As part of our website hosting services we offer managed WordPress hosting which has proven to be extremely popular. The fact that more than 50% of all websites are said to be based upon the WordPress content management system’s popularity. However, there are literally tens of thousands of WordPress website plug-ins which could significantly enhance your WordPress website.
Before we take a look at the best plugins, it might be useful to cover the subject of plug-ins. Let’s take a look at what plugins are and how they actually work.
Table of Contents
What is a plug-in?
In short, a WordPress plug-in (or any plug-in) is a stand-alone piece of software which adds functionality to your website. This software tends to be written in the programming language PHP and in a format which means it integrates seamlessly with the base WordPress software. It is also worth noting that WordPress is described as an “open source” software package. This effectively means that all users can use it without licence. Developers, on the other hand can create their own designs, plug-ins, etc to carry out an array of functions. Then they can later release free and premium version to the online public.
How to install a WordPress plug-in
Prior to recent WordPress software updates, you would literally need to download the WordPress plug-in program direct to your WordPress directory. This would then show in your plug-in list within the WordPress backend. After that, you simply activate it. The situation is different now after the latest WordPress software update. From the backend you to peruse, check the most popular and download specific plug-ins at the click of a button.
Once the plug-in has been downloaded it is simply a case of locating it in your plug-in list and clicking the activate option. One click download and one click activation – it could not be simpler.
The 9 must have WordPress website plug-ins
Whether you use a managed WordPress hosting service or have your own website hosting it is certainly worth investigating the 9 best plugins. Due to the open source nature of WordPress it encourages “thinking outside of the box” and innovation the likes of which are very rare. So, let’s now take a look at the most popular WordPress website plug-ins.
1. Yoast SEO
There is no doubt that the Yoast SEO WordPress plug-in is extremely popular. There have been literally millions of downloads of this particular plug-in. It basically offers an SEO scoring service for keyword use and readability per article. It also allows you to add meta-descriptions, slugs and SEO titles as well as tagging attributes to your images. For many it is the SEO scoring system which is most useful as it also recommends particular actions for improvement.
2. Akismet Anti-Spam
The Akismet Anti-Spam WordPress plug-in is actually very popular. It is also part of the default WordPress package download. As the name suggests, this is an antispam plugin. It works by reviewing all comments posted to your website against a database of spam email addresses/IP addresses. Then it labels the results accordingly. This can literally save hours and hours of deleting spam comments as the plug-in will automatically drop them into your spam directory. Simply clear the spam directory and the potentially malicious content will disappear!
For those unfamiliar, the name Jetpack does not refer to the computer game but instead this multipurpose tool which offers an array of different services. Spam filtering, login security, malware scanning, automated social media posting not to mention site analytics, the Jetpack WordPress plug-in offers everything. As with the majority of plug-ins there is a free package. A must have for anybody serious about an online business!
4. Contact Form 7
As the name suggests, this is a contact form plug-in which you can simply drag and drop as a menu option or part of your website design. The Contact Form 7 plug-in is by far and away the most popular contact form, offering significant customisation of colours and design not to mention fields on the form. The plug-in is also automatically integrated with the Akismet spam filtering service adding yet another degree of security to your website.
5. Wordfence Security
The Wordfence Security plug-in has to one of the best plugins available for WordPress users. Even the free service offers significantly enhanced security, firewall protection, hacking logs and will also warn you when any of your plug-ins have been updated. If this is what you get with the free service, what on earth can we expect with a premium offering! A must have for any WordPress enthusiast.
You have the design; your content is ranking the site so the next natural step is monetisation. The WooCommerce plug-in will instantly change your website into an e-commerce store, offering all of the commercial services you would expect. The degree of customisation is mind blowing, the options are all-encompassing and you can sell both physical and digital goods 24-hours a day seven days a week. Worth its weight in gold!
7. Google Analytics for WordPress
While many WordPress SEO plug-ins are coded in such a way as to incorporate your Google Analytics data, this one is a stand-alone Google Analytics package for WordPress. Rather than flipping between your WordPress backend and a Google Analytics account, this plug-in brings them both together. After activation of this plug-in all of your Google Analytics data will show up in your WordPress backend. Splitting traffic data by individual posts, and the fact it is there in front of you, means that you are more likely to use the data to the benefit of your website. This plug-in may be simple but it is extremely effective.
8. WP Super Cache
The appropriately named WP Super Cache plug-in does exactly what it says on the tin and will lead to significant improvements in your website speed. By generating page caches this will save time contacting your server, therefore leading to quicker website speeds. This has proved to be one of the best plugins for those with content/file heavy websites which may have struggled with loading times in the past. One which you have to try to believe!
9. WordPress Importer
While many of these WordPress plug-ins have very simple sounding names and do what they say on the tin, they are extremely effective. The WordPress Importer plug-in has two main uses, the ability to migrate content from one site to another at the flick of a button and for those who own more than one website and regularly import/export content, it saves so much time. There is no need to login to your WordPress hosting account, everything is automatic and at your fingertips.
Updating WordPress plug-ins
Once you start to use WordPress and some of the more popular plug-ins you will very quickly realise they are regularly updated to improve security and functionality. Updating your WordPress plug-ins could not be easier. Go to the backend and simply select the option which lists your plug-ins. Each individual plug-in will show the latest downloaded version and whether any updates are available. For those plugins with updates you simply click on the link and hey presto the plug-in is automatically updated in an instant.
It is advisable to take a backup of your WordPress website when updating plug-ins because some may not work correctly with specific website designs. There is an array of WordPress backup plug-ins or you can simply use the Wordfence Security plug-in which we covered above. If there is an issue with the plug-in update you simply revert back to the previous backup.
Removing WordPress plug-ins
When you update any of your WordPress plug-ins you will also notice the option to deactivate individual plug-ins or remove them. The deactivation option allows you to retain the plug-in within your WordPress directories while not in use. Therefore, if you decide to use the plug-in in the future you simply click on the activate link and hey presto, you are back in business.
Managed WordPress hosting is an extremely popular option amongst online entrepreneurs looking to focus on their business while leaving the server management to us. The beauty of WordPress is the fact that it is open source and available free of charge to everybody. Operationally, it is so simple to use and there are plug-ins galore available with many more being released on a regular basis. The chances are that the top 10 list of best plugins shown above will need revising in just a few months; that is the speed at which this award-winning content management system (CMS) moves.