There are literally thousands of free and premium WordPress plugins available to add features and functionality to your web site. Here is a list of the most important plugins that every WordPress blog should have. We use every single one of these on the HTWP2.0 web site.
Plugin Central is the very FIRST plugin you should install on your web site. It will make the installation of most all your other plugins a breeze.
Plugin Central allows you to install an entire list of plugins with the push of a button, then lets you manage them effortlessly from your WordPress Dashboard.
Everyone knows how important Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is to the success of a web site. It’s one of the big reasons why we all use WordPress in the first place. But, to have a real SEO powerhouse you need to install the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast.
Developed by a titan in the SEO community, Joost de Valk (aka Yoast), WordPress SEO is not only the best free plugin we’ve found for on-page SEO, but it helps you to write better content as well.
Here are just a few of the things WordPress SEO by Yoast does:
- Optimizes post titles and meta descriptions
- Robots Meta configuration
- Sets canonical link elements for all pages, including the homepage, categories, and tags
- Controls Breadcrumb functionality
- Permalink clean up
- Create XML Sitemaps
- Enhanced RSS feeds
- Edit your robots.txt and .htaccess files
- Cleans up head section
- Adds Facebook Open Graph protocol
Another vitally important component of a site’s success is the speed with which its pages load, both for human visitors and search engine bots.
- Google’s servers are much faster than yours and will load jQuery files very quickly.
- With Google’s servers doing all the work, load on your servers is reduced.
- If your visitor has previously visited Google, or another site using Google’s Library API, they will already have these files cached, which means your site will load even faster.
One of the best things you can do to improve the speed of your WordPress site is to install a caching plugin. The fastest and most complete one we’ve found is W3 Total Cache.
Once W3 is fully installed and configured, you will see a dramatic improvement in your site’s performance, at least a 10x improvement overall according to the developer.
Secure WordPress works by removing unnecessary and insecure information from your web site so that malicious individuals can not wreak havoc with it.
Here are just a few things that Secure WordPress does:
- Deactivates tooltip and error message at login to WordPress.
- Removes the WordPress version in all areas, including feed and admin area for everyone except Administrators.
- Removes the WordPress version in URLs from scripts and stylesheets on the front-end.
- Creates an index.php file in /plugins/ and /themes/ directories to keep it from showing your directory listing.
- Removes links in wp_head of the front-end for Really Simple Discovery and Windows Live Writer.
- Removes update feature for WordPress core, plugins, and themes for non-admins.
- Blocks bad queries from malicious URL requests.
WP-DBManager is chock-full of features to manage and backup your WordPress databases. With it you can automatically schedule backups, repairs, and optimization of your database. You can also restore a database, delete backup databases, empty or remove tables, and run selected queries on your database.
WP-DBManager is great for managing your databases, however, it should be used in conjunction with a full site backup program, or service, for a complete site backup and restore system.
Sometimes you need to tweak certain things about your site to get it to perform better, or stop it from doing things that you don’t want it to do. That’s where WordPress Tweaks comes in. It is one of those must-have plugins that allows you to easily tweak settings to your administration area, comments, media, and posts.
The WordPress Tweaks plugin is incredibly easy to setup and use. Once installed, go to Settings » Tweaks and enable/disable each item using a check box or drop down menu.
Here are just a few things that WordPress Tweaks allows you to do:
- To help avoid duplicate content issues, WP Tweaks allows you to force excerpts on archive pages.
- Add a “Continue reading” link to excerpts.
- Disable self-pinging to stop WordPress from cluttering up your comments area with pingbacks from your own site.
- Dofollow author and body links left in comments to encourage commenting by rewarding commenting visitors.
- Open external comment and post links in new windows by default.
- Install and activate it as you would any other plugin.
- Create your privacy page and paste the text into it.
- Publish your page, verify everything is to your liking, then delete the plugin.
Fast Secure Contact Form is not the easiest plugin to configure, but it comes with some really nice features that make the extra effort worth it.
Fast Secure Contact Form is highly customizable and allows you to create an unlimited number of forms in the administration panel.
Here are just a few things that the Fast Secure Contact Form plugin allows you to do:
- Create an unlimited number of forms.
- Create standard email contact forms, as well as forms to send a meeting request to talk over phone or video.
- Optional extra fields of any type: text, textarea, check box, radio, select, attachment, date, fieldset (box).
- Allows file attachments.
- Excellent security features.
- Blocks all automated spammers.
- Includes a CAPTCHA and Akismet support.
- Logs contact information of the visitor, including, blog username (if logged on), date/time stamp, IP address, and user agent (browser version). This is invaluable for blocking unwanted emails.
- Ability to backup and restore all of your forms, or single forms and settings.
- and much more!
As its name implies, YARPP creates a list of posts and/or pages related to the current post/page, giving the reader more opportunities to peruse your site and find what they need.
Providing links to related content is not just for reader convenience though, it is excellent for SEO as well as visitor engagement and site ‘stickiness’. The longer people are on your site the more the search engines like it and the more opportunities you have to make a sale, or get ad clicks.
Additionally, using YARPP puts your older content front and center where it gets seen by the search engines. This is an excellent way of increasing your WordPress SEO, and one of the easiest.
YARPP allows you to:
- Automatically create a list of related content for each post or page AND in RSS feeds.
- Display that list at the bottom of each page or post AND as a widget in any widgetized area on your site.
- Use templates to customize how the related content is displayed.
- Display thumbnail images and/or text of related content.
What Do You Think?
How many of these plugins are you already using on your site? What plugins do you use that you just can’t live without? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to share this post with others.