One of the best things about WordPress is the ability to use plugins to add on new functions and features. I consider the plugins below to be some of the ultimate must haves for bloggers because of their abilities to increase the speed of your site, supply you with much needed information, allow visitors to contact you and enhance the overall safety and security of your blog. Yes there are alternatives to each of them but these are the ones that I use on the majority of my blogs.
They are all FREE or have a free version.
Dashboard Notes allows users to create sticky notes that can be posted to your WordPress Dashboard. These sticky notes can be used to jot down ideas for content, reminders for yourself and to-do lists of blog work that needs to be done. Free to install, Dashboard Notes can help you to keep track of and organize the tasks that need to be completed to make sure nothing is forgotten as you work to optimize your blog and its content to be the best that it can be.
Call me crazy, but of all the plug-ins I have listed here THIS ONE is my absolute favorite. It is simply AWESOME, and has saved me countless hours and headaches. It helps keep my VA and I in sync without having to send multiple emails back and forth. I create checklists for Blog Posts that are in the draft stage. I make notes for myself on what I am planning with a post and ideas for images. I have another checklist of TTD immediately before and after a Post is published (eg. Twitter and Pinterest posts).
LOL I actually did the Dance of Joy when I found it … I suspect you will too. Feel free to write me a LOVE note in the comments once you’ve taken it for a road test.
Akismet allows you to protect your blog from unwanted spam commenters. Free to install on your webpage, Akismet scans comments for anything that looks like spam and automatically sorts the comment into your spam folder for you to later assess. This plugin comes pre-installed on WordPress blogs however it is important that you activate it and make an account in order to see the plugin begin to work for your page. As popularity for your site increases, spam comments will become a higher and higher likelihood for your blog, Aksimet can help you to sort through comments and locate genuine user content that will help your blog to thrive.
Akismet is another favorite. You WILL get spam. The plugin works surprisingly well, at filtering out the worst of it. I USED to check the comments it filtered out. After checking thousands of results and finding it right every time, I now trust Akismet and just hit the delete button. Saves a lot of time!
The Google Analytics Dashboard for WordPress allows you to track the traffic being driven to your blog. With a digital audience it’s important to know where your site visitors are coming from and who they are, so that content can be targeted to meet their needs and desires. Google Analytics provides a wonderful and free option for helping you to monitor your audience, website traffic and a variety of other demographical information that can be useful in designing and optimizing your blog content.
Similar to caching plug-ins WP-Optimize works to keep your website running as quickly as possible by decluttering unnecessary content like old drafts of published posts and spam comments that build up on our webpages. By decluttering this content WP-Optimize works to help your webpage load faster, optimizes content for search engines and increasing the ease with which users can navigate your webpage in quick time.
W3 Total Cache is a caching plug-in that can help your blog or website to run and load faster for users. Faster loading times have a number of benefits for webpages including being able to hold audience’s attention better and optimizing your page for search engines. This in turn allows more traffic to be driven to your site and helps you to increase your audience growth. W3 Total Cache provides a great free option for speeding up your website and optimizing it to be the best it can be.
Simple Share Buttons Adder allows you to easily add social media sharing buttons to your blog or webpage. Social media buttons are vital in allowing users to share content across platforms like Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook. In today’s social media driven age, social media sharing buttons are key to blog success as they allow users to organically share content in their own personal networks with ease, helping to grow and connect your audience in new and varied ways. Free to install, the Simple Share Buttons Adder plug-in can help you to get your content as widely spread as possible.
Contact Form 7 provides users with a free plug-in that allows you to add a simple contact form to your website. Contact forms are incredibly important in allowing your audience to get in touch with and interact with you. They provide an open line of communication that can help to make you and your site appear approachable and open a dialogue between you and your audience. With an easy set-up process, Contact Form 7 is a must have for any website or blog.
When posting new content it’s important to ensure that the things we are posting are getting picked up by search engines to help drive traffic to our websites and blogs. Google XML Sitemaps provides a free plug-in that automatically works to send updated site maps with any new content added to your blog to some of the biggest search engines online, allowing you to start driving audience traffic to your site as soon as new posts and content is published.
WordFence works to keep your blog safe and secure from unwanted hackers. Free to install on your webpage, WordFence works to detect any suspicious or unwelcome behaviour while protecting and monitoring your website to ensure that it remains secure from any online threats. Having your blog hacked is the last thing you want, installing a simple plug-in like WordFence can help save you the hassle of a future hacking headache.
You work hard to make your blog or webpage the best it can be and the thought of losing all of your hard work is devastating. Luckily, it’s simple enough to prevent losses of data and content from happening by backing up your blog. BackWPup Free offers a free plugin to back-up versions of your website. This allows you to experiment and make changes to your webpages without the worry that you won’t be able to undo or fix the changes you make as the previous copy will be readily available to put back in place should you change your mind.
Try them ALL out. They are FREE and they WORK!