Everyone wants a great WordPress site that loads fast, produces conversions, and is easy to manage. Plugins help to make that happen.
A plugin is a tool that makes your blogging life easier. It helps to open up blogging to anyone because you don't need to know how to code.
Chances are if there is something you want your site to be able to do, someone has created a plugin that will provide you with that ability.
Think of a plugin as the decorating elements of a cake. The blog is the cake, it's got cake and some frosting. A plugin could be beads, fondant, candles, flavor infusions, etc.
Though you want to keep that just like too many beads or candles can really weigh a cake down, too many plugins can weigh your site down. So you want to be very particular about the plugins you choose to use on your site.
Try to only use 10-20 max, the fewer the better.
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After nearly three years of running my other site on WordPress, I've been through a lot of plugins, these are the ones I've found to work best.
This plugin will help you make sure your posts are written well for search engine optimization. It increases your chance of your post showing up in search engine (think Google) results. It will also check the readablity of your post to ensure you're putting out good content.
Other great things it does:
Cost: Free (There is a paid version, but three years later I still use the free one)
Want readers to share your posts for you? Then you need a way for them to do so easily. Social Pug provides the links to tweet, pin, share on FB and any other social media site you want to include.
The settings let you choose where your share buttons will be located, what they look like, and what images you want to be shared to what social media platforms. For example, you want to make sure your image that is optimized for Pinterest gets shared to Pinterest and the one optimized for Facebook gets shared to Facebook.
Note: Social Warfare used to be the go-to plugin for this, but they started having major technical issues that culminated in some sites being hacked and forwarded to porn sites.
While you want comments on your blog, you don't want to waste time filtering through spam comments. Anti-Spam works to filter through and block spam. You'd be amazed at how much spam a blog can attract.
Bonus: It's GDPR Compliant.
Cookie notice is a plugin to allow you to display a notice of the cookies you use on your site. This became relevant and necessary after the implementation of GDPR in May 2018.
You likely see these banners on every site you go to, this plugin is one way for you to get it on your site.
Lasso is an amazing plugin if you do affiliate marketing on your site. It manages all of your affiliate links, but it also does a lot more than that. It will track what links get clicked on what pages and shows you how well a page is monetized. It makes it easy to craft and implement an affiliate marketing strategy.
Note: this plugin is currently in beta, I'm lucky enough to use it and am loving it so far!
If you plan to use any kind of tracking code on your site like:
Then you should be using Google Tag Manger, rather than have a bunch of code pasted into your site's header, you can have it organized easily in Tag Manager.
This plugin is essential if you ever end up switching tools. For example, when I switched from Leadpages to Thrive Leads I had to go through my site and delete all the Leadboxes on each page, it was so tedious. Then I learned about this plugin.
All I had to do was insert the code for the lead box and then it went and found all the instances of that code and replaced it with a blank space.
Large images slow down a site. What ShortPixel Optimizer does is compress those images so they aren't as big and can be loaded much quicker.
Cost: Free (though you may need to upgrade if you use a lot of images)
I love using Thrive Leads' Lead Groups to get people to opt into my list. Basically, it lets me create forms to show throughout the content and then set rules on when they are displayed. For example, I can have one lead group display on any post categorized as "blogging". This makes sure I always have a way for a reader to opt in to my list.
Another lead group is only displayed on certain pages, making it easy to manage all your opt-ins.
Cost: $67 one time cost (or it's included in the Thrive Themes Membership - $228/year), yes, I know it's a lot and honestly, if you can't afford it, it's not the end of the world, while you definitely need a service like Drip or Mailchimp, Thrive Leads is more a really nice to have. Personally, I can say I've seen my opt-ins more than double since I started using Thrive Leads so it's worth it to me.
Elizabeth Stapleton is the founder and voice behind Less Debt More Wine and ElizabethStapleton.com. She is a Pinterest marketer, online entrepreneur, and recovering attorney whose writing has been featured on Entrepreneur.com, The Huffington Post, The Penny Hoarder, Budgets Are Sexy, Credit Sesame, and Magnify Money. Additionally, she has been quoted in articles on Business Insider, Student Loan Hero, and Nerd Wallet.
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