Ever find yourself browsing through Wordpress plugins, trying to figure out which ones you should install to bring your blog to the next level of awesomeness? Well, you’re not alone. We’ve all found ourselves there, aimlessly flipping through page after page of apps, wondering which one will work best, which is optimal for your type of website and which one will give us the most bang for our buck.
Ain’t nobody got time for that.
That’s why we’ve gone ahead and compiled the ultimate list of WordPress plugins that you should have installed yesterday. So, whether you’re newbie just starting their first blog or a seasoned pro looking for something new and exciting to increase traffic these plugins are a list of picks from industry leaders, SEO professionals and most importantly, our favourites! 😉
ALL IN ONE
If you’re just starting out on WordPress, this should be the very first plugin you install. It’s touted as one of the best all-around plugins by Social Media pro’s like Jeff Bullas and well-known marketing companies like HubSpot, proving it deserves one of the top spots on our list!
Jetpack is a great choice because it provides your blog with a little bit of everything. It provides you with the basics like Site Stats, a comment system, ways for readers to subscribe to and follow your blog as well as sharing options, spell check and sidebar widgets.
Here at Data Nerds, we use the Wordpres.com Site Stats daily to see things like page views, referring links and outbound clicks. This provides us with the info we need to make more of the content you love to read as well as see where we have the most active and engaged users. This is an essential when it comes to growing your blog. Before you will be able to put any social media plan into action, you need to know the cold, hard stats!
Jetpack does an excellent job of providing you with the reader information you need, as well as giving you access to a multitude of other essential plugins to make your site bigger and better. And since you can choose which features to activate, you can make it as simple or complex as you want.
If there was only one plugin we could recommend to you, it would be a close race between Jetpack and WordPress SEO by Yoast! An SEO plugin is one of the most essential pieces of software you can have on your blog if you want it to be seen. While SEO can be a complicated topic (see our SEO for Beginners Post if you’d like more info), Yoast makes it incredibly easy to make sure your content is going to be seen, and read. Everyone from Neil Patel (Quicksprout) to Jeff Bullas recommend this as one of the best plugins around.
Above is a screen shot of how Yoast analyzes your post. As you can see, it doesn’t miss a single step when it comes to optimizing your content for Google Search. Yoast works by giving you a rating of Poor, Average or Good after you’ve saved or published your post (we recommend saving a draft first so you can make necessary changes). It then runs you through a list of areas that contribute to your search ranking like Keyword density, Meta Description and Title length as well as a whole whack of other tips to make your SEO better.
Each point will get it’s own rating so you can know exactly what you’re doing wrong or right. It’s a foolproof way to get the most out of your SEO whether you’re a beginner or an expert. The plugin also comes with tools like XML sitemaps, Twitter Cards, Google Authorship and webmaster tools so you can continue to improve your rankings.
All you need to know about Akismet is that it will save you hours and hours of shuffling through spam comments! You know the ones that are either in a foreign language, produced by bots or completely incomprehensible because they are only trying to leech of your reader base and get them to their “Super Discount Outlet Site”. Kim Garst of Boom Social is a huge advocate of this plugin and the moment you install it, you’ll know why!
The best part about Askimet is that it’s smart. It automatically knows which comments are spam and it’s rarely ever wrong. But just incase a comment or two from a longtime reader manages to sneak through the cracks, you can always check out every comment that Akismet has caught by going to the spam folder. The last time we went through ours we found 354 comments, all of which were trying to get us, and you, to buy things from sketchy discount websites. Needless to say, we emptied the folder and didn’t look back!
W3 Total Cache is the perfect plugin to help your blog run as smoothly and quickly as possible. Caching allows you to significantly improve your site’s loading times and is able to, “deliver a better experience to users by increasing serve performance, reducing download times and provide CDN integration”, according to HubSpot Blog. Everyone hates a super slow loading website, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to win over readers when you install this plugin.
More good news about this plugin is that you don’t necessarily have to know what you’re doing to get great results. W3 comes with preset functions that will optimize your loading times without having to touch a single thing. Simply install and enable and you’re good to go! But if you are some sort of caching master, it also allows you to customize the general cache, minify and database cache settings in order to have your site sailing smoothly.
When it comes to comments there are a ton of different directions you can go in. You can keep things simple by using the Jetpack or WordPress commenting platforms or venture out into new territories like CommentLuv.
CommentLuv is a big hit with pros such as Kim Garst and Lilach Bullock because it does a great job of increasing comments. It will also, in turn, help increase the traffic to your blog.You may be wondering how it’s possible for a comment plugin to do this. Well, it works by letting everyone that comments to leave a link to their latest blog post, which gives them an extra incentive to leave a quick note.
Before the invent of such platforms, many people would add their blog link into their comment, which was seen as a big no-no in some blogging communities. Now, instead of seeing it as “traffic stealing”, CommentLuv has turned it into a sort of “bloggers helping bloggers” concept, which is obviously a win-win for everyone! Oh, and it looks nice too.
If you’ve spent some time on some surfing the internet at all, you’ve probably seen and used Disqus. Sites such as ABC News, TMZ and Fashionista all use this commenting platform on their websites. It’s also endorsed by blogging professionals like Jeff Bullas and Social Media Examiner as a great choice. That’s what makes Disqus far one of the most popular commenting plugins on WordPress to date.
So what makes Disqus so great? Many sites choose this platform because it provides great moderations features. Disqus requires users to login before posting a comment (like most platforms) and will notify them via email of any comment “likes” or direct replies. This reminds readers to go back to your site and continue engaging, ultimately creating a community.
Disqus also gives readers recommended stories which keeps readers on your site longer and further increases engagement!
You’re probably already aware of the “Publish later” button that shows up in your post edition that allows you to schedule posts for the days or weeks to come. Personally, I couldn’t blog without this feature and WordPress Editorial Calendar is a simple yet powerful plugin that makes this feature even better!
Essentially, all the Editorial Calendar does is add your scheduled and draft posts to a calendar format. Not only does this make your posting schedule more organized but it can help you get ahead of the game when it comes to creating content. Once you write any post, you can insert it into any day on the calendar and adjust the time to make it automatically publish (this is a lifesaver for weekends!). No more writing the day your post is due, you’ve got that stuff scheduled!
8. Edit Flow
Edit flow is very similar to Editorial Calendar just with a few more bells and whistles attached. While you do get the convenience of a calendar to schedule all your future posts, you also get access to custom statuses, dashboard widgets, editorial comments, editorial metadata, notifications and user groups. If you’re someone who runs a blog with many contributors, this may be the way you want to go.
So what exactly do these extra features do? Well, the custom status option allows you to have a post listed as In Progress, Needs Edit, Ready to Publish, Pitch or Assigned instead of just being a standard “draft” document. Editorial comments allow you to privately comment between writers and editors in order to point out corrections or let someone know it’s good to publish. Notifications keep your team up-to-date on what’s happening with each article and User Groups allows you to organize writers by department or function.
While Edit Flow is ideal for multi-person blogs, it can also be very handy to single run blogs as well.
WP Optimize by xTraffic could technically fall into the All-in-One category as well, but we instantly thought of this plugin when we thought of streamlining the blogging process.
This plugin does a multitude of things to help optimize any blog, but mainly it’s used as an internal link building app. It works by changing keywords (which you set up) into links to your relevant blog posts. Instead of having to go through and manually add in internal links, WP Optimize does it automatically to save you time and increase reader time spent on your site.
WP Optimize also optimizes your images, speed of your site and traffic. This plugin provides you with the ability to watermark, compress and rename image files all in one easy to use plugin. It also increases your website loading by up to 200% and can create a list of related posts in the middle of articles to reduce bounce rate and increase pageviews and user experience. And since Neil Patel is a big fan, we are too!
10. Optin Monster
While some blog owners may opt against using pop-ups on their sites due to the “controversy” that surrounds them, the truth is, they’re popular for a reason.
Adding a pop-up or slide-in newsletter sign up form to your site or blog can be one of the best ways to increase your conversion rates. The trick is, installing them the correct way to cause minimal irritation to readers.
Optin Monster is one of the most popular choices of pop-ups because it provides incredibly high customization options. You can configure the pop-up to look, act and appear almost any way you can think of. This makes it great for matching your websites theme as well as providing your readers with a personalized message, instead of a basic cookie cutter format. While it will cost you some money to get this one, the price will be well worth it when you see your email list growing by the day!
SumoMe is another great option when it comes to pop-up subscriptions. It also comes with a great variety of extras to help grow your site further.
We’re sure you’ve noticed our pop-up (if you haven’t theres a place to subscribe to our RSS feed in the side bar *shameless plug*) and we, in fact, use SumoMe. If you’re someone who is new to email subscriptions or would rather not pay for anything else when it comes to your blog, SumoMe is has a basic free version to get you started and also features a fully functional pro version for when you want a bit more control.
Along with providing a great pop-up service, SumoMe gives you tools like Content Analysis, Heat Maps and a free Image Sharer (more on that below). Some of these add-ons are paid for but most of the basic ones you’ll want to use are free, which adds to the appeal!
In order for one of these pop-up plugins to work, you’re going to have to connect it to an email list. One of the most well know, and most used list builders is MailChimp.
MailChimp allows you to collect emails and send newsletters, promotions, invitations and even your RSS feed to subscribers all from one simple platform. Most pop-up plugins support MailChimp and will send new subscribers directly to your account to ensure no one ever misses and email.
Here at Data Nerds, we like MailChimp to keep subscribers up-t0-date on our latest blog post. Every time we publish something, the next day MailChimp will send out a summary to each subscriber so they know there’s some awesome new content up on the site. The plugin allows you to insert sign up widgets, forms and even pop-ups throughout your site so your wonderful readers can easily sign up.
Oh, what’s that? That sounds great and you’d like to join the Data Nerds? Here – we added a convenient sign up bar (only one of the awesome MailChimp plugin tools) below.
13. Add To Any
Every blog needs a way for its readers to share great content. There’s a lot of plugins out there to choose from, but the one we use here at Data Nerds is Add To Any.
You’ve probably noticed this little bar floating around on the top right of your screen. Well it isn’t just there to look pretty! Sharing is essential to any page for their content to grow organically throughout the internet. If you’ve written a great piece of content, you want to make it as easy as you can for your readers to share this with others, right? Right.
We also have these buttons at the bottom of every post for easy access. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to go to an awesome webpage and not be able to find a way to share it with people I know, so having a simple floating bar like this will make it easy for your readers to share the love!
If you want to take your share bar to the next level, Sharaholic is the way to go! The customization of networks on Sharaholic is extensive and you can customize it with cute little sayings like “Sharing is Sexy”, “Sharing is Caring” and “Share the Knowledge” to encourage people to click on their favourite networking site.
Ideally you won’t have every single option available below each post, it can clearly be overkill, but it shows the great variety you can provide to your readers and the reach you can get on the web.
Filament is another great floating social bar that provides you with a couple great features besides sharing badges.
Filament was formerly called Flare but now, Flare is the floating social media bar alone. Since the company has added new features, they changed the name to Filament to encompass Flare and other services like Passport and Ivy.
Flare is a super clean and simple floating side bar that is customizable and supports a ton of networks.
If you choose to sign up for the paid version, Flare Pro, you also gain access to stats like who your top sharers are, what content gets shared the most and your blogs growth based on shares. We also like that it keeps a running talley of your shares both by network and in total for each page!
16. Revive Old Post
Quite often, our old posts get buried in the archives, never to be seen again (unless you have fabulous SEO thanks to Yoast). A quick and super simple way to revive these old posts is by installing Revive Old Posts (obviously).
This plugin automatically shares your old posts to your Twitter, Facebook and other social networks to gain some more exposure. You can choose the time it posts, the number of posts to share, include links and add hashtags to target your best content. It also posts with an image, which is always what makes or breaks a social media plugin for us!
17. Image Sharer
Sometimes it can be really tough to share an image from someone’s site while still giving them the credit they deserve. Sure, you can always copy the image and add an image source in a blog post but what if you want to share it on Twitter, or Facebook?
Image Sharer makes it easy for people to share your images by adding share buttons to each photo. Each time someone shares, it will be linked back to your site as well as letting you know on twitter (if you decide to set it up that way). While you do need to have SumoMe installed to use this plugin, it’s well worth it as they are both free and both made our essential plugins list!
18. Pin It Button
If you’d like to keep things simple and only provide a Pin It button to your photos, nothing will beat the simplicity of Pinterest “Pin It” Button. Once you install this plugin, it will automatically add a little “Pin It” button to each photo when the mouse is hovered over it. Simple and to the point, what more could you need? Even if you don’t use Pinterest to promote your blog, you should consider installing a Pin It button to increase traffic and engagement with even more readers.
So there you have it, our top 18 WordPress Plugins No Blog Should Be Without. What plugins could you not blog without? Let us know in the comments below so we can share them with the rest of our readers!