When I first started blogging I did what most people do and started off using Blogger. It was nice and all, but it has very limited functions. My brother who is much more tech savvy than me persuaded me to switch to WordPress. WordPress is Bloggers’ more intelligent and good looking big brother.
If you’re still debating on making the switch from Blogger to WordPress, just know that WordPress is a free service and the only thing you have to pay for is web hosting which, depending on the web host you go with isn’t that expensive and your domain. When you’re just starting out, you can find pretty good deals on these. It’s also not too hard to learn how to use. If I can learn how to use it, you can too.
The best thing about WordPress is the plugins. Plugins are bits of software that can be uploaded to extend and expand the functionality of your WordPress site. So to simplify, think as WordPress as the stage and plugins are the production and crew members.
Through learning the ins and outs of WordPress, I figured out what plugins are the best and which ones that aren’t so great. That’s what this post is about.
Quite possibly the most important plugin and one that you should install before any others. Akismet protects your blog from comment and trackback spam.
- Automatically checks all comments and filters out the ones that look like spam.
- Each comment has a status history, so you can easily see which comments were caught or cleared by Akismet and which were spammed or unspammed by a moderator.
- URLs are shown in the comment body to reveal hidden or misleading links.
- Moderators can see the number of approved comments for each user.
- A discard feature that outright blocks the worst spam, saving you disk space and speeding up your space.
Yoast SEO is arguably one of the best plugins for optimizing your search engine results. You can edit your search engine options right within the post. Plus their social sharing tab makes it very easy to create the right images for your social media platforms.
- Using the snippet preview you can see a rendering of what your post or page will look like in the search results whether your title is too long or too short and your meta description makes sense in the context of a search result.
- The Yoast SEO plugins Page Analysis functionality checks simple things you’re bound to forget.
- While out of the box WordPress is pretty good for SEO, it needs some tweaks here and there. This Yoast SEO plugin guides you through some of the settings needed, for instance by reminding you to enable pretty permalinks.
- With the Yoast SEO plugin you can control which pages Google shows in its search results and which pages it doesn’t show.
- Yoast SEO plugin has the most advanced XML Sitemaps functionality in any WordPress plugin. Once you check the box, it automatically creates XML sitemaps and notifies Google & Bing of the sitemaps existence.
- Are you being outranked by scrapers? Instead of cursing at them, use them to your advantage! By automatically adding a link to your RSS feed pointing back to the original article, you’re telling the search engine where they should be looking for the original.
- If your theme is compatible, and themes based on Genesis or by WooThemes for instance often are, you can use the built-in Breadcrumbs functionality. This allows you to create an easy navigation that is great for both users and search engines and will support the search engines in understanding the structure of your site.
- Using the built-in file editor you can edit your WordPress blogs .htaccess and robots.txt file, giving you direct access to the two most powerful files, from an SEO perspective, in your WordPress install.
- SEO and Social Media are heavily intertwined, that’s why this plugin also comes with a Facebook OpenGraph implementation and will soon also support Google+ sharing tags.
- The Yoast SEO plugin, unlike some others, is fully Multi-Site compatible. The XML Sitemaps work fine in all setups and you even have the option, in the Network settings, to copy the settings from one blog to another, or make blogs default to the settings for a specific blog.
- If you have multiple blogs, setting up plugins like this one on all of them might seem like a daunting task. Except that it’s not, because what you can do is simple: you set up the plugin once. You then export your settings and simply import them on all your other sites. It’s that simple!
- If you’ve used All In One SEO Pack or HeadSpace2 before using this plugin, you might want to import all your old titles and descriptions. You can do that easily using the built-in import functionality. There’s also import functionality for some of the older Yoast plugins like Robots Meta and RSS footer.
- Currently a huge translation project is underway, translating Yoast SEO in as much as 24 languages.
Jetpack connects your wordpress.com account to your wordpress.org account. It also allows you to track important data such as site stats, displays related posts and also connects your post to your social media accounts so that when you publish your post, it immediately shows up on your social media platforms.
- Customization. Make your WordPress site uniquely yours withCustom CSS, Carousels, spam-free Contact Forms, Sidebar Widgets,Infinite Scroll, and Tiled Galleries.
- Mobile theme. Instant and customizable lightweight responsive theme designed for phones and tablets.
- Content tools. Create and publish richer content with Post by Email,Shortcode Embeds, Markdown, Beautiful Math, Spelling, andVideoPress.
- Visitor engagement. Increase your traffic and keep visitors coming back with Enhanced Distribution, spam-free Comments, Shortlinks,Likes, Notifications, Related Posts, Publicize, Social Sharing,Subscriptions, and Site Verification Tools.
- Site performance. Speed up image delivery with the Photon CDNand access to visitor Stats.
- Security. Keep your WordPress site up, safe, and protected withSingle Sign On, Jetpack Monitor, and Akismet anti-spam.
What I like about Zemanta is that it recommends your content to new audiences both on your blog and across a network of high quality sites.
- In-Text links recommendations from popular sources such as Wikipedia, IMDB, and YouTube
- Responsive themes for desktop, tablet, and mobile
- Like writing CSS? Customize Related Posts with your own code!
I can’t say enough good things about Wordfence. It’s a free security and performance plugin that makes your site up to 50 times faster and more secure. When I first started using WordPress, someone tried hacking into my account, but luckily, I already had Wordfence installed and was notified immediately of the attempted breach. I changed my password and everything was fine thanks to Wordfence.
- Includes Falcon Engine, the fastest WordPress caching engine available today. Falcon is faster because it reduces your web server disk and database activity to a minimum.
- Fully IPv6 compatible including all whois lookup, location, blocking and security functions.
- Includes support for other major plugins and themes like WooCommerce.
- Real-time blocking of known attackers. If another site using Wordfence is attacked and blocks the attacker, your site is automatically protected.
- Sign-in using your password and your cellphone to vastly improve login security. This is called Two Factor Authentication and is used by banks, government agencies and military world-wide for highest security authentication.
- Includes two-factor authentication, also referred to as cellphone sign-in.
- Scans for the HeartBleed vulnerability – included in the free scan for all users.
- Wordfence includes two caching modes for compatability and has cache management features like the ability to clear the cache and monitor cache usage.
- Enforce strong passwords among your administrators, publishers and users. Improve login security.
- Scans core files, themes and plugins against WordPress.org repository versions to check their integrity. Verify security of your source.
- Includes a firewall to block common security threats like fake Googlebots, malicious scans from hackers and botnets.
- Block entire malicious networks. Includes advanced IP and Domain WHOIS to report malicious IP’s or networks and block entire networks using the firewall. Report security threats to network owner.
- See how files have changed. Optionally repair changed files that are security threats.
- Scans for signatures of over 44,000 known malware variants that are known security threats.
- Scans for many known backdoors that create security holes including C99, R57, RootShell, Crystal Shell, Matamu, Cybershell, W4cking, Sniper, Predator, Jackal, Phantasma, GFS, Dive, Dx and many many more.
- Continuously scans for malware and phishing URL’s including all URL’s on the Google Safe Browsing List in all your comments, posts and files that are security threats.
- Scans for heuristics of backdoors, trojans, suspicious code and other security issues.
- Checks the strength of all user and admin passwords to enhance login security.
- Monitor your DNS security for unauthorized DNS changes.
- Rate limit or block security threats like aggressive crawlers, scrapers and bots doing security scans for vulnerabilities in your site.
- Choose whether you want to block or throttle users and robots who break your security rules.
- Includes login security to lock out brute force hacks and to stop WordPress from revealing info that will compromise security.
- See all your traffic in real-time, including robots, humans, 404 errors, logins and logouts and who is consuming most of your content. Enhances your situational awareness of which security threats your site is facing.
- Real-time traffic includes reverse DNS and city-level geolocation. Know which geographic area security threats originate from.
- Monitors disk space which is related to security because many DDoS attacks attempt to consume all disk space to create denial of service.
- Wordfence Security for multi-site also scans all posts and comments across all blogs from one admin panel.
- WordPress Multi-Site (or WordPress MU in the older parlance) compatible.
Disqus Comment System
Disqus in my opinion is far superior to other comment systems. I’ll tell you why. First of all, comments are indexible by search engines meaning they’re SEO friendly. Secondly, Disqus has a full spam filtering system, making it more difficult for spammers.
- Threaded comments and replies
- Notifications and reply by email
- Subscribe and RSS options
- Aggregated comments and social mentions
- Powerful moderation and admin tools
- Full spam filtering, blacklists and whitelists
- Support for Disqus community widgets
- Connected with a large discussion community
- Increased exposure and readership
Mail Poet is so easy to use and I love how it lets me customize my newsletter without any additional add ons. It also allows you to set the time and frequency of when each newsletter goes out.
- Drag & drop newsletter editor
- Send your latest posts automatically
- Autoresponders, i.e. “Send email 3 days after someone subscribes”
- Send emails to your WordPress users
- Start collecting subscribers in 2-clicks with our sign up widget
- Single or double opt-in, your choice
- Import subscribers in 2 steps
- Get stats for your newsletter: opens, clicks, unsubscribes
- Drag and drop subscription form designer
- Your newsletters look the same in Gmail, iPhone, Android, Outlook, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.
- Send with your web host, Gmail, any SMTP, like SendGrid, Amazon SES Mandrill, etc…
- Segment your lists based on unopened, opened and clicked
- Selection of over 70 themes. Photoshop files included
- Sending newsletters in the free version is limited to 2000 subscribers
These are the plugins that I recommend all WordPress users to use. They’re also my favorites. If you’ve never used WordPress before, it’s not as complicated as it sounds. Once you get used to using it all of these terms will make sense to you and you’ll see how easy they are to use. Thanks again for reading and I hope you found this helpful!