The 8 Best WordPress Plugins for Bloggers (Essential Tools)

Traffic, performance, marketing…

You’ve got a lot on your plate as a blogger.

And that’s why “tooling up” is so rewarding.

By picking out the right plugins for your WordPress blog, you can enjoy better performance and full automation of many tasks.

The plugins collected here are some of my favorites, and I use them every day to plan my posts, speed up my sites, and better monetize my content. If installed on your site, you can expect the same results.

Keep reading to find the best plugins and tools for bloggers.

WordPress plugins for blogs

Only highly-rated plugins from reputable developers have made the list here.

And, these are all plugins that I actively use on my own sites. In other words, I think they’re all essential WordPress plugins for bloggers.

Here are my top picks for the best WordPress blog plugins.

The hardest part of running a blog is, well, blogging!

Publishing top-notch content week after week is tough, and WordPress doesn’t make it easy to plan your articles. In fact, when looking at the Posts menu, you can’t even tell what day your posts are scheduled for without opening a separate calendar app. Strive changes all that.

The Strive Content Calendar plugin adds a responsive content calendar right into your WordPress dashboard (under the Posts menu). Viewing the visual calendar, you can see immediately when your posts are scheduled. Click any post to open the Quick Edit menu, add new posts, and even reschedule upcoming posts via drag-and-drop.

Strive also includes a handful of other helpful features for bloggers, such as new post statuses, post checklists, and revisions for republishing posts. If you think Strive could help you run a better blog, click the link below to see more screenshots and videos.

There are a lot of ways to speed up WordPress, but the single most effective thing you can do is install the Optimole plugin.

For most sites, including blogs, the images slow your site down more than anything else. To optimize them for better performance, you should compress them, resize them to trim excess pixels, and lazy load them. Resizing is by far the most challenging part because you have to know how big each image will show up on the visitor’s screen, and since some folks will be on laptops and others on phones, there’s no single size that fits all.

Optimole does all of these things for you automatically. In other words, you can forget all the technical stuff and just install it ?

While there is a simple settings menu, you don’t need to do anything besides install Optimole to have it work its magic. It will serve your images from a CDN where they are optimized and resized per visitor, so they always get the quickest loading images possible. And of course, everything is lazy loaded too.

WP Rocket has long been one of my favorite performance optimization plugins. I recommend using Optimole for image optimization and WP Rocket for virtually everything else.

While WP Rocket’s primary feature is its caching, it’s a veritable treasure chest of site optimization tools. With WP Rocket, you can combine and compress CSS & JS files, defer non-essential Javascript, and even remove unused CSS.

Did I lose you with the technical jargon? If so, it doesn’t matter because WP Rocket makes all of these extremely simple. Every setting I described is a checkbox. The beauty of this plugin is that they handle all of the complexity of speeding up a website and give you the option to enable these optimizations with a single click. And development is active, so they’re constantly adding new features like the ability to remove unused CSS (it’s awesome), which only came out a few days ago.

There are so many plugins for social sharing buttons, but I like this simple little plugin called Scriptless Social Sharing.

The problem I have with most social plugins is that they’re horrible for performance, especially if they include share counts. They load multiple Javascript files, a stylesheet and potentially make API calls for the share counts. It’s way too much of a burden just for share buttons.

Scriptless Social Sharing includes all the essential features and none of the bloat. You can add attractive buttons above or below your posts, there are numerous styles to choose from (all of them are nice), and it includes all the most popular social networks. Most importantly, you can use HTML SVGs instead of icons so that no image files or icon fonts are loaded. Plus, there is no Javascript file and potentially no CSS either (optional).

If you want to add social sharing buttons to your site without slowing it down, it doesn’t get better than this.

I used the MailOptin plugin for years here at Compete Themes, but my new favorite popup tool for building an email list is GetSiteControl.

While this isn’t technically a plugin, you only have to copy & paste a code snippet into your site to add GetSiteControl to your site (it takes 60 seconds). And to be honest, having an optin form builder in its own dashboard outside of WordPress is really nice.

You can create all sorts of optin types, from slide-ins and lightboxes to “top bars” and sidebar popups. The default templates have a clean and beautiful design, and they’re easy to customize too. You also get a ton of control over how they look on mobile VS desktop and exactly which visitors see them.

There are way more features to talk about in this blog subscription tool. However, the thing that sets it apart for me is that it includes all these options and is still much cheaper than alternatives like OptinMonster, so if you want a slick tool for creating and managing lead generation forms for your blog, give it a try.

Every blog needs a contact form, and WPForms has been my go-to plugin of choice for years now.

WPForms has a form builder that lets you create an entirely custom contact form. It’s easy to create both simple forms and complex forms with file uploads and dropdown menus. In fact, there is a “template” available for a simple contact form that you can select to create one for your site automatically.

When it comes to adding the form to a page, WPForms makes that easy too. You can copy & paste in a shortcode if you’re using the Classic Editor plugin. Otherwise, for anyone using the default Gutenberg editor, there is a block available that gives you a preview of the form.

WPForms also has extremely feature-rich premium add-ons for anyone interested. You likely won’t need them for your blog, but they’re a good option if you want to create forms with conditional logic or sell services on your site.

One necessary tool for every blog is an SEO toolkit, and one of the best plugins to optimize WordPress blogs is RankMath.

RankMath is a modern SEO plugin for blogs and includes a massive variety of features. With RankMath, you can customize your title tags, add Schema data, manage redirects, and fully optimize every blog post.

If that all sounds overwhelming, I totally understand. The good part about RankMath, though, is that it uses a module system, so you can start by enabling only a few modules and then activate additional modules over time as you learn more about SEO. This makes it easy to get started with and grow with in the future.

Relevansii is an overlooked plugin by most bloggers. Even though it has 100,000 active installs, it should have a million, considering how good it is.

Once your blog surpasses 100+ posts, search becomes an essential part of your visitors’ experience. Excellent use of categories and tags can only get you so far!

If you’ve tried using the search bar on your site already, you probably know that the default results aren’t great. That’s because WordPress’ search engine is extremely basic and only checks the title and content for the presence of the search terms. Relevanssi allows you to add “weight” to numerous factors, so you can assign additional value to the author name or category, for instance, and matching results will show up higher.

Relevanssi also includes “fuzzy matching” for partial or similar words, analytics including the most-searched-for terms, and custom excerpts highlighting the part of the post that contains the search term(s).

Which blog plugins are best?

In most of these list-type articles, my goal is to inform you well enough to pick just one plugin.

But this article is different.

I would recommend you install all eight of these plugins! They’re all fantastic and offer unique functionality.

And that’s exactly what I do when I create a new site – I install all of these plugins ?

If I can make one final recommendation, it’s to get started with the Strive Content Calendar plugin. It makes planning your posts and sticking to a schedule so much easier. And I know because I’m the maker, and I use it to plan posts every day (like this one).

Using the top WordPress plugins for blogs listed here, you can set up a website that is fast, organized, and ready for monetization.

If this article helped you out today, please consider using the buttons below to share it with someone else. Thanks for reading!

Ben Sibley
Ben Sibley is a WordPress theme designer & developer, and founder of Compete Themes.

This content was originally published here.