Install These WordPress Plugins:
- Yoast SEO
- WordFence Security
- UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin
- WP Super Cache
- Ninja Forms
- Optimize Database after Deleting Revisions
- MailChimp for WordPress
Regardless of what WordPress theme you’re using, the above plugins will provide the basic functionality needed to run a blog.
A Word About Plugins
Plugins are “great” because they can be quickly installed in order to add almost any functionality to your site. However, plugins can cause problems.
Every plugin you add has the possibly of making your site run slower. Every plugin is an additional way for hackers to get into your site if the author doesn’t keep it updated. A plugin can conflict with a WordPress core update and break your site.
Bottom line? Use the least amount of plugins that it takes to accomplish your objectives. Only add a plugin if you cannot operate your blog without that piece of functionality.
Let me briefly tell you about the plugins I use on this site.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.
You need to install a plugin called Yoast SEO to help with this.
However, Google is the big player and we all know this. Therefore, focus on what Google wants first and then worry about Bing and the rest of the crowd.
I’m not saying to neglect any search engine but I am saying that you have to rank on Google. Page one of Google equates to money. Page two of Google equates to the sound of crickets. SEO should probably be called Google Optimization (GO) since that’s who we’re all trying to please.
Your first stop should be to read this extensive article on Search Engine Optimization by Yoast. It will give you the meat and potatoes of SEO.
Install the Yoast SEO Plugin and follow its guidance and suggestions as closely as you can.
I’m not saying to write your content just to get the green light from the plugin, but you should take note of what it’s telling you.
Years ago, I had a site get hacked. It messed up the site so bad that I had to start fresh and add all the content back manually.
None of the programs I tried could clear out the malicious code. I learned from that painful experience, trust me.
Since then, I’ve been installing Wordfence Security on any site I touch—immediately. No more problems with getting hacked. Simple. This should be the first plugin you install on a new WordPress site!
Wordfence Security is free but they also have a premium version.
UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin
Here’s the other hard lesson I learned when that site got hacked.
I didn’t have a recent, clean backup!
If you have a clean backup, it’s much easier to fix your site if it breaks, gets hacked, your hosting company goes bankrupt, etc.
I can’t stress the importance of this issue strong enough.
Make sure you backup your entire WordPress site.
on a regular basis.
If your website is how you plan to make a living, back it up every day. Keep multiple copies in multiple locations. Keep a thumb drive with the files on a necklace hanging around your neck. Those files make up your entire business and income. Protect them.
The best plugin I’ve found and currently use to back up my site is UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin.
I use the free plugin but they also offer a premium version with a few more features. If you need to clone or move your site, the premium plugin makes the task easy.
The plugin is very easy to use. If you’re a beginner to WordPress, it’s definitely for you.
You should also back up your entire site from the cPanel. It’s a bit more complicated for beginners to figure out but ask your hosting company to help you. I’m confident anyone can use UpdraftPlus so that’s why I recommend it.
WP Super Cache
A caching plugin helps speed up your site which provides a better user experience. That’s the simple explanation.
I’m not going to get too technical other than to tell you that you do need a caching plugin.
I recommend WP Super Cache.
One reason I recommend WP Super Cache over W3 Total Cache is because it’s much easier to use. If you’re a beginner, W3 Total Cache will confuse the hell out of you. There are just way too many settings to figure out.
Let me give W3 Total Cache some credit and say that it does have more features and control. I used it for several years and had nothing but good things to say about it. Until…
On a recent WordPress update, several sites got messed up. After spending all day troubleshooting the problem, W3TC was found to be the culprit.
After that waste of time, I decided to change over to WP Super Cache and see how it works. So far so good.
Simplicity is bliss when you’re trying to run a blog.
On your contact page, you need to have a form so that readers can easily send you an email. (I cheat on this and make users subscribe to my list in order to send me email. It cuts out the SPAM and BS.)
I recommend Ninja Forms.
You’ll see that another plugin called Contact Form 7 is very popular as well.
The reason I recommend Ninja Forms over Contact Form 7 is that it always works the second I install it! Every time I’ve tried to use Contact Form 7, I have to spend an hour on the phone with my hosting company getting them to change some internal email settings.
I don’t have time for that.
I’ll say it again. Simplicity is bliss.
Water takes the path of least resistance. I do too when it comes to making things function properly on a website. I go with whatever works reliably with the least amount of problems and hoops to jump through.
Comment and contact form SPAM is a pain in the ass.
Install Akismet to combat the problem. The plugin checks comments against Akismet’s web service to see if they look like SPAM. If so, the comment gets filtered.
Akismet is free for personal blogs.
Optimize Database After Deleting Revisions
WordPress doesn’t do a very good job cleaning up after itself. Every time you save a post, WordPress keeps a copy of the previous version. In theory, that’s good because you can always revert back to an earlier time in your writing.
The bad thing is that every revision takes up space in your database. Your database will continue to grow and potentially slow down your site.
Install Optimize Database after Deleting Revisions. It’s simple to setup.
It only takes one click to optimize your database and keep things tidy.
MailChimp for WordPress
I use MailChimp for my email marketing efforts.
MailChimp is free until you reach 2,000 subscribers. Once you hit 2,000 subscribers, you have to purchase a paid subscription. You can send up to 12,000 emails per month on the free plan.
You need either MailChimp or AWeber to help build your email list.
The problem with MailChimp is that the signup boxes usually turn out to be ugly. Install MailChimp for WordPress and you’re in business.
If your theme comes with a custom subscribe form, you probably don’t need this plugin.
The WordPress theme you choose may require certain plugins to make it function properly.
Make sure you pay attention to what plugins your theme requires. If these plugins are not being updated, get another theme!
Read my article on the Best WordPress Theme to find out why I recommend Newspaper 8.