WordPress Plugins Oh My!
Just like with WordPress themes, there are so many WordPress plugins to choose from. This is by no means an exhaustive list, it’s simply a curation of some of the most helpful plugins for everyday use that I’ve come across.
I’m not even implying that you need to run out and install each and every one of these plugins. Rather, I’m going to break the plugins down into relevant groups.
The advantage of WordPress powered websites over website builders is that website builders sell the CMS as a service and take a “one size fits all” approach to your website.
Not WordPress. You can customize your website and add some very helpful functionality to it by way of plugins.
Sidenote, if you’re ever in need of a specific feature, always Google “xyz plugin” and more often than not, you’ll find a plugin designed to enable some feature you want. Also, GO LIGHT on the plugins. Install what you need, no more.
Ready for the list without they hype? Let’s do it! Make sure to share this page if you found it helpful too.
Let’s start of this content with the essential plugins every WordPress website will want. Regardless of the content of your website, these are the plugins you’re going to want to have installed and activated be it a blog, store or niche site.
Yoast is a software company run by Joost de Valk. Their model works by running a very popular blog that garners a loyal following and by giving away the best WordPress SEO plugin for free, Yoast SEO. Then, they up-sell on premium plugins.
Yoast SEO does everything you would need from an SEO perspective. It allows you to redirect pages (the premium version does, not the free version), builds out your sitemap, helps you craft titles and meta data, tells search engines what to index and what to ignore and so forth.
It’s so good, we create a dedicated tutorial on how to get the most out of it. Check it out here: Yoast SEO Tutorial.
Updraft Plus – Updraft is the the best free alternative to expensive premium backup plugins. It helps automate backups for your website so you can quickly and easily restore your website if something goes wrong.
We all like to think nothing bad will happen, but just like how something goes wrong with your computer every so often and the only way to fix it is by going back in time which means you need to do a system restore on your computer, sometimes you need to do that with your website.
Most shared hosting accounts (like Host Gator – coupon code websitebuddha) provide backups, but they only backup weekly. Updraft Plus allows you to backup your website daily if you so choose to.
W3 TOTAL CACHE
It’s a very advanced plugin with settings ideal for high traffic website running on a VPS or server, all the way to simplified settings for website on a shared host.
W3 utilizes minfy, browser, object, page and database caching, as well as providing support for content delivery networks (CDN’s – they help share your content with people all over the world so everyone has a good user experience).
Smush is an award winning image optimization plugin. What does it do? It compresses your images to make them a smaller file size. Why is that important? Image size effects page load speed. It’s one of the simplest things you can do to boost your page speed. Smush is an essential plugin because you’re going to be uploading images. Why not compress them?
Login Lock Down – A good, last line of defense for your website. If someone attempts to log into your website on your admin page and fails to enter the correct details, they are blocked from attempting to log into your website for a set period of time.
This plugin essentially prevents brute force attacks from working. This plugin is free and it’s core to any defensive measure to keeping your website fast and secure.
Sucuri is a WordPress security plugin. You’re going to want to install a security plugin for obvious reasons.
CONTACT FORM 7
An essential plugin, contact form 7 is how you create those lovely looking contact forms. As your site grows you may want to get rid of contact form 7 as you’ll begin getting too many emails. I for example get upwards of 80 emails a day from my various websites. But when you’re starting out you want to make it as easy as possible for people to contact you as you’ll want and need that user feedback to help you grow and improve your website.
Social media is going to be an aspect of your promotion strategy. Mostly Facebook, Twitter and Pintrest.
With that said you’re going to want to install some plugins to help make social sharing easy on your website. Again, these are non-essentials but they should be under consideration.
SOCIAL MEDIA WAREFARE
Social Media Warefare is the best social sharing plugin available. It’s not free though, but if you want the best plugin that has the most flexibility this is it.
Kiwi is a simple social sharing plugin that simply puts a row of social sharing buttons of your choice on your webs page. Best of all, it’s free!
Sidenote: WebsiteCreativePro.com uses AddThis to produce social share bars. It’s not a plugin. Rather you sign up for free on the site and then copy and paste a script into your website.
Frizzly is a helpful plugin that can add social media buttons to images on your website. So when you hover over an image with a mouse, up pops some social share icons. I personally use this to have a Pintrest share button pop up as that’s what I’ve found to be the most useful.
Clean Save – Social media is great, but what if you wanted to provide a way for your visitors to email, print, or save as a PDF your content (and share it with others). This is one the best plugins for that because it provides many alternative ways for visitors to share your content.
Managing links (internal and external)
These plugins are helpful for managing internal and external links. Keep reading, you’ll be surprised by a few.
Collapsing Categories – A great sidebar plugin that uses JAVA script to add an expandable categories list of your content, it’s a great way to get people to explore more deeply into your websites content by offering them a lovely menu of your websites categories with each category displaying a drop down menu of the latest posts.
The way it works is you can put it in the sidebar and that makes your categories expandable, showing a defined amount of posts in each category. Don’t over do it though.
WP GALLERY CUSTOM LINKS
WP Gallery Custom Links – With WordPress, you can add a photo gallery in any page or post or sidebar or where ever you like. But did you know that you can not specify the link address of each image? Weird that WordPress would not include this.
That by default each photo will link to the WP image folder where it is stored and this link CAN NOT be changed.
Well this handy plugin allows you to change and add custom links to any image!
Pretty Links is a plugin for setting up redirects for affiliate links primarily, but it can be used to shorten any link you want.
For example, I could take a long YouTube video URL and make it something more pretty like websitecreativepro.com/video.
404 REDIRECT HOMEPAGE
404 Redirect Homepage – A 404 is a “page not found” and having an excessive amount hurts your rankings.
What this plugin does is that is automatically redirects any pages that you deleted to redirect to the home page of your website instead of giving a 404 error. This normally would happen simply because you deleted something or changed the URL structure and other websites, and perhaps even Google still have the old URL. This plugin simply redirects everything to the homepage so you don’t have a bunch of 404 error messages for your visitors.
SEO Redirection allows you to setup simple and easy redirects from within WordPress. For example, I took a bunch of smaller posts I had about domain names and consolidated them all into this one bigger piece of authority content on domain names.
Then, instead NOT redirecting those pages (and thus giving a bunch of 404 errors to Google), or redirecting them to the homepage with the plugin mention before; I simply redirected all the smaller posts to the new bigger post.
AAWP stands for Amazon Affiliate WordPress. It’s a nifty premium plugin (it’s not free) that adds products and links from Amazon with updated prices and a flexible configuration. The goal being that it will help drive more clicks to Amazon and make you more of the sweet affiliate commission.
How? It allows you to add comparison tables and image links that show the price of products in real time. It just works and if Amazon is a large part of your monitization strategy, you’re really crazy for not using this plugin.
This last group of plugins are design to help add functionality to your content in various ways.
Want the ability to add custom content, ad an opt-in form or an AdSense ad block to the bottom of every single blog post in like, 2 seconds? That’s what this plugin does. It allows you do quickly and easily add custom content to the bottom of any post or page. It’s a simple plugin, but it works.
MAIL CHIMP FOR WORDPRESS
Mail Chimp for WordPress -This plugin gives you some nice super powers for your Mail Chimp forms. Of course, this plugin only works with Mail Chimp and not Aweber or any other service provider.
What it does is that it allows you to quickly develop attractive looking forms that can be placed anywhere on your website via some easy, copy and paste shortcodes. These forms look great and are mobile ready.
It also allows you to set up a thank you page once someone signs up and it integrates with contact form 7.
Fixed Widget – This magical plugin (alright, it’s not magic) allows a widget in your sidebar to stay in position on the page, even if the user scrolls down. This is ideal for an email sign up form.
Put the form in the fixed widget in your sidebar, but the fixed widget at the bottom of all your other widgets, and when someone scrolls down the sign up form will follow them.
INSERT HEADERS AND FOOTERS
Insert Headers and Footers allows for you to copy script into either the header of footer of your website easily without needing to jump into the .php files. Some themes don’t come with a section where you can copy and paste in scripts like Google Analytics under theme appearance.
This plugin easily solves that issue.
DISQUS – Back a few years ago, SPAM comments were all the rage. This led to numerous plugins to combat SPAM and eventually a few services that would take over the WordPress comment system.
DISQUS was one of these companies and over the years they have emerged as the leader for managing comments if you want to get away from the in-house comment system.
The pros are that having DISQUS on your website will reduce SPAM as well as being able to set up a related post field within DISQUS to share your related posts.
It also, tends to lead to higher quality comments as users have to register an account with DISQUS before commenting. This is also the only drawback, it prevents visitors who do not wish to sign up or sign in for DISQUS from commenting.
EASY TABLE OF CONTENTS
Easy Table of Contents allows you to create a clickable menu within a blog post. Perfect for those pieces of content that are particularly long.
LAST MODIFIED TIME STAMP
This time stamp plugin allows the date to be updated when you update a post or page on your website. This is helpful because as content ages, you can update it and the new date will reflect to your site visitors as well as Google when your content was updated.
So that’s it for my first and last blog post on WordPress plugins. I hope you find this collection of plugins helpful. As with anything, only install and use what you need. By no means do you need to use all of these plugins. These are just simply some of the most helpful plugins that I have come across.
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