Essential Wordpress plugins

Essential Plugins

In this section, I thought I’d show you some great plugins that many WordPress users install without thinking. Some of these are great for displaying content, some of them add social features, some of them secure your website, and some are just plain helpful.

All in One SEO Pack Link

If you’d like to optimize your content to maximize the search-engine love it receives, then you’ll need an SEO plugin, and All in One SEO Pack61 is a great choice.

Once it’s installed, you can set a lot of meta information for your website and for individual posts. You’ll be able to preview how a page looks in Google results and various other important bits and pieces that go into optimizing content.

Some post settings in All in One SEO Pack62
Some post settings in All in One SEO Pack. (View large version63)

Dropbox Backup and Restore Link

Backing up and restoring will be a large part of your efforts related to security. Dropbox Backup & Restore64 automates this task for you. It creates a full backup of all of your files and your database, either locally or to Dropbox.

Whatever backup solution you use, make sure to store your backups off the server. If the hard drive of your server fails, then your backups will disappear as well, of course.

Dropbox Backup & Restore in action65
Dropbox Backup & Restore in action. (View large version66)

VaultPress Link

While not free, my favourite plugin for backing up is VaultPress67. It was created by the good people at Automattic, the company that manages WordPress, which means it integrates with the system completely.

It ties together with a backup service that takes care of everything automatically. You don’t even have to click “Back up”; the task runs on schedule, and you can restore everything with a single click.

Plans start at $5 a month, which is a bargain if you rely on your website to make money. In addition to the backup service, the plugin also keeps tabs on your website’s security and visitor statistics.

VaultPress' dashboard68
VaultPress’ dashboard. (View large version69)

Akismet Link

Akismet70 comes preinstalled with all WordPress installations. It is a plugin tied to a service that ensures your website’s comments section remains spam free.

The power of Akismet is that it is cloud-based. It uses data gathered about spammers across millions of websites to provide more effective spam protection than anything you could do locally.

Using Akismet is free, but please consider going for the paid option if you rely on your website to make money. Akismet is a great service and deserves some love, too!

Akismet's spam-fighting statistics71
Akismet’s spam-fighting statistics. (View large version72)

W3 Total Cache Link

Caching can speed up a website considerably by serving static pages instead of dynamic ones. A single post will generally not change, unless you update the post or someone posts a comment.

This kind of page can be saved as is, and WordPress will be able to serve the saved version much faster than by assembling the page using server-side code and database queries each time. Whenever the page does change, the saved version is updated.

W3 Total Cache73 is a well-known and high-performance caching solution that brings the best out of your website.

Note that you can tweak a lot of settings, and in rare cases some of them could slow down your website. If you look at the documentation and manipulate only a few things at a time, everything will be just fine.

The number of subpages shows how many options there are!74
The number of subpages shows how many options there are! (View large version75)

Jetpack Link

Jetpack76 is a monster plugin that has become so feature-rich that it actually takes up more space than WordPress itself. This is not a problem because it provides some genuinely great functionality.

From contact forms to social-sharing buttons to improved galleries, Jetpack offers a huge range of features.

Masonry-style gallery, enabled by Jetpack77
Masonry-style gallery, enabled by Jetpack. (View large version78)

Ninja Forms Link

If you want to add a contact form or any sort of information-gathering form to your website, you have a number of options, one of which is Ninja Forms79.

You can set up all of the fields you need, add CAPTCHAs and other security measures, and then wait for the responses to flow. Best of all, responses are not only sent your way via email; they are stored in WordPress for future reference!

The contact form on my website is powered by Ninja Forms80
The contact form on my website is powered by Ninja Forms. (View large version81)



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