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15 Must Have WordPress Plug-ins for your Website

be your own tech support Jan 12, 2021
purple background, plug-in, Plug-in categories to consider

WordPress is such a large platform, that for years we have "band-aided" in the form of plug-ins. Occasionally, WordPress will create a very large update that alleviates the need for some of the plug-ins as WordPress developers fold in more features. However, at this time, there are still a few must-have plug-ins for your site. 

15 Must-Have WordPress Plug-Ins

Basically, there are 8 separate categories of plug-ins that you need. You may choose any of the plug-ins available but make sure all eight categories are supported. 

What to Look for In a Plug-In

First, let's talk about what to look for in a plug-in. 

The main things to look for are:

Number of Stars

While this is subjective, it will definitely tell you whether or not most of the installed instances are good. People tend to give good ratings when the plug-in is good. Never install a plug-in with only 3 stars. A star rating of 4 and above is considered very good.

Number of Installations

This number is particularly important due to the fact that it helps you determine either how new the plug-in is, or how many people believe in it.

That is not to say that a plug-in with only a few hundred installations is bad...but it is to say that you should find out more about it before you install it. You can go to the plug-in's main website (usually listed on the plug-in itself) and find out more about it. 

Another thing you can do is ask the community if anyone has heard of it or used it. Many times I, or others, may have knowledge of a plug-in that is "not to be used" or is "up and coming". 

I will give you my opinion in each category, but should you desire to do your own research, this is the area I would look for. 

Date Last Updated

If a plug-in has many installations but was only updated 4 years ago, that could be a sign that it's not up with the times. Not in EVERY case, but definitely in MOST cases. 

Most plug-ins that have a good development cycle are updated within months, not years. Some have shorter development cycles and are updated within weeks. Both of thes scenarios are a good example, coupled with the other things to look for. 

Compatibility with your version of WordPress

This is a little finicky. Sometimes it takes a bit for plug-ins to be rewritten or updated to catch up with the newest WordPress quirks. So just because it says "not tested with your version" doesn't mean it's bad. 

What it DOES mean, is to ask the community first, then proceed with caution. First, back up your WordPress instance. Then install or update the plug-in and see if you get any errors. 

Use all 4 in making your determination

Use all four together in making your determination. If a plug-in has 4 stars, was last updated 2 weeks ago, has over a million installations, but isn't tested with your version, it may still be good. 

On the other hand, a plug-in with 4 stars, last updated over a year ago, with a million installations and isn't tested with your version may not be a good idea. 

The Categories

  • Anti-Spam
  • Backup/Recovery
  • Media
  • WordPress Features
  • Social Media
  • SEO
  • Security
  • External

15 Recommended Plug-Ins

Anti-Spam

Akismet

This is one of the only plug-ins I actually pay for. The cost is $5/month and it is well worth it. Akismet handles all of the SPAM on your website. 

Backup/Recovery

There are two that I highly recommend in this category. 

WP All Export

This plug-in allows you to export ALL of the information from your posts to a spreadsheet or other type of document (PDF and others). This is a complete backup of your posts only. 

Updraft Plus

A must-have for backing up your entire WordPress installation including databases, posts, pages, and the like. 

Media

ShortPixel

This is another plug-in that I pay for. ShortPixel compresses all your media so that it is a smaller file size without decreasing quality in most cases. This makes your website run faster. 

Media Cleaner

When you first begin your website, this may not be as important. But trust me, after a few pages and posts, you will have a lot of tried and failed images. The media cleaner helps you determine which images are still in use and where. This allows you to pick and choose those to delete. 

WordPress Features

These are things that are add-ons to increase the features of WordPress. 

GDPR Cookie Consent

This is the best consent plug-in I have found. It allows you to customize the colors and text. This plug-in also helps you remain compliant with GDPR, CCPA, and others requiring direct consent. 

Header/Footer Post Injection

The Header/Footer Post Injection plug-in allows you to place code or text on every page, post, or within a post after certain paragraphs, etc. I use this in three ways: 

  1. Google Analytics or eMail Provider code that must be on every post or page
  2. As placement for my opt-in forms (say after 3rd paragraph)
  3. The footer of all my posts with all the URLs for Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Groups, etc. 

WP Optimize

This plug-in helps to optimize your website by minifying css, and certain other coding preferences. But BE CAREFUL. If something goes hinky on your website, this is the first plug-in you should disable for troubleshooting. Not because it's a bad plug-in, but because minify will sometimes not work with older plug-ins. 

Social Media

Simple Social Icons

While there are many plug-ins recommended in this arena, I prefer Simple Social Icons for it's simplicity. Others in this area are Social Pug (MediaVine Grow) and Social Warfare (my second favorite). 

Webilizer PinIt

This places the "P" on all images for customers to "PinIt" to Pinterest. 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

There are only two that I recommend: RankMath and Yoast. Both have their benefits. I personally prefer RankMath, but many others prefer Yoast. It's subjective. If you are just starting out, use RankMath. 

RankMath

RankMath is an up and coming SEO plug-in. This allows you to see where you stand from an SEO point of view. It is helpful for counting the number of times you use your keywords, or whether or not you have paragraphs that are too long, etc. RankMath gives you an overall score and marks it as red, amber, or green. 

Now, just because you don't get a "green", doesn't mean your post is bad. Remember that both RankMath and Yoast are performed by artificial intelligence, not a real person, so some of it is subjective and cannot be performed by AI.

Security

iThemes

Another plug-in that I pay is iThemes. This, in essence, is a firewall for WordPress. I don't have to worry about usernames/passwords, or hackers. iThemes literally saves me from hackers from strange countries trying to get into the back of my website and strip all the content and possibly re-direct. 

External

eMail Provider

Whoever you use as your eMail provider will have a plug-in to use their product in WordPress. For example, I use AWeber. There is a plug-in for AWeber, so that when I'm in a post, I can choose which AWeber form I want to use as an opt-in.

Some Optional Plug-Ins

There are a couple of plug-ins that I recommend for additional options in Gutenberg. There used to be more than these two, but as WordPress has updated Gutenberg, they have included these options. 

  • Ultimate Add-Ons for Gutenberg
  • Atomic Blocks for Gutenberg

These plug-ins add features such as FAQs, Tables of Contents with color choices, etc. 

What Plug-ins you should NOT Install

  • JetPack
  • MonsterInsights
  • All-in-one SEO

These three plug-ins are known to slow down your website or create other issues. JetPack and MonsterInsights serve no real purpose other than to gather data already available in Google Analytics. I always recommend you get your analytical data directly from https://analytics.google.com

The third plug-in, All-in-One SEO, has major issues that have the community recommending deactivation. The plug-in will automatically update itself regardless of the setting you give it. It is causing major issues with themes, websites, and blog posts. Until this plug-in has resolved the issues, do not use it. 

What to do Next?

While the video above discusses the various plug-ins, it doesn't go in-depth. However, our Mastermind not only goes in-depth into the plug-ins, but it also talks about the maintenance of the plug-ins and many, many other things. Check it out at Be Your Own Tech Support Mastermind.

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