Lets face it, there are literally millions of plugins for WordPress. Ok, that’s a slight exaggeration. At the last count there were 43,908, but that’s still a lot!
When I started typing this blog I called it “The best plugins for WordPress” and then realised I could be here all year. I changed it to “The essential plugins for your WordPress website” because there are loads of awesome WordPress plugins that do brilliant things, but there are some basic essentials you probably don’t have but really need. These little robots will be toiling away in the background, keeping your site secure, backed up and working well for you.
So read on to find out a good place to start your plugin journey.
Plugins for security
It’s imperative you have a security plugin. WordPress is now the industry standard content management system, which is great because it’s so wonderfully easy to use and so wonderfully free, but it also means there’s lots of gremlins out there spending every waking hour figuring out how to break into it and use your website as a spamming tool.
You need a security plugin that’s iron clad, and we’ve found Word Fence to be great. This security plugin provides free enterprise-class WordPress security, protecting your website from hacks and malware and has an average rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars. Pretty good right?! It was created in 2011 and has over 3 million users already.
It’s packed with features such as intrusion alerts, custom setup and manual IP blocking. It works well with only a small amount of configuration and there’s a handy tour at the beginning to show you the ropes. Plus there’s a free version, that remains free (not just a trial) or a paid version for $39USD/year.
See https://www.wordfence.com/ for more information.
Plugins for backups
Even though your hosting provider may offer a backup and restore service for your website, it’s always best to take the initiative and backup your website regularly yourself. It’s particularly handy if you’re thinking about updating a plugin, as this can often cause conflicts and issues. Doing a quick backup beforehand ensures you have the most up-to-date version of your site should something go wrong.
Our preferred backup solution is Backup Buddy. It’s the most popular premium backup plugin for WordPress, and allows you to schedule regular backups and store them on DropBox, Amazon S3 and other online storage accounts, or download the backup file to save locally on your computer.
Another great advantage is that it’s not a subscription based service. You’re licenced to use the plugin on the number of sites outlined in your plan, and get access to premium support forums and updates. Plus, if you’re a client of The Web Hut you’ll see it’s already installed in your WordPress backend interface, giving you access to all of the above as part of our service to you. How good is that?!
See https://ithemes.com/purchase/backupbuddy/ for more information.
Plugins for contact forms
Every website needs a good contact form that allows your visitors to fill out the input fields and send you a request. There’s loads of contact form plugins out there, but I’ve found from a design and implementation aspect a lot of them are clunky, not intuitive and unreliable.
Enter Contact Form 7, a nice little contact form plugin that gives you a simple, nicely design form without too much hassle. A recent update now allows integration with Google’s captcha, minimising spam. They’ve also got an extensive FAQ page and a support forum if you run into any trouble.
See http://contactform7.com/ for more info.
Plugins for SEO
Yoast SEO is the #1 SEO plugin, and rightly so because it’s awesome! With Yoast SEO you can easily optimise your WordPress website’s content, images, titles and meta descriptions and get a real time content analysis, getting you on the right path to SEO success.
It’s super easy to use, and has a traffic light indicator that lets you know if you’re on the right track or failing miserably. It allows you to control how your Google listing displays with the snippet editor and focus keyword and tests the important areas of your content for usage of the focus keyword.
See https://yoast.com/wordpress/plugins/seo/ for more info on this great plugin.
To sum it up…
And that’s the basics for keeping your WordPress site secure, backed up and working well for you. From there the plugin world is your oyster, but our advice here at The Web Hut is keep it simple. Having a “holy plugins batman!” list when logging into your WordPress site is not an ideal situation, as the more plugins you have, the more room for software and update conflicts there is.
And remember – keep your plugins updated. It turns out that not updating your WordPress plugins may actually result in the fall of world leaders, as seen recently in the Panama Papers hack which has been partly attributed to an out-dated plugin!
If you’re not confident updating your plugins yourself, The Web Hut offers a website maintenance package, with prices from $29.95/month.
We hope this article helped you learn about the essential WordPress plugins for your website. For further reading please visit our blog, or if you liked this article please like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Google +.
Ps. May the 4th be with you…