One of the things I loved to read every once in a while was the technology being used behind my favorite blogs.
Most of them are built on WordPress, as it’s the favorite platform for bloggers and the easiest way to get started with a blog when you don’t have a clue about coding.
Because of that, it’s easy to compare the setups and try to imitate other blogs based on things you found useful for your website.
For example, the simple and most common thing to copy is the design, which is normally tied to a WordPress theme (customized or not).
Another easy thing you can copy from a blog you enjoy are the plugins to do X or Y function that you need in a blog.
Since I receive monthly emails asking me about the theme I’m using or particular features, I’ve decided to write this post and I’ll try to keep it updated every year for my readers.
Feel free to copy my setup as I’ll take it as a form of flattery 🙂
My favorite theme (but not for long?)
Since the inception of Stream SEO, I’ve been using several themes from StudioPress and the Genesis Framework.
I can’t believe how long I’ve been using and switching themes from them, but it happened to the point where it was just easier to buy their whole pro package than keep buying new themes every time I wanted to switch.
I probably switched themes 3-5 times in the first year of blogging until I realized the design and theme didn’t matter much unless I had traffic and write posts…
After that, I just switched and updated the design of Stream SEO every couple of years, and the theme I’m using at the moment is called Smart Passive Income from StudioPress. You guessed it right, this theme was inspired on the SmartPassiveIncome website from Pat Flynn.
Pat is one of the first bloggers I started following back in 2012 when I created Stream SEO, and up to this date, I still read some of his posts from time to time.
As I said, I’ve been trying to keep things up and update the theme every 2 years, which means this theme is up for a redesign as I installed it at the beginning of 2017.
Contrary to wine, themes don’t age well as new design trends come and go. Plus this theme hasn’t been updated for a while at StudioPress as it’s not Gutenberg ready.
I already have a few themes in mind to replace the SmartPassiveIncome theme, however, I’m not sure if I’ll choose another StudioPress theme or hire a designer to create a custom design using WP Astra + Elementor, as it’s the new trend in the last couple of years.
Using a new Genesis theme allows me to change everything in a day and I’m already familiarized with every option and customization setting available, however, I’d like to move into something newer, more customizable and future proof.
I have already experimented with Astra + Elementor with a couple of other websites of mine but I feel like I’d need a designer to help me create a template the way I want it.
We’ll see how that goes and I’ll probably make the change in Q4 2019.
My favorite Plugins for Stream SEO
Now let me introduce you to the plugins I use here at Stream SEO. I have 13 plugins installed on this website, but I will only mention 9 because the rest are Genesis Framework related and they only apply for people using StudioPress themes.
Besides, those missing plugins are only related to the basic functions of the theme, so I won’t need them if I move away to a theme builder as I said before.
Here are my favorite WordPress plugins and how they work at Stream SEO:
All-in-One WP Migration
This plugin is meant to be used for migration purposes and I migrate a ton of sites from server to server depending on their stage of life so it comes handy at least every month or so.
However, I also use this plugin to backup a whole copy of my website (WP files + Database) every month. In case anything goes wrong I can easily pull a website backup and restore everything as if nothing happened.
I need to add here that I love using unmanaged servers and my favorite VPS provider is Vultr (get $50 when signing up here), which means I don’t have access to support staff to help me when I have problems or weekly backups like many companies offer with their managed servers.
I pay less for that but the advantage of using an unmanaged server is speed as you don’t have to deal with cPanel or WHM. I’ll talk more about speed down, so keep reading.
Broken Link Checker
I’ve been using this plugin for ages and it hasn’t been updated recently but it does the job.
This plugin tells you when it detects a broken link on your website so you can check it and replace it or simply delete the link.
Broken links aren’t good for SEO and you’re wasting link juice by pointing to non-existing websites. Also, it tells you when people leave comments with a link and they become broken after a while. This happens a lot from spammers or people who simply start their website but they let their domain name expire after a year when their project doesn’t work as they expected.
This plugin connects with your Convertkit account to provide added features for bloggers.
I explain a bit more about my favorite Convertkit features in my review, but in short words, the plugin allows you to easily add forms into your website’s content and also tag and filter your readers when they come from an email broadcast.
This plugin is exclusive for Convertkit users. If you are a blogger you might consider switching ESPs.
One of the heaviest elements on any website is images. And huge images make your website load slowly and many times they don’t need to be that big unless you’ve got a photography website or something like that. Here comes Imagify to the rescue.
Imagify allows you to resize and compress images in a lossless format to decrease your load times and Make your website faster for your visitors.
- For example, if you upload an 8 megapixels image form your mobile phone it could be as heavy as 4MB, just to mention a number.
- Resizing it properly to your website needs could take it down to 800KB.
- After that comes the compression, which could take it down further to 300KB, so at the end of the process your image is 12 times lighter and 12 times faster to load.
I resize most of the images at Stream SEO before uploading them, but even then, Imagify has helped me reduce my images database by 59% with its compression methods.
Imagify has a free plan enough for most bloggers Who write 5-10 posts per month but if you need to compress a ton of images or you have a lot of content from before that needs to be compressed you can make a one-time payment according to your needs.
Google Analytics by MonsterInsights
There are many ways to implement your Google Analytics Code to a WordPress site.
You can do it manually, using a plugin, inserting a code snippet in your theme, but I like using this plugin to add my analytics code to Stream SEO.
MonsterInsights can connect via API to your analytics account and pull out the stats to show them in your WP dashboard. I like this because GA is a bit convoluted and I don’t like their interface that much, but if you’re comfortable with your GA implementation this plugin might not be very useful after all.
This is a plugin developed by AdEspresso, one of the tools I used a few years ago to manage my Facebook Ads.
While I don’t use their tool for ads anymore (Facebook has many functions added in the business manager already), this plugin allows me to implement the Facebook pixel on my website and create custom audiences or actions (lead, searches, purchases, etc) without me having to add the code manually to each page of my website.
I then use my pixel to create ads and target my audiences or simply create lookalike audiences on Facebook. The plugin is 100% free.
There are many WordPress cache plugins available, but none of them are like WP Rocket.
I have tested WP Super cache and their famous W3 total cache before but both of them were convoluted, confusing and also less efficient than WP Rocket.
WP Rocket enables cache with a couple of clicks and it gives you better performance than any other plugin.
They also have a ton of advanced settings and a GUI that is easy to navigate, which makes it the favorite cache plugin for a lot of bloggers in the last 3 years.
Stream SEO loads under 1 second and sometimes even under half a second (it depends on where you measure your site speed from) thanks to WP Rocket.
Take a look:
This is faster than most websites worldwide, and it also allows me to connect my website to Cloudflare’s CDN to increase my speed around the world. This is useful for people visiting Stream SEO from UK, Australia, India, etc. Not everyone navigates your site from the USA!
WP Rocket is a paid plugin but it’s well worth it.
Quick link for WordPress
This is more of an experimental plugin but it works quite well. It’s developed by the WordPress team and Google, and it helps you preload your website’s content to make it faster to load for your visitors.
What the plugin does is to analyze what people are watching on your screen and preload the links that are visible so in case they click on a link they don’t have to wait anymore to load it, as it was preloaded by default.
The idea sounds good, and it’s similar to a code we use for affiliate marketing to increase our conversion rates on our landing pages, but it’s a bit difficult to explain.
Check out this video to see a real-life example:
The plugin also tries to detect the device and connection type of the visitor to avoid extra charges of bandwidth when it’s not necessary (Mobile carrier connection, slow devices, etc).
This is the favorite SEO plugin for most people, although recently there are some very good alternatives like RankMath.
I still use Yoast just because I’ve been using it for years and I know the ins and outs of it. On-Page SEO is important and this does the job, but keep in mind off-page SEO is even more important and they both need each other to work.
I will try another SEO plugin for one of my new websites though, so stay tuned in case I change my mind about this plugin.
That’s all I use at Stream SEO.
This helps me get the job done and at the end of the day, what’s important is to write content and build authority to get ranked.
Plugins and themes are a basic and important part of the foundation of a website, but they won’t work without doing the actual job.
Feel free to copy anything I have over your blog and test it yourself.
Also, I’d love to hear some recommendations about themes and plugins, so if you’re using something you love and I don’t have it listed here, please leave a comment!
I’ll gladly answer back. Thanks for your recommendations!