The web nerd inside me loves trouncing around in the backend of a WordPress site.
But no one is throwing cash my way to faff with code and plugins on my websites. The writer in me just wants to log in and sling keys, and my bills need me to spend time on things that grow my blogs.
Today I’m sharing three paid plugins that helped me save time on social media sharing, made search engine optimization easier, and set my website up for more traffic.
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1. RankMath SEO
I’ll be honest. I’ve been nope-ing out on learning search engine optimization.
I not-so-secretly yearn for the days when you could write what you wanted, how you wanted, and people would find it. Yep, that happened. *tips elder Millennial hat and pours one out for my vintage blog on Greymatter*
But that’s exactly why I love this SEO plugin. It’s one of the few I’ve found that helps you structure your content for search engines while keeping readers in mind.
RankMath has a feature called Content AI that compares your blog post to other posts ranking in search engines for your target keyword.
Content AI suggests other keywords and phrases for you to use in your content, headings, and SEO meta description. It also gives you suggestions on how many words, headings, links, and photos your post should ideally have.
This feature works on a credit-based system, so you can buy credits and use Content AI even if you don’t pay for RankMath premium. Unlike other tools offering semantic keyword recommendations, you only pay for credits you use instead of paying a monthly fee.
RankMath has a lot of other tools like built-in analytics, keyword tracking, and automated image SEO. But Content AI is the single feature that finally convinced me to learn about optimizing my content for search. And brought my burned out brain and stubborn fingers back to banging out words online.
Cost: $59 a year for RankMath premium
I used to ball on a blog budget with the free version of the caching plugin my web host recommends.
Until I noodled around enough in Google Analytics to see a lot of my traffic comes from people using mobile devices. Then I found out about a little thing called Core Web Vitals, a series of website performance metrics that can affect how your site ranks in search.
My outdoor travel blog is a carnival of images and video. I like to share my siiiick camping setup and document evidence of things people who’ve never been to Arizona tell me we don’t have, like snow and trees.
That’s why my mobile page scores were a raging dumpster fire, and my free caching plugin was in no rush to run for an extinguisher. Enter FlyingPress.
I love how simple FlyingPress makes it to take control over how assets from your website get delivered to visitors. You don’t have to mess around with scripts or understand what the hell minify means. (Unless you’re a capital-N nerd like me. Then by all means, cruise the FlyingPress docs and flip switches until your site loads like a cracked whip.)
I see you sitting there all wide-eyed over the price of FlyingPress. I did that too, and I stan free plugins as much as the next blogger.
But having someone on your side when your website is actin’ a fool is golden. When I shot off a support ticket to FlyingPress, they fixed my issue in less than a day.
If I shove my worked-as-a-support-engineer-in-another-life-I’ll-figure-it-out-myself-oh-gawd-why-does-it-say-that-in-the-browser-console attitude aside to yell into the support void for help, I love when it’s snappy. Less time poking around with plugins, and more time for writing? Take. My. Money.
Cost: $60 a year for one website and $42 a year on renewal
3. Easy Social Share Buttons for WordPress (ESSB)
Writing positive things about social media feels weird to me, given I’d rather shave a bobcat’s ass in a port-a-potty than create a TikTok account.
But I’ll be dipped if Easy Social Share Buttons for WordPress didn’t replace about four other plugins on my blogs. And encourage people to share my content in more places.
I’ve used ESSB for years, and I appreciate how simple it is to set up sharing buttons on posts, place newsletter subscribe forms, and create social media profile links.
The plugin has a built-in analytics module that lets you track how each of your posts is performing on social media. And the Pinterest Pro feature makes it painless to place Pinterest hover buttons over images and hide vertical pin images in posts.
Best of all? You pay for this plugin once and get a lifetime license.
Cost: $22 for one website
It’s tempting to rely on free WordPress plugins. But if you’re eager to grow your blog, the paid WordPress plugins I talked about above will help you do it more efficiently.
RankMath, FlyingPress, and ESSB pushed me to get excited about writing online again. And made my blogging process easier, letting me focus on what matters–my content.
I hope this post takes some of the overwhelm out of selecting tools for your blog. If there’s a paid tool you love using on your WordPress blog, let me know about it below!