What happens when the people behind WordPress.com, get together to make a WordPress plugin? You get Jetpack.
With over 5 million active installations, Jetpack is designed to be an all-rounder plugin for people using WordPress, regardless of their expertise. Think of it as an all-in-one plugin, with features ranging from performance enhancements, security protocols, theme customization and many more.
People who are new to WordPress can use Jetpack’s site stats, contact form and other useful modules – without having to install a separate plugin for each feature. On the flip side, power users can take advantage of features such as related posts, lazy loading, and CDN – all for free! Though upgrading to Jetpack premium adds even more useful features for Google analytics, advertising, priority support and more.
This article was originally published in 2013, entitled 10 Reasons Why You Should Be Using Jetpack for WordPress. Five years later, we’re updating this guide with 15 of the best features offered by Jetpack – and why you should be using them in your WordPress site.
Before getting started, it would be helpful to know some of the synonyms used for Jetpack’s “features”. They range from “modules”, to “settings”, to just “features”. We’ll restrict our synonyms to “modules” and “features” throughout the remainder of this article.
Let’s get on with it!
1. Free Content Delivery Network (CDN) for WordPress using Photon
The very first feature that comes to mind is the free content delivery network provided by Jetpack. Unlike other CDN providers, Jetpack’s Photon CDN does not require any signup, gives you unlimited CDN bandwidth, and is completely free – for life!
Who should use Photon?
In short, everybody. Whether you are a power user, or a novice user, or someone who is just starting out; using a CDN dramatically speeds up your site’s loading time. This gives you a three-fold advantage:
- Google rewards faster sites with better SEO scores. You rank faster for your target keywords.
- You save your server’s bandwidth resources; since the images are served from the Photon content delivery network.
- A faster website results in a pleasant visitor experience. This, in turn, increases the chances of a conversion – whether it is an email signup, ebook download, or something as simple as a social share!
How do I enable Jetpack Photon?
All you need to do is enable the Photon module from the Speed up your site settings, found under WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Writing tab.
2. Lazy Loading of Images in WordPress
Lazy Loading is a feature that has found a mention in under every credible WordPress performance optimization post. You see, the idea behind lazy loading is simple. Load the image only when the visitor sees it.
This has a two-fold benefit.
- One, the site loads faster since the page size of the site is lowered. This, in turn, gives us better SEO, and lower bandwidth consumption from the server site.
- The second advantage directly benefits the end user by saving his or her bandwidth.
How can lazy loading save mobile bandwidth?
Let’s say Samantha is browsing an article on the “best fashion WordPress themes” on her phone. When Samantha opens the website, the page starts loading all 25 images at once.
However, with lazy loading enabled, only the images visible in the viewport is loaded. The other images are loaded only when Samantha scrolls down to view them. Thus Samantha ends up saving her precious mobile bandwidth while enjoying a super-snappy website.
Who should use lazy load?
How do I enable Jetpack lazy load?
This module is located just below the Photon module. Simply toggle to enable it!
3. Subscribe to New Posts via Email in WordPress
This is a personal favourite. Jetpack has a series of beautiful features when it comes to visitor engagement. We’ll cover them one by one starting with this one.
Jetpack’s email subscription feature enables visitors to subscribe to your blog posts via email. It’s displayed as a Follow Blog button. People who click on it are asked to share their email address in order to subscribe or “follow” your blog’s posts.
Additionally, you can use the Follow Comments feature to give your readers the option to subscribe to your blog’s comments via email.
Whenever a new post is published, or a new comment is posted, your followers get an email with a link to your post/comment.
What are the benefits of Jetpack subscriptions?
Well, for starters, you don’t need to use an email service provider (ESP) like MailChimp. Even when your email list grows, you don’t have to pay for emails. Remember that ESPs with a forever free plan usually put a limitation on the number of subscribers, or the number of emails sent per month – as they should! (They gotta eat, don’t they?)
However, on the flip side, you won’t be able to send individual emails (i.e. without publishing a post) to your subscribers, using this Jetpack module. That’s when you’d have to signup for an ESP.
Who should use subscriptions?
Depends, really. People who simply want to focus on their writing and not on growing their email list can opt for this module. However, if you are serious about your email list from day one (it’s great if you are!), then you start using a free ESP like MailChimp.
How do I enable Jetpack blog subscriptions?
Head over to the Subscriptions module under the WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Discussion tab.
4. WordPress Site Uptime & Downtime Monitoring
The downtime monitoring feature from Jetpack periodically monitors your site and notifies you via email whenever there is a downtime.
Not just that, it keeps on monitoring and sends you emails reminding you that your site is still down. Finally, once your site is back online – Jetpack sends yet another a confirmation email – informing you that your site is online again!
I absolutely love this feature – especially since it helped me win an argument and get a full refund from my shared hosting provider. All I had to do was share the screenshot of my inbox, and bam, they had to process my refund!
Who should use monitoring?
Everyone! Unless, of course, you are using a premium website uptime monitoring tool and don’t want to install an additional plugin.
How do I enable Jetpack downtime monitoring?
Simply toggle the Downtime monitoring option under WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Security tab.
5. Related Posts for WordPress
The Related Posts feature automatically suggests related content after every post in your WordPress site. It’s a great way to keep your visitors engaged, improve time-on-site and decrease bounce rate (to an extent).
But wait, there’s a problem:
However, calculating these related posts is a resource-intensive task. The problem multiplies when there are multiple categories and tags, and multiple posts under each of them. Calculating related posts becomes increasingly CPU intensive. Couple all of this into a shared hosting environment and you’ve got yourself a “resource violation” email, or worse – getting your account suspended.
So what’s the fix? Jetpack of course!
Jetpack offloads all of this complex, CPU-intensive computation to the cloud, and returns the finished results – i.e. the related posts – to our WordPress site. All of this for free!. You can further customize the appearance of the related posts (with or without image, excerpt, etc.) using the WordPress Customizer.
Who should use related posts?
Blogs with neatly organized taxonomy, along with sufficient posts and pages under each tag and category. You should not use Related Posts when you only have a handful of posts in your site. In such a case, I would recommend manually linking to your content.
How do I enable Jetpack related posts?
Simple! Just toggle the Related Posts option under WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Traffic tab.
6. Infinite Scroll in WordPress
Infinite Scroll is a feature that automatically loads new posts without refreshing the page, as the visitor scrolls down to the bottom of the current post. Similar to Related Posts, this feature is designed to increase visitor engagement and time on site.
Furthermore, Jetpack gives you the ability to configure how the next posts are loaded. For instance, you can configure them to load automatically – according to the theme/user behaviour. You can also present the visitors with a “read/load more” button, which upon clicking loads the next set of posts.
Who should use infinite scroll?
Anyone with a couple of posts published in their WordPress site can use this feature. This is highly recommended for news and media blogs.
How do I enable Jetpack infinite scroll?
You can enable this setting form the Theme enhancements setting found under WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Writing tab.
7. Build a Contact Form in WordPress
This Jetpack module enables you to build contact forms with custom fields directly from the default WordPress editor. With a single click, you’re able to insert and customize contact forms directly from the WordPress editor.
Who should use a contact form?
Most website should have an easy to use contact form, especially if you deal with clients. So anyone not already using a contact form plugin on their WordPress site.
How can I enable Jetpack contact forms?
Good news – this module is enabled by default in Jetpack.
8. Publish Posts via Email in WordPress
Imagine you’re in a remote location and you have to publish an article in your WordPress site. Media-rich sites like the WordPress editor won’t load due to the slow Internet connectivity. There aren’t any WiFi cafes nearby. The only thing that does seem to work is email. You barely have enough Internet speed to send out an email.
This is where Jetpack’s posts via email feature comes in handy. It gives you a dedicated email address for you to publish in your WordPress blog. Once activated, you can email your post to this address, and it would be published in your blog.
How would it work? Simple. The subject line of your email would be the post title, and the email body would be the blog post content. You can also send additional information such as categories, tags and more using these predefined shortcodes.
Who should use Jetpack post via email?
Anyone who needs quick coverage without investing too much time in formatting or working our of areas with limited Internet connectivity.
- Travel bloggers looking to share their experiences from remote locations with limited Internet connectivity.
- Reports looking to share quick coverage without going opening the WordPress app every time.
Sometimes, it’s just easier to publish a post via email.
9. Automated Social Sharing in WordPress using Publicize Module
The Publicize module from Jetpack enables you to automatically post your freshly published content to your social media sites. It saves you the hassle of having to manually post in each social media network.
Who should use Publicize?
Well, anyone who promotes their content on social media is welcome to try this module. However, it is important to select the right social media network depending on your site’s niche, and then create content specific to each network.
How can I enable Jetpack social sharing?
You would need to establish a one-time connection with your social media networks from the Publicize settings located under WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Sharing tab.
10. Secure Authentication and WordPress.com Login
Jetpack’s secure authentication module enables you (or your users) to login to your WordPress site using WordPress.com account.
You can also configure the module to only allow users to log in if their WordPress.com account email address match with the email ID used to create the user account in your WordPress.site. Additionally, you can require your site’s users to log in using two-factor authentication with WordPress.com.
Who should use login authentication?
If you are the sole person running your WordPress blog, then you can skip activating this module. However, if you have multiple contributors to your WordPress site, this could be a useful feature to have!
11. Media Embeds in WordPress
This is one of those features that are enabled by default in Jetpack. It essentially helps you paste media-rich content such as YouTube videos and SoundCloud audio files – in their native form – without writing a single line of code/shortcode.
All you have to do is copy-paste the link in your post in the WordPress editor, and Jetpack will take care of the rest.
Jetpack has evolved to support multiple websites with media-rich content including Instagram, Slideshare, Twitter, Google Docs, TED, DailyMotion, CodePen, Medium, Pinterest and more. For a detailed, up-to-date list, check out their official documentation on content embeds.
Who should use media-rich content?
12. Site Verification and Sitemaps in WordPress
I’ll be straight up with you – Jetpack isn’t the best SEO plugin out there. For starters, the SEO module itself is a paid feature in Jetpack. WordPress SEO by Yoast is a far better, free plugin with a plethora of features and tutorials, trusted by over five million WordPress websites.
That being said, for users who aren’t ready to spend time with a dedicated SEO plugin can use Jetpack’s site verification modules to verify their site with multiple search engines including Google, Bing, Pinterest, and Yandex.
Additionally Jetpack also creates a sitemap which makes it easier for search engines to crawl your site.
Who should use Jetpack sitemaps?
People who aren’t looking to invest time in a dedicated WordPress SEO plugin should use Jetpack’s sitemap. However, we highly recommend using a separate plugin. With just a few hours each week you can get the basics of Yoast SEO nailed down. This way, you’ll have implemented on-page SEO correctly right from day one. That’s a big boost for your long-term search rankings!
13. Widgets, Widgets and More WordPress Widgets
Widgets are one of the most popular features offered by the Jetpack plugin. It provides a plethora of uniquely useful widgets that can be used in multiple ways. They range from social media feeds, GDPR cookie notifications and more. Head over to your WordPress dashboard > Appearance > Widgets to access these additional widgets.
Another exciting widget feature offered by Jetpack is conditional widgets. It essentially enables you to configure the visibility of the widgets based on the page, post, tag or category.
You can define a condition, and only if the condition holds true, the widget is displayed.
For instance, you can configure a newsletter subscription widget to be visible only in posts under the Finance category. This way you can build super-targeted mailing lists.
Who should use Jetpack widgets?
This mostly depends on the user. If your WordPress theme comes with custom widgets – such as social shares or newsletter subscriptions – you should use those instead of Jetpack, since they have been styled and coded to work well with your theme.
However, you can always use Jetpack’s conditional widgets to create engaging content in your website site.
14. Multiple Sites from a Single Dashboard at WordPress.com
Remember how we spoke of using WordPress.com to reap the full benefits of Jetpack? Well, you’re going to love this feature.
Once you connect your sites with Jetpack, you can manage all of them from your WordPress.com dashboard. This includes things like viewing site stats, publishing posts, responding to comments, updating plugins and much more.
Who should use this?
People managing a handful of WordPress sites could derive value out of this feature. For instance, you can manage your blog(s) and personal site under one roof – in WordPress.com.
However, I would not recommend using this feature if you are managing multiple WordPress sites for clients. Tools like ManageWP and InfiniteWP are built to manage multiple WordPress sites at scale, with a lot more of built-in features and premium support.
15. (Premium) WordPress Backup and Restore by Jetpack
WordPress backup and restoration is a serious matter. Over the years we’ve seen a lot of backup plugins and services that specialize in hourly backups, incremental backups, and more.
Backup and Restore from Jetpack is a premium module starting at $39/year. It takes automatic backups and supports one-click restoration. What’s interesting is how the backup is made.
Jetpack essentially takes a backup whenever an event occurs. An event can include page and post creation/modification, comment submission/modification, plugin and theme installations, modifications, or updates, and additions of or changes to user accounts.
Jetpack also maintains an Activity Log of all the events, listed in chronological order. Every entry in this Activity Log serves as a restore point. Just click on an event and choose between downloading the backup, or restoring your site to that point.
Who should use JetPack backups powered by VaultPress?
Backup is an essential component of maintaining a WordPress site. I would recommend opting for a paid backup plugin if you prefer security and peace of mind, over saving a few bucks every month. (Fun fact – the cost of a backup plugin is usually the cost of a cup of coffee). However, with a little bit of tinkering, you should be able to get the same features for free.
How do I get this?
This is a paid feature starting at $39 per year. You need to purchase a Jetpack plan, configure the plugin with your hosting server credentials, and relax. Jetpack will automatically start taking backups.
Is there a better backup alternative?
If you are willing to spend a little bit extra on your WordPress hosting, consider a managed hosting provider like WPEngine. Not only do you get blazing fast speeds, better reliability, and rapid customer support – you also get a dedicated staging environment and one-click backup and restore. Plans start at $35/month for up to 25,000 visits per month and come with 2 months free if you opt for the annual plan. Not to mention a 60-day risk-free trial!
While most of Jetpack’s features are offered free of charge, there are certain premium modules such as backup and restore, elasticsearch, advanced malware protection that are only available under the paid plan.
Prices start at $39/year for the Personal plan, and come with backup & restore (with a 30-day backup archive) along with priority support.
Get Jetpack Premium
Is getting a paid Jetpack plan worth it?
If you are an occasional blogger with a growing blog, opting for Jetpack’s personal plan could be worth the money. You won’t have to worry about backups and restore, and if things go wrong, you can always contact the priority customer success team.
However, if you are blogging full-time, Jetpack’s Professional plan is recommended. You get advanced malware protection and the ability to accept payments via PayPal with this plan.
A Note on Jetpack and WordPress.com
It is important to note that that Jetpack is a plugin that works in conjunction with WordPress.com even though you can install and use it with WordPress.org sites. This means that you’ll have to create a WordPress.com account in order to reap the full advantages of Jetpack (but don’t worry – you don’t have to host your website on WordPress.com). The advanced customization options for a couple of Jetpack modules can be configured only using WordPress.com.
For the folks just getting started with WordPress, it’s worthwhile to know the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. For starters, WordPress.com is the commercial alternative to WordPress.org – the open-source CMS platform. We’ve covered other important differences between the two solutions, in the aforementioned article.
I originally wrote this article in 2013 and I’m glad to see the new features and improvements in the Jetpack plugin. While they have introduced a paid plan, I absolutely love the fact that they’ve kept the best features like Photon and Downtime Monitoring free. Also, they haven’t deprecated any of the previous modules such as Beautiful Math, Spelling and Grammar, and WP.me Shortlinks.