5 must install WordPress plugins

By Al  |  4 January 2016

1. WP Smush (image optimisation)

WordPress Plugins - WP Smush
There’s nothing like the smart use of images to brighten up a post or page. Images work wonders to portray an initial emotion to your readers and encourage further reading. There’s also nothing like a large image to slow down the loading time of a page.

With 47 per cent of users expecting a page to load within two seconds (this increases to six seconds on mobile), making sure images load as quickly as possible is essential.

The WP Smush plug-in can automatically take your uploaded images and run them through an image optimisation service to reduce the size of your images up to 60 per cent without reducing the quality of the image when viewed.

If you plan on using images in your posts, this is the best option to ensure it doesn’t slow your site down.

2. Wordfence Security (security and caching)

WordPress Plugins - Wordfence
With over 24 per cent of the web running WordPress, it is essential that you keep your site secure.

WordFence is a free WordPress plugin that makes securing your site easy and automated.

On installation, WordFence will check your site for any existing infections. WordFence will do a scan of your source code comparing it to the Official WordPress repository for core, themes and plug-ins. In other words, it looks to see if someone has changed the core WordPress code without you knowing.

WordFence has over four million installs already, and with a near perfect 4.9 out of 5 rating from over 2,400 reviews, there is no easier way to ensure your site is as secure as it can be, and get a speed boost to boot.

3. Yoast SEO

Just as important as creating a great website, is the ability for people to find it. With over 1.2 trillion (yes, trillion!) searches per year worldwide, it is essential your website is optimised to be found by the major search engines.

With 78 per cent of users using Google to search the web, the WordPress SEO plug-in helps you to ensure your content is optimised to be found by search engines and social networks. If you’re going to write great content, why not maximise the chance it will be read?

Yoast SEO helps you optimise your titles, excerpts and keywords to maximise the ability for readers to find your content. With a red light, green light method of showing how SEO friendly your content is, optimising your posts for search engines could not be easier.

4. Disqus

While WordPress comes with some decent commenting built in, the Disqus plug-in brings extra features to comments not available in a standard WordPress installation:

  • threaded comments and replies
  • notifications and reply by email
  • subscribe and RSS options
  • aggregated comments and social mentions
  • powerful moderation and admin tools
  • full spam filtering, blacklists and whitelists
  • support for Disqus community widgets
  • connected with a large discussion community
  • increased exposure and readership

As Disqus is a service outside of your WordPress install, users can even see when they have replies and notifications when on other sites using Disqus. It is a great way to encourage users to return to your site and follow the discussion.

5. UpdraftPlus Backup and Restoration

WordPress Plugins - Updraft Plus

There is nothing worse than creating great content only for it to be lost through no fault of your own. Hosting companies can be hacked, data centres can lose data, or the website itself is brought down for all kinds of reasons.

While a solid security plugins will guard you against the known exploits these hackers might use, no-one can predict what methods may be used in the future.

For this reason, it’s essential your website is backed up to allow you to easily re-launch without much down time. It is even more essential these backups are not in the same location as your website, otherwise you may lose your backup files as well.

With over 3.4 million downloads, and the highest ranking of all WordPress back-up plug-ins, UpdraftPlus is the perfect tool to ensure no content is lost in the unlikely event of a site being hacked.

UpdraftPlus will let you schedule back-ups, download them manually, and even send them off-site to services such as Amazon, Dropbox or Google Drive among others.

Of course, these are just five of a multitude of incredibly useful plug-ins out there, but they are five I would never do without.

Written by Al  |  4 January 2016