A successful blog has a lot of moving parts. Most importantly you need great content, but there are quite a few more factors that can help your blog be strong and thriving. One thing you may not realize you need is the right plugins. Here is a great list of plugins that can save you time and make your blogging better!

Social Warfare

We all know how important social media is to online business and encouraging your readers and customers to share your information is crucial. If you are using WordPress to run your website then using a social sharing plugin will help get your content out to your favorite social media channels by allowing your readers and customers to share your blog posts directly!

Social Warfare is a widely popular social sharing WordPress plugin that has over 350,000 downloads and boast a 4.5 star rating. Social Warfare offers a free plugin that includes six of the most popular social networks share buttons including: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and StumbleUpon.

Social Warfare allows you to choose where the share buttons are displayed and even gives you the option to keep the sharing buttons as a floating toolbar, meaning they will follow the reader as they scroll down your site. Pretty cool.

One of my favorite features is the Click to Tweet Quotes. This allows you to create tweetable quotes right inside your posts or pages. It’s a known fact that if you want someone to take action, such as tweet about your post, then you have to make it easy for them. The Click to Tweet Quotes does just that.

Social Warfare also allows you to display the number of social shares your content has received – even tweet counts (with a Social Warfare Pro license)! Social share counts are great for social proof, a powerful psychological effect that has been proven to encourage even more sharing.

The Social Warfare plugin will not slow down your site like some other social sharing plugins.

While the plugin with basic functionality is free there is a pro option that gives you even more. The Pro version includes 9 additional social sharing buttons for Reddit, Tumblr, Yummly, WhatsApp, Pocket, Buffer, Hacker News, Flipboard, and email.

You can also enable the Image Hover Pin Button which will place a “Pin” button over top of every image inside of your content when a reader hovers their mouse over it.

While Social Warfare Pro has some awesome features, the basic free version may be all you need.

SOCIAL WARFARE ALTERNATIVE: Social Pug

Social Pug is another great option for social media shares and has recently grown in popularity as a Social Warfare alternative. Best features include:

  • The ability to create a custom set of social share buttons
  • “Click to tweet” to share a custom tweet
  • Floating sidebar share buttons, before and after content share buttons, pop up share buttons
  • Mobile sticky bar (floating social share buttons)
  • Google analytics and Bitly integrations
  • And more!

Both the free and the paid versions display social share counts for each social media platform that supports share counts.

The free version supports Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn. The premium version adds 12 additional social networks.

Some of the extra features included in the Pro Version include:

  • Shortcode Social Share Buttons (add your share buttons anywhere you like!)
  • Share Counts Recovery
  • Custom Open Graph Metadata (use this for custom Pinterest pin descriptions)
  • Link Shortening Integrations
  • Analytics Integration
  • Click to Tweet Boxes (add custom click to tweet boxes to both posts and pages)

Google Analytics Integration allows you to track incoming visits from the social share buttons with Google Analytics UTM parameters. You can also shorten your website’s shared links with the help of Bitly integration.

The paid version starts at just $29. Best of all, they offer a money back guarantee within 14 days if you are not happy.

Use This Plugin to Prevent Hacking

Raise your hand if your website has ever been hacked. My hand is raised; how about yours? Unfortunately about 30,000 websites get hacked per day according to Sophos Security. Hackers are not picky and will go after any site they can find. It doesn’t matter how big or small your site is or how much or how little traffic you get. If it can be compromised I promise you a hacker will find it sooner or later.

If you are a WordPress user, your website has some options to help prevent any hacking that may occur. Of course no one or no software can 100% guarantee your website will never get hacked or compromised but it helps to limit the ways hackers can gain access.

SUCURI

One of the most popular WordPress security plugins available is Sucuri. As with many plugins Sucuri had a free and premium version available. The free version is very solid and has most features you will need.

Notable features include:

● Security notifications
● File Integrity Monitoring
● Remote Malware Scanning
● Blacklist Monitoring
● Effective Security Hardening
● Security Activity Log

To help prevent hacking of your website Sucuri has many options to harden your site. Some of these tasks include not allowing PHP files in your uploads directory, which is where any files you upload through the media library are found. It also makes the WordPress version you are currently running hidden so that it is not easily found. This is important because hackers can use the version number to figure out known bugs and use those bugs to compromise your site.

File integrity monitoring is important because it will alert you when files are edited. Unless you are directly editing or updating a theme or plugin, there is no reason for a file to be edited or changed. Most hackers inject malicious code into PHP files and when that code is ran it can cause havoc. With file integrity monitoring if any malicious code somehow gets added, you can stop it in its track.

The security activity log is a great tool especially if more than one person is working on your website. This tool logs every move a person makes in the administration area. If someone edits a theme file, it’s logged. If someone installs or deactivates a plugin, it’s logged. It’s a great way to see what people are doing on your website.

What good is all this monitoring if you don’t know the results? Sucuri has security notifications that will alert if something suspicious is going on so you can take appropriate actions.

Sucuri also has a web security blog that you should read to help keep you up-to-date on the current security trends and the best ways to prevent hacks.

It’s ironic that while writing this post, Sucuri actually saved my site from malware.

A lot of this may sound confusing for you but securing your WordPress site is so important. You rely on your website to produce income for your business, don’t let it become compromised.

Here are some more helpful resources from the Sucuri website!

Use This Plugin for Backing Up Your Blog

The UpdraftPlus plugin is exactly as it sounds, a plugin to backup your WordPress site. A backup plugin should be one of the first plugins you ever install on your WordPress site. You can’t depend on your webhost to backup your site, it is your responsibility. Luckily the UpdraftPlus backup plugin makes this a simple job.

Some key features include:

● Restore backups directly from WordPress
● Schedule backups
● Send your site’s backups to the cloud for safe keeping
● Migration – move your site from one place to another easily
● Supports backing up multiple and non-WordPress databases

UpdraftPlus is easy to install and setup. Just install UpdraftPlus like you would any other WordPress plugin. Once the plugin is installed and activated you will notice a new menu option in your WordPress admin area named UpdraftPlus Backups.

If you just want to do a quick backup and download it to your computer then when you navigate to the UpdraftPlus settings page, simply click on the blue Backup Now button. This will start a new backup of your WordPress site. Once it is finished you will be able to download it under the Existing Backups tab. The amount of time for the backup to finish will depend on the size of your WordPress site.

Of course, it is best practice to schedule your site’s backup so that you always have a good recent working backup. To setup a backup schedule simply click on the Settings tab and choose how often you would like the backup to run. I personally recommend that you backup your database daily if you publish a lot of content. The files backup includes uploads to the media library, plugin files, and theme files. Unless you are constantly altering your theme a weekly or bi-weekly backup schedule will work just fine.

When scheduling your site’s backups don’t forget to set a destination for the backup. You don’t want to save your backups on your web host. The backups will take up a lot of space and if something happens to your web host you may not have access to the backups. With UpdraftPlus you can send your backups to Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3, or you can even have it emailed to you.

You set up the destination for your backups on the same page you schedule backups. Just scroll down a little bit and you will see your options. Choose the destination of your choice and the plugin will walk you through the rest.

Unlike some other WordPress backup plugins, you can restore any backup created by UpdraftPlus directly from WordPress. There is no separate script or file you have to copy over and install to perform a restore. This also makes it simple to move or copy a WordPress site to another location. If you offer web design or development as a service this is a huge help.

Installing a backup plugin should be one of the first tasks taken when creating a WordPress site. UpdraftPlus makes it very easy to schedule your backups so you don’t have to worry about it and can spend more time completing making money tasks in your business.

Use This WordPress Plugin for Website Speed

Everyone wants a speedy website. A fast website means happy customers and happy customers mean repeat customers. Even Google pays attention to your site’s speed and has even started penalizing slow sites in their search results and no one wants that.

To test the speed of your website you can use tools such as Google Page Speed Test, Pingdom, and GTMetrix. Perform a speed test before taking any actions to increase the page speed. Once you have taken steps to increase the speed of your website, perform the test once more to see the difference. These sites will also give you suggestions on how to improve your site’s speed and if you use WordPress to run your website a plugin like W3 Total Cache can fix most of them.

W3 Total Cache is a web performance optimization WordPress plugin. It has been around for a long time and has a 4.5 star rating in the WordPress plugin repository. While W3 Total Cache boasts numerous benefits, it’s biggest benefit is the decreased load time of a WordPress website.

The biggest features of W3 Total Cache include:

● SSL Support
● Content Management Delivery Support
● Caching of not only pages, but categories, comments, Javascript, CSS, search results, database objects, and more
● Minification of Javascript, CSS, and posts/pages,

Overall W3 Total Cache is an excellent WordPress plugin to help enhance your website’s speed.

Siteground SuperCacher

I personally use Siteground’s SuperCacher and have been very happy with it. They provide 3 different options to their current hosting customers for caching to fit whatever your needs may be. On their SuperCacher page they have a quick tutorial to make instillation a breeze. It’s nice to have as many things in one place or one site, but if you do not use Siteground for your hosting, then W3 is a great option as well.

Use This WoRDPRESS Plugin for Selling Products

WooCommerce is by far the most popular ecommerce plugin made for WordPress. With WooCommerce you can sell both digital and physical products with ease for both you and your customer. It’s so popular that WordPress actually bought it from the original developers, WooThemes, and now actively update the plugin. WordPress and third party companies create add-ons to extend the plugin capabilities which makes it so that you can easily manage your online store.

One of the biggest selling features of using WooCommerce is that it works with WordPress seamlessly. While there is a learning curve, overall the plugin feels familiar to use and learn since it looks and acts just like WordPress. It’s also mobile friendly meaning your customers can purchase items right from their cell phones and tablets.

Some of the major features of WooCommerce are:

● Sell both physical and digital products
● Customers can leave reviews
● Multiple shipping options
● Manage inventory
● Mobile Friendly
● Create coupons and discounts

The core functionality of WooCommerce is free but you can purchase add-ons to extend the plugin’s capabilities. The core functionality is all most people will need for a simple shopping cart on their website. The core plugin comes with multiple payment gateways including PayPal, BACS and cash. Additionally you can get the free Stripe add-on to accept credit cards.

Add-ons work like other WordPress plugins by extending the capabilities of WooCommerce. Many add-ons are free but some do cost money and the costs can vary from cheap to very expensive. Some of the add-ons include the ability to create a membership site, subscription payments, shipping rates from USPS, and so much more. There are currently over 200 add-ons available so you should be able to find a match for any need you might have.

In WooCommerce you are able to track pending orders, shipping settings, product information and even track your inventory. If you are selling physical products WooCommerce comes with a good shipping functionality in the core plugin. You can choose options for free shipping, a flat rate shipping, local pickup, and overseas delivery. If you would like to only ship your products to a specific country, you can easily configure these settings in your dashboard too.

If your WordPress theme isn’t compatible with WooCommerce (not all are and you need to check before using WooCommerce) you can also download WooCommerce’s Storefront theme to use for free.

WooCommerce is a great choice for setting up a store on your website but do your research first. There are a lot of ecommerce plugins for WordPress available and WooCommerce may or may not the best option for you. If you don’t want to sell physical products or track inventory, then WooCommerce may be a little much for you.

WOOCOMMERCE ALTERNATIVE: SHOPIFY

A great WooCommerce alternative is Shopify. Shopify is not a WordPress plugin, but it is easy to navigate and provides most of the same functions as WooCommerce.

With Shopify you can sell anywhere your customers are. That means you can sell in person or online. If selling online you can use Shopify anywhere from a blog, to a website, to a online store. You can pick from over 70 themes and their drag and drop store builder lets you create a beautiful online store even if you aren’t tech savvy.

Shopify also has great 24/7 support for anything you may need. You can get started with a Shopify free trial for 14 days . From there the prices range from $29 a month to $299 – designed for whatever your needs are.

Use This WORDPRESS Plugin for Optimizing Your Images

Eye-catching images are a must for any blog or website. This is the first the reader will notice and what really pulls them in for more. The only problem is that your images could be slowing down your website speed (which we mentioned before is important to keep people on your page as well as bring them back).

Taking the time to create aesthetically pleasing graphics is quite a task in itself. The last thing you want to do is try to figure out how to compress, and optimize them for your website. Good thing you don’t have to!

Short Pixel is a plugin that will automatically compress,and optimize your picture or image for you. It will resize your picture to make your site run more efficiently without compromising the integrity or quality of the image.

So you still have great images for your readers, and you didn’t have to go through a million steps to make it perfect for internet speeds. Short Pixel offers quite a few different pricing options (including a free one) to fit any size blog or website.

Use This WORDPRESS Plugin for SEO

Another CRUCIAL factor for your blog to be successful is how SEO friendly it is. For example, if you are writing a blog about where to find the best deals on shoes, you are going to have a lot of competition. Words like “deal” and “shoes” are going to produce a lot of results. Using particular words in the right places will help you reach the top of the list in google rankings and therefore beat your competition. This is where SEO plugins can be very beneficial.

Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO is WordPress’s original SEO plugin. It’s easy to install and easy to use. It goes over your text step by step to show you what needs to be changed and how that will improve optimization.

Yoast SEO has options for a plugin at $16.58 a month, but also great options for the plugin plus training courses to help you learn to improve your content. Even if you opt in for the plugin only, you are doing your blog a great service. Yoast will help your content rank better, beat out local competition, and keep your customers coming back.

Yoast has great reviews. It has mostly 5 star reviews and people claim that it is easy to use. A simple plugin that is easy to navigate will make your content better and in turn, earn you more money!

Does this sound like a plugin you need? Just visit your WordPress plugin directory to easily access and download the plugin.

Use This WORDPRESS Plugin TO CHECK FOR Broken Links

Broken Link Checker is exactly what it sounds like – a plugin that checks for broken links. The last thing you want on your website is a link that doesn’t work or doesn’t direct your customers to where you want them to go. A great example would be affiliate links. If you affiliate link isn’t working, then you aren’t making any commissions.Customers will also come back if your website is working properly and easy to use. It’s not likely that they will come back if pages aren’t loading or are no longer available. Broken Link checker can save you time and keep you from losing money.

Plugins can be super helpful for adding functionality to your website, improving SEO and website performance, and much more. However, too many plugins can also impact your site speed and cause compatibility issues, so do your research and choose carefully.

There are literally thousands of free and paid WordPress plugins available, but these are some of the most widely used and trusted.

Have questions about WordPress plugins? Any favorites missing from our list? Let us know in the comments!

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