Top 15 WordPress Plugins For Bloggers [Personally Tested]

by Theja Pk
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This post may contain affiliate links, which means I'll get a commission if you decide to purchase through my links, at NO extra cost to you. Please read my disclosure for more info.

Last updated on June 15th, 2024

So, you started a blog but you’re not sure which plugins to install to get the most bang for your buck.

With hundreds of options, choosing the right plugins can be overwhelming. But don’t worry, I’ve done the hard work for you.

After testing over 50 plugins on my own site, I’m going to share the essential WordPress plugins every beginner blogger needs.

Let’s jump in.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick overview with the most affordable plans for each.

Security & Protection Plugins

Having a place on the World Wide Web makes your site susceptible to security threats. The last thing you want is for all your hard work to go down the drain because someone hacked your site.

Setting up safeguards at the hosting level, like I did with Kinsta, is a good first step. There’s no risk of affecting your site’s performance, and you don’t have to fiddle with complicated settings.

But if you want additional protection, consider the plugins below.

1. Akismet spam

Spam can fill your site with unwanted messages and comments. An anti-spam tool like Akismet can filter out and block these comments.

It also helps keep your website clean, which makes your blog more trustworthy.

COST: Pay what you can (I paid $12).

2. All-in-one WP security

Some features include:

  • account security – limiting login attempts, creating strong passwords, two-factor authentication
  • File permissions – ensuring only the right people can access them
  • basic firewall protection
  • Content protection – prevent users from copying your content with a right click, stop bots from scraping your content by turning off RSS feeds

Premium features:

  • country blocking
  • malware scanning
  • smart 404 blocking

COST: $70/year (for 2 sites)

3. Updraft Plus

Most hosting providers will offer services to back up your site daily or weekly. But it’s also a good practice to have a backup of your backups (see what I did there?).

But remember that these backups will take up disk space on your hosting plan, so this might not be a good option if you have limited space.

I used to use Updraft Plus when I was with my old hosting provider, Hostinger, and their disk space filled up pretty quickly, especially since I use alot of images.

But when I switched over to Kinsta, which offers free daily backups without eating away my disk space, I didn’t need the extra plugin.

COST: Free version is enough for most bloggers, which is what I used.

Speed Optimisation Plugins

Your site needs to load fast. While it’s not a direct ranking factor on Google, if persons are bouncing from your site because it takes more than 3 seconds to load, that will send a negative signal to Google.

Choosing a lightweight theme like Neve or Soledad is a great start. But if you’re not able to do that, then these plugins can help to optimize your site so that it loads faster.

4. ShortPixel

An image optimization plugin that compresses and serves your images in a web-friendly format. If you use alot of images on your site, then this is a must.

Their monthly unlimited plan is the one I use and is affordable for beginners.

But you can also purchase credits to use on an as-needed basis where each image you compress uses a credit.

COST: $9.99/month for unlimited images

5. WP rocket

WP Rocket is a caching plugin. It works by saving a copy of your website on the visitor’s device. So, when they revisit your site, it loads quicker because their device doesn’t need to download all the information again.

Some other features that help it to make your website load faster:

  • Image lazy loading – images don’t load or become visible until the reader scrolls to them, allowing the rest of your page to show up faster
  • Database clean up – empties old database files from clogging up your site
  • Minifying files – compresses your website files and data so they load faster

You don’t need to be a tech wizard to appreciate the benefits. Let WP Rocket handle it, and you can focus on creating great content for your readers.

COST: $59/year (for 1 site)

SEO Plugins

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of making your blog easier to find when people search for topics in Google.

SEO plugins guide you in choosing the right keywords, improving your content, and fixing technical issues.

6. All in one SEO

When I first started looking at SEO plugins, I came across Yoast and Rank Math. Yoast is the more popular one, but because Rank Math offered more features in its free version than Yoast did, I went with Rank Math.

However, after changing my site’s theme, Rank Math was no longer compatible with my site.

That’s when I came across All in One SEO.

I use them mainly for on-page SEO – writing meta descriptions, using schema markup for better search rankings, and running site audits to find and fix any SEO issues.

With great support and a clean interface, they are an excellent option for beginners.

COST: $49.60/year (for 1 site)

7. Link Whisper

Internal links connect your site’s pages to each other. But when you have a huge site, going through your posts manually can be tiresome.

That’s where Link Whisper comes in. It shows you linking opportunities on your pages so that you can quickly interlink your content.

However, as with other link-building plugins, the suggestions are sometimes incorrect because they use AI, which is not great at understanding the context.

But, over the time I have used it, I have found an accuracy of about 60%, which is not bad when considering the importance of building internal links.

COST: $67/year (1 site)

8. Monster Insights

If you ever came across the Google Analytics dashboard, you know how confusing it is. To this day, I have yet to understand most of it.

But with Monster Insights, the Google Analytics data is simplified into easy-to-read reports right on my WordPress dashboard.

By making sense of my audience’s behavior and engagement, I can tweak my content strategy effectively.

It makes no sense that you put all that effort into your blog but cannot understand your analytics to adjust your blogging strategy.

COST: $99.60/year (1 site)

Social Sharing Plugins

9. Social Warfare

When choosing a social sharing plugin, be sure to consider any unique features it has for Pinterest.

Pinterest is such an important marketing channel for bloggers that even if you don’t have a Pinterest marketing strategy now, you eventually will because of its importance.

Two plugins offer this feature: Social Snap and Social Warfare.

I tried Social Snap twice, but their support was so bad that I requested a refund both times.

Since then, I’ve been using Social Warfare and am very happy with their quality and support.

COST: $29/year (1 site)

Improving User Experience Plugins

A good user experience on your blog ensures that your readers can easily navigate your site and find the content they want.

A good user experience makes visitors want to stay longer, return more, and tell others about your blogs.

10. WP Joli Table of Contents

I don’t know about you, but reading a long blog article without a table of contents (TOC) irks me. It’s really frustrating to scroll through a long article trying to find the section that interests me.

Make this easier for your users by giving them a TOC. Bonus points if you can get a floating TOC that is visible to users wherever they are in the article so they can skip to where they want. This is especially important for mobile users.

I have tested more than 5 TOC plugins, trying to find one that provides the features I want. The only one that came out on top was Joli TOC.

Here are some features that I love:

  • sticky or floating TOC (my favorite feature)
  • multiple customization features to get the TOC looking exactly how you want it
  • great support

COST: $39.99/year (1 site)

You can see an example of the Joli TOC in use at the bottom of your screen (which is the floating TOC widget).

11. Smooth Back To Top Button

Similar to a table of contents, make it easier for your users to get back to the top without giving them a finger cramp.

Use this plugin to insert a simple, lightweight button that readers can quickly click to get to the top.

COST: Free

You can see this plugin in action in the bottom right hand corner of your screen.

12. Ninja Tables

Presenting information in an easy-to-understand format, such as a table, is a great way to keep your readers happy and help them digest information more easily.

Ninja tables is one of the best table plugins I have found.

Here are some features that I love:

  • Sorting tables using each column – if you have a huge amount of data or information for your readers to sift through, make it easier for them by adding a table where they can filter and sort to find the info they need. You can see this feature in action in any of my author guides – such as Tessa Bailey’s book collection post.
  • You can also create product comparisons, pricing tables, and more.

COST: $55/year (1 site)

13. Contact Form 7

Simple contact form plugin that allows readers to send you a message through your website.

You can see an example of this on my contact page.

COST: Free

Improved WordPress Functionality Plugins

14. Gutenberg Blocks: Otter, Stackable, Kadence

The WordPress Gutenberg editor comes with default blocks that are sufficient for most beginner bloggers.

However, using plugins with additional blocks is helpful if you want to create complex layouts, interactive elements, and aesthetically pleasing designs without touching a single line of code.

I use a combination of the following plugins:

Note that you don’t need to get all of them. Start off with one and then add more as your site starts to grow and needs more functionality.

I would suggest starting with Kadence or Stackable blocks and then consider Otter blocks only if you need the review block feature.

15. WP Code

I use this to add my affiliate disclosure at the top of each blog post, and add a “last updated” time for posts that I update frequently. The free version is fine and it’s what I have been using.

If you’re just starting out without any affiliate blog posts, you might not need this yet.

COST: Free

FAQs

How do I choose the right plugins for my blog?

Start by identifying your needs. Do you need better security, faster loading times, improved SEO, or enhanced user experience? Once you know what you need, look for plugins that address those areas.

Here are some tips for choosing the right ones:

  • pay attention to reviews and ratings
  • check if it’s compatible with your version of WordPress
  • ensure they are updated frequently (you will see their last updated date in the plugins library)
Can too many plugins slow down my site?

Sadly, yes. If you have too many plugins, especially if they’re not coded well, it can slow down your site. It’s important to pick plugins that are lightweight, well-maintained, and regularly updated.

And remember, always check how your site’s performing after you install a new plugin.

How do I install a plugin?

To install a plugin, go to your WordPress dashboard, navigate to “Plugins,” and click “Add New.” You can search for the plugin by name, install it, and then activate it.

For premium plugins, you may need to upload a zip file.

What should I do if a plugin breaks my site?

If a plugin causes issues, you can deactivate it from your WordPress dashboard. Each plugin has a “Deactivate” option underneath it.

Final Thoughts

Plugins aren’t just optional add-ons anymore. As everyone tries to compete with each other in the online world, plugins offer an additional layer of customization to make your blog stand out amongst the millions of other sites out there.

Just remember, there’s no rush to install all of them at once. Take it slow, start with one, and you can add more as you get used to the WordPress dashboard.

Let me know in the comments below if there are any plugins that you came across that you love. I am always looking to improve the back end of my site, so I’d love to hear them.

If you’re looking for more tools and guidance to make your blogging life easier, check out my resources page.

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