Installing & Configuring The Essential WordPress Plugins (Part 2 of 2)

Reading Time: 9 minutes

  • blog
  • blogger
  • blogging
  • WordPress
  • wordpress blog
  • wordpress plugins

In the previous post, we installed and configured the following WordPress plugins:

  • Akismet: Block spam comments
  • AMP: Increase the performance of our content on mobile devices
  • Jetpack: Add security and increase performance
  • Yoast SEO and Glue for Yoast SEO & AMP: Ensure our content is search engine optimized and further increase the performance of our content on mobile devices

Next we will be looking at:

  • MonsterInsights
  • MailMunch
  • Smush
  • Hummingbird

MonsterInsights

By default, WordPress offers insights into the traffic for your blog but sometimes you want to go into more detail.

At the moment the only way to achieve this is to use an external service, namely Google Analytics.

Google Analytics is the most recommended analytics service for anything online.

Before you get started you will need to have a Google account which we created in the previous post.

Next, you will need to go to Google Analytics and sign in.

Once you have signed in, you will need to sign up for Google Analytics.

Google Analytics Sign Up
Google Analytics Sign Up

After signing up you will need to create a Google Analytics account for your blog.

Google Analytics Account Setup
Google Analytics Account Setup
Google Analytics Account Setup
Google Analytics Account Setup

After you have completed the details for your account, you can click on the Get Tracking ID button and accept the Google Terms Of Service.

On the next screen, you will see your tracking script which needs to be added to your blog which is where the MonsterInsights plugin comes into play.

Google Analytics Tracking ID
Google Analytics Tracking ID

MonsterInsights offer both free and paid versions of their plugin, in this post we will be using the free one.

MonsterInsights
MonsterInsights

To get started hover over Plugins and click on Add New.

Use the Search to find the MonsterInsights plugin.

Once you’ve found it, click on Install and Activate.

Installing MonsterInsights plugin
Installing MonsterInsights plugin
Activate MonsterInsights plugin
Activate MonsterInsights plugin

Configuring MonsterInsights is easy, all you need to do is follow the steps in the setup wizard as shown below.

MonsterInsights Setup Wizard Category
MonsterInsights Setup Wizard Category
MonsterInsights Setup Wizard Google Analytics Connect
MonsterInsights Setup Wizard Google Analytics Connect
MonsterInsights Setup Wizard Choose Google Analytics Account
MonsterInsights Setup Wizard Choose Google Analytics Account
MonsterInsights Setup Wizard Authorize
MonsterInsights Setup Wizard Authorize
MonsterInsights Setup Wizard Select Google Analytics Profile
MonsterInsights Setup Wizard Select Google Analytics Profile
MonsterInsights Setup Wizard Recommended Settings
MonsterInsights Setup Wizard Recommended Settings
MonsterInsights Setup Wizard Addons
MonsterInsights Setup Wizard Addons
MonsterInsights Setup Wizard Addons
MonsterInsights Setup Wizard Addons
MonsterInsights Setup Wizard Finish
MonsterInsights Setup Wizard Finish

Now that you have set up MonsterInsights you will be able to see your Google Analytics reports from your WordPress dashboard.

It can take up to 24 hours after setup before you see any data in your reports.

Once there is data from Google Analytics you will be able to see your reports by going to Reports.

MonsterInsights Reporting Sessions
MonsterInsights Reporting Sessions
MonsterInsights Reporting Sessions
MonsterInsights Reporting Sessions

What do these reports show you?

To start with there is Sessions and Page Views.

What is the difference?

Sessions vs. Page View

Sessions are related to visitors, one visitor can have multiple sessions while page views are related to the pages on your blog.

To use another example, one visitor might have five sessions but only view one page.

Avg. Session Duration

This is on average how long a visitor is on your blog, whether they view one page or more.

Bounce Rate

This is how quickly a visitor leaves your blog.

The lower this percentage is, the better because that means visitors are spending some time on your blog.

If your bounce rate is high then it is a sign that users are coming to your blog and leaving almost immediately which is a sign that something is not right.

The other sections of the report are self explanatory such as which devices are used most to view your blog, are the majority of your visitors new or returning and who are your best referrals.

MailMunch

Growing a mailing list is one of the things you need to start doing from day one if you are starting a blog.

Email newsletters are still one of the best methods of communicating and keeping your audience informed.

One of the best services available for creating and managing mailing lists is MailChimp.

MailChimp
MailChimp

Before we start looking at the MailMunch plugin, you will need to create a MailChimp account by going here

Once you have created your account and you are signed in, you can click on the I’ll do it later link for the account setup.

MailChimp Account Setup
MailChimp Account Setup

Next click on the Lists tab in the navigation.

On the Lists screen, click on the Go to list settings link.

MailChimp List Settings
MailChimp List Settings

Now you can set up the details for your list such as giving it a name, the default name to be used and whether you want to be notified when someone subscribes and unsubscribes.

MailChimp List Details
MailChimp List Details

When you are done click on Save List And Campaign Defaults.

Next, we will set up the fields we want to use for our signup form.

Click on Signup forms and then on Form builder.

MailChimp Form Builder
MailChimp Form Builder

You can now add and remove fields for your signup form.

You will only be able to remove fields that are not required.

MailChimp Form Builder Fields
MailChimp Form Builder Fields

As soon as you have finished setting up your list, you can log out of MailChimp.

Now we can move onto the MailMunch plugin.

Hover over Plugins and click on Add New.

Use the Search to find the MailMunch plugin.

Once you’ve found it, click on Install and Activate.

Installing MailMunch plugin
Installing MailMunch plugin
Activate MailMunch plugin
Activate MailMunch plugin

You might be wondering why we are not using the MailChimp plugin. I found the MailMunch plugin better and it offered more options.

After activating it you will be taken to the Forms & Popups settings.

MailMunch Forms & Popups
MailMunch Forms & Popups

Click on Create Your First Form.

You will now be able to customize what your signup form looks like.

Popup forms are very effective in getting visitors to join your list and for that reason that is the type I will be using.

MailMunch Form Types
MailMunch Form Types

After choosing the type of form, you can select the theme for your form.

The free theme is more than enough.

In the next few steps, you will be able to set up the look and feel of your form such as the message, appearance, fields, and behavior.

Once you’ve completed these steps you will get to the Integrate step which is where you can link your MailChimp list to your signup form.

Click on MailChimp.

MailMunch MailChimp Integration
MailMunch MailChimp Integration

You will need to give MailMunch access to your MailChimp data by authenticating it.

Connect MailChimp to MailMunch
Connect MailChimp to MailMunch

After you have authenticated, you will see a few settings that you can change for your signup form that look similar to the MailChimp settings .

One these settings is selecting the list that you created in MailChimp earlier.

MailMunch Selected List
MailMunch Selected List

Also make sure that the fields match the ones you created in the form builder with MailChimp.

MailMunch Form Fields
MailMunch Form Fields

We are now ready to publish and finish the setup for our MailMunch signup form.

With MailMunch you have the option of sending an auto response as soon as someone signs up.

This is useful when you are offering a free download when someone joins your list which we won’t be going through in this post.

Your signup form will now display on your blog.

Smush

Performance is a big factor for any website or blog, the quicker your visitor can see and use your blog the better.

We already discussed this when we were setting up the Jetpack plugin in the previous post.

One of the biggest factors when it comes to the performance of a blog is images; if they are not optimized properly your blog will end up becoming very slow.

Using a CDN can help, but you can take it a step further and optimize the images before they are uploaded to a CDN.

That is where the Smush plugin comes in.

Smush is an awarding winning image compressor.

It compresses and optimizes images without changing the quality of the images.

Which means you will get high quality images in the smallest possible size.

To get started hover over Plugins and click on Add New.

Use the Search to find the Smush plugin.

Once you’ve found it, click on Install and Activate.

Installing Smush plugin
Installing Smush plugin
Activating Smush plugin
Activating Smush plugin

And that’s all you need to do.

Smush will automatically compress and optimize any images you upload tohave improved to your media library.

Hummingbird

By now we have improved the performance of our blog a lot, but we can improve it even more.

So far we have improved the media side of things but what about the other more technical things.

The last plugin we will be installing does exactly that.

Hummingbird goes through your blog and looks at where it can be improved from a technical side such as caching, minifying of assets like CSS and Javascript to mention a few.

The plugin tries to improve your Google PageSpeed Insights score as much as possible.

What is Google PageSpeed Insights?

It is a tool from Google that measures the performance of your website or blog and will give you suggestions on how to improve it.

Google PageSpeed Insights
Google PageSpeed Insights

In order to see the difference go to Google PageSpeed Insights and do an assessment of your blog.

Save the results so that you can compare it after installing Hummingbird.

To get started hover over Plugins and click on Add New.

Use the Search to find the Hummingbird plugin.

Once you’ve found it, click on Install and Activate.

Installing Hummingbird plugin
Installing Hummingbird plugin
Activate Hummingbird plugin
Activate Hummingbird plugin

As soon as you’ve activated the Hummingbird plugin you can run a performance test by hovering on Hummingbird and clicking on Dashboard.

Activate Hummingbird Asset Optimization
Activate Hummingbird Asset Optimization
Hummingbird Performance Test
Hummingbird Performance Test

After the test has run you will see a performance report.

Hummingbird Performance Report
Hummingbird Performance Report

If your score is below 70, you can activate the Asset Optimization setting.

Hummingbird Asset Optimization
Hummingbird Asset Optimization

Hummingbird will go through your blog and find any assets that can or need to be optimized.

It will then let you choose which assets you want to compress.

Compressing these assets can affect the theme of your blog, so it is recommended to compress each file and see if anything has changed before moving onto the next asset.

Hummingbird Asset Compression
Hummingbird Asset Compression

To compress an asset click on the button next to the name on the right.

If this does not improve your score you might need to change your theme as these assets can be related to your theme.

Summary

In this post we installed and configured the following WordPress plugins:

  • MonsterInsights: Integrate Google Analytic reporting into your WordPress dashboard.
  • MailMunch: Create a signup form and integrate it with MailChimp.
  • Smush: Image compression and optimization.
  • Hummingbird: Asset optimization to improve Google PageSpeed Insights score.

Next, we will be going through The Anatomy Of A WordPress Theme & How To Choose One.

If you want to stay up to date with the Become A WordPress Pro series, make sure you subscribe.

Thank you for reading and please let me know if you have any questions in the comment section below.

One Reply to “Installing & Configuring The Essential WordPress Plugins (Part 2 of 2)”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *