One of the things I love about WordPress is plugins. They enable you to boost the capabilities and performance of your blog with additional functionality and features and generally make your life as a blogger and webmaster easier.
There are plugins for SEO, Security, Content, Advertising, Analytics, and Social Media. And that's just scratching the surface. All in all, there are over 50,000 available!
Basically, if you can think of a function or feature that you would like to add to your blog, you will probably find a plugin for it.
With so much choice, your probably wondering which plugins you should install first. I recommend starting with the nine listed below. Each plugin listed is free to use, but you can upgrade to premium to unlock additional features.
But before we get started. If you don't know how to install plugins click here to watch this video
1. Insert Headers and Footers
Many of the platforms and services that you will integrate with your blog require you to add code to theme files – usually within the Header section.
Adding code is not that hard. However, anytime you open and edit theme files there is always the potential of changing something by accident, which in turn can break the functions of your blog.
But, if you don't like the idea of messing with code, you can install the Insert Headers & Footers plugin.
Images really make your content pop, and they keep readers engaged.
But, if the images you upload to your blog are large, they can slow down the speed at which your web pages load. This can have a negative impact on SEO, and it also makes for a poor user experience.
Another issue with large images is that they take up a lot of disk space and server bandwidth, which can cause server issues, especially if you are using a shared hosting plan.
The WP Smush plugin helps you solve these associated image problems by compressing and optimizing images on upload. It does all this without the loss of image quality.
WordPress is a fantastic blogging platform. But it has one big flaw. It's prone to hacking and other cyber attacks.
In the past, I have had WordPress sites of mine hacked, and it's not a nice experience. Thankfully, I was able to recover them. However, there are some real horror stories out there of websites being totally destroyed by hackers.
Needless, to say it's essential that you protect your blog from such scenarios and you can do this with the WordFence plugin.
WordFence is a security plugin with a host of robust security features that help prevent hacking, malicious malware injections, brute force login attempts, and much more.
4. Yoast SEO
To get traffic from Google and other search engines your blog needs to be search engine optimized (SEO), but many beginner bloggers have no SEO knowledge. That's where Yoast comes in!
Out of the box when you install the Yoast SEO plugin, it will automatically set many of the technical SEO parameters needed to optimize your blog for search engines.
But, one of the best things about Yoast is its on-page SEO features that guide you through each step of optimizing a blog post, so it's 100% search engine friendly. It makes the process like child's play!
You want your blog to be as fast as possible. As I mentioned earlier, slow loading web pages harm your SEO efforts and make for a poor user experience.
Thankfully, there are speed performance plugins that can help you optimize and improve page load speeds, and the Hummingbird plugin is one of the best.
Hummingbird is developed by the same people that created 'WP Smush,' and it's one of the few speed performance plugins that doesn't require a Masters Degree to figure out how it works.
Once you install the Humminbird plugin, it scans your blog and identifies issues that are impacting speed. You can then resolve them with the simple click of a button.
If you use the WordPress comment system, you will find that comment spam is a big problem. Once you publish a post, it seems that every spammer in the world is alerted.
Spam comments are super annoying because you have to delete and remove each one. But, more than that, they also take up disk space on your hosting server and impact page load speeds.
The Akismet plugin helps you fight comment spam. It connects your blog to a massive database of known spam profiles and blocks comments from those accounts. It also automatically checks each comment and filters out any that look like spam.
Akismet comes pre-installed on WordPress you just need to activate it.
Growing your email subscriber list should be one of your top priorities as a blogger. After all, as they say, 'the money is in the list,' and it's so true.
With the MailMunch plugin, you can add email opt-in forms throughout your blog, giving you more opportunities to turn your readers into subscribers.
MailMunch integrates with all of major email marketing platforms such as Mail Chimp, Aweber, Constant Contact, Get Response and others.
When readers share your content on social media, it helps you grow your audience and gain more exposure. So, make it easy for them to share by adding social buttons to your blog.
When it comes to social plugins, there are lots available but of all the ones that I have tried 'AddThis' is my favorite.
The AddThis plugin offers different types of buttons – Share, Follow or Like – and different placement options, you can add buttons to your blog sidebar, above posts, beneath posts or in pop-ups.
Aside from button types and placement options, AddThis has a handy analytics dashboard where you can view your social sharing stats.
9. Updraft Plus
If you are going to pour your heart and soul into building a blog make sure it's backed-up just in case something goes wrong. You can get hacked, servers can crash, files can get corrupted, and if you don't have a backup, you could lose everything.
With the Updraft Plus plugin, you can perform manual or automatic backups of WordPress files, databases, theme files, and plugins. If something unexpected happens, you can then restore your blog to its normal working state.
Updraft Plus has lots of backup options: You can send backups to Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3, Google Cloud and more.
Over to You
I hope you have found this post helpful. Should you have any questions about plugins, or any suggestions for plugins that you think would make a good addition to the above list, please let me know in the comment section below.