When you build your blog with WordPress, it’s easy to customize it and add cool features with plugins.
But which plugins? You can choose from more than 54,000, which is kind of a lot.
To help you avoid choice overload, we’ve compiled what we think are the best must-have plugins for new and growing bloggers, especially bloggers who want to gain subscribers, raise their social media profile, ace SEO, and more.
WordPress Mailing List Plugins for Blogs
Building an audience is the main goal for most bloggers, whether they’re creating a community for fun or profit. The cornerstone of audience-building is building an email list, so you can let your fans know when you publish a new post, launch a contest, or have something else to offer them.
Email Subscribers & Newsletters by Icegram is a free WordPress plugin that gives you a shortcode snippet to paste into your posts and pages wherever you’d like an opt-in box.
As you add subscribers, you can use the plugin’s dashboard to view, import, and export contacts, create welcome and update emails, send test emails, and integrate with a third-party email marketing service like Constant Contact.
WordPress Social Sharing Plugins for Blogs
Add to Any lets you add social share buttons to your blog that look good on any device, load fast, and connect your content to more than 100 social networks and messaging apps.
Want to see what’s getting shared and who’s following those links? Add to Any also integrates with your Google Analytics and Bitly accounts. Add to Any is free, so you don’t need to upgrade to access all its features.
Do you have an archive full of posts you’d like to share again to reach new readers and build your subscriber list? The free version of Revive Old Posts will automatically share your old posts to Facebook and Twitter so you can get more mileage from your content. You can choose the sharing schedule, the number of old posts you want to share, hashtags, and other elements. The Pro version adds sharing for LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Tumblr. Both versions of Revive Old Posts support link shortening services like Bitly and Rebrandly.
WordPress SEO Plugins for Blogs
When people search for the topics you blog about, can they find your blog? Even great content can be hard to find if it’s not formatted, indexed, and optimized for search engines to understand. That’s why bloggers who want to rank well in searches typically add a few plugins to make that happen.
We’ve blogged before about how schema.org formatting can help you generate rich Google search results for your reviews, recipes, articles, and other content. You can do this manually with code, or you can add the All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets WordPress plugin to your blog. This free plugin supports 9 common schema formats, including articles, people, recipes, reviews, and videos. When you install All In One, you get a dashboard that walks you through choosing how your snippets will display, where you’ll add the snippets on your site, and how to test your snippets to make sure they look good.
You’ll also want a plugin to help Google’s search engine crawlers understand what’s on your site. You can install the Google XML Sitemaps WordPress plugin to handle this. However, if you’re also going to install Yoast SEO, you may want to use its XML mapping tool instead. (It’s not a good idea to use both at the same time.)
Yoast is one of the most popular SEO plugins out there, and the free version offers a lot of tools to help you optimize your blog. For instance, Yoast helps you optimize each post for a keyword or keyphrase that you want to rank for, shows you how the post will look in Google search results, tells you how readable your post is before you publish it, keeps you from accidentally duplicating content within your site, and updates regularly to keep pace with Google’s ongoing improvements.
If you have a large or fast-growing blog, you can detect and fix site-indexing crawl errors by connecting Yoast to your Google Search Console account.
WordPress Performance Plugins for Blogs
Jetpack is the Swiss Army knife of WordPress plugins, and it can tackle a lot of tasks for you, like scheduled social media posting, statistics collection, and performance improvements. Jetpack also adds its own layers of security to your WordPress blog. When you’re ready to start making money from your blog through ads or direct sales, one of the paid versions of Jetpack can help you with those tasks, too.
As your blog grows, it can take longer for your pages to load, especially if you include lots of images in your posts. To avoid this slowdown, which can raise your bounce rate and affect your search rank, compress your images. The Smush Image Compression and Optimization WordPress plugin can handle this for you. You can “smush” images in batches of up to 50 or smush them individually, without losing image quality. (And yeah, pushing the “smush” button is fun.)
If you want detailed analytics of your site traffic, the Google Analytics Dashboard Plugin for WordPress by MonsterInsights connects to your Google Analytics account and deploys your analytics tracking code for you so you don’t have to paste in the snippet yourself—all for free. Then you can see your Google analytics in your blog’s dashboard.
A good backup program is insurance against blog catastrophes. Updraft Plus helps you automate site backups, store your backups in the cloud, and access them easily when you need to restore your site or move to a new host. The free version lets you automatically send your backups to Dropbox, Google Drive, your email, and other cloud services, and it makes it easy to restore your site even if you’re not tech-savvy. (Or, you can upgrade to an automated daily backup for your blog with CodeGuard. CodeGuard packs in additional security features with data backups for up to 5 websites.)
Set Up Your WordPress Blog
WordPress plugins can help you get the most out of your blog, but they can also impact your blog’s performance. Maximize your blog’s functionality and its performance with a managed WordPress hosting plan from HostGator. You’ll enjoy 2.5x faster load times, automated backups, and more.