Disclosure: Some links on this page are affiliate links, but please note that I’d never put something on here that I wouldn’t highly recommend.

With just a few plugins added to your website, you can increase the functionality of your website significantly. In this post, I’ll be sharing with you some of my favorite plugins to use on my WordPress blog.

What are Plugins?

I like to think of plugins in the way that we think of apps for our phones. All phones of a certain model are the same when you open the box, but they soon have different capabilities based on what apps you download. For example, my phone might be an elaborate budgeting tool, while yours might be the ultimate productivity tool. Pretty sure my husband’s is the ultimate sports news & mindless games tool 🙂

A word of warning about plugins: don’t install too many. If you’re like me, your phone is cluttered with all kinds of apps. I get app-happy! But installing too many plugins could slow down your website. It’s best to K.I.S.S. your plugins (Keep It Simple Sweetheart)!

All right, let’s get started….

WP Smush Plugin

A while back, one of my blogs was having serious loading-time issues. I couldn’t figure it out for the life of me. Finally, I contacted my hosting provider and they noticed that my large, bulky Pinterest-friendly images were taking a tremendous amount of time to load on my website. I noticed I was losing visitors quickly. I wish I had known about WP Smush. WP Smush resizes and compresses your images, making the loading time for your site much faster.

When you first upload WP Smush, it will resize every image previously uploaded to your site in batches of 50 (for the paid option you can do them all at once, I didn’t find it worth it). Then every image you upload after installing WP Smush, it will automatically compress. Heads up: this does take a little extra time when you upload images as you are drafting a blog post. It takes everything in me not to get distracted and open a window to do something else! Squirrel!!

Yoast Plugin

When I’ve asked bloggers what their favorite plugin is, Yoast is usually their #1 choice. The plugin is fantastic because it helps to optimize the website for SEO (in order words, it helps your blog posts appear higher in search results).

Yoast has me identify a keyword for my post, and ensures that I use that keyword enough throughout the post. It will also offer suggestions on how to revise the post to make it more SEO-friendly:

Yoast SEO Plugin

Yoast also evaluates the readability of my post and offers suggestions on areas of text that might need revisions: Yoast SEO Plugin

One feature I love in Yoast is it actually points out areas where I could improve my writing (for example, I tend to start several sentences with the same word!). It points it out for me in the text by highlighting it:

Yoast SEO Plugin

ConvertKit Plugin

ConvertKit is my favorite service for email marketing (aka housing your mailing list). I can create multiple opt-ins, automated messages, segmenting, and more. I can embed fantastic forms in my posts using ConvertKit, and having the plugin makes it even easier because I just need to insert a short code and it appears. Here’s an example of a ConvertKit form (and feel free to enter your email if you are interested in this checklist!):

Step-by-Step Blog Launch Checklist

If you are starting or re-launching a blog, chances are you might be a little overwhelmed with the process. In this Blog Launch Checklist, I break down everything that you need to do to get your blog running.

Social Warfare Plugin

Social Warfare is a fantastic tool that provides social media share images above and below your posts. What I love about this plugin is that you can have it float at the top or bottom of the screen as the reader scrolls through the post (you can see that as you scroll through this post).

Social Warfare Plugin

This plugin is important because as an individual is reading your post, he/she may want to share it or pin it to read again later. This makes it much easier for them to be able to do so.

Coschedule Plugin

Coschedule is hands-down one of my favorite tools for my blog. I feel like my whole brain is stored in my Coschedule calendar! Here are some of the benefits:

It displays my editorial calendar. I can see all blog posts that are mapped out and a percentage shows me how many tasks connected with that post that I’ve completed. I can also drag and drop tasks around if I need to reschedule (and what I LOVE is that the tasks also rearrange based on the due date!).

Coschedule plugin

I can create a task template for each major repeating task in my business. For example, I use a particular process I go through for creating and promoting blog posts, and I can save this template to use every time I am working on a post:

Coschedule plugin

I can easily see all of the tasks I need to do for my entire business . These are color-coded based on what I’m working on. For example, how to posts are in green, large content posts in pink, promotion in orange, mailing list in yellow, etc.

Coschedule plugin

I can create what is called a “Social Template.” In other words, I can set up social media for a posts that schedule around when the publish date is for a blog post. For example, if I want to always send out a Tweet 2 days after my blog post goes live, my template can help me do so.

Coschedule plugin

Google Analytics Dashboard for WP Plugin

Google Analytics is one of the best website statistic tools out there, and it’s totally free. You can download this program to get it connected to your blog. As you log into your blog dashboard, you’ll be able to see the statistics for your blog:

Google Analytics Plugin

When you go to the actual Google Analytics website, you’ll be able to access an amazing archive of statistics for your website. You can customize it to better understand your audience and how they interact with your blog.

Ultimate Social Media Icons Plugin

Social Media Icons allow your site visitors to connect with you on the social media outlets that they engage at the most. Back in the day, I remember that I needed to create my own images and it was a pain to do! But this handy plugin saves you an incredible amount of time, and creates some amazing-looking social media icons for you.

What I like is that there are a variety for you to choose from, so you can select the icons that match your site design best. This photo only shows you a few of what they have:

Ultimate Social Media Icons Plugin

And everything is incredibly customizable. You can add animation, follower count, and more. You can also select which icons you want shown, and which you want to leave out. Ultimate Social Media Icons Plugin

These icons then appear on your sidebar in the format that you selected (you can see mine on the sidebar of this page).

W3 Total Cache Plugin

The W3 Total Cache plugin improves your website speed significantly. I won’t go into details with the technical aspects of caching (although this video uses a great newspaper analogy if you are interested). But I can install this plugin & the default settings are good enough for me. If at any time I want to edit them, I can open the Performance tab in the WordPress sidebar dashboard:

W3 Total Cache Plugin

Akismet Plugin

Akismet is a plugin that lessens spam comments on your website. It’s relatively simple to install and saves you a ton of time sifting through spam comments.

Much of how this works is in the background of my website–I never even see the spam comments that get filtered. It works like a charm!

How to Install a Plugin

There are two ways to install a plugin (a) upload the zip file or (b) seeing if WordPress has the plugin in their search store. I’ll cover both.

Installing a Plugin Using a Zip File

Let’s first start with uploading a Zip file. You’ll do this if you have a direct link to the plugin you want to install (for example, I gave you the direct link to various plugins in this post). When you are at the plugin page, you will download the zip file. Do not open the zip file (in other words, don’t “unzip” it); you want to keep it zipped because that is how the plugins are loaded into WordPress.

Next, go to your WordPress Side Dashboard and click Plugins and Add New

On this page, you have one of two options, either click Upload Plugin or type in the plugin you want in the search bar.

How to Install a Plugin

Next, you’ll click Choose File and select the Zip file from your computer

How to Install a Plugin

Once you upload the Zip file, click Install Now

How to Install a Plugin

Once it’s finished installing, you’ll click Activate Plugin

The plugin is now activated! You can access the settings of most plugins from your WordPress Sidebar Dashboard (you might see the new item in the sidebar), but you can also access the plugin by going to your plugins page and clicking on Settings under the plugin you want to customize.

Installing a Plugin Through the Search Option

Go to your WordPress Side Dashboard and click Plugins and Add New

Type in the plugin you want in the box in the top right corner of the screen where it says Search Plugins

How to install a plugin on wordpress

Once you find the plugin you want, click Install Now

Once it finishes installing, a blue button Activate button will appear. Click on that Activate button:

How to install a wordpress plugin

Just like I said with downloading a zip file, you can access the settings of most plugins from your WordPress Sidebar Dashboard, but you can also access the plugin by going to your plugins page and clicking on Settings under the plugin you want to customize.

And there you have it! Those are my top plugin recommendations and where you can find them. Do you have a particular plugin that you swear by? I’d love to hear! Share below!

For more steps on setting up your blog, I recommend downloading my free blog checklist:

Step-by-Step Blog Launch Checklist

If you are starting or re-launching a blog, chances are you might be a little overwhelmed with the process. In this Blog Launch Checklist, I break down everything that you need to do to get your blog running.