There are over 36,000 WordPress Plugins available and, probably, even more blog posts about them. So why write another post on plugins? It could be that we have a pretty strong opinion about just about everything related to web development… or, it could be that most of our readers don’t have a favorite set of WordPress plugins ready to install. We have outlined what we think are the most important and useful plugins based on what we install on our own client’s sites. We didn’t list everything we have ever installed- just the best ones.
If you only had the motivation to install one plugin, this is it. The most important security vulnerability your site has is the ability to be hacked by brute-force. Installing a plugin that limits the login attempts is the single best defense against scripts designed to guess their way into your account. The downside to this plugin is that it is over 2 years old, and may not work in future updates of WordPress. We haven’t had any issues as of yet, but a newer plugin called Login Lockdown may be a great alternative in the near future.
This powerful plugin is designed to stop spammers by checking and comparing comments on millions of sites. Akismet is considered the standard anti-spam plugin and is well supported.
Whether in addition to Akismet, or as a standalone anti-spam plugin, Stop Spammer is a fantastic preventative of comment spam. It has loads of settings for tolerance and events, so you can customize how strict you want your filter to be. You can even hold comments to be edited or deleted by admin.
A crazy-powerful plugin called iThemes Security will help you beef up your security game. You can scan for malware, protect yourself against bots searching for vulnerabilities, and even hide your login page at a custom URL. It even logs events like login attempts.
Want your site to be on the first page of Google for the most competitive keywords? Hire a professional SEO consultant. Hint: Many SEO ‘gurus’ may offer cheap and fast solution, but their black hat tactics, will end up hurting your site in the long run. But, if you don’t have tens-of-thousands to spend on search ranking, do not despair, there is quite a lot that you can do with some common sense and a great plugin. Here is what you do:
- Install WordPress SEO by Yoast
- Make sure to fill our your page titles
- Check that your permalinks are clean
- Use your target keywords in your page content at least a few times
- Give all of your images alt tags that are descriptive
- Write useful content on a regular basis
Other than that, try to get other sites to link you yours. Remember, if you write great content visitors will want to link to your site.
Traditionally, your web developer would insert some code snippets into you pages and you could login to Google Analytics and see your site traffic, your bounce rate (the number of people leaving your page after only a few seconds), and more. But what if all that information could be installed right in your dashboard? Bam! Google Analyticator.
A simple, but very important plugin that checks to see if any of the links on your page no longer work. You aren’t going to click on all of your links just to test them out every week and you certainly don’t want to hope that a reader reports one to you, so just install this plugin and be done with it.
Here is what the W3 plugin page has to say:
W3 Total Cache improves the user experience of your site by increasing server performance, reducing the download times and providing transparent content delivery network (CDN) integration.
Here is what we have to say:
It makes your site really fast.
Agh! I just deleted my gallery page, and all of my photos and 10 hours of hard work are gone! Good thing I installed BackUpWordPress, so all I have to do is go back a step.
Duplicator allows you to copy your WordPress site, with all of it’s themes and plugins so you can easily install a similar WordPress site somewhere else. While most users may never need this, it is far too useful not to post.
CloudFlare is awesome! It acts as a firewall and a bandwidth manager all in one. This plugin allows you to use CloudFlare on your WP site with just a few clicks.
Everybody wants to promote their website, and that is ok. However, when they are posting in comments on your site and you elect to ‘follow’ those links (give them credibility) your site can actually loose some valuable TrustRank with Google. The best thing to do is to automatically no-follow all links in comments and, if you think it is necessary, in your contributor’s posts. Be sure to follow the links to sites your do trust. Think of a standard link as a referral, which sites do you want to put your name on?
There are a ton of gallery plugins out there because WordPress actually does not have a great default gallery editor. Here is our favorite. Try playing around with a few and you will be amazed at all of the extra functionality you will have.
Finally, we will leave you with WooCommerce. The single best eCommerce plugin around- period. If you need to sell things on WordPress, this is the plugin to utilize.
With so many choices in plugins, be sure to check a few things before downloading and installing it on your site:
- Is it safe?
- Does it have a lot of downloads?
- Who made it?
- is it an official WP Plugin?
- Is it going to work in a year from now?
- Does it have several updates
- Is it currently being supported?
- When was it last updated?
If you would like any advice on plugins or you have one that you want to share, please leave us a comment below! If you are a WebMadeClear client, you don’t need to worry about plugins. We have installed an arsenal of them for security and functionality to make your website great!