Congratulation! You have made it to Phase 4 on my "how to start a blog" series.
I hope everything is going perfectly fine with your blog and all of our previously discussed phases are clear to you.
My recently discussed phase 3 was on "Important things to do right after installing WordPress". If you somehow missed it, go through it for better optimization.
In our Phase 4, I'm going to share my secret list of essential WordPress plugins which are personally tested and active since a long time on my blog. It's been years since I'm into blogging. I have used many plugins time to time, some of them were helpful and some were not.
There is a time when you need a plugin which is required for a certain needs or a job to perform. You keep on searching but no search result met with your actual requirements. Sometimes it takes days to get the plugin that you want.
So today I'm sharing my list of WordPress plugins. Just so that you can avoid wasting your time doing searches and pick the required plugins for your blog from this list.
If you are new to WordPress, there must be some questions in your mind regarding WordPress plugins. So let's get to know some basic things about WP plugins.
What is a WordPress Plugin?
A plugin is a software developed in PHP, it allows you to add new features to your WordPress blog. Almost all plugins perform different functions such as website caching, website security, image optimizations, social media sharing, styling, news subscribers, etc.
How to Install a WordPress Plugin on your Site?
Here is a quick guide to WordPress plugin installation.
Open your WordPress Dashboard. On your left sidebar navigation, go to Plugins » Add New. A new window will open. In WordPress Plugin Directory, now search the plugin by its name or keywords.
When you find the plugin you need Install » Activate.
Here is my detailed guide on how to install a WordPress plugin (step-by-step process with images).
List of WordPress Plugins that helped LoudTechie
Akismet Anti-Spam: To protect from spam comments.
Ad Inserter: For advanced advertising options and placements.
404page: To create custom 404 error page.
Schema Pro: To create rich snippets on reviews posts in search results.
Contact Form 7: Simple way to create a contact form.
Coupon Popup: To create customizable coupon widgets.
Custom Sidebars: To create custom sidebars. Manage and replace default sidebars.
Heatmap: This is my first time using a heatmap feature on my blog and its really helpful to make changes accordingly to my readers and visitors. (UPDATED)
Nofollow for external link: Automatically set all external links to Nofollow.
Jetpack: To connect your site with WordPress.com account and it packs with many powerful features.
Pretty Link: For affiliate link cloaking.
Q2W3 Fixed Widget: To enable “Fixed widget” option in the widget settings. (Sticky widget)
Revive Old Post: To share your old blog posts automatically.
Social Warfare Pro: For site wide social sharing features such as floating social share bar. It also helped me to recover my lost social shares while migrating from HTTP to HTTPS. (UPDATED)
Thrive Visual Editor: Fastest visual editor for WordPress. To make your content look more beautiful just by drag and drop features and much more.
Thrive Comments: This smart comment plugin can actually turn comments into conversions and they are not joking around with it. (UPDATED)
UpdraftPlus - Backup/Restore: To auto create a daily backup of my site.
W3 Total Cache: A caching plugin to enhance your WordPress blog performance.
WP-Optimize: For better WordPress database optimization. To Clean up your database easily and safely.
Yoast SEO Premium: All in one SEO plugin with countless features for WordPress site. (UPDATED)
Now let's get started with the detailed explanation of essential WordPress Plugins:
# Akismet Anti-Spam:
A must-have WordPress plugin to protect your site from spam comments and spam submission in contact forms. With Akismet, you don't need to worry about spam anymore. It is the best anti-spam plugin you can get for FREE.
It will go through all incoming comments and check them with its spam filters. I recommend you to have this plugin installed on your site to avoid getting any spam comments.
# Ad Inserter:
It is another free plugin used for managing ads and advanced advertising options. As no one likes to get messed up inside WordPress editor. Every WordPress theme has specific ads placement options.
What if you need to place ads in between your blog post content?
At that time Ad management plugins come handy. With Ad Inserter, you can insert ads in places like "before or after post, before or after content, before or after paragraph, before or after paragraph, before or after comments, before or after excerpt" there are so much more insert options available for free.
404page is a free WordPress plugin. With this plugin, you can create custom 404 error pages for your site. As WordPress default generated 404 page is not well optimized. Any user who lands on your default 404 error page will definitely bounce back to some other search result.
But with the 404page plugin, you can create your own beautiful custom error page with which you can offer your visitors to check out other best-related search results on your blog.
You can design it as you may like. You can insert background images and much more to your "Not found page" results.
# Schema Pro:
Schema Pro is an ultimate schema markup solution which helps Google and other search engines to understand your website content better.
It displays the content in an attractive way, which makes your result stand out from the competitors.
Moreover, you can choose from a wide range of schema types. Whether you're a blogger or run a local business, just apply the schema type according to your content.
This way Schema Pro enhances the overall CTR and helps to rank your website at the top position. It is most important for your website if you are doing review articles for your blog.
# Contact Form 7:
Another free yet essential WordPress plugin for every WordPress site. Every blog does need a contact form so that visitors can contact the owner of that blog anytime they want.
Well, this plugin will help you to setup a clean and simple contact form for your site. You can create multiple forms for your site and can customize them as per your requirements. It also supports Akismet spam filtering to avoid spam submissions.
Do not forget to create a contact form for your blog.
# Custom Sidebars:
WordPress is all about different customization. This is one interesting plugin I found after a lot of research work. This is also an open-source plugin by WPMU DEV.
With this plugin, you can create unique and tailored widgets areas within your posts and pages and even on your footer widgets. This can be a very helpful plugin if you can use it properly. With custom sidebar plugin, you can manage and replace your WordPress theme default sidebars and other widgets areas.
It is very easy to setup with so many interesting features:
- You can create unlimited custom sidebars.
- You can set custom widgets for individual posts and pages, categories, etc.
- Can replace default widget areas.
- Set individual widget visibility – for guests, by user role, by post type, for special pages or categories.
# HeatMap for WordPress:
You have to keep up with the latest technology and this is one of them in blogging world.
I really helped me a lot to know more about my audience, how they scroll, where they click and what attract them more. I am using it on my conversion focused pages to optimize them even more.
They offer free account for life time to test it for better results. With its free account you are allowed to set heatmap on maximum 5 pages within your website. Do try it once.
# Nofollow for external link:
Nofollow for external link is a free WordPress plugin. This plugin is used to auto set all external links as Nofollow links. But you can also exclude some specific links which you want to set as Dofollow links.
No configuration work is required just Install » Activate and done!
Everyone knows about Jetpack, it is one of the most used plugins with WordPress. I call it as a multitasker plugin because it is packed with a number of good features. Features I liked in Jetpack are to connect your site with WordPress.com, live stats, image optimization, automatically share your posts to social media, social share buttons, like button, mobile responsive theme.
It is one must have WP plugin for every WordPress blog.
# Pretty Link:
Pretty link lite is a free WP plugin. It is highly recommended if you are using affiliate links on your website. It is used to create short and clean links. You can use it to shorten external URLs using your own domain name and can also track each link for hits and other information.
Very useful for those who want to place a clean and short affiliate link for their readers. One of the best and most-used link cloaking plugin in WordPress plugin directory.
# Q2W3 Fixed Widget:
Q2W3 Fixed Widget is another very impressive plugin I found for bloggers. It is a free plugin and used for a complex function. With Q2W3 plugin you can set your widgets as a "fixed widget" which means it will be a sticky widget just like a sticky post in WordPress.
Your fixed widget will be stick to your sidebar on scrolling down and up. It will always be on sight for your readers. A good thing to attract more clicks on your sidebar banners.
# Revive Old Post:
This plugin is a blessing for a blog who is having hundreds of published posts. It let you automatically share your old blog posts to social media networks. If you want to grow your social media presence and to keep your content evergreen this is the plugin you will need for it.
I use it to grow my Twitter presence and it is helping quite effectively. Do not forget to use this plugin for your WordPress blog.
If you want some extra feature like to add more social networks you can go for its Revive old post Pro version.
# Social Warfare Pro:
This is one must-have plugin for every WordPress blog. There are so many social media sharing plugins available out there and you can use anyone you like. All work the same way unless you are thinking to buy a Pro version of any social media plugin.
On LoudTechie I'm using Social Warfare Pro version to maximize social shares and drive more traffic using the fastest and most intelligent share buttons in the market.
It provides you with features like floating social share bar, social sharing analytics, calls to action via in-post click-to-tweets, popular posts widgets based on share popularity, link-shortening, Google Analytics and much, much more!
# Thrive Architect:
This one is a paid plugin by ThriveThemes. And you can see how beautifully I created my recently published posts. This is one of the best visual editors for WordPress users. The list of features in this plugin is so many that I can't even write it here in this short description about it.
If you are already doing great with your blog and can afford to invest a little for your blog. I must say it would be a perfect pick for your blog.
It is the fastest visual editor for WordPress. To make your content look more beautiful just by drag and drop interface and much more.
Every site should have a backup automation program by which you can create a backup of your site from time to time. Thousands of websites get hacked every day and without backup years of work will be wasted. Many web hosting services do provide site backup feature but sometimes it's weekly or paid if you want to create a daily backup.
But with the UpdraftPlus plugin, you can create your daily backup automatically on multiple storages. There are so many options available to store your daily site backup. I used to store my site backup on Google Drive for free but recently I have changed it to my Dropbox cloud storage which is also free up to 2GB.
There are no hidden fees to store your site backup. It's all for free and this is one must have plugin for any WordPress blog. You can restore your backup anytime you want.
# W3 Total Cache:
A site search engine ranking and bounce rate depend on many factors and one of the most common factor is your site page load speed. If a site has a poor page load speed it will affect its search engine ranking and traffic. That is when we use CDN networks like CloudFlare.
The W3 Total Cache plugin improves your site SEO and user experience by enhancing site performance and reducing site download time of your site web page with features like Content Delivery Networks (CDN) integration.
This plugin is can't be ignored. It improves your site performance in many ways like in search engine ranking, improves your site page load speed for mobile users and much more.
# Thrive Comments:
This is the best and smartest buy I ever did for my blogging resources. I recently bought this plugin to turn my comments into conversions. That's right!
This is no ordinary plugin you come by on your daily browsing. It is so many features and Thrive team growing it even more for better leads. I see it above disqus comment tool.
With this tool I am getting more engagement and interaction from commenters. Few things I can do with Thrive comments for better engagement; Assign users Badges, Up-Vote & Down-Vote, display featured comments, post comment using Social Accounts, social sharing, auto generate visitor information, and more.
Things it can do to boost conversions; choose what happens after a comment, different CTA for first time commenters, Lazy Load for Speed Optimization, Audience Insights, and much more. This is not just it there are so much more to it.
With WP-Optimize plugin, you can do many complex and technical tasks with just a few clicks. No need to hire a WordPress expert to manage your WordPress database.
This plugin will automatically clean up your WordPress database so that your site stay healthy and efficient. It will help you to remove all unnecessary data from your site. I use it time to time to free up some space in my database.
It is an essential plugin you should install on your blog for your WordPress database optimization. To clean up your database easily and safely.
# Yoast SEO Premium:
Here I'm ending my list of plugins with the legend Yoast SEO Premium. This All-in-one SEO plugin has countless features for WordPress site. I can't imagine my site without Yoast plugin.
It has everything in it such as On-page SEO optimization, Webmaster tools integrations, social media connections, XML sitemap creation, breadcrumbs, permalink settings, redirection function, smart interlinking feature and much more.
I'm using its Yoast SEO Premium version, on my blog.
This post will get monthly updates whenever I will add or remove a plugin from my blog. You can bookmark this post to know more about other interesting plugins.
So Phase 4 of our "how to start a blog" series ends here.
And in our next coming Phase 5, I will explain "Complete WordPress SEO Guide" which is going to be very interesting and full of informative guides for every blogger.
Stay tuned for the next Phase 5 in our series "how to start a blog".