Starting a blog can be both extremely rewarding and extremely overwhelming. When you’re first starting out, you need all the help you can get to make your post shine in front of as many viewers as possible. Luckily, these 20 WordPress plugins are sure to give you the boost you need. All for the low price of free!
Don’t have a blog yet but want to take the plunge? Click here to get started for just $3.95 a month with Bluehost.
1. Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is a lifesaver. If you find yourself just as confused by SEO as I am, this will take all the hard work out of it. It gives you instant tips on the best SEO practices that’ll put your blog post at the top of search results. Better yet, it grades your post’s readability – how easy it is for readers to enjoy your post. It’ll keep an eye on things like grammar, spelling, and sentences that are overly repetitive or long.
Short for Google Analytics Dashboard for WordPress, this plugin gives you access to the extremely insightful Google Analytics tool. See how many visitors your site gets, the bounce rate, average page views per session, and other useful insights to monitor your blogs growth. Use it to measure and improve engagement and click through rate on your top posts, opt-ins, and even social media.
3. Better Click to Tweet
Have an interesting stat or quote-worthy line from your post? Throw it into this plugin’s Click to Tweet function and you’ll have an eye-catching and tweetable box that will allow your readers to share it on their Twitter timeline. Free social media shares!
4. Wordfence Security
WordPress is one of the most popular website-building services out there. The downside? It’s low-hanging fruit for hackers, who can down hundreds of sites in a go without lifting a finger. At that rate, it’s almost certain that somebody is going to try to attack your site sooner or later. With Wordfence security, you can rest assured that your site is safe. They offer regular updates and even allow you to automatically block any IP address that tries to make more than a certain number of failed logins. For all the wonderful features it offers, it’s an unbeatable free security plugin.
5. Optin Forms
If you’re a blogger, you know just how important it is to build your email list. But you can’t possibly do that without capturing your audience’s email addresses! With Optin Forms, you can build simple and elegant opt-in forms that you can customize for your unique brand without having to know a lick of HTML or CSS (if you’re a technophobe like me). You can add it to several different parts of your blog with a simple click and setting up takes less than 20 minutes. Couldn’t ask for an easier free form builder!
Shareaholic is, as it sounds, a plugin that will dramatically increase your site’s shares. Not only does the floating “share” button encourage readers to share up to 2x as much as usual, but helps increase reader involvement by recommending related posts and highlighting sponsored content in the sidebar or end of page. This plugin also works with keywords specified in Yoast SEO to keep related posts together. As if that’s not enough, Shareaholic partners with several affiliates that will automatically help you monetize your blog without lifting a finger. Free social shares and free money all with minimal effort. Works for a lazy gal like me!
Sumo claims to help sites get as much as 20% more traffic. With an array of tools, from their fantastic List Builder all the way to their Heat Maps, showing where readers spend their time, it’s no doubt those claims are true. While some of its more meaty tools are Pro only (starting at about $29/month), the free tools will no doubt give a boost to your blog traffic and email list.
8. Google Adsense
If you want to monetize your blog with ad revenue, Google Adsense is usually your first go-to. While other ad networks usually have a higher barrier to entry (and greater payouts) Google Adsense is a perfect choice for the upstart blogger. Installing this plugin will help you place your ads within your blog posts.
Want to start selling things from your blog? WooCommerce is a great free option for both physical and digital products (like eBooks or courses). It helps take out some of the stress of selling your products by offering a variety of payment methods, restrictions, and automatic shipping and tax calculations. Us bloggers can especially benefit from their other extensions, such as the Affiliates WooCommerce plugin that allows you to easily set up an affiliate program for your product, or WooCommerce Memberships, which allows you to build memberships. Truly a versatile plugin for those looking to break into eCommerce!
10. W3 Total Cache
Forty percent of people will leave a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load (source). With statistics like that, you can easily see why load times are of the essence. Luckily, W3 Total Cache dramatically cuts down on load time and even claims to improve site performance 10x. The benefits don’t stop there though; search engine rankings skyrocket and it improves user experience and conversion rate. What’s not to love?!
With tools to help increase traffic, secure your site, and improve engagement, Jetpack is a solid addition to any WordPress site. With an awesome dashboard to monitor traffic and free automatic sharing to several social networks, it’s a great way for starters to boost readership. It’s equally handy at preventing brute force attacks from hackers and providing you with a host of wonderful sidebar widgets, from YouTube embedding to image carousels.
One of the best ways to encourage readers to stay on your site and engage with the content is to show them related posts. With Yet Another Related Post Plugin (YARPP), your readers are suggested similar content that they might enjoy. If you upgrade to the Pro version, you can also display sponsored content for an extra income stream!
Do you have a service-based business? With Appointments, you can schedule and manage appointments within your site. No more bouncing between your site and appointment book like a crazy person! Clients can make a deposit or payment through the site, and you can send confirmation and reminder email to make sure they show up. If you want to streamline your service-based business, this plugin is a must-have.
Want to build beautiful custom pages, but aren’t a web developer? Not to worry. With Elementor, you can build gorgeous pages in real time for just about any purpose – landing page, coming soon page, or something else entirely. Rather than fiddling with the back-end and guessing what the end result will look like, Elementor’s drag-and-drop page builder allows you to see your creation in an instant. If you’re neither a developer nor a designer, they have you covered for that too with a library of 100+ premade templates. Couldn’t recommend it more highly!
15. OnePress Social Locker
If you’ve installed other plugins like YARPP or Shareaholic and still aren’t seeing a bump in shares or traffic, this might be your answer. OnePress Social Locker “locks” your most desirable content behind a wall that only social sharing will unlock. So whether that be an important video, drool-worthy downloadable, or even just the end of your article, the reader will have to “pay” with a tweet, like, or +1 to access it. This is a great way to boost those social metrics!
What are your favorite plugins? Did you try any of these and notice an uptick in traffic? Be sure to let me know in the comments below!