Once you have created your website, you are going to want to install plugins. That’s the beauty of WordPress. There are plugins that basically allow you to add anything you can imagine to your website. In this post, I will give you my opinion on what I think are the best WordPress plugins to install on your website.
As tempting as it can be to add plugins for every single cool thing, I try to install the minimum possible. I see people get carried away by adding over 20 plugins to a site. The same goes with the Divi Theme by Elegant Press. Just because you can add hundred’s of features, doesn’t mean you should!
Try and keep it clean and lightweight. There are a couple of reasons you don’t want to go crazy with adding plugins:
The more plugins you install, the slower your site speed will be. And we know that site speed is a factor in rankings according to Google.
As you continue to update your WordPress, some of the plugins may not work correctly with the new versions. Also, some plugins could interfere with other plugins.
I’ve had to deal with this on several occasions, and you basically have to go one by one to figure out which is the plugin that is causing the conflict.
If you don’t update your plugins, or even your themes, you could be leaving yourself vulnerable to hackers. So you constantly have to update plugins to make sure you don’t give hackers an easy in into your site.
A reason I like the WordPress theme I use, which is the Divi Theme by Elegant Themes, is that many of the plugins you would need to install are already built into the theme.
ESSENTIAL WORDPRESS PLUGINS
So below are the plugins I install right away after a fresh wordpress installation. I like to add plugins that many other’s use since I can see if they have good reviews or not. I tend to stay away from the lesser known ones, because as I mentioned earlier, you have to watch out for vulnerabilities.
Now, on to the list:
1) BACK UP BUDDY
You have to back-up your site. In wordpress, it’s not that easy doing it manually. Back when I was designing sites in HTML, you simple had to FTP your entire online site onto your hard drive and that was it. However, WordPress creates multiple database tables and simply moving everything onto your hard drive isn’t that simple. I use Back Up Buddy which you can read about here.
Two of my sites were recently hacked. Just like backing up your site, you never know how important something is until it actually happens to you. In all my years building websites, I have never been hacked and I’ve built a lot of sites.
I looked around for different wordpress security programs and narrowed it down to 3: Sucuri, iThemes Security and Wordfence.
I opted for Wordfence for several reasons. The biggest reason was that it had great reviews around the community, and they have a free version of the program that works great.
You can read more about it on their site.
2) W3 TOTAL CACHE
Speed as you know is an important factor. Most websites will have some kind of cache plugin that will increase the speed of your site. I used Hostgator for several of my sites, and at one point they would automatically have WP Super Cache installed on your WordPress site. However, there was one time when this plugin broke and many users couldn’t log in to deactivate this plugin.
I remember asking for support and they sent me to an article to go fend for myself. I was finally able to deactivate this plugin by going into the files via my Cpanel account.
I’ve used W3 exclusively ever since then. Also because many experts in this field recommend this plugin. There are many features available, and unless you are a pro, you should probably only be using the one feature, with is clicking the Page Caching option.
Click here to download this plugin.
If you want to get ranked on the internet you have to download an SEO plugin. I’ve used All-In-One SEO and also Yoast. I now exclusively use Yoast. Not only do some of the most popular SEO experts and bloggers use it, but it is packed with many features.
It creates an xml sitemap for you, so you don’t have to install a separate program. It also lets you alter your title tags and meta descriptions which is probably the biggest ranking factor for search engine optimization.
Download and read more about it here.
4) QUICK ADSENSE
If you plan on monetizing your site with Adsense or any other ad provider, you will want a plugin that can automatically insert ads for you on your posts and pages. There are several plugins available and I have used a few.
I currently use Quick Adsense and also WP Insert on my sites. I tend to like Quick Adsense a bit more since it gives you a bit more control of where exactly on the page you can place your ads. But it’s hard to go wrong with either one.
5) THIRSTY AFFILIATE
This is a plugin I recently discovered and it’s fantastic, especially if you are doing any type of affiliate marketing. As you know, when you get a link from an affiliate it’s usually very long. This plugin cloaks the link and makes it very simple. For example, my affiliate link to Elegant Themes is:
Using this plugin, look at how it changed it:
It made the link cloak under: dezignmywebsite.com/recommends/elegant-themes/
Not only that, but you have the option to make it NOFOLLOW, which if you have read my previous post on my Google Penalty, you are going to definitely want to NoFollow any affiliate links. It also opens the link in a new window.
You can find out more and download this plugin here.
Note: I have noticed that sometimes, W3 Total Cache and even Yoast can sometimes break this plugin. Meaning that the links will go to an error page. So make sure you check the links from time to time.
If you are publishing content, you want your readers to be able to share it. Monarch is a beautifully designed plugin that lets you add social sharing to your sites. This plugin is part of the Elegant Themes package (another reason I recommend using them). You can add social sharing boxes on the side, in the post, pop up, etc etc. I use to use SumoMe which did this and I really liked, but I ditched it for Monarch just because it was easier to manage with my theme.
You can find out more about this plugin by clicking the affiliate link above.
Smart marketers will say that the money is in your list. What if Google stops liking you one day and you lose all your organic traffic? Having a mailing list still keeps you in business. You need to start collecting emails as soon as you can, and this plugin lets you accomplish this. Again, this is another Elegant Themes plugin! The plugin integrates with many of the popular mailing programs. I use MailChimp (which is free to start out) and I connect it with Bloom.
This plugin creates really nice looking sign up forms. You can have optin forms on posts, pop-up, on the sides. Very nice plugin.
8) ULTIMATE NO FOLLOW
You’ve probably heard people, including me, tell you that you should NoFollow certain links. You can read about my Google Penalty case in an earlier post. Great, now how do you do that?
The way to do it without this plugin is to go into your TEXT tab in your post or page, and after each link, you need to add the nofollow tag. After several links, this can be a pain in the butt to keep doing. I’m actually surprised the core WordPress theme doesn’t have this option already. I imagine in the future they will, but for now, I prefer to use this plugin to easily let me make my links NoFollow.
What I like about this plugin is that it even makes the comments in the post no follow as well. This protects you, in case someone adds some kind of spam link that got by your approval.
Check out this plugin here. (By the way, this is a no follow link :))
And there you have it. I’ll keep adding to this list as I find more essential plugins since I constantly test them out. For example, at one point, I was using WP Smush It to reduce image sizes. But stopped using it for a while as it was conflicting with another plugin I had. I may go back and give it a try.
What plugins do you use?