You’ve started off with your WordPress website and have added a good theme that you like.
Now you need to add plugins. You head over to the Plugins tab, and click on Add New. You see the 4 tabs – Featured, Popular, Recommended, Favorites. There are nearly 60,000 plugins in the WordPress repository, with more being added every day. Which tab do you click and what plugins do you install?
When you start off your website, aside from the capabilities that you want your website to have (for example, product sales, membership, forums, etc), there are a few things that your blog shouldn’t be without. These are –
Keeping these in mind, here are a few must-have plugins for your website:
(Type in the names in the Plugins search bar in your Dashboard, and they should show up for installation)
1) Vaultpress (Backups, Security, Spam Management)
VaultPress is a security-oriented plugin that can create optimized real-time automated backups of your website and can restore your website in a few seconds. If you have multiple websites, you can manage all of them through a single VaultPress dashboard.
VaultPress also manages your site’s security by scanning and detecting dangerous files on your installation, so that you or an administrator of your website can review and fix them. In addition, it links with the popular Akismet plugin to manage any measures of spam on your website with zero user involvement.
2) GDPR Cookie Consent (Compliance)
As of version 4.9.6, the WordPress software is compliant with the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements. But that does not mean that your site is automatically GDPR compliant even if you have the most recent version of WordPress installed. You can use the GDPR Cookie Consent plugin to add an EU cookie notice on your website.
If you’re new to this website, you can see this plugin in action at the bottom of this page.
3) WP AutoTerms (Compliance)
WP AutoTerms creates legal agreement pages for your website which you can modify and link to your website. This is a must-have for your site, especially if you are planning to sell digital products or membership access through your website.
4) Really Simple SSL (SSL Certificate configuration)
Having an SSL certificate on a website indicates that you are browsing that website using a secure, encrypted connection. Any sensitive information that you type into that website, such as your credit card information while making a purchase, is encrypted and therefore, secure. If your website does not have an SSL certificate, Google Chrome will tag your website as “Not Secure”. Firefox will add a popup to every form text field on your website saying that it is not a secure channel.
Adding the “Really Simple SSL” plugin will NOT get you an SSL certificate along with it. You’ll need to get an SSL certificate from a third party such as Cloudflare or LetsEncrypt. The process is simple, and once you get the certificate, Really Simple SSL makes it easy for you to link your domain to the certificate and tag your website as secure.
5) JetPack (Social Sharing, Optimization, Analytics, and a lot more)
JetPack is an all-in-one solution for a bunch of essential stuff that you need for your website. While some of these goodies are paid options, the free options you get itself is worth it. JetPack provides you with multiple options such as website statistics, downtime monitoring, image speed optimization, spam protection (integrating with Akismet), etc. It also manages updates to your site by automatically updating your selected plugins and themes when new versions are available.
6) Yoast SEO (SEO)
Whatever your business is about, SEO is an important factor that will decide your website’s performance online. Search Engines like optimized and easy to read websites and this is definitely what Yoast SEO plugin is about. Yoast starts with a configuration wizard and tells you what the best SEO configurations for your websites, and beyond.
7) Contact Form 7 (Contact Form management)
Never put your e-mail address out in the open unless you want it to be picked up by e-mail harvesters and then riddled with spam. Create a contact form using Contact Form 7 and offer it to your customers. CF7 helps you create multiple contact forms with configurable fields which can be integrated easily with spam management plugins like Akismet. A little bit of HTML knowledge is preferable to create a contact form of your liking, but it provides a default form which will be enough for most websites.
An optional add-on plugin for CF7 is Flamingo, which will help you manage messages right from within your WordPress admin area.
If you do not want to use HTML, your best bet is the WP Forms plugin. This plugin features a drag and drop interface which can help you create contact forms easily. WP-Forms also provides additional paid add-ons if you want to integrate your forms with an autoresponder such as AWeber.
8) W3 Total Cache (Cache Management)
When a user loads your website, your server will pick up the page from the server, process all the dynamic parts, convert it into browser-readable HTML and sends it back to the user. A cache management plugin helps your website load faster by generating static HTML pages of your website and storing it on your server. This speeds up the loading time of your website tremendously.
W3 Total Cache is designed to optimize all practical hosting environments, and all provide the additional benefit of minifying your static content before sending it to the end users, resulting in further bandwidth savings.
9) WP-Optimize (Optimization)
Over time, your WordPress database gets filled with a lot of unnecessary data such as trashed/unapproved/spam comments, pingbacks, trackbacks, post, and page revisions, etc. that clogs up your database. WP-Optimize reduces this bloat by removing all the unnecessary data, thereby reducing the size of your database and increasing efficiency. You also have the option of scheduling and automating this process so that you can keep only what’s necessary.
10) Google Analytics (Analytics)
While JetPack takes care of site statistics, Google Analytics gives you extra data and offers additional insights into visitor behavior. If your website depends on users and wants to create better content for them, then you need this.
That’s a quick round-up of the essential plugins. This is by no means a definitive list but should work for most of the sites out there.
Feel free to let us know what you think in the comments.
Image courtesy (Featured image of this post): Woman photo created by freepik – www.freepik.com