My favorite free WP plugins:
Yoast makes setting up SEO (Search Engine Optimization) on your website super easy. It suggests ways to improve your posts so that you rank higher in search engines like Google – aka so you can be found online and gain more readers.
JetPack may be one of the best free plugins out there, as it combines several must-have blog features that you would normally have to pay for elsewhere. JetPack offers analytics, anti-spam & security, social share buttons, and so much more.
Related Posts (Included in JetPack)
It’s wise to include a ‘Related Posts’ tab to the end of every post, to encourage readers to continue reading. This feature comes with JetPack, and comes with the option to include the post’s featured image – which is awesome! The only thing is that it crops your image, and doesn’t give the option to change how it crops. In my case I use Pinterest style images, and the crop cut out half of the image’s information. So I use a little CSS to fix this, to make the images stay at their Pinterest-ready shape. You can read how to do that.
Cache plugins are used to speed up your site. This one is great because it saves a static HTML version of your website, instead of generating pages one by one. This takes less strain on your server, creating a faster more user-friendly site, and ultimately better search rankings.
This is the floating bar of share buttons that you see on the left side of my site, or on the bottom if you are on mobile. It is clean and out of the way, yet impossible to miss at the same time. Exactly what share buttons should be! With AddToAny your readers can easily share your content across pretty much every social network – which is awesome! Plus with simple tweaks, you can customize the look of the buttons however you like.
This is what I use for my FB Share, Twitter Tweet, and Toolkit Access buttons at the bottom of every post. What I love about this plugin, is that in addition to these share buttons. Similar to Yoast, Mashshare allows you to input images and keywords for each post as you’d like it to appear when shared on Facebook and Twitter, but also Pinterest. They have a handy site for tips on how to customize the buttons to suit your brand –
Backing up your site is a must, and this free service allows you to backup and store the files to a storage app of your choosing such as Google Docs, Dropbox and more.
While you are working on your website, its good to have a ‘coming soon’ page that visitors can see and interact with before you go live with your finished site. I used this plugin to have an image and a ‘subscribe’ box opt-in up on many of my sites before I was ready to launch.