Blogs remain one of the most popular ways to communicate online. Whether you use WordPress to share your musings, run your business website, or make some extra cash with eCommerce or other monetization methods, you’re not alone.
More than 70 million new WordPress blog posts are published each month, and these are viewed by over 409 million people. WordPress remains one of the world’s top publishing platforms, with major companies like UPS, CNN, and NBC Sports using the CMS.
But not every blog is going to perform the same out of the gate. The truth is that WordPress needs some tweaking and customization to not only give it the look you want for your visitors but also make it perform at a higher level and keep it safe and secure. Knowing this, here are 6 essential WordPress plugins you’ll want to investigate to improve your blog.
Jetpack is one of the most popular WordPress plugins, partially because it was developed by the people behind WordPress. This is a feature-rich plugin that gives you the tools to improve your site’s performance, security, and traffic.
The features provided by this plugin include:
Brute force attack protection
Automated spam filtering
Unlimited file and image hosting
Lazy loading images
Automated Social media posting
View stats and related content
Some popular WordPress hosting companies, such as InMotion Hosting, offer Jetpack once you sign up for their WordPress plan.
2. Yoast SEO
If you’re going to run a WordPress blog, you’ll need a strong search engine optimization plan and tool. Yoast SEO is one of the most robust and most downloaded SEO plugins for WordPress. Another plus is that it enjoys frequent updates that take into account Google’s latest algorithm changes.
Yoast SEO has many features that can make your WordPress blog more effective, which also creates a better user experience. The plugin can optimize the keywords you use and help you improve the readability of your site by analyzing each post. It also helps with image optimization and gives you the tools to avoid duplicate content.
Spam has become a growing problem online, and you can combat a great deal of this on your WordPress site with the Askimet plugin. This is another tool that was developed by the creators of WordPress, so it is widely used and trusted.
This anti-spam plugin examines your contact form submissions and pending comments to weed out the bad actors. Some of the key features of this plugin include:
Simple backup and restore process
Status history for each comment that is flagged as spam
Moderators can view all comments from a single user
Discard feature that blocks the worst offenders
4. W3 Total Cache
How many times have you tried to visit a website that stalled when loading? There’s a good chance you eventually you abandoned your efforts, which is now the norm for searchers when sites take more than a few seconds to load.
According to Kissmetrics, just one additional second of loading time equates to a 7% loss in conversions. The W3 Total Cache plugin can help fix these issues by speeding up your page load. Once you set this plugin up, which takes about 30 minutes the first time, you’ll get significant improvements in page load speed. It also has the ability to integrate with a CDN.
5. Updraft Plus
On average, more than 50,000 websites are hacked each day, and about one-third of the world’s websites are run by WordPress. If you’re using this CMS, you face some vulnerabilities, but they’re not insurmountable.
While a good web host and even the Jetpack and Askimet plugins will provide you with some protection against people that want to do your site harm, what happens if someone does get through? A hacker could steal, alter, or even erase your data in the blink of an eye.
This is why the Updraft Plus plugin is so valuable. It creates automatic backups of your website on a recurring schedule so that you can restore any lost data whether from your error or due to hacking. The backups are compatible with cloud databases such as iCloud, Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive so that you can retrieve your files from anywhere with a single click.
6. Contact Form 7
When you have a website, you need to give visitors a way to contact you. Depending on your needs, you might want to put different types of contact forms on a page or within a post. Contact Form 7 is a simple plugin that makes all of this possible.
This plugin allows you to create various types of contact forms and give each of them unique names. You can make some fields “required,” and don’t need to know any coding language to make this work. When you want to use it, you just drop the shortcode onto your page or post for your desired form.
Similar to the ways that apps can enhance your phone or programs your computer, plugins can make your WordPress site something powerful and unique. Since there are thousands of these plugins to choose from, the hope is that this list will help narrow down your choices.
Remember, Jetpack was created by WordPress and is a feature-rich plugin that should be at the top of your list as you get started.