One of the best things about WordPress is how easy it is to add extra functionality to your website. Want to add a shop? There’s a plugin for that. How about event listings? There’s a plugin for that too. Or you want to create a directory or membership site. Yep, there’s a… well you get the idea. There are plugins to cover practically anything you can think of.
I’ve built a lot of sites and that’s let me try out loads of different plugins. Not every site needs loads of extra features, but there are a few types of plugins that I install on every site as standard.
So here are 5 essential plugins for WordPress websites:
It’s important to make sure your site is as secure as possible from hackers. After all, your business isn’t going to look very professional if a hacker has covered it in adverts for certain pharmaceuticals!
Protect your site with a security plugin like All In One Firewall & Security or WordFence Security. They’re both really comprehensive plugins with loads of options for adding different types of protection.
You should be backing up your site regularly so that if you’re unlucky enough to have your site hacked or expensive problems with your hosting account, you don’t lose your data.
Your backup schedule should depend on how often you update your site. If you blog once a week, then you should be ok with backup just once a week too. If you blog more frequently, you should backup more often too.
UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin is a great option. You can run manual backups whenever you want to and you can also set it to automatically backup your files to Dropbox or Google Drive on a schedule.
3. Contact Form
Add a contact form to your website to make it easy for your visitors to get in touch – and hopefully become customers. My favourite contact form plugin is Contact Form 7
It makes it easy to create multiple forms for your site and to customise these forms with text boxes, radio buttons or check boxes, drop down selectors and even a CAPTCHA.
Use a plugin like Yoast SEO to help optimise your website for search engines. You can preview and edit how each page and post will appear in search results by customising the title, keyword and meta description. It also rates your page and gives suggestions on how to improve the rating.
The plugin offers much more than that though; it’ll generate your XML sitemaps for you. It’ll also add OpenGraph data and lets you set different titles, descriptions and images for social media sites.
All in One SEO Pack is a good alternative but I like the extra features that you get with the Yoast plugin.
5. Social Sharing
SumoMe offers a set of tools to make sharing your content easy, including Share easily – customisable sharing buttons, Image Sharer to let users share your pictures (great if you want more traffic from Pinterest), and Highlighter, which lets your visitors highlight and share snippets of your content.
Jetpack also offers you a variety of tools, including social sharing buttons. Another really handy tool is Publicise, which, once you’ve connected it to your social media accounts (like your Facebook page or Twitter profile), will automatically share or tweet a link to your new blog posts. It’s a great time-saver.
So there you have the 5 essential types of plugin you should have on your WordPress site, along with my favourites for each type. What are your must-install plugins?
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