Starting a blog: Seven must-have WordPress plugins

Here’s part six of my series for new bloggers. This time, I’m looking specifically at WordPress plugins. I’ve decided to go for a platform-specific post for a couple of reasons. Firstly, WordPress seems to be the most popular choice among bloggers. Secondly, I’m one of the many who uses it!

If you’re using a different platform, you may still find the following useful as it should focus your thoughts on some of the features that can make life easier for you when working on and maintaining your blog.

I use a fair few WordPress plugins, but these are the ones I find most handy.

Wordfence Security

There’s no nice way of putting this, but people and bots will try to hack your site. Sadly, it’s part and parcel of having an online presence. This is obviously very alarming, but having security in place should allay your fears.

I’ve tried a fair few security plugins and Wordfence is by far the best as far as I’m concerned. With a range of tools including IP address blocking and live traffic view, it covers all the important bases and gives you peace of mind.

Yoast SEO

Yes, I mentioned Yoast last time, but I can’t emphasise enough how useful it is. As well as checking your copy in terms of SEO friendliness, it keeps tabs on how easy it is to read.

It presents the results in an easy-to-follow traffic light system, along with suggestions for improvements across the board. Using it has really improved my approach to SEO.

WP Fastest Cache

A slow-loading site can lead to a high bounce rate – people changing their minds and navigating away within seconds – and also impact on SEO. There are a fair things you can do to combat this, including adding a caching plugin.

WP Fastest Cache is my recommendation here. In short, it caches your HTML files to ensure a faster load time. It’s easy to install and configure and has made a noticeable difference to my site.

Ultimate Social Media PLUS

Naturally, you’re going to want people to follow your social media accounts and engage with them, so adding social media buttons should be considered a must.

Ultimate Social Media PLUS takes you through a short series of questions such as which icons you want, what you want them to do and how you want them to display. Once you’ve done this, head to ‘Appearance’ then ‘Widgets’ and add the Ultimate Social Media PLUS widget to your sidebar.

Akismet Anti-Spam

Nobody likes spam comments, but blogs attract a lot of them. With that in mind, it’s well worth installing a plugin to reduce the amount you get.

I use Akismet Anti-Spam, which discards the worst spam so you never see it. According to the stats, it has got rid of almost 650,000 spam comments since I installed it with an accuracy rate of 99.96%. Very impressive and, indeed, useful.

Broken Link Checker

One of the most annoying things that can happen is when pages you’ve linked to suddenly move or vanish completely. With over seven years of content under my belt, this happens to me a lot!

As well as looking sloppy, having broken links can have a negative effect on your blog from an SEO point of view. This Broken Link Checker is just the job and does as its name suggests. It pinpoints links that are potentially broken and even emails you.

WP-DraftsForFriends

As I mentioned in a previous post, it’s important to get a second pair of eyes over your copy. If your most-trusted proofreader isn’t around, you can use WP-DraftsForFriends.

It creates a live preview of your post that remains available for as long or short a time as you allow. Just share the URL it generates and the job’s a good ‘un. Similarly, if you go on to make money out of blogging, you may find that some brands will want to fact-check your posts before you publish them and this plugin is ideal.

That’s it for WordPress plugins. Next time I’ll look at the best websites for bloggers.

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