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Plugins are one of the many added advantages of having a self-hosted (WordPress) blog. A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website.
A plugin can increase functionality to your site or add new features to your WordPress websites.
WordPress has over 50,000 plugins to pick from depending on your blog’s needs. Plugins are very helpful in carrying your blog to the next level.
** But! As numerous and as helpful as they are, there is also a disadvantage for having too many plugins on your website.
How many plugins should a WordPress site have
As mentioned above, there are over 50,000 plugins to choose from, so it is easy to add a few too many to your pages.
I personally keep no more than 10 on both my blogs without including my theme’s recommended plugins.
That count may be too many or too few for some people but I’ll suggest you only keep the plugins necessary to your site’s health.
There are some disadvantages to having plugins on your website just like an app on your phone.
Most of these plugins are from third-party companies so issues like security breach can happen. There are bloggers who have had their websites hacked through plugins.
I only add reputable and highly reviewed ones to minimize my risk of using them.
Another disadvantage of plugins, when they are too many on your blog is they will slow down your website.
Each WordPress plugin installed on your site is registered in your WordPress database. You can activate and deactivate them at any time you want.
Upon each visit, WordPress connects to the database, loads the core software, and then loads your active plugins.
That is how plugins slow down your website when they are too many. It’s best you deactivate or remove the ones you don’t use.
Can you use plugins on free WordPress
WordPress.com users cannot install plugins unless they upgrade to the business plan which costs about $299 per year.
If you are on a free, hosted, or premium plan, then you cannot install third-party plugins. If you don’t want to pay the $299 per year, you can move your blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org
That is a lot of money for new bloggers starting out. You can pay as little as $50 in your first year of blogging being self-hosted on WordPress.org to enjoy all the plugin perks, see how.
Do WordPress plugins cost money
A lot of plugins have a free or basic plan/option to use them. The most important plugins you need to have on your blog are free.
But if you are willing to splurge a little for extra features that is up to you and your blog needs.
I am yet to pay for a plugin but will let you know when I do. Social share plugins seem to be worth paying for.
What are the best plugins for WordPress
One plugin I certainly can’t live without is Yoast. Yoast is a plugin that guides you on creating content by making sure you are writing in the best way Google can index your post properly.
Yoast is not an SEO magic potion. Other factors like keyword research, backlinks, alt text, image name, etc are all part of ranking well in google.
What Yoast does is help you highlight your chosen keywords in your content for a chance to rank well.
2. Akismet Anti-Spam
Akismet is an anti-spam comment filter. It is exciting to get comments on a new blog from real and genuine people that love your content.
Amongst these comments re sometimes spam comments by people who just want to drop links to spammy websites.
What Akismet does is filter out spammy comments to not get published.
Everyone gets spam comments, even the best bloggers. So don’t think you are doing something wrong.
3. Ad Inserter
This plugin is great for adding a notification to all posts or specific locations on your website without having to repeatedly type them whenever you publish.
Have you seen one of those “This site uses affiliate links..” on some websites? Amazon is one of those affiliate marketing programs that require you to make it obvious and know to your readers you have their links on your blog.
Ad Inserter allows you type in your notification as you’d link and it automatically appears on your posts.
For instructions on how to use it, please see this post from what Katie’s Up To.
4. Google XML Sitemaps
When you have launched your blog with a few posts on it, the next best thing to do is to submit a sitemap to google.
What a sitemap does is help Google determine what your blog is about so it can rank and index your blog according to the niche.
Google XML Sitemaps plugin helps you generate one for your blog and submits it to Google automatically.
Yoast has this function too so you don’t need to add this plugin if you already use Yoast.
5. Social Pug
There are two versions of the Social Pug Plugin. There is a paid version and a free one.
Social Pug is an easy, all-in-one social sharing plugin. You can add social share buttons that integrate beautifully with your website’s design, leading to increased engagement and reach.
The paid version displays a counter that shows how many times a post has been pinned on Pinterest or posted to Facebook by the site owner and visitors.
The free version works the same, it just doesn’t show a count.
This is very relevant for those who have an image-heavy blog like food and home decor bloggers.
Smush lets you compress any image in any directory so that you can optimize all the images on your site in just one click.
Blogs that have lots of images tend to be load slower. A lazy loading page deters readers and also affects your SEO ranking power.
Use Smush to compress your images for faster loading blogs.
Have you ever seen Error 404 after clicking a link before? I have deleted blog posts in the past when they didn’t relate to my niche in any way. Deleting posts on your blog leads to broken links.
You might’ve shared pins on the post to Pinterest or google may have already indexed it.
Broken links hurt your blog and it’s also not good user experience. The redirection plugin helps you point all your broken links to another URL that is active.
You can point broken links to related posts or back to your homepage.
8. Updraft Plus
Blogging safely should be at the back of your mind always. Blogging can be very time-consuming. A lot of effort goes into it.
Updraft Plus is a plugin that backs up your entire web content for you periodically and will easily restore your content if you wish to.
Your hosting company may provide backup functions too or you can export your contents directly from WordPress if you’d like.
There is nothing like too many backups when it comes to your content you have spent serious time writing. The time that you can never get back.
9. My Private Site
This plugin is usually deactivated on my blog and only activated when I want to use it.
My Private Site can be enabled to block visits from your site when you are working on something.
I enable it whenever I am changing my theme for example. I went through a lot of changes in the beginning before I could find the branding that works for me.
These are the best WordPress plugins for new sites. Highly relevant to your blogging success with better website functionality.
I hope you found my essential WordPress plugins list useful and if there is something you use that I have not mentioned please leave it in the comments below.