Today we’re going to be jumping down the rabbit hole of WordPress with the ten best free WordPress plugins for a teacher blog. However, don’t let the title of this particular episode scare you or potentially cause you to quit listening because it is going to be immensely helpful…even if you are just in the consideration stage of creating a website or blog.
As I’ve said many times, this world is becoming increasingly technology-based, and that means just about every business has at least a few components of the business based online.
Whether it’s specific programs, products, content, or a website, learning about WordPress websites will increase your depth of knowledge about the online space and it may also give you the confidence boost you need to realize this is something you CAN do!
Now before we jump into the best free WordPress plugins for a teaching website, I want to define a couple of things so that you understand why plugins are important.
What is a WordPress Plugin?
The simplest (and most helpful) definition of what a WordPress plugin is I found Hubspot.com. “A WordPress plugin a piece of software that ‘plugs into’ your WordPress site. Plugins can add new functionality or extend existing functionality on your site, allowing you to create virtually any kind of website.”
Now I want to clarify one possibly confusing aspect of this definition. A plugin in this instance is not a physical tool or cord that you plug into a port. Plugins are simply little packages of code that help your website run smoothly or function properly without you having to know anything about complex coding.
Some can be very robust while others are extremely minimal and only add a few lines of code to your website. This might beg the question, “Why do I need plugins on my site?”
Well, the easy answer is to incorporate a meaningful “something” to your site that you would not otherwise have access to without a broad knowledge of coding.
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How to Add a WordPress Plugin to Your Website
Adding plugins is actually a REALLY simple process. You want to start by accessing your WordPress dashboard. This can be done by typing in your website url adding a backslash and then typing the word admin. (ie. example.com/admin)
Once you are in your Dashboard, select PLUGINS > ADD NEW.
At this point, you will see a search bar on the right hand side of the screen that will allow you to look for a specific plugin. You can do a generic search like “SEO” or you can type the name for the exact plugin you seek.
Two last important pieces of information…
- Once you have the one you want, make sure to click the INSTALL NOW button and then click ACTIVATE. If you neglect to do these two crucial steps, the plugin will not be installed or accessible on your site.
- You may have to adjust some of the settings on each plugin you install. This will be done by going to SETTINGS on the WordPress Dashboard and then clicking the name of the particular plugin you need to adjust.
Now that we know what a WordPress plugin is and how to install them, let’s dig into the ten best free WordPress plugins for a teacher blog!
The Ten Best Free WordPress Plugins for a Teacher Blog
As I have mentioned before, Kadence is the fastest framework you’ll find! And we know we want our website to be really fast, so the way you do that is through the use of Kadence blocks.
But let me back up for just a second.
Websites are designed in a series of sections or blocks. Each block can be configured in virtually an infinite number of ways. But there are certain things bloggers and website owners alike want to include into these blocks like…
- So on…
Therefore, installing and activating Kadence blocks gives you the ability to customize your blog posts and pages to your heart’s content.
Now this leads us to the second Kadence plugin which is actually just an extension of this plugin.
Kadence Starter Templates
The Kadence Starter Templates are blocks that have been put together in a way to form webpages. The sections are visually pleasing and give you a starting point for creating the layout of your dreams.
Installing these gives you a way to see what your ideal webpage could look like as well as which blocks and sections look good together.
I don’t know about you, but for me starting with a template is always a great way for me to see how something will look without me having to create everything from scratch.
Takeaway: These two plugins are an excellent way to have free rein over your website while giving you ideas and parameters for how to best incorporate all of the important pieces onto your web pages.
This is hands-down one of the greatest free WordPress plugins for a teacher blog (or any website for that matter) in the way it functions as well as how it helps you as the author of blog posts.
Now as with many great free plugins, you will find that they spend a lot of time, suggesting that you upgrade to the premium version. But I have had this plugin since I began back in 2016 and it has all of the features you need.
So the way this particular plugin works is similar to a checklist. The goal is to get a “green” light in order to make Google happy and for your content to rank high in Google search.
So you will be asked to input some pieces of information and then to also see whether or not you have done the things it suggests you do. Here are some of the things you will see…
You can see the things that you have completed well because they have green marks next to them. The things that you could improve have orange marks and those things you need to fix have red marks.
Personally, I take it as a challenge to get as many green marks as possible. The important thing to note is that you don’t actually have to have every single thing done perfectly to receive an overall green light.
Think of this kind of like grading. You can still get an A on an assignment even if you missed a couple of questions. Same rules apply. You don’t have to check off every item on the list to get the overall green light.
But once I have the overall green light, I’m ready to publish my post! So this is my favorite free WordPress plugin for a teacher blog because it will help you stay focused on the essential pieces you need to include to make your blog post stand out in Google search results.
Takeaway: You need this plugin…period.
If you have a blog and you want to allow readers to share comments, then this is an absolute NECESSARY plugin. Unfortunately, there are trolls and hackers who make it their life’s mission to wreak havoc on people’s websites.
So to counteract the nonsense they are trying to add to your site, you need some form of a filtering system that protects your posts from getting these types of comments and links attached to the end of every post you write. And that is where this plugin comes in clutch.
It is a major barrier to entry for blatant spam and then it allows you to set up various filtering options on top of that. The default settings are a bit more liberal than what I want, so I actually have mine set in a way that requires me to review EVERY single comment before it can be added to my site.
While this is a very manual process, it prevents others from adding all sorts of irrelevant links back to their site (or worse, some type of inappropriate site) in the comment section.
However, if this is something you want to avoid altogether, you can actually flip a simple toggle switch that removes the ability for people to add comments.
Back in the day when blogging first began, it was recommended by all the gurus that you find people with similar content and write meaningful comments on their sites. You would then add a link to your site (or a specific relevant article) and this would give you a bit of a boost within the eyes of Google.
So as you can imagine, bloggers and hackers alike had a field day with the comment sections. Now with the onset of ALL the social media platforms, you don’t really find open comment sections as prevalent as they once were.
Takeaway: Determine if you want readers to have the option to comment on your posts. If you do, definitely get this plugin and choose the “protection” settings you want to enable.
Insert Header and Footers
This plugin is actually not as common as some of the others I’ve mentioned, but it is supremely helpful for specific things. While it isn’t going to be one that you use over and over, like Yoast, this one will allow you to install things like your Facebook Pixel into your website header.
In case you don’t know what a Facebook Pixel is, it is a little piece of code that allows you to track visitors to and from your site in order to target those individuals for Facebook ads. This may seem like a crazy thing to mention, especially if you are just starting out on your blogging journey, but trust me when I tell you that you will be glad you have this plugin installed when the time comes.
This plugin also allows you to input important copyright information into the footer of your website and link up your Google analytics, which provides you with the ability to collect useful data.
And even though I am not going into the nitty gritty of setting up the plugins, it is important for you to understand why these are essential as you begin selecting WordPress plugins for a teacher blog.
Takeaway: Consider adding this plugin to your site now so that when you are ready to connect your Facebook Pixel, Google Analytics, and more, you will be a few steps ahead.
Google Analytics for Wordpress by MonsterInsights
I briefly mentioned Google Analytics when I was talking about the Insert Header and Footer plugin. But to give you a smidge more information, TechTarget.com defines Google Analytics as “a web analytics service that provides statistics and basic analytical tools for search engine optimization (SEO) and marketing purposes. The service is part of the Google Marketing Platform and is available for free to anyone with a Google account. Google Analytics is used to track website performance and collect visitor insights.”
You can manually install Google Analytics, but it can be a bit complex. So this particular plugin does the heavy lifting for you.
Just follow the simple tutorial that walks you through how to connect the plugin to your Google Analytics and you’ll be able to see all of your analytical information right within your WordPress Dashboard.
Takeaway: This plugin will give you insights directly in your WordPress Dashboard without you having to search for them on your Google Analytics page.
This is another unique plugin that will be useful to your website. As a blog owner, you want site visitors to be able to search your website for relevant content by keywords. This gives them the opportunity to spend more time on your website.
The downside to this is that with a search function, there is no way to exclude information from search. So if you have a specific product or post you want to keep hidden, it will show up if visitors happen to type in a keyword, phrase, or title that matches.
This is really important if you choose to set up tripwire pages or limited time offer pages that only last a few minutes. You don’t want visitors to be able to find the short-term special offer page outside of the parameters you have set up.
And that is exactly where this lightweight plugin shines.
With the search exclude plugin, you can mark any post or page as visible or hidden by simply clicking a toggle switch. You can access and change the visibility of a post or page from within a specific post or page or within the index or archives sections.
Takeaway: If there is anything you want to exclude from the searchability of your website, you need this particular plugin.
JQuery Pin it Button for Images
One of the coolest parts about websites is just how customizable they are. Sure, there is a certain amount of understanding you need to have in order to customize all of the things, but there are a few plugins that give you the ability to customize your site really easily.
The JQuery Pin It Button for Images is one of the WordPress plugins for a teacher blog that helps you stand out from the crowd. The way this works is by giving you the option to create and load your own custom “Pin It” button that shows up when you hover over images.
I like to create my custom buttons in Canva and then upload the image in my WordPress Dashboard.
But what makes this plugin even better is that you can adjust the settings so that only the images you want to be pinnable have your custom “Pin It” button present.
So let’s say you don’t want any images smaller than 250 px high and 200 px wide to be pinnable. Just go to the plugin settings and set your defaults accordingly.
Then should you decide you don’t want certain larger images within a post or page to be pinnable, you can set that up right inside that specific post or page.
Takeaway: If you want to have control over what your “Pin It” image looks like and which images readers can add to Pinterest, this plugin is for you!
This plugin is probably not one you will use if you are a brand new website owner, but it is a super-valuable one, and that is why I wanted to include it in our list of the best WordPress plugins for a teacher blog.
Now bear with me for just a minute because I need to explain something that might seem a bit technical.
So each post you write has a title and that title becomes part of the URL or permanent home for that particular post. But what happens if you decide to change a url after you have already created it?
Well, that is where the technical stuff comes in. You see, if you share a URL with readers, on Pinterest, or on social media, but then you go back and update that URL, every single link you have shared previously will now be broken.
It is no different than building your house at 123 Fancy Road, but then deciding you want to change it to 125 Fancy Road. Anyone who sends mail to that first address will receive a return to sender notice because you are not located at that address anymore.
The same rule applies to your website URLs. If you change anything, big or small, your readers will get a 404 message that says something like…“Oops, it looks like the page you are looking for is no longer available.”
Let’s say you take a course on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and you realize you need to change your title…no problem. Just altering the title has no effect on the URL.
But during the course you have determined that you want to change the URL as well, you can use the features of this plugin to help you do that without creating a broken link.
Instead of receiving a 404 message…or the dreaded you can change the URL and then create a redirect to the new one.
This creates a super-fast connection between the old URL and the new one so that readers who type in the old one are immediately redirected to the updated version.
Takeaway: While this may not be a plugin you use immediately, it is one you’ll want to add to your site for future use.
This plugin is another one that may not be used as soon or as frequently as some of the others. But it is a vital plugin that once active can help you import essential information. Then once you have imported the information, it is always working to make sure that information stays in the right place.
As a blog owner, one of the things you want to do is collect email addresses so you can share relevant content, provide awesome freebies, and ultimately, generate income. To gather email addresses, you need to have forms available for readers to fill out on your site.
This is where your shortcode widget comes in handy. You can design a block, pop this little box into a page, and then add the shortcode information from your email service provider to begin collecting email addresses. While this is just one application of how you can use this plugin, it can be used in a ton of different ways.
Takeaway: Including this plugin on your site will allow you to add snippets of information whenever (and wherever) you need them to populate.
I know this post has been absolutely full of information about WordPress plugins for a teacher blog, but it is important for you to know which ones are worth the time and effort to learn. You can be successful not only installing and activating these plugins, but using them to make your life easier.