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10 Of The Best WordPress Plugins I Cannot Live Without

by | Aug 17, 2018 | Blogging Tips, WordPress

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What is WordPress?

It is a content management system which I use to manage my blog files, posts, and pages.

In this post I am referring to WordPress.org, not WordPress.com, you can learn the difference between the two here.

Both platforms use software’s known as WordPress plugins to execute specific commands and perform several functionalities.

Choosing the right WordPress plugin is vital because some can break your site or cause compatibility issues with other third-party applications, such as themes.

WordPress plugin directory contains more than 50,000 plugins either serving a similar purpose or different uses.

As a new or aspiring blogger, you can get confused when choosing the best option in that large sea plugins directory.

You are lucky because in this post I will be sharing 10 best WordPress plugins I use daily to manage this blog.

This post will help you get over all the confusion and help you to choose the best WordPress plugin for your blog or online business website.

I will only recommend what I use, and so you are free to borrow the whole list and use it on your blog too.

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10-Best-WordPress-Plugins-Yoast
Three things this WordPress plugin helps me to accomplish

Yoast SEO is one of the best WordPress plugins I cannot live without on this blog, and that is why I put it number one.

a) Organize search engine results preview

By this, I mean that it helps me to control how my blog posts titles, URLs, Meta descriptions and target keywords will appear on the search engine results page.

With Yoast, I can ensure that the focus keyword is used correctly in the title, URL, and meta.

Yoast gives you suggestions on how you can improve the structure and readability of these elements to make them more clickable on the search results.

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Google Results Preview

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Yoast Preview Dashboard

b) Generate XML sitemaps

This is a file that groups all similar files into one category making faster for search engines to crawl and index your site. Read more about sitemaps here.

Yoast will automatically generate a sitemap for your blog or website as shown in the example below for this blog.

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After Yoast creates the sitemaps, I then submit the sitemap to Google through their search console to speed up.

First, you need to do is log in to your Google search console and move to the Crawl section > sitemaps > submit.

To be able to login to the search console you must verify ownership of your property with Google first as explained in that post.

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C) Manage social media profiles

For social media I used Yoast to perform the following functions for this blog;

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Other functions Yoast can help you to accomplish

  • It will help you to manage the RSS feed of your blog.
  • You can use it to set up breadcrumbs for your website/blog.
  • You can use the redirect manager to perform redirection when you change URLs for your posts and pages.
  • Help you to submit your site to webmaster tools.
  • Discover crawl errors on your posts and pages.

Why do you need Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin?

Your blog will need traffic for you to make money with it or get readers.

There are many online business promotion methods you can use to drive traffic to your blogs, such as email marketing, search engine optimization, and social media marketing.

Before you get organic traffic from search engines, you must set up your on-page SEO and off page SEO right.

This is where Yoast SEO WordPress plugin comes into play because it will help you to streamline your on-page SEO.

Use this video to learn how to set up Yoast SEO WordPress plugin for your blog.

10-Best-WordPress-Plugins-Autoptimize
Industry case studies show that your bounce rate increases by 130% if your site loads with more than 3 seconds.

Autoptimize is one of the best WordPress plugins you should have because it will perform the following functions for you.

  • Concatenation of files: This is the process of aggregating or bringing similar data into one group to make them easily assessable by robots. This will minimize the number of requests your server makes before finding a resource in your website.
  • Minification of codes: This plugin will rewrite you’re HTML, CSS and javascript codes to remove any repetitions, white spaces and unnecessary characters to make them more readable and accessible by robots and search engine crawlers.
  • Caching: This plugin will improve the general performance of your browser and website by making the access of files faster.

Visit this video to learn how to set up Autoptimize for your WordPress website.

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10-Best-WordPress-Plugins-W3-Total-Cache
Similar to Autoptimize, W3 Total Cache plugin will help you to improve your site speed performance.

This plugin is compatible with many WordPress themes and hosting packages, which makes it the best WordPress plugin.

It will help you to improve your search rankings and website friendliness through rendering pages quickly.

It will also improve browser caching and minify CSS and Javascript codes to make your website load faster.

Using Autoptimize and W3 Total Cache together will boost your website speed.

Tools you can use to test your website speed

10-Best-WordPress-Plugins-WordFence
The security of your WordPress dashboard and files is essential.

This best WordPress plugin will protect your blog from any malware or virus attacks.

It will also send you email updates every time someone logins or attempts to log in to your WordPress dashboard.

WordFence will send you weekly summary reports for all possible attacks and login attempts to your email, which will help you to monitor any vulnerabilities in your website or blog.

I use this best WordPress plugin alongside the three before to strengthen the security of my blog further.

WPS Hide Login: It will help you to create a custom wp-admin URL to avoid using the generic site/wp-admin/ URL.

Inactive Logout: It will protect you from snoopers who might be gathering your data during your session.

Wp Security Question: Helps you to add a security question to your login URL, which improves its security further.

As a blogger, you need to build an email list because it is one of those channels you can use to market your business, sell your products and grow brand loyalty

Once you create freebies for your email subscribers, you will need to market them on forms embedded on your website.

Bloom is a WordPress plugin from Elegant Themes, which will help you to create beautiful optin forms like the examples below from my blog.

Follow this link to get Bloom Live Demo.

Follow this link to get Bloom Documentation and Tutorials.

Seven reasons why I think Bloom is the best optin WordPress Plugin.

A) It supports 6 opt-in form options (fly in, pop up, locked content, widget, below the post and in line).

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Examples of Bloom Optin Forms on SproutMentor

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BLOOM POPUP

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BLOOM WIDGET

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BLOOM FLYIN

B) It supports more than 18 email marketing service providers, such as Convertkit, Aweber, Mailerlite, and GetResponse among others.

In case you are wondering the email marketing provider I use on this blog, I use Convertkit, and you can read this post discover how it helped me get 80 subscribers in one month.

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C) It has 100+ premade templates you can use to create your design.
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D) It has a wide range of customization options in the design settings.
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E) It has robust and highly intuitive display settings.
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F) You will get statistics for every form and even the general performance of all forms.
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G) It supports import and export of forms from one optin form software to another.
10-Best-WordPress-Plugins-Bloom
You want your posts to get shared on social media, right? This WordPress plugin will help you to add social sharing buttons to your blog posts or pages to make it easy for your visitors to share directly from your site.

It will also add social follow media icons, which will make it possible for you to grow the followers of your social media profiles directly from your blog.

Monarch supports six types of social sharing icons (fly in, pop up, in media, sidebar and inline). See examples of Monarch social share and follow buttons on this blog.

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Examples of Monarch Sharing Buttons on Sproutmentor

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10-Best-WordPress-Plugins-Updraftplus
Imagine losing all your blog posts and pages due to a simple mistake, such as installing the wrong WordPress plugin or a malware attack.

It would be devastating and a complete waste of your time and resources you have spent building the blog.

This is the reason you need a backup WordPress plugin which will store files where you can restore them easily in case you lose them by mistake.

This is one of the best WordPress plugins for backing up your site because it is easy for use and offers a wide range of backup storage options.

10-Best-WordPress-Plugins-Akismet
Spammy comments are bad for SEO and can easily harm the reputation of your blog in the eyes of the search engines.

Akismet is a highly rated best WordPress plugin which will help you to keep spammy comments on your blog posts.

It will detect them for you and store them in a spam folder for further analysis by you.

Akismet is easy to set up, which makes it even more appealing to use on your WordPress site.

10-Best-WordPress-Plugins-TOC
You want to make it easy for your users to navigate content in your blog posts.

This comes in handy if you write long, detailed posts 2000 words plus like me.

I use this plugin to help me add a simple yet pretty table of contents on every blog post.

The good this is that you can use a shortcode, which will create a table of content for every blog post.

However, this plugin has not been updated for almost one year. Yes, it has been working fine for me, but it can easily compromise my security because it’s not regularly updated.

Feel free to share with me the WordPress plugin you use for this purpose because I think I need to find another option, which is regularly updated.

10-Best-WordPress-Plugins-Pretty-Links
I know you created your blog to make money with it.

Affiliate marketing is a simple and quick method you can use to make money with a blog even when it is new.

However, sometimes affiliate links can harm your SEO reputations to search engines.

For this reason, need to use this best WordPress plugin to add a nofollow attribute and a redirection command your affiliate links.

Also, most affiliate links are long, ugly and not memorable. This plugin will help you to shorten then and change them into something memorable.

For example, you can change https://www.elegantthemes.com/affiliates/idevaffiliate.php?id=46069 to https://www.sproutmentor.com/Divi/

This plugin will also give you statistics for every link so that you can know how many clicks each is getting and the conversions each is making.

Therefore, Pretty Links WordPress plugin will help you to cloak affiliate links and make them shorter and memorable.

5 Other WordPress Plugins I use on top of the ten above

  1. Jetpack: A multipurpose use plugin. I use it to add related posts at the bottom of every post and get statistics for visitors on every post.
  2. MonsterInsights: I use it to manage and monitor my Google analytics account directly from my WordPress blog.
  3. Smush Image Optimization: A must have WordPress plugin which will further speed up your site by reducing the size of large images.
  4. Redirection: You can use it to create or manage 301 redirects and track 404 errors in your WordPress blog.
  5. 404 page: It helps me to create a customer 404 error page, which redirects users to active pages when they get lost in my site.

Factors to consider when choosing a WordPress plugin

  • Other user’s reviews: Keep off WordPress plugins will too many negative reviews.
  • The number of active installations: The higher the number, the
  • The frequency of updating: A plugin which is updated regularly is the best bet to go with.
  • Support: Care enough to know if the plugin has an active support team in background who can help you sort out any problem which occurs along the way.
  • Recommendations and endorsements: It is practically impossible to test out every plugin on your blog or website. The shortcut is taking recommendations given by other bloggers and online entrepreneurs in your niche. For example, you can borrow from this list because these are plugins I use on this blog on a daily basis.
  • The function: Only pick a WordPress plugin which serves the purpose you want it to for your blog or website.
10-Best-WordPress-Plugins-FACTORS-TO-CONSIDER

How to install, delete, update and configure WordPress plugin

I hope that the theory part above has been informative to you, now let’s come back to the practical part of learning how to use WordPress.

Before you can install any plugin, you need to delete default and unused ones, which come pre-installed in WordPress.

Having too many unused plugins can slow down your site, so you need only to keep those that are necessary.

For example, if you followed this step-by-step guide for creating a website that I wrote in the last post, you will notice that the Mojo Marketplace plugin from Bluehost will be in the list of installed plugins by default.

To delete a plugin, go to Plugins > Installed Plugins, and click on “deactivate” it first then “delete” it.

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After you have deleted all the unnecessary plugins, you are ready to install the ten recommended plugins explained above.

To install a new plugin go to Plugins>Add New then click on the “Install Now” button and finally “Activate.”

Before you choose a plugin, you need to look at the customer reviews, the number of active installations and when it was updated last as the things to consider before installing a plugin.

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After you install your desired plugin, you can keep the default settings or go to Plugins> installed plugins > settings to make any changes you want on the default settings.
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Plugin settings window

Plugins settings page Example

Other WordPress related posts you might find beneficial

Do you have a WordPress blog or any other type of WordPress website? In this post, I share 10 best WordPress plugins plus five others I use on my WordPress blog (Sproutmentor.com) daily.

PIN ONE

Are you looking for WordPress plugins you can use to manage and grow your WordPress blog? In this post, I share my best WordPress tips on 10 best WordPress plugins I use on this blog. This WordPress cheatsheet will skyrocket your blog traffic and success.

PIN TWO

This post contains a WordPress checklist of 10 of the best WordPress plugins I use to manage and run my WordPress blog (Sproutmentor.com). Most WordPress for beginners guides are technical, but I promise this one is simple and I only share my best WordPress tips I use daily.

PIN THREE

Recommended Blogging Resources

SiteGround: SiteGround is my favorite web hosting company for a new blog. Their prices are affordable, they have 100% uptime and the fastest support. Read 10 reasons why I love Siteground here.

Seva (formerly called Convertkit): This is the best email marketing service provider for bloggers. It has a simple interface and has many functions you can use to grow your email list. Read how I grew my email list from zero to 80 subscribers in one month using Seva.

Divi: My top and best WordPress theme. I use Divi on all my blogs and websites because it is responsive, multipurpose and does not require any coding expertise to use. Read 20 reasons why I love Divi theme here

My name is Hildah Mwende. I am a freelance writer and a coach. My expertise falls in the following subject areas, but it is not limited to them: WordPress, Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Marketing. Find a comprehensive list and description of all my competencies and specialties here.

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