When you’re first starting on WordPress, one of the most exciting yet intimidating things is learning about plugins – what they do, which work, which don’t, and which ones you absolutely need.
Plugins are powerful. They are the heart of what makes WordPress so awesome. Let’s jump in to which WordPress plugins you need as soon as you start your blog.
Akismet blocks spam comments. Think you won’t get any spam comments? To date, my personal blog has received over 355,000 spam comments. Nearly all were blocked by Akismet. Occasionally one or two slip through but they’re easy to spot and can be quickly deleted manually.
Someone will try to hack into your blog at some point. It will happen. Wordfence allows you to set parameters about how many tries someone gets before they get locked out. It sends you a notification email when someone attempts to log in using an incorrect login id or exceeds the number of attempts.
WP Optimize helps make your blog the best it can be. It removes extra versions saved of each blog posts. It removes metadata from comments, trashed comments, spam comments, and gives you the ability to remove trackbacks and pingbacks. It cleans up your database and keeps things running clean and smooth.
This is the most popular SEO plugin out there. Sure you don’t always need SEO, but most of the time, you probably do. Yoast makes it easy to optimize your posts for search engines by putting a form right at the bottom of your post draft.
After I’ve written a post, I scroll down beyond the editing area to the WordPress SEO by Yoast section. I fill out the focus keyword, SEO title, and meta description.
Here is what mine looks like for this post:
Before I click publish, I make sure the SEO Check has a little green light by it, indicating that my post is ready to go.
It’s easy peasy and super important.
Blogs are social places that thrive with interaction. Social media is a great supplement to an active blog community. Simple Social Icons makes it easy for your blog readers to find you elsewhere on the internet.
When you have a self-hosted blog, you are the only one responsible for making sure that you have backups in place in the event that anything goes wrong. Updraft Plus saves the backups to your server but also allows you to store additional copies elsewhere, like Google Drive or Dropbox.
This is a fantastic plugin to reduce page load time, particularly if your blog is photo heavy. BJ Lazy Load allows your site to load all visible images, while the remaining images are not loaded until the reader scrolls and the photos get closer to being visible in the browsing window.
My preferred method of replying to comments is to go directly to my post and view replies, clicking on “reply” to write a public reply to each commenter. When you reply to comments this way (vs. via email), the commenter does not get a notification that you have done so. Subscribe to Comments Reloaded fixes that issue and allows readers to subscribe to follow-up comments, ensuring that they are notified of your reply.
Do you have any other suggestions for plugins that are absolute must-haves? I’d love to hear about them!