My 13 Must-Use WP Plugins for More Traffic, Revenue and/or Save Time

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Here's my list of 13 must-use plugins that I deploy on my niche sites. Each of these plugins drives traffic, generates revenue and/or saves time.

I admit I’ve been a plugin hog. For that reason every 4 to 6 months I do a plugin audit and ditch those I don’t absolutely need.

However, there are always a handful I never ditch.  That’s what this post is about.

The following plugins provide so much value in driving traffic, generating revenue or saving time that I keep them, and in some cases, pay for then year-in and year-out.

Here they are.

Ad Inserter (Free and Paid versions)

Screenshot of ad inserter plugin

Main benefit: Revenue

Thanks to AdInserter I’ve earned hundreds of thousands of dollars in ad revenue.  Millions actually.  Okay, that’s a bit misleading because other ad management plugins could do much of the same, but the point remains that as my favorite ad management plugin (by far), this gem is absolutely golden.

I like this particular ad management plugin so much because it’s so fast to use.  I can toggle among the placeholders very quickly. It also offers pretty much every placement option you could want such as:

  • Before/After title
  • Before/After images (specify by image number such as 5th image from top)
  • Before/After paragraph (specify by paragraph number such as after paragraph 8. Note you can specify after X heading by putting h2 as the element)
  • After Content
  • After Post

Plus others, but those are the main ones I use.

Elementor Pro (Free and paid versions)

Main benefit: Traffic

Okay, before you skewer me as a hypocrite, let me explain why I’m now a fan of Elementor Pro.  In the past I’ve been pretty clear about my distaste for page builder plugins.  For regular blog posts, I’m still not a fan.

But, for my sites, Elementor Pro does have its place and that is for creating custom archive pages such as custom category ad tag pages.

I’m a big fan of creating content-rich archive pages, but find the default description box inadequate.  In the past I’ve created pages and either redirected the archive URLs to the custom page or input a canonical.

With Elementor Pro, I get to have my cake and eat it too.  I can create amazing custom, content-rich archive pages and bolt those pages to the actual archive URLs.  Brilliant.

Yes, you need the pro version for creating custom archive pages (as in the kind that bolts to archive rules such as /tag/your-tag-name.

Get Elementor here.

OptinMonster (Paid)

Main benefit: Revenue and traffic

If you’re building an email list, OptinMonster rocks.  I’ve tried other email form options but nothing is as easy or works as well as OptinMonster. The only downside is it’s costly.

Also, even if you don’t build an email list, you can use the popups with links sending visitors to any article you want on your site. This can be quite effective for keeping folks on your site.  I do this on my biggest niche site.

Why OptinMonster over other similar plugins? What makes this one special?

  • It works:  I’ve used many email form plugins that are glitchy.  I got sick and tired of saving a few bucks but dealing with subpar performance. OptinMonster works flawlessly.
  • Many form options:  OptinMonster offers every email sign up form imaginable including scroll mats, exit pops, regular pops, below content, sidebar, ribbons, etc.
  • Extensive deployment control:  For example, if you want a particular form to show on a particular category on your site, you can do this. The level of control is ridiculously good.
  • Easy-to-use:  It’s cloud-based which I love.  It’s also very easy and fast to use.

You can even embed forms via shortcode. Here’s an example:

Grow by Mediavine (Free and paid versions)

Main benefit: Traffic

I’ve tried umpteen social sharing plugins over the years.  Grow by Mediavine (formerly Social Pug) is my favorite. It’s easy to use.  The free version is usually sufficient.  Overall, it’s a great option that I use on all my sites.

This plugin is very easy to use, offers all kinds of display options including Pinterest hover buttons and at the end of day it works well with little effort.

Try the free version – it should offer sufficient features for most blog needs.

Yes, Grow by Mediavine is

Insert Amz Images (Free and paid versions)

Main benefit: Revenue

I love this Amazon affiliate plugin.  It does one thing and one thing only and that is embedded Amazon product images into content via the Amazon API.  The images are automatically linked to the product page with your affiliate link. This makes it possible for my VAs to include Amazon affiliate links in my content. More importantly, I have access to millions of images that enhance many articles if they in any way mention or revolve around products of any kind.

Here’s an example of an Amazon image embedded with this plugin.

Roku Premiere | HD/4K/HDR Streaming Media Player, Simple Remote and Premium HDMI Cable
You can add your own custom caption to the images like this.  This is an Amazon affiliate so I need to tell you that as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Try the free version first. It should be sufficient, but if not, the premium version isn’t very expensive.

Mammoth Docx. Converter (Free)

Main benefit: Saves time

Have you ever copy and pasted content from a Docx. into the WordPress editor?

It’s a nightmare. You end up with loads of <div> tags and the code is a disaster.  It takes forever to fix it.

Yes, you could strip the Docx code via a text editor but then you lose all the formatting such as heading tags and bullets placed in the content by the writer.

The solution, which is free, is importing Docx articles via the Mammoth Docx. Converter plugin.  It works. It’s free. It saves piles of time.

Get this free plugin here.

Q2W3 Fixed Widget (Free)

Main benefit: Revenue

Here’s another plugin that does one thing and one thing only and that is it makes any widget area sticky. I use this to make the bottom sidebar ads sticky on my sites (assuming the ad network doesn’t do it on their end).

If you need a sticky sidebar, and IMO you do, whether you earn with ads or build an email list, get this plugin. Notice the sticky email form to the right on this site? That’s compliments of this plugin.

IMPORTANT: if you use AdSense ads, do NOT make an AdSense ad sticky.  Instead, use Ezoic ads which you can make sticky.

Get this free plugin here.

Shortpixel image optimizer (Paid)

Main benefit: Traffic indirectly with faster-loading sites.

Shortpixel is an awesome on-site image optimizer that not only reduces image file sizes (jpg and png) but also converts them to WebP format (if you want).

You can bulk optimize all existing images on your site and then it’ll optimize every image you upload going forward.

Table of Contents Plus (Free)

Main benefit: Revenue

You can see an example of this plugin in action with the table of contents toward the top of this post.

I love adding tables of contents to articles because most of my content is fairly long. You can see this plugin in action at the top of this post.

As a visitor of sites, I find tables of content helpful. I often jump to the section I want.  I tend to add features to my sites that I like.

Also, this plugin adds more real estate to your content which makes for a slightly longer time on site and more ad display opportunities.  Every time you can add real estate to a blog post in a way that makes sense for visitors, do it.

Get this free plugin here.

Thirsty Affiliates (Free and Paid versions)

Main benefit: Revenue

If you promote the same products throughout your site, this plugin is a must-have plugin and here’s why.

Suppose you promote Fat Stacks Courses on 20 blog posts.  But then, I do something super annoying like changing the course platform which changes the affiliate links.  I email you letting you know you need to change the affiliate links on your site and wherever else you use them.

You groan and curse me because it’s such a drag… unless you use Thirsty Affiliates. If you use Thirsty Affiliates, you need only change the affiliate link one time in the TA dashboard which will ensure all your affiliate links will send traffic to the new URL and continue tracking your clicks.

FYI, I use the free version which offers more than enough functionality for me.

Try the free version here.

Manage WP (Free and Paid versions)

Main benefit: Saves time

I’m the worst when it comes to remembering or bothering to update plugins, themes and WP.  Months will go by and then something bad happens.  My host fixes it and suggests updating everything.

ManageWP helps me avoid problems related to outdated plugins, themes etc. by updating everything automatically across all my sites.  I set it to do updates one a week. It works flawlessly … and it’s free.

Get this plugin here.

Yoast SEO (Free and paid versions)

Main benefit: Traffic

Ever hear of Yoast SEO plugin?  I thought so. Who hasn’t?

Not everyone is a fan, but I am and here’s why (other than the usual SEO features such as specifying meta titles and descriptions for content).

I love how this plugin automatically adds proper schema markup to every article and for the site.  I don’t need any other schema plugin.

Another feature I love about this plugin is I can index or noindex posts, archive pages and pages as needed.  For example, I index tag archives.  Most bloggers don’t but I have a carefully planned out tagging scheme with SEO in mind.  However, there are a small number of archive pages I don’t want to index. With Yoast SEO I have complete control.

Get the free plugin here.

Yoast Video (Paid)

Main benefit: Traffic

If you create videos for YouTube or some other video platform but then embed them on your site, you’ll want the Yoast Video plugin?

Why?

Because this plugin will add video schema markup to those videos embedded on your site which means that if Google ranks your vids on search (regular search or Video tab), Google may link to the video on your site instead of the video platform.

I use Yoast video on this site because I embed my YouTube videos on this site.

My reasoning for all this is I’d MUCH rather send visitors to my sites than YouTube.

Get Yoast’s Video plugin here.

 



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