back and forth. Back Back Forth and Forth. Thanks Aaliyah.
The amount of WordPress plugins for sharing is enormous. It really comes down to just choosing the look of the buttons you prefer. They all do the exact same thing; allow your readers to share your posts or pages on social media.
Share buttons help grow your audience by allowing your most popular posts to be promoted throughout the blogosphere. Choose a plugin that offers the social media accounts you want (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) to promote to and has eye catching buttons.
PRO TIP: SumoMe offers a lot of other fancy features (landing pages and optins) even with its free version so you may want to start there.
Free: Pin It Button for Images is a Pinterest plugin that lets you add a “pin it” button on top of any image that appears in your blog post. Readers love how simple this is. PRO TIP: Change the button settings to only show up with specific image CSS classes or certain pages and posts.
Premium: Social Warfare
This plugin is offered at a low rate of around $29/year and allows for highly customizable social media sharing. You can also brand your buttons with your blog’s specific colors so everything is matchy-matchy. For those of you that want to have a customized experience for your readers, check out this one fast.
Business owners that blog definitely need to add beautiful large photos to their website posts. The bigger the better. Nobody wants to visit a text only site. Boring. Not shareable.
Unfortunately, those photos can often take up a great deal of space on your server and slow your load speed considerably (which will piss off your visitors).
If you don’t want to worry about resizing and compressing your photos before uploading, use one of the many WordPress plugins available.
Free: EWWW image optimizer
Strange name but this plugin works! Photos will be optimized so that your site loads faster, uses less bandwidth and assists your nightly backup speed. Compress all current photos with a bulk optimize feature, in case they were not done previously. Your blog will thank you for it.
You can compress and resize your own photos before uploading if you’re in to that sort of thing.
Need a little more support and the ability to optimize your photos on someone else’s server? Yes? Then go ahead and “Release the Kraken”…sorry, couldn’t resist.
WordPress plugins should be selected with care and used minimally as they can slow down your blog’s load speed. Be sure to choose plugins that offer the biggest benefit to your reader and the functionality that your site needs to drive traffic and improve its rankings online. WordPress plugins can be your blog’s best friends if they are used for necessary functionality and not just the fun stuff.
Your blog biz best friend, Cee Lee
PS: All of the plugins mentioned above will accentuate your WordPress blog.