This is a good question and one that people always ask.
I have put together a list of the best WordPress Plugins in 2015 for your WordPress hosted or self hosted blog. These plugins will do everything from decrease page load times to optimize for search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. They can also decrease bounce rate by showing related content so that your readers stay on your website longer. If you want to monetize your site there is an easy way to do that as well. Here we go!
So where do we start. First of all you’re going to need a WordPress Theme. I personally use Genesis on all of my WordPress Installations. It very simple to use and easy to customize. It’s the best HTML5 and SEO optimized theme for WordPress there is. Even Matt Cutts of Google has started using it.
Best WordPress Plugins:
These are in no particular order but I will try with most important up top to least important at the bottom.
ZenCache (get it now):
ZenCache is actually the most mandatory plugin for WordPress because without a good caching plugin, your site is going to be slow and your going to fail certain Google Test like this one.
Page Speed is a huge factor with Google and other search engines a like. The better user experience your site provides the better rankings you get in Google. So one easy sure fire way to increase your page speed is to use ZenCache Pro.
After using this caching plugin and seeing the actual difference in your test results and getting more traffic from Google you may be inclined to recommend it to people. Zen will actually pay you a referral fee for everyone that uses your link. This is not the only reason I use them. They really are the best and if you right click this page, hit “view source” and scroll all the way to the bottom you’ll see I am indeed using them. Anyways, use this link, sign up, then refer others to make extra money.
WordPress SEO by Yoast:
This is a very important plugin because it helps you optimize for search engines like Google. SEO(Search Engine Optimization) plays a huge role in getting organic traffic to your site. Without high ranking SERPs(Search Engine Result Pages) you’re likely to only see a trickle of traffic from stragglers that made it many pages deep into Google. You really need to be on the first page or 2.
WordPress SEO can make it very easy to customize your SEO title tags, search result snippets and keywords. It also makes it easy to noindex pages such as your tags and categories to prevent duplicate content(bad for SEO) and analyze your on page SEO and keyword density. You can set a canonical URL or a 301 redirect with this as well.
While all this may be Greek to you now, if you keep at blogging you’re going to learn the ins and outs of Search Engine Optimization over time. And you should, it’s the key to your success.
Floating Social Share Icons:
Today Social Media is very important for getting higher SERPs and creating a reader base. You want people to be able to easily share your content as well as be reminded to do so. Floating Social Media Icons are a nifty little floating bar that pops up as your reader makes their way down the page. You can customize it to whatever social media sites you would like. Not only does it make it easy for them to share, it sort of reminds them as it shows up. Don’t forget to share or hit the Google + button on this article! Thanks =)
Note: I made my own share bar with static html / css coding and sprite images. This is highly unlikely for you but I did used to use this plug-in and it’s great. I just try to hand code everything I can by myself and this is now one of those things I could drop but seriously, get this.
For comments I go with Facebook Comments only because most people have Facebook already and don’t have to sign up for a random blog service to leave a comment. It’s easy to implement but may require a little reading on your behalf. Very straight forward.
I do not have them installed on this site because I really don’t want people commenting and have been thinking of disabling comments altogether to save time on page loads. Comments can actually be bad for SEO. You can read it about here.
Contact Form 7:
Chances are you’re going to have a Contact Me page and you’re going to need a way for people to email you. Contact Form 7 is a very customizable contact form that is easy to install on your blog. I have a simple contact form here.
Official Google Adsense:
If you’re going to monetize your site you’re going to need to insert your Google Adsense into your post. I used to use this for but I have recently started pulling all my articles and manually inserting my adsense units where I want them with custom php inserts so I can have more control over things like random rotating units and such. Another thing you won’t be able to do so you’ll need this plugin.
What about plug ins that can hurt your site or that slow you down, add bloat, mess up your SEO?
I used to use JetPack Lite and I started doubting it and I think it was slowing me down. Either way I kept it for stats. Recently an update to Jetpack causes this error.
This version of Jetpack Lite requires Jetpack to work! Please install and activate Jetpack to keep using WordPress.com stats
A note in the Change log shows it is now an add-on and not a stand alone plug in and forces you to install Jetpack Full to use the stats module. So now they want you to install Jetpack AND Jetpack Lite. This is even more added bloat junk and it seems Jetpack Lite has taken it’s last lap.
The true answer to stats for WordPress would be just using pure Google Analytics.
These are my personal picks for the best WordPress plugins. As always this is just my personal opinion, what I use and I do not claim any of these to be fail proof and take no liability for any damages done. But as you can see from all of the plugin reviews on WordPress they are actively used by hundreds of thousands of websites and have many positive reviews.
If you have any plugins you think I am missing please do comment below.