One of the best things about WordPress is the ability to use plugins. Plugins are add-ons for your WordPress site that offer some kind of function that isn’t native to WordPress. Finding and using the right plugins can seriously improve your WordPress experience. The best way to find a great plugin is to wait until you have an issue with your site, or you want to do something new, and then find a plugin to address the issue. Considering there are well over 10 000 plugins, there is one to suit just about everyone’s needs. If you want to be more pro-active, then check out the list below for some great WordPress plugins.
1.Akismet – Akismet is so popular it actually comes pre installed with WordPress. I suggest everyone enables this plugin. It is a powerful anti-spam tool that will keep your comment section tidy and spam free. It will learn what is and isn’t spam by how you monitor your comments. You do have to get a user key to use this plugin, but you can get that for free (or a small donation if you choose).
2. Jetpack – Jetpack is a relatively new plugin but it is PACKED with features. Jetpack actually shares some of the tools that WordPress.com has (that were previously unavailable to self hosted blogs). There is an entire suite of features in the jetpack plugin and they include some very powerful ones. Features include, but are not limited to; Stats on web visitors, email subscriptions, social networking enabled comments, simple contact forms, recent tweets widget, spelling and grammar checker, and more….much more!
3. WordPress SEO by Yoast – There are many SEO plugins on there but this is my favorite. It includes just about every SEO feature you could need (including site map) and it is super easy to use. Search Engine Optimization is a very technical and intense subject. This plugin does a great job of making your site friendlier to the search engines, while doing it in a way you can understand and tweak.
4. W3 Total Cache – This is a super powerful plugin that does one job, but does it well. The whole purpose of this plugin is to make sure your pages load faster. Without getting to technical, this plugin essentially caches the static information on your site so that it doesn’t have to make a call to the database for EVERY piece of info. This will significantly and noticeably speed up page load time. This is important because the quickest way to lose a potential visitor is with a slow loading page. In 2013 who has the time to wait around for each page to slowly load. Most people will simply move on to another site if your site is loading too slowly.
5.P3 – P3 stands for Plugin Performance Profiler. This is a vital plugin for your site, especially if you are installing and experimenting with other plugins. This plugin will monitor your site and make sure that none of your other plugins are slowing it down or effecting your site’s performance. People new to plugins usually get a little “plugin-happy” and they can often add a lot of plugins at once. Too many plugins, or using sloppily coded plugins, can tremendously effect your site. This small non intrusive plugin will monitor that for you and let you know if any plugins are negatively impacting your website.
Plugins make a powerful platform like WordPress even more powerful. They can do just about any task, or add just about any function that you want for your website. If there is something that your site is currently not doing (or not doing well) then consider the use of a plugin. Don’t get crazy with the plugins though. Every plugin you add will tax your hosting a little bit more, and too many plugins can lead to a slow site, or potentially a dead site if they conflict with another plugin. Good luck with your WordPress site, and your plugin “hunting”!