One of the things that makes WordPress so perfect, is the huge community behind it. Because of this community there are a whole range of plugins and themes you can get and the majority are free; whenever I setup a new WordPress site for a client or friend I always tend to install the same and what I think are essential plugins. The plugins I install are:
I used to use the All in One SEO pack, however since I discovered the Yoast SEO plugin I would never turn back. It has a whole host of features which at the time of me moving to the Yoast plugin wasn’t available in the All in One SEO Pack.
Some of my favourite features of the Yoast plugin are:
- Freedom to no index category, tag and archive pages easily, while allowing them to stay followed.
- Google and Bing Webmaster tools verification support
- The ability to easily change titles for category, tag and archive pages
- On page SEO grader allowing you to see where your keywords should be included
- Canonical tag support
- XML sitemap creation with options to exclude certain categories
Contact Form 7
I’ve tried many contact form plugins, and so far contact form 7 has been my favourite; though it is closely followed by the premium plugin ‘Gravity Forms’. Gravity Forms is much more advanced, it has many more features than Contact Form 7 but for most websites these features are not needed and they just complicate things.
Some of my favourite features of the contact form 7 plugin are:
- Very simple to use
- ‘Hooks’ allow for easy additions such as Google Analytics event tracking
- Add on plugins are available such as the SMS plugin which will text you when a form is filled in or the Flamingo plugin that will save form submissions to the database
W3 Total Cache
Site speed is important, and the W3 Total Cache plugin does a good job at getting those page loading times down. W3 Total Cache improves your websites loading times by:
- Browser caching
- Minifying JavaSscript, HTML, CSS and feeds
- Database caching
- CDN support
There are many options within the W3 Total Cache plugin, and if you are unsure of what anything does it is worth researching it before making changes.
If you are serious about blogging or you are maintaining / creating a company website. It’s important to ensure your websites content, design and database is regularly backed up. Of course this is something you can do manually by downloading all of the files but who has time for that?
Vault Press automatically backs up your WordPress website allowing you to easily revert to a previous version of your site with a click of a button. Vault Press is a premium plugin but is well worth the money (starting at $5). Some of my favourite Vault Press features are:
- Very simple to setup
- Easy to restore a backup
- Very cheap for what you get
Disqus compared to standard WordPress comments allows users to login with social accounts to comment, it also integrates seamlessly with WordPress so the comments still show in the WP admin. As well as being more user friendly it also looks a lot nicer and allows you to make a bit of money on the side by showing not intrusive ads in your comment section (optional).
Disqus has been proven to increase comment activity so it can only be a good thing to install. Some of my favourite features of the Disqus plugin are:
- Very easy to setup
- Ability to show ads and make some extra money in a non-intrusive way
- Lower bounce rate by showing related articles in the comment section
- Easy to use admin area and the ability to import old comments from the standard WordPress installation