WordPress has become the most popular Content Management System in the world and it is easy to see why. It offers unrivalled flexibility for experts and beginners alike and is incredibly easy and intuitive to use. Even if you’re not an expert developer there are certain things you should do with your WordPress site to make sure it’s running to the best of its capabilities, so read on to discover the essential types of plugin every WordPress site should use.
Security against hacks and bots should be a priority on any website owner’s mind these days. You should have at least something in place to thwart normal attacks and there are more advanced plugins available depending on your level of security need.
WordFence is an excellent plugin for help in protecting your site. Available in both free and premium versions, WordFence aims to be your all-in-one security option. Both versions include a firewall and will scan all your core WordPress files to identify any malware. It also comes equipped with the ability to block brute-force attacks and block login attempts by country, an excellent feature if your site only has a small centralised group of users.
An alternative to WordFence is iThemes Security, another excellent plugin that offers Two-Factor Authentication along with 30+ other ways to secure your site.
WordFence Security – https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/wordfence/
iThemes Security – https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/better-wp-security/
Data Backup Plugins
While most hosts tend to keep backups you should in no way rely on them in the event of a severe server crash. No one wants to be in the position of losing weeks, months or maybe years of work on their website in the blink of an eye so think of it as your responsibility as a website owner to make sure your site is backed up, in particular its database.
Probably the most popular backup plugin used, Backup Buddy is incredibly easy to use and lets you schedule daily, weekly, or monthly backups and the ability to save them to anywhere you want. A big advantage of Backup Buddy is that it is not a subscription based service. Starting at £62, a one off payment allows you to use the plugin on a number of sites mentioned in your plan and it also offers you 1GB of cloud storage and the ability to migrate, duplicate or restore your website.
If you’re looking for a free solution then BackWPup has you covered. This is a completely free plugin that allows you to create and schedule backups for free and store it on the cloud or your computer. It’s very user friendly and note that there is a pro version which carries some cool features such as priority support.
Backup Buddy – https://ithemes.com/purchase/backupbuddy/
Search Engine Optimization Plugins
In order to get found on the internet and attract visitors to your site, you will need to do a lot of optimizing that WordPress doesn’t support by default. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is vital in drawing people to your site and you will need to make use of a plugin to carry out really technical tweaks such as setting canonical links and adding meta data.
WordPress SEO by Yoast happens to be one of the most downloaded plugins of all time. It is a comprehensive solution to all your site’s SEO needs, allowing you to add SEO titles, keywords and meta descriptions to all pages of your site. It also adds Open Graph meta data too. One of its most handy features is that it will give you an “SEO Rating” for each of your pages, providing you with a useful guide on what you’ve done right and where you can improve. These really are just a few of its features however and those wanting to dig deeper will find much to tinker with here.
SEO Ultimate is another brilliant SEO plugin. With 20+ modules to optimize your site with, you will find most SEO solutions in this package. Standout features include Deeplink Juggernaut that uses the power of anchor text to boosts your internal ranking SEO paradigm and the ability to export your SEO settings to another site.
WordPress SEO by Yoast – https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/wordpress-seo/
SEO Ultimate – https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/seo-ultimate/
Social Media Plugins
Social Media has revolutionised the way we share content and has become such an integral part of the internet that, for the majority of websites, it is their second highest source of traffic. As a website owner you can take advantage of this and add social media functionality to your site.
For many years, Share Buttons by AddToAny has been the social media sharing plugin of choice. It’s highly customisable in terms of how many services you can let visitors share with (over 100) and you can choose to specifically display the main social media channels you want to show.
Easy Social Share Buttons for WordPress is another efficient plugin that has dozen of different settings and boasts 12 icon sets with 19 in built templates, 4 buttons styles and a shortcode generator. Sharing buttons can also be displayed above or below content, in a floating bar or otherwise.
Share Buttons by AddToAny – https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/add-to-any/
Easy Social Share Buttons – https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/easy-social-share-buttons/
Learning about your users is vital to running a successful online website and you’ll need an analytics solution to do this. This will help you gather data and provide reports into user activity on your site. Analytics will tell you where your visitors are coming from, what they’re looking at, how long they stay on your site and what they click on.
Google Analytics is by far the most popular of analytics solutions available. It is free and super easy to install in WordPress. You can track links, perform A/B Testing and get real time insights into your traffic. Another great feature is that you can add multiple sites under one dashboard to keep on top of all the stats for your site’s.
Crazy Egg is great. It uses Heat-Mapping technology to show you where visitors are clicking on your site and also offers a Scroll-Map to show you how far they are scrolling down too. You can also view the number of click on each element in a map overlay. This coupled with Google Analytics or another solution will provide you with a very robust way to analyse your site’s data.
Google Analytics – https://www.google.co.uk/analytics/#?modal_active=none