If you’re new to blogging, and likely you are, you’ll need to know the best WordPress plugins for blogs so you don’t overdo it like many newbies.
You may be sick and tired of hearing all the terms that just don’t make sense yet. Never fear, I’m going to explain all about WordPress plugins, and it will make total sense when we’re done.
Ah, the plugin mystery
The topic of plugins could be an entire mini-course in itself!
But let’s cover the basics.
What is a plugin anyway?
They are small pieces of software that add functionality, design elements, and overall cool stuff to your blog.
If I had to compare them with something, you could think of them as apps for your website.
Here are just a few functions WordPress plugins offer:
- Backups for your site
- Custom contact forms
- Shopping functionality for ecommerce sites
- Social media sharing buttons
- SEO help
- Page builders for creating landing pages
- Functions for clearing the cached files from your site
- Design elements such as extra fonts
And the list is just about endless.
Despite the fact that there are a million plugins …
Just because you can have dozens of plugins on your site, DOES NOT mean that you should!
Here are some issues with plugins:
- If you have too many, your site WILL slow down to a crawl.
- Some of them aren’t from reputable sources, can have bad coding, and aren’t updated regularly which causes your site to be wide open for hackers and viruses/malware.
- Many popular plugins (such as JetPack and MonsterInsights) are VERY bloated — which means they have features you don’t need — and slow down your site!
- Plugins must be checked for updates and updated regularly — BUT this can sometimes cause big trouble on your site. Some plugins are notorious for “breaking” sites during large updates.
- Some plugins don’t “play nicely” with each other and will cause issues on your site.
- Some plugins don’t “play nicely” with your theme and can cause issues with styling (or even cause your site to go offline … UGH).
What are the best plugins for blogs?
Glad you asked.
You actually don’t need that many to have a well-functioning blog!
Our top picks for essential plugins every new WordPress blogger should have
- Antispam Bee – it’s free and will keep your blog from getting bogged down with hundreds of spammy comments
- Classic Editor plugin – everyone may not need this one, but it’s a good one for beginners who are overwhelmed with learning all the blogging stuff all at once. This plugin enables the old editor (the place you write/edit blog posts) which resembles Word and Google docs and is very familiar for most people.
- WordFence Security Plugin – keeps your site safe against hackers, malware, and viruses etc. You can stick with the free version. No need to pay for it.
- If you want a more simple security plugin, our second choice is All in One WP Security and Firewall plugin.
- UpdraftPlus Plugin – we can’t live without this one (and neither should you!). This WordPress plugin makes daily backups of your site in case anything ever breaks/malware issues etc. Your valuable content is safe. Always connect this one to a cloud-based storage option like Google Drive or Dropbox!
- SG Optimizer – this one is ONLY if you have SiteGround for hosting, which we recommend highly (all 6 of our sites are with them!). This plugin should be on your blog automatically when you set up with SiteGround, but if not, go ahead and download it. It optimizes your SG hosting functionality and allows you to clear the cache from your site any time you need to.
- WP Fastest Cache Plugin – use this if you DON’T have SiteGround hosting. It’s a great caching plugin for site speed. You want to clear the cache on your blog on a regular basis so it won’t get bogged down with unnecessary files when your site tries to load.
- Cookie Notice Plugin – this plugin notifies your readers that your site collects cookies and is part of being GDPR compliant. Very important.
- Grow Social Plugin (by Mediavine) – formerly called “Social Pug” — this one is the best plugin for adding social sharing buttons to your blog.
- Yoast SEO Plugin – (the FREE version is all you need) Sometimes I hesitate recommending this one — not because it’s bad, but because every new blogger thinks it will help with SEO (the ability to get your blog posts shown in Google results to bring you traffic). IT WILL NOT help with SEO in that way. Yoast only gives some VERY BASIC guidelines about whether your post is reader-friendly and if you’ve used some key terms that MIGHT help a tiny bit with traffic.
Yoast allows you to edit some of your metadata (which does help with SEO … but it’s only a small part). And that’s literally ALL IT’S GOOD FOR.
But this functionality is important, so you will need this plugin.
That said, what will help with SEO?
A GREAT SEO RESOURCE that will absolutely help you get a great start in attracting organic traffic (Google search traffic as opposed to traffic from Pinterest/social media) is Debbie Gartner’s “EASY ON-PAGE SEO”.
It’s the BEST $50 you’ll spend on your blog for monetizing it (besides her intermediate book when you’re ready to learn the next step of SEO.
Before Debbie wrote all of her SEO secrets down in a book, I paid her over $100 for a phone consultation to get my SEO game on track.
That’s how IMPORTANT this is.
As a new blogger, I can’t stress enough how important it is to put some time into learning beginning SEO right away.
If you’re publishing blog posts without knowing what’s in this book, you’re WASTING YOUR TIME! I promise you.
Pinterest and other social media platforms won’t even come close to bringing you the kind of steady traffic (and income from affiliate sales/ad revenue etc.) you need to make money with your blog.
SEO practices are NOT a fast game.
When you implement this process with every blog post you write, you’re investing in the future earning and traffic power of your blog.
SEO takes time … sometimes months to kick in — so the sooner you start, the absolute better you’ll be with your blog’s traffic and ability to monetize faster.
WHEW! THAT WAS QUITE THE TANGENT … SO SORRY!
But I can’t let that one go.
The best WordPress plugins for blogs — especially new blogs — should definitely include Yoast.
But PLEASE, for the love of Pete (I always wondered who that is … why Pete??), don’t think it helps with SEO just because it’s called “an SEO plugin”.
AND … don’t put off learning SEO as soon as possible just because it seems hard. It’s really not that hard! And a good teacher is all you need.
Debbie is an outstanding teacher, and you’ll be SO GLAD you invested in her knowledge and expertise.
I wish her book had been around when I first learned her secrets! 😉
**I’m an affiliate partner for Debbie’s SEO course — which means I earn a small commission if you purchase. But I 1000% know that her SEO expertise got me ranking on page 1 of Google for several of my posts when nothing else worked! She’s the bomb.com.
There you have it.
The Best WordPress Plugins for blogs.
These will serve you well into the future, and keep your blog safe from spam, crashes, hackers, and give you other great functionality without slowing down your site with a million unnecessary plugins everyone’s always recommending.
Keeping plugins short and sweet is the way to go if you want to keep your blog site light as a feather and operating at a nice loading speed for your readers.
Google is HUGE on site speed also!
If your site takes forever to load, it will not rank in any search results. I guarantee you.
Worst WordPress Plugins:
Here’s a list of bad or unnecessary plugins people always seem to recommend to new bloggers.
Most of the plugins below are resource hogs and take up a lot of file space on your site which means they slow down site speed.
Avoid these WordPress Plugins when possible:
- Jet pack
- Monster Insights – this one isn’t terrible but it’s not totally necessary. Most people use it to add the Google Analytics code to their site (to keep track of site traffic and which posts are bringing the most readers etc.). But I’d recommend Insert Headers and Footers instead. It can be used to add many types of tracking codes to your site and isn’t limited to Google Analytics code.
- Contact Form 7
- Broken Link Checker
- Nextgen Gallery
- Similar Posts
- Yet Another Related Post
- Pagebuilders such as Elementor and Beaver Builder
The actual list of unnecessary/heavy plugins is quite long, but this is a handful I see recommended often.
** A message about “similar and related posts” types of plugins.
These are completely unnecessary.
When you write blog posts that are related to each other (and you should!), all you need to do is stick a sentence in the middle or end of your post that says “you might also like” or “related post” — then type the post name and make it a link.
Final word about WordPress plugins:
Try to use as few plugins as you absolutely have to. When you do need a plugin, do plenty of research on the “lightest weight” plugin that provides the function you are looking for.
My goal is always to have 15 or less plugins on any of my sites. If I can keep it to 10 or less, even better.
Pagebuilder plugins have been my Achilles heel.
I used to build all front pages and landing/sales pages with the Elementor plugin because it’s so easy and looks great.
But, with WordPress’s newer Gutenberg editor, there’s a pagebuilder built right in.
They also have come out with some outstanding blocks that can build just about any design you’d like.
I highly recommend learning Gutenberg and playing around with its block page builder. It’s super light and won’t weigh down page speed like Elementor and Beaver Builder which are both really popular page builders.
What to do if a plugin causes an issue on your site
There are times when a plugin update or install causes the site to stop working.
This topic is too lengthy and involved to tackle in one blog post, and I have a course specifically for WordPress and the hundreds of things there are to know, hate, and love about it.
Head over to the Women on WordPress feature course to see if it’s just what you’re needing as a beginning WordPress blogger.
Cheers, and happy blogging!