If you are starting a WordPress blog on Bluehost, then a few of the plugins below will improve SEO, loading speed and security of your blog, WITHOUT having to pay for the extra Bluehost upgrades such as SiteLock, Codeguard & Bluehost SEO Tools.
Another one of my favourite features of WordPress (and every other WordPress user I would assume) is the fact that you can add extra functionality to your blog WITHOUT any coding required, just by installing the correct plugin.
On WordPress.org alone there are more than 55,000 free plugins and on CodeCanyon, you will find more than 6,900 premium WordPress plugins to choose from, which pretty much allows you to add any type of functionality you want.
In this tutorial, the majority of plugins I recommend have free versions to download (apart from Thrive Leads for list building), although if you’re like me and you love the plugins as much as I do, you may want to upgrade to the premium version in future, but is not required.
Over the last decade, I have been through a long list of plugins that used to be valuable but were either abandoned by the developers or stopped performing their specific functions due to lack of updates (which is generally what causes the death of themes and plugins).
This list of plugins I recommend are the very best of the best and will help you grow your blog exponentially if you take full advantage of what features these plugins have to offer.
UpdraftPlus (Free WordPress Backups)
UpdraftPlus is my favourite backup plugin which allows you to save complete copies of your entire WordPress blog for free, so if anything were to happen, such as a plugin, theme or WordPress update failure that causes your blog to break, you can easily restore everything.
WordPress like any CMS can be vulnerable to things such as server crashes, hacking, security flaws, bad plugin or theme updates and insecure web hosting updates.
I generally make a manual backup of my own blog after I publish new content, so I always have an updated backup of my files including all content, plugins, uploads and the database, in case anything goes wrong.
No matter what problem you might face, UpdraftPlus allows you to clone and download your entire blog to an external source, whether this be online storage such as Dropbox or to your own computer for safe keeping (plus a copy on an external hard drive which is what I do).
Yoast SEO (Free On-Page Optimization)
Yoast SEO is a really useful WordPress plugin that allows you to manage all aspects of on-page SEO on your blog, which helps you rank your content higher in the major search engines such as Google (this means more visitors will find your content).
Wordfence (Free Firewall & Malware Scan)
Wordfence is the most popular WordPress firewall and security scanner that includes an endpoint firewall and malware scanner that were built from the ground up to protect your WordPress against hackers that target this CMS.
The Threat Defence Feed arms Wordfence with the newest firewall rules, malware signatures and malicious IP addresses it needs to keep your new blog safe.
Rounded out by 2FA and a suite of additional features, Wordfence is the most comprehensive WordPress security solution available and is a plugin I recommend you install right away.
To learn more about all the features, head on over to the Wordfence Documentation hub for tutorials on all aspects of improving the security of your WordPress blog.
a3 Lazy Load (Free Loading Speed Boost)
The a3 Lazy Load WordPress plugin is something I find of real value, especially with the type of content I create (long form content which ranks better in Google) as if all the images and videos on one post had to load at once, this would cause a real loading speed issue.
When I de-activate the plugin and try to load a post such as the this how to start a WordPress blog guide that you are reading right now, it takes a considerable amount of time to load all the images.
It’s less than a second when I activate the plugin as the images and videos only load one by one when a reader scrolls down, making long form content load much faster.
Easy Table of Contents (Improve User Experience)
Easy Table of Contents is also another really useful WordPress plugin that is helpful for your readers, especially if you are creating long form content such as this post you are reading.
As there are many sections in this guide, it’s more user friendly for my readers if they have quick access to each section as and when they need it.
You may want to come back to this page as a reference in the future and it would be quite annoying if you had to scroll through everything to access middle sections.
That’s why I recommend you install this plugin and is simple to use.
YellowPencil (Free Visual CSS Editor)
YellowPencil Pro is a plugin I have come to appreciate more an more over the past 12 months as I’m not great at editing CSS manually via the WordPress theme editor and with this plugin, I don’t need to learn CSS either.
If you are not happy with the sizes, positions, spacing, colours and fonts on specific sections of your blog, then you can use the visual editor on this plugin to quickly and easily edit sections on posts, pages and custom posts.
This means you can make changes to your CSS without any CSS editing experience, without having to learn CSS and without having to hire an over-priced programmer to do it for you (which usually takes them seconds but charge a fortune).
As you are a beginner starting your first blog, I wholeheartedly recommend this plugin as I’m sure you will appreciate the CSS editing power it gives you and will reduce any stress caused by making CSS changes without any skills required.
Thrive Leads (Email List Building)
Thrive Leads is my favourite list building plugin and makes it really easy for you to build an email list of subscribers (people who actually want to get useful emails from you about new content or promotions inside your very own newsletter).
When you visit my blog, you will see several different optin forms on my website where Thrive Leads is helping me build my email list, such as the optin forms that offer a free download of the Beginner Blogging Blueprint.
There are so many ways you can implement Thrive Leads on your own blog and it’s something you should not avoid as your email list is one of the most valuable assets you will grow from your blog.
Here’s a playlist from the creators that covers some of the cool features.
Later on is this guide you will find a section on creating a blog newsletter, in which I will take you through the installation and implementation of this plugin step-by-step, so you can start building your own list of email subscribers.
Even if you have ZERO list building experience, this plugin will make it happen.
If you want me to setup Thrive Leads for you for free, such as installing the plugin, creating the best optin forms, setting up A/B testing and activating on your website, all you need to do is *order Thrive Leads through this link and then contact me.
*DISCLAIMER: I’m paid a commission if you use my link.
I’m constantly testing new plugins that either make the Bluehost blogging experience more productive or improve the user experience of my blog for readers, so I will update this section if and when I find something else worth sharing.