When running a WordPress site, you should aim at making it as convenient and easy for you as possible.
That’s essentially what WordPress plugins are for. They are made to help you complete certain tasks with very little effort. In 2014, there are 10 essential WordPress plugins that you should learn about and install. And before I forget, they are all free.
1. Google Drive for WordPress
First things first, you need a plugin to back up your whole WordPress site, so you don’t lose anything in case your server crashes. And the perfect plugin to do so is called Google Drive for WordPress.
While there are many other backup plugins out there, Google Drive for WordPress is more convenient as your files are stored directly to Google Drive without any supervision required.
2. Google Analytics Dashboard for WP
Another WordPress plugin worth having is the Google Analytics Dashboard for WP. This plugin will help you keep track of the traffic coming to your site. This way, you can easily monitor everything right inside your dashboard.
(Of course, you need a Google Analytics account to make it work.)
3. WordPress SEO by Yoast
In terms of SEO, WordPress SEO by Yoast is a must-have. It’s very easy to use, highly functional and very helpful in optimizing your posts. Further, WordPress SEO by Yoast analyzes your posts and provides you with an on-page SEO report. It’s essential because the plugin helps you optimize your posts as you write them, including your SEO title, meta description and focus keywords.
4. Disqus Comment System
One of your primary goals as a blog owner is to promote reader engagement however you can. One of the more effective approaches is to focus on growing the average number of comments. The Disqus Comment System plugin makes the whole thing a lot easier and also more convenient on the readers’ part. They get to choose whether they want to contribute as a guest, use their Disqus account, or a social media profile. A very quick and effective setup for everyone.
Still on the topic of comments – spam is one of those evergreen problems for every blogger to deal with. Therefore, you need a WordPress plugin to automatically combat spam without you breaking a sweat. Akismet is that plugin.
When a comment gets submitted, Akismet analyzes that comment and tells whether it’s spam or not. It’s essential because it saves you time and effort sifting through fake comments.
6. Social Share Starter
Social media buttons can be a pain for new bloggers and sites. Basically, if you have social media counters on the site and they all display zeros (0 shares) then it’s a direct negative social proof. You need something else, and this is where Social Share Starter comes into play. It displays simple share buttons with a cumulative counter that’s only shown once the minimum number of shares has been reached.
7. Contact Form 7
If you want to put a contact form on your blog, nothing is simpler and more functional to use right now than Contact Form 7. Everyone’s using it. What’s more, Contact Form 7 works with Akismet. Thus, preventing spammers from flooding you with fake messages.
Having a contact form is probably a more effective and safer approach than sharing your email address openly – those can always be picked up by automatic crawlers.
8. Simple Pull Quote
A blog, at face value, is more appealing when there are some cool details showcased here and there – things like highlighted quotes, for example. With Simple Pull Quote, you can make a quote stick out by just pushing a button on your dashboard. It’s cool because you want to capture the attention of your reader immediately with something that’s appealing and allows them to pause for a second.
9. Widget Logic
The description here is kind of technical, but there’s really no other way to say this. Widget Logic lets you control on which pages widgets appear using WordPress’s conditional tags. These tags include things like:
is_category() – for category listings
is_single() – for individual posts
Can come really useful for landing pages and custom page templates.
10. Thank Me Later
Simply, send a personalized thank you message to your commenters with the Thank Me Later plugin. The great thing about Thank Me Later is that it allows you to customize various elements of the communication. It does add a personal touch to your email, and most importantly, it shows your appreciation.
Again, all these WordPress plugins are free, so you can download them and give them a go even today. Once you do, feel free to come back and share your thoughts here.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/101600965@N06/9719317163/