Making the most of WordPress – plugin essentials
It’s become a common consensus now, that if there is anything you want to achieve with your WordPress website, then there’s probably a plugin that will allow you to do it. At the time of writing this post, there are 42,728 available plugins in the WordPress Plugin Directory, but how do we know which ones to use?
With so many plugins at our fingertips, it’s easy to get carried away, but we need to remember that plugins tend to be third party, and so each time we update WordPress, update our theme, or update another plugin, we run the risk of something stopping something else, or even our entire site, from working correctly.
Unfortunately this is just something in which we have to accept might happen, and when it does, we need to disable our plugins one by one until we find the offender. Once found, we need to either wait for an update which fixes the issue, or find an alternative plugin to do the job, which doesn’t clash with our other installs.
In order to limit the chances of this happening, I like to periodically clear out my plugins, and ensure that only those which are essential remain installed.
Akismet – one of the best spam filters I have found, Akismet has never let me down. Ever since installing this plugin I have never had a spam comment slip through to my site! You will need to register for an API, but the process is quick and easy to follow, and you’ll be walked through everything on installation of the plugin.
BackUpWordPress – Back Up WordPress is a simple and efficient back up tool for your website. Handy hint – sign up for an additional free gmail account, and have your daily backups emailed straight to this new account. As each gmail account comes with each Google account coming with 15GB of free storage, you can just forget about the account and let it sit there storing your backups at no cost to you and without taking up any space on your hard drive.
Jetpack by WordPress – Jetpack is a brilliant little plugin, and one of the first I install on each new site I set up. Full of handy little extras, including some I couldn’t live without, especially the site stats, tiled galleries, publicize and carousel. You’ll sure to be using Jetpack daily just for the stats alone! If you’ve ever had a wordpress.com website, you’ll immediatley notice that some standard features are missing when moving to wordpress.org, but install Jetpack, and you should find access to all those missing features and more!
Simple Header Footer HTML – While on the surface it might seem unusual for this to be included as an essential plugin, I have found it incredibly helpful when linking with external services such as Google Analytics, which require you to add code to the header of your website. Instead of worrying about faffing with your code or files, a quick copy and paste into the plugin gets the job done.
Twitter Cards – Why WordPress as standard, or Jetpack’s publicise, do not have the featured image in a post automatically pulled into a shared tweet I don’t know, but as it happens, Twitter Cards will happily do the job for you. We all know that Twitter is a great place to share our content, and sharing content with a picture increases engagement, so this little plugin will ensure all your posts look their best.
WP Edit – Not getting enough formatting options from the standard WordPress toolbar? Then WP Edit is just what you need. Not only does it give you extra optional buttons to add to your toolbar, but it also helps you add extra customisation to all aspects of your website.
WP Super Cache – Nothing overly special about this one, just a solid caching plugin which helps speed up the loading time for your website.
Yoast SEO – This is the best plugin for people who find SEO daunting. Yoast SEO shows us how easy optimising your site can be, and even those of us who nothing about SEO can be up and running and producing optimised content in a very short space of time. We love this plugin so much, we even wrote a handy little guide you can follow here.
Please note that while some of these plugins may have paid options, all of them have been recommended because they are free, and we do not believe that you need to upgrade to paid content.Thanks for reading!
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