6 Essential Plugins for Food Blogs

Bjork

by Bjork on Sep 04, 2013 in Growing Your Food Blog

There are currently over 26,645 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. Often times 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. If you're a member of Food Blogger Pro you can expect the first course to be available next week.

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? smile

2. W3 Total Cache

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. 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 broswer 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. smile

One of the best caching plugins available is W3 Total Cache. There are tons of options for customization, so it can be a bit overwhelming. However, if properly set up, it can really help with your blog's page load speed.

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.

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.

5. WordPress SEO by Yoast

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 WordPress SEO by Yoast 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.

6. Jetpack Protect

Believe it or not, there's someone that's probably trying to gain access to your blog. Usually this is done by using a brute force attack. A brute force attack is when someone (or a script that someone built) tries to repeatedly guess your username and password. Protect, a feature built into the Jetpack plugin suite, stops brute force attacks after a certain number of wrong guesses.

The feature itself is very easy to setup, which is one of the main reasons that I added it to this list. The time involved to set it up is minimal when compared to the increased security that you gain after installing it. It is also likely already installed on your blog if you use any of the other Jetpack features, which means there's no extra added bulk from using a separate plugin.

Plugin Deep Dive Courses

We'll be releasing the plugin deep dive courses over the next few months. Food Blogger Pro members can watch the lessons by visiting the Essential Plugins page.


Ask Questions - Get Answers

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  1. Julie Deily -

    I love W3 Total Cache and that’s what was recommended by my hosting provider but now the scheduling function in WordPress doesn’t work for me so I can’t schedule at all! I’m waiting for some kind of fix, I’m wondering if someone else has encountered this!

    Bjork, thanks for putting this list together, I love the Askismet plugin too and I’m going to check out VaultPress now. Thanks!

    Sep 04, 2013

  2. anton -

    Hey, is Ziplist as a recipe plugin as good as Easy Recipe? I’ve seen ziplist used on some established food blogs. What’s the difference between the two plugins?

    Oct 13, 2013

  3. Bjork

    Bjork -

    @anton They’re both great plugins. Either one will be a great choice for your blog.

    Oct 14, 2013

  4. Bjork

    Bjork -

    @Julie Deily Have you been able to figure this out Julie? Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help. smile

    Oct 14, 2013

  5. Hillary | Nutrition Nut on the Run -

    I’ve now installed VaultPress per your rec. Thanks!

    Oct 17, 2013

  6. Bjork

    Bjork -

    @Hillary | Nutrition Nut on the Run Awesome! Glad to hear it Hillary.

    Oct 18, 2013

  7. DessertForTwo -

    This is great!  I’ve sent this to many fellow blog friends.

    I have ‘All in One SEO Pack’ installed.  Do you know if I switch to the Wordpress SEO by Yoast, will I lose all of my settings?  I’ve put a lot of effort into updating my SEO title, SEO description, and SEO keywords for each recipe. I’m worried if I delete the plugin and upload the new one, I’ll lose it all.  Do you know?

    Thanks, Bjork + Lindsey!

    Oct 27, 2013

  8. Bjork

    Bjork -

    @DessertForTwo Great question. It looks like Yoast put together a tutorial for this exact scenario. He explains it better than I can, so I’ll just include the link: http://yoast.com/all-in-one-seo-pack-migration/

    Oct 29, 2013