Setting up a website is a very personal act of creation, but there are 5 plugins that every WordPress website needs. All websites need search engine optimization to help your website reach its full potential, backups so that you don’t lose any of your hard work, security to protect your hard work from hackers, caching to keep your website speedy, and commenting software to build a community. It can be a challenge to find the right plugins to meet all these criteria, but below are the essential 5 plugins that every WordPress website needs.
1. WordPress SEO by Yoast
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO is everywhere these days. Good SEO can make a site by getting it the most views by the right audience or bad SEO can leave a website to linger in obscurity. WordPress SEO by Yoast is one of the most comprehensive, popular SEO plugins for WordPress. WordPress SEO by Yoast indexes your posts and pages by using metadata customizable for each individual tag and category archive, even to the point of allowing you to not index archive subpages in order to clean up your search results. Its open graph interface is easy to use for spreading your posts all over social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. There are many great options in WordPress SEO by Yoast to customize permalinks, making it easier for search engines to index your pages. WordPress SEO by Yoast allows you to strip the extraneous “/category/” that WordPress automatically includes in permalinks, cleaning up your URLs. It also makes sure that URLs for attachment files in posts, such as pictures, link back to the parent post instead of keeping their own URL. The easier search engines can find the relevant pages in your website, the higher your search ranking, and the higher your page views.
There is no feeling quite like knowing you’ve accidently overwritten or corrupted your only copy of your website. Preventing this is one of the first things a responsible website owner should do. VaultPress is popular backup plugin from the developers of WordPress that backs up your website to their servers. The backups are taken care of automatically, from every hour to every day depending on rather you are using their lite or basic service. The lite service saves backups for 30 day, while the basic service saves backups from the day you start the service. All files and coding are backed up, and restoring is as simple as clicking the restore button on your VaultPress dashboard. Plans range from $5/month for their lite plan, $15/month for their basic plan, and $40/month for the premium plan. The price is well worth the peace of mind the necessary backup plugin will give you.
Any website is vulnerable to hackers and WordPress is no exception, so protecting your website should be one of the first things you do. WordFence is one of the most popular security plugins and acts as a both an antivirus program and firewall. WordFence is easy to set up and regularly scans your site for malicious code. It lets you know of any problems and gives you the source code in order to see where the suspicious code showed up, and then fixes it for you. WordFence also limits login attempts to prevent the brute force hacks that are so prevalent these days. WordFence keeps an activity log of site traffic to allow you to see any suspicious jumps in traffic as well as keeping track of your day-to-day visitors. The free version has most of the basic functionality but the paid version at $40/month has a few more bell and whistles, such as two-step login, county-wide ISP blocking, and scan scheduling.
4. W3 Total Cache
Faster sites move up higher on the search ranking and get more page views, so a caching plugin is a must have. W3 Total Cache is a popular optimization plugin for WordPress with over 900,000 installs. Website speed affects more than the user experience, it affects your Google search rankings. W3 Total Cache has easy set up for page and browser caching, so that pages download faster and the user has a better experience. W3 Total Cache can even help you integrate a content delivery network to make your website even faster by spreading the cached server load among multiple servers depending on the user’s location.
Anyone who has spent any time on the web has run into Disqus commenting software, and there is a reason for its ubiquity. Comments on popular posts can slow down servers and spambots are everywhere, just waiting to run over an unmediated website. Disqus solves these problems by host the comments on a third-party site so that your server and website speeds are not affected. Disqus allows users to login using their social media login, making it easy for users to track their commenting history and engage in the discussion. Disqus has spam-filters to keep the scourge of the Internet from ruining your comments section. Free and easy to use, it’s no wonder Disqus is in such wide use.