You’ve just launched your WordPress website – or maybe you’re about to! Either way, congratulations. DIY-ing a website is no small task, especially if you’re not a web designer!
If you’ve felt confused about WordPress plugins, you’re definitely not alone. I think we’ve all been there. What plugins are worth installing? What plugins are the best for site security? How about for spam? SEO?
Girl, I’ve got you. Read on for information about 5 essential WordPress plugins that I install on most new sites I create.
1 | A security plugin
Let’s get the super boring part over with first and talk about WordPress site security. No free plugin will be able to provide a security guarantee for your website, but you’ll want to have some basic security no matter what your monthly maintenance budget is.
WordFence is the most popular WordPress security plugin. That’s because it’s pretty damn good!
So, what does it do? Here’s a quick list:
- Scans your site on a regular basis for security threats
- Reports on potential security issues and gives you recommendations on how to fix them
- Creates a firewall to filter attacks before they reach your site
- Shows you live traffic on your site + monitors traffic for suspicious activity
- Lots more!
I recommend installing WordFence, iThemes Security, or another reputable security plugin and setting it up as soon as you can. Most security plugins have a premium version that comes with advanced security features. Install the free version for now if you don’t have a budget for site security at the moment. Then circle back and purchase the pro version once it becomes more feasible for you.
When your website is bringing in more than 1-2k per month, I’d recommend investing in the pro version of your security plugin to protect the time investment you’ve made in your website.
2 | An SEO tool
Yoast and RankMath are plugins that help you do a lot of content-related (on-page) SEO optimization of your blog posts and website pages. They can also do a few other things for you – like selecting a particular photo that’s displayed when you share a blog post on Facebook, for example.
SEO plugins are handy tools for many reasons and I highly recommend installing one and getting to know your way around it. The Yoast website has tons of free resources for you to level up your Yoast skills.
The most popular feature of Yoast is probably its suggestions that appear when editing a post or a page. After you enter your target keyword into the Yoast focus keyword box and begin writing your post in the WordPress editor, you’ll see specific suggestions appear that will help you optimize your post for the keyword you’ve selected. See below for the suggestions Yoast is generating for me as I write this post!
It’s important to note that Yoast is not an end-all-be-all for SEO. No SEO plugin will likely ever help you rank highly for a keyword with significant competition. Yoast provides a great little set of suggestions, but it’s nowhere near an exclusive list of what you need to do to get your post ranked higher in search.
To rank on page one for a keyword with any amount of competition, you’ll need a thorough understanding of all three parts of SEO: on-page optimization, off-page optimization, and link building.
In other words, Yoast and RankMath are great and you should install it and learn about it, but you should also learn more about SEO when you have time. Don’t bother with the premium version of the plugins – you’re better off learning about SEO and implementing what you learn.
3 | jQuery PinIt Button for Images
If you’re a blogger or you plan to use Pinterest as part of your marketing strategy, this one is definitely one of your essential WordPress plugins. It lets you upload a custom “Pin-It” button that shows up when website visitors view your pinnable images!
It takes a little bit of work to set up, but that’s why I wrote a tutorial on how to create and upload custom Pin-It buttons. You can design your own custom buttons (In Illustrator, Photoshop, Canva, etc.) that match your branding and upload them using this plugin.
Just another relatively quick way to customize and brand your website without coding knowledge!
4 | Askimet
Askimet protects your website from spam comments.
Most of us have comments disabled on individual site pages but not on posts. Once you start getting regular traffic, you’ll, unfortunately, have to fight off spammy comments pretty much on the daily. Most of these are super generic and don’t add anything to the conversation and/or include links to the commenter’s site – an annoying and outdated way to build up links for their site.
You can flag these comments as spam and delete them inside of WordPress without a plugin, but installing and setting up Askimet will allow the plugin to auto-flag comments that look like spam.
I recommend setting it up on your site because it’ll take sorting through spammy comments off of your plate, for the most part. It’s pretty good at accurately deciding which comments are spam and which ones are real. Your site will look a lot more credible without spammy comments on it, too.
Askimet is free to install for personal sites. It costs $5 per month, per site for monetized sites.
5 | UpDraft Plus or another backup plugin
You just never know when a backup of your site will come in handy. Hopefully, never. But chances are that someday you’re going to break something on your site while updating it and you’ll want to revert to a previous version.
Avoid losing all of your hard work if you accidentally break your site by backing it up on a regular basis.
UpDraft Plus is an amazing plugin that has a free version that’s good enough for most websites. After installing it, you can set it up to automatically back up your entire site to the platform of your choice – Dropbox, Google Drive, etc., for free. Mine backs up every night to my Google Drive.
Having to restore your site to a previous version isn’t fun, but losing your entire website is a lot less fun. Start backing it up regularly and you can breathe easier knowing that no matter how badly you “mess up” while working on your website that you’ll have access to a non-broken version.
Alright, so those are really the essential WordPress plugins for pretty much every website or blog! The only plugin listed here that might not apply is the custom Pin-It button plugin if you don’t plan to use Pinterest for your business. Pinterest marketing is a super-powerful traffic generation machine, though, so definitely explore that if you haven’t yet!
There are soooo many more plugins that I like and that I use on a regular basis. But each site is unique and there aren’t many plugins that need to be installed on every website in the world. What other WordPress plugins do you find to be essential?
Pin me for later!