In this post I am going to cover the most important plugins that we use and why.
Speaking from experience you can get lost in a sea of plugins, some of which will be great for your blog and some will be a complete waste of time!
Doing your research before installing the plugin, is important as you don’t want a ton of plugins cluttering up your database and slowing down your page load (yes they can have a severe impact on page speed in some cases).
The list of plugins below are some of the plugins we classify as the most important for our needs and we use them on at least one of our sites (this site, and also KitchenSanctuary and LoveFoodCreative), in some cases all three sites.
So lets get started with the list. These plugins are in no particular order:
We are on the free service and have had over 100k spam comments blocked by this plugin. If we didn’t have this we would be overrun with spam. It’s a must, especially as your blog starts to grow. It has over 5million active installs!
Yoast is magic! We are on the paid premium version and really recommend it highly. Yoast gives you advice on how to optimise your post as you are typing, for readability and for SEO performance. There are some search terms where Kitchen Sanctuary has the top ranking for Google and we couldn’t do that without Yoast.
Wordfence gives you a lot of the key resources you need to secure your WordPress blog. Its a firewall, helps block brute force attacks, malware scanning, tracks logins to your page, and much more.
We use the Social Warfare premium version for our social sharing and social icons on Kitchen Sanctuary. It’s a top plugin to maximise the social-ability (if that’s a word!) of your posts for your readers.
We use visual composer to create the pages and posts for Living the Blog. It’s an awesome drag and drop page creator. This entire site is built using visual composer You can get it here from Envato Market along with the theme we use for this site, the Zephr theme.
Caching plugin – SG Optimizer
Caching is useful as it stores data in memory, so that data loads faster next time you come to look at it.
I know some people won’t be hosted with Siteground so here’s another one I have used: WP Fastest Cache.
I found this one to be brilliant with plenty of added benefits. In fact, I still use it – but not for caching. I use it for its added features to minify the HTML, CSS etc. (which helps to improve page load speed). You can read more about what I have done for our page speed here.
Jetpack has a whole host of tools inside and is great for those starting our with their WordPress site. We don’t use all of jetpack, we mainly use it for displaying related posts on Kitchen Sanctuary, quickly viewing site stats (we use google analytics for more in-depth reviewing of stats) and for some of the sidebar widgets. It has a lot of other features such as automated social sharing, email subscription and more, which we don’t use. They might be good for your purposes – especially if you don’t initially want to pay for more powerful tools that do these things for you.
TinyMCE Advanced gives you much more powerful post writing/editing options – somewhat akin to what you might see on word processing software like Microsoft Word. You can easily write posts without this, but it’s a far more user-friendly experience to write with all of the options you need at hand. There have been over 2 million active installs for this one.
WPSmush really helps to reduce the size of the images without losing image quality. Reducing image size is paramount if you want a fast page load. There are other plugins out there that offer this but this one seems to be one of the better ones. We are currently on the free version. If you want to read more about how we have improved our page speed you can see our post here.
This plugin allows you to search the SQL database and make replacements. I used this a lot during our transition to SSL and HTTPS and couldn’t have done it without this plugin. It allows you to do a dry run of the replace before you click the button to commit. You can read more about the transition to HTTPS and the impact the transition has had in our post here.
This is a really simple way to install the google tracking code onto your site. It also allows you to view the google analytics data within your WordPress dashboard.
Having the Google analytics data is extremely useful. You can add the tracking code to your site without this plugin and then view all of the data in Google Analytics itself but this wraps it up in a nice package. I plan on doing a post on analytics and data in the future.
That’s all of our most important plugins. If any others jump into my top list I’ll add them in here too.
Do you know of any more really useful plugins? I’m always interested in what other people are using and why. Please let me know in the comments below.
Note: Some of the above links are affiliate links. If you decide to purchase any of the services/products via these links, we get a small commission at no extra cost to yourself. If you do, then thank you very much, this helps us to keep our blogs going. We only promote products/services that we have used.