One of the things that make WordPress so popular is its modular nature. You don’t have to know HTML, CSS or PHP to be able to customize WordPress. With the help of plugins and themes, it is easy to add new functionalities, customize WordPress and create a site that is truly personal. The possibilities are endless; there are even games and specialty sites such as directories made entirely using WordPress and plugins.
In this part, however, we’re going to focus more on the essential plugins that every WordPress blog should have. Here are the top WordPress plugins of 2017.
When you first install WordPress and get things set up, there are a few basic plugins you must add. The first one is Jetpack, a plugin designed to add the features and functionalities of WordPress.com to your self-hosted blog. Jetpack comes with a lot of functions already built in. The WordPress connect means WordPress.com users can comment and follow your self-hosted site natively. This alone is a great source of regular traffic.
You can also use features such as Publicize and Sharing to make social sharing easier. Publicize will automatically post new contents to the linked social media accounts. Sharing, on the other hand, adds a series of social sharing buttons to every post; visitors only need to click on one of those buttons to share the page through their social media pages.
Next, we have Akismet. This plugin is another must-have, especially if you don’t want to spend hours sifting through comments to remove spam or confirm every comment manually; Akismet does these automatically. The plugin is easy to set up and can be used for free. You can also choose to pay for the services if you find Akismet particularly valuable to your site.
To complete the set, we have Wordfence Security. As the name suggests, this plugin takes care of securing your WordPress site. It can handle everything from preventing brute-force attacks to checking for changes and malware in plugins and themes. Similar to Akismet, Wordfence Security is also a freemium plugin; you can use it for free or choose to pay for the extra features.
The majority of today’s internet traffic comes from search engines. We’re so used to opening Google or Bing whenever we need to find information. This makes SEO or Search Engine Optimization that much more important. The better your site performs SEO-wise, the more traffic you will get from SEO.
WordPress has a lot of SEO-related plugins you can use to get started. Yoast SEO is the most popular one for bloggers. It has all the features you need for SEO optimization, from better keyword tracking to reviews and mark-ups. The latest version of Yoast SEO also supports Open Graph and Twitter Cards, allowing the URLs you share on social media to display previews and attract more visitors.
If you don’t mind investing in a good SEO plugin for WordPress, Premium SEO Pack is also a plugin worth considering. It has a nicer user interface and better tools for keeping up with your site’s SEO performance. It can even track social sharing and other metrics, including backlinks and Facebook comments. You get a clear graph that displays SEO performance as well as recommendations on how to optimize your site further.
User experience is another factor to consider when running a website. Things such as loading time and content delivery are now taken into considerations by search engine algorithms. On top of that, happy visitors are more likely to spend more time and return to your site for more.
Similar to SEO, there is no shortage of optimization plugins for WordPress. You can start by setting up proper caching for the site. While WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache are the popular options, the plugin you should try is Comet Cache. The free version of this plugin alone can help you customize every bit of the caching process for a truly optimized site. Upgrade to premium and you will have more tools to make the entire size amazingly fast.
Don’t forget to add UpdraftPlus too. This plugin simplifies the process of backing up – and restoring – your site. It supports popular cloud services, including Dropbox and Google Drive. With UpdraftPlus installed, you don’t have to worry about complicated restore process should your site ever gets hacked or damaged due to server issues. The premium version, currently available for $70, supports more cloud services and comes with more customization options.
These are the best essential plugins to use in 2017. The plugins we have covered in this article will help create a strong foundation for a successful site with WordPress at its core. The extra functionalities they offer also make developing, securing, and managing a WordPress site a lot easier to do, even when you have no experience in running a website before.