MOST POPULAR FREE WORDPRESS PLUGINS FOR NEW BLOGGERS
When you’re first starting out in the blogging world, you might not know the best WordPress plugins to install on your blog. If you have been doing your research, then you know that having too many plugins can actually slow down your websites load speed. This affects your views and your sites SEO, better known as search engine optimization. Readers and Google don’t have patience for slow websites.
If you are brand new to the world of blogging, you may want to check out my post The Ultimate Blogging Resource Guide to Running Your Blog Successfully for more in-depth information on getting your blog started seamlessly and successfully.
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HOW MANY PLUGINS SHOULD I USE IN WORDPRESS?
The short answer is the fewer, the better.
The irony is that all of these plugins are supposed to make our websites run faster, smoother, and optimize the whole process. In reality, having too many plugins running at once can actually slow down your website’s load speed. Essentially, there are too many programs trying to load at once.
Choose your plugins wisely. Install only what you need. There are various plugins for each purpose or need, so pay attention to the reviews in conjunction with the number of active installations when choosing which one to go with.
Be aware that some plugins, particularly new ones that haven’t gotten all of the bugs out yet, may have bad interactions with your theme or other plugins. It’s wiser to go with a tried and true plugin.
WHAT ARE THE BEST WORDPRESS PLUGINS FOR NEW BLOGGERS?
When you first start out, you really only need a few plugins to cover your basic needs. You need a plugin that covers each of the issues listed below.
- Website Back-Up
- SEO – Search Engine Optimization
- SSL – Information Security/GDPR Compliance
- Image Optimization
- Caching for Site Speed
- Social Sharing
YOAST SEO PLUGIN
This one is obvious because you have probably heard about the Yoast Seo plugin just about everywhere. It is a staple plugin for anyone deciding to start a WordPress website.
Yoast helps you optimize your pages and posts to give your website the best chance at ranking high in search engines like Google and Bing. It gives you tips and guidance while ranking your current standing for each specified page. Green is good, orange is so-so, and red stands for poorly optimized.
Click through to download the Yoast SEO Plugin
CONTACT FORM 7 PLUGIN
Depending on your chosen theme, this plugin may already be installed in your plugin library simply because it is the most popular version of a contact form that most developers use by default. Many say it is their go-to because of it’s versatility and customization abilities.
There are people out there who do not like Contact Form 7 however because they say it significantly slows their website’s load time. A couple of alternative recommendations are Contact Form by WPForms or the pretty cool looking Ninja Forms.
I started with Contact Form 7 because it is what came with my first theme and because it was touted by everyone as the best. I am currently trying out Contact Form by WPForms to see if it improves my site’s speed. I chose to try this one over the Ninja Forms plugin based on reviews.
Click through to download the Contact Form 7 Plugin or click one of the links mentioned above to try an alternative contact form plugin.
WORDFENCE SECURITY PLUGIN
This is the most popular firewall and malware scanner for WordPress. It protects your website from brute force attacks among many other malicious types of attacks. It has over 3 million active installations and an average 5-star rating!
Click through to download the Wordfence Security Plugin
AKISMET ANTI-SPAM PLUGIN
Akismet scans your comments and contact form submissions for spammy language and links. It prevents your website from publishing malicious content that could be potentially harmful. You can check what it moderates as spam in the comment section of your admin dashboard and decide whether to delete it or not.
Click through to download the Akismet Anti-Spam Plugin
GOOGLE ANALYTICS FOR WORDPRESS BY MONSTERINSIGHTS
This plugin is basically an extension of your Google Analytics dashboard. You connect your Google analytics account in the settings after you install and activate this plugin. It shows you all of your important stats right in your WordPress dashboard.
When I first started blogging, I wondered if I really needed this plugin because it seemed superfluous when I could easily just log into my Google Analytics dashboard and look at my stats there. Why add another plugin to my website that could possibly cause load time lag?
I found an article called MonsterInsights vs. Google Analytics that explained why it is beneficial to have both, especially if you are low on time and not exactly tech-savvy like me.
The general idea, or at least what stood out to me, is that if you don’t really know how to code or use Google Analytics, or don’t have the time to teach yourself how to use it, this plugin takes the guess work out of it. It shows you the stats you need to know like sessions, page views, average session duration, and bounce rate.
Click through to download the Google Analytics for WordPress Plugin
UPDRAFTPLUS – BACKUP/RESTORE PLUGIN
This plugin saved my rear-end multiple times when I was first starting out! I was so thankful for having it when I inevitably messed something up on my website that I couldn’t fix…because as I’ve mentioned, I had zero tech knowledge.
UpdraftPlus backs up your website. You choose how often it backs it up and how many back-ups it keeps on hand before erasing the oldest one. You also choose where it stores your back-ups. I save mine to my Google Drive to save space because my paranoia has me saving 10 complete back-ups before it deletes the oldest one. Obviously, I don’t trust myself. Haha.
Click through to download the UpdraftPlus Plugin
SASSY SOCIAL SHARE PLUGIN
There are a lot of social sharing plugins out there but this is the one I use. I like it’s simplicity and versatility. Your customization options are endless.
You can choose which social networks you want to display. Right now, I only display Pinterest and Facebook on my site but they have 102 to choose from.
You choose your button size, shape, and colors. You can choose floating social buttons that are “sticky” meaning they follow the reader down the page. You can place icons somewhere stationary on the page, like before and after each post. You have the option to place your buttons vertically or horizontally. Plus it’s mobile responsive which is a must.
Click through to download the Sassy Social Share Plugin
REALLY SIMPLE SSL PLUGIN
This is one of my favorite plugins! SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer.
An SSL certification means that your site is secure. That means that when people visit your site, their information isn’t being put at risk. Depending on what types of information you collect from your readers, you most likely will need to be SSL certified in order to be GDPR compliant. You know that a site is SSL certified when you see the little green lock in the address bar and their website address starts with https: instead of http:.
So, here’s why I love this plugin. My hosting service SiteGround offers a free SSL Certificate with their hosting plan which is awesome! However, I am not tech savvy at all and due to some previous wire-crossing of my own doing, it wasn’t an easy set-up for me and I was getting frustrated.
Yes, I could have contacted customer service, and I know they would have gotten back to me super quick and had me all fixed up because Siteground’s customer service is stellar, but I was so OVER dealing with the technical aspect of it at that point!
I read about this plugin, installed it, and I was all set up! The reviews for this plugin at the time of this post are extremely high compared to other plugins. Out of 1,521 total reviews, 1,481 of those gave this plugin 5-stars. That is a ton of happy users!
Click through to download the Really Simple SSL Plugin
SMUSH IMAGE COMPRESSION AND OPTIMIZATION PLUGIN
This award-winning plugin resizes and compresses your images to decrease your websites load time. It has tested number one in reducing unnecessary image bloat. This increases your SEO and reduces bounce-rate.
Click through to download the Smush Image Compression and Optimization Plugin
HUMMINGBIRD – SPEED UP WORDPRESS PLUGIN
This plugin is relatively new compared to the other well established programs mentioned above. Usually when recommending a caching plugin, many people suggest WP Super Cache or W3 Total Cache because they are tried and true.
I like Hummingbird because it caches my site of course, but it also scans it for issues that are slowing it down and offers quick one-click fixes. It gives you performance reports and tips on how to improve your site speed. It is made by the same people as the Smush Image Optimization plugin mentioned above, so they are meant to work together in unison when they are both installed for super speed.
Click through to download the Hummingbird Plugin
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Are these the plugins you would have chosen for a beginning blogger? Whether you are just starting out or just looking to cut back to the basics, these plugins will cover your basic blogging needs. All of your bases will be covered. Security, speed, and communication.
Is there a must-have WordPress plugin that you can’t live without?