6 Essential Plugins for Food Blogs

There are currently over 55,106 plugins available that bloggers can use to enhance their WordPress sites.

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:

  1. No apparent effect on their site or
  2. Completely break their site

This usually results in:

  1. Complete frustration or
  2. 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’re going to do here at Food Blogger Pro as we start our plugins deep dive courses.

With the plugins deep dive courses we’ll take a look at what we consider to be the six most important plugins for food bloggers. If I were to create a food blog today, these are the six plugins that I would immediately install and activate. In this blog post, I’ll preview the six plugins and discuss why they’re important.

1. VaultPress

I’m going to make a bold statement: This is the number one most important plugin to install on your WordPress blog. VaultPress is an incredibly powerful plugin that backs up every part of your WordPress blog: posts, pictures, pages, comments, revisions, settings and more. It comes at a cost, but it’s worth every cent. 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.

Bonus: VaultPress is made by the same company that created WordPress. That helps their credibility at least a bit, doesn’t it? 🙂

VaultPress is now part of the Jetpack suite of plugins, and you can check that out here.

2. WP Rocket

a screenshot of the WP Rocket homepage

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. There are tons of options for customization, so if you need help setting it up, be sure to check out our Caching with WP Rocket course on Food Blogger Pro.

3. Tasty Recipes

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.

We really recommend using Tasty Recipes, a recipe plugin that we, the Food Blogger Pro team, have cooked up ourselves! 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.

P.S. You can check out this post about finding the best recipe plugin for you, and if you’re a Food Blogger Pro member, we have a great course for you called, “Understanding Recipe Plugins.”

4. Akismet

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.

Enter Akismet.

Akismet is a 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. Like VaultPress, it’s made by the creators of WordPress, so you know it will integrate well with your blog.

Want to learn more? Check out our Akismet course on Food Blogger Pro!

5. Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO header with people and the title 'Yoast - SEO for Everyone'

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 a finely tuned SEO post.

Yoast SEO is a huge plugin, so if you need some help setting it up, check out our Yoast SEO course and our SEO for Food Bloggers course.

6. Tasty Pins

the Tasty Pins logo, a description about Tasty Pins, and a screenshot of what Tasty Pins does on WordPress

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.

The 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.

Confused? Read this post on the WP Tasty blog for the full story.

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.

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11 Comments

  1. Hey Bjork!
    I have all of these installed on my blog except for 1…VaultPress. My question is what is the value (for a beginner/smaller blog) to use VaultPress, versus manual backups? For a blog that is still in the red, an extra $5-$15 a month seems like a lot.

    1. I hear ya! In the start up stage with your blog you want to be as lean as possible in regards to spending, so I appreciate where you’re coming from. The thing I love about VaultPress is that I know it’s going to work, where as with manual backups I’m not as confident. I view it like insurance… Hopefully you’ll never have to use it…but if you do, you’ll probably be glad you paid the $5 a month.

      1. Thanks for the feedback Bjork! I’m going to seriously look into this, since I’m at the stage now where I have put so much work into this thing that I would be heartbroken if I lost it all.

  2. Thanks Bjork! Just wondering what’s the difference between VaultPress and UpDraft Plus (which I’m using)? For the same reasons you mention, I want to make sure my site is entirely backed up, and I think I’m covered with UpDraft, but I’m no expert in this area.

    1. Hey Darren. I’m not familiar with UpDraft Plus, but the biggest advantage with VaultPress (in my opinion) is that it’s an Automattic company, which is the company that maintains WordPress.

  3. Great post! I’ve got all those plugins except vaultpress. Might have to splurge as when we have those kinds of disasters 5 bucks seems like a steal! Thanks Bjork! I’ve learned a ton from you and Lindsay (just got her photography book and it’s awesome) my pics are looking much better over at http://www.insidebydesign.com. Thank you for all the help!

  4. I’m using a free backup plugin but I feel like it may be weighing my site down. I’m gonna look into vault press and w3 cache (which I already have installed just not activated). But I have all but vault press!