WordPress plugins are nifty little chunks of software that can be installed into your WordPress site to extend and add functionally to your website and maybe even the theme you’re using. Like themes, there are free and premium (paid) plugins. As of this writing there are 3046 PAGES of plugins on the WordPress.org popular plugins page !WOW! That’s a lot of plugins! The point is this; you can probably find more than one plugin to do the task you want. I would look at a couple of things before downloading a plugin. Check the number of active installs to start. If a plugin hasn’t been used in a lot of installs I would be hesitant to use it. Also, make sure it is compatible with the version of WordPress you’re using. Some plugins don’t get updated often and may not work with a newer version of WordPress. In the same thought, if a plugin hasn’t been updated in months be careful. Keeping WordPress core files and your plugins up to date is the first line of defense as part of your security plan. Installing new plugins are straightforward and similar to finding and installing a new theme. You can install plugins directly from the admin area. Download the plugin to your computer, then log in to your WP admin area and go to Plugins > Add New. Browse to where you saved the plugin archive and select it. Then click Install Now and the plugin will be installed shortly. Not all plugins are easy to install, so always refer to their documentation and installation instructions first. Here’s a good tutorial from SiteGround on how to install plugins.
There are a few plugins I use on most or all of the web sites I work on. You’ll find your own group of plugins you like that you use too. Here’s a list of plugins (and a brief description) I use most often:
- Akismet Anti-Spam is quite possibly the best way in the world to protect your blog from spam. Your site is fully configured and being protected, even while you sleep.
- Captcha by BestWebSoft #1 super security anti-spam captcha plugin for WordPress forms.
- SG Optimizer This plugin will link your WordPress application with all the performance optimizations provided by SiteGround. (This is used only on sites on SiteGround.)
- Wordfence Security Wordfence Security – Anti-virus, Firewall and Malware Scan.
- Yoast SEO The first true all-in-one SEO solution for WordPress, including on-page content analysis, XML sitemaps and much more.
- BackUpWordPress Simple automated backups of your WordPress powered website.
- Contact Form 7 Just another contact form plugin. Simple but flexible.
- FooBox Image Lightbox The best responsive lightbox for WordPress
- Google Analytics Use Google Analytics on your WordPress site without touching any code, and view visitor reports right in your WordPress admin dashboard!
- WP Simple Paypal Shopping cart Simple WordPress Shopping Cart Plugin, very easy to use and great for selling products and services from your blog!
Of course, each web site is different and each theme has different options. So, you may not need a particular plugin for each and every install. For example, if you host with SiteGround you won’t need a plugin to backup WordPress, they do it for you. How cool is that?
On the other hand, I use SOME plugins on all my web sites. These are Akismet Anti-Spam, WordFence Security and Yoast SEO. All of these are excellent at doing what they are supposed to do. They each offer a free version (that works great!) or a paid premium version. This is great because you get a chance to use the plugin in a real world situation and if you like it and need the expanded features then you’ll be comfortable in paying for it.
Akismet Anti-Spam does an excellent job of keeping spam out your comments and froms. It was developed by Automattic, a web development corporation that is best know for developing WordPress.
WordFence Security is the most downloaded security plugin for WordPress websites. The WordFence Security plugin provides the best protection available for your website. Powered by the constantly updated Threat Defense Feed, WordFence Firewall stops you from getting hacked. Wordfence Scan leverages the same proprietary feed, alerting you quickly in the event your site is compromised. Our Live Traffic view gives you real-time visibility into traffic and hack attempts on your website. A deep set of additional tools round out the most comprehensive WordPress security solution available.
Yoast SEO is one of the most widely popular WordPress plugins. Yoast is a powerful tool that can help you make your site as search engine-friendly as possible. And that is one thing everyone that has a website wants!