WordPress is no doubt the best blogging platform out there. While literally being the king of all, WordPress still needs its troops – the plugins.
In a kingdom, having troops overloaded could be a big winning factor; but for a blog, it might work the other way.
Having too many plugins can actually slow down your blog, which can eventually lose you your readers.
So, don’t install too many plugins; instead have only the required ones, and of course the right ones. And don’t use more than one plugin for the same task, doing that might conflict and can end up breaking up the whole site.
There are more than 50,000 plugins available with WordPress, and that in fact makes it tough to pick the right ones for your blog.
So to help you out a bit, here I have listed 10 must-haves that your blog should have.
10 must have plugins for any blog – doesn’t matter which niche you are:
Security being one of the main concern for a website owner, it is always a wise decision to keep your blog on the safe side and safeguard it with a security plugin to keep your blog protected from any kind of malicious attacks.
Just a few weeks back, one of my client’s website was attacked by some hacker. I still don’t understand why the attack was made. They simply just broke the website, and even if you fix it, it will automatically break up after some time. Finally, I had no option but to recreate the whole website.
Luckily for me, it was just a six pages website and there’s not much content in it, I got away with it just by spending a day. You might not!
You might think, “I don’t have anything that would benefit a hacker, so why would anyone attack my blog”. That is exactly what I used to think and still, my client’s site got attacked.
If you are not being targeted, you are lucky. But just know that there are people who find it funny to dismantle a website for no reason.
So, like I said, it is always a wise decision to keep your blog safe from any kind of security breaches.
If you have made up your mind then, wordfence is one of the best security plugins out there and one of my favorites. It gives you real-time protection from known malicious attacks.
It works as a firewall to keep your blog safe from any malicious traffic and detects and prevents all sorts of hacking attempts.
It has a premium version as well, which comes with some extra features, such as real-time protection from the latest threats.
All in all, it is a very good plugin to start off, and once you have established your trust you can always go for the premium version and protect your blog from all kinds of malicious activities in real-time.
Loading speed being one of the main factors of a website’s or blog’s success, it is very important that you have a cache system implemented on your blog.
When there are too many readers coming to your website and browsing through the contents at the same time, it increases the RAM and CPU consumptions of your server and that makes the blog slower.
What WP fastest cache does is, it simply creates a static HTML version of your dynamic WordPress blog; hence increases the loading speed of your blog.
What I love about this plugin is that it is very simple to use. Anyone with little to no technical knowledge can easily configure it. You don’t need to know any coding.
And whenever you create a new blog post or add a new page or make any changes to the blog, the cache system generates new HTML files automatically, replaces the old ones and saves it on the server; so that whenever someone comes to your blog, he or she reaches those files instead of the heavy PHP WordPress files.
Finally, to enhance the performance a bit more you can also connect the fastest cache plugin with a free CDN, like CloudFlare.
We will talk about that in details in my coming posts.
When you update a post, page or any portion of your WordPress blog on a regular basis, the database grows larger over time. And a large database can significantly affect the performance of your blog as it takes longer for your server to retrieve information from the database tables. That is why database optimization is one important factor you cannot ignore.
Along with the contents of your blog, a database includes all the theme and plugin settings and also it stores the revisions of posts and pages, each time you make a change in it.
So, in the end, the database becomes so much of a dump that, those needs to be cleared ASAP to improve the efficiency of it and make your blog load faster.
Optimize Database comes with a lot of options and the best part is it allows you to choose how you want it to perform.
You can decide how many recent revisions you want to keep. You can even exclude certain tables and specific posts or pages from optimization. You can schedule optimization to run automatically once hourly, twice daily, once daily or once weekly at a specific time.
The size of the images you upload on your blog affects its loading speed. If you upload images well above 1 MB, chances are, if the user is on a slow internet connection, it might take him ages to finally see your post.
As for a good SEO and a good user experience, it is very important that your site loads up in the first 3 seconds.
Well, you cannot just stop using images in your blog posts, right? A study shows that blog posts with images get 94% more visibility compared to blogs without images.
So, here, a simple solution would be to use an images compressor, like WP Smush.
WP Smush can compress all your images and reduce the file size without losing its quality. It is super easy to use. If you are using it after uploading a lot of images to your blog already, then, there’s an option to bulk compress; you can manually compress up to 50 images at once with the free version. Afterward, it will automatically optimize the images each time you upload them.
This is one of the best image optimization plugins that I have come across. I am currently using it on this blog.
When it comes to WordPress SEO, Yoast SEO is the best on-page SEO plugin I have known. Even if you are new to SEO, and thought it very complicated, then, Yoast makes it pretty simple for you. And the best part is you don’t need to know any coding.
SEO is no doubt the biggest traffic source for any blog. So, it is important that you optimize your posts from the first day on.
The plugin helps you optimize every single post or page on your blog. Below each post or page, you will find a Yoast SEO meta box, where you can see the snippet preview (how will your post appear on search engines). Below that you can set your SEO title, Meta description, focus keywords for that particular post or page, and a list of SEO parameters that you can follow to get your post a better SEO score.
I have written a detailed post on how to implement SEO Yoast on your blog? You should read it to get the maximum out of your WordPress SEO
Social media integration is very important to increase a blog’s reach. If you are not giving your readers the option to share your content, then, you might actually be losing a lot of potential readers, other than the existing ones.
No one will copy the link to your blog post and share it with their friends, even if it is the best piece of content you have on your blog.
Along with the good content, you will have to make your blog social share friendly. You should make “easy to share social buttons” available right after the post or in between; preferably after the post.
Acesspress social share plugin does it perfectly. What I like about it is, it’s very easy to set up and comes with five different themes to match your blog.
The free version has a limited number of social media options though (but yet the most used ones). It includes Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Digg. You can add “share by email” or “print” the page options as well.
Another alternative to look for is Mashshare
On my last post as well, I have mentioned having a contact form is a must for any blog or website, as it gives the users a sense of integrity, so to the search engines. So, having a contact form on your blog is a good practice for SEO as well.
Having a contact form is the most convenient way for your readers and followers to connect with you directly off-site. If a reader wants to have a discussion on a private level, he would be delighted to see a contact form on your blog.
Contact form 7 is one of the oldest contact forms available with WordPress. It is being used by millions all over the world.
It is simple to configure. You can modify the notification messages, the email contents and the form without any hassle.
You can easily incorporate CAPTCHA to the forms. It supports the Akismet spam filtering and Ajax-powered submitting as well.
No one likes to read the annoying spam comments on their blog post or the emails they receive from the installed contact form on their blog.
So, How important is it to block spammers from your blog?
Glad you asked,
Spam content on your blog can significantly affect your search ranking. If your blog is indexed by search engine and found to have spam, it might be assessed negatively and that could lead to the worst, your blog might be altogether removed from the search results.
So, make no mistake, having a spam blocker is as important as creating awesome content on your blog.
Spammers will spam, you can’t make them stop doing it. Alternatively what you can do is, install an anti-spammer and prevent them from doing it on your blog.
Akismet is one that does it well. It comes by default with all new WordPress installations.
Akismet checks your blog’s comments and contact form submissions against their global database of spam to prevent it from publishing malicious content. It automatically scans through all comments and filters out the ones that look like spam.
Jetpack is so much like an all-rounder. It is literally packed with everything; from your blog’s security to its social engagement it has a feature that could eliminate a long list of plugins. It is developed by Automattic, the creator of WordPress.
To see the various features it has, go here https://wordpress.org/plugins/jetpack/
I have jetpack installed on all of my websites and on my client’s websites.
Few of the features I like most in jetpack are
A CDN for your images called Photon to speed up your blog’s loading time; you can also connect it with WP fastest cache for better performance.
Brute force attack protection is a new inclusion that I am using on most of my websites.
Related posts, it simply lists down a few of your old posts suggesting to your readers what they should be reading next. It encourages the readers to spend more time on your blog; hence helps improve your bounce rate.
Last but not the least, Publicize, once you enable this feature it will automatically share your blog posts on various social media platforms as soon as you hit the publish button.
When you start a blog, your main goal is to get traffic to it. For that, you would promote your content on different online platforms that are available. In short, you would make investments in terms of time and money; and when you make an investment you want a good ROI.
Now, how will you know which platform has brought you the highest amount of traffics, so that you can focus more on that platform and get the most out of your investment?
That’s where Google Analytics comes into the picture.
With this amazing FREE tool from Google, you can track down everything, literally everything; where did the readers come from? How did they find your blog? How did they engage with your contents? How much time do they spend on your blog? Which post is getting more traffic? And much more than you can imagine.
What so great about this tool is, you can stop guessing the answers to those all questions and instead focus on the solid stats that it provides and start making data driven-decisions that will bring in the best ROI.
So, it is very important that you analyze your traffic from the very first day you publish a blog post.
What Google Analytics for WordPress does is, it helps you connect your WordPress blog with Google analytics. It is one of the most popular Google Analytics plugins for WordPress. It’s extremely easy to set up and great for you if you are just starting up. The best part about this plugin is you can review the reports without living your WordPress dashboard.
Jetpack also comes with site analytics, but it limits your curiosity; the data it provides is not so comprehensive. You cannot rely on it to make a solid decision.
Another good alternative is the Google Analytics Dashboard for WP (GADWP)
All the plugins that I have mentioned above are being used on thebloggingjob.com and are recommended to you as well.
Most of them are FREE. Although all of them has a pro version with extra features; but as you are just starting up and might not have a big budget, you can simply go with the free versions, for now, they do most of the required works anyways.
P.S. it is not necessary that you only use those plugins that I have listed above. I have made that list after testing a lot of plugins and found those to be working best for me. But what worked for me, might not work for you.
What important here is, why am I using them for?
So, keep your focus on the “why” and if you like, go ahead find some other plugins that might work best for you and if you find any, do let me know; I would love to try them all as well if I haven’t already. 🙂
Did the post help you? please let me know in the comments. And if you have any other must-haves that should have been added to the list, please share that with me too.