A plugin is software that adds features to your WordPress website. While over 50,000 plugins exist in the WordPress plugins directory, I definitely do not suggest you install them all. Actually the fewer you add, the better it is for your site’s performance. You may find that you need others as you build your website. There are 7 that I recommend you install as you begin a new site, right from the start. These plugins are free, some may offer added premium features for a fee if you choose to upgrade.
1. Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is for Search Engine Optimization and is usually my first install. You want to rank well in search engines, such as Google, and Yoast SEO makes optimizing your posts and pages much easier to manage. It analyzes factors such as readability, internal and external links, metadata, and keywords, and notifies you where you can make improvements.
Wordfence is a security scanner and firewall plugin. It scans for malicious code that may compromise your WordPress site. While WordPress on its own, is safe, plugins and themes that either become outdated or just not written well, can cause problems. It also protects from brute force login attempts and blocks malicious traffic. This is the best plugin to help keep your site secure. It also helps to be sure you regularly update your themes and plugins.
3. Antispam Bee
Antispam Bee blocks spam in comments. As a blogger, you likely want engagement on your posts, via comments. However, it seems that as soon as your site is online there are spammers waiting to post spammy comments and links. Once I installed Antispam Bee, this stopped. Love it.
Google Analytics allows you to put a tracking code on your site (you need to sign up for a free account) where you can then view stats of the activity to your site. It shows a collection of reports right on your dashboard. It’s very handy to see how many page views you have and what site is referring traffic to your site, among other stats.
5. Updraft Plus
I like backups. And backups of backups. Saved everywhere. Even if your web hosting company keeps backups of your website, I recommend that you also keep your own backup. With Updraft Plus, you can automate a backup to save at a set interval to a service such as Dropbox or Google Drive. I have been creating websites for 20 years. I learned the hard way, a long time ago. Keep backups. Just do it.
Getting traffic to your website from social media might bring in some of your favorite readers or clients. Make it easy for someone who loved a piece of content to share it! The AddToAny Share Buttons are very simple, free and likely includes any social media that you’d want to be shared on.
WP Fastest Cache ultimately makes your website load faster. Simply put, every time someone comes to your site the server renders the page they want to view, using RAM and CPU resources. The caching plugin makes static pages of your pages and serves those, making the whole process happen faster and with less work. I would activate this after you’ve got your theme installed and your basic pages up.
How To Install a Plugin
If you’re new to WordPress or just haven’t installed a plugin, yet. Here are some quick instructions.
Log into your WordPress Dashboard and select “Plugins” from your menu. Click on “Add New”. This will bring you to the Add Plugins screen where you can search the WordPress directory for plugins listed there. In the field next to “Keyword” you can type in the name of the plugin you want. Once you find it, click on the “Install Now” button in the results for that plugin.
Before installing a plugin, I suggest looking at the ratings, how many ratings it has and when it was last updated. This will give you some idea as to how good of a choice it is.
After installing the plugin, the “Install now” button turns into an “Activate” button. The plugin must be activated before it is enabled and working.
You may also have to change settings that the plugins have available. Most plugins will either add a menu item to your dashboard or as a selection under your “Settings” menu item. Select “Plugins” from the menu and you will see a listing of all currently installed plugins. It will show you whether or not they are active by offering a “Deactivate” or “Activate” choice.