Whether you are setting up a new blog or just trying to optimize and improve the one you have, plugins are always helpful. Your WordPress theme might come with a lot of bells and whistles but you will still need a few plugins to improve the look or function of your site.
I can share my tips with you for the best SEO plugin for WordPress, best free plugins, my favorite WordPress social share plugin, and the best plugins for travel blogs and actually blogs of all kinds.
Here are 10 awesome WordPress plugins for travel bloggers you should consider adding to your website.
Best WordPress Plugins for Travel Bloggers
Child Theme Configurator
Before you start working on your site you should make a child theme so that any changes you make will be saved if and when you update the theme later. Don’t know exactly how to make a child theme? Me neither! I just use a plugin called Child Theme Configurator to quickly make a child theme and then activate it and start customizing.
This free plugin is definitely a necessity for any blogger. Whether you are already an SEO master or just learning the ropes, this tool is very helpful for adding SEO titles to your posts and metadata descriptions for Google search results. Yoast is the best SEO plugin for WordPress that I have found.
Yoast is quite easy to use and set up but here are a few tips to make things a little easier.
- Don’t worry too much about getting all your posts to green. The Yoast plugin uses a red-orange-green scale to rate your success in getting the perfect keyword optimized post. Don’t worry too much about this as their criteria can be a bit off from what is considered best practice in the SEO world. Orange is sometimes OK. Definitely try to improve red posts. Do take a look at their suggestions for improvement to see if you might have missed something.
- Turn off the Yoast readability analysis. So many bloggers I know get frustrated with this aspect of the tool which rates your readability score. Depending on your topic, you can never seem to get it to green. Guess what? It’s useless. Do you know what it is based on? The Flesch reading ease test favors short simple sentences. Sounds good right? Well, the top score is described as “easily understood by the average 11 year old” while a poor score is “Very difficult to read. Best understood by university graduates”. Uhhhhh, unless you are writing travel blogs for elementary school kids then I’m not sure this is the proper target to aim for. Turn it off by going to the Yoast plugin tab called “features” and switching the slider off.
- Do not bother paying for the Pro version. They often tout it by saying you can target multiple keywords. You can do that by simply changing the focus keyword field and updating the post to see how you’re doing. No need to pay extra for that. They have other advanced features that are useful but I think for most people the free version is just fine. I am thankful that the free version of Yoast is so good.
- Use the Moz blog for the latest in SEO and skip the Yoast blog. I used to read the Yoast blog for SEO tips but I got really turned off by a few posts and had to stop. Moz is great, get your info there. Love their Whiteboard Friday.
There are many social sharing plugins, and I’ve tried a lot of them. Your theme might even have their own, and Jetpack comes with some too. The best I have found so far is Social Warfare and many top bloggers recommend it too. The free version of this social media plugin has the choice of six sharing buttons and a few options for configuring them and placing them on your site. Have them above posts or floating on the side. If you want more advanced buttons to better match the look of your theme you can go Pro. Then you get a choice of more sharing platforms and can fully customize the colors and shapes of the buttons.
I prefer Social Warfare to another WordPress social share plugin because as far as I can tell they work reliably while I can never get other free services to function across platforms. For instance the Jetpack buttons wouldn’t work on my mobile pages but I liked them on desktop.
Go for Social Warfare Pro to unlock features like:
- More sharing options like Reddit, WhatsApp, Buffer and Email
- Share shortened links and allow automatic link tracking
- Customize your tweets to control what is shared, rather than expecting visitors to write their own text
- Customize the perfect Pinterest image and description for each post instead of hoping your visitors choose the best one
Tasty Pins Plugin
I hope you already know that you should be optimizing your site for both Google and Pinterest to get the most traffic. If not, look for a detailed post about this soon! As far as images go, you want them to look great AND have the right metadata so that both search platforms can find them and show them to your potential visitors.
Until recently you might have thought that in order to give Pinterest the text data it needs you had to shortchange Google. Most Pinterest professionals recommended that you put keyword rich descriptions in your “alt” text area so that Pinterest could pull that information for the pin description. Yes, it works. Pinterest will use that alt text. However, the alt field is actually meant for describing the image when it cannot be seen.
Here are some examples:
- if the image cannot be shown because the file is corrupted or a link is broken, you will see the alt text
- if a visually impaired person is trying to access your content with a screen reader, it will read the alt text
- therefore, an image of the Alhambra in Granada shouldn’t have the alt text “Get tickets to the Alhambra in advance” but instead should read something like “Alhambra in Granada, Spain. Stone fortress on green mountain with blue skies”
The Tasty Pins plugin helps remedy this situation by adding a text input field that is meant for Pinterest so you can optimize for this platform while keeping the alt text field useful for Google. Do you need this plugin to do that? Well, you can add the code by hand to each image but really, who has time for that?
The Tasty Pins plugin also has other cool features that are useful for Pinterest like the ability to add hidden pinnable images to your posts so as not to clutter them with multiple images and make the load times too slow.
WPTouch Mobile Plugin
With more and more users viewing your site on mobile – especially travelers – you must have a site that looks good and functions well on smartphones. The free version of WPTouch Mobile Plugin will give you a basic site that functions. You can’t customize very much in the free version but at least it will eliminate your sidebars showing up below the post and other issues you might have without a mobile friendly version of your site.
The paid version of WPTouch has many more options for customizing the look and feel of your mobile site, and even has the option to include ads. You can choose from their cool templates and customize colors, fonts and layout.
This plugin has become less important to me since I installed the following plugin.
Accelerated Mobile Pages
Have you heard about AMP? This initiative started by Google and Twitter aims to make the web faster. In a nutshell it works by caching your pages and eliminating the fluff and heavy code like Java that can slow down load times and clutter up your website. Supposedly Google slightly favors sites that use AMP, especially for news and other types of content.
But you can’t just add “/amp/” to the end of your URLs and see these clean and simple pages. You have to do some fancy coding on your site. I don’t know about you but my HTML talents are not up to that challenge. Thank goodness for the Accelerated Mobile Pages plugin.
The free plugin of AMP for WP adds the coding framework to your website to make it AMP friendly. There are a few features you can customize to fit your site, make sure you set up your menu and check your site to ensure it still functions smoothly and looks OK. Go for the Pro paid version for even more customization options.
If you use Yoast you should also download Yoast Glue to help the Yoast optimizations work with the AMP SEO optimizations.
There is some debate about whether you should even use AMP for your sites, as it mostly eliminates your widgets and ads, which could lead to decreased functionality and lost revenues. Personally I want Google to favor me so I’ll do what I can to keep on their good side. 🙂
Google Analytics Dashboard for WP (GADWP)
Speaking of Google, you do have Google Analytics set up for your site already, don’t you? I prefer to check my stats within Analytics but sometimes you just want to get a quick look or see an overview. Do this within the WordPress dashboard with the Google Analytics Dashboard for WP plugin. Verify your Google Analytics code and you are ready to go. Check stats like traffic and referrers within the WordPress dashboard. It’s one of the best WordPress plugins for blogs of all kinds.
Would you like to include banner advertisements in your posts but don’t want to add them to each page manually? Get an ad manager like Ad Inserter to easily add blocks of code where you want them. You can configure the plugin to add the code above a post, below the post or after a certain paragraph. You can set whether to enable the code on only some pages or all of them. It is an excellent and easy to use plugin that is very useful if you want to include advertisements. I also use it sometimes to add internal links as well.
Insert Headers and Footers
If you want to use Google Analytics, Adsense or have Rich Pins, you will need to insert code into your site to track and configure these features (and others). Skip making the changes to your source files and messing around with FTP. Just install Insert Headers and Footers and add the codes there as needed. It is a very useful and simple plugin that I use on all my sites. It’s one of the best free plugins I have.
Images are an important part of any beautiful travel blog. But images can load slowly and make your site crawl along like a turtle. Install WP Smush to optimize your images so that they load more quickly and improve your site’s performance.
Map Travel Destination Plugins
Are you searching for the best travel map plugin for WordPress? I use a few on some of my other sites. Depending on the function and purpose of your map you might want to consider one of the following WordPress map plugins. I find that maps can be very testy and don’t always look or function as expected. It can be helpful to try a few.
- 5sec Google Maps Pro: I use this plugin to create maps for individual locations in my posts
- WP Google Maps Pro: this plugin can create maps with multiple locations that can be embedded in posts or pages
- Nomad World Map Plugin: create a route map linked to posts or images and embed it in your pages
- Google My Maps: not a plugin but allows you to easily embed a map you created in your Google My Maps account.
I hope this list of my top 10 WordPress plugins helped you get your site up and running or perfectly optimized. If you are a beginning blogger be sure to check out these best courses to teach you blogging 101: how to set up a blog, monetize it and increase traffic and followers. And my 8 steps for Beginning Bloggers. Here are my favorite affiliate programs for travel bloggers that will allow you to make some income from your website.
If you want to take your travel blog to the next level, check out The Business of Travel Blogging Course.
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