As someone who works with WordPress for a living, I’m constantly asked what the best plugins are for a particular job. Obviously the answer will differ for every blogger depending on what they are trying to do. But there are, in my opinion, a few absolutely essential WordPress plugins that should be installed on pretty much every WordPress blog out there. They cover the grunt-work of your site, leaving you to sprinkle in an assortment of others for more niche uses.
So – what are they? Read on.
Having lived in the IT world for longer than I’d like to remember, the one thing I learnt was that you can never backup too much. The WordPress database holds every word you’ve ever written, and if your blog has started to make you a few dollars, you would be nuts not to keep regular backups. BackWPup does it perfectly. With the ability to schedule backups, you needn’t worry about doing it manually (especially useful to the more forgetful among us). There’s also the option to upload backups to Dropbox, Google Drive and other cloud storage services, ensuring that if the worst does happen your data will be safe.
Lastly, there are also options for schedule optimisation of your database when the backup runs. For anybody running the WP-Optimize plugin, you can simple remove it and add this one to boost features on your site and keep your plugin count down.
Ask the experts and they will agree – Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin is the most advanced and well-respected SEO plugin in the WordPress industry. It provides a wealth of tools allowing you to setup Google Authorship, feed sitemaps into Google Webmaster Tools, optimise on-page SEO and so much more…all in just one plugin. (Before this was released, you needed 5 different plugins to get the same results).
If you’re not using it, you should be. Fin.
The built-in WordPress search features are terrible – and that’s putting it delicately. What Relevanssi does is turn your wretched search feature into a mini Google search, just for your own website. It works for both the search box on your site and the admin area of your site (so everybody can enjoy it). Additionally, it provides statistics on what people are searching for once they get to your site – a valuable tool for generating new post content ideas.
For a full review of the plugin, check out this post.
Google Analytics for WordPress
Adding analytic tracking to your website is an important move towards findng out who your readers are, where they are coming from and what your most popular content is. When you sign up for Google Analytics, the site asks you to place a snippet of code into your own website. For most people that’s tricky, even impossible. Enter Google Analytics for WordPress. This adds a lovely graphical interface to your site where you can click a couple of buttons and set your tracking up without any hassle. Much easier than messing around with code of your theme, right?
Getting links back to your website are a big factor in growing your site authority and search result rankings. This is not lost on spammers, and one of the most notorious ways they try to get links is by unleashing an army of robots to automatically leave worthless comments on thousands of blogs. Without protection, these comments will be published live on your site, helping to boost the profile of spam-spewing websites and littering your inbox with junk e-mails.
The best way to stop that is with this great stalwart of the industry to protect you. It’s your first line of defence in the war against spam.
And I know I said 5 plugins but this last one is just to good not to leave out and it’s essentially doing the same thing as our good friend Akismet anyway.
Cookies For Comments
Unfortunately, our beloved Akismet can’t catch everything – and that’s where Cookies for Comments comes in. This simple plugin helps to further reduce the destructive power of incoming spam comments by forcing checks on comments as they are left. If the check can’t verify the commenter as a real user, it marks the message as spam before Akismet even gets a look in.
Check out this post of mine for a full review of the plugin and how to configure it.
What do you think? What are your top essential plugins for a WordPress site? Let us know in the comments below!