If you are new to blogging, or if even if you have been at it for a while, you may wonder if there is a must-have list of WordPress plugins on your site. There is.
One feature bloggers use to help them take care of many details on their site is a plugin. WordPress plugins are add-on programs that performs tasks or provide interesting features and settings to your blog.
If you have ever researched plugins, you will fund thousands of options out there. But, how do you know which ones you should have and those you do not need?
The websites and lists can be overwhelming. Not only that, but how do you know if they really work or not? Let me be break this down for you.
WHAT IS A PLUGIN?
A plugin is software that contains additional functions. They are added to your WordPress website. These plugins can add new features to your site or add additional functionality.
The reason they work is that they are written in the correct php programming language, and that allows them to work well with WordPress.
Plugins allow you to add features to your site without having to know how to write a single line of code.
WHERE DO YOU FIND PLUGINS?
WordPress has a directory filled with thousands of plugins. You can search to find the plugin you want so you can add it to your site.
If you see a function on a website, you can email the owner and ask them which plugin they use. You may also find people talking about plugins in various Facebook groups.
Plugins are everywhere, but you don’t want to just use one without first researching it. Not all work well. Read the reviews and check to ensure the version of WordPress you run is compatible with the plugin.
CAN YOU HAVE TOO MANY PLUGINS?
Absolutely. When you have too many WordPress plugins on your site, it can slow down your site. That, in turn, can make readers lead and can even lower your advertising income!
Slow sites = death.
If you must have all the plugins you have installed, you may need to upgrade your server through your host. That will provide more memory and can help with your site speed. If that is not an option, it will be time to figure out which plugins you need and those you can live without
WHICH PLUGINS DO I NEED?
With the massive lists of plugins and articles saying what to do, it can be overwhelming. You don’t need everything out there. However, there are some plugins that I believe are an absolute must on every single blog.
ASKIMET: This plugin helps protect you from spam comments. It identifies those that are spam and/or come from bots. If you did not have this, you would end up with thousands of comments that were filled with nothing but awful links and phrases that made no sense. If readers see these an end up clicking, they could be sent to a site that you would never send them to. That can make them lose trust.
Cost: Name your price (can be $0 or you can pay what you feel you want)
VAULTPRESS: This is a backup plugin. It is imperative that you have one on your site. Even if your host says that they do backups, the truth is that if you need to use it, they may not have what you need included in the files or it could take them time to get it to you.
Backing up your site daily is necessary. In addition, before you ever install a new plugin, you need to do a backup. That way, if there is a compatibility issue with the plugin and it “breaks your site”, you have a way to get it back to where it was before you did the install. And, you want to do it yourself rather than pay someone to do it for you.
There are many other options out there, but this is the one I recommend because it was created by WordPress. I never have to worry about compatibility when there are new platform updates.
Cost: Starts at $3.50 per month (depends upon the plan.
YOAST: Yoast is your SEO plugin. SEO means Search Engine Optimization. That is how your site and post can be found on Google. While this is not a guarantee that you will rank, it reviews your post and lets you know when you have done the right thing to help your ranking.
Each important task is given a light. Red means you have a possible issue, orange means you could have one and green means you have taken care of that item. While it is great to have “everything green” it does not mean that you should chop up your post so much that it makes no sense.
For example, Yoast does not like some words such as of, the, how, etc. But, those may be necessary in your key word. You would not want to edit that just to get a green light from YOAST. Be true to yourself and use this plugin as a guide.
Cost: $0 for the basic (no need to get premium)
SOCIAL WARFARE: You need to have a social sharing plugin on your site. This is how your readers will share your post with others. Without this, no one will know about your amazing article!
Readers love to share. They love to bookmark and refer back to the things they love. Your social sharing plugin allows them the opportunity to do that.
There are many different plugins available and they all work. I’ve tried many of them over the years. I recently discovered Social Warfare and will not use anything else, ever again. This is my favorite WordPress plugin.
I love this plugin because it allows me to create the correct image for each social sharing platform. For example, I use one size image on my posts. That is not the same one I want to have when I share to Facebook or to Pinterest. This plugin has the ability to indicate exactly which image you want on Facebook and Pinterest. It forces the reader to use the image you want, rather than them use what they want.
Finally, it is a light plugin. That means it does not use many resources when it loads, allowing your site to load more quickly. Some plugins I’ve tried in the past are resource hogs and they had a negative impact on my site speed.
Cost: $29/year (they offer a 100% guarantee, so you can get your money back)
Download Social Warfare
LIMIT LOGIN ATTEMPTS: Hackers are everywhere. And, even though you think your site is not something they’d love to hack, you are wrong. Protect your site by limiting the login attempts.
The plugin I recommend for this is Limit Login Attempts. If someone tries to hack your site, they will get only 3 tries and then are locked out. You can also get an alert if someone tries to hack your site (in case you want to go in and update your password to something new and strong).
Download Limit Login Attempts
W3 TOTAL CACHE: You need to have a caching plugin on your site too. The cache is when certain images and settings get remembered by your browser so that they do not have to re-load every single time.
When visitors come to your page over and over again, items such as your header, menus, etc. will be remembered and will load from the last visit they made. It makes your site load more quickly, resulting in a more positive user experience.
Download W3 Total Cache
OPT-IN PLUGIN: We all want readers to sign up for our newsletter. After all, that is a direct line between you and the people who love what you have to say (and can increase your income). Most e-mail providers have a plugin or add-on that allows you to include a link to sign up.
However, these are usually a small box that may, or may not, really have the look you want. In addition, these are also options that are placed only in your sidebar or within the post. You may want to have a welcome bar at the top of your site or even show an exit pop-up. That requires a plugin.
This is where ThriveLeads can help. You can create different opt-in pop-ups and even test them against one another so you use the one that has the most conversions (or sign-ups). In addition, you can create custom sign up forms to place within your posts to increase engagement and opt-ins.
Cost: $19/month (paid annually – but they offer 30 day guarantee)
WPSMUSH: When you upload your images to your post, it is imperative that you make them the size you want them to appear. That means, you should not upload that 2000 x 2000 image and then use WordPress to downsize it to 500 x 500. That requires a lot of resources and can slow down your site. Resize it properly prior to uploading.
In addition, you want your images compressed. That way, they can load more quickly every single time a visitor is looking at your site. Image compression does not sacrifice the quality of the image, but rather, allows it to load much more quickly.
HOW TO ADD A PLUGIN TO YOUR SITE
If you are really new to WordPress, the idea of adding a plugin to your site can be a scary thought. After all, you do not want to make it crash!! It is very simple to add a plugin. Just follow these steps:
- Backup your site. You can use the plugin I shared above, but even if you do not, make sure you perform a back up of your entire site before you install a new plugin. There can be issues with compatibility and that may crash your site. Having a backup will give you insurance that you can restore your site back to the way it looked before the plugin was added.)
- Download the plugin. It will download as a zip file. Do NOT open it. Just download and leave the file zipped shut.
- Go to your dashboard and click on Add New.
- Next, select Upload Plugin.
- Select Choose File. That will open your computer directory. Find the zip file and select it. Then, select install.
- Once uploaded, press the Activate Plugin button.
- You may need to go into your plugin and adjust the settings. You can find that in your dashboard. It may be under tools or listed separately. Consult the plugin landing page for details on settings you may need to adjust (or reach out to your tech for more details).
There you go! A simple guide to understanding plugins, those you need and how to even install new WordPress plugins to your website!!
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