I can say that WordPress is amazing as it is. To start blogging or to create your website quickly you don’t need to do anything else, just install it to your hosting server. But probably you want to tune up your WordPress site so you install a nice theme and some plugins to have extra features.
Weather type of website you are going to create, there is a plugin for it. You don’t have any limitations on the number of plugins you can use on your WordPress site, but you should only use the plugins you really need. Installing too many plugins might slow down your website.
Ok, but what plugins you should and should not install? Besides the plugins that you need for custom functionality, there are few plugins that you should be using on any WordPress site, despite its purpose. So here is the list of the essential plugins that I recommend for all WordPress websites.
If you are using a web hosting provider that offers automatic backups for your websites, you might not even need to use this plugin. From personal experience I know that not many hosting companies offer free backups to their clients, especially budget hosts.
So to be safe even on a budget host, I recommend creating backups of your website time-to-time using the BackupGuard plugin.
The free version of this plugin allows you to manually backup your WordPress site. There is no limit on how many backups you can create. You can choose to backup only your database or just the files. The backups will be kept on your server, so you might want to download it and store it on your PC or in the cloud. You can restore the backups anytime and you can also remove older backups to save up some space.
The premium version of the plugin includes lots of other features such as more backup customization, backup schedule, save to DropBox and others.
Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin
WordPress is SEO ready out of the box, but there is always something to improve. Here comes in play the ultimate WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast. With this plugin you can easily optimize your website and each individual page for Google and other search engines.
Yoast SEO plugin will give you real time analysis of your pages, so you can improve your content right away. With the help of the plugin you will be able to add custom titles and meta description, optimize for different keywords. With Yoast you can remove the “/category/” from your website’s permalinks.
Yoast comes with lots of other features and functionalities. The premium version of the plugin allows optimizing a page for multiple keywords and includes a redirect manager.
Contact Form 7 & Really Simple Captcha
Every website should have a contact page, even a blog. You might only want a simple contact form on your contact page where readers and website visitors can reach you out by providing their name, email address, subject of the email and certainly their message. In some cases you might want more information about your customers and users.
Well, with Contact Form 7 you can create and manage multiple contact forms. From simple to complex multi-filed contact forms you can have them all with this plugin. Contact Form 7 is a simple to use and very flexible plugin, which enables you to create unlimited fields of any type such as: text, email, url, phone number, calendar, text area, drop-down menu, check box, radio button, file upload, reCAPTCHA and well submit button. It can be fully customized, from error to success messages through to choosing email destination.
As an additional plugin to Contact Form 7, you can install the Really Simple Captcha which adds a layer of protection by stopping spam bots from sending you emails. You should only use this plugin if you are not using reCAPTCHA, which is fairly complicated to setup.
The best thing about Contact Form 7 is that with the use of auto-generated shortcode you can add the form on any page and anywhere you want: you can insert it in widgets, posts, pages. This plugin is absolutely a must!
If you use WordPress for blogging and you allow people to comment on your posts. As your website grows and get more traffic there will be more and more comments. The majority of the incoming comments will be just spam, submitted by bots and spammers. Managing tons of comment is not easy, but handling spam is just worst.
To avoid and spam comments on your website you should be using a plugin that will filter out these type of comments. At the same time, you don’t want to bother your readers to fill in complicated captchas to be able to comment. You want a simple and effective plugin that can handle and block spam. Anti-Spam is a very simple plugin that stops automated comments with no need of resolving captcha images.
Simple Share Buttons Adder
Social media plays an important role in our life and can be very beneficial for website owners. From social media you can get lot of traffic. If your website has great content, your readers will share it with their friends. To encourage them you can add social buttons to your pages.
With Simple Share Buttons Adder, you can easily insert social buttons on your WordPress website. The plugin is fully customizable, you can choose from a set of buttons, change button size, radius, alignment, add custom text, choose location of the buttons, etc. All most popular social sharing buttons are included and with simple drag & drop you can add or remove them. You can add the share button anywhere you want by using a shortcode.
Q2W3 Fixed Widget
I hate pop-ups and I bet you too hate them. It is very frustrating when visiting a website and the first thing you see is a screen that asks for your email, ask for a like or promotes something. If you would like to avoid such pop-ups on your website, but still want somehow to encourage your visitors to subscribe to your email list, or want to promote something without being very aggressive, I recommend using the Q2W3 fixed widget plugin.
This plugin allows you to make your widget fixed. You can choose widget you want to stick at the screen when the user scrolls down. This is a very effective way to constantly show the most important part of your website without being very annoying.
Duplicate Post Plugin
Have you ever come across the situation when it would be very useful to just clone an existing page in your WordPress site just edit it? I faced this problem every time, until I found that the Duplicate Post plugin allows you to create a duplicate of any of your pages.
For me personally, this plugin is a must and I think every WordPress site should include it. Why? Because there are cases when you just want to create a very similar page to your existing one, but don’t want to go through all the copy-paste process, selecting category, etc. With the Duplicate Post plugin, you can clone or create a new draft copy of any of your previous pages.
W3 Total Cache Plugin
Once you are done with building your website, you can quickly check with Google Page Speed or other tools to see how fast it loads. There are many options to speed up your website. First of all, you should use a cache plugin that will optimize your website’s code to reduce the size and will cache your pages. For this purpose I recommend using W3 Total Cache plugin.
This plugin will significantly improve the loading time of your website and will improve user experience. It will reduce the download time of your pages and can also be integrated with a content delivery network (CDN).
I hope that my collection of must-have plugins has helped you in getting a rough idea on what plugins you should be using on your WordPress sites. Certainly there are thousands of other plugins, and there are many alternatives to the above enumerated ones. The combination of these plugins gave me very good results not only in covering the basic functionality of every website I create, but also in saving me precious time and effort while build a WordPress site.
Now it is your turn! What are the plugins you are using for each of your WordPress site?
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