How do I know which are Essential WordPress Plugins?
WordPress is undoubtedly the most trusted and popular blogging platform out there on web. One of the main reason WordPress gained huge popularity in last few years is because of its easy plugins integration facility that makes life simpler for webmasters. Though I personally prefer manual coding instead of plugin. The main reason behind is, if the Plungin is not coded efficiently then that affects site performance. On the other hand, there are some amazing plugins, which do not only make life simpler for you but also increase your site visibility, performance, attributes to a great extent.
Now the question is; there are vast array of plugins available out there, which ones should I use? Well! It’s true that there are at least 50-60 useful plugins, which can easily make their way to your plugins list. But it is simply not possible to use all of them. So we have to think economically according to the requirement and importance. Here I am going to list 10 free plugins, which I think are indispensable for every blogger. I consider these plugins are best in their business because it’s hard to find their replacement. Regardless what kind of blog you are running these plungins are going to add value to it. Here they come in no specific order of importance or utility.
Without this plugin half of your blogging activity would be deleting spam comment only. From the day one you will witness a flood of spam filling up your comment box. Some of them are even disguised in nice words like “I like what you post, your post is quite appealing” and others are just raw links. This official WordPress plugin detects spam comment and directly send them to trash folder. Akismet stands first in my “Essential WordPress Plugin” chart.
In order to activate this plugin you need an API key. You can easily get that key by creating a free account here.
WordPress SEO by Yoast:
This SEO Plugin is Downloaded: 10,051,954 times till date ( as on 07/05/2014). The number itself tells us the fact, how indispensable this plugin is for every blogger. The diversified features of this plugin covers almost everything you need for on-page SEO. Trust me, you really cannot afford to overlook this plugin.
Some really amazing features of this plugin are :
- On-page Seo Analysis
- Lets you edit and modify your .htaccess and robots.txt file
- Automatic XML Sitemaps generation
- RSS Optimization facility
- Meta And Link Elements that lets you control which pages should show up in Google search result.
- Easy Google Authorship integration
- And more
- On-page SEO best Practice that will zoom your search engine ranking
W3 Total cache:
This is certainly one of the most powerful cache plugin that can help you to reduce blog loading time in a great extent. You should optimize to reduce blog loading time not only for better visitor experience but also to secure higher SERP ranking.
Because, now blog loading time is also an important factor in calculating search engine ranking. Google announced; blogs, which load faster will have upper hand to secure higher ranking. W3 cache plngin has all the inbuilt resources which can improve your site performance significantly by caching browser, Minify, Java Script, CSS etc. But do keep in mind; if you fail to configure this mighty plugin correctly, it can even backfire you by crashing down your website.(Having being failed to configure this plug-in correctly, you might risk up crashing your blog down)
W3 Total cache helps you to do:
- Easy implementation of CDN ( content delivery network)
- Page caching to reduce site response time
- Compacting of CSS and JS files by Minifying them
- Database caching (Post, page)
- And more
- How to correctly configure W3 Total Cache
By crafting post with images is the most easiest and effective way to beautify your blog. Image can easily grab hold the attention of the readers and stick them( make them stick) to the blog for longer period of time. It’s a proven fact and everybody should use related image in the blog post. Though it has a negative side. Images are basically large in size and take longer time to load, which significantly drags down site performance. So, it is very much important to compress and reduce image file size. WP Smush Plugin exactly does that for you. It’s truly an essential WordPress Plugin for every blogger.
Any blogger’s success story largely depends on how well he manages to reduce bounce rate. YARP (yet another related post plugin) automatically chooses most matching articles and display them under every blog post which lures blog reader to navigate to the new page resulting lower bounce rate. Another essential WordPress Plugin which is quite effective.
Floating Social Bar:
Without strong presence in social networking sites neither you can make your blog successful nor can emerge as a successful brand. Along with that social presence also significantly boost SEO weight-age. So social bookmarking and sharing plugin is quite essential for every blog. Choosing a social plugin is quite a task though. Because according to the user feedback, most of the social share plugins are quite heavy and take lot of time to load.
Floating Social Bar is by far the lightest plugin out there. Easy to use and serves the required purpose.
Google XML sitemaps:
This plugin automatically generates an update sitemap and lets search engines know when ever you post a new content in your blog. This plugin is quite useful for the new blogger because instantly it acts on and help your post to get indexed fast in search engines which minimizes the chances of content being copied.
Contact Form 7:
This plugin gives you the flexibility to manage customized several contact form. This “easy to use” simple yet flexible plugin has been downloaded more than 17 million times till date. It is also compatible with Akismet. So, you can be rest assured spammers won’t get though.
Database Backup is another essential WordPress plugin which you should definitely use in your blog. This is the most easiest and hardcore protection stance one can take against possible hack threat and database crash. It supports both mysql and Php.
iThemes Security (formerly Better WP Security):
Another very useful and indispensable plugin one can not afford to overlook.
Tel me one thing honestly : Can you really afford to risk loosing everything you have in your blog being vulnerable by not taking proper precaution against possible WordPress hack?
I am sure you can not. Here iThemes Security (formerly know as Better WP Security) plays its role. It provides more than 30+ ways to shield your WordPress site.
Key functions :
- Protects from automated attacks
- Detects Multiple logging attempts
- fixes common security holes
- Detects bots and other malicious activity
- provides facility to alter WordPress log-in and Admin panel etc.
Note: Pro version has multiple extra features.
Do keep in mind, Plugins are very useful and they are meant to make life simple not harder. But excessive use of plugins will produce negative result. It will drastically effect blog performance which will cause negative user experience.
All the plugins listed here are free to download and they are undoubtedly best in their category.
Here is a quick summery of the above mentioned essential WordPress plugins:
- To protect comment spam = Akismet
- For all your SEO needs = WordPress SEO by Yoast
- To increase blog performance = W3 Total cache
- Compress and Reduce image file size = WP Smush.it
- To show related post = YARPP
- To make social Sharing Easier = Floating Social Bar
- To update sitemap and let search engine know = Google XML sitemaps
- To customized contact form = Contact Form 7
- To backup WordPress = WP-DB-Backup
- To protect your blog from possible hacking iThemes Security
Apart from those essential WordPress Plugin there are few more fess plugins available which are quite useful as well. Here they are :-
Do you use any other plugin which you think is indispensable and everyone should use? Please share with us in comment section.