There are over 55,000 WordPress plugins available through the platform. They extend the functionality of your website.
It’s thanks to plugins that you can capture leads or create a membership website.
But installing too many can cause problems during updates. And they can slow down your website.
Instead, start with the essential plugins to get great performance and functionality.
With so many options, where should you start? If you’re looking for the most helpful WordPress plugins, read on to learn more.
It’s a sad fact that the internet is not always a safe place. 18.5 million websites can be infect with malware at any given time.
Help protect the security of your website with a firewall and anti-malware plugin. Wordfence Security is one of the best. A free and a premium version are available.
The free version blocks malicious traffic and includes a malware scanner. This blocks attempts to add dangerous code to your website. And it limits login attempts to stop brute force attacks.
Wordfence scans your site for known security issues. It’ll send email alerts about potential problems.
One of the downsides to the free version is you have to wait 30 days for updated firewall rules.
Choose the premium version for real-time updates to firewall rules and malware signatures. Wordfence Premium also blocks requests from malicious IPs. It uses its IP Blacklist, which updates in real-time.
The premium version alerts you if your website is blacklisted. That could happen if your website generates spam or creates other security issues.
Wordfence also now comes with two-factor authentication as standard. This asks a user to prove their identity before they can log in to the WordPress dashboard.
Google Analytics is a great friend for your website. You can track page views, sessions, and your bounce rate.
The higher the bounce rate, the quicker visitors leave without engaging with you.
Checking your analytics regularly can also alert you to SEO problems.
An algorithm change could see your rankings dip. Or you could lose traffic altogether. Knowing there’s a problem gives you a chance to fix things.
You can manually add code to your website to link your site and your Analytics account. But you may not feel confident adding raw code to your website.
The MonsterInsights plugin does it for you in a couple of clicks. So you can’t break the link between your site and Analytics by changing your WordPress theme.
You can also access your Analytics dashboard inside WordPress. These stripped back reports show you the data you need to see what’s working.
It’s simple to use and it makes it easy to use Google Analytics. The plugin also stays up to date with any updates to Google Analytics. So you won’t miss out on new features.
Find out data like:
Armed with this information, you can provide content that your audience needs. And you can better target the right keywords.
The free version is really powerful. But the pro version extends its functions. Here, you can track 404 errors and create custom reports. It also integrates with Google Adsense.
Yoast SEO is one of the best SEO WordPress plugins. Its simple interface helps you optimize each post.
Specify a keyword and it’ll track how often you use it in your content. That helps you avoid keyword stuffing. And it helps you check that you have keywords in the right places.
It’ll scan your images for optimized alt-tags. And you can specify different featured images to appear on social media platforms.
Write SEO-friendly titles and meta descriptions to help Google find your content. Pay attention to the ‘readability’ score to write human-friendly content, not just Google-friendly.
It undertakes an SEO audit of your site. And you can even create a site structure using internal linking.
That’s useful for search engines. These sitemaps help teach them what your site is about. Which makes them more likely to serve your site in the results.
But it also keeps visitors on your website for longer. That lowers your bounce rate and helps visitors get to know you and your content.
You backup the contents of your hard drive. You might use cloud storage or a physical external drive. And you probably use an app to back up the contents of your smartphone.
So why wouldn’t you back up your website?
Updraft Plus offers a range of options to back up your web content. Set the schedule that works for you, depending on how often you update your site.
You can save backups to Dropbox or Google Drive. Other cloud platforms are available. Or send them over FTP or email.
UpdraftPlus backs up the content and the database. So a single click of a button restores the entire website.
It’s useful to have in case a plugin update breaks your site. Or you get hacked and you want to reinstall a ‘clean’ copy of your site.
Having a backup also makes it easier to swap from one hosting provider to another. Besides, you can’t buy that kind of peace of mind.
There is a free and a pro version. The pro version comes with access to support so it might be worth the investment.
An easy way to speed loading times of your website is optimizing images. You should try to upload web-optimized images anyway.
But using a plugin like Smush Image Compression and Optimisation can help.
It uses lossless compression so you won’t lose image quality by using the plugin. You can even set maximum sizes for the height and width to scale down large images.
Smush also finds images on your site that are slowing down loading speeds. It can process GIFs, JPEGs and PNGs. And they don’t even need to be in the media library to be optimized.
You can bulk optimize your images, compressing up to fifty in one go. Then set it to compress images automatically as you upload them.
It also includes built-in lazy loading. That means your website will only serve the images above the fold to speed up loading times.
Smush serves images further down as the user scrolls.
If you want to improve the loading speed of your website, caching is a must. W3 Total Cache is a good free option
When a visitor lands on your website, a cache stores the page data in a temporary space. Next time the user visits that page, the cache serves it up – not your website.
This cuts loading time for pages and boosts performance for your site as a whole.
W3 Total Cache is a comprehensive caching plugin with a huge range of settings to play with. You can cache the database, pages, objects, and browser.
There’s even the opportunity to connect your website to a content delivery network (CDN) for even faster loading.
It’s vital that visitors can share your content on social media. You want to control how that content shows up on each platform.
Social Snap lets you do this, with support for vertical Pinterest images.
You can choose a scrolling sidebar or inline buttons. And you’ve got over thirty social networks to choose from.
It displays share counts. Best of all, it lets you recover old share counts if you switch domains.
You’ll also lose your share counts if you move to HTTPS because most share platforms treat it as a new website. But Social Snap lets you use your old counts.
If you’re happy to pay for extra features, you can also set up an auto-poster to share content to social media. It can boost your older posts on LinkedIn or Facebook.
And you can target specific networks on different devices. It makes more sense to show a Whatsapp button on a smartphone and an email icon on a laptop.
Some other social sharing plugins can slow down your website. But Social Snap loads asynchronously so you get better performance.
These are just seven of the WordPress plugins you need to maintain a healthy site. We haven’t even had time to look at lead generation plugins. Or plugins that handle proofreading or editorial calendars.
But having a fast loading, secure site is your absolute priority. It boosts your presence with Google, giving you more traffic. Checking analytics means you can create more content that works for your audience.
Get started with these seven plugins. Then add other plugins, like Thrive Leads, when you can. And make sure you have a regular plan to update them.
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