Plugins are one of the things that makes WordPress such a great blogging platform. You name a feature – there will be a plugin for it. But which ones do you REALLY need? And which ones are really worth having? If you’re not technical it can be very overwhelming and that’s why I’m here. Check out my essential WordPress plugins for mum bloggers.
Yoast SEO is the most downloaded WordPress SEO plugin, with over 1 million active installs. It has 5* from nearly 20,000 reviews and is updated very regularly.
In my opinion SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is one of the most important parts of blogging. There’s no point writing great content if no-one can find it to read. This makes Yoast my number 1 plugin.
There are two versions of Yoast SEO, free and paid. At the moment I use the free version which allows you to optimise your post for a single keyword or phrase; the paid for version lets you optimise for up to 5 keywords or phrases.
The Yoast plugin, once installed, appears in a box at the bottom of your posts. It has two tabs (for the free version), one that checks readability, the other checks how well your post has been optimised for search engines (SEO). On each tab there is a coloured spot that uses a traffic light system, green for good, orange for improvements and red if there is a problem.
The readability tab checks for passive voice, long sentences, paragraph length and more. The SEO tab checks for keyword density, ideally at least 0.5% of your text should be your keyword phrase. It also checks that alt tags on your images have your keywords and that you link to other pages on your site as well as to external sites.
Plugins don’t get over 1 million active installations without being really useful. I don’t know any bloggers on the WordPress platform who don’t use Yoast. That’s why it’s first on my list of the most essential WordPress plugins for mum bloggers.
W3 Total Cache is another plugin on the list with more than 1 million active installs and has an overall 4.5* rating.
A good caching plugin is very important when it comes to site speed. A blog that loads quickly not only keeps your visitors happy but also counts towards your search engine rankings too.
In a nutshell, caching means that the first time your browser (Safari/Internet Explorer/Chrome) loads a website it saves a copy of the files it needs to show it on screen. This is so that the next time you go to that website it already has a copy of those files and so it doesn’t need to load them again, unless they’ve changed or you clear your cache.
It’s another plugin that I wouldn’t be without.
WP Smush compresses your pictures as you upload them, so that they take up less room on your site and load more quickly. So this is another plugin that helps your site load faster. It has over 1 million active installations, it’s rated 5* overall and was updated 5 days before I wrote this post.
You can bulk smush any pictures already uploaded to your side. If you use the free version then you can batch up to 50 at a time, the paid for version lets you bulk smush all your uploaded pictures in one batch. You can also set a maximum size for your pictures to be automatically be resized before they’re added to your media library.
Using WP Smush has made a huge difference to the loading speeds of both of my blogs. I’ve only been using it a few weeks but I highly recommend it as one of the top WordPress plugins for mum bloggers.
Akismet has over 1 million active installs and has an overall 5* rating.
When I started my first blog I didn’t think I’d get spam comments on my site, because I didn’t think any bots would find it. But sure enough, my first ever comments were spam. Akismet checks comments against it’s database of known spammers, but also gives you the option of manually approving comments before they’re published to your site.
I like to respond to every comment left on any of my posts, so I’m happy to manually approve every comment while I’m writing my reply. Once an email address has been approved by you once, any new comments using the same email address are automatically approved. So if you do have regular commenters on your blog that can save you some time.
Wp-Optimize is yet another plugin on the list with 1 million + active downloads. It’s a plugin that I came across recently when I was looking for something to get rid of all my post revisions, spam comments and anything else hanging around bloating my blogs.
You’d be shocked how many post revisions that are stored on your blog. WordPress automatically saves your blog posts at regularly so you could have 1000’s of files sat there doing nothing but taking up space. Depending on yoru hosting plan they could be costing you money.
WP-Optimise lets you schedule regular clean ups and also let you clean up data up to a certain date. So you could have it clean up everything up to 2 weeks ago if you wanted.
UpdraftPlus lets you automatically back up your posts/pages/theme/plugins regularly. So you can choose to back up manually every 4 hours -1 2 hours, daily, weekly, fortnightly or monthly. It has over 1 million active installations and an overall 5* rating.
A regular back up schedule means that if for any reason your site breaks, you’ll have a backup copy that you can use to restore your blog. It’s up to you how often you decide to back up, but I work on my blogs pretty much every day so I run a daily backup.
UpdraftPlus is good because it lets you choose where you want your backup files to be saved. There’s no point in taking a backup if you’re going to keep itin the same place as all your other files. You wouldn’t leave your spare car key in your car would you?
You can back up to your Google Drive, Dropbox or it can even send you an email with the backup attached (depending on how big your backup is).
There are free and paid-for version of this plugin. I use the free version and it does a good job. If I were to get a big increase in site traffic I might consider upgrading to the paid version so I could schedule my backups for quieter periods. I’ve used a couple of other backup plugins and this is by far the most straightforward one I’ve found to use, which is why it gets on to my list of essential WordPress plugins for mum bloggers.
This is one of my favourite plugins. From a technical point of view it’s not an essential, but from a blog content planning point of view, I wouldn’t be without it. That’s why, in my view, it’s one of the must-have WordPress plugins for mum bloggers.
If you’re an occasional blogger, with no regular posting schedule then its probably not for you. And that’s OK.
But if you do decide to get more serious about blogging you’ll need to post regular content (for SEO purposes and so your readers know when to find new content) and the editorial calendar gives you a great visual representation of your month.
It gives you a monthly calendar view with your draft posts in a panel on the right of the screen. You can drag and drop your posts to whichever day you want them to publish. It really is that easy.
It has 50K active installs and a 5* rating.
So there you have it, my list of the 7 essential WordPress plugins for mum bloggers. Most of them center around keeping your blog running smoothly and quickly, which is key when it comes to being found by search engines as is search engine optimization and most of all keeping your readers happy.
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