Plugin Recipe for WordPress Noobies

What plugins do you really need on your WordPress site?

What kind of plugins do you really need on your WordPress site?

Plugins and which ones to use is a topic consistently swirling around the radio waves in the universe.

We got a question last week for WPblab from Chef Ivan Flowers and it got me thinking.

When you make bread, there are basic ingredients.

Once you understand the role of each ingredient in the chemistry of the bread making, you can start substituting and fiddling around with the recipe.

Better Homes and Gardens’ New Cookbook is my go-to. Even though it is decades old it’s really the only one you need. Once you understand the relationship between ingredients, you can always make it your own.

Now, the WPwatercooler site has a list of recommended plugins that are repeated in their 160+ episodes, so you should check those out.

Here’s my understanding of the basic recipe:

  • Backup
  • SEO
  • Social Formatting
  • Social Sharing Buttons
  • Spam
  • Feed Subscription
  • Security


For backup I’m using Updraft Plus. I’m not totally sold on it because it makes three zip files and I don’t know how to restore from a backup yet but since I haven’t found a replacement it stays. I like that it will put a copy of the backup in my DropBox.

SEO & Social Formatting

I’m using Yoast SEO. This does the Google sitemap, formats my posts for optimized social sharing, and helps me stay on track with my heading. I wish I used it six months ago.

Social Sharing Buttons

I’m using Mashshare. It has two big buttons, the only ones I really want: Facebook and Twitter.


I’m using WP-SpamShield. It’s free. It works. No complaints.

Feed Subscription

I’m using Feedburner Email Subscription. People can signup to get my blog posts in their email. It’s straightforward.


This was suggested by WPFixIt. I haven’t used one since SiteGround seems to keep me safe.  But I also hear Sucuri is good.


This would be the poppy seeds, or garlic, or whatever else you’re putting in your bread. It’s not a need per se but it makes your life better.

I’m using more than this but here are a few extras that you may want to consider as a blogger. This list may or may not be updated in the future.

DesktopServer is how I made my site and they have an importer plugin and a duplicator plugin.

Manage WP‘s Worker is for managing all of my websites in one dashboard. It’s really nice. I pay $2.50 a month for this and it’s worth it.

FooGallery: I’m actually using FooGallery, FooBox, FooVideo, and Owl Carousel from them. I love Foo, what can I say?

Revive Old Post: Isn’t it bad that I forget to tweet my own articles? I’m always afraid of being too pushy so I spend a lot of time with replies on Twitter and retweets of their posts. I have this set on tweeting every 7.5 hours. It seems to help me help myself.

Jetpack. I like that it integrates with the WordPresss iOS app. It helps me be more responsive to the comments I get on my blog.

Also, you can see the plugins I favorited in the WordPress Repository here.



  1. Russell Aaron on November 22, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    Hi, great post. Did you know that Back WP Up is an amazing back up plugin as well?

    Also, after watching g your show last week, I wanted to say that DesktopServer allows you to create “starter packages.” Every time you start a new local history site, you can always include your favorite plugins.

  2. Bridget Willard on November 22, 2015 at 5:15 pm


    I didn’t know that about DesktopServer.

    Also, I forgot security for myself and this post.

    Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I’ll check out BackupWP!

  3. Robert Nissenbaum on November 24, 2015 at 5:24 am

    Great basic recipe. My plugins (leaning paid):

    Backup – Vaultpress
    Social Formatting / SEO – Yoast (pro), WP Smush, SBI! for WP
    Social Sharing Buttons – Shareaholic but upgrading to social warfare soon
    Spam – Askimet for comments and for blocking spam form submissions
    Feed Subscription – none yet but will look into feedburner
    Security – Sitelock

    My big extras:

    Social metrics tracker – easily see what content hits best and over time.\
    Broken link checker
    Leadin for email capture
    JM Twitter Cards

  4. Bridget Willard on November 24, 2015 at 5:32 am


    Yoast replaced JM Twitter Cards for me.

    I will check out the social metrics tracker.

  5. Carol Stephen on January 20, 2016 at 6:47 am

    Hi Bridget,

    I have Akismet and some other anti-spam ones, JM Twitter cards, social sharing buttons, and about 100 other plugins that seem to need updating every day. Oh, yeah. Broken Link checker, too.


  6. Bridget Willard on January 20, 2016 at 6:56 am

    Cool. If you get Yoast SEO (free) you won’t need JM Twitter cards.

  7. Raeann Hamontree on May 6, 2019 at 2:39 pm

    I use Yoast SEO for a long time ago and I’m very glad about it, I also use Sucuri for my site’s security; it monitors and protects your site from DDoS, malware threats, XSS attacks, brute force attacks, and basically every other type of attack. Good article, thank you!

  8. Bridget Willard on May 6, 2019 at 3:16 pm

    You’re welcome.