WordPress is my favorite blogging software and I’m hardly alone on that front. It’s estimated that 23% of ALL websites online today are powered by WordPress.
With that said, it’s a program that has a whole lot to offer. But that also means that it can be quite intimidating to learn. Fortunately, there are some easy things you can do to level up your WordPress blog that don’t require you to be a coding genius.
Today we’re going to discuss one of the easiest ways to customize your blog with just the click of a button. Plugins – your new blogging secret weapon.
Wait…What’s A WordPress Plugin?
WordPress plugins are mini-software programs that work within the WordPress framework. While some plugins are paid, you can also find may awesome free ones! There is a plugin available for almost every task imaginable: tweeting old posts, backing up your site, installing social icons etc. Whatever you need your business blog to do, there is a very good chance there’s a plugin already available for it!
Where Do I Find WordPress Plugins?
While you can find plugins online on WordPress and on developer sites, the easiest thing to do is to install them straight from your WordPress dashboard. Just go to Plugins —> Add New and type the name of the plugin you are looking for into the search bar and hit install. (Warning: many plugins have similar names so make sure you install the right one! If in doubt, always go for one that has a lot of downloads and which has been updated recently.)
You’ll also have to hit activate after you’ve installed it. But most plugins should take you right through to the next required step.
Because the world of plugins is so vast, I’ve got a few must-have plugins to get you started:
5 Best WordPress Plugins for Bloggers + Solopreneurs
1. Limit Login Attempts
It’s an Unfortunate but True blogging reality: WordPress sites get hacked all the time. And while it’s crucial to protect yourself by keeping WordPress updated at all times (including your plugins and themes!), it’s also smart to install a plugin that beefs up your security. The Limit Login Attempts plugin will shut-out bots who are attempting to shut you down by brute force attack (which basically involves overwhelming the server). Think of it as the WordPress version of a beefy nightclub bouncer.
2. Yoast SEO
SEO is a big and unwieldy topic because there are so many different cues that you need to pay attention to. But Yoast SEO helps to break it all down. Not only can you change your meta data for your website, but you can also use it to add focus keywords, SEO titles and meta keywords for each post. All you need to do is fill in the blanks in the Yoast section underneath your post. Then hit the check button next to where it says SEO in the upper right-hand box. It will immediately come up with an SEO rating for your post: red, yellow or green (red means you should go back and fix something while green gives you the go ahead).
3. W3 Total Cache
Site speed is always a critical topic. People are just hell impatient! So if you site lags — even by as little as 3 seconds! — you could be missing out on a whole lot of traffic. A caching plugin (like this one) basically does a lot of the heavy lifting. This might not be such a big concern when your website is brand-new but once it’s up and running for a year or more, you’ll definitely need this plugin. Caching is yet another blogging task that sounds like a much bigger deal than it is and this plugin allows you to set it and forget it.
4. Google Analytics for WordPress
Knowing your stats is an all-important part of the blogging world. But Google Analytics itself is yet another interface that can be clunky and confusing for a newbie. To make things run a little more smoothly, you’ll want to install this Google Analytics for WordPress plugin. (This also requires that you nab yourself a Google Analytics account.) This plugin adds a tracking code across all pages of your site. But the cool thing is that it also allows you to view your stats right inside in the WordPress dashboard — no need to click away to keep track of things.
(Pssst! I also suggest all you Solopreneur Babes start recording your overall page views either weekly or monthly so you can see long term trends.)
5. Click To Tweet
By now I’m sure you’ve seen those “fancy” click to tweet boxes on all your favorite bloggers’ sites. But maybe you didn’t know how easy it is to do it for yourself. All you need is to install the Click to Tweet plugin and in no time you’ll be encouraging your fans to tweet your words for you. Installing the basic plugin is simple, it takes a bit of tweaking to get the colors to match the rest of your site. (Leave it up to your designer if you’re not comfortable taking on a little CSS!)
I hope you enjoyed this week’s nugget of blogging wisdom! If you found this post useful, please like or share it. And of course feel free to ask me any questions in the comments.