Five incredibly helpful FREE WordPress plugins for a blogger’s self-hosted site

helpful free pluginsSo you did it. You made it official. You bought a domain name, paid for hosting and now you’re your own “.com”. You chose that WordPress theme you liked, made the necessary initial setup and now…you’re blogging!

Nothing will ever be more important than the content you post but there are tools out there that help your blog and dare I say it…make your life easier. Here are some recommended plugins that are useful for your blog operating on the platform.


One of the more noteworthy plugins, this giant is frankly a bunch of plugins within a plugin. Without Jetpack, each feature Jetpack offers would have to be downloaded as a plugin independent of each other, potentially slowing down the loading time of your blog as the amount of plugins you would have to install to benefit from the same amount of features increases. Thankfully, Jetpack was created which offers a comprehensive compilation of features that self-hosted site owners find useful. Examples of the features Jetpack offers are: mobile themes, related posts, subscriptions, statistics to monitor site visits and a monitoring system for security.

…just to name a few. It also adds new features periodically, one of the latest being the ability to add a favicon to your site (that image/icon you see on the browser tab or in the address bar beside the site name). One less plugin needed.

SEO by Yoast

Once you’re a blogger there is no escaping the topic of SEO. Search Engine Optimization is all about trying to rank higher in search engine results so that the likelihood of someone visiting your site increases. There are blogs dedicated to discussing how to optimize SEO for your site but for those who don’t want to get caught up in the mundane and repetitive blabber, SEO for Yoast makes optimization simple. Once you install the plugin simply enter the relevant information in the fields provided after you’re finished editing your post and just about ready to hit publish and that’s it! The plugin also makes recommendations based on the information you entered on how to improve optimization.

iThemes Security

Over 13 million sites are hacked daily. DAILY. Don’t think your new, “not-so-important” site is exempt from this disaster. Less than two weeks into setting up my blog and making posts, hackers took it for a playfield. A headache and a half later after regaining control of my site I found iThemes Security, formerly known as Better WP Security. It offers changes in the URL for the WordPress login page making login harder for hackers, it scans your site for vulnerabilities and fixes them and also notifies you when someone has been locked out because of too many failed login attempts. This gem/gladiator has several other features you can explore and best of all it is FREE. It’s not the most user friendly, sometimes using terminology that only the very tech savvy will understand but nonetheless it is helpful. Just ensure that you understand what you’re selecting before you save your customizations…word from the wise.

WP Touch Mobile

Jetpack already offers the option of making your website mobile friendly but the mobile interface WP Touch Mobile provides is more stylish and is customizable. Using this plugin, the load time of your website for mobile visitors improves drastically and offers switching to desktop view for those interested. It should also be noted that as of April 21, 2015 Google will update their algorithm to favor mobile friendly sites and penalize sites that aren’t. It is not yet clear what the penalties are but do you really want to find out?

How to tell if your site is mobile friendly or not? Just grab your smart phone and through Google’s search engine look for any page on your site. The search results will show the links to your pages and a “Mobile Friendly” label should appear beside your site link. If it doesn’t appear, WP Touch Mobile is here to help. Once it is downloaded and activated, your problem is resolved.

Dreamgrow Scroll Triggered Box

Want to subtly encourage readers to subscribe without annoying them? Dreamgrow’s scrollbox can definitely help. It’s customizable which means you can slap it boldly in the center of the screen or have it slide out demurely from any corner of your choosing. You can also have it disappear after a specific time of your choosing has passed if it was not selected. The choice is all yours. Simple, easy to set up and customizable, it’s a handy tool to increase subscribers.

With so many plugins out there it’s sometimes hard to determine which ones are useful and which ones aren’t. What amazing plugin did I not mention that you’d like to share? Feel free to leave your recommendations in the comments below.


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