Oh WordPress, you beautiful beast. When I first decided to transfer from Blogger to you, you opened my eyes to so many wonderful things. Oh the adventures we have had!
One of my favourite things about you WordPress, is your wonderful plugins. Like the accessories that tie together a well-coordinated outfit, your plugins are what make a blog that extra bit special.
Now I don’t usually like to play favourites WordPress (as it can often just be mean), but I really want to help out my fellow bloggers who may be new to your wondrous ways and a little stuck on which WordPress plugins to give a whirl.
So on this occasion, I’m afraid I have to play favourites by picking just five of the WordPress plugins that have turned this little blog into something special.
(Oh, and all these plugins are free for the basic versions I use! Iff you’re new to WordPress and aren’t sure how to install a plugin, simply go to the side menu, Plugins > Add New and search for the plugin you desire! More help here.)
You may have heard of Yoast already, but do you know what it can do?
Well, it can do lots of things but here are the two main features that I use to improve the SEO of my blog.
- Manually change your meta title and description – and preview how it will look on search engines
- Content & SEO analysis – Yoast has a “traffic light system” that tells you how well your post is optimised for SEO based on some important criteria. It’s a great tool for making simple changes to your posts to give them a better chance of getting organic traffic!
You can also manually change the image and descriptions used for social sharing, which is handy for example if you want to use the recommended image dimensions for Facebook, or create a different text description for the link when it’s shared on Twitter. I rarely use this feature, but it’s a nifty one to have!
I’m not gonna lie to you, this is my favourite WordPress plugin of all time. OF ALL TIME.
Broken Link Checker
Something that Yoast doesn’t do for your SEO is check for broken links. Broken links can hurt your SEO efforts, and can also be really frustrating for your readers when they click through to something that isn’t there!
You might get broken links from old product review posts, wishlist posts or sponsored posts where a brand has asked you to link to a campaign page that no longer exists. It’s annoying, but it can be fixed.
Manually checking every single link on your blog to make sure it’s going where it’s meant to isn’t the answer though, as it would take forever and it will likely result in links being missed.
The Broken Link Checker plugin does all the searching for you, alerting you to any broken links by notification so you can find them and fix them.
When you first switch to WordPress, you might notice an increase in spam comments. I’ll be honest, I have no idea why but I noticed early on that I was getting spammy, link drop comments coming in thick and fast and so I needed to find a way to stop this from happening so I wasn’t having to keep deleting comments all the time.
Akismet checks all comments and contact form submissions for spam and chucks them in a Spam folder for you to review instead of publishing them. It’s not 100% perfect because some spammers can be pretty smart to make their comments look genuine, but in my experience it catches spammers about 99.9% of the time.
If you work with brands on sponsored content, you’ll be aware of the need to no-follow those paid for links. Adding the small bit of code to the link to make it no-follow isn’t necessarily difficult, but it can be cumbersome.
Instead, use the Ultimate Nofollow plugin which allows you to tick a box for each link to indicate that it’s no-follow, and if it is, the code will be added for you. Clicking a tick box takes a second, adding the code each time will take more!
You can also add or remove no-follow from links left in your comments if you want to, although I’ve personally never used this feature.
I’m a bit embarrassed about how long it took me to get this plugin, as backing up your blog is so, so important!
UpdraftPlus allows you to backup all your blog content via the cloud, meaning that it’s safely stored should you ever get hacked or something goes wrong with an update. Touch wood I haven’t needed to rely on a backup of my blog yet, but you never know!
I opted to have my backups available to me via email, and so when I request a backup it sends me a .zip file via email of everything. Phew!
You can choose to manually backup your blog, or to set it to a schedule of your choosing.
There we have it! Five of my fave WordPress plugins that are perfect for improving your blog. If you have a WordPress blog, what are your favourite plugins? I’m always on the look out for new ones to check out!