One of the great things about WordPress websites is the huge selection of Plugins that are available to extend the functionality of your website. Depending on what the purpose of your site is, there are any number of plugins that might become essential to you. But no matter what kind of website you have, these 5 types of plugins are absolutely necessary.
1. A Spam Filter
The last thing you want it spammers clogging up your website with unwanted comments that have nothing to do with your site. They are unsightly and could include links to questionable websites. That being said, if you have a blog, you will have comment spam. To combat that, you should install a plugin that helps identify spam and remove it automatically.
Akismet comes pre-installed with WordPress and has worked well for me thus far. There are other plugins that block spam comments as well, though since I have yet to have a problem with Akismet, I don’t see any reason to change.
2. A Contact Form
If there’s one thing you want people to be able to do on your website, it’s get in contact with you. If you have a contact form plugin, you just go to the plugin’s settings, add in the fields you want people to fill out, and insert the form into your website wherever you want it.
One of the most commonly used free contact form plugins is Contact Form 7. (Free is great, but I would recommend making a donation to the people who build and maintain it). Another very popular and very comprehensive contact form plugin is Gravity Forms. You do have to pay for Gravity Forms, but it has a ton of really great features, including an auto responder that you can send to people who fill out your forms. I would recommend that people who are just starting out use Contact Form 7, and then when their business grows enough to justify the cost, make the jump to Gravity Forms.
3. SEO Management
If you don’t know, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and it has to do with making your website easier for search engines like Google to read, allowing the search engine to determine the content of your site and return it to users in relevant searches. There is a lot that goes into optimizing your site, and an SEO plugin makes it easier to control a lot of different elements.
The SEO plugin that I use is called All In One SEO Pack. Another popular SEO plugin is WordPress SEO by Yoast. They are both very powerful SEO plugins. While I’ve seen several websites arguing why one is better than the other, I’ve come to the conclusion that it really all comes down to personal preference. I use All In One SEO Pack because I heard of it first and now I’m comfortable with it, but if I was starting over again, I could just as easily have gone with WordPress SEO.
4. A Security Plugin
Websites get hacked all the time, so you want to make sure that you can do your best to avoid it. A security plugin will make it much more difficult for someone to hack into your site by limiting the weaknesses in your site where a hacker could gain access. The plugin that I use (and which is highly recommended by just about everyone) is iThemes Security.
5. A BackUp Plugin
If your website gets hacked, or it crashes for any of a myriad of other reasons, it’s extremely important to have a backup of your site. If you don’t, you’ll lose all of the information on your site that you’ve been slowly building over time. Basically, you’ll have to start your whole website from scratch. But, if you have a backup of your site, including media files, you can use those files to get your site up an running again, good as new.
The backup plugin that I use is called Backup Buddy and is brought to the world by the same people who bring us iThemes Security. The two plugins work hand in hand to make sure that your website is always secure and backed up.
What about you? What do you think are essential plugins?