WordPress is one of the widest used blogging platforms out there. And the number of themes (free and paid) that is available for WordPress is beyond counting. WordPress themes come in all shapes and sizes and offer all kinds of functionality, from simple to complex. However, we still find ourselves adding even more bells and whistles by adding WordPress plugins into the mix. I come back to the same set of plugins over and over, because they do what they promised and do it beautifully. Today, I want to talk about what WordPress plugins I use and why.
Plugins are packets of software that are added to your theme to give it more functionality. Think contact forms, sliders, membership sites, analytics, and on, and on, and on.
Just like there are zillion themes on the market, so are the myriads of plugins. Many do the same thing slightly different, and so at times it’s hard to choose which ones are good and which ones are so-so.
I have tried many of plugins over the years, but I keep on coming back to the same group of plugins over and over and now, as soon as I install WordPress and a theme, I install these 3 plugins (and they are all free).
SEO by Yoast
If you want your blog to be found, you should keep up with SEO on your posts. But who remembers all the little things that need to be done to every post?! That’s where SEO by Yoast comes in.
It guides you through every little thing that needs to be done to your post to rank it the best it can be. It provides the fields for things like your post’s main keyword and meta description, reminds you in break up your text and make it more readable with headers and bullets points, to include images and to give them proper ‘alt’ tags.
Just follow all the instructions until your SEO indicator lights up green – then you are good to go!
To see what steps you need to do to help your blog post rank higher, check out this post.
Contact Form 7
You write your blog for people. So, naturally, you want people to be able to get in touch with you with any questions they might have.
To do that, you need a contact page on your blog. And you want this page to have some useful fields, like Name and Email for your visitors to provide. Contact Form 7 is the easiest, most straightforward form building plugin out there.
Using this plugin, you create a form with all the necessary fields and get a shortcode that you simply place on your Contact Us page. Save and voila, you have a great place to interact with your readers (like this one):
To see how to create a Contact Us page step by step, read this post.
SumoMe is a-m-a-z-i-n-g.
Where do I start?
It’s just one plugin, but you get like a dozen different things it does.
You can use them all, or you can turn them on one by one:
- Tools to collect email addresses of your subscribers:
- List Builder
- Scroll Box
- Welcome Mat
- Smart Bar
- Tool to see how visitors go about your blog:
- Heat Maps
- Tool to track your analytics:
- Google Analytics
- Tools to help your content be shared on social media:
- Image Sharer
- Share Buttons
The design interface for each of the tools is very easy to follow and straightforward.
The tools are elegant and do what they need to do while offering this amazing functionality for free.
And with all that you get a Dashboard, that shows you, at a glance, all the statistics from all of the Sumo tools you are using. #iheartnoah.
Tools have a free version that does a great job, but if you want to go a customized route, there is a premium version as well.
To see how to install SumoMe plugin tools on your site, check out this post.
So there you have it, my top 3 favorite plugins. They are just few of many great plugins that are available to you today to really add to what your blog can do. Next time you come across something you want your website to do, see if there is a plugin for that.