When I first started creating WordPress websites, I found myself overwhelmed with plugins. Can you relate? There are thousands in the library and it seems like you need them all! So many options, it’s easy to download and activate them all! Until your website screams at you there’s a conflict with a plugin, and your pages start loading all funky, in short, it’s a hot mess.
It’s time for some real talk, if you don’t have a criteria for selecting plugins for your website, you need one. Here’s the deal, in my opinion I believe the fewer plugins, the better, although I’ve heard some web developers claim it doesn’t matter. Here are the questions I ask before adding a plugin?
- Does it have a majority of 4-5 star ratings?
- Has it been updated in the last 6 months?
- How will this plugin help me meet my business goals?
- Is there a more efficient way to do this other than adding another plugin?
Over the years, I’ve found these six plugins have staying power, are frequently updated, and help make my business life easier and better.
Google Analytics Dashboard for WP
Google Analytics is a free tool you can use to track your website traffic. It helps you determine what’s working, what’s not working, and what you need to do to improve your traffic.
You can use Google Analytics to discover what pages are performing the best, what your most popular blog posts are this week, the past 30 days or even the past 6 months.
You can also see where your web traffic is coming from, whether it’s social media or that guest blog you did on an uber popular site.
Google Analytics is a requirement for any website, however, it can be a hassle to keep logging in to track your analytics.
Thankfully, there’s a plugin for that. I have Google Analytics Dashboard on my WordPress Dashboard so I can easily login and get a snapshot of how traffic is today.
Jetpack by WordPress
Jetpack also tracks your analytics, and I prefer Jetpack statistics when I’m viewing from my iPhone. Jetpack also does a host of other things, like automatic plugin updates, security protection and more. While I don’t take advantage of all the features, the options are quite nice especially for beginner bloggers.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a must have for every website. So what can you do to effortless improve your ranking on search engines? Use Yoast SEO.
I love this plugin because it analyzes every page and blog post on my website and makes recommendations for improvement. Each page starts out with a red light rating, as I improve my page the red light changes to green. How cool is that?
Additionally, Yoast SEO workes with Onpage.org which is a free step by step tuturial you can use to improve your site’s indexibility and page ranking.
Wow, there were a lot of big techie words right there! Here’s the short version. Yoast SEO helps you get seen on search engines and increases the traffic going to your website.
Monarch by Elegant Themes
Social media sharing buttons are imperative if you want to get your blog posts seen by multiple people. The #1 mistake I see with most blogs is making social media sharing buttons are hard to find. Honestly, if I read your blog post but sharing it isn’t obvious, you’re missing out on free traffic!
I started using the Monarch social media plugin by Elegant Themes. It allows me to customize sharing buttons for each post and page. I can choose whether to have the buttons before each blog post, at the end of each blog post, floating on the left-hand side or even in the sidebar. My social shares skyrocketed after installing it, simply because my social media buttons are dead easy to click on.
Bloom by Elegant Themes
Ever get jealous of those site with pretty email box opt ins? Well, you can have them too. I use the plugin Bloom on my fantasy book series website. It allows for pop up boxes (if that’s your thing), pretty email opt in boxes you can add to your website sidebar, footer and anywhere on the page that you desire.
Here’s the downside. It’s doesn’t integrate with ConvertKit which is the email marketing tool I use for my business blog and website. But if you’re using Mailchimp or one of the many other email marketing software it integrates with, you’re in luck.
They market themselves as the only content calendar you’ll ever need, and I have to agree. CoSchedule is an editorial calendar you can use solo, as a team or as a business. I definitely recommend it for entrepreneurs who are starting online magazines, because it certainly helps keep your organized and on top of things. I use Coschedule to plan my weekly blog posts 1-2 months in advance.
CoSchedule is also a fantastic tool to draw more traffic to your website, they have social sharing recommendations and show you which blog posts are most popular and get the most traction. While CoSchedule is a paid subscription, I highly recommend, especially if you’re just starting out and need some tactics to make your blog grow.
Want the full list of tools I use to make my entrepreneurial lifestyle easier and better? Here are my Top 6 Tools!
What plugins do you use on your WordPress website? What are some you can’t live without?