WordPress plugins are pieces of software that you can add to your site, to give you extra functionality or features.
The fewer plugins you install, the better (in terms of site speed and security), but when working with theme-based sites some plugins are necessary to keep your site running.
I use the free versions of all of the following plugins (so no affiliate links in this list).
I’ve split the list down into rough sections, though they all feed into one another (site security, for example, could arguably be classed as SEO as security has been shown to have SEO benefits).
This post is part of my series on starting & building your food blog. Other posts in the series include:
- How to set up a food blog in WordPress (in just an afternoon)
- How to choose a name (and a domain) for your food blog
- How to pick (& set up) hosting for your food blog
- 10 Reasons to use WordPress.org for your Food Blog
- How to Install WordPress on your blog with SiteGround
- How to quickly set up a business email address (& use it in Gmail)
Essential WordPress plugins for food blogs & businesses
Plugins for SEO
- Yoast – It won’t magically jump you to the first page of Google, but Yoast’s free plugin helps with basic on-page optimisation.
- Smush & Hummingbird – Both from WPMUDEV, they help your SEO by contributing to site speed with image optimisation (by Smush) and caching (by Hummingbird).
- Insert Headers & Footers – This seems like a pretty basic plugin, but it allows you to add scripts to activate tools like Google Search Console, Google Analytics and Pinterest for Business.
- BrokenLinkChecker – This is another one which seems simple but is oh-so-powerful for letting you know about broken links (both internal and external) so you can fix them.
Plugins for backups & security
- UpDraftPlus – Automatically takes regular backups of your site and store them in Google Drive, just in case.
- iThemes – To secure, protect and defend your site against the risk of attacks and hacking.
Plugins for sharing & audience-building
- NinjaForms – for quickly and easily creating contact forms to answer messages and collect information on your site.
InstagramFeed– To display your Insta feed. This plugin from SmashBaloon gives you tonnes of options for customising different feeds to display in different areas of your site using simple shortcodes.
- Sumo – Use Sumo to promote and automate social sharing on all your posts
Specific plugins for food sites
Depending on your business, you may also need plugins that give you other specific functionality. You might be looking for plugins that can help with making restaurant reservations, ordering takeaways or processing eCommerce sales.
I’ve used most of the plugins below either through this blog or for my freelance photography site Fig & Fennel, my husband’s business Döner Summer, or in my day job. Any that I haven’t personally used come highly recommended
- WP RecipeMaker – Easily insert recipes into blog posts, with schema markup built-in, so they’re perfectly formatted for Google as well as being beautiful and easy-to-follow on your site.
- Shopify Lite – Create a Shopify eCommerce store and sell goods directly through your website.
- WP Pizza – While most of your takeout orders may be managed through an app like JustEat or Deliveroo, a plugin like WP Pizza gives customers the option of ordering directly via your site.
- QuickRestaurantMenu – To manage and format your menu, making it easy for customers to find exactly what they want to eat before they even step foot through your door.
- OpenTable – This plugin integrates with the OpenTable app, to allow customers to easily make reservations, and you to easily manage those bookings.
Install your plugins, activate them, make any customisations required, and keep them up to date. You don’t need to make decisions and install all