In this article, we’ll review and explore all the features present in the famous Jetpack WordPress plugin. Whether you’re new to this industry, or you’ve been around for a while, one of the most popular plugins you’ve probably already heard about is Jetpack. This plugin is one of the very first items you’ll find in the WP official directory and is also one with the highest number of installations ever. The thing with popular plugins such as Jetpack is this: you’ll find plenty of people who can’t live without it, whilst others think it’s the worst thing you can do to your fledgling website.
Jetpack by Automattic since 2011. WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg had first introduced the idea of Jetpack during his talk at the State of the Word WordCamp conference in San Francisco in 2009. His vision was that Jetpack would be ‘a way to provide feature parity between WordPress.com and WordPress.org for everybody’.
The first version of Jetpack included eight popular features: Hovercards, stats, and ‘After the Deadline’ spellchecker, a Twitter widget, shortcodes, short links, social media sharing buttons and mathematics tools LaTeX. Jetpack calls these features modules. Over the past eight years, a lot of updates appear on the plugin, and the number of modules has grown to 43. However, Jetpack is so much more than the modules it offers.
Jetpack WordPress Plugin Review
As Matt envisioned, Jetpack is a bridge between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. Popular Automattic services from WordPress.com, such as WordPress themes, have been integrated into Jetpack, while their backup service, VaultPress, has been completely migrated to Jetpack. Today, the VaultPress website is nothing more than a landing page that promotes Jetpack.
The real-integration with WordPress.com happens behind the scenes. Jetpack’s secret weapon is its ability to use WordPress.com’s fast and secure hosting infrastructure, and, by offloading the heavy work to their efficient servers, Jetpack is able to improve your website performance significantly by reducing the number of intensive tasks your site performs. Whether it’s improvements in website performance and security, seeing how many website visitors you have or adding useful blogging features to your website toolbox, there are many good reasons to install Jetpack.
What’s particularly interesting is that every WordPress website owner uses Jetpack for different reasons. In preparation for this article, I had a long email conversation with WinningWP founder Brin Wilson, whereby we discovered the Jetpack functionality that was essential to him wasn’t as important to me, and vice-versa. Therein lies the beauty of Jetpack: The plugin offers dozens of useful features, but you only need to activate the ones that apply to you. Let’s take a closer look at what Jetpack has to offer.
Security is at the heart of Jetpack, and it offers plenty of features that can make your website safer from attack. In the main navigation menu for Jetpack settings, security is listed first, as it’s the most important category. The other categories are performance, writing, sharing, discussion and traffic. The priorities for every website owner are to keep their website secure and ensure it remains online. Jetpack provides a host of security tools to help to protect your website from attackers and keep it running.
Jetpack’s Secure Authentication feature lets you switch your login system to WordPress.com, forcing users to use secure passwords. There’s also an option to use two-factor authentication that, if selected, will require users to enter a verification code from an SMS that’s sent to their phone. Your login system can be protected further with Brute Force Attack Protection. When you enable this feature, malicious IPs that are trying to access your website using the common username and password combinations will be automatically blocked. Valid IP addresses can be whitelisted, so administrators, editors and other staff aren’t excluded from blacklists.
The total number of attacks that Jetpack protect appears in your main dashboard. The Jetpack premium and professional plans also offer Security Scanning. Your website will be automatically scanned daily for malware, hacks and other suspicious code. With many known threats being removed immediately when they’re detected. Emails are sent to you whenever a threat is detected. In the event that your website does go down due to a website hosting issue, attack or whatever, Jetpack’s Downtime Monitoring feature will notify you via email and/or mobile. The tool will check whether your website is online every five minutes, so you’ll be made aware as soon as there’s an issue.
As noted earlier, Automattic’s VaultPress backup service has been integrated into Jetpack and is no longer available as a standalone service. It’s included in all premium Jetpack plans. Jetpack will perform backups automatically and allows one-click website restores and website migrations. In the Jetpack personal and premium plans, one website backup is made every day, and backups are stored for 30 days. If you upgrade to the Jetpack professional plan, a website backup is made every hour, and all backups are stored for as long as you use Jetpack.
Another useful feature is the Activity Log. This provides an audit log of every activity on your website. This is useful for debugging, user management and general tracking. The great thing about Jetpack’s security and backup features is that everything happens in the background, and you’re only alerted when something goes wrong. This reduces the amount of time you need to spend managing your website.
One of the most important maintenance tasks WordPress website owners have to perform is plugin updates. Keeping your plugins up to date not only ensures you have the latest features, but it also means you have the latest bug fixes and security upgrades. WordPress plugins can be automatically updated by Jetpack. This feature is listed in the security tab, but when you click on the link you’ll be taken to WordPress.com. On the plugin page, you’ll see a list of all installed WordPress plugins on your website. Each plugin can be deactivated from this page, and you can select whether it’s auto-updated.
This feature doesn’t support WordPress plugins that were downloaded outside the WordPress.org plugin repository, so, if you have premium WordPress plugins installed on your website, you’ll still need to update these from your WordPress admin area.
A Filter Anti-Spam
Spam remains one of the biggest headaches for website owners. Even if your website doesn’t have a major spam problem, you still need to take a time every week deleting spam comments. Failure to delete spam can make your website look unprofessional, and may even lead to your website being in backlinks. Some websites have chosen to remove comments from their website altogether because of particularly bad problems with spam.
Automattic has been at the forefront of this fight for years with their popular anti-spam plugin Akismet. All Jetpack premium plans offer Spam Filtering. It’s an extension of Akismet that Automattic describes as the equivalent of an Akismet Plus plan (which costs $5 a month on its own).
The spam filtering feature automatically filters out known spam from comments, pingbacks and contact form submissions. Comments that have a spam tag to review, and you can view recent spam activity on your website.
The default WordPress search engine has a reputation for being, well, really bad. It’s slow, causes timeouts on larger websites, and the search results aren’t relevant. Those of you who upgrade to a Jetpack professional plan can address this problem by taking advantage of Jetpack Search for WordPress.
Powered by Elasticsearch, Jetpack Search will provide fast relevant results and eliminate MySQL timeout errors. The Jetpack Search widget enhances search functionality for website visitors significantly by adding category and tag filtering, and the ability to sort results by relevance or date. You can, however, continue to use the default WordPress search widget if you prefer. Developers can also access the Elasticsearch API to customize the search query, and the search widget can style up and match your WordPress theme.
Speed & Performance
In addition to improving the speed of search results, Jetpack can help you to reduce page loading times on your website. In the performance settings area, you’ll see a feature called Site Accelerator. If you enable this, images will be automatically resized for mobile devices and images and static files will be optimized and served from a fast Content Delivery Network (CDN) that has distributed data centers around the world.
This feature will not only improve the speed of your website, but it can also greatly reduce your hosting bandwidth costs. Lazy Loading can delay the loading of image files in your content. Your pages will load quicker as a result of this, we only need to download the images once the user scrolls down the page. This feature works in conjunction with the Jetpack Content Delivery Network.
Another feature that works with the CDN is Video Hosting. Present in Jetpack premium and professional plans, it can deliver fast-loading videos without any ads. One thing I love about Jetpack’s performance features is there’s no limit to how many images, videos or files are on their CDN.
Site Stats has been an integral feature of Jetpack since it launched. It allows you to see statistics about your website from the WordPress admin area, on WordPress.com and via the WordPress mobile app. You can use these statistics to get a better understanding of your readers and what content they’re viewing on your website.
Stats include top referrers, clicks, search engine terms, top posts and pages, the location of visitors, subscriptions, social media followers, and more. Results can appear in days, weeks, months and even years. I’ve always found Site Stats to complement Google Analytics well, as it shows me a lot of information about my website in a simpler format. It’s convenient to check statistics from your WordPress admin area, but I encourage you to view your stats on WordPress.com too, as it shows many additional metrics.
Jetpack Subscriptions is a fantastic way of connecting with your readers and encouraging them to return to your website. It can automatically email subscribers whenever you publish new posts. Comment updates can also be provided to those who check a box in your comment form.
I previously used services such as MailChimp and GetResponse to deliver post updates to subscribers of my blog. However, I switched to Jetpack Subscriptions in 2017. Many bloggers may feel that Jetpack’s subscription tool is too basic, but, for me, that’s its greatest strength. I recommend trying it out if you’re looking for an effective way of automatically letting readers know when you’ve published new content.
As a content creator, I’m always looking for ways to be more productive. Subscriptions are one of my favorite features of Jetpack. However, the plugin provides many additional tools that bloggers and other content creators will love. Its Content Embeds feature uses shortcodes to simplify the process of embedding video, audio, documents, social media and more. You can also improve how images to readers by placing them in galleries, carousels, and slideshows.
Markdown can speed up the process of formatting content. For example, you can make text bold by placing two asterisks before and after the text you want to highlight. The mathematical markup tool LaTeX is available too. Post by Email is a tool that more WordPress users should be aware of. It can publish new articles by simply sending an email to an email address that Jetpack generates. This would be restrictive, but you can define the post title, content, tags, and categories. You can also format text and attach images and image galleries.
Your website can receive verification from major search engines with Jetpack’s Site Verification Tools. Google, Bing, Pinterest, and Yandex. This will save you from having to verify website ownership using an alternative verification method, such as uploading a file to your website. Those of you who upgrade to the Jetpack premium or professional plan will also add functionality for Google Analytics, SEO preview tools, PayPal integration and eligibility for the WordPress.com ad network. I’m unsure as to why Google Analytics integration is for premium plans, given how simple it is to add the tracking code to your website. Hopefully, this will be available in all versions of Jetpack in the future.
The Search Engine Optimisation module will help you to add meta information to pages, and change what’s on titles, descriptions and more. Jetpack’s Ad Program for WordPress Websites to increase income to your website. Ads are ready for the geographic locations and locale of website visitors, and you can check your statistics and earnings on WordPress.com. As the name suggestions, Simple Payment Buttons help you to insert PayPal buttons into your website. For each button, you can define a product image, product title, product description, product price and the corresponding PayPal email address you want to use.
Posts & Reading Jetpack Tools Review
Jetpack also offers Related Posts. With one click you can display related blog posts you’ve published with their corresponding image thumbnails, which is a great way of keeping visitors on your website for longer. One of the biggest problems with WordPress related posts plugins is that they can be CPU intensive and slow down your pages. This isn’t an issue with Jetpack, as related posts are on WordPress.com’s fast servers. Jetpack’s Comment Form replaces the default WordPress comment form, and is a major improvement, as it allows users to log in using a WordPress.com account, Google, Twitter or Facebook.
Subscriptions are into the comment form, which is an effective way of encouraging people to subscribe to your website, as they’re already in. Commenters can get updates about new comments via email too. Jetpack has great support for social media.
Options include a like system, social media icon widget, Twitter and Facebook widgets, and social media sharing buttons for your posts and pages. The feature I use the most is Publicize. Whenever you publish a new blog post, it sends a notification message to social media networks. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Tumblr.
Unfortunately, Jetpack’s Proofreading feature, which was by After the Deadline, was quietly out in 2019. I do understand the reasoning behind this as there are many proofreading browser extensions on the market, but I always found it to be useful. All in all, I believe bloggers and writers will appreciate the additional functionality Jetpack provides for content creators.
Jetpack boasts so many features that it’s impossible to cover them all in one article, but, in this section, I’d like to briefly talk about other cool things Jetpack can do. Portfolios & Testimonial Post Types can be activated from the writing settings page of Jetpack. Testimonials are a great way of displaying quotes from customers and important people within your industry. Portfolios can be into different project types (categories) and have tags to them. Since a custom post type, you have more flexibility with how media than with a regular gallery.
The Jetpack Contact Form is quite basic, but I’m a big fan, as it’s a great way of building simple contact forms quickly. It allows multiple notifications to people when submitting the email. Four fields are available in the form: Name, email, website, and message, and you can define which fields to enter default values for them.
In the traffic settings section, you’ll see options to enable short links, sitemaps and site verification. WP.me Shortlinks can create your posts and pages. This can be useful when sharing links on social media sites such as Twitter. Jetpack offers two types of website XML sitemaps. The first sitemap is for search engines, such as Google, Yahoo!, Bing and Ask.com. The second sitemap will help you to get your latest news articles on Google News.
WordPress Widget From Jetpack
More than 20 WordPress widgets are available through Jetpack. You need to activate widgets in the writing settings page. There’s a good variety of widgets on offer, including for Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Google Translate, author profiles, upcoming events, top blog posts and more. Options have limits in most of these widgets, but, by enabling Jetpack widgets, you can save yourself from having to install additional WordPress plugins.
Jetpack also lets you define who sees your widgets. If you enable widget visibility controls you can say whether a particular widget appears for specific page types, categories, tags, dates, and authors. All of this is by a series of ‘if’ statements that you create. You can also set it so that all conditions. This changes all ‘if’ statements to ‘and’ statements. Be sure to check out the Jetpack widget support page for a full list of available widgets.
Enabling & Disabling Modules
At the bottom of every page in Jetpack is a navigation menu. The modules link in this menu will take you to a page where you can see all Jetpack modules, and activate and deactivate them. The modules page displays all Jetpack modules in a list. It’s a practical way of seeing which modules are active and which are not. In addition, we can order modules can in alphabetical order, or by newest or popular. You can filter modules by category too.
If you’re unsure as to why specific functionality isn’t available, check the Jetpack module list. It helps you to quickly see which modules are active and lets you switch multiple modules on and off.
Personalizing Jetpack WordPress Plugin Modules
One of Jetpack’s greatest strengths is its simplicity. We can activate most features in Jetpack can with a single click. Jetpack then takes care of everything for you. It’s one of the reasons I love Jetpack, but, in some areas, the lack of customization options can be a little frustrating. The Related Posts module is a great example of this. It’s one of the fastest related posts solutions available to WordPress users, but, from the Jetpack settings area, you can only select whether you want the title ‘Related’ to be above posts and whether a thumbnail is on it.
A bigger concern is the related posts that are not visible by any date range. Which makes the module unusable on blogs that have posted more than a few years old. On my personal blog, Jetpack would show articles I published five, eight or even 12 years ago. All of these blog posts are old new. Because of this, I disabled the module on my blog.
When I disabled related posts on my website. We weren’t aware Jetpack does indeed give you a way to modify its modules. All you have to do is add some code snippets to your website. Jetpack has a page that shows you how you can customize related posts and around a dozen examples. You can copy and paste the relevant code into your website, and make any adjustments you think are necessary.
Snippets & Custom
We can add ode snippets can in your theme’s functions.php file. However, a simpler solution is to use a WordPress code snippet plugin. I prefer this method as it means the code isn’t to a particular WordPress theme. The plugin I recommend is called Code Snippets. For each snippet, you can add your code, name it, add a description, add tags, set its priority. Define whether the snippet is at the back end or front end of your website. Since the code was for the related posts module. We chose to only run the code at the front end of my website.
Using the examples by Jetpack, I was able to restrict posts to those that were in the past year. I also the number of related posts displayed from three to six. I encourage you to browse the Jetpack Support area for code snippets. So you can add to your favorite Jetpack modules. You’ll find code snippets that will help you to modify subscriptions, contact forms, searches and more.
By applying a few code snippets to your website. You’ll have a better appreciation of how Jetpack can suit your needs. I think the code snippet modification method makes sense in most situations. By reducing the number of options in the Jetpack settings area. The developers ensure the plugin is user-friendly. Admittedly, there are a few Jetpack modules I’d love to see expanding. However, Jetpack offers code snippets for most of the modifications I need.
Pricing For Jetpack
The vast majority of features in Jetpack are available free of charge. The only requirement is that you sign up for a WordPress.com account to use the plugin. There are, however, many valid reasons to upgrade to one of the three available premium Jetpack plans. The most affordable plan is a personal plan. For just $3.50 a month, or $39 a year, you can unlock daily backups of your website. This will allow you to perform a one-click website restore. From any backup in the previous 30 days.
Moreover, the Akismet-powered spam filtering module is also present in this plan. In addition, 30 days of activity tracking and priority support. When you consider that the Jetpack backup system was previously sold on VaultPress.com for $5 a month, and the spam filtering functionality costs $5 a month if you purchase it directly from Akismet.com, the Jetpack personal plan offers great value for money at only $3.50 a month.
Jetpack Premium Plans
The Jetpack premium plan costs $9 a month or $99 a year. Upgrading to this plan improves your website security by adding malware scanning and automatic security fixes. This plan also includes video hosting, Google Analytics integration, SEO tools, WordPress.com ad network support and PayPal buttons. Jetpack professional is the most expensive plan, retailing at $29 a month or $299 a year. This plan increases backups from daily to hourly, and it saves all backups long as your membership is active.
The activity log will also track events for up to a year. As you can see, Automattic is being aggressive with its pricing. The core functionality of Jetpack remains free. However, by offering their premium plans from just $3.50 a month, they make it very enticing to upgrade.