Posted on Monday, March 31st, 2014 No Comments
There are certain WordPress plugins that should be included in the majority of WordPress installations. I consider these to be the basics of what you need in order to make sure you’ve got an efficient, functional website that will play well with Google. All of these plugins are free.
All in One SEO is a plugin that helps you with search engine optimization. What I personally like about it is how it will auto generate site titles and meta tags. You can also customize them for every page on your website. It supports canonical URLSs, which means you avoid duplicate content issues. It works right out of the box for beginners, but also has a giant list of customizations that you can make.
This plugin automatically generates an XML sitemap for Google. This is a special file that indexes the pages on your website and tells Google when they were last updated. This helps Google include your website in its search engine results. You should also tell Google where to look for this page in Webmaster Tools.
PressBackup automatically makes a backup of your WordPress website on a specified schedule. When initially developing a website, I set it to create a backup every day. Once you’re done with most of your website setup, you can switch to weekly backups. The plugin asks you to create an account with them, but that’s free. You can save your backups to various locations like their server, Dropbox, or your own server.
I use this plugin to create all of my contact forms. It lets you create multiple custom contact forms with HTML formatting. It supports SMTP email, so you can have the results of the form emailed directly to you. You can create an auto-responder to send an email to anyone who completes the form. I have used this plugin for standard contact forms, lead generation forms, and landing page forms.
One of the few problems with WordPress is that it does a terrible job of handing tables. I spent too much time fighting with tables in WordPress before I found TablePress. It doesn’t let you create nested tables, but it does a fantastic job of handling standard row-by-column layouts.
WPSuperCache is a great plugin that handles page caching. It speeds up your website by showing visitors a cached (saved) page instead of generating a new page with PHP. I recommend leaving it turned off while developing your website, and then turning it on when the site is ready for the world to visit. When you make updates later, you can manually clear the cache so that you can see your updates right away.
WooCommerce is an amazingly simple way to add e-commerce functionality to your WordPress website. When you install the plugin you automatically get all shop pages created (such as Account, login, categories, products, etc) and you can immediately start adding products and making money. For basic users, simply add your PayPal email address to get paid via PayPal.
Those are my picks for the most essential (and free!) WordPress plugins. Which plugins do you think are the most essential?