blogging basics: wordpress plugins i use and love

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If you use WordPress and have ever thought “dang, I really wish my site or theme could do X, Y or Z”, plugins may be the solution.

What are plugins?

Plugins are used in WordPress to extend and customize the functionality of your website. Similar to “there’s an app for that,” there’s usually a plugin for a most of the functions you want your blog or website to have.

Installing plugins

On the left hand side of your WordPress dashboard, click the ‘plugins’ section and navigate to ‘add new.’ Here you can browse popular plugins and search and install new plugins. When you install, most plugins will have their own settings that you can mess around with in order to get the plugin to function how you want it to.

In order to discover new plugins when I first started blogging, I looked at a ton of lists on the internet (like this one!) and just browsed around in WordPress until I found what I was looking for. For me, it took a lot of trial and error to figure which ones worked for me and which didn’t.

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Plugins I love

Akismet
Akismet is the best comment spam plugin I’ve found so far. Before I installed it, I would get 100s of spam comments on my blog each week. Akismet filters out spam comments and only shows you legit comments. Since installing, I’ve had no problems with spam!

WP Smush
WP Smush automatically reduces image file sizes when I upload them to my media library. This helps with page load time and SEO.

WP User Avatar
Using WP User Avatar, I am able to assign a picture to my user name in WordPress. That way, when I respond to comments, my picture shows up instead of the blank avatar default.

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Yet Another Related Posts Plugin
The Yet Another Related Posts Plugin displays similar content that I’ve previously posted under each of my blog posts. If a reader likes a post, they can easily see and click to similar posts.

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Yoast SEO
Yoast is a very popular SEO plugin that allows you to quickly optimize your website with page titles, meta descriptions, technical features and more. Though SEO isn’t a huge priority for me on this site, it’s a a huge part of my day job and so I love this plugin that makes it much easier! I also use All in One SEO at work and love it!

These are just a handful of the plugins that help me out on a daily basis. There are literally endless possibilities. Have fun trying out new ones until you find what works best for you!

What plugins do you use?