There are so many free WordPress plugins you can install. But which ones are the best for new blogs? That's what I'm going to go over today.
First, what is a WordPress plugin?
Plugins are software that can be added to your blog to enhance its' functionality. Plugins add new features and let you customize and optimize your blog.
There are plugins for... just about everything. And that's the problem. Many new bloggers make the mistake of installing too many plugins. The end result is a sluggish site that struggles to load them all.
See, a plugin is essentially a bunch of lines of code. And if you install too many badly coded plugins, your blog will struggle to handle it all and your blog speed will slow to a crawl.
You don't need a lot of plugins to build a successful blog, but there are some that no new blog should be without.
Here are the 12 best WordPress plugins for new bloggers.
Akismet protects your blog from comment spam. This plugin is a must-have for any new blog. Without this plugin your blog will be bombarded with spam comments and you will end up wasting all day reviewing and deleting them.
Akismet will automatically delete spam comments so you are only notified of authentic comments from your readers.
I find it to be amazingly accurate as it stops a good 95% of the spam comments I get on my blog. It's one of the best WordPress plugins around.
Rating: 4.5 stars ⏤ Number of Downloads: 1,000,000 ⏤ Price: Free ⏤ Link: Akismet
Starting a community via your comments section is an important part of building a successful blog. But the default WordPress comment system leaves a lot to be desired.
Upgrading your comments section could be the key to spurring Facebook-like engagement on your blog.
I use Thrive Comments to add additional functionality to my comments section like up-voting and down-voting comments, unlocking badges and featuring comments. You can see it in action in the comments section below.
Yoast is the number one SEO plugin for WordPress. Best of all, it’s entirely free.
SEO stands for search engine optimization, which means optimizing your content to rank in search engines.
Yoast helps you make sure your blog posts are Google-friendly. In every blog post you can:
As a new blog, you won't be getting much Google traffic. But it's still important to optimize each post for Google SEO right from the start.
Rating: 5.0 stars ⏤ Number of Downloads: 5,000,000 ⏤ Price: Free ⏤ Link: Yoast SEO
A blog post that's optimized for search will target a specific keyword phrase in each article. But how do you know which keywords to pick, which ones get traffic and which ones are the easiest to rank for?
That's where you need a keyword research tool like Long Tail Pro. They have keyword popularity and keyword difficulty scores plus competitor analysis to reverse engineer your competitions' work.
Social Warfare is by far the best WordPress social sharing plugin. Most WordPress social sharing plugins slow down your site, but the Social Warfare share buttons are both lightning fast and beautiful.
See the Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter share icons below? Click on one to see just how easy it is to make content sharable to social media.
Rating: 3.5 stars ⏤ Number of Downloads: 60,000 ⏤ Price: Free ⏤ Link: Social Warfare
The free version of Social Warfare is enough for most bloggers. But if you want to customize their look and add additional icons - you need the pro version which is $29.
With Social Warfare Pro you can:
Affiliate marketing is awesome because you can make money selling other people's products. For new bloggers it will be the best way to monetize your blog.
The most popular affiliate program is Amazon Associates. I also promote several companies who are on ShareASale like Survey Junkie, Grammarly and Tailwind. The benefit of signing up with a large affiliate marketing program is that the payouts are combined into one check every two weeks.
To get credit from sales coming from your blog you will need to use your unique affiliate link. It looks something like this:
Pretty ugly isn't it? But when you use the Pretty Links plugin you can turn ugly links into pretty ones like this instead:
Plus, you can track outgoing affiliate clicks to see which blog posts users are clicking affiliate links from. Awesome-ness!
Rating: 4.5 stars ⏤ Number of Downloads: 200,000 ⏤ Price: Free ⏤ Link: Pretty Links
The ConvertKit plugin for WordPress lets you insert your ConvertKit optin forms directly inside of your blog posts.
While the plugin is free, you do need an account with ConvertKit first. Get started using this link and you won't need to enter any payment info.
If you don't have an email marketing provider - you need one. Having an email list is a must for monetizing your blog.
Email marketing is the best way for a blog to make money because it's really hard to sell directly from your blog posts. With email, you can provide value and establish trust which is important if you ever want to sell something or recommend affiliate products.
Rating: 5 stars ⏤ Number of Downloads: 20,000 ⏤ Price: Free ⏤ Link: ConvertKit
Once you have an email list set up, Thrive Leads helps you grow your email list with their high converting optin form templates. It's the software the pros use to get tons of email subscribers.
You can create welcome mats, exit intent popups, slide ins, top bar, inline and sidebar forms. Then track their performance and conduct A/B testing.
GOOGLE ANALYTICS DASHBOARD
Google Analytics is a must-have for bloggers to see how much traffic you get (and how you got it).
To begin tracking your stats, you need to sign up with Google Analytics and add your tracking code. You need to insert the tracking code into the header.php page in your theme so it appears before the closing </head> tag.
The super easy no-code way to do this is to use the Google Analytics Dashboard plugin. Additionally, you get access to basic analytics data right on your WordPress dashboard.
Rating: 4.5 stars ⏤ Number of Downloads: 1,000,000 ⏤ Price: Free ⏤ Link: Google Analytics Dashboard
The Google Analytics Dashboard plugin will give you an overview of your daily traffic to see changes over time. But to get deeper insights you need the Monster Insights plugin instead.
With Monster Insights you can see which blog posts are getting the most amount of traffic and how long readers are staying on each page - right from within WordPress.
It essentially interprets complex Google Analytics data and displays only the information that is valuable to bloggers in an easily consumable way.
Having this data is valuable because it shows you what type of content is working best and thus what type of content you should be creating more of on your blog.
SHORTPIXEL IMAGE OPTIMIZER
Ever save an image and notice the file size is HUGE? Well big file sizes mean slow loading sites. This is a big no-no if you want to rank and get traffic from Google search.
The trick is to reduce the file size so your blog loads fast without compromising image quality.
For this we're going to use the ShortPixel Image Optimizer plugin.
To use the plugin you need to register a free account on their site first. You get 100 free images per month and a bonus 100 images if you use this link.
What I love most about this plugin is that the optimization happens automatically in the background every time you upload an image.
Rating: 4.5 stars ⏤ Number of Downloads: 100,000 ⏤ Price: Free ⏤ Link: ShortPixel Image Optimizer
Secure your website with the most comprehensive WordPress security plugin: Wordfence!
This plugin has a firewall, malware scanner, DDOS protection, IP blocking, login security and more.
If you don't know what any of that means, don't worry. Just install it and let the plugin work its' magic.
You will feel more comfortable that your blog won't be hacked by using this free security plugin.
Rating: 5.0 stars ⏤ Number of Downloads: 2,000,000 ⏤ Price: Free ⏤ Link: Wordfence Security
If you post your email address on your blog you'll be bombarded with email spam. The better option is to use a contact form.
With WPForms Lite you can create a simple contact form to use on your contact page or about me page.
You can use it to get feedback from your readers, sponsored post inquiries from companies and guest post requests from other bloggers.
Rating: 5.0 stars ⏤ Number of Downloads: 1,000,000 ⏤ Price: Free ⏤ Link: WPForms
Back up your blog into the cloud on schedule and restore it with a single click. Yep it's that easy with this free backup plugin.
I scoured WordPress and tried a bunch of WP backup plugins before landing on this one.
UpdraftPlus is the world's highest ranking and most popular scheduled backup plugin, with over 2 million currently-active installs and a perfect 5 star rating.
Rating: 5.0 stars ⏤ Number of Downloads: 2,000,000 ⏤ Price: Free ⏤ Link: UpdraftPlus
The premium version of UpdraftPlus unlocks additional features such as incremental backups (so you only back up new or changed files) and automatic backups before plugin, theme or WordPress updates.
WP SUPER CACHE
Having a fast loading blog isn't just good for your readers, it's one way you can improve your Google ranking too.
If your blog is loading slow you can upgrade your hosting to VPS or dedicated hosting with Bluehost or Siteground. But if that's not in your budget, you can instead see if you can improve your site speed with a caching plugin.
Here's how WP Super Cache works:
First, the plugin generates fast-loading static html files of your slow-loading PHP-heavy blog posts. Then when a visitor lands on your blog post your web server will serve the fast html file instead of processing the original PHP-heavy one.
If you don't understand that, it's okay. Just install WP Super Cache and watch it speed up your blog.
Rating: 4.5 stars ⏤ Number of Downloads: 2,000,000 ⏤ Price: Free ⏤ Link: WP Super Cache
SPEED BOOSTER PACK
This next Wodrdpress plugin also allows you to improve your blogs' loading speed.
Rather than caching, Speed Booster Pack changes the order in which your blog loads by loading your content first and all the "code" second.
My favorite feature is lazy-loading images so the images won't load until the user has scrolled down far enough to see them.
It can also keep your blogs' database from becoming bloated with dozens (or even hundreds) of post revisions by limiting the amount of revisions your blog keeps.
Rating: 4.0 stars ⏤ Number of Downloads: 40,000 ⏤ Price: Free ⏤ Link: Speed Booster Pack
Blog speed is a really big deal. You can try and optimize your blog until you're blue in the face but the biggest factor in site speed will always be your hosting account.
The main problem is overloaded servers on shared hosting. If you are on a shared hosting plan you are sharing a server with hundreds of other badly optimized blogs.
You could just get dedicated hosting and have a server all to yourself - but that will set you back $100+ per month!
A better alternative is to share a server with only a handful of other users. That's what VPS hosting can do. With VPS hosting a space on the server is allocated to you (and only you). This means no more overloaded servers affecting your site speed.
I've worked out a deal to get VPS hosting to my readers from Bluehost for about $20 per month via this link.
If there's a WordPress plugin you love that I didn't mention, let me know in the comments section.
If this post has helped you find the best WordPress plugins for your new blog, I'd appreciate it if you could save it on Pinterest to your WordPress board.