In the previous WordPress plugins tutorial I promised that I will share with you a list of must have WordPress plugins for your newly installed blog. The plugins that are listed are essential for you blog. You need them to ensure that your blog is secure, free of spam, search engine friendly, fast loading. As well, some of these plugins will let the major search engines, such as Google, Bing and Yahoo, know that your posts have been published and that your blog can be analyzed.
List Of Must Have WordPress Plugins For A New Blog
All of the plugins I am recommending are free and can be downloaded straight from your Available Plugins Dashboard. The list of plugins will also contain a brief description of the plugin and its function to help you understand why I included them.
Note: If you have never installed a new plugin and you are not sure how to do it, please read the tutorial on how to install plugins.
Just to refresh your memory, to upload plugins to your blog, first you have to find them in your plugins dashboard. To get to the dashboard:
- Click on Plugins in you Home Dashboard
- Click Add New
You will arrive at “Add Plugins Dashboard”. There, enter the plugin I’ll recommend into the search box and the system will find the plugin for you.
WordPress Plugins I Recommend
All the plugins mentioned below are free to use. Some developers may offer you a paid version. It is not necessary. Stick with the free version! If you will ever want to, you can always upgrade.
Click on the plugin link for more information about the set up and configuration of the plugin.
► Akismet – this is an important plugin to prevent flooding of your blog with spam comments. After you activate this plugin on a newly installed blog, you will need to get an API key (license key). Follow the Akismet’s instructions. You will be asked to set up an account. Please do so. Make sure you sign up for the FREE Option!
► Zen Cache – the plugin is important to speed up loading of your blog. This is an important factor for both your visitors and search engines. If your site does not load fast you will lose visitors and a slow speed will affect your search engine rankings. There are other recommended caching plugins available, but I find this one the least technically challenging. As well, it does not seem to interfere with other plugins on my blogs.
► SEO WordPress Plugins – this is serious stuff. An SEO plugin is a must for your blog! It helps you customize your blog so that it is search engine friendly. Your blog has to be search engine friendly if it holds any hope of becoming visible in searches. And please trust me, you definitely want it, unless you are blogging just for the fun of it.
I am going to recommend 2 SEO WordPress plugins. Each one needs to be customized. I will give you a reference (a link) to the best article that step by step process of customization.
- All In One SEO Pack – this WordPress plugin is easier to customize and I had it on my blog until recently. It is a well functioning and well respected plugin. Here is the customization reference…
- WordPress SEO – when you insert this title into plugin search, the first SEO plugin will be “WordPress SEO by Yoast”. This is the one to use. It is a more robust plugin but needs more customization. I finally implemented it on my site and I used the following reference to customize it…
► Google XML Sitemaps – another must have plugin. This plugin creates an XML Sitemap which will automatically let search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo know when you post a new page or a post on your blog. It will also help them better crawl your blog. With this sitemap, it’s much easier for the crawlers to see the complete structure of your site and index and retrieve it more efficiently.
Although, this plugin is simple to install on your blog, you will have to do a little background work before it runs efficiently. But all the instructions are within the plugin.
► Simple Sitemap – this plugin creates another sitemap, completely different from the XML Sitemap. It is used for both, your readers and search engines to orient themselves on your blog. As the name suggests it is extremely user friendly plugin and very simple to set up.
If you want to know more about why you need to have it on your blog, you can read the article here…
► Contact Form Plugins – you need to have a contact form on your blog to build credibility and an option for your readers to ask you questions or simply to contact you. Some themes come with a contact page but many do not. I have selected two contact form plugins that are very simple to set up.
Make sure to check out the article I wrote, where you can see the step-by-step setup of both of these plugins, as well as, how to create a Contact page using these plugins.
► WP Smush.it – reduces the size of images. It is a common practice to use a lot images when posting these days. Images, however, take much space and can slow your blog down. You need this WordPress plugin to help you optimize your images so they use up the least space on your blog. This plugin will automate the process of optimizing images at the time you are uploading your images to Media Library (or on your blog post).
► WP DB Backup – although in the plugin dashboard the plugin is called “WordPress Database Backup”, you must enter WP DB Backup into the plugin search box. The plugin will create backups of your blog and will email you the backups to your email address at times that you will choose.
► Wordfence Security – an absolute must! Every second of the day, hackers try to hack into our blogs. This plugin helps to stop these attacks. The free option is sufficient. Scroll to the bottom of the page (the link I provided you) and select the “Free Option”.
Wordfence Security plugin also offers a caching option, which is wonderful because it replaces the need to install a caching plugin on your site (if your site already comes in with a caching plugin, keep it for now. Wordfence caching option will not work if there is another active caching plugin on your site).
Caching is very important because it helps to speed up your site. Fast loading sites have many more visitors and search engines “love” fast sites as well!
► Related Posts For WordPress – it is important to have links on your blog post to other posts within your blog. This option keeps your visitors longer on your blog and it helps you to reduce bounce rate. Google looks at the bounce rate and if it is too high, it may effect your blog’s rankings.
Linking to other blog posts within your blog is also favored by search engines.
I have examined pretty well all available related posts plugins that also display images and most of them were cr**p (forgive me the language). They either slow your site down or they don’t display related post images well. I finally came across this one and I like it.
Bonus-Optional – Not one of the must have WordPress Plugins
► WP Edit – this plugin is not one of the must have WordPress plugins, but I always install it on my blogs. This plugin makes your WordPress Editor more powerful. It adds certain functionalities to the Editor, which are lacking. Having those on, makes the editing of your blog that much easier.
This is not a priority plugin with respect to enhancing the functionality of your blog for your readers or search engines. This plugin is a tool that helps YOU improve the post and page editor. It will make your writing much easier, “prettier” and less frustrating, if you don’t know HTML.
Let me show you an example:
Image 1. Default Options On WordPress Editor
Image 2. WP Editor Loaded With New Options
I only added a few options to my blog’s post editor. I am only showing you the possibilities in Image 2.
To my blog I added:
- Font Family – helps me choose a variety of fonts
- Font Sizes – helps me change the size of my font without knowing HTML
- Option to create columns – which is very important for some instances of writing, for example if you compare two different items
- Formats – has additional formats that the default editor is lacking. For example it has subscripts and superscripts. Just referring to Google + , for example, is really helpful. Within Formats there are other helpful editing features.
- Page Break – allow for splitting long pages into multiple pages
So, although not necessary, I recommend that you install the free version of WP Edit plugin
This brings us to the end of the Must Have WordPress Plugins tutorial. The WordPress plugins I mentioned here are only the basic plugins. Over time you will learn about other plugins that promise to enhance the functionality of your blog. Before you decide on a plugin, always check its reviews. Make sure that the plugin will not significantly reduce the speed of your site.
Next Tutorial: Rock’n’Roll To Success