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The recommended platform for blogging is WordPress (meaning WordPress.org rather than WordPress.com). When you use the self-hosted version of WordPress you have more control of your site through the use of plugins.

However, you don’t want to go crazy and add anything you find. Start with the basics. Make sure you have these must-have WordPress plugins installed before you do create too many posts.

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 work or not?  Let me break this down for you.

 

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ESSENTIAL WORDPRESS.ORG PLUGINS BLOGGERS NEED TO USE

WHAT IS A PLUGIN?

A plugin is a code 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 WORDPRESS 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 e-mail the owner and ask them which plugin they use.  You may also find people talking about them in various Facebook groups.

They 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.

 

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 you need and those you can live without

 

THE BEST PLUGINS FOR WORDPRESS

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.

AKISMET 

You need to protect your site from spam comments. Akismet 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), but if commercial site charge is $5/month

Download Akismet

 

UPDRAFT PLUS

You must run regular backups of your site. Even if your host says that they do backups. Why?

If you ever need to restore a back up, they may not have what you need to be included in the files, or it could take the time to get it to you.

Backing up your site weekly (if not daily) is necessary.  You should also run a quick back up before adding any new plugins.  That way, if there is a compatibility issue and it “breaks your site,” you have a way to get it back to where it was before you did the install.  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 WordPress created it. I never have to worry about compatibility when there are new platform updates.

Cost:  As low as $0

Download UpdraftPlus

 

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 colored 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 for your keyword.  You would not want to edit that just to get a green light from YOAST.

The most important thing to keep in mind with YOAST is to realize it is only an SEO guide – and getting green lights does not mean you are guaranteed you will rank.

Cost:  $0 for the basic (no need to get premium)

Download YOAST

 

GROW SOCIAL PRO

You need to have a social sharing plugin on your site. That is how your readers will share your post with others. Without this, no one will know about your fantastic article!

Readers love to share.  They like 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 while they all work, they aren’t all the same.  The one I recommend is Grow Social Pro.

Using this plugin allows you to create the correct image for each social sharing platform. For example, I use one size on my posts.  That is not the same one I want to have when I share to Facebook or Pinterest.

The plugin allows you to indicate which image you want on Facebook and Pinterest. It also forces the reader to use the image you want, rather than use what they want.

The plugin will allow you to quickly add the Pinterest title and description. It even allows you to upload multiple pinnable images and hide them until such time as the reader clicks the share button!

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 harmed my site speed.

If you want to recover share counts, add multiple images, custom descriptions, and use additional sharing platforms, you will need to pay for it.  But that cost is nominal at just $29 a year.  Very affordable.

Cost: Up to $29/year

Download Grow Social Pro

 

WORDFENCE

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 you need is Wordfence. If someone tries to hack your site, they will get only three 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).

Cost:  $0

Download Wordfence

 

WP ROCKET

You need to have a caching plugin on your site too.  The cache is when individual images and settings get remembered by your browser so that they do not have to reload 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 positive user experiences.

Cost: $49

Download WPRocket

 

OPT-IN PLUGIN

We all want readers to sign up for our newsletter.  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.  Also, these are 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). You can create a 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)

Download ThriveLeads

 

SHORT PIXEL

When you upload your images to your post, you must 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 before uploading.

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.

Cost:  $0

Download ShortPixel

 

COOKIE NOTICE

Another plugin every blogger needs is to alert readers that your site uses Cookies.  These are the way they are tracked from site to site so that they can sometimes get re-targeted ads on other platforms.

To comply with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) rules, you need to let your readers know that you use them.  Even if you do not live in the EU, you may have visitors who do, and that means you need to comply.

The plugin to use is called Cookie Notice.  It is super easy to install and alerts your visitors that you use cookies.

Cost: $0

Download Cookie Notice

 

THE PLUGINS YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE ON YOUR SITE

Just like some plugins are helpful, there are a few that you may want to consider dropping. Use only the plugins that make sense for your site and don’t add anything without doing your research.

Jetpack

This plugin can slow down your site.  You also do not need to use this for the functions they offer as other plugins do as good if not even a better job than this one does.

You can find much better alternatives and remove Jetpack from your site.

SumoMe

I get the appeal, but it takes a lot of resources.  That, in turn, can slow down your site load time. You don’t want that.  Stick with other social sharing icons that work better.

Slider Plugins

You may like the look of a slider on your home page, but most of them are not programmed to run efficiently.  And, most readers never land on your home page anyhow.  Stick with static images to make sure your site loads as quickly as possible.

Google Analytics Plugin

Never use a plugin to connect your site to Google Analytics.  The only exception to this is the headers and footers plugin (which is not a plugin that causes any load time issues).  To find out what your site is doing as far as referrals and traffic, log in to Google Analytics.

You can easily connect your site to both Google Analytics and Google Search console without using any heaving plugin.

 

Grab your Blogging Roadmap Guide

If you join my email list, you'll not only get my best blogging strategies in your inbox, you'll also get a gift - my Blogging Roadmap - for free!!
DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY!!!
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HOW TO ADD A PLUGIN TO YOUR SITE

If you are 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 straightforward to add a plugin.  Just follow these steps:

  1. 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.)
  2. Download the plugin.  It will download as a zip file.  Do NOT open it.  Just download and leave the file zipped shut.wordpress plugin install
  3. Go to your dashboard and click on Add New.installing wordpress plugin
  4. Next, select Upload Plugin.wordpress plugin for blog
  5. Select Choose File.  That will open your computer directory.  Find the zip file and select it.  Then, select install.
    how to add wordpress plugin
  6. Once uploaded, press the Activate Plugin button.how to activate wordpress plugin
  7. You may need to go into your plugin and adjust the settings. You can find that on 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 information).

 

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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