My Top 10 Must-Have WordPress Plugins
I get asked all the time, “Should I use WordPress to build my blog and website?” And my answer is yes. WordPress is easy-to-use, flexible in design, and offers a whole slew of free and paid plugins to make your life that much easier.
What’s a Plugin?
A plugin is a piece of software that can be added to a WordPress website to help add more features quickly and easily. If you have a need, there’s probably a plugin for it. There are thousands of plugins available via the WordPress plugin directory or many developers offer plugins for purchase via their website. So how do you know what to use? I’m going to break down my top 10 must-have WordPress plugins that I use for myself and my clients.
1. Yoast SEO
You know how important SEO (search engine optimization) can be for your business, but you just need some know-how to start optimizing your pages and posts. Never fear – Yoast SEO has everything you need to get started.
Yoast is the most popular SEO plugin for WordPress, allowing you to optimize for search engines and for social media. Ever wonder how to get your social posts to display the right copy? Yoast SEO has Open Graph for social media baked in, making it easy to set your headlines and descriptions so that they always display correctly. Other features include:
- RSS enhancements
- XML sitemaps
- Content analysis
- Page redirects (paid feature)
Jetpack is a fantastic free plugin will help you to increase the speed and functionality of your website. It offers many key features in one easy-to-use plugin, including:
- Spam protection
- Backup archives
- Malware scans
- Sharing tools
- Related posts
- Premium security features
My favorite feature is Jetpack’s related posts, helping to keep visitors on my website and engaged with content that’s relevant to them. It’s easy to install and can offer real value to your blog readers.
I’ve probably mentioned Coschedule a dozen times on my blog, including this post on how to avoid blogging overwhelm. I just love it. Coschedule is the best way to plan and execute your content marketing and save a ton of time while doing it. Trusted by more than 10,000 bloggers, editors, and social marketers worldwide, Coschedule is designed to help integrate you social media management with your blog writing.
Coschedule integrates with Buffer and helps you to schedule all of your content in WordPress, manage all of your posts and share to social media. It’s an amazing tool that will keep you and your team on track to be consistent with publishing content, organizing related tasks and getting things done faster.
Disqus is my favorite commenting system, with social login, sharing and a centralized hub of all commenting activity across the web. Many times commenting is overlooked, but Disqus is slick and easy-to-install. The moderating dashboard can be accessed easily through your website or by logging into Disqus.
One added feature of Disqus is its community. Disqus offers a hub for users to search, share and discuss great blog content. By using this plugin, the community can actually send traffic your way – bonus for building your tribe and engagement!
PopupAlly Pro is an easy-to-implement popup that can triple your email list. Other popups have little in the way of customizing design (which I find really annoying). PopupAlly Pro is fully customizable for desktop and mobile visitors and even has a Smart Subscriber Recognition that helps to recognize people who are already subscribed to your list. But they don’t all have to be pop-ups – you can also create embeddable forms, making ugly opt-ins a thing of the past.
PopupAlly Pro also offers “Elegant Timing” that includes time-delayed, exit-intent and scroll popups. Maybe the best and most polite option for your visitors are click-based popups where people simply click the link to trigger the popup.
If you’re serious about social sharing, then look no further than Social Warfare. This amazing plugin integrates social media into your WordPress website like no other. Sharing is totally customizable, including pinnable images when sharing to Pinterest, pre-set tweets, and more. This badass plugin will also track outbound shares so that you can see where you content is actually headed.
With Social Warfare you are in total control how you appear in social media. There’s no more guessing because Social Warfare gives you the option to customize images just the way you want to be seen by your audience.
Don’t you just hate long, ugly URLs, especially when you share to social media? With Pretty Link Lite, you can create pretty links automatically for sharing, as well as custom cloak links, auto-tweet links, and replace keywords throughout your blog with pretty links with your domain name.
My favorite ways to use Pretty Link Lite is shortening long URLs, for example podcasts to include just the episode number, or customizing LeadPages landing page URLs so that they’re branded with my URL.
Crazyegg Heatmap Tracking is a breakthrough for being able ethically “spy” on your visitors and watch how they click, where they click, how far they scroll down on a page or post, how they are engaging with your content and pages, and more.
With all that data you will be able to improve user experience, refine best content and increase your conversions. Determine pitfalls on your website, where users are getting lost, what they’re spending most of their time reading, and so much more.
I’m not a web developer. But with Visual Composer, I can make changes to my website quickly, easily and with little or no stress. This awesome plugin allows me to drag and drop elements to create perfectly responsive pages for my WordPress website.
Visual Composer offers a ton of great features, including pre-set layouts, content elements, and tons of third party add-ons. I can see even build my pages from the front end, seeing exactly how it’s going to look when published.
10. GZip Ninja Speed
A little while ago, my website started moving very slowly – like, snail speed. Of course, the first thing I considered was hackers (paranoia much?!). Then I put the blame on my hosting. Finally, I asked a web developer friend and he recommended this handy little plugin. GZip helps you to compress files and increase your website speed, even resulting in a higher Google ranking. I’d recommend using it with WPEngine hosting.
In the end…
There are thousands of WordPress plugins to choose from, and really, my list can go on and on. But remember this – having too many plugins on your website can slow it down and make you susceptible to hackers. Always be sure you use the minimum needed and keep your plugins up-to-date. Start with my must-have WordPress plugins and then have fun exploring all that there is on offer!