Looking for absolute essential WordPress plugins for your blog to help you grow?
In this post, I will show you how to choose the best WordPress plugins for your self-hosted WordPress blog!
As a blogger, you do not want to spend your precious time on plugin research. Instead, you want to focus on creating more awesome new content for your blog! That’s why I did all the research for you.
In this post, you find all the must-have, essential plugins you need for your blog, and you will know exactly how to choose the best WordPress plugins yourself from all the other available plugins on WordPress.
Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission to fund my coffee drinking habit if you use these links to make a purchase. You will not be charged extra. So it’s a win for everyone! Please note that I won’t link any products I don’t believe in or don’t resonate with my blog site. Thank you!
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What are WordPress plugins and why do you need them?
As a beginning blogger, the concept of plugins might be new to you. That’s why I will start with a brief explanation of plugins. What are plugins, and why do you need them?
A plugin is a piece of software that comes with specific features you can add to your WordPress website. You can compare a plugin to the apps you have on your smartphone. You can call with a phone, and maybe send a text, but when you install applications, you can be active on social media, your phone becomes a calculator, agenda, or game console.
It works the same way with plugins. With plugins, you can add functionalities to your blog. You have installed a WordPress theme that comes with some basic functions, and if you want your blog to look even better and run smoothly, you have to install some plugins.
The essential WordPress plugins I am going to share with you today:
- Help to grow your blog
- Optimize your blog for social sharing
- Help to boost Google rankings
- Boost your blogs’ speed
- Secure your blog
- Improve the user experience
There is one downside about plugins, though; plugins can slow down your blog if you install too many of them (max. 10 – 15 plugins). Therefore, make sure you only install the ones you really really need!
All the plugins I mention in this post are free but come with premium plans in case you need extra features. Don’t run away just yet, because I know what you’re thinking right now. I use all these plugins, and I haven’t paid for any of them except for a few dollars for an image optimization plugin. 😊
Let’s get started!
How to install a plugin?
Installing a plugin is a piece of cake! Click on Plugins in your WordPress dashboard, go to Add new, and enter a search query.
Pick the plugin you want in the search results and click on Install Now. Once WordPress has completed the installation, you can click on Activate.
After activating, your new plugins usually appear in the left menu on your dashboard. Sometimes, you can find new plugins at the top of the screen, and sometimes it’s added to the Settings menu. Locate the plugin and customize the settings to your liking.
Essential WordPress plugins to grow your blog:
The Elementor plugin is a page builder plugin that makes working with WordPress a lot easier. You can also buy the premium version, but the free version already has a lot to offer! Enough for me so far!
Elementor is a drag-and-drop visual editor. This means that you can instantly see what your page looks like. This saves you tons of time going back and forth between the editor and the preview.
By the way, the Elementor page builder plugin is great to build your pages, but don’t build your posts with it! It can get you into trouble when you want to start advertising on your website later!
2. Yoast – SEO – WordPress plugin
This WordPress plugin helps you to improve your SEO so that you can rank higher in the Google search results. SEO can seem like hocus-pocus for beginning bloggers. At least for me, it was! If you’re like me, Yoast will make things much simpler for you! Yoast helps with:
- adding meta tags
- improving the readability of your content
- creating XML sitemaps
- optimizing your content for social media
- connecting your website to Google Search Control
- and much more
To me, Yoast is the best SEO WordPress plugin, I recommend this plugin to every blogger.
Plus, it’s created by developers from the Netherlands! How awesome is that! This plugin, known worldwide, is created in my teeny tiny country! 🙂
3. Sassy Social Share – WordPress social media plugin
Do you see those beautiful social media icons on the right side of this web page? Or at the bottom of the page if you’re reading this on your mobile phone? You can create these icons with the Sassy Social Share plugin. And when your readers click on them, they will be able to share your content to their social media.
I love this WordPress social media plugin because you can completely customize the buttons to match the design of your blog. And you can create buttons for more than 100 social media platforms!
4. ShortPixel – Image optimizer
People who visit a website usually do not stick around very long when it takes a long time to load. And images often are a big culprit when it comes to loading times. But images are important to your blog. They make a blog page more interactive and engaging, which is good for your SEO.
If you want to place images without increasing your bounce rate, you should optimize them with an image optimize plugin. This means that you can resize your images without affecting their quality. The ShortPixel plugin does that for you. ShortPixel compresses and optimizes your images by using lossless compression. And lossless compression means the quality of the images will remain the same.
5. UpdraftPlus – WordPress backup plugin
Have you thought about what would happen with your blog if hackers break your website? Or when you make an adjustment that you can’t undo for some reason? This is not something most bloggers think about in the beginning. But it’s a step you shouldn’t skip.
It’s so easy to prevent losing your hard work on something like this. Yes, the changes are small. But if it happens, you want to be prepared for it. UpdraftPlus is the perfect tool for that. It takes these precautions for you, by making automatic backups on a regular basis and storing them to a Cloud Service, such as Google Drive or Dropbox. It’s brilliant! And if something were to happen to your website, you can recover it thanks to this plugin. This WordPress backup plugin is a must-have plugin for every blogger!
It’s great to receive comments and feedback from your readers. But, in reality, many of the comments you’re going to receive come from spammers. They try to use your blog to drop links to their spam sites. This happens to every blogger, but you can prevent this with the help of Akismet. This plugin filters these comments out and makes sure they are not published.
This plugin improves the user experience of your website. How? By increasing the performance and by reducing loading times. W3 Total Cache reduces your hosting server’s workload, which results in a faster website for you!
Sometimes it’s required to add a code to your header or footer to add a particular feature to your blog. Sometimes you need to add a code to your header or footer to verify ownership of your site. And as a beginning blogger, you don’t want to mess with the code of your WordPress blog. You can use this plugin instead. It adds the code in the correct way to the code of your blog, so you don’t need to tamper with it.
This plugin helps to prevent attacks on your website. It masks the page that you usually use to log in to by using a personalized URL. Every WordPress blog has the same URL to login to, which is; yourdomainname.com/wp-admin/. A customized URL makes it a lot harder for hackers to trace your login page and thus to attack. A small effort to install this plugin but of invaluable worth!
She Can Blog is available in both Dutch and English. In order to make my site multilingual, I installed the Polylang plugin. This plugin allows you to specify for each post in which language the post is written and you can link the translated post to it. Do you see those country flags in my menu? That’s also the work of this plugin! When you then click on the flag of the language of your choice, you will automatically go to the translated version of the corresponding page.
Very handy, but also important for your SEO. This way you give the right signals to Google to correctly index your website.
11. Wordfence Security – Firewall & Malware Scan
Security is of the utmost importance when you’re a blogger. Hackers and attacks are always lurking. This plugin makes your blog as unattractive as possible for malicious visitors. It identifies and blocks them and comes with a malware scanner.
12. Pin It Button – Pinterest
For many bloggers, including me, Pinterest is a great source of free web traffic. This is why you want to make it as easy as possible for your visitors to share your content to Pinterest. This Pin It button makes sharing your content to their Pinterest boards extra easy. The Pin It button appears on all your blogs’ images. When a visitor clicks the button, it creates a fresh pin to their Pinterest account with your image + a link to the corresponding webpage of your blog.
Did you spot my Pinterest feed in the right sidebar? Or at the bottom of the page if you’re reading this from your mobile phone? You can either share one of your boards or your recent pins. This makes it easier for your readers to follow you on Pinterest, so you won’t miss out on new followers.
You might delete some posts from time to time when you don’t need them any longer. Which is fine, except for the fact Google considers that to be a broken link. And because of that, Google can lower your rank in the search results. This WordPress plugin redirects broken links to an existing page on your site. This will help you to keep your blog tidy and to stay close friends with Google as well.
When you use affiliate links, you might have noticed already that the links provided to you often don’t look so pretty. And search engines also don’t like websites that are full of affiliate links, as well. That’s why it’s important to clean up your affiliate links. Which is exactly what this plugin does for you. It masks affiliate links with a Pretty Link!
Plus, this WordPress plugin keeps track of your Pretty Links’ statistics right away. You can, for example, track the number of clicks on your pretty links.
Now you know how to choose the best WordPress plugins for your blog and how to install them! All the WordPress plugins I mentioned in this post will help you grow your blog, to monetize it and to secure your blog. They’re all real must-haves as far as I’m concerned! I hope this post about the most essential WordPress plugins will help you get started. And again, just use those that are really necessary for your blog. You can deactivate and remove all plugins at any time. So, don’t forget to do this when they are no longer relevant to your blog.
What are your favorite WordPress plugins? Did I forget to mention essential WordPress plugins in this post? Leave a message in the comments! Share this article with other bloggers who may benefit from it. Sharing is caring! 😊
Thanks for reading!