Here at Blogging Tips 101 our aim is to help you improve your own website. Whether you are an experienced veteran or complete novice, there is always one subject that gets people talking, and that is WP plugins.
I recently did a post on some great free WordPress themes for you to check out, but as of yet we haven’t done a list of WP plugins for you to take a look at.
Well I think it is about time that I did, so here is a list of 10 of the best WP plugins for you. I’d also like to add that I actively use all of these on my sites, so when I recommend them to you, I do so because I know that they work!
Let’s get to it shall we…
10 Of The Best WP Plugins
I’ve stated numerous times that SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is incredibly important for your website. The ‘WordPress SEO by Yoast’ plugin makes things a lot easier by simplifying things and allowing you to change/monitor key SEO factors throughout your site.
The reason why I have added this first to the list is because it is essentially THE most important plugin that you should have installed. So, if you only decide to install one of the plugins off this list, make sure that it is this one!
I’m still amazed that this WP plugin is free because the creators could easily charge for this and the vast majority of sites would gladly pay to continue running it (me included). This is because the ‘WordPress SEO by Yoast’ plugin has a huge set of features for you to use, including;
- Post snippet preview,
- Page analysis,
- Improved SEO,
- Meta & link elements,
- RSS optimisation,
- Social integration,
- Multi-site compatible,
- …and so much more!!!
One specific feature that I really like and use a lot is the ‘Page Analysis’ tool. This allows you to see where and how you can improve individual posts/pages that can help you to rank higher in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). The help that this feature gives can make the difference between your posts being good or excellent.
Frankly, I could write a whole post on this one WP plugin (maybe in the future) as there is so much to talk about. For now though, check out Yoast’s definitive WordPress SEO guide for more info on this fantastic plugin.
Your website speed is something that you should always be looking to improve. An easy way to do this is to install a cache plugin, such as ‘WP Super Cache’.
I have used a number of different cache plugins in the past, but find this one to be the best. I was actually recommended it by my web hosting provider, so I know that it works if they are happy.
Essentially, what this plugin does is that it saves a copy of your web pages and presents that to your viewers. This “cached” version is a lot faster to load than having to load up every separate aspect on an individual page every time a person visits your site.
Not only does this improve your load time, but it also reduces the strain on your hosting provider, which is why they like you to use this plugin.
3. WP Smush.it
Whilst we are on the theme of improving your website speed, another great plugin that can help is the ‘WP Smush.it’ plugin.
The biggest culprits of causing a site to slow down are image files. Adding lots of images to a post can put a massive strain on your hosting provider and slow your site down significantly.
What the ‘WP Smush.it’ plugin does is that it removes all of the unnecessary information/data from your images to reduce its file size. It does this by;
- Stripping the meta data from JPEGs,
- Optimizing and compressing JPEGs,
- Converting certain GIFs to PNGs,
- Stripping the un-used colours from indexed images,
The plugin does this to all new images that you add to your site automatically, so you don’t have to do anything. For any existing images on your site, you can run them through ‘WP Smush.it’ and they will update for you across your entire site.
4. BJ Lazy Load
Again, sticking with the website speed theme, I have another great WP plugin to help you out. The ‘BJ Lazy Load’ plugin stops a page from your site being loaded completely and only loads the part that the user can see. As they scroll down the page, the images, videos, etc. will all be loaded up for them.
This plugin can really improve your site speed as unnecessary information is only loaded when needed. The vast majority of people never scroll down to the bottom of every page that they visit, so this can really improve loading times.
5. Comment Luv
Comments are at the heart of any blog. The default WordPress comment system is very good, but there are many comment plugins that you can install to improve the experience for your visitors. Having tried a few, I opted for the ‘CommentLuv’ plugin.
‘CommentLuv’ encourages people to leave a comment by allowing them to add a link to their latest post from their own blog. This, not only ends up with you getting more comments on your posts, but it also helps you to build up a community around your site with other bloggers.
‘CommentLuv’ is free although you can upgrade to their premium version for even more features, including;
- DoFollow comment control,
- Click stats,
- Social enticements,
- Automatic updates,
- Comment rewards,
No matter which comment system you choose to use, SPAM will always be something that you have to deal with. There will always be people (or bots in some cases) that are only interested in getting dodgy links on your site which can be harmful if left unchecked.
‘Akismet’ checks all of the comments that are left on your site against its own database to assess whether a comment looks like SPAM or not. You can review all comments that are marked as SPAM just in case a legitimate one gets caught, but generally this plugin does a great job of catching all the bad ones.
When someone leaves a comment on your site, ideally you want them to come back again in the future and leave another. One way in which to encourage people to come back is by thanking them when they leave a comment, which is where the ‘Thank Me Later’ plugin comes in.
When someone leaves a comment on your website, the plugin sends an email to them thanking them for doing so. You can fully customise the “thank you” email to say whatever you want, so you could promote a new product of yours, let people know of a new contest you are running, or just say thanks.
I know I have already said it once, but I will say it again – SEO is important! It can be difficult getting to grips with all the different aspects of SEO, but one thing that will always hamper you is if the search engines don’t know your website exists.
The ‘Google XML Sitemaps’ plugin creates a sitemap of your entire site. This is basically just a big list of all the URL links of your site that will help search engines like Yahoo, Bing and Google to properly index your content.
What the plugin also does is it notifies said search engines each and every time you publish new content on your site. This lets them know to come back and index your new content for people to find on their search engine.
Every site needs a contact page, but there may be many other reasons why you would want people to get in touch with you on your website. ‘Contact Form 7’ makes it easy to setup contact forms for people to reach you through.
The great thing about this plugin is that you can create as many different contact forms that you want for you site. For example, a multiuser website might need contact forms for each of its individual writers, each pointing to different email addresses.
A plugin that is dead easy to setup and use for a specific purpose, this is one that you can benefit from using.
This, rather long yet aptly named plugin, allows you to include a list of links to related posts under an article that displays thumbnail images.
When someone reads one of your posts you ideally want them to stay on your website and read something else. Displaying links to other related or relevant posts is a good way to do this, but by including thumbnail images to said posts, you are catching people’s attention and encouraging them to click on them.
We have been using this plugin for a while now and have found that it has reduced our bounce rate and greatly increased our average visit duration.
I hope you enjoyed reading this list of WP plugins. Like I said at the beginning of the post, I use all of these here on my sites, which is why I feel able to recommend them to you. I use others, but I think I’ll save that for another post in the near future.
Do you use any of these WP plugins on your blog?
What other “vital” or “useful” plugins do you use that I haven’t mentioned?
I’d love to hear from you, so please drop a comment below.