WordPress is a content management system that is used by a wide variety of users, from part-time bloggers to huge multi-national companies. The core framework provides all the essential elements needed for creating a basic website. The great thing about WordPress is that it is highly extendable with the use of plugins. If there is something you need it to do, there’s more than likely a plugin available to do it.
As of today there are around 47,000 active plugins with more and more being developed every day. With WordPress being open source software, anyone can create and make a plugin available.
Below is a small list of plugins I would call essential for all WordPress websites.
The most important part of any website is that it can be found easily by your customers. That’s why making sure your site is optimised for search engines such as Google is key. This is where Yoast SEO plugin comes in, helping you to fine tune every aspect of your site for on-page SEO and searchability. Each of your pages is graded with a simple traffic light system for important features such and keywords and metadata. Yoast is available to download for free but, like most plugins, offers a premium paid version with even more features.
You’ve spent months of hard work optimising your website as best you can, only to find some nasty hacker has destroyed it all. This is where WordFence comes in to play. Available as a free or premium plugin, it offers advanced security features such as a firewall, malware and virus scanning and real-time traffic monitoring. Be sure to get this installed to mitigate any risks.
The UpdraftPlus plugin allows you to easily setup manual and automatic backups of your website. You choose where it backs up to and how often. With their premium version you can even integrate with cloud platforms such as Google Drive and Dropbox. If your hosting ever crashes, or a WordPress plugin breaks your site, you are safe in the knowledge that there is a backup to restore from and all is not lost.
One of the most common page speed issues on a website is large image sizes. The Smush plugin from WPMUDEV is the solution to this problem. It takes all new and existing images in your media library and compresses them without any loss of quality. Smaller file sizes equal faster page load times. They also include an easy to use lazy load feature which can be switched on and off if needed. The premium version of Smush comes with use of the WPMDEV CDN and even smaller image sizes.
From the same developer as Smush, Hummingbird offers functionality for improving your website’s loading time which is a win win for you and your visitors – helping you tackle things like file compression, script minification, page caching and more. As with most plugins on this list they also offer a paid premium version with several benefits.
Contact Form 7 is one of the longest running and most popular WordPress plugins around. Offering you a free and easy way to add contact forms to your site with very little technical knowledge needed.
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