If you’re blogging with WordPress, you probably already know how helpful plugins can be. However, there are tens of thousands available across the web, which can make it hard to narrow down which ones are worth your time.
Fortunately, some of the most popular WordPress plugins are also the best tools for bloggers. If you know what to look for, you can easily find many cost-effective ones to improve your site and content.
In this post, I’ll provide a brief introduction to WordPress plugins and why they’re useful. Then I’ll share my top nine plugins for bloggers. Let’s jump in!
This post contains affiliate links. I receive compensation if you use one of them to make a purchase.
An Introduction to WordPress Plugins
WordPress was made for blogging, so it includes many features to help you launch your site. However, there are a few areas where you might want to improve the platform to enhance your blog and make it easier to secure, craft, and share your content.
That’s where plugins come in. These are little packages of code that you can add on to WordPress to implement new features.
There are so many different types of plugins available it would be nearly impossible to cover all of them in a single post. However, some of the most popular kinds include:
- Security: Include features to help secure your site against hackers and otherwise prevent content or data loss.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Provide suggestions on how to improve your content so it can rank higher in Google.
- Performance optimization: Improve your site to help your pages load faster.
That said, depending on what type of blog you run, you may also want to look into niche plugins. The WordPress Plugin Repository has many free ones you can browse.
9 Must-Have WordPress Plugins for Bloggers
To an extent, choosing which plugins to include on your site is a highly personal decision. Even within the same category, each includes nuanced features and a unique interface. For that reason, in addition to the nine plugins listed below, I’ve included some alternatives you can look into if my picks aren’t to your taste.
1. Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is the most popular plugin for optimizing WordPress content for search engines. Its primary function is to provide suggestions on how you can improve your posts and pages via a stoplight system in the editor:
However, you can also use it to generate a sitemap, connect your site to your social media accounts, and more.
Having a way to create backups of your website is a basic management best practice. This ensures that if something should happen to your site, you have a way to get all your content and data back online.
My preferred plugin for creating backups is BlogVault. You can download and install it for free, but you’ll need a premium account to actually create copies of your site.
BlogVault automatically creates daily backups of my site and enables me to quickly restore one with the click of a button if needed. It also shares security and performance metrics and includes a staging site feature so I can test out changes before applying them to my website.
All of these features are readily available in an easy-to-read dashboard:
Although paying for BlogVault is a small investment, the peace of mind that comes with knowing my site’s content is safe is worth it.
I trust my site’s backups to BlogVault! Click on the buttons below to find out more about what BlogVault has to offer, or to sign up right away.
3. All in One WP Security & Firewall
While WordPress is generally secure, no website is 100% immune to hackers. Plugins alone won’t keep your site entirely safe, but installing a dedicated security tool is a good start.
There are many quality security plugins, but All in One WP Security & Firewall provides more free features than most. It includes a firewall to prevent malicious traffic and cyberattacks, as well as various settings to protect your login page, database, user accounts, and more.
When it comes to security WordPress plugins for bloggers, I also like All in One WP Security & Firewall because it enables you to disable copy functionality. This makes it harder for plagiarists to steal your content.
You can also sign up for a paid malware scanning feature to add on to the base plugin. However, if you pair All in One WP Security & Firewall with BlogVault, you don’t need to worry about this.
4. MC4WP: Mailchimp for WordPress
Collecting email subscribers and sending regular updates to your blog’s readers can help keep them interested in your site. One way to manage your communications with readers is to use a platform like Mailchimp:
You can easily connect your Mailchimp account to your WordPress site with the MC4WP plugin. It will also enable you to create an email signup widget like the one in my sidebar.
When you first start a blog, managing your posting schedule and ideas for new content might seem easy enough. However, the more articles you publish, the harder it’s going to get to keep track of them all.
An editorial calendar WordPress plugin is a must for bloggers. I use PublishPress to keep track of all my upcoming posts and when they’re supposed to go live:
There are also several add-on plugins that can help you set up a post-creation checklist, manage other authors on your blog, and revise old posts.
Although most blogs tend to focus primarily on written content, you probably also have some images on your site. Visual content is a great way to spruce up your posts and make them more interesting.
However, image files can also take a long time to load. That’s why Smush is one of my must-have WordPress plugins for bloggers. It compresses your images to reduce their file sizes so they can load faster, without impacting their quality.
There are many other image optimization plugins out there, but Smush provides more free features than most.
Speaking of loading times, there are many other factors that cause your site to become slow. Autoptimize can help you deal with many of them.
8. Google Site Kit
There are a lot of helpful Google platforms for monitoring your website, including:
- Google Analytics: Tracks your website’s visitors and their actions on your site so you can see how many people are reading your posts and which ones are the most popular.
- Search Console: Lets you know if search engine crawlers can find your site and if there are any problems that might prevent your posts from appearing in search results.
- PageSpeed Insights: Shows you how long it takes for your pages to load and provides suggestions on how to improve your loading times.
Google Site Kit is a plugin that connects your site to all these tools and more. It also enables you to view your results in your WordPress dashboard, which is super handy:
This makes it easy to keep an eye on key metrics so you know where your site could use some work.
Note that these plugins only connect your site to Google Analytics, not the other platforms mentioned above.
Last on my list of WordPress plugins for bloggers is CoBlocks. While not quite as much of a necessity as the other tools on this list, I find it very helpful for content creation.
CoBlocks adds new content blocks to the WordPress editor, such as:
- Author profiles
- Hero content
- Masonry tile photo galleries
- Social media profiles
This makes it fast and easy to create more complex content for your posts. If you’d like to see some examples in action, there are three in this post: an alert at the top of this page (it contains my affiliate disclosure), Hero content in the BlogVault section above, and an Author Profile at the end.
There’s no doubt that it’s easy to become overwhelmed by how many WordPress plugins are available to choose from. However, when you step back and assess the features your blog really needs to succeed, determining which tools to add becomes much simpler.
I have a handful of plugins I rely on to keep this blog ticking, and that I recommend to other bloggers:
- Yoast SEO
- All in One WP Security
- Google Site Kit
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Featured Image Credit: Unsplash.