WordPress plugins add a huge amount of functionality to your site.
There are literally thousands of them and you can find plugins to help you with almost anything you can think of.
We’ve got to the point in the series now where we can start looking at optimizing your site, both at the back and the front end.
This is where WordPress plugins come in to play.
We’ve been through a journey to get to this point, you and I, so congratulations on getting your site up and running.
So far we’ve looked at:
I promise you will get to write soon.
If you missed any of those articles, I highly recommend that you check them out at the links.
You will see on the left-hand bar within your WordPress dashboard, there is an option that says Plugins.
This is where you will navigate to when you want to add/remove or manage your plugins.
Going to the Add New option will take you to the main screen.
From here, you can browse for WordPress plugins or search for them in the search bar, if you know which ones you want.
Selecting the Recommended tab is always a great place to start, so let’s start there.
Looking through here gives you a great start, however, what do you do if you don’t know what you’re looking for?
Check out my recommended WordPress plugins below.
These will give you a good starting point.
Depending on what type of site you have built, there will no doubt be extra ones that you wish to add.
Follow this process, you can add new plugins at any time.
Best practice and a quick word of warning, just make sure you are doing it on your staging site first.
By installing plugins on your staging site first, you can check the functionality and make sure there are no conflicts that are going to cause issues with your site.
Do this, THEN install it on your live site.
If you would like any further information on WordPress plugins, check out their plugin page at WordPress.com.
Here are my top recommended WordPress plugins.
They are the ones I use and they are all free.
There are many premium plugins that, once you have enough visitors to your site are well worth the money.
For now, though, let’s just stick to the free ones.
Yoast SEO gives you a massive help in hand optimizing your posts for maximum SEO.
It also gives you additional tools like an XML Sitemap tool, helping you add your sitemaps to search engines.
Shareaholic is a social media sharing tools enabling you to add share buttons to all of your favorite social media platforms.
With above and below content share buttons along with a floating share tab, you have all the options you might need.
Shareaholic also enables you to add recommendations to the bottom of your posts, showcasing some of your relevant material to the reader.
Speed booster is a quick and easy to use tool that simply, helps you speed up your site loading times with Google.
It is well known (and we have already mentioned) that people abandon pages with high load times. Stop that with the Speed Booster Pack.
Smush enables you to compress your images prior to uploading them to your site.
Small/compressed images help reduce page loading times and with Smush’s ability to compress up to 50 images at a time, you can do it with this plugin in no time.
Smush also allows you to enable Lazy Loading, another measure that increases page speed by loading images only as they are required.
MailChimp for WP
MailChimp for WordPress along with their website, allows you to seamlessly integrate signup forms into your site.
You can start building your email list straight away by adding static subscription forms in widgets or pop up forms at a time that you choose.
MailChimp is also compatible with a number of form plugins, enabling you to create the forms you wish, with ease.
Social Media follow buttons
Social Media follow buttons, do exactly that.
With this plugin, you can add buttons to enable your visitors to follow you on any of your favorite Social Media platforms.
With multiple options on placement and arrangement of your icons, you can be sure you will find something that fits in with the look of your site.
Insert Headers and Footers
This plugin gives you an easy way to insert code into the Header and Footer of your pages.
If you want to add Google Analytics or Google Adsense (along with many other things), you will need to be able to do this.
If like me, you would rather not start trying to add code into the scripting for your theme, this gives you a quick and simple way of getting around the issue.
WP Sticky sidebar
Sticky Sidebar enables you to do one thing.
Yes, you’ve guessed it, stick your sidebar.
As you can see I have done. The sidebar on the right, by default, will scroll with the screen meaning that once a reader gets to a certain point, they will no longer see it.
If you have something that you would like to remain visible, using this plugin will ensure that no matter how long your post is, it will always be on the screen.
Ultimate post list
If you are looking to create a separate page for your categories or just an archive page for all of your posts then this plugin will save you a huge amount of time.
Set it up once and you can automatically add posts from specified categories on to a page.
If you look at my blog archive, and the categories within it, this is what I have done.
Take this post for instance. It will automatically be added to the “How to start a blog” category, no more effort needed.
Anti Spam allows you to automatically identify spam comments.
Once you start building a readership and start receiving comments, you will be hounded by spam.
This plugin automatically identifies them and adds them straight to your spam folder.
This enables you to check and ensure you are not losing any legitimate ones, without spending hours going through them all.
WordPress plugins provide you with an amazing amount of functionality.
From making the tiresome jobs easier, to speeding up your site, you will find a plugin that can do it.
Spend a bit of time thinking about everything you want to do on your site.
The recommended plugins listed above are all free and will give you a really good start, just remember that if you have a job that you’re unsure of how to accomplish, there will be a plugin for that.
In the next post in the series, we are going to look at your pages and what to create before publishing your site and going live.
For all other articles in the series, click the link below.