There are currently over 58,000 plugins available that bloggers can use to enhance their WordPress sites (and that’s counting only the free ones).
Whoa. That’s a lot of plugins.
Enough to bring many people into a state that I call analysis paralysis. This is when someone constantly analyzes and researches but never makes a decision.
I’ve fallen victim to it many times.
If someone doesn’t get stuck in analysis paralysis then they’ll probably get stuck in customization craziness. This is the stage after you install the plugin and are presented with a settings or preferences page. Oftentimes victims of customization craziness do Google searches and (sort of) read through tutorials, then make changes that have:
- No apparent effect on their site or
- Completely break their site
This usually results in:
- Complete frustration or
- Complete panic
Once again, I’ve been there.
So what’s the cure for analysis paralysis and customization craziness? The cure is to methodically walk through the setup and customization process, which is exactly what we do here with our Essential Plugins courses!
In these courses, we take a look at what we consider to be the most important plugins for food bloggers. In fact, if I were to create a food blog from scratch today, these are the plugins that I would immediately install and activate. In this blog post, I’ll preview the plugins and discuss why they’re important.
An important note before we start: Some of these plugins are free and can be found on the WordPress plugin repository. Others are premium, meaning that you need to purchase them from a third party.
The benefit of using free plugins is, well … they’re free! That said, sometimes it makes sense to purchase a plugin to get premium support and to make sure that it’ll consistently get updates.
It’s possible that your host already makes full backups of your site, but if that’s not the case, or if you like to be extra careful and make sure that you’ll always have a backup of your site available, we recommend checking out the paid version of Jetpack.
Jetpack is a popular plugin from the makers of WordPress, and the free account includes things like site stats, downtime monitoring, and brute force attack protection.
You can upgrade your Jetpack subscription for backups, which is what I want to talk about today. This feature backs up every part of your WordPress blog: posts, pictures, pages, comments, revisions, settings and more. It’s similar to insurance on your home; you’ll almost never use it, but when you do, you can’t imagine what you would have done if you didn’t have it.
Some host automatically install Jetpack with your WordPress installation, but if you don’t see that plugin in your plugin list, you can download it here. The daily backups is a paid feature of the plugin, but we think it’s worth the cost for the peace of mind it gives you.
P.S. The backups feature of Jetpack used to be called VaultPress –– it’s the same thing, just under a different name!
2. WP Rocket
When it comes to the loading speed of your website, faster is better. Research has shown that a faster website ranks higher in Google, keeps visitors around longer, and sells more product. Unfortunately, when it comes to food blogs, slow is usually the norm. This is because many food blogs don’t have a caching plugin installed. And if they do have a caching plugin installed it’s probably not fully optimized. The result is a website that is much slower than it has to be.
A caching plugin helps to speed up your website. It does this by allowing your website to save certain elements (like your blog’s logo, for instance) in the visitor’s browser cache. A browser cache is kind of like a temporary holding tank. It stores certain website elements so the next time that person visits the site those cached elements will already be on their computer. This allows your website to load faster, making both you and the visitor happy. 😊
One of the best caching plugins available is WP Rocket.Find out how to customize this plugin…
3. Tasty Recipes and Tasty Pins
This recommendation is actually a recommendation of two plugins: Tasty Recipes and Tasty Pins.
We’ve actually cooked up both of these plugins ourselves over on our sister site, WP Tasty.
Let’s talk about Tasty Recipes first.
As you might imagine, recipes are really important to a food blog. Most of the time, the recipe is why your readers are there! However, there’s more to a recipe than meets the eye, and you will probably want to use a plugin to add your recipes.
You might be thinking, “Why do I need a plugin? Is it that hard to just type it into my post?” And while just typing it in to your post isn’t all that difficult, using a plugin can make it a lot easier. There’s no need to worry about formatting, and plugins often offer different fields and styles that you might not have considered including.
That’s not all, though. Recipe plugins make it possible for search engines like Google and social sites like Pinterest to pick up on your recipes and include them in search results. Using a recipe plugin can really boost your SEO.
Tasty Recipes is a simple yet powerful plugin that will boost your SEO, improve your recipe workflow, and keep your site running at top speed.Want to learn more about finding the best recipe plugin for you?
And if you’re a Food Blogger Pro member…
And now, Tasty Pins.
We made a mistake. For FIVE years.
The long and short of it is that we were optimizing our images for Pinterest at the expense of a non-optimized
alt text on an image is supposed to describe what’s in the image, while a different field called
data-pin-description should be used for awesome Pinterest descriptions for your recipes.
Pinterest is one of our top three traffic-drivers for Pinch of Yum, so we want to make sure that we’re always optimizing for it. That said, it’s also important to optimize your
alt text for those with visual impairments or slow internet connections.
Tasty Pins lets us do both.
Have you ever visited a blog or forum and noticed a list of spammy comments? It’s kind of like walking into a restaurant and seeing garbage on the floor. Gross. It results in a major hit to your blog’s brand and decreases the chances that people will come back and visit again.
But the reality is as your blog grows so will your comment spam, and at some point it will become too much for you to sort through and manage on your own.
Akismet is a premium plugin that helps you filter out the comment spam on your blog. It does this by using an always-updating filter that checks for spam-related content in the comments.Want to learn more?
5. Yoast SEO
SEO stands for search engine optimization. The idea behind search engine optimization is that you want to be sure that you’re structuring your blog in way that Google (and other search engines) can easily understand what your content is about, thus increasing the chances that the search engine will show your website on the search results page. SEO might sound really complicated, but in reality it involves a list of things that are fairly easy to understand.
The issue is consistently applying these SEO best practices. This is where the Yoast SEO plugin really shines.
The plugin does a great job of reminding bloggers about the most important SEO factors and provides tools and tips that can help you develop an SEO-friendly post. Not only that, you can upgrade to their premium version for even more features like a redirect manager and an internal linking tool.If you need some help setting up this plugin…
Site speed is affected by so many things, and image size is one of them. One of the ways you can optimize the images on your site is with a plugin called ShortPixel.
While ShortPixel won’t fix all of your site speed problems, it will help you tackle some speed issues that come from the big, beautiful images on your site.
ShortPixel has a free plan and premium plans depending on your needs, and it allows you to optimize new and existing images on your site.Want to learn how the plugin works?
Let’s chat in the comments: Do you use any of these recommended plugins? Which plugins do you rely on most to run your blog?