Are you ready to start a website? If you're brand new, then please check out this month's how to make money blogging series. This is step two in the series. It's time to improve the functionality of your new website. These essential WordPress plugins will add additional functionality to your site and make it faster, more secure, easier to edit and optimized for the search engines.
What functionality do you want to start out with:
- Website Security Plugins to Protect Website
- SSL Plugin to Force SSL for All Images & Pages
- Page Builder & Template Creator Plugin
- SEO Plugins to Boost Search Engine Rankings
- WordPress Plugins to Speed Up Your Site
- Tracking and Analytic Plugins to Track Performance
- Image Optimization Plugin to Improve Speed
- Email and Newsletter Plugins to Build a List
- Spam Comment Plugin to Block Bot Comments
If you're brand new, a WordPress plugin is simply an already programmed piece of software that provides your site with a specific function like compressing your images, capturing emails, blocking spam and much more. A programmer has written the code, zipped it up & you can easily install it.
How to Install a “WordPress Plugin”
Inside your new WordPress dashboard, you can usually login by going to yoursite.com/wp-admin. Once inside, click on PLUGINS and you will see a screen that looks like this.
The orange arrow points to an “upload plugin” link. Click that to upload any new plugin to your site and it will walk you through how to activate it. Once you upload a plugin, please wait until it completes. You will see a “ACTIVATE NOW” message on the plugin.
If you want to search for plugins, the blue arrow is pointing to the search box that allows you to search by keyword to pull up the most relevant plugin. Just click INSTALL NOW to install & press ACTIVATE to activate the new plugin.
Let's go over the essential plugins to start out with, and this will give you the practice to either download plugins or search for the recommended plugin below.
In this training series, you will learn & be able to teach others how to:
Install WordPress Plugins
Download the Essential WordPress Plugins
Speed Up and Optimize Your Website
Secure Your Website
Start Building a List
Best WordPress Security Plugins to Protect Your Website
When I built my first website 15 years ago, I was first introduced to an iThemes plugin called Backup Buddy to back up my website. Now your hosting company, Bluehost, backs up your website daily & they have a one-click restore if anything goes wrong with your website. iThemes has built a popular WordPress security plugin called iThemes Security.
WordPress Security Features:
- Locks Out Suspicious IP addresses
- Limits login attempts.
- File Change Detection (emails you)
- Creates an Away Mode (while you sleep)
- Hides Admin Login
- Strong Password Enforcement
- WordPress Brute Force Protection
- Database Backups (just in case)
How to Save Money on this Security Plugin:
Click here to check today's discount. This is our affiliate link and we get paid a commission if you buy through our link. After you click the link, at the top of the page, you might see a “save money” coupon to save 30%. Click that link at the top to apply the savings.
Best SSL Plugin to Force HTTPS
Really Simple SSL automatically detects your settings and configures your website to run over https. To keep it lightweight, the options are kept to a minimum. The entire site will move to SSL.
Step 1: Enable Your Free SSL Certificate
To enable the free SSL certificate:
- Log into your Bluehost Control Panel.
- Click the My Sites tab from the side navigation menu to the left.
- Locate the site you wish to activate the free SSL for, and click Manage button.
- Open the Security tab.
- Under Security Certificate toggle the Free SSL ON.
Step 2: Install Really Simple SSL
The Solution? Really Simple SSL is a free plugin that automatically fixes your insecure content by replacing all the http:// url's with https://. Click Here to Download Really Simple SSL
Best Page Builder Plugin for WordPress
To give your website a professional look and in the future, if you want to tweak ANY page, then I recommend having a page builder that is drag and drop simple. I use and recommend Elementor page builder for WordPress. It's a simple plugin that works with your theme.
Elementor allows you to build templates & then, as you type your first post, it fills in around your template design. For a quick introduction to Elementor, I found this short 2:52 long video.
It's free to use. They have a paid version if you want to unlock additional features like “animated text” and “popup builder”.
Click Here to Check Out Elementor
SEO Plugins to Boost Search Engine Rankings
To make it easy for you to get optimized for the search engines, I recommend Yoast SEO. I's hands down the best WordPress SEO plugin on the market.
It's free to use. The main reason I like it is because they have a green light / red light system that allows you to keep tweaking every single post until you get the green light to publish it. That's great for my kinesthetic learning style.
They also have a paid version that will also show you what your post will look like on Twitter and Facebook. When I know I”m going to use a plugin for years, then I always upgrade to the paid version to support the developers. This is a screenshot from Yoast that shows below EACH post & gives you recommendations to improve your blog post.
Essential WordPress Plugins to Speed Up Your Site
With all the hard work and care that goes into building a website, the one thing that will sink the site is speed and loading times. Google will penalize sites that don't load fast, and users will leave a site that is slow to load.
- The Best Cache WordPress Plugin
- Optimize Images
Let's start with the best cache WordPress plugin.
The Best Cache WordPress Plugin is W3 Total Cache
- At least a 10x improvement in overall site performance.
- Fast rendering of pages.
- Save up to 80% of bandwidth
- Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) support
- Secure Socket Layer (SSL) support
- Caching of (minified and compressed) pages and posts in memory or on disk or on (FSD) CDN (by user agent group)
- Caching of feeds (site, categories, tags, comments, search results) in memory or on disk or on CDN
- Caching of search results pages (i.e. URIs with query string variables) in memory or on disk
Image Optimization Plugin to Improve Speed
I love creating banners and images using Canva. You will get to the point that each blog post will have many different images. I personally like to use a image optimizer plugin to compress the size down to speed up the loading time.
The problem that I find is two fold:
- Can you get a free plugin that actually compresses?
- Can you get a free plugin that doesn't lose quality of the image?
reSmush is the best image optimizer that compresses without losing the quality of the image itself. And, it works in the background. It will compress any image up to 5 MB for free.
Practice: Inside your dashboard, click on Plugins & Add New. Search for reSmush and click on install now. This will show you how to search for plugins and install the ones you want.
If you can't find it, you can download the latest version here.
Tracking and Analytic Plugins to Track Performance
For analytics, we're going to stick with Google products. First, we'll setup analytics and tracking using Google Site Kit, which is our recommended essential WordPress plugin.
Site Kit shows key metrics and insights from different Google products:
- Search Console: Understand how Google Search discovers and displays your pages in Google Search. Then, track how many people saw your site in Search results, and what query they used to search for your site.
- Analytics: Explore how users navigate your site and track goals you’ve set up for your users to complete.
- AdSense: Keep track of how much your site is earning you.
- PageSpeed Insights: See how your pages perform compared to other real-world sites. Improve performance with actionable tips from PageSpeed Insights.
- Tag Manager: Use Site Kit to easily set up Tag Manager- no code editing required. Then, manage your tags in Tag Manager.
- Optimize: Use Site Kit to easily set up Optimize- no code editing required. Then, set up A/B tests in Optimize.
Pro Tip: You can hire someone to help you with any installation and setup using Fiverr. Click here to view workers who will install your Google Analytics for you. (usually ranges $5 to $20)
Email and Newsletter Plugins to Build a List
Once you get a few blog posts published out, your site is going to come alive very quickly. Now we want to make sure we capture your visitor's information so we can follow-up with additional training and offers. The money is “in the list”. Right? So naturally, we have to include a newsletter autoresponder in our list of essential plugins.
I have used a few email newsletter autoresponders over the years from Get Response to Aweber to Constant Contact, and I've never seen an easier email marketing solution than Convertkit. Convertkit is what Aweber and Constant Contact THINK they're doing.
Through my link, you can signup for FREE and use most of the features for FREE up to 500 leads. That's incredible. I also get an additional 100 leads if you go through my link.
Spam Comment Plugin to Block Bot Comments
Last, the essential plugin that you will love is a “bot comment blocker”. There will be bots coming to your site and dropping a comment. Soon, you'll have 100's and even, 1000's of comments that aren't even real.
Lucky for us, there are free comment blocking plugins. I recommend antispam bee.
Features of the Best Spam Comment Blocker
- Trust approved commenters.
- Trust commenters with a Gravatar.
- Allow comments only in a certain language.
- Block or allow commenters from certain countries.
- Validate the IP address of commenters.
- Search local spam database for spammers
It works automatically in the background and it's free. Click here to download Antispam Bee – The Best Comment Spam Plugin.
If you have any problems or need any help, leave a comment below. I'll create additional content and update this “how to start a blog” post to link to it.
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