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Hello, everyone. Thanks for stopping by. Today, we will discuss another topic under the blogging basics. That is free WordPress plugins for new bloggers.
If you’re not a WordPress user yet, you should know that it’s the best platform for blogging. Yup, there’s bias in my statement, and that’s because IT IS THE BEST platform out there.
Now, this isn’t coming from someone who has a background in Computer Science.
I’m a Literature major, by the way (wink).
But as a freelance content writer, WordPress taught me so much about SEO. From using Yoast to RankMath, how to optimize images, keyword research, you name it. WordPress is my BFF.
Therefore, I strongly believe that being familiar with the ins and outs of WordPress is part of the blogging basics. It is a powerful tool to help new bloggers stand out.
Let’s get started.
What are WordPress plugins?
A WordPress plugin allows you to customize your WordPress blog to your liking. Written in PHP programming, WordPress plugins are created to add features and functionality to your WordPress blog. This is ideal, especially to new bloggers who have zero to less experience in bootstrap or WordPress custom coding.
What FREE WordPress Plugins do I need for my blog?
Contact Form 7
When you visit my Contact page, there is a section below which allows you to send me a message. That is the Contact Form 7 plugin.
You can create multiple forms using this plugin. You can also change the settings to where you want your messages sent. Beware though, this plugin cannot filter spam messages. You have to delete them manually.
Data Tables Generator by Supsystic
If you’ve read my blog post about how much money I spent on my first year blogging, you can see that I used a table to create a list of my business expenses, the item, description, and amount.
For this, I used the Data Tables Generator by Supsystic plugin. Aside from easy-to-use tables, you can use this free WordPress plugin to create charts, diagrams, graphs, and many others.
Easy Table of Contents
I started having issues with this plugin when I switched from Yoast SEO to RankMath. But as soon as RankMath users raised the issue to them, it was resolved immediately.
As you can see, my blog posts are at least 1000 words long. Therefore, I need a table of contents for easy content navigation.
Other features of this free WordPress plugin are:
- Auto- insert
- Supports smooth scrolling
- Works with the Classic Editor, Gutenberg, Divi, Elementor, WPBakery Page Builder and Visual Composer page editors
Elementor is a web page builder. I learned about Elementor by watching YouTube tutorials by Ferdy Korpershoek. And now, I’ve been using it non-stop. Sure, there are free WordPress themes that look good as it is. But Elementor brings your website to a whole new level. It has drag-and-drop features, which makes designing your WordPress blog super easy.
Simple. Powerful. Flexible.
Insert Headers and Footers
When you install and activate the OceapWP theme, it prompts you to install the Ocean Extra plugin. This is an extension of the theme, which allows you to get more functionality like widgets, metaboxes, theme scripts, and styles.
Rank Math SEO
I broke up with Yoast SEO for about 2 months now. We sure had good times. But, I moved on (wink). Rank Math offers advanced features that Yoast SEO users can only get if they sign up for the paid plan.
Some of the best features I enjoy with this free WordPress plugin are:
- Setup Wizard (Easy to follow)
Rank Math practically configures itself. Rank Math features a step-by-step installation and configuration wizard that sets up SEO for WordPress perfectly.
- Google Schema Markup aka Rich Snippets Integrated
Configuring Google Schema Markup, aka Rich Snippets, is now easy, thanks to Rank Math, you’ll be able to optimize your posts in just a few clicks. It also includes the FAQ Schema aka FAQPage Schema Block in the plugin.
- Optimize Unlimited Keywords
Unlike other plugins, Rank Math lets you optimize your posts for unlimited focus keywords per post. (5 by default. Increase by adding this filter)
- Google Search Console Integration
Rank Math saves you a ton of time by integrating with Google Search Console and displaying important information about your website right inside WordPress.
- Google Keyword Ranking
With Rank Math SEO Plugin, you can track your keyword rankings in Google.
- Optimal Settings Pre-Selected
Configuring an SEO plugin takes time, and can be confusing. Rank Math saves you the trouble with its optimal default settings, which are ideal for most websites, and if needed, can be changed.
- LSI Keyword Tool Integrated
Rank Math’s integrated LSI keyword tool gives you multiple keyword variations of your focus keyword, which helps you attract more traffic to your posts.
- Add Overlay Icons On Social Images
Rank Math makes social thumbnails click magnets by giving you the option of overlaying a GIF or a video icon on the thumbnail.
- Advanced SEO Analysis Tool
With just a single click, Rank Math can perform an SEO audit of your website
Sassy Social Share
Sassy Social Share is a free WordPress plugin I use for my readers to share my content easily. This plugin caters to over 100 social sharing and bookmarking services, including Tumblr, Reddit, and Whatsapp.
This free WordPress plugin has cute-looking vector icons for social sharing.
Site Kit by Google
My first blog post with The Greatest is about how to install this free WordPress plugin. Using this plugin, I can check my Google Analytics without logging out of WordPress. I simply go to my Dashboard>Google Site Kit.
Smash Balloon Instagram Feed
When you scroll down to any of my web pages, you will find my Instagram feed, and that is possible with this free WordPress plugin.
It’s very easy and simple to customize. However, there are instances where glitches occur, ie. new posts not showing immediately. But glitches are normal. No need to do anything because the issue resolves on its own.
Updraft Plus – Backup/Restore
IMPORTANT REMINDER: Puh-lease, back up your WordPress website at least once a week.
A few days ago, I made a mistake of installing an outdated WordPress plugin. Moments later, my admin login page is no longer available. My heart was raising. I didn’t know what to do. Good thing my web host, Interserver was able to fix it, but not entirely.
Good thing I have this free WordPress plugin. Because of Updraft Plus, I was able to restore my website in no time.
WP Content Copy & No Right Click
This isn’t the first time I mentioned this free WordPress plugin. My blog post on how to blog legally includes additional guidelines on how to protect your blog from content theft. Aside from purchasing legal pages, I have this plugin to avoid visitors from copying and pasting my work in verbatim. This is not 100% effective. Thieves will always find a way to steal. But for now, a combination of my legal pages and this plugin has got me covered.
WP-Optimize Clean, Compress, Cache
Thanks to this free WordPress plugin, my blog is faster and cleaner. This plugin:
- allows you to clean and optimize your database
- gives you the option to compress your images
- allows you to cache your pages, for super-fast load times (read more caching information below)
Plus, it works well with my Updraft Plus plugin. I can do a fast cleanup first, before I backup my website.
WP – Sweep
This WordPress plugin cleans:
- Auto drafts
- Deleted comments
- Unapproved comments
- Spammed comments
- Deleted comments
WPS Hide – Login
By default, you can access any WordPress blog login page by adding wp-admin after the URL. This is an easy way for hackers to log in to your WordPress blog and do nasty things.
The solution is to hide it. That is where this plugin comes in. Instead of using wp-admin to log in, you can customize it. Just create something that’s hard to guess.
Blog post update:
I changed the theme of my blog on May 24, 2020. Notice the minimalist features? Therefore, I’m not using the Sassy Social Share plugin anymore. But I’d still recommend it. I’ve used it for long and it does the job. Meanwhile, I switched to Social Warfare which goals well with my WordPress theme. So far I like it.
GDPR Cookie Consent
To adhere to the GDPR guidelines, I also installed the GDPR cookie consent plugin on June 27, 2020.
The General Data Protection Regulation is a European Union law that was implemented on May 25, 2018, and requires organizations to safeguard personal data and uphold the privacy rights of anyone in EU territory.
Click here to get more details about this law.
My website hasn’t reached UK soil yet. Better be safe than sorry.
How to install free WordPress plugins on my blog
To install any WordPress plugin, simply go to your Dashboard> Plugins> Add new> Type the name of the plugin you want to install> Install> Activate
In a previous blog, I shared how much money I spent running a blog on my first year. Reading that blog post again made me realize what a journey it’s been. I am very happy with my “business expenses”, especially having a reliable domain name and web host.
My most recent investment, having legal pages from Amira of aselfguru.com is also a relief. I don’t want to expose my work and myself against content theft. The least I can do is protect it on my end.
I think new bloggers must realize how important a blog is. Having such amazing (and not to mention FREE) WordPress plugins is part of the blogging basics. If you haven’t switched to a self-hosted WordPress website yet, I hope you give this a consideration.
Every day is another day to be better. Keep an open mind. Try different strategies. Create a routine. In time, you’ll realize you’re no longer faking it till you make it. Because you actually MADE IT.