I received so many emails and DMs about my “Blogging Basics” series on the blog last month… so I thought I’d make the series a regular installment on the blog! Going forward, be sure to check in every Wednesday for new updates to my Blogging Basics series.
And to kick us off: my favorite WordPress plugins for bloggers!
PS: you must have a WordPress.org website for these to work.
What I’m Wearing:
Top: Ann Taylor (only a few sizes left!) / Skirt: LOFT / Shoes: Mark Fisher
Purse: Zac Zac Posen (also available to rent) / Earrings: Ann Taylor / Rings: BaubleBar
I currently have over 20 plugins installed on my site. And it has taken me four years of blogging and more than my fair share of bad choices for me to get to that list of 20.
These plugins range from being design-oriented (like Zip Recipes) to back-end necessities (like Plugin Performance Profiler). And just about everything in between.
I’m not going to share all 20+ with y’all (because that would take forever), but here’s a few of my favorite WordPress plugins for bloggers (all of which I use).
Oh – and by the way – all of the ones I have listed below are free!
My Favorite WordPress Plugins for Bloggers
Front. And. Center.
Yoast SEO is by far my most-used plugin. Consider this top of your list of your must-have WordPress plugins and tools for bloggers. To put it concisely, Yoast SEO helps you to ensure that all of your content shows up in the most favorable positions possible in Google search rankings.
Yoast SEO requires a good bit of setup… and I legitimately interact with this plugin on a daily basis. This SEO tool gives you a checklist under each post. After you choose your keywords for which you want the post to show up in Google, you have to do a variety of tasks before the plugin gives you the green light to post. These tasks include keyword density, ALT tags, specifying the meta description, and more. As a rule, I do not post until Yoast SEO gives me the green light.
Broken Link Checker
Still on that SEO train. If you have a bunch of broken links on your blog (aka links that come up with an error page, for example), Google will penalize you. Yeah, I know it’s not your fault. But Google penalizes you anyways. And might tank your rankings in Google search as a result.
Broken Link Checker is my way of avoiding that penalization. This plugin checks your blog regularly for broken links and missing images and notifies you when it finds either. In the dashboard, you can insert new links into the broken link (ideal for affiliate links!) or you can even unlink the link.
The first time I used Broken Link Checker, I had dozens of broken links on the blog. And I had had no idea. You quickly forget how frequently people put their own website information in comments. And when those people decide not to renew their website, you wind up with a broken link.
PS I use Disqus Comment System for my comment interface. I originally intended to include it as one of my recommended WordPress plugins for bloggers, but so many blogs are starting to come with great comment interfaces that it really isn’t absolutely necessary. But if you don’t like how your comments show up under your posts, you should definitely check it out as an option!
jQuery Pin It Button for Images
Scroll up and mouse over one of my photos in this post. You’ll see the image go a bit gray and a Pinterest button appear in the upper lefthand corner of the image. If you click that button, you can easily pin the image to one of your Pinterest boards. Voila. You’ve now seen this plugin at work.
Pinterest is huge when it comes to my social media strategy. I’ve previously talked about why I use BoardBooster and Tailwind (and Tailwind Tribes) in this post. Part of the reason why I spend so much time, energy, resources, and money on growing my Pinterest presence is because it is the most keyword search-friendly social media platform. If I Pin (and label my pins) intelligently, each Pin has the potential to drive traffic to my site… for as long as my site (and Pinterest) exist.
Since launching my Pinterest strategy a few months ago, I have rapidly grown to over 5,000 followers. 100% of my Pins have been re-pinned and I average over 300 re-Pins per day. Making my photos on the blog easily Pin-able is huge in terms of potential impact on my overall social media strategy.
If you’re on a desktop, you should see a rectangle containing images of various social media platforms’ logos along the lefthand side of your screen. That is the Shareaholic plugin – one of my most highly-recommended WordPress plugins for bloggers.
The Shareaholic plugin allows your readers to easily share your blog posts with their friends, family, and followers across just about every social media platform in existence. I like to keep an eye on the counters to see how well my content is performing, which then can give me insight into how I can create blog posts that perform well in the future.
This plugin is an absolute lifesaver. If you have huge media files or issues getting your posts to load quickly, I highly highly highly recommend adding this plugin to your list of WordPress plugins for bloggers that you’ll be downloading later.
WP Smush will compress your media files, thus optimizing storage and helping your SEO! If you’re technologically unsavvy, don’t fret: this plugin is by far the easiest one on this list to install and use!
Since installing WP Smush, I’ve decreased my page load time and saved over 5GB in storage. And idk about you, but I find that exciting.
Last but not least: Related Posts. This one took a while to customize to look exactly the way I wanted, but it has required literally 0 work since.
When you start a blog, your blog stats become a really big deal. Pageviews, unique visitors, demographics… these are all statistics potential sponsors want to see. One thing that does not get enough attention but is truly invaluable? The bounce rate.
The bounce rate is the percentage of people who solely view on page on your blog before leaving. Due to their average quantity of external links, blogs tend to have a bounce rate of 70-98%. At its worst, my blog’s bounce rate was over 81%. At its best (last month!) it was 58.1%. The bounce rate and the pages per session are inversely correlated: the higher your bounce rate, the lower your pages per session (and vice versa).
Related Posts helps you decrease your bounce rate by giving your readers suggestions on what post to view (aka click!) next. If you scroll down to the very end of this post (above the comment section), you’ll see this post’s related posts. I like this plugin because it will automatically recommend posts to link, but I can always go in and manually choose which posts I want to appear (and the order!).
Even though I have more plugins I’d love to share with y’all, these are the only ones I really insist that every blogger should install. If you’re at all confused about any of the plugins I discussed in this post or if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out (or leave a comment below!).
PS tune in next week for my best tips on how to differentiate yourself as a blogger!