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The Essential Guide To Must Have WordPress Plugins

The-Essential-Guide

Have you ever installed WordPress and wondered what plugins you should be installing?

You’re not alone.

There are thousands of plugins you could install which means it can be challenging to choose.

I’ve built my fair share of websites and tested a lot of plugins in the past. This has led me to creating my own list of go-to WordPress plugins.

This includes plugins that improve user experience, security, make backing up your content easy as well as saving time and improving conversions.

But here’s the thing…

There are always alternatives and what plugin is right for one person isn’t always right for another.

So instead of putting together a generic “must have” or “essential” plugins list for you and saying “you must use this plugin for [insert helpful feature]”, I have put together a list that you will find far more helpful.

Below you will find a detailed list of the types of plugins that I usually install for each new blog I setup. I’ve included alternatives for each type of plugin as well as a brief comparison to give you a better idea of which plugin to choose.

Contents

Click on the links below to quickly jump to the section you want to read:

Speed up your blog

If your blog takes too long to load, you could be losing money because people expect blogs to load fast.

Studies have proven this; TagMan found that just a one second delay could cause a 7% drop in conversions.

Google even incorporates page load times into its algorithm and with the use of mobile phones to access the web, page load times will only get more important.

I covered a number of speed enhancing WordPress plugins a while back, but there are generally two main plugins that I use for this:

W3 Total Cache

W3 Total Cache

This is currently my go-to plugin for improving page load times.

W3 Total Cache has a wide range of features and goes beyond just being a simple caching plugin.

I find that it has a reasonable impact out of the box but it’s best not to tweak any of the advanced settings unless you know what you’re doing.

Fully configured, this plugin can have a serious impact on load times.

Features:

  • Compatible with various hosting environments.
  • Minification functionality.
  • CDN support.
  • Database caching.
  • Object caching
  • Browser caching.
  • Advanced settings.

Price: Free.

More Details

WP Super Cache

WP Super Cache

This is a great alternative to W3 Total Cache.

It doesn’t have all the same features but it’s much more straight forward to use.

WP Super Cache will generate static HTML files and serve them to your readers, rather than using dynamic pages which take longer to load.

Features:

  • CDN support.
  • Support for multiple caching types (Mod_Rewrite, PHP and Legacy).
  • Choose who static files are served to.

Price: Free.

More Details

Which should you choose?

Both plugins are great options; I have sites that run both of them.

I’ve found that W3 Total Cache is easier to get running out of the box, but more advanced settings are best left alone if you aren’t sure what you’re doing.

WP Super Cache works really well but requires a few settings tweaks to get started, although after that it’s usually plain sailing.

Secure your blog

Security is a big issue on the web and WordPress is no exception.

So it’s recommended that you take action and get a security plugin installed to keep your site locked up tight.

I’ve had a positive experience with both of the plugins below:

iThemes Security

iThemes Security

I started using this plugin back when it was known as “Better WP Security”.

It’s straight forward to use and has a quick setup that makes a number of important security tweaks with a single click.

There are plenty of other security settings you can tweak to lock your blog down further.

Features:

  • Ban IP addresses and hosts.
  • Scans for changes to files.
  • Built in brute force protection.
  • 404 error detection.
  • Helpful security logs.
  • Malware scanning.
  • White list your own IP address.
  • Database backups.
  • Strong password generator.
  • Export or import settings in a few clicks.

Price: Free.

More Details

Wordfence

Wordfence Security

This security plugin brings the kind of functionality that you would expect to pay a lot of money for.

It’s fairly straight forward to use and has an extensive set of features.

Features:

  • Multi-site compatible.
  • 2 factor authentication.
  • Built in caching.
  • Blocks malicious networks.
  • Scans for file changes.
  • Malware scanning.
  • Blocks known attackers in real time.
  • Disk space monitoring.
  • IP blocking.

Price: Free.

More Details

Which should you choose?

I’ve used both plugins and find iThemes Security a bit easier to find my way around but Wordfence is a very powerful plugin with features that I’d expect to pay a decent amount of money for.

Wordfence does also have added performance benefits.

Backup your blog and get peace of mind

I can’t count how many times I’ve known people to forget to run a backup, update something and look on in disbelief as things fall apart.

It’s true that a lot of web hosts keep backups but you should never rely on these. A company I worked with years ago had their entire blog deleted by their web host. Even the backups were deleted too.

Other web hosts I’ve known to make a tweak that breaks a website without taking a backup first.

Ultimately, you need to take control of the backup process and the best way to do that is to install a purpose built plugin.

It’s also important to make sure that you are doing full backups, rather than just database backups – otherwise you won’t be able to restore everything.

The two plugins below are solid options here:

BackupBuddy

BackupBuddy

This is my go-to backup plugin. It’s one of the first plugins that I install on every WordPress based website I build.

I use BackupBuddy because it’s reliable, comes with features that save me time and it’s very straight forward to use.

If you want to migrate a website to a new server, you can use BackupBuddy to run a full backup and then import your website onto the new server without even installing WordPress.

Features:

  • Easy website migration.
  • Free 1GB cloud backup (iThemes Stash).
  • Supports multiple cloud storage services including Dropbox and Amazon S3.
  • Scheduled backups.
  • Full backups and database backups.
  • Option to exclude any files you don’t want to backup.

Price: Starts from $80.

More Details

BackWPup

BackWPup

This is another great option that will ensure your blog is backed up.

It’s completely free and simple to use with some very helpful features. There is also an option to upgrade to a premium version which will give you access to support.

Features:

  • Supports remote backups to the likes of Amazon S3, Google Drive and more.
  • Easy to use restore function.
  • Schedule backups to suite you.
  • Supports export of WordPress XML files.

Price: Free with premium option available.

More Details

Which should you choose?

Both are great options.

I personally use BackupBuddy and have done for over well over a year now.

If price is a consideration then BackWPup is a great option and should have the features you will need to schedule complete backups.

BackWPup does seem to support more cloud services (e.g. sending backups to the likes of Google Drive and more) but Backup Buddy covers the main ones.

The only downside to using a free plugin here is that you aren’t guaranteed support and we can’t expect this really can we? Their premium option will give you additional features and paid support.

When it comes to overall cost of the premium version and BackupBuddy, BackupBuddy works out cheaper in some circumstances.

Manage redirects and monitor 404 errors

If you change a posts URL then you need to redirect it to the new URL.

This lets both search engines and users access the new URL. The potential fall out of not doing this can be huge and cause serious issues with user experience.

Generally you would add a 301 redirect which indicates that the URL change is permanent. Occasionally you may wish to add a temporary redirect if the URL will be switching back to the original at some stage, although that is typically used by ecommerce sites when products are removed temporarily.

It’s also important to monitor 404 errors; this will allow you to pro-actively add redirects to ensure a consistent user experience.

Unlike other plugin types, I’ve only found one that is effective for this:

Redirection

Redirection

This is a very handy plugin which will manage all of your URL redirects and makes it easy to add redirects for 404 errors.

All errors are logged and you can easily export your redirects if necessary.

Features:

  • Monitor 404 errors.
  • Import/export functionality.
  • Add 301 redirects with ease.
  • Other redirect types supported (301, 302 and 307).
  • Automatic redirects added when post permalinks are changed.
  • Redirect based on referrer.

Price: Free.

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Optimize your blog for search engines

There are a number of things you will need to do in order to optimize your blog for search engines which WordPress doesn’t support by default.

This involves the likes of technical tweaks such as being able to “noindex” pages which you don’t want Google to index, setting canonical links and other aspects such as adding meta data.

There are a number of good options here, I’ve listed two below:

WordPress SEO by Yoast

WordPress SEO by Yoast

This is one of the most popular SEO plugins available.

I originally used All in One SEO on a lot of my sites but found WordPress SEO to be better equipped with the features I was looking for.

That and WordPress SEO also has a far higher rating in the WordPress plugin repository.

Features:

  • Helpful page analysis functionality.
  • Basic on page SEO score.
  • XML sitemap generator.
  • Facebook OpenGraph support.
  • RSS settings.
  • Edit titles and descriptions in bulk.
  • Edit .htaccess and robots.txt files.
  • Import and export settings.
  • Various permalink tweaks.

Price: Free.

More Details

WP Full SEO

WP Full SEO

This is a premium alternative to WordPress SEO which comes loaded with an impressive array of features.

It is pitched as an all-inclusive SEO plugin although there are some features which seem like they would be done better by an external tool. For example, rank tracking etc.

Features:

  • Manage redirects.
  • Social signal tracking.
  • Track your websites rankings.
  • Run backups.
  • On page SEO scoring system.
  • Add Rich Snippets.
  • Twitter Card support.
  • Facebook OpenGraph support.
  • Add meta data like descriptions etc.
  • Run your own reports.

Price: Starts from $67.

More Details

Which should you choose?

I’ve heard good things about WP Full SEO but I’ve decided to stick with WordPress SEO, it’s free to use and has all the important features.

WP Full SEO has a lot more features but I find some of them aren’t needed and I have other software that does this for me in a way that won’t put additional load on my server.

That’s just me though but it’s worth considering your options here. WordPress SEO is straight forward to setup and free so is worth giving a go first.

Monitor your progress with analytics

There are a lot of analytics related WordPress plugins, but I prefer to use external tools for analytics because they offer much better functionality.

Two of the popular ones are Google Analytics and Clicky Analytics which I’ve listed plugins for below.

The reality is you don’t need a plugin for this, you can insert tracking code directly and some themes have an option for this.

However, using a plugin does allow for other functionality.

Both platforms can be used for free, although Clicky has more restrictions such as a limit of daily page views and no premium features but you can upgrade from $9.99/month.

Google Analyticator

Google Analyticator

This is a straight forward plugin that allows you to easily add your Google Analytics code and gives you an easy way of stopping logged in users (or specific user roles) from being tracked.

Features:

  • Option to not track particular user roles.
  • Support for universal and traditional tracking codes.
  • Dashboard widget.
  • Link tracking options.
  • Option to add additional tracking code.

Price: Free.

More Details

Clicky by Yoast

Clicky by Yoast

This is another straight forward plugin which will add your Clicky tracking code to your blog without any need to mess around with code.

Features:

  • Adds tracking code automatically.
  • Option to avoid tracking stats from admins.
  • Support for disabling the use of cookies.
  • Goal tracking functionality.
  • Easy download link tracking.
  • View basic statistics in your dashboard.

Price: Free.

More Details

Which should you choose?

This depends entirely on which analytics platform you want to go with.

Both are solid options, Google Analytics is more advanced but more complicated to use. I’ve found Clicky to be more basic in certain areas but the upside is that it’s much easier to find your way around the platform. And the premium features can be quite helpful!

Manage teams and improve editorial processes

WordPress doesn’t come with anything to help manage teams or editorial processes so it’s worth considering using a plugin to add this functionality.

These plugins come in more useful when you have more than one contributor, although I’ve found them to useful for single author blogs too.

Edit Flow

Edit Flow

This plugin is a complete solution for managing your editorial workflow.

You have a helpful calendar which overlays all of your posts so you can visualize your editorial calendar better.

You and your contributors can discuss posts via an editorial comments section which sends out email notifications when comments are added.

I particularly like the option to add custom post statuses which allow you to incorporate your own editorial process into WordPress.

Features:

  • Add important details can be added to an editorial meta data section.
  • Editorial calendar allows you to visualise and tweak when your posts will go live.
  • Add custom statuses with descriptions in a few clicks.
  • Notifications are sent when comments are added or post statuses are changed.
  • Subscribe to the editorial calendar with Google Calendar.

Price: Free.

More Details

Editorial Calendar

Editorial Calendar

This handy plugin will give you the ability to visualize when your posts will go live and makes it easy to drag and drop them onto different days.

It’s similar to how the calendar within the Edit Flow plugin works but without the extra editorial process functionality.

Features:

  • Change when a post will go live with the drag and drop interface.
  • See post statuses from the calendar.
  • Quick edit function works from within the calendar.
  • Manage posts for multiple authors.

Price: Free.

More Details

Which should you choose?

If you have a blog with multiple contributors, Edit Flow would be a great choice due to its level of functionality.

Even if you have a single author blog, I find that the custom statuses and post notifications can be great for keeping organized.

If you want a straight forward way of managing your posting schedule better, Editorial Calendar is a great choice.

Grow your email list

If you want to grow your blog, you need to build an email list because it’s the most effective way to reach your audience. It’s also a great way to sell products almost on auto pilot.

Out of all the list building plugins on the market, there is one in particular that stands out:

Thrive Leads

Thrive Leads

I’ve used this plugin a lot in the past and achieved some great results.

It’s got some impressive features but out of everything I find the drag & drop interface extremely impressive – it makes form customization easy.

Most plugins are restrictive, they either allow you to edit limited portions of an opt-in form template or the customization process requires coding.

You also get a wealth of other features such as reporting, split testing and 2-step opt-in forms.

There are a lot of plugins on the market but there aren’t any that have such a solid offering. Thrive has it all, you have the features you need to grow your email list and the plugin is fast and you’ve got great value for money too.

You get all features available to you no matter which plan you go for.

Features:

  • 30+ templates.
  • Supports various opt-in form locations: popovers, sidebar, after post and slide-ins.
  • Supports 2-step opt-in forms.
  • Shortcode support.
  • Advanced page targeting functionality.
  • A/B Split Testing.
  • Supports most popular email providers.
  • Easy form customization.
  • Easy to use interface.

Price: Starts from $49.

More Details Read Review

Build high converting landing pages – fast

Whether you want to sell a product, sell a service or build your email list – landing pages work well.

The idea of a landing page is that distractions are removed and the entire page is focused on a single goal. That goal is to convert.

I’ve tried plenty of landing page creation plugins, even a few free ones but I’ve come away with the conclusion that paid tools do this far better.

And the free plugin I tried charged for integrations with email providers so it ended up being more expensive than the cheapest plugin listed below.

LeadPages

LeadPages

This is more than a plugin; it’s a complete landing page platform.

LeadPages handles everything from creating landing pages and hosting them to delivering digital assets.

The WordPress plugin is uploaded as most other plugins but the difference here is that the pages can be edited on the fly right from within LeadPages. This allows for split tests and important to be made within a few clicks.

Features:

  • 70+ templates with more added each month.
  • Built in statistics.
  • Built in split testing.
  • Templates are arranged by conversion rates.
  • Pages are mobile responsive.
  • Digital asset delivery.
  • Compatible with most popular email providers.
  • Add landing pages within Facebook.
  • LeadBoxes feature allows you to utilize 2 step opt-in processes.
  • LeadLinks allows subscribers to join a list by clicking on a single link.
  • Pages are hosted for you.
  • Use LeadPages with HTML based websites.

Price: Starts from $37/month.

More Details

OptimizePress

OptimizePress

OptimizePress is a powerful plugin that makes it easy for you to create high impact landing pages and various other marketing pages.

You also get a theme version with it which can power your entire blog as well as a membership plugin which can come in very useful.

There are plenty of templates to get you started. You get 30+ templates out of the box and you have the option of subscribing to the monthly club will give you access to 100+ more.

Features:

  • Theme version included.
  • Drag and drop editor for easy page building.
  • Add OptimizePress elements to posts using shortcodes.
  • Fully mobile responsive.
  • Membership plugin included.
  • 40+ custom elements to add to your pages.
  • 30+ templates.
  • Support for 2 step opt-in processes.
  • Support for most popular email providers.
  • Support for popular membership plugins like DAP, MemberMouse and Wishlist Member.

Price: Starts from $97.

More Details Read Review

Thrive Content Builder

Thrive Landing Pages

This plugin recently received a fantastic update.

It was originally focused on building custom page layouts but now has the added option to create landing pages with 2 step opt-in forms.

The visual editor is straight forward to use and can display page layouts using your existing theme.

Features:

  • 30+ templates included.
  • Easy to use interface.
  • Event manager allows creation of 2 step opt-in forms.
  • Various design elements for your pages.
  • Built in API can be used to add your own custom elements.
  • Undo/redo functionality.

Price: Starts from $59.

More Details Read Review

Which should you choose?

I find that LeadPages is quickest overall and has some features that save me a huge amount of time. For example, the A/B split testing feature is brilliant.

On the downside there are long term costs involved and there isn’t much room to customize templates. Well, customization is easy but if you want to add an image to a template which has no image, you can’t add it unless you download the HTML version and tweak it.

OptimizePress is a more resource intensive plugin but has extensive functionality and the membership plugin makes it a great offering.

Thrive Content Builder is more lightweight than OptimizePress but still includes advanced customization options. It’s also more cost effective but it doesn’t have as many templates included, although they are very straight forward to create.

Encourage social sharing

You need to make it easy for your readers to share your content so it’s worthwhile getting a plugin installed for this.

There are a lot of social plugins on the market, both free and paid but there are two which I have been using recently to great effect:

Social Warfare

Social Warfare

Social Warfare is an impressive plugin.

It comes fully loaded with features that will help you drive more traffic to your website from social networks.

For example, Pinterest is usually a social network that most people don’t focus on.

Taller images usually get a lot more visibility on Pinterest but most featured images that usually get shared are horizontal – not very Pinterest friendly.

With Social Warfare you can add unique images and descriptions for Pinterest which will help you get much more traction.

You can also use it to add sharable quotes within your content and add custom tweets for individual posts.

There are a bunch of smart designs for the social buttons and they support the main social networks.

Features:

  • Supports UTM parameters so you can monitor traffic in Google Analytics.
  • Supports sharable quotes with several smart designs.
  • Custom social sharing options for individual posts.
  • Bit.ly support.
  • Advanced control over how share counts are displayed.
  • And lots more.

Price: $24/year (cancel anytime).

More Details

Share by Sumo Me

Share by Sumo Me

Sumo Me have some pretty awesome tools and this is one of their recent additions.

You can easily add social sharing buttons to various locations on your posts including a floating social bar.

You do have to register an account to use this and it will display a powered by simple when people use the “more shares” option but it still packs a punch.

Features:

  • Supports 16+ social networks.
  • Various visual placement options.
  • Option to exclude URL’s.
  • Mobile responsive.
  • Display total share counts.
  • Track total shares.
  • Automatically optimizes based on which networks refer the most traffic.
  • HTML version.

Price: Free.

More Details

Which should you choose?

If you’re looking for a straight forward plugin that is completely free, Share by Sumo Me is a solid option.

It’s very light weight and has some helpful features.

On the downside, it can be time consuming to exclude this from certain pages and it doesn’t come with a short code option.

There doesn’t seem to be an option that allows you to avoid negative social proof apart from disabling share counts altogether. Although, knowing what Noah, Chad and the rest of the team behind this plugin are like, I can imagine it being on their list of features to add (along with some other cool stuff).

I currently use Easy Social Share Buttons for WordPress because of the additional functionality. Its $14 so it’s reasonably priced and I find that the developers are very open to feature suggestions.

Block spam comments with ease

Spam comments are still a serious problem.

They drain your server resources and take up valuable time if you were to moderate them all by hand. The plugins listed below will help you save a lot of time moderating them:

Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin (G.A.S.P)

Stop Spam In WordPress With GASP

This is an easy to use solution that will stop most spam comments.

I hate the idea of users being impacted by spammers and a lot of other plugins tend to use complicated captcha’s whereas this uses a straight forward tick box.

The plugin will also add hidden fields that are only displayed to bots, when they are filled in the comment will be identified as spam.

Features:

  • Forces user to tick a box stating they are a real person.
  • Adds hidden fields to trick bots.
  • User referrer check.
  • Maximum comments in moderation function.

Price: Free.

More Details

Disqus

Disqus

This plugin will completely replace the native WordPress commenting system for a hosted system which has a huge number of features.

This does pose an additional hoop for readers to jump through, so it’s important to edit the settings to allow guests to post.

It’s worth considering that some people dislike the platform because it’s not as straight forward to comment as with the WordPress commenting system, although once you have an account commenting is very easy.

This is much more than a spam blocking plugin, but I’ve listed it because it’s the reason I went to 100+ daily spam comments to 0.

Features:

  • Moderate comments offsite.
  • Easy comment subscription for users.
  • Comments can be voted on and featured.
  • Whitelist and blacklist commenters with ease.
  • Comment notifications are taken care of.
  • Earn money by displaying related content below your blog posts.

Price: Free.

More Details

Which should you choose?

Both plugins are free. If you want a straight forward spam blocking plugin then G.A.S.P is the most straight forward option.

Disqus is slightly more effective at stopping spam comments and is far more feature intensive but some people are put off from commenting.

I would recommend trying G.A.S.P first and seeing how that impacts the number of spam comments you receive first.

Over to you

I’ve listed a lot of plugins and all of them can be effective in their own way.

Start off thinking about what you need a plugin to do for you first, then look at some specific options but consider which features you really need. For example if you need an SEO plugin, do you really need to be able to track your rankings? Or could another tool be more effective.

Are there any particular challenges you’ve faced and overcome with WordPress?

Let us know more in the comments below.

TOTAL SHARES 2.6K

About Adam Connell

Adam is the founder of Blogging Wizard and co-founder of Purcus. Previously Operations Manager for a UK based marketing agency and now helps others become more successful online. Join Adam's free newsletter and get access to exclusive resources you can use to grow your blog.

  • http://www.SocialMediaRush.com/ Reginald Chan

    Adam,

    AWESOME write man. For my sharing icon, I use ShareAHolic. Why? I have Easy share but it is CRAZY time consuming to configure. If you could send yours over I would be delighted :)

    Hybrid Connect is golden but I noticed they have not been updated for sometime right? Hmm…either way, still love it.

    I heard about WordFence performance booster (you wrote that too) but have you tested it? I have yet to try and thus, wondering if I should!

    Keep me informed man.

    By the way, how are you?
    ~Reginald

    • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Thanks Reginald!

      You’re right, Easy Share does take a while to customize.

      I can export my settings for you later – drop me an email and I’ll send them over.

      You’re right about Hybrid Connect. Still does well considering. Heard a rumor that they were going to re-code it from scratch – not sure if/when it will happen but I really hope it does. It’ll be incredible.

      I haven’t tried the Wordfence performance booster, I just used it as a straight up security plugin – have you tried it?

      All good here my friend, how about you?

      Adam

  • http://www.sherreymeyer.com/ Sherrey Meyer

    Very informative, Adam! Having just made the move to self-hosted I have felt overwhelmed by the number of plugins available. This is very helpful to a newbie like me. You’ve done a great job of narrowing the field. :)

    • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Thanks Sherrey. Really glad to hear that you’ve found the post useful :)

  • http://www.shadeofinfo.com/blog/ Andrew M. Warner

    Hey Adam,

    Great write up here. Surprisingly, I use alot of these already. The one with the backup, however, is something I have to focus on more. I’ve heard of BackupBuddy before but never got an opportunity to fully check it out. It’s strictly a paid plugin?

    I’ll have to do reviews on it to make sure it’s something for me.

    I use Wordfence performance booster from time to time alongside my other caching plugins … it seems to work fine. But I love Wordfence as a security plugin much more.

    Great stuff, Adam.

    Have a great week.

    – Andrew

    • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Hey Andrew,

      Thanks! BackupBuddy is paid, there’s no free version unfortunately.

      I tried a bunch of other backup plugins before settling with BackupBuddy, most that I tried were insanely complicated to use and I ended up with a few unusable backups.

      It’s well worth giving BackWPup a try first to see if the free version does everything you need first. If not then take a closer look at BackupBuddy.

      Great to hear Wordfence has been working well for you.

      Thanks Andrew, you too!

      Adam

      • Matt

        Hey Adam,

        Fantastic blog!

        Do you have any thoughts on other backup plugins? I’ve recently been looking at UpdraftPlus – it seems to have all the features of BackupBuddy; is $20 cheaper and also has a free version. Are you familiar with this plugin?

        Matt

        • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

          Hey Matt,

          Thanks for the kind words.

          I haven’t tried UpdraftPlus myself but I have heard good things. The other alternative I mentioned in the post may be a good point to start since it’s free too.

  • http://www.joythedesigner.com Shariar joy

    Wow man.. amazing post!!!
    I use a lot of functions that come in with jet pack!!. including the sharing buttons and publicize..
    I use Disqus for comments, although it kind of discourages people from commenting and thats annoying… I love the way it looks

    I didn’t put in an email opt in forms because i don’t think people opt – in … do they?

    • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Thanks Shariar – I really appreciate the kind words!

      I completely agree about Disqus. Still, it does a great job at stopping spam and it looks very smart!

      It’s well worth adding a basic opt-in form even if you use a free MailChimp account – it’s best starting now rather than later because you’ll miss out on subscribers.

      Email is one of the best ways to reach your followers. I recently published a guide which you can find here: http://www.bloggingwizard.com/list-building-ultimate-guide/

      • http://www.joythedesigner.com Shariar joy

        Ok I’ll use mail chimp since its integrated with my host anyways..

        • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

          Even better :)

  • http://nathanambrose.com/ Nathan Ambrose

    Hi Adam.

    What a fine list! I’ve bookmarked for future reference.

    A couple of months ago, I installed Back Up to DropBox for the first time. It’s free, and I’m happy with it so far. It will work quietly in the background according to the schedule that you set.

    I recently installed the SumoMe sharing buttons after seeing it on Britanny’s blog. It works quite well. I wanted something that was smart, quick, and showed counts. I’ve been disappointed with most, but so far so good.

    By the way, I couldn’t help noticing that you have “piece of mind” in one of your headings. I proofread, so these things jump out at me.

    Looking forward to your next post.

    Nathan.

    • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Thanks Nathan!

      Good to hear Back Up to DropBox is working well for you.

      I know what you mean about social plugins. I’ve tested a lot over the last few years and SumoMe is pretty far ahead of most of them.

      Thanks for spotting the typo – corrected it!

      Have a great week.

      Adam

  • http://www.bloggingfromparadise.com/ Ryan Biddulph

    Wow Adam!

    I’m huge on having the right comment system. I use ComLuv but Disqus rocks too. Knocking down spam while increasing engagement are 2 key qualities in any comment system. Disqus does a fine job weeding out spammers because you need to sign up for an account. If someone doesn’t sign up because it’s too much effort, they’re not a loyal reader anyway, and they probably won’t be ponying up cash to hire you or to buy your product or service. So, releasing on them reduces your spam and weeds out readers, to find your loyal, repeat readers and customers.

    Whatever commenting system you use, make it a good one.

    As for speed W3 cache seems to be a winner. I know little about the backend stuff but developers and tech bloggers seem to point me in that direction, so I guess I’m doing it right. Anything that promotes speed is awesome because we live in a microwave society. People need it now. I’m patient but can’t wait around for a site to load up, even if the content rocks, because I can find awesome content on faster blogs around the cyber corner.

    Well done! Tweeting and signing off from Fiji.

    Ryan

    • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Hey Ryan,

      Great to see you here and congrats on another book launch :)

      That’s such a great point about Disqus. I know some people have issues with it but if someone takes the time to sign up then that’s a true sign of your worth!

      So true about speed. I checked out a few new blogs this week and ended up leaving because they were so slow. I always aim for getting load times below 3 seconds but some were up to over a minute. Most people won’t wait that long no matter how good the content is.

      Thanks my friend – talk soon!

      Adam

  • http://okaymarketing.com/ Brian Jackson

    Great post @adamjayc:disqus However I think you should think about including WP-Rocket :) It has been beating Super Cache & W3TC in all the tests I have run. You can check out mine and Kevin’s review of it on their press page here: http://wp-rocket.me/press/ Along with a ton of others. I know @denharsh:disqus over at Shoutmeloud just reviewed it as well. Otherwise, amazing post!

    • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Thanks Brian!

      Good call on WP Rocket, I remember seeing the forum post with you and Kevin discussing it.

      It’s on my list to test out :)

  • http://www.brittanybullen.com/ Brittany Bullen

    Adam,

    I’ve used both of the caching plugins you recommend but I was having issues with both of them, so currently I use neither and just use Wordfence. I’m still a little hazy on the subject of whether or not I need both, since Wordfence has performance-related features too. Do you have any thoughts on the subject?

    I’ve heard a lot about many of these (I think I’ve even discussed a few of them with you!) but it’s always good to know what some of my blogging heroes are using. Thanks for the info!

    Brittany

    • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Hi Brittany,

      I think hosting configurations can have an impact on caching plugins. I had a random issue with Media Temple and W3 Total Cache that I never could solve but on my new host it works perfectly.

      I’m not sure how much Wordfence impacts performance but from the looks of things it’s designed to work without using any other caching plugin!

      My pleasure, Brittany! Thanks for checking out the post!

  • http://www.internetjetstream.com/ Mike Seddon

    HI Adam,

    Just skimmed this post and put it in my calendar to read again in more detail. Great list, thanks.

    I’m actually thinking of Optinmonster so I’ll read your comments with interest.

    I’ve used Hybrid Connect before and liked it. I bought it again when I set up Internet Jetstream but I could not get it to work with Optimsepress. In the end I had to give up.

    Cheers
    Mike

    • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Hi Mike,

      My pleasure!

      I remember there was an issue with Hybrid Connect and OptimizePress. I think both plugins were updated so they could work better together.

      OptinMonster is a great option, really straight forward to use. Customization is limited in comparison to Hybrid Connect but the exit intent feature is very useful.

      Feel free to drop me an email if you have any questions.

      All the best,
      Adam

  • Lisa

    Fantastic list! I’m just setting up a new blog and have changed a couple of plugins after reading this (and doing a little more research – due diligence n all!) The only one I’m still dragging my feet on is the analytics plugin. The Google Analyticator has had a few probs of recent times by the looks of it so I’ll check out how much of an issue they really are.

    SumoMe looked to have a few interesting plugins.

    • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Thanks Lisa. It’s well worth doing the research to get an idea of what you really need. I’ve used Google Analyticator on maybe 15+ sites over the last few years.

      Haven’t had any issues with it, but Yoast also has a plugin you could take a look at: https://wordpress.org/plugins/google-analytics-for-wordpress/

      I first tried Yoast’s plugin last year and had an issue, recently tested again on a new site last month and it worked perfectly.

      Thanks for checking out my post :)

  • http://www.edwardbeaman.com/ Edward Beaman

    Hi Adam,

    What an extremely detailed and helpful blog post. I like how you’ve given some alternatives, because as you say, what works for one person might not work for another.

    A problem I face at the moment is speeding up my blog’s load time. Sometimes it seems to be agonisingly and I’m wondering if I’ve set it up badly. Anyway, I’m going to try one or both of the plugins you mentioned for this, starting with W3 Total Cache.

    Great post Adam and thanks for the information!

    Edward

    • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Hi Edward,

      Thanks! Glad you’ve found this useful.

      Loading times is a huge time for a lot of other site owners too.

      It’s worth trying out some caching plugins. Also consider checking out a lazy loading plugin – they make sure images are only loaded when needed.

      The biggest thing that will impact your page load times is your web host and the truth is that most web hosts aren’t built with speed in mind. They just put as many people on a server as they can.

      There are odd plugins that can cause glitches with other plugins that increase load times.

      You could try running a report using loadimpact.com – that will tell you how well your site can cope with multiple visitors.

      The P3 Plugin Profiler plugin is a free install that can tell you if there’s any plugins causing issues too.

      And there are testing tools like http://www.webpagetest.org/ which can also give you an idea of what’s causing load times to suffer.

      My pleasure – hope the above helps you.

      Adam

      • http://www.edwardbeaman.com/ Edward Beaman

        Very helpful Adam. Thank you for your detailed response! Will play around with these suggestions.

        • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

          No worries, Edward :)

      • http://ultrabodymind.com/ Erick Perez

        adam what lazy load plugin are you using? I love how the images look as you are scrolling down.

  • Henk van Dillen

    I’m delighted to read this, keep up the good work Adam. I don’t have to read lots of text, just can scroll quick to the right information.

    • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Awesome to hear, Henk. Planning to use these in-page links more for longer posts in future.

  • http://www.leapfroggr.com/ Dennis Seymour

    Great list Adam. I went with Coschedule but Edit Flow was pretty good. I actually still use Editorial calendar in some of the blogs I run. Pretty useful.
    Sharing this out! :)

    • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Thanks Dennis! I’ve got CoSchedule on my list of tools to try out – should have tested it long ago because I’m hearing great things.

      What are your thoughts on it so far?

      Thanks for sharing and commenting!

      • http://www.leapfroggr.com/ Dennis Seymour

        Hi Adam!

        It’s pretty good, at least for my workflow.

        I assigned an editor and a social manager. I could assign tasks and topics from within coschedule. Social messages can be sent out regularly and scheduled in advanced and buffered if needed.

        Eventually, getting writers on there is also going to be important and it’s built to handle that as well.

        Im sure it will fit your needs as you are a lot farther along with blogging already haha. I have a long way to go :)

        • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

          Hi Dennis,

          Sounds great!

          I can see this being incredibly useful. The social integration sounds very good too.

          I’m testing Oktopost at the moment which has more advanced social functionality. Need to try CoSchedule :)

  • http://womeninbusinessradio.com Michele Price

    Adam, Damn fine list dude!

    We use several you suggested.

    Ideas for another post to address:

    Curious what do you use to build your CTA buttons? Is that a plugin as well?

    Are there plugins that optimize our images and load time or do we just need to do that manually?

    • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Thanks Michele :)

      Which CTA’s do you mean?

      W3 Total Cache/WP Super Cache will optimize load time for you.

      As for images, I like to optimize these outside of WordPress with image software. I usually scale images down then compress them to reduce the file size.

      There is a plugin that can do this: https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-smushit/

      I had issues with this plugin a few years ago but it’s now maintained by WPMUDEV so they’ve sorted a lot of bugs.

      Alternatively you could use a site like TinyPNG.com or JPGMini.com.

  • http://www.Seegerconsultinginc.com/ Nancy Seeger

    Great list and Insights. I have tried most of these products and can’t dispute any of your findings. Thanks.

    • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Thanks Nancy. Really appreciate the kind words & feedback.

  • http://www.pixelboxxdesign.co.uk/ Jason Boyd

    Hey Adam, Awesome post but you must add WP Rocket to your list of caching plugins. I recently tried it with a project I’m building. I read a few reviews that put it ahead of the likes of W3TC etc and I have to agree it blows everything else out of the water both in terms of performance and ease of setup.

    Jason.

    • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Hey Jason, thanks!

      Definitely hearing some great things about WP Rocket. I’ve got it on my list of plugins to check out.

      Great to hear about your experience with it.

      Adam

  • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

    Hey Sherman,

    That’s awesome to hear :)

    I’ve used SEOpressor in the past, does all the important stuff, especially some of the optimization features.

    What issues were you having with Magic Action Box? I remember you mentioning wanting to switch.

    Hybrid Connect is a good option, I use OptinMonster at the moment partly because it’s more light weight and has the exit intent features. Hybrid Connect’s opt-in forms are way more customizable though.

    Glad Sucuri were able to help when you had some issues. Any idea what happened?

    Well worth getting another backup plugin sorted. I’ve been very happy with BackupBuddy but BackWPup seems to be another good option.

    That’s the issue with Google Analytics, it’s super powerful, so much you can do with it but that always results in being overly complicated for beginners.

    My pleasure Sherman! Glad you enjoyed the post!

    • http://www.shermansmithblog.com/ Sherman Smith

      I had magic action box for over a year now and I just haven’t been getting a lot of conversions as I hope I would get. So now I thought I would try out a different optin tool to see how it works out.

      I had a bunch of malware on my blog. It got to the point where I couldn’t even log into my back office. I was recommended Sucuri by Dee Ann Wallace and they took care of the problem.

      Yes Google Analytics isn’t that user friendly for beginners, but I’m glad I stuck with it and got the gist of it!

      • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

        Well worth giving another tool a try. I think you’ve seen this post: http://www.bloggingwizard.com/list-building-ultimate-guide/ but well worth checking through some of the tips to boost your conversions.

        Glad to hear that Sucuri did such a good job removing the malware!

        Same here, I especially like the goal tracking functionality in GA!

        • http://www.shermansmithblog.com/ Sherman Smith

          Are you using the Genesis Framework Adam? I installed Hybrid Connect and made a couple of forms, but they’re not showing up on the theme or the posts

          • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

            Not at the moment, Sherman but I did use Genesis when I last used Hybrid Connect and it worked without any issues.

            How are you displaying the forms? Have you tried displaying them via shortcodes?

          • http://www.shermansmithblog.com/ Sherman Smith

            I’ve tried displaying them using both side widgets and shortcodes.. I’m thinking it’s one of two things. There’s a conflict with another plugin or its the child theme I’m using… did you use a child them? If so which one?

          • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

            I was using the Epik theme when I last used HC.

            Could be a conflict with another plugin, disabling each plugin should instantly show you if it’s a plugin conflict. Then enabling them one by one should show you which one is causing the issue.

          • http://www.shermansmithblog.com/ Sherman Smith

            Ok.. I disabled all of them but still to no avail.. I’ve done some more research and it looks like it has something to do with the Facebook App… I already put in a tech request to hybrid connect… hopefully they’ll get back to me soon.

          • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

            Very strange, hope they can get it sorted for you soon!

  • Akshay Hallur

    Great list Adam.
    Among these I really like WordFence. It helps me to keep the bad guys out. But however the only issue is it causes server overload at times.

    Clicky? Actually I have never used it. Seems like good plugin. To serve the purpose of tracking the clicks on my blog. I’m using BuzzSumo module.

    Thanks for sharing Adam.

    Tweeting this.
    Cheers,
    Akshay.

    • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Thanks Akshay.

      If you have server issues with Wordfence then you could alter the memory limit within the plugin or you could speak to your host about increasing the PHP memory limit.

      BuzzSumo? That’s not a plugin last time I checked but it is an awesome tool :)

      Thanks for reading and sharing, Akshay!

  • http://maureencberry.com/ Maureen C. Berry

    Hi Adam. This is the second post of yours I’ve looked at in the last several minutes. Terrific lists! Here’s my challenge and question-what is the difference between a share plugin (I use ShareThis, but will probably convert to Easy Social Share after reading your posts and the comments) and a plugin I use so my readers can connect with me (this sentence begs for structure, I know). And if you can decipher what I’m asking, can you recommend a plugin for a “let’s connect” or follow me plugin that I can put on the top right of my site? Thanks.

    • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Hi Maureen,

      Thanks for the kind words!

      Some social sharing plugins do off the ability to add a widget with links to your social networks too.

      Easy Social Share offers that option too but I don’t use it myself – it’s primarily designed for adding share buttons and that’s what it’s best at.

      For those “let’s connect” social buttons you could use something like this: https://wordpress.org/plugins/social-media-widget/ (it’s free).

      Before adding it, it’s worth considering where to put it.

      For example, I have mine in the footer because my focus is on building my email list. Email performs better for me than social media. It may not be the same for you but it’s worth considering!

      All the best,
      Adam

      • http://maureencberry.com/ Maureen C. Berry

        Adam,
        Thanks for your quick response. Free is always good. :)
        I like your footer section with the “connect” links. Something to consider for sure and I am trying to build my email list, so I appreciate your thoughts. Happy Thursday.

        • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

          Hi Maureen,

          My pleasure :)

          Thanks! Definitely – let me know how you get on with building your email list.

          Have a great weekend.

  • Sara Wolff

    We tried dozens upon dozens of plug-ins to stop spam. SweetCaptcha has worked for us best. Simple for humans to use, impossible for bots. And it’s cute.

    Great list. Definitely a few I want to check out.

    • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Thanks Sara. Great plugin suggestion, haven’t tried SweetCaptcha yet.

  • http://byteofdata.com/ David Hartshorne

    Super duper post Adam!
    Late getting to read it, but as usual everything is well presented.

    – Speed: I’ve not tried these plugins yet, so I’ll take a look. However, I’m using Wordfence which has the Falcon Engine option – have you tried that compared to W3 Total Cache?

    – Security: I tried iThemes but didn’t like it. I found it overwhelming compared to Wordfence.

    – Backup: Just starting using BackWPUp a few weeks back and it works nicely saving to Amazon S3.

    – SEO: WordPress SEO by Yoast – seems to be OK although still learning on this.

    – Analytics: Trying to get my head round this. Have installed Google Analytics but needs configuring. Am using Yoast Analytics plugin for this, but wondering what it actually gives me compared to just signing into Google Analytics directly? Have also been using Clicky. Comparing results between the two is confusing. Any tips on the best methods?

    – Landing pages: TCB & Hybrid Connect – quality products!

    Thanks again for the great roundup.
    – David

    • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Thanks David, glad you found the post useful!

      * Speed – I’ve tried Wordfence but haven’t tried the Falcon Engine, I’m hearing some good things though.
      * Security – Good point, it can definitely be overwhelming. It takes some time to get used to but Wordfence is like you say, much less overwhelming.
      * Backup – Great to hear you’re getting on well with BackWPup!
      * Analytics – The main benefits of the Google Analytics plugin is that it inserts the code onto all of your websites posts/pages. You can do this directly and some themes have the option, the real benefit is that there are other code snippets (e.g. demographic tracking) that the plugin gives you the option to add easily. Clicky and GA measure bounce rate differently – Clicky measures it most accurately IMO out of the box, although you can use plugins like “Riveted” to change how GA measures bounces/time on page. GA only reports time spent on a page when a visitor navigates to another page. I tried Clicky last year and much preferred the interface, I went back to GA mainly because of how much I can do with it but I’m considering getting it setup again.

      My pleasure, thanks for checking out the post.

      Adam

  • http://ultrabodymind.com/ Erick Perez

    What does redirection is suppose to do? what is the benefit of having it? Lets say your post url is bla.com/bla and you want to call it bla.com/blu you need to do redirects? cant you just change it in the post permalink editor?

    • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Hi Erick,

      When you change a permalink usually the old link will stop being accessible. This causes issues for users and search engines.

      With the redirection plugin, whenever you change a permalink it will automatically redirect the old permalink to the new URL.

      You can also manually add redirects – it’s best checking Google Webmaster Tools, they will tell you what 404 errors they’re finding on your site, you can then redirect those URL’s to the most relevant URL.

  • http://www.passionateworldradionetwork.com Lillian Cauldwell

    How do I add a blog to a wordpress website? Is there a good plugin for this or do I need to create it from scratch. HTML coding is minimal.

    • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      WordPress was primarily designed to be a blogging platform so the blog will be built in already. When you’re logged into the admin area, go to “posts” then “add new” to add a new blog post.

  • http://www.chiragnayyar.com/ Chirag Nayyar

    Great list.Lot of new things learn from this post :)
    Thank you

    • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Awesome to hear, Chirag. Thanks!

  • http://www.getsocial.io João Romão

    Hey @adamjayc:disqus, I’d love to have GetSocial added to this list. Here’s why:

    – Trackable sharing buttons to about 20 networks (including WhatsApp & Facebook Messenger)
    – Tracks Dark Social Sharing (Copy & Paste)
    – Mobile Sharing
    – Welcome Bar + Subscriber Bar available
    – Price Alert (WooCommerce)
    – No Code Required
    – Custom Facebook Shares

    • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      João, thanks for the heads up on your plugin.

      I’ll make a note if I expand this list.