While every WordPress managed website is different, there are 8 plugins I always install right out of the box on new sites, and if I’m called in to work on an existing site I provide a quote to install them.
If I could only install one plugin, iThemes Security would be it. This WordPress plugin covers all aspects of security, including backups, brute force attacks, malware scanning and “hiding” your admin section. I installed this for an existing WordPress user and found that they were being bombarded by brute force attacks (over 500 in 24 hours) – where bots try to figure out the admin login. With just a click we “hid” the admin folder and provided lockout protection – any time someone tried to log in more than 3 times in a row with a bad username or password they would be locked out of the site for 3 days.
WP SEO by Yoast
There are a few SEO plugins out there, but I’m loyal to Yoast’s WordPress SEO. It is comprehensive, easy to use and have lots of help information. Pro Tip #1 – always save your post as a draft and then look at the stats – it will update the stats. Pro Tip #2 – subscribe to the plugin author’s blog – it is great.
Caching can be a way of speeding up your site, but it can be tricky to manage. I generally use WP-Super Cache, it creates a static page that is quicker to resolve in the browser. If you site is slow, this plugin may help.
Google Analytics for WordPress
An easy way to link your WordPress site with your Google Analytics account, Google Analytics for WordPress also shows some limited stats so you don’t have to log into your Google Analytics account every day to view visits.
Google XML Sitemaps Generator
When you install this WordPress plugin make sure you are getting the right one – the plugin author is Arne Brachhold. This WordPress plugin will help search engines index your site. Pro Tip: don’t forget to submit your site map to Google!
While no plugin will completely eliminate spam, WP-SpamFree will cut down comment, trackback and pingback spam substantially. It has a blacklist function which will automatically delete offending commenters.
Display Widgets is a WordPress plugin that does one thing extremely well – it adds check boxes to your widgets so you can choose what pages to show or hide a widget on. If you have a sidebar, but don’t want your archive list showing only anything but your blog – this plugin will take care of that! I simply can’t live without this plugin!
Gravity Forms is a premium plugin, but it is by far the best WordPress form plugin available. It includes anti-spam features and will work with PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net and other merchant accounts to collect payments. Multi-page forms, survey, you name it and this plugin can do it, and do it well.
Time to Hear From You
I’ve had my say about my must-have WordPress plugins. Now it is you turn! What plugins do you find indispensable? Leave a comment and let us know!