Did you know 1/4 of the internet is powered by WordPress? That’s an insane figure. So with this website platform being the front-runner, we delve into the top 10 free WordPress plugins for bloggers that you’ll want to install on your site. Of course, there are other plugins that are worth downloading, these are our essentials.
Without a doubt, this is essential for if you’re looking to rank higher in search engines and improve SEO on your blog.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is crucial for organic traffic and ranking higher in search engines. Let’s face it, we all want all of the traffic without all of the promotion right? Well when your SEO is on fleek, that does help naturally drive traffic your way.
You should try and aim for the majority of your traffic to be coming from search engines when people are searching.
Yoast SEO is undoubtedly the most user-friendly SEO plugin around. It has a handy traffic light system for when you are creating content that the search engines will love. I’m going to be straight with you here. If they’re not all green, all of the time, then work on it! What’s the point in doing half a job? I recently increased my site traffic on Elle Blonde by making sure I cleaned up my old posts and really focused on SEO. This lead to an increase of 300% in traffic without posting any new content. You can read how to increase site traffic here.
There are other important functionalities that Yoast boasts including the ability to use focus keywords, an XML sitemap which is basically like a web showing search engines all the posts that link to each other and how your site is accessible. Finally, meta descriptions which allow search engines to ‘see’ what your post is about.
What is the one thing that single-handedly helps alongside to improve your search engine rankings? Speed. That’s right site speed is paramount. People aren’t going to wait around if your site takes ages to load, and they certainly aren’t going to return if it is slow!
With this plugin, it generates a static HTML file from your blog (complex, stay with us). It is a file that your web server will use instead of processing a larger and slower PHP script. Basically, in a nutshell, it’s going to make your site hella faster.
Fun fact: 99% of your visitors will be served the static HTML files. One cached file can be served thousands of times. Other visitors will be served custom cached files tailored to their visit. If they are logged in or have left comments those details will be displayed and cached for them.
You want to have everything in one place, working seamlessly like a well-oiled machine. So instead of having to go off-site for your site analytics, this plugin shows you all your site traffic to your blog on a handy dashboard.
Using Google Analytics is so, so important if you want to work with brands as they’ll want to know all about your audience demographics. They’ll want to know your page views and traffic stats and alongside that, you need to know what works. What works for you in terms of which traffic routes are your strongest. Is Pinterest driving the majority of your traffic yet you’re spending all your time on Facebook? Which are your most viewed posts, can you create content off the back of these popular posts?
If you know what your audience wants to read and who they are, you’ll be able to serve them far better!
We briefly touched on XML Sitemaps when we talked about Yoast. Although Yoast does provide sitemap generation there’s been a large debate recently about which sitemap generator is stronger. This plugin has been supported for over 9 years and rated as the best WordPress plugin. That speaks volumes to us. We want our site to work the best it can and we know that you will want that for you too?
Sitemaps make it much easier for the ‘crawlers’ (fancy name for robots trawling the web) to see the complete structure of your site and retrieve it more efficiently. Google XML Sitemap notifies all major search engines every time you create a post about the new content.
Bots are really clever these days and in terms of link building, they bot spam comments on your site which may (or may not) be in a similar niche to you. With Askimet when a comment is posted on your site it runs a scan to verify that the comment is a real human. If it thinks it’s spam, it’ll place the comment in the ‘spam’ folder. 99% of the time we’ve found it to work effectively.
Having anti-spam on your site is another way to help your SEO increase as well as ensuring your site is more professional.
If you’re sharing posts across the internet, first and foremost you’ll want to have an attractive image beside the link, this draws people in. Regenerate thumbnails basically does what it says on the tin. It makes sure that your image is formulated to fit the size of the thumbnail you’ve shared, without it being blurry.
Whatever image you set as the ‘featured image’ on posts it will regenerate this, as well as any posts on your site. Thus giving you a sleeker and more professional look.
This is one of my favourite plugins. As a blogger, it’s your job to publish consistently so that your audience knows what to expect. If you only publish once in a blue moon then your audience isn’t going to return frequently and you’re blog growth will be very stagnant.
That’s why the editorial calendar is great, it allows you to see your publishing schedule in the form of a calendar where you can drag-and-drop your posts to schedule them. You can see your published posts and your drafts which helps you to spot gaps in your content’s schedule.
If you’re sharing content frequently it’s very useful and makes publishing, in my opinion, much easier.
Sometimes people don’t want to leave comments, what they want to do is share the article. That’s why simple share is perfect for increasing traffic to your blog by people sharing your content.
With 15 social networks supported, the buttons are aesthetically pleasing. It’s also super easy to set up!
Another plugin that I could not live without! This connects to your social channels; Twitter and Facebook are free. Other channels require a premium subscription. However, you simply set Revive to post your posts every so many hours and it shares an old post to your network. When traffic visits these old posts it let’s search engines know that these pages are still relevant and therefore ranks them higher. Win, win.
Imagine if all of your previous posts were getting, 10, 50, 100, 1000 extra views a day? How much of an impact that would have on your DA, your visibility and search engine ranking, your affiliate income and what you could charge for sponsored posts?
It’s time to think about all of those older posts and get them working for you!
If you’re making all of this effort to choose the best plugins for the functionality, you need to protect your blog and there’s no other plugin we’d use here at ELLEfluence for the job than Wordfence. It protects your site from hackers and has a number of techy features.
You know I’m a little bit of a tech geek so here it goes. Wordfence scans your site for any unauthorised file changes, malware and malicious networks. It also blocks any illicit IP addresses and attackers in real time and then sends you an alert when attacks are caught. A Live Traffic feature shows your traffic and any hack attempts in real time.
We highly recommend that this is one of the first plugins you download after reading this post as it really is the most important in our top 10 free WordPress plugins for bloggers.
Which is your favourite plugin? Drop a comment below we’d love to discover what you all use.
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