Starting a Food Blog Part 2, the Plugins
If you’re a food blogger, then you know that having the right plugins can make all the difference in the world. With the right tools, you can make your blog look and run great. In this post, we’ll discuss some of the best plugins for food bloggers.
If you are just starting out you may want to check out part 1 – Starting a food blog, the first steps.
What the heck is a plugin you might ask? If you are completely new to WordPress you likely have no clue what the plugins are.
In a really basic short description, a plugin is a way to add functionality without you having to add code. Short and simple way to put it!
You do need a few plugins to run a site, but you do not want to go crazy and add too many. Some plugins can slow down your site or even make your site more of a security risk. It’s easy to get excited when see you all the plugins that are available, but remember that less is better!
The ones that I mention in this post are popular ones that get used by many food bloggers including myself.
If you are unsure of how to install plugins, how to install a WordPress plugin – step by step for beginners by WPBeginner is great.
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Yoast is a very popular plugin and I am sure that you have heard the name if you have done any research about starting a food blog. I love them personally and many bloggers do as well (not just food bloggers!)
You can start with them completely free and upgrade later if you choose when you are making money. I have the free version on a couple blogs and the premium version on a couple blogs.
What is Yoast? They are an SEO plugin. It basically helps Google to understand your site. The plugin adds structured data that we would not be able to do unless we were very technical! There are a lot of amazing features to it. Start out with the free and later on upgrade if you feel you need to.
Updraft Plus is a great plugin to add when starting a food blog. It is a backup plugin that stores backups of your site into a designated location. They are compatible with a few cloud services, including Google Drive.
I know you might be thinking your host backs up your site so you don’t need it, but it is always good to have your own backup. You can use the free or the premium version. The free version is usually enough for food bloggers. You can always upgrade if you feel you need to later.
I only use the free version personally.
A social media sharing plugin can help you to grow your site into something bigger! It’s hard for a site to go viral on Facebook if nobody can share it, right? Food bloggers need to have a good but lightweight social sharing plugin so their readers can share the recipes.
Grow Social Pro is a very popular social sharing plugin. It is made by the popular ad company Mediavine. It was a great plugin to use, but I do not use it anymore personally. I do like it but had some minor plugin conflicts with other plugins. It seemed to be often and I chose to switch. It is still quite popular, many food bloggers love it.
Social Snap is the one I like and use now on our food blog. This blog I use the simple sharing that comes with my theme, but not all themes have this option. And food blogs have a lot more going on when it comes to sharing. It is best to use a social plugin for your recipes.
What I like about Social Snap is that it is lighter weight when it comes to load times and there is more customization available then with Grow.
I want to note that neither of these plugins are free, but they are a pretty reasonable price when you are just starting a food blog. At the time of writing this, Grow Social Pro was $34 for the year. Social Snap has 3 levels for the plugin, starting at around $39 for the year.
Any blog can benefit from using a caching plugin, not just food bloggers. We have tested a few and found that not all caching plugins are created equal. While there are other plugins out there, this is our favorite here.
WP-Rocket can help speed up your site by caching your site. Serving a cached version improves load time drastically! They have many features that help you speed up you site overall. If your site loads slowly, visitors will bounce. WP-Rocket does an amazing job at keeping your site as fast as it can be.
If you are failing core web vitals, adding WP-Rocket will likely (not guaranteed) help you increase your scores. We use it on one of our sites, but our site with Ezoic ads does not have it. Ezoic has it’s own caching system available to it’s publishers.
At the time of writing this post, the cost for a single license (1 site) was $49 for the year. Well worth it! Are they the only great caching plugin? Possibly not, but it is the only one we have had a great experience with.
Some people say you need a security plugin when starting a food blog and some say that you do not if you have a good host.
I personally prefer to have the extra security for a piece of mind and to know that my readers are protected as well as I am. Wordfence is a great plugin to use for the extra bit of security. You can set up 2 factor verification at login, see how many failed login attempts (hackers try to get into your site) and have real time blocking of at risk IP addresses.
Yes it is $99 a year (at the time of writing the post, subject to change), but it is definitely worth it to me. There are other security plugins out there so you can definitely do some research to see what works best for you. I personally recommend Wordfence (and they do not have a referral program so I am not affiliated.)
I only have experience with Wordfence so I cannot recommend others at this time.
I know I have said it many times before, but food blogging is very competitive! You need to have a plugin that can keep up with all the changes. One that adds the proper recipe schema to your recipe posts.
This schema tells Google that it is a recipe and if done properly, gets your recipes on Google. For more information on why the schema is important and what it can do check out get your recipes on Google (written by Google.) A good plugin will handle this all for you.
There are a few plugins that do this. My favorite is WP Recipe Maker. Many food bloggers use them and love them. This recipe plugin has many features that you will love along with adding the right schema. They keep it up to date and in best practices.
There are different levels to choose from with their plugin. Choose the one that is best for you! Or there are other recipe plugins as well, but I personally do not much about them. Do you research and see which one suits your site better!
Limit Modified Date
All bloggers, not just food bloggers, should be using this plugin! It allows you to update a simple post without changing the date or sending it to Google to crawl again. I only recently started to use this and highly recommend anybody to use it when they start their food blog.
Of course when you do major changes you want the updated date to change to reflect the last date it was updated. But you do not need update the date (or request a recrawl) when you fix a spelling error or when adding backlinks to your other posts.
With the Limit Modified Date plugin, you can choose to keep it from updating the date by checking a box. It is a free plugin and easy to use!
Please note that we do not use any of the image optimization plugins currently. We upload ours at a smaller file and use our caching system (LEAP) to serve images in web format. We use Adobe Illustrator to save them at a lower file size, but Adobe is more expensive then an optimization plugin. We use Illustrator for other things so it’s worth it to us to pay monthly for it.
But many food bloggers swear by some of these image optimization plugins and they are not bad. We just do not use them personally.
What does the image optimization do? It optimizes the file to create a smaller file size to keep your image files from being to large. Large image files are a big resource hog on your server and can also affect load time.
The two most popular image plugins for food bloggers are Short Pixel and Imagify. If you are not able to get your images to a small enough size, I do recommend using one of these to do so. We are not affiliated with either one of them, they are just ones that are always recommended in groups by other food bloggers.
Do your research before adding them. Since we do not use any, we do not know which one is better.
Frequently asked questions
While we added the types of plugins food bloggers should be using, your site may need other plugins. These are functionalities that every food blogger should be using, whether you use the ones we recommend or choose a different plugin.
This is a question I see and hear a lot but unfortunately there is no set answer. While I use less then 15 on mine (including 2 extras for premium versions), you may need to use more. You may even be able to use less.
Best rule here is to go with what you need for desired functionality first. Less is more when it comes to plugins. Different themes offer different customizations. Our theme allows us to insert codes directly into the header while some themes do not. You may need a plugin for header scripts.
No I am sure they are not the only good ones when you are starting a food blog! But these are ones that we use and can stand behind recommending. They are also used by many other food bloggers.
There are many plugins out there and many people like to go overboard with them too when starting a food blog! Remember that any plugin you add to your site adds code that can slow down your site or cause an issue with incompatibility. I try to keep my plugins to a minimum and only add ones I need.
The plugins above are the ones we use or have used and love. There are other plugins that are available in each category, but these are the ones we know and trust. Do your research and choose the ones best for your site!
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