Essential WordPress Plugins
With a growing list of over 20,000 plugins, sometimes it’s a little tricky figuring out just which plugins to use! This is a quick overview of 12 essential WordPress plugins that every WordPress Blog should have. The good news is (at the time of writing this) they are all completely free. The below essential WordPress plugins relate to enhancing WordPress functionality, security, SEO and Social Marketing.
#1 – Secure-WP
Security should always be your first concern when anything is reachable publicly on the internet – that is why I rank Secure-WP as being one of essential WordPress plugins out there. Don’t get me wrong – WordPress does a great job natively of securing your Blog, providing that you keep the version updated.
However, Secure-WP bolsters that security further by removing oodles of information that could be used by hackers and removing some sensitive material from user accounts, while preserving this information in the administrator’s account. Good stuff!
#2 – Spam Free WordPress
Spam is a HUGE problem with WordPress blogs, which makes an anti-spam plugin one of essential WordPress plugins. I use Spam Free WordPress, which seems to be doing quite well. Over the course of a 6 month period, it has blocked over 8,000 spam comments, a number that seems to grow exponentially. Now imagine having to go through 40-50 spam comments per day! One of the key reasons we use plugins is to save time, and Spam Free WordPress certainly accomplishes this!
Essential WordPress Plugins #3 – W3 Total Cache
After security and spam are taken care of, site speed is the next thing that comes to mind. No-one is going to wait around for 30 seconds for your web page to load, so site speed is critical. I’ll now mention a couple of essential WordPress plugins that help supercharge your website.
The first is W3 Total Cache. This plugin is massively popular, downloaded almost 1.2 million times! It helps speed up your site by improving server performance, caching every aspect of your website, reducing download times and providing transparent content delivery network (CDN) integration. In short, it makes your WordPress Blog faster!
#4 – WP-Optimize
WordPress is database driven. The more efficient the database is, the quicker pages can be accessed from the database, the quicker your site loads to your visitors. However, over time, a WordPress database can become polluted with needless information (such as deleted content, spam comments, old page revisions etc). This increases the overall size of the database and increases access times to that database. The end result – your pages take longer to open.
WP-Optimize cleans up your database automatically and keeps it streamlined by removing needless information on an ongoing basis.
#5 – WP Database Backup
In terms of essential WordPress plugins, backing up your data is right up there. It’s something we all leave until it’s too late, and then wish we hadn’t. WP Database Backup makes it simple to backup the core. The key thing here is that you are able to easily backup your site with WP DB – and if need be can hire a freelancer to restore your sites, I would imagine who would charge in the region of $25-50 – a lot less of a headache than rebuilding your site from scratch!WordPress tables.
The one downside to this plugin is that it’s a little tricky to restore from if something does happen to your site. There are alternative plugins out there that are a lot more user-friendly, such as Backup Buddy, but this is unfortunately not a free plugin, priced at $75 for 2 WordPress sites.
#6 – Broken Link Checker
There’s nothing more frustrating than clicking on a link and getting the “page not found” error. While this is frustrating for the visitor, it also generally has the effect of pushing that visitor (and potential client) away from your website. The Broken Link Checker can monitor links in your posts, pages, comments, the blogroll, and custom fields and reports broke links to you either through your WordPress dashboard or via email.
Essential WordPress Plugins #7 – Google XML Sitemaps
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of SEO related plugins. Only a handful of these I would consider essential WordPress plugins. The first is Google XML Sitemaps. A sitemap is basically a road map of your website, outlining all the individual pages and how they link together – their structure. Google and the other major search engines use such sitemaps to more efficiently crawl and index your site.
Google XML Sitemaps automatically creates such a sitemap and keeps it updated as you add new content. In addition, it also notifies all major search engines every time you create and post new content.