WordPress is an ideal solution to help you start a blog. It includes an impressive basic feature set, and with over 10 years in business, you know they won’t be going anywhere soon. They provide you with numerous design templates to quickly get your blog up so that you can focus on what you have to say instead of design elements or the layout of the pages in your blog. One of the best features of WordPress is the ability to expand its features through plugins. The following are 5 of the best WordPress plugins that you should have on your blog from the beginning.
1) Yoast – What You Say on Your Blog Doesn’t Matter if Nobody Sees it
The first thing you need for your blog is a search engine optimization plugin. You might as well incorporate one early on so that your posts are being seen and read by as many people as possible right from the outset. WordPress SEO by Yoast is a popular plugin. The makers of this plugin claim over 14 million downloads of it on their webpage, so they must be doing something right. It comes in a free and premium version. You will want to start out with the free version, and then see how your blog grows and whether it justifies the paid version. Even the free one does a good job of increasing your site’s visitors by letting you place meta descriptions and keyword tags and giving you hints as to how to optimize them to get you a better position on Google and other search engines. It will automatically generate a sitemap, which will help Google index your blog as well as providing you with content analysis tools, so you can optimize your titles and descriptions for the search engines.
2) Contact Form 7 – You Need a Quick and Simple Way for Visitors to Leave You Their Information
A contact form is a basic element of any website or blog to make it easy for visitors to your website to contact you with any questions or to get more information from you about your products or services. Contact Form 7 is a simple plugin that lets you set up one or more of these forms on your blog. You can make some boxes on the form mandatory, such as phone number, and it is very user friendly for the person trying to contact you. It enables customization of the forms and is very easy to install. It has over 22 million downloads as an indication of how popular this particular plugin is.
3) NextGEN Gallery – All the Power You Need to Handle Your Blog’s Images in One Plugin
NextGEN Gallery is the most downloaded image gallery plugin for WordPress. If you ever use images in your blog, and if you don’t, you should since a picture is worth a thousand words, you will make your life much easier with this plugin. It continues to be under active development due to sales of the pro version, and this means the free version gets regular updates as well. You get hundreds of options in the free version including Pinterest style galleries, slideshows, watermarking, managing albums and image tags and tons of other things. A good blog combines images with text as this helps to keep visitors engaged, and this little plugin will help you seamlessly incorporate them from the beginning.
4) Wordfence – Make Sure Your Blog and Website Are Secure
The more high profile your blog the greater the risk of hackers trying to cause you trouble. Wordfence is a WordPress security plugin that has nearly 4 million downloads and a near perfect rating from users. There are free and premium versions, and it is updated constantly to stay on top of the latest threats. It checks your blog for any malware infections, scans all your WordPress files and includes a firewall and can even block traffic from specific countries. Its features are truly too numerous to list here as this plugin represents astounding value. If security is any concern to you, this plugin offers peace of mind that comes absolutely free unless you wish to utilize the features of the premium version.
5) Google Analytics by Yoast – Know All That You Can About Those Visiting Your Blog
If you want to know how many people visit your blog, hit counters are a dime a dozen on the internet. However, if you want in-depth information on where your visitors come from and how long they stay and on what pages of your website, you need Google Analytics by Yoast. This easy to install plugin will have you tracking your visitors in no time. You will also be able to track error pages, downloads and outbound clicks. Nearly 7 million people have downloaded this plugin because they want detailed information on where their visitors are clicking in from to get to their blog and how long they are staying and their clicking activity on pages while there. Learn all you can about your blog’s visitors short of being an employee of the NSA.
Useful Tools to Expand an Already Impressive Platform
WordPress makes setting up a professional blog or any other kind of website as easy as possible. It truly enables those of us without tremendous resources to look like the big players in any marketplace. If you have a small blog and want to keep it that way, that’s fine. However, if you want to hit the big time with your blog, WordPress is the preferred platform. That said, a few little extras that are made to seamlessly complement its built-in features are worth their weight in gold, and many of them are either free or have free versions. Let this list of some of the best WordPress plugins serve as a starting point for you while you delve into others, and see what solutions they can offer you.