One of the benefits of self-hosting your WordPress blog is having access to thousands of plugins for free.
Plugins are tools created by companies and independent developers that extend the functionality of WordPress. Some of the things you can use WordPress plugins for include protecting your site, improving your readers’ experience, and easily making your site mobile-friendly.
Recently I decided to transfer Filthy Pop, my music blog, to its own domain and server. This painful but necessary exercise allowed me to re-discover my love for plugins.
Here are 10 plugins I recommend every new WordPress blog should have:
Install this plugin if you don’t want to waste time going through pages and pages of spam. The Akismet service is free for personal WordPress accounts but come with a small fee for businesses.
2. Digg Digg
If you’d like your readers to share your blog posts with their social networks, you need to make it easy for them to do so.
Digg Digg is your all-in-one social sharing plugin. It’s an easy-to-use plugin that displays sharing buttons (with count) for all major social media sites. Digg Digg, which was recently acquired by Buffer, allows you to customize the placement of the button — before the post, after, or as a floating bar.
3. w3 Total Cache
W3 Total Cache helps your site’s performance. This widely-trusted plugin improves your server performance by caching every aspect of your site and by reducing download times.
4. WordPress SEO by Yoast
WordPress SEO helps to ensure that your post are, for the most part, optimized for search. (I say ‘for the most part’ because SEO is a bit more complex than having optimized titles, descriptions, and tags.)
Some people prefer the All-In-One SEO plugin, but from my experience, this tool is easier to use and more intuitive. The “Generate SEO Title” button in the WordPress SEO plugin is a time saver and is not available in that other plugin.
5. Social Media Widget
This is an easy to use and straightforward plugin to add links to your social media profiles through a widget. The plugin supports most major social media platforms.
Jetpack supercharges your WordPress website by providing features that are usually available on WordPress.com but not on WordPress.org. These features include site stats, hovercards, email subscriptions, and a spelling and grammar checker.
With these many features in one plugin, you’ll be a fool not to install this powerful plugin!
7. Google Analytics
Installing Google Analytics to your WordPress blog can be a bit of a headache if you’re not a programmer. Use the Google Analytics plugin to make this process easier — no coding required!
8. Blackbird Pie
Embedding tweets is easier now that Twitter has included an “Embed this tweet” functionality, but if you want an even easier way of doing it, check out this plugin. The Blackbird Pie plugin embeds tweets to your post in an attractive, non-obtrusive way.
9. Contextual Related Posts
These last two plugins are for reader retention because having a high bounce rate sucks.
As its name suggests, Contextual Related Posts displays a list of related posts on your website and in your feed. The plugin does this by looking at your title or your post’s body. The related link appears below your post, before the comments section.
Although this free plugin seems to allow as many related links as possible, I suggest doing three to five to avoid overwhelming your readers.
10. WordPress Popular Posts
Show off your most popular posts with this plugin. You can specify the number of posts on the lists, where they appear (e.g. pages VS posts), and some other nifty customizations.
What are your fave plugins?
These are some basic plugins that new WordPress bloggers can use, but I’m pretty sure there are many other awesome ones.
What plugins can’t you live without? Any glaring omissions in my list? Leave a comment and let me know!