The original version of this post was published in 2012. Much has changed since then and I seemed like a useful article to update. This article is now current as of February 2016!
Whether you are blogging for fun, business or a worthy cause, WordPress is one of the most popular platforms around. In fact, according the 2015 State of the Word presentation, WordPress now powers 25% of the web!
With its ease of use, in-depth web interface, endless customization options and thousands of plugins, creating your ideal blog could not be easier.
However, all those options out might mean you find it difficult to figure out what you need for your blog.
Starting with these three plug-ins will add functionality, increase performance, enhance security and help you drive traffic to your site. Regardless of your cause, those things are never bad!
WordPress Plugin #1 – Wordfence Security
You don’t need to be getting millions of views to become the target of hackers. It’s not just about protecting your site and your brand, it’s about protecting your readers as well. WordPress hacking and other forms of digital attacks are on the rise. If you’re not taking the steps to protect yourself and your readers, you’re taking a major risk with the future of your business.
The first thing I do when rolling out a new WordPress install is setup Wordfence Security.
Wordfence makes it simple to improve site security and monitor your site for potential problems. It offers on-demand scanning, spam prevention and other convenient tools in an easy to use interface.
If it finds any problems, such as an out-of-date plugin or potential intrusion, you’ll get an email instantly to help you stay one step ahead of hackers.
There’s even a caching engine to help speed up the performance of your site and improve the experience for viewers.
Did I mention this is all free? There’s really no reason not to take the two minutes it requires to set this one up! Get started by checking out the Wordfence website.
WordPress Plugin #2 – Yoast SEO
When it comes to driving traffic to your site, search engine optimization is a critical part of the picture.
While your core focus should be creating great content and a community, SEO is something that shouldn’t be overlooked. Every item on your site is somehow impacting SEO. This direct relationship is why it is so important. Fortunately, Yoast has an easy to use solution for optimizing your site and making the most of your SEO efforts.
If you are new to the world of SEO, this plug-in will give you an idea of things to research and how SEO works. If you are a seasoned veteran of the Google Wars, this plug-in makes optimizing your site and posts simple. No more messing with code or forgetting optimization steps.
The plug-in covers everything from social bookmarks and sitemaps to page titles and keyword density. Best of all, it covers it from within the WordPress Dashboard. There is a even a great tutorial on how to get started on the plug-in website. To get started, check out Yoast SEO on the WordPress Plugin Directory.
WordPress Plugin #3 – SumoMe Share
Of course, the other part of building a following is social media.
What WordPress SEO does not cover, SumoMe Share does. Better still, it’s FREE!
It gives you powerful options for displaying share buttons and making it dead simple for viewers to pass the word about your blog on to their friends.
Installing the plug-in is as simple as clicking the mouse and setting just a couple of options.
You have control over nearly everything. You can choose from a long list of social media and bookmarks sites to include, choose the posts and pages you want to display the SumoMe Share bar. It’s even mobile responsive so you can capture social shares from viewers using their phone or tablet!
The impact that social media can have on the amount of visitors your blog receives is immense. SumoMe Share makes it easy to spread the word and gain exposure. Now all you need is the next big viral post and you are set!
There’s even advanced features and analytics integration in the Pro version for when you get your blog rolling and need more information. Get started by downloading the free version of SumoMe Share here.
WordPress Plugin #4 – Editorial Calendar
Sometimes the best ideas are not innovative, do not require immense effort and are right in front of our noses. Editorial Calendar is so basic yet useful that I am surprised it has not been rolled into WordPress already.
If there is one area of WordPress that is a little lacking, it is the organization of existing or scheduled posts. Editorial Calendar fixes this issue by adding an additional ‘Calendar’ tab to the Posts section of your WP Dashboard.
One click and you have a full monthly calendar that lists any posts or drafts that are currently posted or scheduled. Mouse over the post name to display buttons for editing, trashing or drafting the post. Want to schedule a new post? Just click the ‘New Post’ on the date you want the article to be published.
Keeping track of a rapidly growing blog is not the easiest task. With just a few simple changes, Editorial Calendar helps make sense of the mess. Get started by downloading Editorial Calendar here.
There you have it! Four plug-ins that will benefit ANY WordPress blog. Install them and put them through their paces. I’m sure you’ll agree.
Have another WordPress plug-in that you could not live without? Have an alternative to these plug-ins that you prefer? Let me know in the comments section below! If you enjoyed this article, sign up for email updates with the form at the bottom of the page!