The ever expanding WordPress universe has produced 40,000+ free plugins and growing. With so many plugins to choose from, it’s easy to lose sight of which ones to install within hours of launching your site. Moreover, users should install necessary plugins before searching for themes as finding the theme of choice can take a while.
Figuring out which plugins to install becomes easier when you apply common sense. Naturally, you’ll want to protect your information and secure your site from intruders and hackers. Then, you can focus on site performance and functionality. Lastly, search engine optimization and branding plugins can be weaved into the fold.
Essential Plugin Categories
Regular backups of your site are recommended to safeguard against these possible occurrences: update problems, attacks, and hacks, or accidental file management mistakes. For most websites, daily or weekly backups are best and they can be automated.
With nearly 1 million new malware threats released every day and big business hackers making news headlines weekly, securing your site should be a top priority. Before I paid more attention to site security, I’m sure hackers were trying to gain access to my site. After I had installed a security plugin, I started receiving reports regarding break in attempts. A lot of users underestimate the importance of security, but they shouldn’t with so many free and excellent plugins available.
Ever have to wait for 10 seconds or more for a page to fully appear? Page speed measures the performance of a page for mobile devices and desktop devices, and it’s a factor that Google pays close attention. Fast loading pages produce better experiences for site visitors since it will allow them to access the information they want faster.
Keeping plugins up to date affects security and performance. It’s believed that the Mossack Fonseca Breach aka Panama Papers was a result of the firm using an outdated plugin which had vulnerabilities the hackers exploited. Wordfence added, “To protect your WordPress installation it is critically important that you update your plugins, themes, and core when an update becomes available. You should also monitor updates for security fixes and give those the highest priority. You can find out if a WordPress plugin includes a security update by viewing the changes in the “Changelog.”
Secondly, outdated plugins impact site performance because they aren’t delivering current upgrades and enhancements. Developers update their plugins for reasons that are vital to coding and programming best practices and new developments. That’s why it’s essential we follow up on update notifications.
Ensuring that internal and external links are working (not broken) is another important functionality measure. This can easily be addressed with the right plugin. Broken links are embarrassing, impede the user experience, and cause frustration for visitors.
Search Engine Optimization
It’s inevitable that you’ll turn your attention to SEO activities to appear in search engine results. Understanding SEO is of vital importance to attract traffic to your site, and it’s easier to learn about than you probably think. There are many excellent SEO training tutorials, courses, and resources at your disposal.
I see it time and time again; the webmaster hasn’t updated his favicon which then defaults to that of his hosting provider. A favicon is a 16 x 16-pixel icon that appears on a page tab and bookmarks bar in a browser. It’s the image you want to represent your site. For example, I designed mine with the letter “C” against a blue background. Some themes enable this function, or you can install a plugin.
For each category, there is a free plugin to do the trick. Here are a few plugins worth considering.
- Backup: BackUpWordPress or Duplicator
- Security: Wordfence Security
- Performance – Cache: WP Fastest Cache
- Performance – Page Speed: Autoptimize or JCH Optimize
- Performance: P3 / Plugin Performance Profiler
- SEO: All-In-One SEO or Yoast
- Functionality: Easy Updates Manager
- Functionality: WP-Optimize
- Functionality: Broken Link Checker
- Branding: All In One Favicon