Dear Readers, This is the third post from our blogging basics series and we will be talking about 10 wordpress plugins we use on this blog as well on our other websites.
We started this blogging basic series with, “How to Start”, we recommend for starters to read it before coming to wordpress plugins:
When you are done reading about how to start a blog, you can continue with, ” 7 recommended and essential WordPress settings”, click below to read about the essential settings then you will be good to know about these 10 recommended WordPress plugins.
On this third edition, we are going to be talking about 10 free WordPress plugins that you need to install in order to kick start your WordPress Blog. Plugins are software developed to help add functionality, shape and increase the growth of a WordPress blog. There are thousands of WordPress plugins available on the plugin directory, but for the sake of this post, we are going to talk about 10 free WordPress Plugins we have been using on all our sites, tested and confirmed and we think every new blog needs to be supported by these plugins.
Akismet is an advanced hosted anti-spam service aimed at thwarting the underbelly of the web. It efficiently processes and analyzes masses of data from millions of sites and communities in real time. To fight the latest and dirtiest tactics embraced by the world’s most proficient spammers, it learns and evolves every single second of every single day. Because you have better things to do.
By default, every newly installed self-hosted WordPress sites comes with an already installed Akismet. All you need to do to start using Akismet is follow the steps as shown on the screen shots
Click on “Set Up Your Akismet Account”
Click on “Get Your API Key”
Click on Basic and on the next page, you will be asked to select your payment method and you will have a page similar to the screen shot below:
I am pretty sure at this stage you are not ready to use the paid version of Akismet and you are definitely interested in the free version right? Not to worry! All you need to do to finally get a free Akismet API key is to drag and place Akismet worth to you to a $0/year level as shown below:
From there, you can click continue, signup and get your free API. Get back to your website and insert your API to get your Akismet plugin activated and running. Once that is done, you are safe from all spam comments.
The security is your Website should always be on top of your priority List. Akismet is a security plugin, but limited only to spam comments, so wordfence security plugin is an enforcer plugin to block every lope hole in your website against malicious bots and attacks from hackers. You sure do not want to spend time, energy to work on your blog only for it to be attacked by bots or hackers. So if you are thinking about the security of your blog, Wordfence security is a must have plugin.
This great Plugin comes with the following features: Firewall protection, malware scan, blocking, login security, live traffic monitoring and a lot more. The plugin lets you monitor all your traffic in real-time including robots, humans, 404 errors, logins, logouts
Wordfence security also tells you about plugins and themes that need to be upgraded as shown in the screen shot below:
Jetpack is another outstanding WordPress plugin which we think it’s a must for every WordPress Website!
Jetpack is going to keep your WordPress site secure, help increase your traffic as well the engagement and conversion of your readers. Jetpack is a traffic and SEO tool and as you know, traffic is the best friend of every blogger.
Jetpack comes with the following features to boast your traffic and SEO; both free and paid options are available. For the sake of this post, we will be looking only at the free features that Jetpack provides:
- A free feature to take care of your Site’s stats and analytics
- A free feature configured properly, your newly posted blog posts will Automatically be shared on third party social media sites like: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Reddit, and WhatsApp
- Jetpack will also help to beautify the way your Related posts are displayed on your website
- This is outstanding Plugin comes with a free Brute force attack protection feature
- Jetpack will also help monitor your site for downtime and uptime all for free.
- Secured logins and two-factor authentication for free
- A high-speed CDN for your images for free
- Carousels, slideshows, and tiled galleries for free
There are many more free features that this great plugin offers, therefore, Jetpack is a must have WordPress Plugin for any site.
This is another breath taking WordPress plugin, it’s similar to jetpack in many ways and I have been using Sumome to complement my Jetpack plugin. I use Sumome to collect e-mails and convert my readers into customers. With Sumome, I am able to manually send e-mails of my latest posts, updates and sometimes introduce new products to all my e-mail subscribers without sweating. In areas that I find Sumome perfect and more reliable than Jetpack, I substitute. For instance, I can customize my subscription form the way I deem fit with Sumome and I love the vertical sharing buttons provided by Sumome comparatively to Jetpack’s horizontal buttons.
The Subscription forms can be customized and you can actually edit them any time you want, add new forms with different goals, design and display options.
The content analytics provided by Sumome also makes it stand out unique, it gets to tell you about individual page views and also bounce rate from which you can know the behavior of your readers and judge the kind of post they like to read from your site. And not to forget, you can link your google analytics account with Sumome!
The vertical sharing buttons are so visible that, a reader, if they are interested in a particular post, they wouldn’t help but hit the share button right away to share your post with their friends:
You can choose to complement your Jetpack as well with Sumome like me or use them separately.
This is the killer of all search Engine Optimization plugins available on WordPress plugins directory. This list can never be complete with Yoast SEO on it.
Yoast SEO is a well built plugin to serve and put you on the right track with your on page SEO as it offers guidelines at every step, through it’s indicators(green, red and orange), to tell you when you are on the right track with your search engine optimization for a particular page or post.
It also tells about your keyword density and with the premium version of this great plugin, you can start doing multiple key-wording in a single post, but as a beginner, you can start with the free version of the plugin and upgrade anytime you deem necessary.
Yoast SEO has other great features among which are XML site maps, search console and some other great tools like file editor. With Yoast file editor, you can easily edit your .htaccess without any stress or hassle. Below is a screenshot of Yoast SEO in Action:
The green indicators are there to guide you and tell you when are on the right track, the orange to let you know you are getting there and the reds are there to completely tell you what you are doing is wrong. All you need to do is follow the directives of Yoast SEO and you will be good with your on page SEO campaigns.
As you can see all the indicators are green, which implies the on page SEO for that particular page is perfect. Now Lets get to some Social media Optimization.
Jetpack offers options for your articles to be automatically published on connected social medias, but Blog2social gives you the opportunity to manually do so on 14 social bookmarking websites each time you publish a new article. I am now enjoying some traffic from Pinterest, xing, medium, Torial and other social bookmarking sites thanks to Blog2social.
You can use Blog2social plugin from the backend of your wordpress to publish your articles on your Facebook page, Facebook profile and simultaneously post on twitter, Instagram, Flickr, medium. This is a great plugin to blend with Sumome and Jetpack to skyrocket and increase your social media presence. Sumome offers tons of frontend sharing options like: sharing on Stumbleupon, Weheartit etc…This options are not available on the free version of Blog2social, so a blend of these free WordPress plugins will be worthwhile for your social media optimization campaigns with both long and short effects.
Pushpad plugin is an excellent plugin to send push notifications whenever you get to publish a new post to your subscribers. It’s actually working for me and I choose to also complement it with with Sumome e-mail subscription form. Unlike Sumo that collects e-mail addresses, Pushpad is just a button as shown below:
And depending on the settings, Pushpad can prompt users on page load with a popup asking your visitor if they will like to allow browser notifications or not.
Pushpad is the plugin if you want to have a handful of returning visitors reading each and every of your posts whenever you get to publish. If you are interested in e-mail marketing, use Pushpad together with Sumome or any other e-mail harvesting plugin.
This plugin will make your images search engine friendly as it will automatically add missing alt attributes and titles to your image. the use and importance of this plugin can not be over emphasized!
Like the name of the plugin suggests, this plugin will offer your commenters to subscribe to comment threads and also offer them the chance to unsubscribe any time they want. It’s a good plugin to keep the comment section of your blog interesting.
This plugin will help you beautify certain text, characters and subheadings of your blog posts. Because of the beautiful and captivating text boxes you will create with this plugin, you are sure to keep your visitors reading and thereby reducing the bounce rate of your page.
There are a lot of great plugins, but I always start any of my blog with these ones before any addition. You can choose to start your blog with these plugins as well if you find them useful.
I will be writing on more useful plugins in my subsequent post on blogging tools.
You can use the comment box to share with us plugins you also think are great and you can also share this post if you find the information in it useful.
Thanks for reading.