If there is one thing that we as bloggers simply love about WordPress, it’s plugins. Themes too. But plugins are what can make or break our site. Whether it’s a plugin for the most basic of features of a complete suite of tools designed to offer a weird and wonderful feature set, we want them, we love them, we need them – and rightly so.
Today, I’m going to run through what I feel are the top 5 WordPress plugins that no blogger should be without. Sure there are other fundamental plugins that you should probably install too, often security related or those associated with your intended theme. But, the 5 below should also be considered where possible.
5 Best free WordPress plugins for blogs
I’m sure most of you probably use some if not all of these anyway but there are also going to be people out there who don’t – so this one is for you.
It might seem odd for me to kick off with this when there are a ton of plugins out there which are no doubt more exciting and add more flair and functionality to your blog.
However, I feel that site speed, particularly with WordPress blogs is something that can be often overlooked.
Sure, you can go some way to speeding up your blog without using third party plugins such as W3 Total Cache. For example, you could use a WordPress optimized hosting plan like the ones offered here or you could install a bunch of optimization scripts at root/server level. But in terms of a plugin, W3 Total Cache will do the job.
It offers you a way to cache files which are loaded on every page load and also minify files such as .css and .js. Minifying is a way of removing all of the unnecessary whitespaces within these files. White space is data and the more data which is transferred to the visitor, the slower the load time of your blog.
I am a big fan of social media plugins, in all of their guises but few combine all of the services you’ll need in such a way that Sumo does.
From one simple interface, you can configure all of your social sharing elements across your blog and also add powerful newsletter signup fields and image sharing services around your site. All at the click of a button.
Most people opt to install single plugins for small, specific tasks. Sumo takes all that, throws it out of the window and returns with a single, simple, easy to use application.
3. Yoast SEO
Yoast is a popular SEO plugin in its own right and can be as powerful as All in One if used correctly. A feature I am particularly fond of is the content analysis. Using Yoast you can quickly check any given article on your blog to see how it performs in the readability stakes. As we all know, great content is important for SEO and Yoast will go a long way to telling you specifically how good your content is.
If your sentences are too long, you don’t have enough keywords or simply the tone of your article is poor, Yoast will let you know about it.
All in One SEO is a very powerful plugin and I feel lots of people don’t use it to its full potential. Most of the blogs I see simply use it to create custom titles, meta description and meta keyword tags but it can be used for a whole lot more.
It has some fantastic features for dealing with duplicate content. It can generate XML sitemaps. It comes with Nonce security and it can even make your coffee for you in the morning (it can’t really, but who cares).
All in all, all in one is the go-to plugin you need for all your SEO needs.
If your site needs forms, then you need to look no further than Ninja. Whether you’re taking orders for a particular product or service or you just want to create a basic e-mail contact form. Ninja will do the job.
You can quickly and easily create pages containing forms by simply copying and pasting a shortcode into your desired page. You can also build the form itself by casually dragging and dropping interface elements into the form design.
You don’t need to concern yourself with copying and pasting HTML and CSS as you would in Contact Form 7 or Fast Secure Contact Form etc.
Be warned though, Ninja does come with lots of premium (paid) add-ons so the chances are if you want some advanced features you’re going to have to pay for it.
Bonus Tool: Write Better With Grammarly
We are using free Grammarly app for a long to easily find and fix grammar and spelling mistakes. Grammarly has an application for Windows, Add-on for Google Chrome and online editor.
If you are a blogger and publish a lot of blog post, This is a must-have app for every blogger. Download Free Grammarly App Now
As I say above, this list could no doubt be expanded on. Most blogs run 10 – 20 plugins as standard, some even more. There are a lot out there and all of them have their uses.
Plugins, in general, are a great way to take your blog to the next level and when coupled with the right theme it can take your blog from a bland, boring out of the box installation to something special, something that looks cared for and ultimately something which will become a success.