Setting up a blog with WordPress is quick and simple. No wonder that WordPress is one of the most popular blogging platforms available, and it’s available for free! However, even though WordPress is a powerful blogging platform, there are still a lot of things that it won’t do for you on its own. But luckily for all the bloggers, there are plenty of plugins to choose from .
Plugins are small pieces of software you can add to your WordPress website to provide additional functionality. But what plugins do you need? There are so many listed on the WordPress plugin directory it can be hard to know what’s really necessary and helpful. Instead of worrying about getting the “right” plugins or, even worse, just not getting any, here are five plugins that no blogger should be without.
Here is my list of 5 must-have plugins I’d recommend to every blogger.
You’ve probably heard the term “SEO” when you’ve been working on your blog. SEO, or search engine optimisation, is a skill that every blogger needs but not every blogger has. You don’t need to invest time and effort to become a SEO expert, though, when you have the Yoast SEO plugin on your side. Yoast SEO comes in two versions, a free version, and a paid version, but the free version comes with enough tools to get you started.
Yoast SEO provides powerful technical integration with WordPress to allow search engines to direct people to your site, without requiring you to know any technical skills. It keeps itself updated with the latest search algorithms from Google, so your site always has the best possible listing.
Yoast SEO also features powerful writing tools to allow you to tailor your content while you’re working on it. Yoast SEO allows you to set key phrases or things that people might search for when looking for your content, and lets you see how well your content matches up in terms of readability and searchability.
Backing up your website is very important, as anything from malicious attacks to server outages can cause your website data to be erased. UpdraftPlus is a plugin that allows you to set an automated backup schedule for your website, so you can simply ‘set and forget’ it!
UpdraftPlus can backup your website to a number of destinations, including Google Drive and Dropbox. You can then restore your website, if you ever need to, from these backups by using the UpdraftPlus plugin. There is also a paid version of this plugin, which offers professional support from the team at UpdraftPlus if you need a little more help in getting your backups working.
Akismet Anti-Spam has been developed by Automattic, the company behind WordPress, to provide you with all your spam-filtering needs in the best way for WordPress integration. The best part? Akismet is an open source project and is free for personal blogs! If you operate your blog as a business, they offer a sliding scale of payment options depending on the size of your business.
Akismet uses a huge database of spam to keep your blog automatically protected from spam comments, which stops your blog becoming flooded and your readers getting drowned out in the comments section. If you’re worried about genuine comments getting lost in the filter, Akismet also has an option which lets you personally review comments that have been blocked as spam. This means you can take back complete control of your comments section!
Contact Form 7
Contact Form 7 provides a simple interface for building and maintaining contact forms on your WordPress site. It’s a free and easy-to-use plugin that doesn’t contain all the fancy extras of its paid competitors, but it is all you need for elegant, easy contact forms.
If you’re a more advanced WordPress user, Contact Form 7 still comes with a host of advanced features, such as options for the form submit action. Contact Form 7 also has complete integration with the last mentioned plugin, Akismet Anti-Spam, so you can guarantee you’ll never receive a bot-riddled message again! Contact Form 7 also works with various Captcha technologies for added protection against bots and spam.
Sucuri doesn’t often make the list of top plugins, and I think it’s because it can look a little intimidating. But fear not! Sucuri is the only security you need for your WordPress installation. Sucuri offers specialised WordPress security that, once you activate the plugin, protects you from all sorts of malicious attacks: hacks, malware, website downtime, and more! Sucuri performs its security audit automatically and has some capability to take action on its own if it spots a problem. The plugin will also alert you to problems with your site, such as server outages or your site being ‘blacklisted.’
Sucuri does come with a whole host of advanced features for free, so those with more experience will also benefit from easy access to their server logs, memory dumps, and other maintenance and security tools usually reserved for the pros. But for those of us with limited security knowledge, Sucuri’s plug-and-play nature means you can leave it running and be guaranteed professional security on a shoestring budget.
So there you have it! The top 5 plugins I’d recommend for every WordPress blog. Of course, this only covers the essentials. Many bloggers make use of plugins to manage everything from mailing lists to advertisement revenue, but without these basics, you’d be getting nowhere fast. All your bases are covered with this list: SEO, security, and anti-spam.