10 Best WordPress Plugins for Blogs
WordPress can be frustrating when you can’t get your blog to do what you want it to do or look the way you want it to. These best WordPress plugins for blogs will help you customize and optimize quickly.
If you have ever searched for useful WordPress plugins, you likely already know that there are THOUSANDS of plugins out there for everything you can think of, including simple fixes and major fixes for your blog.
Before we get into it, there is one thing that you must know and remember…
Only download the best WordPress plugins that you absolutely NEED on your blog. Too many plugins will slow down your website dramatically.
It’s so easy to download a simple plugin for basic fixes and customization on your website, but you should keep it narrowed down to the very few that you truly need.
For the rest of your issues, try to do a Google search for ways to fix it yourself.
Before we dive in, we do want to introduce you to two basic plugins that all bloggers should have.
Two Basic Must-Have WordPress Plugins for Bloggers
Note that these two WordPress plugins have both free and paid versions, but the free versions are all you should need as a beginner blogger.
Our favorite feature of Jetpack is the traffic stats. It provides in-depth stats on how much traffic you are getting to each article, where that traffic is coming from, what people are searching for, and what people are clicking on your blog.
It also contains SEO tools, security and backup services, and a lot of other cool features.
P.S. It’s totally free! Get JetPack here (or search for it in the ‘add new’ plugins section of your WordPress Dashboard).
Akismet is a simple plugin that analyzes your blog comments and filters out the spam comments (leaving them in a spam folder for you to review). This saves you a ton of time, keeps your blog clean, and this plugin is also totally free.
Get Akismet here (or search for it in the ‘add new’ plugins section of your WordPress Dashboard).
Okay, now that we’ve got the basics covered, let’s dive into the good stuff! Below are our 10 best WordPress plugins for blogs. They are organized into the following categories (plus instructions on how to install WordPress plugins):
- Blog Design
- Blog Traffic
- Blog Monetization
- Other Free WordPress Plugins
- How to Install WordPress Plugins
For all of you preferred video learners out there, here is a video of this topic from our Youtube Channel below.
.For more free blogging tips and tricks from us, make sure to subscribe to our Youtube channel!
Best WordPress Plugins for Blog Design
These plugins for blog design will help you customize certain aspects of your blog that you would otherwise not have control over – depending on your WordPress blog theme.
WpDiscuz is a simple plugin that gives you more customization over the comment section on your blog.
It has a much cleaner and more professional design than the bare bones comment section that comes with WordPress, and it also has all kinds of settings that you can customize (whether people have to login to comment, what information they have to provide, etc).
Take a look at our comment section below and see what ya think! 😉
It’s a great free WordPress plugin for customizing your comments.
Just like it sounds, this free WordPress plugin gives you a ‘prettier’ looking author box on your blog posts.
It looks a lot more professional-looking than the standard author box that comes with WordPress, and it you to customize the colors, social buttons, and more.
We wanted to add a comment that we received below from one of our readers, Kristy, who had some very helpful information about how to install and edit this plugin:
“Just an FYI for those who are new to the Fancier Author Box plugin, after you install the plugin you will have to go to your WordPress Profile in order to fill in your bio. If you don’t do this, your bio shows up blank. I struggled with this at first and couldn’t find this information anywhere.
To get to your WordPress profile, log into the back end of your website. In the very top-right side of your screen, you will see where it says ‘Howdy’ and your name. If you hover over that, a drop down will appear and you want to click edit profile. Follow the prompts after that and your bio will automatically update the plugin once it’s filled out.”
Hopefully, that will save you some time when you started with it! Thanks, Kristy! 🙂
Strangely enough… WordPress doesn’t allow users to change their author profile picture natively.
This plugin overrides the gravatar on WordPress and allows you to upload your own photo (like ours in the photo above within the author box). You can also see it in our comment section below.
It’s an incredibly simple plugin to customize your user profile picture, and it’s also free. Get User Profile Picture.
Best WordPress Plugins for Blog Traffic
Think of these WordPress plugins as shortcuts to increasing your blog traffic. They aren’t a substitute for the work required to drive traffic to your blog, but they will help you OPTIMIZE that blog traffic.
This is by far the best WordPress plugin to help with basic search engine optimization.
Improving your SEO is what helps you get organic, searchable traffic from Google.
Yoast SEO scores your page on how well you used target keywords, internal and external links, image tags, meta descriptions, readability, and other factors that affect your page ranking with Google.
It also enables you to add the open graph tags necessary to verify your site with Pinterest and apply for rich pins as we outline in this article on driving traffic with Pinterest.
Yoast SEO has both a free version and a premium version. We personally didn’t find that the premium version had enough features to justify the price, but you can make that call for yourself.
Social Media Warfare is one of the best WordPress plugins out there for social media sharing. Getting people to your blog is hard enough, so why miss out on the FREE traffic you can get from other bloggers and readers SHARING your content to their own social media platforms?
Social Media Warfare a few awesome features, but our favorites are the social media share buttons that you can add to your post:
And the social media hover buttons, which you can set to hover on certain image sizes (as seen on the right).
And the ability to set which specific image you want to show up when someone DOES share your content.
For example, we have a Pinterest-optimized photo at the top of all of our blog posts that we have set to be the one and only image that is pinned from our social media buttons.
This gives you better control of which optimized photos are shared on social media, increasing your chances of reach and exposure.
Social Media Warfare is a paid plugin, but it factors out to only $2 and change per month. It’s totally worth the low price! Try Social Media Warfare here.
This is another free plugin that you may not need until you have been blogging for some time, but you will likely need it at some point.
Redirection allows you to set up 301 redirects and manage 404 errors on your blog. This comes in handy if you need to delete or change the URL for a blog post or page.
Let’s look at an example of when this might come in handy.
Let’s say that you have pinned an article to Pinterest and later changed your mind about the URL (perhaps you changed it to rank better in Google SEO). The problem is that you can’t change the URL that the Pinterest pin was linked to after other people pin it.
So you have a searchable Pinterest pin floating out there that is now attached to a 404 error because the page doesn’t exist. This hurts your website’s ranking in Google as well as on Pinterest.
All you have to do is set up a redirect (using the Redirection plugin) to forward all traffic to the new URL. The same goes for deleted posts. You must redirect the old URL to a new URL.
The Redirection plugin for WordPress is easy to use and free!
This is one of the best WordPress plugins for blogs to help with page speed. Lazy Load doesn’t load the images on your page until someone actually scrolls over them.
Readers will bounce if they have to wait too long for your blog page to load.
Higher page speed = more time spent on your blog posts, higher opt-in rates, higher conversions, etc.
Get this free plugin to help increase your blog page speed!
W3 Total Cache is a plugin for your WordPress blog that increases speed and page performance through a number of ways, including reduced download times using features like CDN (content delivery networks), browser caching, and more.
Guys, most of the key benefits and features of this free plugin are really technical and go above my head as well, so you’ll just have to trust me on this one.
It has been recommended to us by both of the website guys we have hired to help design our web page, increase page speed and performance, etc.
You can read more about the specific features and benefits on the W3 Total Cache plugin page.
Best WordPress Plugins for Blog Monetization
Before you get too excited, these plugins won’t actually help you make money blogging. They will merely help you capitalize on the traffic that you are getting to your blog.
Okay, so this one is only necessary if you have and use ConvertKit (which is what we recommend to all of our clients on our website and in our courses). You can also get your first month FREE when you sign up through our affiliate link: Get Your First Month of ConvertKit for FREE!
If you use another email marketing service, you will need a different plugin. Check out our review of ConvertKit if you want to know more about why we love it so much!
The ConvertKit plugin for WordPress allows you to embed simple opt-in forms that capture leads with a simple shortcode.
They are simple yet professional. Here is an example of ours on this post on Avocadu, our health and wellness blog:
These forms are created within the ConvertKit software, and you use the plugin to easily add them to your website.
If you are a newbie blogger, this plugin may not be one that you need right away, but chances are that you will need it at some point.
Pretty Link allows you to create clean domain links to redirect or cloak other links (like affiliate links) rather than using TinyURL or bitly (which tend to look a bit tacky these days).
Here is an example:
They have both a free version (Pretty Link Lite) and a paid version (Pretty Link Pro). We have the free version!
Other Free WordPress Plugins for Blogs
Below are a few additional free WordPress plugins for blogs that we personally use and thought were worth mentioning!
This free contact form plugin lets you insert a basic contact form on your website so that you don’t have to publicize your email address, which leaves your inbox more vulnerable to spam.
This popular posts plugin allows you to add a simple and professional popular posts widget on the sidebar of your website.
WP-Optimize is a free plugin that cleans up your WordPress database to keep it running as efficiently as possible. It optimizes your processes and removes unnecessary data that can slow your website down.
This image optimization plugin automatically resizes your images to a specified minimum height and width to keep your images from displaying too large and slowing down your site. You can also use it to automatically compress images.
How to Install WordPress Plugins
There are two ways to install a WordPress plugin:
- Using the search feature
- Uploading the plugin directly
Both methods only take a minute but note that not all plugins are found and able to be installed via search.
Installing Plugins Using the Search Feature
You can use the search feature in the WordPress plugin area to search for popular plugins or specific plugins based on keywords.
To get to the plugins area, simply click on the “Plugins” link on the left menu of the WordPress dashboard. Then click the “Add New” button.
You can type in the name of a known plugin (i.e. Fancier Author Box) or something generic like “author box.”
To install a plugin, click the “Install Now” button next to the plugin. Make sure to activate the plugin after installing.
If the WordPress plugin you are looking for isn’t turning up in your search results, you’ll probably have to upload it manually.
Uploading Plugins to WordPress
Some plugins, like Social Media Warfare, must be must be manually uploaded to WordPress. This is more common with paid plugins.
Before uploading a plugin to WordPress, you must first download it from the website (after purchasing, if it’s a paid plugin). The download should be in a zip file.
Make sure to leave the downloaded plugin file as a zip file because that is the required format for uploading it to WordPress.
After uploading, click to install and activate the plugin.
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If you enjoyed this article on the best WordPress plugins for blogs, have anything to add, or have any questions for us, please feel free to leave a comment below!
Co-Founder, Create and Go