Finding the right WordPress plug-ins for food bloggers can be an intimidating task for new and experienced bloggers alike. Here’s a list of 20 of our favourite WordPress plug-ins for food blogs to take some of the trial and error and mystery out of the process.
Ever wondered why WordPress.org is such a popular blogging platform? One of the main reasons why is the quantity and variety of plugins, little pieces of software that can be added to WordPress to extend the functionality of your site.
There are thousands of plugins available, so if you’re looking for a specific feature to add to your blog, simply make a search on the WordPress.org Plugin Directory and you’re most likely to find a plugin that does exactly what you’re looking for. Such a wide choice doesn’t mean that you should install dozens of plugins though; installing too many could cause your blog serious problems, such as slowing its load time considerably.
Here are three easy tips to consider before installing a new WordPress.org plugin:
- Was it updated recently? Look for the Last Updated date in the right hand side column. The WordPress.org platform updates very often, so you should make sure the plugin you install is compatible.
- Does it have a high rating? Look for the stars in the right hand side column and read the reviews, which can hint you to compatibility issues.
- Is it well documented? Look for the information provided in the Installation, Screenshots, and Support tabs. Because most plugins are offered for free, many include only very basic information, which can be a problem if you’re a novice blogger.
Many plugins have been around for years and have an excellent reputation. Some are downright essential to manage a blog efficiently. Here are 20 essential plugins for food bloggers.
This free install groups over two dozen plugins that were previously only available to WordPress.com (the fully hosted platform). It’s an essential install: you’ll instantly get handy features such as statistics, comment subscription, spelling and grammar tools, and the ability to customize your style sheets (CSS) without modifying your theme.
2. Anti-Spam Plugin
New bloggers are amazed at the quantity of spam comments they get (hundreds per day!). We’ve told you before, stop this nonsense with an anti-spam plugin. Akismet is the absolute standard in this category, and it’s free!
3. Statistics Plugin
Tracking your blog’s traffic is essential, and no tool is better to do that than Google Analytics. Some plugins allow you to view your stats from within the WordPress.org interface, saving you from having to login to a separate site to do so. Google Analyticator and Yoast’s Google Analytics plugin and are two excellent, free plugins that display your stats at a glance on the WordPress dashboard.
4. Google Custom Search Plugin
All food bloggers should feature a search box prominently on their blogs, allowing readers to quickly search for recipes or content without having to browse through categories. Some themes include search features, but there’s nothing like letting the king of search, Google, power a custom site search engine for you. The Google Custom Search plugin allows you to integrate the search box and results into your custom blog theme.
Backing up your blog is vital. VITAL. Got it? A blog can be hacked, or its database can crash, causing you to lose months or even years of hard work. Most backup plugins are premium, but they cost only a few dollars per month. Consider it an investment and a protection against future heartbreak.
5. Full Backup Plugins
There are LOTS of backup plugins available. Two of the most renowned premium backup plugins are BackupBuddy and Vaultpress. Both offer monthly subscriptions and allow backing up both your database and the entire content of your blog, including the pictures.
6. Database Backup Plugins
Also available are free plugins that let you schedule automatic database backups to Dropbox or Google Drive. Note that these plugins will not backup your pictures, so if anything happens to your hosting server, you’ll still lose those files.
SEO is the acronym that makes most bloggers’ skin crawl, yet it’s an essential part of blogging. Make your content more visible in search results (without getting a headache!) by using easy-to-use plugins.
7. SEO Plugin
Two popular plugins in this category are WordPress SEO by Yoast and All in One SEO. Both allow you to easily fill up SEO data on post pages, create XML sitemaps (helping search engines better index your blog), optimize your post titles and category tags, etc.
8. XML Sitemap Plugin
If you decide to manage your SEO without the help of a plugin, you should still use an XML sitemap plugin, such as Google XML Sitemap, which keeps your blog indexed and notifies search engines when you create new posts.
9. Caching Plugin
The notion of site caching can be difficult to grasp for new bloggers. Simply put, using a cache plugin increases your blog’s load speed, making it easier on your hosting server’s resources. This may not be a big concern when you’re first starting out, but as soon as your blog’s getting regular traffic, you’ll see it slow down as your stats go up.
To help, there are two widely known and free options: WP Super Cache is said to be more user-friendly, but savvy users and web developers often prefer W3 Total Cache for its flexibility and many configuration options.
10. Broken Link Checker Plugin
It’s hard to keep track of the links you embedded in past posts, which over time can lead to dead ends as you change blog settings, your theme, or choose to delete a post. Using a plugin such as Broken Link Checker makes it a breeze to keep your links up-to-date with features such as email notification and the ability to update links straight from an admin interface, without having to open each individual past post. Very handy.
11. Recipe Formatting Plugin
Food bloggers used to format their recipes like they wanted to, until Google stepped into the ring. Google Search with Recipe View introduced us all to microformatting, which allows a search engine to easily recognize recipes and feature those that conform to the standard more prominently in results. It used to required complex code to do so.
Now recipe plugins such as EasyRecipe, Ziplist, and KitchenBug makes it easy to do. Getting the hang of entering your recipes in a microformat-friendly interface needs a little time and practice, but it reaps big rewards, such as displaying a thumbnail besides your blog’s recipes in search results, making them more enticing and potentially bringing in more traffic.
Social Media Plugins
12. Twitter Plugins
Improve your social media time management by tweeting your new posts automatically from the WordPress interface with the WP to Twitter plugin. Another useful Twitter plugin is Tweet Old Post, which help drive traffic back to your past posts by automatically tweeting about them from time to time (lots of customization options available, such as tweet format, frequency, hashtag management, etc.)
13. Pinterest Plugin
It’s no secret that Pinterest drives lots of traffic to food blogs, so it’s a good idea to make it easy for your readers to pin your posts. The free Pinterest “Pin It” Button plugin inserts a “Pin It” button in each of your posts, whereas Pinterest Button Attraction is a premium plugin that makes a customizable “Pin It” button appear over each of your blog’s pictures on mouse over.
14. Sharing Buttons Plugin
Use a single social media sharing plugin, such as ShareThis and Share Buttons by AddThis, to allow readers to easily share your posts to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, and dozens of other sites. The JetPack by WordPress.com plugin also offers this feature.
15. Comment Management Plugin
Comments are an essential and (mostly) enjoyable part of blogging. Make sure your readers can follow up on the conversation by subscribing to the posts they contribute to. The Subscribe to Comments Reloaded plugin allows readers to tick a box next to the comment form to be notified of replies. The JetPack by WordPress.com plugin offers a similar feature.
16. Contact Form Plugin
Displaying your email address straight on your blog can lead to an avalanche of spam, so it’s best to embed a contact form to make readers certify they are humans (and not spamming robots). Easy Contact allows you to customize and easily embed a contact form in any post or page. The JetPack by WordPress.com plugin also makes it very easy to create a custom form and embed it on your blog.
Copyright Management Plugins
17. Image and Content Copyright Plugin
More and more recipe sites “scrape” content from bloggers and display it without giving appropriate credit. Prevent your content from being stolen by using copyright protection plugins. WP Copyright Protection makes it easy to prevent copy and pasting text or images from your site, whereas Tynt Insight for WordPress also offers many more options that will help chase content thieves away from your blog.
18. RSS Feed Copyrighting Plugin
Simple Feed Copyright lets you add a custom copyright notice at the end of each article displayed in a RSS feed. @Feed allows you to customize your RSS feed further by truncating part of the posts, automatically adding credit notices to copied content, including comments or related posts to your feed, etc.
19. Related Post Plugin
Using a related post plugin is another way to drive traffic back to your past posts. LinkWithin is very popular, but I find its recommendations often have very relative relevance to the post topic. nRelate shows better results, and the JetPack by WordPress.com plugin recently added this feature to its line up. Worth a try.
20. Retina Display Plugin
Photography is an essential part of food blogging. Make sure your pictures look their best on Apple devices with Retina display by installing WP Retina 2x. The plugin automatically generates high-resolution images and chooses which resolution to display to readers, depending on the device they use. You can also use the plugin interface to easily upload higher resolution files of past-published images.
This article was written by Marie Asselin, a French-Canadian graphic designer, translator, and blogger who admits to being a little plugin-obsessed. She is the author of food and travel blog Food Nouveau. She lives in Quebec City, QC. Twitter: @foodnouveau