So you’ve got your new blog up and running – the hosting service is set up, the blogging platform has been selected, and you’ve chosen a beautiful theme for your site! Now it’s time to add your own touches and adapt the site to your needs. Customizing a website for most of us can be a bit scary. One of the greatest options to achieve the customizations you seek is through WordPress plugins.
Start a Blog | Post Series
- How to Start a Blog Today – The Ultimate Guide
- Choosing the Best Blogging Platform
- How to Choose a WordPress Theme – 10 Insightful Tips!
- Best WordPress Plugins for New Blogs
I’ll walk you through the best WordPress plugins to install on your new site. The goal here isn’t to overload and slow down your new blog so I’ll keep this list short and sweet.
You’re often faced with choosing between many plugins that accomplish the same stated task. Selecting the best WordPress plugins can be confusing and a bit overwhelming. Couple that with needing to be judicious in your plugin choices – too many plugins can slow down your site.
Factors I Consider in Selecting the Best WordPress Plugins
So what makes the list of best WordPress plugins you ask? Here are some of the factors I consider:
- Unique Functionality – A simple solution to a complex task.
- Aesthetically Pleasing Design – I don’t want a plugin that has great functionality but makes my website look bad.
- Lightweight Code – Too many plugins slow your site down. I look for plugins with lightweight simple coding to accomplish their stated tasks.
- Essential for a New Blog – I want each of these plugins to offer essential functions to get your site up and running, looking great, and taking tasks off your plate.
- Offers a Premium Version – If I love the plugin I’m willing to pay more for some super rich options and advanced features. This often only means a one time fee (typically less than $20).
- Plugin Reviews – I look for high ratings (4 or 5 stars), positive comments, and 3rd party reviews.
- Total Downloads – Hey, if 100,000 people like it, how can they be wrong? This is relative of course. You should compare the total downloads to the other plugins in the category. In some cases, 10,000 downloads is a lot.
- Support – I’ll check the last time a plugin was updated and if the plugin details contain information around ongoing support. You don’t want an abandoned plugin!
- Compatibility – The plugin needs to be compatible with my version of WordPress.
Top 7 | Best WordPress Plugins
On with the list! Here are 10 best WordPress Plugins for your blog. I’ve considered all the before-mentioned factors into my selection process to help you make some sound decision for your own site.
1. Yoast SEO | Free and Premium Versions
You have enough stuff to worry about on your new blog. One thing you can put aside is SEO. The Yoast SEO plugin streamlines the process of making your site and posts SEO friendly. My favorite part of the plugin is the portion you see in every blog post. The plugin lets you know, prior to publishing your post, whether it’s optimized for readability and keyword. You get a “green light” if everything is good. If not, the plugin gives you several recommendations to optimize. In fact, with a simple mouse click, the plugin will take you to the exact spot in your post that needs to be fixed.
An upgrade to the premium version is worth it if you’re creating a lot of content and your building a serious business. With the upgrade you get 4 additional keywords for each post, internal linking suggestions (good for your Google rank), and a redirect manager (also, good for your Google rank). Not to mention the one-on-one support only available to premium members and content insights that’ll save you time!
With over 5+ million active installs and a 5 star rating you can’t go wrong with this plugin!
2. WP Fastest Cache | Free and Premium Versions
Speed and performance of your new site is essential. The average home page load time is around 5 seconds. Survey data shows 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less! You get the point. One simple and inexpensive way to improve your site performance is a cache plugin. What’s a cache? A simple (but far from exhaustive) explanation is that a cache temporarily stores frequently accessed data from your website. These “stored” resources can then be quickly retrieved and shown to your web site visitors.
WP Fastest Cache is one of the best WordPress plugins to help your new blog improve visitor experience. WP Fastest Cache provides a faster page load time by caching your static resources (like your About Me page). Site performance improves your search ranking as well.
Upgrade to the premium version and pay a one time fee. You get additional page optimization features, simple CDN integration, and an easy to use image optimization tool included in the package.
Do a before and after check on your page speed previous to installing WP Fastest Cache. See for yourself!
With over 400,000+ active installs and a 5 star rating you’ll be satisfied with this site optimization tool!
3. WP Smush | Free and Premium
Images dress up any post and if you’re blogging today than your likely using lots of them in your posts. The only real negative to loading up your posts with beautiful images is the impact on page load time. An average page is around 3 MB’s in size. One large PNG image can be nearly 1 MB in size. Consider a post with 5, 6, or 7 images and all of a sudden you’ve really done some damage to your page load speed.
A solution to this problem is WP Smush. A plugin designed to optimize and compress all of the images in your media library. The plugin also includes a slick feature that auto adjusts your large images to a height and width you specify. Install the plugin today and it’ll take care of your images going forward and also those that are already stored in your media library.
With over 900,000+ active installs and a 5 star rating you’ll be pleased with the ease of use and impact on your site performance. Don’t let bulky images slow your site down.
4. Social Warfare | Free and Premium
I clearly don’t need to tell anyone why they need a social sharing strategy on their website. Social networks drive most traffic to websites (70% for ours). Including social sharing buttons is a serious must have on your site. BUT, you’ve got a lot to choose from.
The best WordPress plugin for social sharing is Social Warfare. I love the look and feel of Social Warfare buttons, the customizable features, and the fact that they didn’t try to feature you to death. Too many social sharing plugins are bulky, heavy on code, and slow your sight down.
I’m also a big fan of the share counts on the buttons and the total shares off to the right. This is a customizable feature you can turn on or off.
Making it easy to share your content is a great idea and Social Warfare accomplishes this task.
With over 40,000+ active installs and a 4.5 star rating you’ll love what this plugin offers!
5. ConvertKit | Plugin Free with Paid Subscription to Service
One mistake I made once and wouldn’t make again – not having a service to manage subscriptions to my blog. If you plan on building a subscriber base to send newsletters and marketing, you’ll be wise to get a service to manage those subscribers from the get go.
ConvertKit is a great solution to manage subscribers to your blog. Even better, the ConvertKit service offers so much more! You can create landing pages hosted by ConvertKit. These landing pages can be customized to market a product or service while also having an email enrollment form embedded on the page to build your subscriber list. We recently put together a landing page, for a homeschool planner we created, with the goal of gaining subscribers to our blog. Our conversion rate was 40%!!
There’s more to ConvertKit than just the free WordPress plugin but I’ll save that for another post.
Bottom line, don’t underestimate the value of placing an emphasis on your email list from the get go with your new blog. With 10,000+ active installs and a 5 star rating you can trust the reliability and functionality of the ConvertKit plugin.
6. Google XML Sitemaps | Free
A website needs to be crawled by search engines (Google, Yahoo, and Bing) in order to index your content for search rankings. A sitemap helps make this process way more efficient. The Google XML Sitemap plugin will do this for you – and for an added bonus the plugin will also notify major search engines whenever you publish new content. Why’s that important? A new site is often crawled less frequently by Google. If Google doesn’t crawl your site, your new content won’t be found in search results. The Google XML Sitemap will alert the search engines for you!
With over 2+ million active installs and a 5 start rating you won’t go wrong with this lightweight, tried and true plugin.
7. Page Builder by SiteOrigin | Free
Page Builder is truly one of my favorite plugins! You’ve got a couple solid options when it comes to page builder plugins but this one does it all. I know what your thinking – if I’ve got a great theme for my site why would I need a page builder plugin? I agree, I love my theme we chose as well.
BUT, when it comes to customizing landing pages or working outside the standard templates that came with your theme you’ll be challenged to build a beautiful web page (unless you’re an awesome coder/web designer already). Page builder will help you effortlessly make beautiful web pages.
Page Builder is so easy to use. The plugin is drag and drop with tons of cool features. You can even start with one of their pre-built pages to jump-start the process. You’ll be impressed!
With 1+ million active installs and a 5 star rating I promise you’ll be impressed with this one!
I hope you enjoyed this list of 7 plugins to use for your new blog. You seriously have a ton of choices when it comes to plugins for your site. In the beginning, this list of 7 will go a long ways towards satisfying the main needs you’ll have to get your site of the ground and humming along.
Please let me know your feedback, suggestions, and advice!