Plugins are essential for the creation of a successful WordPress website. As you begin working on your blog, there will be certain elements missing from the core theme or from your structure. Plugins are the answer. The WordPress.org site even advertises “Extend your WordPress experience with 51,096 plugins” in the header of their education site. No one needs thousands of plugins, but these five will make a difference, especially for beginners.
If you are still thinking about starting your blog, check out the first article in this series, For Beginners: How to Start Your First Amazing Blog.
In the last several years, I have created three blog websites using WordPress with different themes and have found that these plugins are essential for success. Let’s get started.
For your blog to be successful, it is important to have a website that people can easily find, loads quickly and is safe from spam. The secret to accomplishing these goals is the use of essential plugins for your blog. These are the tools needed to get your blog off to a good start to become successful and profitable. What exactly is a plugin? Plugins are small programs that your friendly developer has created for you and WordPress. Programmers create plugins to make their lives easier and then share them (or sell them) to the blogging community. These shortcut tools extend the capabilities of your website in a fraction of the time that would be required to accomplish the same task manually.
For your blog to be successful, it must be found when someone searches for the subject of your impressive post. The is solved by a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plugin. A search for something like the best blueberry pie will create a listing of the web pages that have the best results.
If you are writing recipes, your goal is to have your recipe and website show up on the first page of the search results. Search Engine Optimization is the process of identifying keywords and search phrases that will link your website content to the search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo!, GoodSearch, etc). The best plugin to help you accomplish your goal is Yoast SEO. It is the most widely used SEO plugin. This plugin gives a scorecard (with red, yellow and green lights) to let you know if you have covered the major points needed for effective SEO. For each point, the tool will provide guidance on your blog post readability and keywords and actions you can take to improve your standing in the results generated by a search engine.
An alternative plugin is The All In One SEO Pack.
2. Jetpack Plugin
We all have experienced the unwanted visitor to our email inbox in the form of unfriendly spam email. Your new blog is no different. It will attract unwanted guests from time to time. We are lucky that our friends at WordPress.com have included the Jetpack plugin.
This plugin helps us by providing site statistics, sharing of our posts, and security against a variety of threats. One of the most prevalent of these is the posting of spam in the comments to the post that you have labored so hard to get right. There is a level of anxiety in seeing that first quality comment from a valued reader. Jetpack provides a wide variety of enhancements to your website. It would take many other plugins to have the same level of functionality.
3. WP Smush Plugin
You have great content in your first post, but how do you make this a truly fantastic experience to the readers? You are creating some impressive graphics for your post, but visitors don’t seem to stay on your website.
How can this be true? Your readers might be leaving because the internet page with your post is taking too long to load. When you use images, it is important to ensure that the web page will still load quickly and easily, while maintaining quality graphics on each page.
The solution to this problem is to use the WP Smush plugin. This plugin compresses your images so that they quickly load.
4. W3 Total Cache Plugin
You have fixed the size of your images, but your website is still not as fast at loading as you want.
The cause of slow loading is either the website itself or possibly the browser of your visitors. Luckily, we have a plugin that will help you fix these problems. The W3 Total Cache plugin is designed to allow you to attack the speed of your website from a variety of ways. It can use caching of the page, database or website objects.
It can also allow you to have the website tell the browsers requesting your page to cache the content it receives from you. The use of the plugin will require that you try different options that it provides until you get the desired speed.
5. Google Analytics for WP
You have created some great posts for your website. The next is to make the site even better.
How do I get a better feel for who my readers are? Where do they come from? Are they using Windows, or are they using a Macintosh computer? The answers to these questions and more can be answered with Google Analytics. When you use the Google Analytics for WP plugin, you can automatically send information about your reader’s sessions on your website to Google.
The Google Analytics plugin provides you with a dashboard view of the history of session activity on your website. The session data will give you information on the pages visited, the users country, their browser, their computers operating system and much more. You now have a tool that will let you improve the reader’s experience on your blog.
Good quality plugins are essential for a successful website. The plugins that we have discussed are an excellent start that will give a stable platform that can grow as you gain experience. There are more than 50,000 additional plugins at WordPress.org that you can use as your needs grow.