Do you know why WordPress is such a popular blogging platform? You’re right, there are several reasons, one of them being the availability of a large number of plugins for WordPress. Although WordPress in itself is quite a powerful blogging tool, the plugins serve to multiply its powers manifold.
But the problem is, there are so many plugins out there, that it is hard for a newbie to know what is needed and what is not. It is easy to bog down your blog by installing a large number of unnecessary plugins that you do not have any use of. Also, there are certain plugins which are useful but only after your blog is getting some traffic. There is no point installing them beforehand.
Whenever I start a new blog, there is a set of must have plugins that I always get installed. This is the first thing I do, no exceptions about it. Actually, these are so essential that they could have easily been a part of WordPress itself. The first thing one should do after installing WordPress is to install these plugins. These serve to empower WordPress into a fully functional blogging platform.
The plugins mentioned here are the ones which I found to be compatible with WordPress 4.0. There were certain other plugins that I used to love but are no longer compatible with the current version of WordPress. These are the same plugins that I have installed in Blogician. Obviously, this is a personal choice and there are certain alternatives which also work quite well. There are plugins which may give you better features and more options to play with. But more often than not, you do not need so many options. The plugins listed here are not the most feature rich but they are the most useful and gets the work done without any confusion.
Search engine optimization – All In One SEO
For any blog, on-site search engine optimisation is very important. But it is also very simple thing to do. That is why my choice for search engine optimization is All In One SEO. It gives you all the basic options you need to ensure optimal tweaking of your blog posts and pages.
For starters, set the proper title, description and keywords for every post and page you write. The title plays a major role in terms of on-site search engine optimisation while description is a major factor in deciding whether people will click your link in the search engine listings or not. As a rule of thumb, keyword should be present in the title.
For example, as I want this blog post to rank for the terms WordPress plugins, I have included these terms in the title of this post.
The SEO plugin by Yoast is also very good and gives you much more options to play with. But for newcomers, I would advise sticking with All In One SEO as the features provided by this plugin are enough to ensure good rankings in the search engines.
Widget editor – Black Studio TinyMCE Widget
Go to any successful WordPress site and you are most likely to see that the sidebars and other widget areas have a lot of important and creatively crafted stuff in them. But the default text widget editor in WordPress is of limited functionality. That is where Black Studio TinyMCE Widget comes in. It allows you to edit widget areas in the same way as you can edit a page or a post. Next time you want to insert an image to your sidebar or insert rich text in your sidebar, do not worry. Install this plugin and perform the functions just as you would do in your post editor. This plugin extends the functionality of TinyMCE to the widget text editor and allows you to perform a rating in the same way.
If I want to insert an image on the right sidebar of this blog, all I need to do is to open up this editor and click insert image. No need to know any HTML.
Nofollow tag – CE Nofollow to WP-Link
Adding thenofollow tag in the right place is very essential. You do not want to give your link love to irrelevant pages. Moreover, if you link to certain low quality or irrelevant websites without adding the nofollow tag, it can actually harm your own blog and rankings. In the current version of WordPress, the links in the comments sections are no followed by default. But the links in the content for post or page can be controlled. CE Nofollow to WP-Link plugin does a simple thing. In the “insert link” pop-up box, it provides an option to add the nofollow tag to that link.
Options in insert link popup box
Suppose, I am writing a post where I would like to point out a certain website as an example of extreme keyword spamming. While I need to link to that site, I am no way endorsing it. This is where this plugin comes in. It gives you the option to tell whether you are endorsing it or not (add nofollow tag). You do not need to go to the HTML editor each time to add the tag. This plugin simplifies the process for you. As a rule of thumb, you can add that at whenever you feel the content you are linking to is not directly related to your post.
Contact form – Contact form 7
When you are running a blog, your visitors may often need to contact you. Contact form 7 is the most popular contact form plugin for WordPress. You can create and manage multiple contact forms and also prevent spam with Akismet and Captcha. It is a simple to use plugin with simple markup language and gets the job done very efficiently. You can either get the message delivered to your e-mail or to your database with the help of additional plugins.
Feeds – FD Feedburner Plugin
Assuming you would use feedburner for your RSS needs, you should also have this plugin installed. This plugin does a simple thing. FD feedburner redirects your own blog’s feed link to the feedburner feed. Anyone clicking on your blog RSS feed will get redirected to your feedburner feed.
This plugin is also active for Blogician. Try clicking the RSS feed button.
Analytics – Google Analytics by Yoast
Knowing your audience is the key to your blogging success. Google analytics provides you the tools for it. Only thing needed on your end is to enter the tracking code in the appropriate place. You may mess up the code if you do it wrong! Google Analytics by Yoast is there to help you out. Enter your tracking id and you are all set. The plugin automatically enters your tracking id to all your pages. But it also does a lot more. You can track downloads, you enable demographics and interest reports and lots more, all by simply clicking the appropriate options. No way to mess up the coding. Perfect for a newbie.
Sitemaps – Google XML Sitemaps
For a search engine bot to be able index pages from your blog, it must know about the whereabouts of pages that you have. Sitemaps serve the purpose of telling the bots about the pages you have on your blog. Google XML sitemaps generates a sitemap and submits it to the major search engines. Every time you make a new post or a page, the sitemap gets updated with details of the new post and the search engines get notified. This ensures that the search engines know about all the pages on your blog and are kept updated whenever something new is added. This plugins also lets you set up post priorities (tells search engine which posts are more important) and update frequencies (tells how frequently a page is updated so that search engine bot can visit and collect updated content).
Options on XML sitemap generator
Share buttons – Simple Share Buttons Adder
Sharing your content on social media is very important for promoting your blog. It gives you traffic as well as visibility. It is common sense that you must make it easy for your visitors to share your content. Simple Share Buttons Adder does exactly that. It adds nice looking social media sharing buttons at the top and/or end of your posts. You can even add a custom message to attract more shares. You can also add custom images for the social media buttons to make them more suited to your blog. You can also choose to include or exclude certain pages from showing the simple share button. And once you have got enough popularity, you can enable the option to show share counts along with the buttons.
You can see the same buttons in action at the end of this post
Text editor – TinyMCE Advanced
The text editor in WordPress is limited in terms of functionality. TinyMCE Advanced does what the name suggests. It adds advanced options to default Tiny Moxiecode Content Editor to expand its usability. You can set font family and font size, create and edit tables, perform search and replace, insert superscript and subscript, and do a lot more. This plugin adds extra buttons to the default TinyMCE WYSIWYG editor to allow these functionalities.
Backups – UpdraftPlus – Backup/Restore
Backing up your blog at regular intervals is one thing you should always do. Your blog may get hacked, server may crash or some plugin may break you blog. So, it is very essential to backup your blog to remain on the safe side. UpdraftPlus – Backup/Restore is a very good plugin for this purpose. It allow you to backup files as well as database to any one of cloud (Amazon S3 (or compatible), Dropbox, Google Drive, Rackspace Cloud, DreamObjects, FTP, SFTP, SCP, WebDAV, OpenStack Swift and email) and restoration with a single click (not all plugins allow this). You can also schedule backups and forget bothering about it every time.
Backup your blog atleast once a week.
Speed up – W3 Total Cache
Would you like to visit a site that make you wait a long time before loading? Surely not. That is why you should always ensure that your blog loads as fast as possible. As WordPress depends on dynamically generated pages (they are generated just before they are served to the visitor), it is resource intensive and takes time. A cache plugin comes to the rescue. W3 Total Cache is one such plugin. It generates cache of the pages. It means that the dynamically generated pages are converted to static (premade) html files and whenever a visitor request a page, the static file is served instead. This saves resources associated with dynamic generation of pages and reduced the loading time.
Your site works faster and smoother as a result. W3 Total Cache not only allows you to generate cache for page but also for browser, object and database. It also supports minify and content delivery network (CDN) to WordPress. All this means that you will be saving resource and reducing loading time at multiple levels. It is one of the must have plugins for any WordPress blog. Nowadays, Google is putting emphasis on “loading times” as a parameter for Search engine rankings. So do yourself a favor and add this plugin to your blog if you have not done it already.
Security – Wordfence Security
In the current age, security is a major concern. WordPress is no exception. To prevent your blog from falling prey to hacking and other type of attacks, you must have a security suite installed. Wordfence Security provided excellent service. It checks your blog for any infection on the first install. It has antivirus, firewall and anti-malware modules to ensure that you blog remains safe. It also has a cache module but I prefer to use W3 Total Cache for that purpose as it gives you more extensive functions. On the security front, Wordfence Security offers extensive functions which you can read about at the Wordfence Security plugin page. I strongly recommend installing this plugin.
As I said before, plugins are crucial to any WordPress installation and there are certain must have plugins for every WordPress installation. Now, you know what to do installing after you finish installing WordPress 🙂 . If you feel I have missed any must have plugins, please feel free to let me know through the comments section. You suggestions add value to the post.
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