Hello again! Welcome to part 2 of my “WordPress and its Technicalities” series! This article will cover a lot about plugins and my personal and professional opinions on the best plugins for any WordPress website. Without further delay, let’s get to it!
So what is a plugin?
Well, it’s a piece of software that extends the functionality of another piece of software. In hardware terms, it’s like adding a second video card to boost your gaming performance. In terms of WordPress: plugins can make your life easier while also adding value for your readership. With so many plugins out there, how do you know which ones to use? I’m going to tell you which one’s I see as “must haves” and those that are optional.
Why do plugins matter?
Stock WordPress is a great piece of software! It’s your basic blog, and will get the job done, but it’s a bit limited. There’s next to no Search Engine Optimization (SEO), SSL support is still lacking, and security against hackers and SPAM is almost non-existent.
So what plugins should I use?
Must Have Plugins:
- Jetpack by WordPress.com – This is kind of a Swiss army knife of plugins. It can provide everything from WordPress.com integration, to backups, to social media sharing icons, and more. Granted, some of the better functionality is paywalled, but there are great alternative plugins that you can use instead.
- Akismet Anti-Spam – This comes pre-stalled with WordPress, but you must enable it. It’s your first line of defense against spammers. Note: You’ll need to get at least a basic free key from the Akismet website.
- Wordfence Security – Over all, this is a useful plugin to help combat not only SPAM that Akismet doesn’t catch, but those that would defile and abuse your blog. Nothing is 100% when it comes to hackers, but adding as many obstacles in the way will help frustrate and deter them from unauthorized entry. Note: there is a free basic and a paid “Pro” version, so some functionality is paywalled.
- Advanced noCaptcha & invisible Captcha – Aside from a very long name, this is also a useful anti-SPAM plugin that will add the “I am not a robot” check to your registration and login pages. Note: You will need a key set from Google in order to use it. It’d relatively painless to obtain these keys.
- Yoast SEO – Search Engine Optimization is very important if you want people to find you on search engines like Google and Bing. This plugin will help you with not only key words and relevance, but also your content in general, after all “content is king” is a little more than a catch phrase; it’s a way to keep your readers engaged and coming back for more!
- Really Simple SSL – If you run with an SSL certificate, this plugin helps ensure all content is linked using https. Modern browsers now tell you when you’re on an “unsecured” site. With Let’s Encrypt doling out free SSL certificates, it’s now possible for all of your websites to run secured without spending a dime.
- Cloudflare – This plugin optimizes your stats for use with the cloud DDoS protection service, Cloudflare. In essence, it passes the real client information to WordPress, instead of the Cloudflare servers, so your blog’s stats show up properly. I highly suggest Cloudflare’s services.
- Custom Meta Widget – The default “Meta Widget” is a bit limiting, and you can’t remove the WordPress link if you wish to hide their branding or remove the extra clutter. That’s where this plugin comes in handy. It’s completely customizable and very simple to use!
- Easy Custom Auto Excerpt – There’s nothing like going to a blog and you have to wade through multiple 400+ word articles, complete with pictures. Ugh! This plugin shows only a short excerpt from your article on your front page. I suggest using it to help tidy up your blog a bit.
- WP-Optimize – Sometimes your WordPress database will get a little messy, and slow down a bit, causing longer page loads. I suggest this plugin because it will help clean up and optimize your database, resulting in faster performance. The faster a page will load, the faster your readers will engage your content, the better off everyone is. You want this if you’re running a high volume site.
- WP AutoTerms – This plugin helps with setting up Terms of Service, disclaimers, and GDPR compliance. You’ll want to do some research what policies you must implement. GDPR is required in the EU, so this sill help you out with those functions as well.
- Auto Clean URL for SEO – Yoast SEO is an excellent plugin, don’t get me wrong, but cleaning “stop words” from the URL is a premium feature I don’t feel I should have to pay for. Stop words are words that search engines ignore. These include “the,” “they,” and “these.” You don’t want Google and Bing ignoring your posts, right? That’s what this prevents.
End of part 2
That’s it for now! I hope you find these plugins as useful as I do. I’ll revise these lists as needed, so they may change from time to time. Next up, I’ll cover why “Content is King” is a thing! Until then, happy blogging!
Maybe more later…