So you’ve got your WordPress website up and running. Well done! But to get the best out of it you need some plugins.

Plugins can enhance SEO, as well as user experience for your website, and they are one of the things that make WordPress so great. But before you go crazy, bear in mind that plugins can significantly slow down your site, and even in some cases break it completely. So tread wisely. In this article I’m going to let you know the plugins that I consider essential. These are the plugins I install straight away on every WordPress site I set up.

How To Install Plugins

First of all I’d better quickly explain how to install plugins. In your WordPress dashboard, simply hover over the Plugins link in the side menu and click Add New. This will bring up a page with all their Featured goodies. Don’t be distracted though, search for plugins directly in the search bar. Remember, adding plugins willy nilly can slow down or break your site. So use them wisely.

Yoast – WordPress SEO

To find this you need to search ‘wordpress seo’, for some reason when you add Yoast it doesn’t appear in the results. This is the plugin I go to straight away. I’m not a big fan of Yoast, and over the years they’ve been more persistent with up selling and wanting to dominate your website with their tools. But I haven’t found anything that adds the simple basic functionality of Yoast, so I’ll stick with it for now.

Page Speed

Let’s face it, we all hate a slow loading website. According to the NY Times, people will visit a website less if it’s slower than a competitor’s by more than 250 milliseconds. In 2009, a study by Forrester Research found that online shoppers expected web pages to load in two seconds or less, and at three seconds, a large share abandon the site. Three seconds! So the point is you need your website to run as fast as possible. Run it through Google’s Page Test Tool and see how it fairs. It it has problems then these plugins will go a long way towards helping.

Autoptimize

I love this plugin. It’s easy to use and lightweight. it fixes lots of issues on Google’s Speed Test and speeds up your website by combining and placing files into the footer rather than the header. This alleviates the ‘render-blocking’ issue. It doesn’t fix all issues which is why I use it in conjunction with BWP Minify.

Better WordPress Minify

BWP Minify allows you to combine and minify your CSS and JS files to improve page load time. It really works and is simple to use, so I put this in my list of essential plugins. Together with Autoptimize this is all you need for combining, minifying and reducing render blocking.

WP Super Cache

WP Super Cache in my opinion is the best cache plugin for WordPress. It’s simple to use and you can go as hard or as easy as you like. The basic premise is it caches your WordPress pages and serves them as static html to your visitors. This reduces the load on the server and speeds up your website.

Security

If your website hasn’t been hacked yet then you’re one of the lucky ones. In the last 10 years I’ve had individual WordPress sites hacked and even whole servers, so hacking isn’t something that just happens to large companies, It’s pretty much impossible to prevent hacking, but you can minimise your chances of getting hacked.

WP Automatic Updates

With this plugin you can set all versions of WordPress, themes and plugins to update automatically. It’s essential you keep everything updated as these usually include security fixes. Don’t leave yourself vulnerable to a known security issue and stay updated. This plugin does it all for you, so you’ve no excuses.

Wordfence

This is a great little plugin that scans for malware and infected files. Hackers can infiltrate your website and plant some hidden code in one of your files that allows them access any time they need, regardless of whether you change passwords. Wordfence will scan all your files and compare your core WordPress files to theirs to find any malicious code.

WordPress Zero Spam

leave an unattended WordPress website for any length of time and you’ll soon find it’s inundated with Spam. This simple plugins does exactly what it says on the tin, Zero Spam. I don’t know how they do it, but I know it works.

Of course new plugins are being developed all the time, and this is a list of plugins I consider essential for any WordPress website. I may have missed some (I’m not perfect), so feel free to let me know in the comments.

Author: Steve Ceaton

I'm Steve Ceaton. I've worked in web design and SEO since 2006. I also write fiction. Follow Me: @SteveCeaton on Twitter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *