15 Must Have WordPress Plugins
When people ask me what my “must-have” plugins are, I often explain that it totally depends on what kind of site I'm building. Every kind of site needs a different set of plugins.
That said, I have an easier time answering the question for bloggers, since I've been blogging (almost) daily for over 2.5 years.
So here is the set of 15 WordPress plugins you need. They're the ones I have installed on my own blog and the ones I recommend to you.
(Note: some of these links are affiliate links which means if you purchase some of these, I'll get a small percentage of the sale – but it won't change your price. Mind you, I'm only discussing plugins I use on my own site.)
Optimizing Your Posts
When you sit down to write, it's because you have something to say. But that doesn't matter if Google never finds it, or if it takes forever to load. If you write to generate revenue, you need a way to present an offer that makes sense.
That's why these first ones are all about optimizing your posts.
1. Kraken.io by Nekkra UG
I use Kraken.io because I like to shout, “Release the Kraken” – but it's more than that. I use Kraken because it lets me upload a photo to my blog without worrying about anything (especially size and resolution) and it will create a perfect version for my site.
I want to use nice large photos but I don't want them to take a long time to load – and this shrinks them. When combined with a caching plugin or your hosts' CDN, the impact can be incredible. My images load quickly.
I'm pretty sure I don't have to tell you why this plugin is so great. It helps you make sure you're crossing T's and dotting I's. The goal, of course, is to make sure you're not messing up any of the SEO dynamics while you write. Yoast's plugin makes it easy to stay focused on what's important – you're writing!
Not everyone puts an ad at the end of their content, but if you want to, this is a great plugin that will help you do it. Of course it doesn't have to be an ad. You could put anything you want there – like a consistent site-wide call to action, a bio, or an offer.
4. Pretty Link Lite or Pro
The way I generate revenue from my blog is thru affiliate links to products I regularly use and recommend. These affiliate links can look monstrous at times, so it's nice to have a little plugin that cloaks them and makes them really easy to remember. I use the Pro version, but there's a free lite version available as well.
Adding Features to your Post
I'm sure you know this by now, but your blog isn't just all photos and text. Sometimes you need a bit more – whether it's a form, a gallery, or enhancements to your comment feature.
5. Gravity Forms | Ninja Forms | Formidable Pro
If you're like me, you'll likely need a form at some point to collect information from your readers. I've used forms to collect interest in an eBook before I make it available for sale, or to collect information for an upcoming event.
I have all three of these plugins installed because each one is great at something different. Either way, you'll need one of them unless you plan to have no forms on your site.
6. Jetpack Comments by Automattic
I've written about Jetpack before and I'll mention it again later on. It has a variety of features that you might like. The one I've used the most (other than Analytics – see below) is Jetpack Comments. It gives your users a simple way to subscribe to your comments, get notified when people comment and more.
Optin Monster is the most well known popup that there is – and trust me when I tell you that popups work. What's nice is that Optin Monster gives you options so that you can slide them in, push them up from the bottom, or only do it on certain pages.
You need to collect and add readers to your email list. While you can use a form plugin (see above), you'll be better off if you use Optin Monster. It will drive your conversions up. Way up.
The folks behind Optin Monster are also behind Envira Gallery. They're smart and know what they're doing. While WordPress has a gallery function, the Envira features are awesome and create amazing looking galleries.
Sharing Your Posts
As we round out the plugins that help me make my blog look good, load quickly, and work well, there are two additional tools I use (both by the same company) that helps me get my content out into the world.
9. Click to Tweet by Todaymade
One way to get folks to engage your content is to create tweet-able content that they can share. Click to Tweet makes it really easy to do it – without a lot of work.
10. CoSchedule by Todaymade
I've tried a lot of content schedulers that push my content to Facebook, Twitter (and sometimes LinkedIn). Most of them don't work the way I want them to. CoSchedule is different. It probably deserves it's own post, as it's not only a plugin but a SaaS solution. All you need to know is that it's awesome!
Infrastructure for your Blog
Plumbing isn't sexy. But it's critical. And so are these five plugins. They hide in the background, and aren't tons of fun to talk about all the time. But you can't run (in my opinion) a blog without paying attention to these plugins.
11. Akismet by Automattic
Thankfully, you get Akismet installed with every installation of WordPress. Even if you don't know how to pronounce this plugin, you can use it. It protects your site from spam. Trust me, you need it activated.
12. Jetpack Analytics by Automattic
People like Google Analytics, and I'm not saying you shouldn't use it. But if you've already installed Jetpack because you're using it for one of its other features, you should seriously think about activating its Analytics module. It makes it easy to see who is referring traffic to your blog, which articles are popular and more – without making you create reports.
No one talks about backups enough. Seriously! This is the go to plugin for backing up your site and all of its content. It's true that some hosts will do backups for you, but you need to check into the details – because some will host those backup files directly on your same hosting account. So when your site goes down, your backups are unavailable too. Duh! BackupBuddy lets you connect your site to several options to store your backups wherever you need to.
The same folks that brought you BackupBuddy also created a security plugin that helps you lock down your site and protect it from silly mistakes lot of folks make. Unless you're hosting your site on really fancy hosting servers with tons of additional security features pre-configured for you, this plugin is a no brainer for your blog.
15. Sucuri for Malware Removal
I would love to tell you that your site will never get hacked. That malware will never infect your site. But the truth is that you might install another plugin instead of only this list. And there's a chance that one of those plugins may create a vulnerability that lets your site get infected. When that happens, you'll want to have Sucuri on speed-dial.
They're the market leader when it comes to cleaning up your site (malware detection and removal). It's the best insurance your site can have.
Do you have others you suggest?
Everyone has their own set of plugins they recommend. These are the WordPress plugins I think you need, especially if you're a blogger.
But did I miss one? Let me know.