Because WordPress is an open-source platform, developers of all skillsets are able to contribute their own ideas to the global WordPress community – and over time, this has resulted in the creation of a whole library of software that can be used to extend the functionality of a basic platform.
From downloadables that will help you protect your CMS, to tools that will help you manage your social media output, these days, there are plugins out there for pretty much any purpose. They’re the building blocks of WordPress, and, incredibly, they’re enabling WordPress website designers to create online portals that are more powerful and more impactful than ever before.
But with so many WordPress plugins to choose from, how do you know which extra features are worth getting your hands on? And if you’re thinking of splashing out on a premium product, how do you know it’s going to be worth the hype (and the money)?
I’ve put together a list of five of the most useful WordPress plugins currently available from WordPress’ own Plugin Directory.
Some believe that a WordPress site without Jetpack is a waste of precious development time! Created by the WordPress team themselves, this nifty little package offers all kinds of tools to help webmasters design, market and protect their platform. A free version is available, but there’s so much to Jetpack that you’ll need to take a look at the add-on’s website to fully absorb all of the great features that are available here – but one thing’s for sure, you won’t regret paying out for the Premium or Professional version if you’re serious about creating a high-performance platform.
Every single webmaster on the planet is vulnerable to hacks, disasters and dreaded security breaches. The worst thing you can do as the owner of a WordPress site is rest on your laurels and believe that ‘it’ll never happen to you’.
UpdraftPlus lets you schedule in regular backups and allows you to send your database and website files to a destination of your choice. All the hard work will take place in the background; the tool will be working away silently to keep records of all the components that keep your WordPress site together.
If you’re not yet ready to place your data in the hands of a plugin, though, remember that I offer a monthly WordPress website maintenance service which can take care of the important business for you.
3. Wordfence Security
This plugin protects your site against malicious attacks in a different way – it boasts firewall protection, malware scanners, blocking features and login security functionality, which means it can really make sure there’s nothing shifty going on in the CMS. And thanks to its unique analytics package, it also logs all real-time activities, so you’ll be able to spot any suspicious login attempts straightaway.
4. WP Rocket
This is a plugin that’s easy to install, easy to configure, and easy to take for granted! It’s a page caching tool, which means it works behind the scenes to speed up your site to provide a faster and more appealing experience to your users (and boost page indexing). It makes sure that images are only loaded once the visitor has scrolled down the page to them, too, which optimises your page load time even further.
WP Rocket isn’t cheap, but in my opinion, it’s 100% worth the money. Prices start from around $49 for an annual license for one website.
5. Yoast SEO
Ask any SEO expert for their favourite search engine optimisation plugin, and chances are they’ll tell you Yoast SEO is the way to go.
Using a simple-to-follow traffic light system, the tool highlights areas within your pages that could be improved from an SEO perspective. It also offers a whole wealth of extra features that can help you manage onpage SEO factors; for example, you can use the plugin to automatically generate URLs, develop straightforward XML sitemaps, and tell Google not to index certain pages if you don’t want them to be crawled and listed online. The free version is enough for most website owners, but the premium package offers advanced functionality for search specialists.
And here are some plugins that might not be suitable for every business website or blog, but that deserve an honourable mention anyway:
This useful resource allows you to manage your online shop with ease. WooCommerce is designed to help you calculate delivery and shipping costs, facilitate online payments and even manage your stock levels.
Want your users to be able to search your platform to find what they need? SearchWP takes the frustration out of the process by delivering accurate results based on keyword stems instead of exact matches.
If you allow people to comment on your WordPress pages or posts, you’ll fall victim to spam at some point. Akismet checks all comments on your behalf and filters out the ones that it believes have been generated by bots, not humans.