Frequently, WordPress plugins for food blogs are installed on whim without real consideration for how they may or may not make life better and easier for your audience.
Search engine optimization, structured data, site speed improvements and image compression, which are all powered by WordPress plugins, can benefit food blog readers in a lot of ways but only if the the right tool is applied in the right way.
Of course, your own productivity is important (and some plugins do work wonders!) but improvement in one area of your business shouldn’t take away from another.
If you’re are offered a WordPress plugin for your food blog at a discount through your ad network, or read about a plugin that sounds powerful, ask yourself three questions before you install:
- Will it improve my recipe reading experience on mobile?
- Will it make it easier for a reader to find and discover my content?
- Will it prompt a reader to stay longer and click through to more content?
A sparkly food blog plugin that promises to increase pageviews six ways to Sunday could become a distraction for readers and have unintended effects (we’ve seen it happen!)
Tips for choosing WordPress food blog plugins
Each WordPress plugin you use for your food blog should be inspected technically for functionality and fit before it’s installed and configured.
Not all WordPress plugins are created equal and some plugins don’t play nicely in the sandbox so it’s important to do your homework. The best WordPress plugins for food blogs are widely used by the development community and frequently updated.
For each plugin you’re interested in, ask yourself these 14 questions:
- Who developed the plugin? Are they credible?
- How frequently is the plugin updated? When was the last update?
- Is the plugin compatible with the latest version of WordPress?
- Is the plugin Gutenberg friendly?
- How many active installations are there?
- Has the developer disclosed any known conflicts with other plugins?
- How well received is the plugin? What’s the star rating? How are the reviews?
- How many unresolved support tickets are outstanding for the plugin?
- Does the plugin’s solution apply to existing posts or new posts only?
- Is the solution too big, too small, or just the right size for my site?
The vast majority of the answers to these questions can be found on wordpress.org/plugins. Just search by plugin name.
18 of the best WordPress plugins for food blogs
To save you time, we’ve rounded-up up a list of 18 of the best, trusted WordPress plugins for food blogs—all of which we work with.
The categories we cover include:
- Security and spam
- Image optimization
- SEO and structured data
Remember, your WordPress web host plays a big part in plugin compatibility, which is why we always suggest a plugin is inspected technically before it’s installed and configured.
For security and spam
Inconsistent WordPress support is a part of life for a lot of food bloggers (but it doesn’t have to be!) Activity Log helps you monitor and track your site’s back-end activity. You can keep tabs on if/when a plugin was activated or deactivated, log suspicious admin activity and more. It’s also a huge help for WordPress tech support companies like Foodie Digital to be able to see a history of what has been done, when and by whom.
With more than 5 million active installations, Akismet is a leader in comment and contact spam detection and prevention. With commenting encouraged on food blogs to boost post engagement and recipe star ratings for rich snippets, it’s endlessly helpful that Akismet automatically checks all comments and filters out the comments that look like spam. Akismet also shows URLs in the comment body, which can reveal hidden or junk URLs, often a cause of broken external links. It’s a sanity saver.
Clean Talk is an affordable anti-spam plugin with no CAPTCHA and many different integration capabilities, including supports for Gravity Forms, Mail Chimp, WooCommerce and more. It's a solid alternative to Akismet.
Sucuri is the authority in WordPress security. The free version of the plugin is available to all WordPress users and is designed to complement your web hosts security protocol. Remote malware scanning, blacklist monitoring, activity monitoring (similar to Activity Log), file monitoring and email notifications are all features of the free version of the plugin. An upgrade to premium gets you an enterprise grade Website Firewall.
Robust, user-friendly and all-about real-time updates, Wordfence’s free plugin is an excellent choice with a lot of the same features as Sucuri. With more than 3 million active installations, it’s tried and tested and a favorite at Foodie Digital.
For image optimization
ShortPixel is a popular WordPress plugin for food blogs for a reason. It boosts site speed and performance by reducing the size of each image in a post or on a page, while still delivering high-quality images that are almost mirror the original photo. Bonus, it compresses PDF files too. By default, images are automatically compressed on upload which saves time. If you have a large library of uncompressed images, you can also use the bulk processor to optimize them all at once. The recommended settings for ShortPixel are already checked on installation, but you can configure them to meet your needs. Lazy loading of images, however, isn’t available in ShortPixel. In the case of ShortPixel the images are progressive.
Image optimization isn’t just about making files smaller, it’s also about site speed and image quality and Smush Pro is an industry leader. With its well thought through features, including lazy loading, Smush Pro is a great choice—just be sure to configure it correctly.
For search engine optimization and structured data
A must-have WordPress plugin for food bloggers who aren’t quite ready to make the switch to Gutenberg, WordPress’ new block style editor. The Classic Editor plugin disables Gutenberg, which means you can put-off making the change, for now at least.
Without having to get into the code, you can easily manage 301 redirections, keep track of 404 errors and a whole host of other redirect situations. With more than 1 million active installation it’s the WordPress redirect plugin of choice.
Tasty Recipes is a good option for SEO and structured data mark-up for Google and Pinterest, including rich pins. It’s a very visual WordPress recipe card plugin with several nice-looking theme options to choose from, and the recipe input interface in WordPress is easy to use and intuitive. It’s lightweight, with no extra bells and whistles that’ll slow you down unnecessarily.
Like most plugins that follow the freemium model, the free version of WP Recipe Maker is very good while the paid versions—premium bundle, paid pro and elite—each offer more sophisticated features. It’s also good option for SEO and structured data mark-up for Google and Pinterest, including rich pins. Overall, WP Recipe Maker is a robust and flexible WordPress recipe card plugin with an excellent, well thought through feature base.
Gold-standard, must-have, incredibly powerful—that’s the best way to describe Yoast SEO. The feature base goes well beyond the preview snippet that you use in the back-end of a post. Pay special intention to configuration on install and let Yoast work its magic.
A powerful player in performance, Cloudflare is often used in conjunction with WP Rocket and other WordPress performance plugins. Cloudflare does a lot of things, but one of the biggest benefits for food blogs is that it brings content closer to your users by caching static web content on its network—a performance win.
Most food bloggers are aware that when they share affiliate links they’re required to disclose the nature of the affiliate relationship according to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations. The WP Affiliate Disclosure plugin makes easy work of this task, allowing food bloggers to automatically insert disclosure statements inside all blog posts by category or tag. You can tag all sponsored content with ‘sponsored’, for example, and the affiliate disclosure automatically displays without the need to edit each post.
For backing up
With more than 600,000 active installations, the plugin BackWPup is a proven solution for safely and securely backing up your whole site, including uploads. BackWPup pushes records to be stored at offsite services, such as Dropbox, FTP, RackSpace Cloud and more, and the process for restoring is as simple as it gets. BackWPup Pro has an even more robust feature set, including multi-site and premium support.
Updraft performs manual or scheduled incremental backups of all of your WordPress files, databases, plugins and themes. Incremental backups allow you to only backup changes to files (such as adding a new image) that have taken place since your last backup. The benefit of this approach is that the backup process isn’t wildly onerous or heavy. Another bonus is that you can restore back-ups directly in WordPress.