With so many websites running on WordPress today, it’s hard to know which plugins are best for people who simply want to blog.
I spend much of my day editing and managing WordPress sites; it’s part of my job. So I’d say I’m fairly familiar with the most popular, must-have plugins. Below are my recommendations specifically for bloggers (please note, I am only discussing the FREE versions!):
Moving to the Disqus comment plugin recently was a great move. Most of the blogs I follow use Disqus, and I find it really easy to set-up, comment and get notifications from. It also looks pretty!
This is the only plugin on this list that I’m not currently using on this blog, and that’s only because my theme is optimised for a different, Instagram slider plugin (you can see this at the bottom of my blog). But here’s what it would look like in my sidebar:
I would highly recommend it though, especially for blogs with sidebars, as it syncs really well and is easily customisable.
In 2014, Twitter launched these things called Twitter cards (here’s a really helpful blog to help you understand what they are). Basically, if you’re going to be sharing your posts on Twitter, enabling cards will allow your followers to see an image or summary for that link, making it more appealing.
As the name suggests, this is very easy to set up, and there’s lots of different styling options to make them fit in better on your blog. I’ve tried many different share button plugins and this is by far my favourite for the ease and looks (give them a go at the bottom of this post ;) )
This plugin also allows you to create your own custom coloured buttons, which is how mine fit in with the rest of my blog theme.
At some point, you’ll probably find yourself editing the name of a category or updating a blog post so that its URL changes. Without using a redirect, anyone using the old URL will end up on a ‘404 page not found’; which you don’t want to happen!
The easiest, most simple way to rectify this is to use the Redirection. Enter the old URL and tell it to target the new one, and voila! Your troubles are over.
This is one of my favourite WordPress plugins, and I don’t know what I’d do without it! It helps you keep on top of the keyword/phrase you want to be found for in search engines:
It gives you tips on how to make each post SEO friendly, and how you could improve it:
And with the traffic light colour coding, you can easily see from the ‘All Posts’ list whether your post has been SEO optimised or not:
This is brilliant; especially for blog posts that are particularly ‘quotable’ (ie. they contain lots of tips, facts, statistics etc.). This is what it looks like:
[Tweet “Click to Tweet is an awesome plugin for encouraging people to share #wordpress”]
I won’t pretend to know what I’m talking about with caching, but what I do know is that it significantly improves the performance of your site, and decreases the loading time of pages and images (important if you’re blog is photo-heavy).
You can research each element to find out what’s best, but the plugin has plenty of tips and recommendations to get you started.
When you first set up WordPress, Contact Form 7 will come pre-installed, and for good reason! It’s definitely one of the nicest looking, most reliable contact form plugins, and although building the form with shortcodes is a bit of a pain, it somehow manages to blend well into most site themes. Here’s what it looks like on another blog I run:
I’ve spent days trying to find decent email sign up plugins, and I’ve finally found The One. I’m currently using it in the sidebar of this blog, and as you can see, it has been customised to fit perfectly into my theme.
There are lots of personalisation options in the free version (the one I’m running), and you can also add a light box that pops up after a specified amount of time or scrolling, or a post add-on. I don’t currently have these enabled, but this is what they’d look like if I did:
The best thing about this plugin is that, as the name suggests, it integrates straight into your email lists in MailChimp. If you’re planning on sending out nice-looking newsletters or email updates, you should definitely look in to a free MailChimp account!