9 WordPress Plugins You Should Install If You Just Started Blogging

WordPress pluginsRecently I published two articles, about my move from Blogger to WordPress.

Today’s post still has something to do with that move, as it will cover some of the more important WordPress plugins you need to add right after setting up WordPress.

There are tons plugins for WordPress users available out there. I am certain many of you wouldn’t even be using the service if there wasn’t such a variety.

After creating my self-hosted WordPress blog, I tried more than forty different plugins. Although not all of them worked properly, most proved highly useful!

Below is a list of the top nine, divided into categories: 

WordPress Plugins to Improve SEO

WordPress SEO by Yoast

WordPress Plugins: WordPress SEO by Yoast

On-site SEO is an important ingredient to a well-optimized blog. Letting the search engines know what your article is about right away is almost as important as a good link building campaign.

The WordPress SEO plugin helps you do just that! To start using it you simply add a focus keyword – the keyword that the tool will monitor. With a rating system (located below the post editor) you learn just how well you have optimized your post for that specific word:

WordPress Plugins: WordPress SEO by Yoast
As you can see the plugin allows you to see keyword density, readability score (very useful metric), image optimization, etc.

An additional feature gives you the ability to add specific descriptions for when you share your post on Google Plus and Facebook. Those will overwrite the meta description, which is generally used.

Additionally what you get with WordPress SEO by Yoast is a fully functional XML sitemap. This means that you don’t have to worry about your posts and pages not being indexed. You also don’t need to resubmit your sitemap or ping your content. That is done automatically.

WordPress Plugins to Improve Loading Speed

CloudFlare

WordPress Plugins: CloudFlare

The so-called CDNs (stands for Content Delivery Network) are becoming ever more popular these days. And there’s a good reason! Attaching your WordPress blog to one of those, enables you to take care of HTML, CSS and JavaScript optimization. Plus your blog is loaded entirely depending on the visitor’s location. All of this makes for reduced server requests and better loading times. 

CloudFlare is namely a CDN. To start using it, you first sign-up here and follow the instructions. The second step is to add the CloudFlare plugin.

CloudFlare TestOne way to know if CloudFlare is working, is to open up Pingdom (a great service to test your site’s loading speed), put your blog’s URL and click “Test Now”. Once the process is completed, scroll down to see all the loaded components. Search for “cloudflare.min.js” (it should generally be the second file in the list).

If it is there then CloudFlare is working.

W3 Total Cache

WordPress Plugins W3 Total Cache

Talking about WordPress plugins, one that you simply can’t go without is W3 Total Cache. The sole purpose of this add-on is to improve browser caching. That is aimed towards all visitors who have already been on your blog.

What browser caching does for you is it saves all of the scripts and images to your browser so that they don’t have to be loaded with every visit.

If you are a tech-savvy person, you will find lots of useful options within W3 Total Cache’s interface. Best thing to do if you aren’t one is to leave the default options, as they work pretty good.

NOTE: If you have both CloudFlare and W3 Total Cache, you need to open up W3 Total Cache’s settings and scroll down to “Network Performance and Security Powered by CloudFlare”, click enable and fill in the required details.

WordPress Plugins to
Improve
 User Experience

Broken Link Checker

That one is here for a good reason! Broken Link Checker gave me a HUGE helping hand in fixing all the broken links after my move from Blogger to WordPress.

Here we have yet another easy-to-use WordPress plugin that works on a semi-automatic mode. It is simple – the tool starts looking for broken links whenever your WordPress dashboard is opened. You can access the list of dead links by going to Settings –> Link Checker –> General (tab) –> Found # Broken Links.

WordPress Plugins Broken Link CheckerFrom that point on, it’s your turn. You have to replace the broken link with the original. An added bonus is that you don’t have to change each instance of the link – all are replaced automatically. 

NOTE: For maximum efficiency while on the General tab click on the Settings tab. For the timeout setting insert 4 seconds.

WP Google Fonts

WordPress Plugins: WP Google FontsIf you have basic CSS knowledge, you will know about the so-called web safe fonts that you can use on your blog. Web safe fonts however are not ideal.

Those fonts often times look differently on different computers plus they can get boring…

WP Google Fonts is a great way to spice things up a bit. Once you install it, you gain access to Google’s own font directory, which has over 500 different fonts for you to try.

On the above image you can see how it all works. You simply select the font you’d like to use (you can preview the fonts here) and choose with which element you’d like use it.

nRelate Related Content

WordPress Plugins: nRelate Related ContentThere are lots of ways to keep visitors longer on your blog and thus reduce bounce rates. There is the option to display recent, featured or popular posts in your sidebar.

One of the best ways however is via a related content plugin. Those kinds of plugins are placed beneath the articles and provide posts to further educate on the same topic.

So…

I tried several related content WordPress plugins. There was quite a battle between nRelate and LinkWithin. I actually used the latter for quite a while on Blogger, but often encountered glitches.

In the end I decided to give nRelate a shot…

The good thing about nRelate is that it offers the user various templates. You can check each and every one out and see which looks best on your blog.

Additionally you can add slight visual modifications. To do that, you identify the elements’ class names with a tool like Firebug and you simply list them in your main stylesheet. Don’t forget to add !important to overwrite existing CSS properties.

Advanced Recent Posts Widget

As I said, recent posts might not be the best way to get more pageviews. Fact of the matter is that they do help though.

WordPress Plugins: Advanced Recent PostsWhen searching for recent posts plugin  you will come across lots of options. I went for Advanced Recent Posts Widget, because it’s fairly popular and has a high rating on the WordPress plugins page.

Once installed, the plugin can be found in the widgets area. There are lots of different options to suit your taste and help you get as much people as possible to click. You can include excerpts, comment count, thumbnails (you can also adjust dimensions) or only display titles.

NOTE: You can style the CSS by copying and pasting the CSS file from the plugins’ directory to the theme’s directory in your WordPress installation and applying the changes there.

Other Useful
WordPress Plugins

Triberr

WordPress Plugins: Triberr

Have you already gotten into Triberr? Triberr is a great service that allows you to connect with like-minded individuals and then share each other’s posts on the popular social networks. I have written two articles (take a look at my Triberr review post) about it. If you haven’t yet signed up, there’s no better time than now!

What the Triberr plugin does for you is to automatically submit new blog posts to Triberr with the post’s image (which otherwise isn’t possible). The plugin also allows you to approve articles directly from within WordPress’s dashboard.

Affiliate Link Cloaking

As I have mentioned in previous entries on this blog, affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to make money blogging (see my six affiliate marketing tips). One thing that scares people away from viewing your product however, are the links themselves. They just look ugly.

So, what Affiliate Link Cloaking does for you is simple – it shortens those links, using your domain name. For example my shortened Tweet Adder affiliate link looks like http://www.reviewzntips.com/tweet-adder. 

Aside from that, you also get analytics data for your shortened links. That can be quite useful, as it can help you test different link placements and different anchor text combinations.

Final Words

These are by far my favorite WordPress plugins! On to you – which are your favorites and why do you like them? Let us all know by leaving a comment!

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  1. Hey Daniel,

    I just wanted to reach out and let you know that we thought this was an awesome article and included it in our Monthly Resource Roundup http://blog.nexcess.net/2013/12/05/monthly-round-up-novembers-best-expressionengine-wordpress-magento-content/

    Cheers!

  2. Great post as always, Daniel! I was using a few of the mentioned plug-in for my new WP blog and I have installed all of the rest you covered them in this post!

    I’d just recommend Yoast! for everyone, new to old bloggers. :)

  3. Hi Daniel,

    Really good post; there are quite a few plugins here that I love personally, especially Yoast. There is just so much that you can do using it. Same goes with nRelate. Like you, I also like it because of the different templates it allows.

    Actually I also did a similar post quite a while ago: 10 must-have plugins for WP Beginners; let me know what you think of my list : http://www.leadsquared.com/10-must-have-plugins-for-wordpress/. :)

    Once again, great blog; a lot of useful content here. Thanks and Keep Sharing! :)

    Cheers!

  4. Hey mate

    Nice write up. For me w3tc is great!

    Broken link checker is okay but takes up a lot of server resources right? I suggest uninstall it after use. Use it like once a month would be good.

    Thanks for sharing the recent post thingy. That sounds great and didn’t know it exist until you share.

    Thanks once again!

  5. The reason why I moved from Blogger to WordPress was its thousands of themes Plugins. For every task WordPress is coming up with a lot of Plugins to perform it which provides us great flexibility to work with it, which was missing with the bloggers.

  6. I don’t know how to do all this things. How I wish I can!

  7. Great info. here Daniel.. I use about 40% of the plugins you mentioned. I was looking for a plugin that will improve the loading time on my blog and I’ll definitely check out Cloudflare and W3 Total Cache.. I just got into Triberr a couple of months again and I see the improvement in traffic by a lot now… Thanks for sharing!!!

    • Hey Sherman,

      CloudFlare and W3 Total Cache are an awesome combination without doubt. Lately though I’ve been having a bit of a problem with Total Cache, not sure what it is, might be a plugin conflict. Please let me know if you see problems if you install the plugin! :)

      Thanks for stopping by man!
      Daniel

  8. Hey Daniel, great post. Regarding installing the Affiliate Link Cloaking plugin…This is a good thing to do to prevent from a lot of naked affiliate links being out there on your site. It will clean them up and it will look to Google a little bit less suspect. And, at the same time, it’s going to allow you to create a lot of different affiliate links for different posts on your site, different positions on different posts, so that you know always which link is being clicked, which product is being bought and which piece of content and which link of yours is actually doing the selling. Thanks!

    • Indeed there are a lot of positive aspects as to why one should cloak affiliate links. The stats the plugin gives can be quite important when determining the best locations for the links for instance. Plus you get all in one place.

      Daniel

  9. Duyu Nimey says:

    Hi
    First of all thank you for such helpful post..n i have some quries
    I m using outbrain plugin instead of nrelate and wp super chache instead of cloudflare..since i m new to wordpress.plz suggest to switch them or not vice versa. Your help will be apprecited.
    Thank you in advance.

    • Hey Duyu,

      Well I can’t really give you an advice. I mean if they are working well for you, there’s no need to switch to something else. You can still give the ones I mentioned a try, just to see how good they work. And about CloudFlare, you can basically use it with a caching plugin – it’s not the one or the other.

      Daniel

  10. I am really inspired with your writing talents as smartly as with the layout for your blog.

    Is this a paid theme or did you customize it your self?
    Anyway keep up the nice quality writing, it is uncommon to peer a great blog like this one these days.
    .

    • Hey Venetta,

      Thank you, glad you like how the blog has turned out. That is indeed a paid theme, part of the Genesis Framework, which is really an awesome solution if you are something more than an amateur blogger. I will be reviewing it soon. :)

      Cheers!
      Daniel

  11. Hey Daniel, Just restoring my websites at the moment. I see you already use CommentLuv one of my favourite plugins, but I have also found a new security plugin that so far appears to be quite useful. BPS Pro (worth the cost I believe so far) and the license is usable on all word press sites that you manage or own.

    Love your advice as always! Seeking advice currently on a disclaimer page and recently used advice twittered by you for my about page.

  12. Great info. Thank you! I was trying to see if I could come up with any that you didn’t cover and the only one I could really think of (especially for beginning bloggers) is Ultimate tinyMCE for an awesome, easy to use Visual Editor

  13. Hi Daniel. Big thank you for sharing that list of plugins. I have a question: do you have any experience with Google Analytics for WordPress plugin (by yoast)

    • Daniel Sharkov says:

      Hey Klaudia,

      You are very welcome, hope you found the plugins useful!

      As for the Google Analytics by Yoast, I actually have it installed, but never had the time to dig into it. I’m not using any of the fancy tracking functions it offers. What are your concerns?

      • Hi Daniel,
        I noticed more traffic on my blog and as much as I’m happy about that I simply would like to know more about what’s going on :) So I thought about that Google Analytics. So far I was using the JetPack site stats but it’s not enough anymore.

        I noticed that some plugins create a glitch on wordpress.org – so before I install anything new I try to backup my blog (juuuust in case)

  14. Hey Daniel

    Welcome back! I’ve missed your posts! :)

    This is really timely as I’m just looking into how I can improve visibility of past posts on my site!

    A WP plug-in I like is Commentluv as it provides a link back to the blog of anyone who comments on your site. It encourages comments and is kinda like a way of saying ‘thank you’ for commenting.

    I’ve also posted my own list of 10 cool plug-ins I use on my site – you might find some of these helpful? http://onlinemarketingrookie.com/10-cool-wordpress-plug-ins-that-rock-my-blog/

    Btw, you’ve done a great job of transferring your site over – looks seamless!

    Take care
    Lil

    • Daniel Sharkov says:

      Hey Lillian,

      Thank you, I am glad I am done with all the daunting tasks I had to deal with! :)

      As far as CommentLuv goes, I am totally with you. I had the plugin installed on my Blogger blog and your comment is a good reminder to go and download it.

      Will take a look at your own WordPress plugins list!

      Cheers!

  15. Hi Daniel, I found a couple of plugins that really helped me out, thank you for sharing these : )

  16. Hey Daniel,

    Glad you made the switch to wordpress! Now I can benefit from your in-depth overviews!

    Recently I’ve been working on my site/page speed and I tried WP Total Cache but it would break my site. I ended up using WP Super Cache.

    I’d like to give Total Cache another shot added with Cloudflare. Can you describe the settings you have on Total Cache in an upcoming blog or send me screenshots?

    Would be very helpful. Thanks!

    • Daniel Sharkov says:

      Hey Jacob,

      Thanks for the kind words mate! Hope you do enjoy my future WordPress-related posts then! :)

      As far as W3 Total Cache goes, that is kind of weird. Can you be more descriptive as to the kind of problems you are getting? It might be just that you have to clear the cache, which can be done from the WordPress overhead menu (Performance –> Empty All Caches). As for the settings, I haven’t really done any changes. The only thing I did is to enable the various types of caches. All else I have left to the default value. I can send you screenshots via email if you’d like though. Just let me know! ;)

      Thanks for stopping by my friend!

  17. Very useful list Daniel! Definitely a must in every installation. I have also found indispensable and use in most of my wordpress sites:

    1. WordPress Editorial Calendar: Which helps you see all your posts and drag and drop them in a calendar format, and you can also quick add posts there as well.

    2. Relevanssi: This plugin replaces WordPress search with a relevance-sorting search.Which increases the efficiency of internal blog searching and can log user searches to give you ideas for future content that might missing.

    3.Flickr – Pick a Picture: Which lets you pick a Creative Commons picture from Flickr and use it anywhere you want on your WordPress installation. Neat to find an image for the post painlessly.

    4. Shortcodes Ultimate: Provides support for many easy to use shortcodes like columns, fancy lists and other goodies, without locking you to the theme specific shortcodes, or require knowing css to achieve the same effects.

    5. Tweetily: That will periodically tweet a random post or page automatically to promote your old content adding for hashtags the articles categories,

    • Daniel Sharkov says:

      Hey Spyros,

      Glad you agree to the plugins I’ve included in the post and thanks for sharing your favorites!

      I’ve been hearing lots of positive words about the WordPress editorial calendar and I’m thinking of giving it a short very soon!

      The Flickr one sounds interesting and I might as well give it a try. As for the one that tweets old posts, I don’t really think I need it, since I have created my own process.

      Appreciate the comment mate! :)

    • Hey Sypros nice one, thanks. I would love you to take me personally on how to optimize my site. Thanks! And Dan, you always blow my mind! Hat off again!!!