25x The Best WordPress Plugins for Blogs

In this post, I will show you how to choose the best WordPress plugins for your self-hosted WordPress site!

As a busy blogger, your time is precious. You need to be strategic about the plugins you use on your blog in order to save time and energy. However, it can be difficult for new bloggers to figure out which are the best plugins that are actually helpful for blog growth, and which ones will do more harm than good.

In this post, I’ll introduce you to must-have, mostly free, WordPress plugins for your blog, with all the best advanced features. You’ll learn how to choose the right plugins for your WordPress blog, and all the best practices you need to know to install them quickly and easily. 

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!

What are WordPress plugins and how will they help your blog?

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 WordPress blog plugin is a piece of code 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 only when you install extra applications, you can be active on social media, and your phone becomes a calculator, agenda, or game console.

It works the same way with plugins. With plugins, you can add new features 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 blog’s 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 come with a free and premium plan. The free versions should suffice for most people but the premium plans offer extra features for those who need them. Keep in mind that you can use most of these plugins for free.

There are only a few instances where you might want to upgrade to the premium version, such as if you need access to additional features. Install the premium WordPress plugins only when you have a specific need for them.????

Let’s get started!

Also read: 17 things to do to your blog posts before you hit the publish button

How to install a plugin the easy way?

Installing a plugin is a piece of cake!

  • Click on Plugins in your WordPress dashboard;
  • Go to Add new;
  • Enter a search query;
  • Choose the plugin you want in the search results;
  • 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:

Let’s start with all the WordPress plugins that you may need for your blogging website. I categorized them, so you can easily navigate and find the plugins you need for your site.

SEO / Perfomance

1. WP Rocket

I’ve tried out a bunch of different plugins to improve my website’s performance, and site speed, but I always come back to WP Rocket. It consistently gives me the best results.
Here’s what it does:

  • Page caching for desktop and mobile
  • Optimizing Javascript and CSS
  • Lazy loading images
  • Database optimization
  • CDN (works with Cloudflare too)

These might not mean much to you, but basically this plugin does everything it can to optimize your website so that it loads faster. Normally, you need to have some coding knowledge to improve your website’s code, but WP Rocket takes care of all of that for you. It’s a must-have for any serious blogger, in my opinion!

2. Yoast SEO – SEO WordPress plugin

This free plugin helps you to improve your on-page SEO (search engine optimization), and it helps you to rank higher in Google’s 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! ????

Great alternative: RankMath

3. Imagify

In order to optimize the images on my website, I am currently using the Imagify plugin. So far, I find this to be the best plugin for optimizing photos. I chose this plugin because Imagify integrates with the WP Rocket plugin.

Imagify compresses all of your images and you have the option to deliver all files in the webp-format. And all of this without any loss of quality for your images! This is a big advantage because webp images are smaller than jpg and png files and they load much faster on your website.

You can try out this plugin for free and if you exceed 20mb of compressible files, you can pay $ 4.99 per month to compress a larger amount.

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 optimization 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. 410 – Redirection

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.

6. External Links – Nofollow, noopener and new window

When it comes to external links, there are three things you need to keep in mind: the nofollow attribute, the noopener attribute, and the new window plugin for WordPress.

The nofollow attribute tells search engines not to follow a link. This is useful if you’re linking to a site that you don’t want to vouch for, or if you’re linking to a site that you don’t want to pass link juice to.

The noopener attribute is used to prevent malicious sites from gaining access to theWindow.open() API. This API can be used to open new windows, and malicious sites can use it to gain access to your site’s content.

The new window attribute opens links in a new window, so users don’t have to leave your site to view the linked content. This is especially helpful if you have affiliate links that go to other websites. By using this plugin, you can ensure that your users will still remain on your site instead of being taken away to another website.

Blog Design

7. Elementor

The Elementor plugin is a page builder plugin that makes working with WordPress a lot easier. You can also buy the premium plugin, but the free version already has a lot to offer! Enough for me so far!

However, if you want to use all the customization options, the pro version could be useful for you.

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.

This plugin not only allows you to create responsive designs for mobile devices and tablets, but also lets you preview what your pages will look like on different devices. Simply click the tablet, desktop, or mobile icon to see how your page will look on each type of device.

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.

Elementor Screenshot

Connecting / Social

8. Tasty Pins

If you’re an active Pinterest user, the Tasty Pins plugin is a must-have. This plugin ensures that only the images you upload specifically for Pinterest can be pinned. This way, you have complete control over your Pinterest content.

This plugin ensures that your images can’t be pinned on Pinterest, which could harm your SEO efforts. Pinterest wants to see images that are in the right format and include an SEO-friendly description. This plugin helps you keep your images safe and secure so they can’t be misused.

This plugin allows you to take control and prevent images with copyrights from ending up on Pinterest.

Pins that are pinned by other users from your website often perform better in Pinterest’s search results than your own pins. Therefore, it’s crucial to have control over the kind of pinning that can be done from your website.

Check out my review of the Tasty Pins plugin here.

9. Fluent Forms – Contact Form plugin

Fluent Forms is the best contact form plugin for WordPress. It helps you create beautiful, responsive, and powerful forms in minutes with their easy-to-use drag and drop form builder. With Fluent Forms, you can easily create complex forms with multiple fields, double opt-in settings, reCaptcha, and much more.

You can also integrate this plugin with many other applications, such as MailChimp, Slack and you can setup PayPal or Stripe to create direct payment forms.

If you’re looking for a powerful yet easy-to-use contact form plugin for WordPress, look no further than Fluent Forms. It’s a free plugin, but you can upgrade to the premium plan for extra features.

10. NovaShare – WordPress social media plugin

I’m definitely installing the Novashare plugin on my website as soon as I have time to sit down and work on my website’s SEO and speed. This social sharing plugin has almost no effect on your website’s loading times and is used by much larger websites such as Kinsta. This plugin is very easy to use and does not come with all kinds of superfluous options that you hardly ever use anyway.

You can also use it to keep track of how often your posts are shared and you can set up a Click to Tweet block to make it easier for your readers to share to Twitter.

This plugin costs $ 24.95 per year.

11. Live Chat WordPress plugin

The Live Chat plugin lets you add live chat to your WordPress website, so you can chat with your visitors in real-time. This can be a great way to provide real-time customer support, answer questions, and build relationships with your visitors.

This can come in handy if you have a complex product or service that requires live support. It can also help you boost sales.

12. Mailerlite – email subscription forms

An email list is super valuable to every blogger. Many bloggers tend to focus a lot on promoting their blogs and products on social media, but I promise you, an email list will be a real goldmine to you.

When you signup for Mailerlite to build your email list, you can also install their plugin to automatically implement their forms on your website. With our easy-to-use tools, you can create beautiful signup forms and email campaigns that will help you grow your list fast.

13. 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.

Backup Plugins

14. UpdraftPlus

The UpdraftPlus plugin is a WordPress backup plugin and can be used to create automatic backups of your WordPress site. These backups can then be stored on a cloud service, such as Google Drive or Dropbox. This is a really handy feature!

If something happens to your site, you can easily restore it from a backup. I think this WordPress backup plugin is a must-have for every blogger.

You can use the plugin for free, but I recommend upgrading to the paid version if you want extra security. The paid version starts at $70 per year.

15. BoldGrid

BoldGrid is a more budget-friendly backup plugin, which may make it more appealing to beginning bloggers.

This plugin automatically backs up your website and makes it easy to restore backups if something goes wrong on your site. You can try the plugin for free first, and then it costs $2.50 per month (yearly payment).

Sell Product / Digital Downloads

16. LearnDash – Online Courses

If you’re a blogger who is interested in creating and selling online courses, then you should definitely check out LearnDash. LearnDash is a user-friendly WordPress plugin that makes it easy to create and manage online courses, and track the progress of your students.

Plus, it comes with a variety of features that will make your life as a course creator much easier.

17. WooCommerce – Online Store

If you’re a blogger who also wants to sell products on your blog, then WooCommerce is a great option to consider. WooCommerce is easy to set up and use, and it offers a lot of powerful features. With WooCommerce, you can sell physical or digital products, set up shipping and taxation rules, and more.

On top of that this plugin allows you to easily build your online store, create a shop page on your blog and sell products directly to your readers.

18. Easy Digital Downloads – Sell digital products online

Easy Digital Downloads is a free plugin that allows you to sell digital products from your WordPress site. It’s easy to use and setup, and it offers a variety of features to help you run your business smoothly.

With Easy Digital Downloads, you can manage your products, customers, orders, and payments all from your WordPress site.

You can also offer discounts and coupons, set up automatic email notifications, and integrate with a variety of popular payment processors.

19. Pretty Links

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.

Security / Spam

20. 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. Wordfence identifies and blocks them and comes with a malware scanner.

Wordfence also offers to setup two-factor authentication on your blog. Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to enter a one-time code generated by an authenticator app on their smartphone in addition to their usual username and password.

Users can scan a QR code on the WordPress dashboard to get the one-time code. This prevents unauthorized access even if someone were to guess your blog’s password.

21. Akismet – Anti-spam

It’s great to receive comments and feedback from your readers. But, in reality, many of the comments you’re going to receive are going to be spam comments. 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 popular plugin filters these comments out and makes sure they are not published.

Also interesting for you: how to disable the comment section of your WordPress website

22. WPS Hide Login

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!

Other

23. PublishPress Authors

PublishPress Authors is the plugin for managing multiple authors on a WordPress site. If you have a site with multiple authors, or guest authors, this plugin is a must-have.

With PublishPress Authors, you can easily add multiple authors to your posts and pages. You can also set up author bios and profiles, and allow authors to upload their own avatar images. In addition, the plugin provides an easy way to manage author roles and privileges.

24. Insert Headers and Footers

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.

25. Polylang

She Can Blog is available in Dutch, English and we’re slowly adding Serbian translations, as well!

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 SEO. This way you give the right signals to Google to correctly index your website.

Summary

Now you know how to select the best free WordPress plugins for your blog, as well as how to install them! The WordPress plugins I mentioned will assist you in growing your blog, monetizing it, and securing it. They’re all must-have WordPress plugins from my perspective.

They all come with a free version, and if you want to utilize the advanced features, they frequently provide a free trial of the paid version before you upgrade to a paid plan.

I hope this post about the most essential 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 the best WordPress plugins on your blog? Leave a message in the comments! Share this article with other bloggers who may benefit from it.

Pinterest pin: wordpress plugins for serious bloggers

23 Comments

  1. Hey Angie,
    This is a pretty good list, with a lot in common with what I use. A couple of comments though. I see the combination of Lazy Load and Smush – I use Optimole instead, which combines both in one plugin. I used to use Smush, which was great, but I found Optimole to be even better.
    A question I’ve been meaning to ask you – what plugin do you use for your table of contents? I often have long posts where a good TOC will help readers with the structure of the post, like you have on yours.
    Always a pleasure to read your posts! Very informative and entertaining!

    1. Hi Nadim,

      Thank you for taking the time to read my posts again, as always! And you’re right about Smush. I just switched to ShortPixel myself because I had a huge problem when I turned on their CDN. All my pictures were lost, and when they promised to get back to me with a solution, they never came back to me. Namecheap, my hosting provider fixed it for me! I still need to remove Smush from the list. It’s still not a bad plugin, at all. But when all your images are lost and they don’t help, well, then I’d rather use and recommend another one. Will add this to my to-do list! I use the LuckyWP plugin for my table of contents, by the way!

      Thanks again so much, Nadim!

      Always a pleasure to talk to you. 🙂

  2. Hi, very informative article. The pretty link plugin seems interesting. I will definitely use this plugin for the affiliate website.
    Thanks for sharing a great list of WordPress plugins.

    1. Thank you so much! Pretty Links is really amazing, so much easier to keep track of your affiliate links. And it’s free 🙂

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