Our top pick of the 11 best WordPress plugins for any beginner blogger!
Feeling a tad overwhelmed by the vast selection of WordPress plugins on offer?
When you start off on your blogging journey, you’ll soon start dipping your toes into the wonderful world of WordPress and should stumble upon ‘plugins’ pretty early on.
In many cases, these WordPress plugins will become your best friend and at other times may have you pulling your hair out!
In the simplest terms, a plugin is a piece of software that you can plug into WordPress in order to perform different functions and tasks, either in the back-end or on your site itself.
With literally thousands upon thousands of plugins available, we’ve decided to make things a bit easier for you by putting together this list of 11 essential WordPress plugins for beginners.
Things to consider before adding a plugin:
Before going mad and adding a bunch of plugins, there are few things to keep in mind as plugins can be both a blessing and a curse.
Firstly, all plugins and software you add into WordPress are all built by using some form of code. As such, some plugins are ‘lighter’, whilst others will bloat your site and may severely impact your blog speed. As such, we always recommend that you read other blogger and expert reviews on a plugin before installing it to your site.
Secondly, certain plugins may not be compatible with your specific blog theme. This info will usually be displayed as you search for a plugin, so be sure to check that out.
Thirdly, be sure to check the number of active users and when last the developer updated the plugin. You want to ensure that you use plugins that are still supported and continuously updated for best performance.
Lastly, some plugins, when installed in conjunction with each other, may cause conflict issues and impact your site. Take a methodical approach and don’t install 10 plugins at once. Do it one at a time to ensure it’s not having a negative effect on your site and that everything is still working as normal.
If you do have any plugins that you feel are no longer relevant, make sure to deactivate and delete it completely from the plugins tab in WordPress.
One of the must-have WordPress plugins is the very popular Yoast SEO plugin. Yoast is loved by many bloggers and understandably so.
This particular plugin helps you navigate the world of SEO optimization on your blog posts by ensuring you check all the right SEO boxes.
Yoast will measure both SEO (including linking, keyword density, keyword matches, meta descriptions, alt tags etc.) and the overall Readability of your post too.
Note: Whilst many bloggers obsess about ticking all the boxes and getting green lights on all the Yoast measurables, this is only a guideline and you should still use your discretion. We’ve had instances where posts rank really well despite Yoast telling us that the post is not fully optimized.
But, Yoast still gives you a clear guideline on what to work on to ensure you have every possible chance to potentially rank your posts.
We will add that in recent months we’ve heard many bloggers rave about a new competitor to Yoast, called Rankmath. We haven’t personally tried it ourselves but have heard wonderful things about this Yoast alternative. It wouldn’t hurt for you to do some research and decide on the best fit for you!
Tasty Pins (Paid plugin)
Oh my gosh, what can we say about Tasty Pins! Our all-time favourite plugin (although this is a paid plugin and not free like all the other plugins on this list).
If you are serious about growing your Pinterest following and traffic then Tasty Pins is one of the best WordPress plugins you can invest in.
Not only does Tasty Pins allow you to insert separate Pinterest titles and descriptions (no more messing around with Alt tags that don’t pull through correctly), but this plugin also allows you to add multiple pins to your post (including the option to hide several of these so you don’t have a hundred pins displaying on a post).
We absolutely love this plugin and at only $29, the price tag is not too hefty, especially given the features it provides.
What are you waiting for, now you can start uploading Pins with ease!
Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights
You started a blog and now you want to know who’s visiting or how many views you’ve received in a month. Well, you’ll need to have Google Analytics configured to just that.
But playing around with tags and coding to get it configured may seem daunting, it certainly did to us!
That’s why we opted for a shortcut and installed the MonsterInsights plugin to do all the hard work for us. Once configured, the plugin will link your site to Google Analytics (GA) and within about 2 days you should start seeing stats pulling through to GA if you already have blog visits that are.
On a side note, although MonsterInsights does provide a dashboard with stats contained with the WordPress dashboard, we never really look at these. We much rather prefer to check Google Analytics directly.
Grow by Mediavine
A big part of growing your blog is to enable your audience to easily share your content on social media platforms, helping you gain broader exposure.
To make this happen you will need to have a plugin enabled that will allow your readers to do exactly that. Enter Grow by Mediavine (previously known as Social Pug), in our opinion the best social sharing plugin.
This plugin was super easy to install and works like a charm. Not only can your visitors share your posts to social channels like Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, but it also shows the sharing stats which is a nifty feature to have.
Schema – All in One Schema Rich Snippets
Most bloggers dream of landing the coveted rich snippet section in Google Search results. This snippet section provides a much more detailed preview of your post, thus a ‘richer’ experience, and boy does it do wonders for traffic!
In order to stand a chance to land one of these snippet features, you have to add what is referred to as a ‘schema markup’ to your post that helps search engines understand more of what your post is actually about.
Now, we’re not in the business of messing with behind the scenes code, so we opted to make use of the Schema – All in One Schema Rich Snippets plugin to do the work for us! Easy breezy!
Once you implement the activate this plugin, you will be able to complete the Schema info per post. It’s very straightforward and pretty self-explanatory to do and will certainly enhance your chances of landing your very first rich snippet feature!
Easy Table of Contents
We often come across fellow bloggers debating whether or not to include a clickable table of contents into each blog post.
Whilst some, like us, prefer to have this feature active, others worry that readers may skip sections they aren’t interested in and only skim read a post and then quickly click back out again.
But let’s face it, isn’t that what we do automatically anyway?
We prefer to give our readers the choice to jump to what they are truly interested in, thus avoiding any frustration, essentially enhancing the overall user experience.
For this, we’ve decided to install the Easy Table of Contents. A simple plugin that is really easy to configure and customize per post!
With so many different laws and regulations in place, you do have to tread carefully. That’s why we opted for the Cookie Notice plugin that will add a fairly unobtrusive pop-up banner to your site letting new users know.
This plugin is also designed to align with both GDPR and CCPA regulations.
It’s really easy to install and requires just about no configuration.
Contact Form 7
Most sites and blogs these days have some type of contact form by which visitors may get in touch through. And Contact Form 7 is one the simplest plugins to help manage these forms by.
In fact, this plugin was also recommended by our theme Flatsome and is one of the most popular forms out there.
Contact Form 7 allows you to customize and configure multiple forms on your site and also supports Akismet Anti-Spam (our last plugin mentioned on this list).
W3 Total Cache
Site speed is super important in the world of blogging today. With Google and other search engines placing so much emphasis on the end-user experience, it’s crucial that you get your site running as fast as possible.
This is where W3 Total Cache will come into play. Without going into too much technical jargon and detail, this caching plugin will help improve your site speed and overall performance.
W3 Total Cache will also work wonders if combined with Cloudflare. Say what?!
Don’t panic. We are not even going to try to go into all the nitty-gritty but, go ahead and follow this incredibly easy and awesome tutorial on how to configure both W3 Total Cache and Cloudflare. It’s literally a step by step guide for us technical dummies.
Shortpixel Image Optimizer
Speaking of site speed, one of the biggest speed issues that many bloggers face is to do with images that is not optimized and resized correctly.
We usually resize all our images before we even think of uploading them to WordPress and then as an extra measure, we installed the Shortpixel Image Optimizer plugin.
This is yet another of the top WordPress plugins that will assist in compressing images on your site, offering a faster and more user-friendly experience.
The free version of this plugin allows you to optimize up to 100 images, which if you have a large blog may be too little. But for starters, we’d just keep it on the free version and consider if it’s worth upgrading as the blog grows.
Last on our list is a plugin that we don’t even pay much attention to, yet a critical one to have.
The Akismet Anti-Spam has been another godsend to our blog. Given that we do allow comments on our posts, it’s critical that we filter out spam to our site. This plugin does exactly that. Simply add this plugin, activate and let it do its work for you.