When I first started my blog I had no clue what plugins were much less what they were intended for or how many I was supposed to have.
As I continued to wade through my first couple of posts, and as I read as much as I could about WordPress in general, I quickly learned there were thousands of wonderful WordPress plugins to help my site become the best it could be. I then swung the other way and wanted them ALL!
After finally coming to my senses, which included grasping the real reasons to have plugins and how to determine whether they were necessary or not, I finally settled into a fairly complete set (for a newbie blogger of course).
Top 10 Beginner WordPress Plugins
This plugin comes pre-installed on your WordPress site and should be taken advantage of. After activating the plugin in your plugin queue, and obtaining the API key from the Akismet website, your blog then becomes protected from dreaded comment spam. Even for a small starter blog such as mine, with very little traffic, Akismet protects your blog from malicious spam.
SEO methods are extremely important when it comes to your content becoming searchable on Google in a high ranking position. This plugin allows you to maximize your blog content’s SEO (without being an SEO expert) by guiding you at the end of every post. You can then concentrate on your content and tweak it at the end to make it even better, without sacrificing quality written content. Check it out:
Another security defense plugin to use (along with Akismet), is Wordfence Security. Offering great protection and increasing site speed, this plugin even has the option to configure it to cache your content for you should you choose to (I do not because I have another plugin I prefer for caching).
This plugin is great because it allows you to back up your entire site (with automatically scheduled backups so you never have to remember to do it). You can even choose where to back your content up at (I deliver my backup straight to my DropBox). You never know when a disaster might strike and all of your hard work might disappear. This plugin helps ease that fear because you will know your site is safe elsewhere for easy retrieval.
Although not the most popular author box on the market, this one definitely does its job. You will often notice that at the end of many people’s blog posts there is a small bio/picture/social media area that authors are using to promote their content. You will want that too! This plugin works well on desktops, tablets, even mobile phones and much like the name implies, it is simple to use.
As you began to understand the concept of sourcing images and adding them to your blog posts, you will notice something that always tends to come up is file size and site speed. The larger the file, the slower the site. WP Smush (by the team at WPMU DEV) solves that problem by automatically compressing every image on your blog without compromising the picture’s quality. It optimizes those images so your site does not slow down and your search engine rankings remain high.
Caching can be a foreign idea until you really take the time to understand how your website works and provides information to your readers. Let me tell you, caching is the most important thing you can do for your site’s speed! There are many caching plugins to choose from that will do an amazing job. Being in the beginning stages of blogging, choosing WP Super Cache is a good idea because it is very user friendly. See what I mean:
WP Optimize is a cleanup tool for all the junk that is hidden on your site that bogs it down. Did you know that your default WordPress site will save every single one of your post revisions and draft posts? That means room that could be used for something more important is being taken up by content you don’t even need. Although this plugin boasts many features, I especially like the fact that you can customize when your post revisions will be cleaned up. This prevents your site from storing unnecessary data and keeps it running at top speed. Wanna see?
Another great plugin that comes pre-installed on your site is Jetpack. This plugin is loaded with great features (some I have yet to configure). Favorite features include the contact form used on my Hire Me and Contact pages, the site stats that give a glimpse of daily activity on your website including how many visitors, what they viewed, and even where they may have been referred from, and the social media buttons added to the end of each post making it easy for readers to share their favorite information.
Compfight was the first image plugin I downloaded to my site. I have since downloaded three others (Flickr – Pick a Picture, ImageInject (previously called WP Inject), and Pixabay Images). I am still learning about these image plugins and have not decided which one I like the best (maybe I like them all?). Compfight has served me well so far with easy to search images (there is even an icon for easy access above my toolbar).
Honestly, there are many, many more plugins that could arguably be better suited for my site (or even yours). As I learn about new or updated plugins and what they can do for me, I will continue to re-evaluate my installations and adjust accordingly. As for now I am good with these top 10. I am convinced they give me (and will give you too) a wide variety of features needed to run a successful blog (without too much admin hassle).
I would love to hear if you have used any of these plugins or have suggestions of other ones not mentioned. Please say hello and tell me your thoughts below!