Plugins let you add value and functionality to a WordPress site by pushing a button. Some plugins are essential. Other plugins are only required by certain types of sites. Let’s take a look at a few common types of plugins to help you tell the difference.
In this article:
Absolutely Essential WordPress Plugins
SMTP Mail Plugin
WordPress sites have a built-in capability to send emails. WordPress sites send emails with PHP mail code by default. This is a problem because most of the world’s spam email is also sent via PHP mail code. ‘Default’ configurations will cause your mail to get dumped in a spam folder.
SMTP plugins let your site send email with the same protocol used by email clients. Your email is much less likely to be flagged as spam when you use an SMTP mail plugin.
Recommended Plugins: Easy WP SMTP
Site maps help search engines with the structure of your website. This helps with your SEO by making it easier for visitors to find things within your site. Many Sitemap applications will map your site for you. WordPress is also working on making the XML sitemap a part of its core features. Until it’s available directly in the WordPress Dashboard, there are many plugins that can provide a good XML sitemap.
Recommended XML Sitemap plugins : Google XML Sitemaps, WP Sitemap Page, Yoast SEO
There are millions of WordPress sites. Unfortunately, the popularity of WordPress makes it very attractive to hackers. Hackers create malicious programs that try to attack WordPress sites and change them. WordPress security plugins offer a variety of solutions. Some, like Loginizer, limit login attempts to prevent brute force attacks. Others, like WordFence, offer more comprehensive security solutions. The ‘best’ security plugin depends on your needs; you must find a balance between security and convenience.
WordPress Backup Plugin
Backup plugins offer peace of mind. Use a backup plugin on any WordPress site you care about. You should use a backup plugin even if you have other forms of backup active. cPanel backups and our Backup Manager work differently from a WordPress backup plugin. Each tool solves a different problem.
The larger a backup is, the longer it takes to restore. Restoring a full account backup to recover one site is a tedious waste of time. WordPress backups are much smaller than full disk backups; this means that WordPress backups restore quickly and easily. As a bonus, many backup plugins let you store backups ‘off site’. Even if something happens to your files, there are external backups stored elsewhere!
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Helpful WordPress Plugins
Modern web browsers expect your site to be fully secured. Part of site security is using an SSL certificate. Having an SSL installed is what causes your site URL to use ‘https’ instead of ‘http’. Major browsers like Chrome will warn visitors to avoid a site if it is not using ‘https’. This includes all links and media.
Trying to manually reconfigure a site from ‘http’ to ‘https’ can be error-prone and time-consuming. Thankfully for us, there are many plugins to resolve this issue for you! These plugins adjust all links and media files. Plus, these plugins redirect all visitors to the secured ‘https’ version of the site.
Recommended Plugins: Really Simple SSL
Forms let visitors to your site enter personal information. If you’ve ever filled out a survey or ordered something from a website, you’ve used a form. Forms receive information and then send it to the appropriate place. On top of that, forms need to be secure, discourage spam, and appropriate to specific customers. The best forms plugins are easy to configure and customize.
Nice to Have WordPress Plugins
Caching helps speed up a site’s load time by saving files somewhere for quick retrieval. WordPress sites can use four different kinds of caching:
- Browser Caching (on a visitor’s computer)
- CDN Caching (if you are using an intermediary like CloudFlare)
- Server Caching (to speed up data retrieval)
- Site Caching (to speed up how the site accesses its own files)
Browser caching is a site visitor’s decision and out of your control. CDN caching is only available if you have a CDN like CloudFlare. The most popular server-side caching for WordPress is NGINX. NGINX is available on our WordPress Optimized Hosting Plans. Lastly, you can add site caching to a WordPress site with a plugin.
Watch out! Remember to only use one site caching plugin. Multiple site caching plugins may conflict with each other and slow you down!
Recommended Plugins: W3 Total Cache
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the art of making your website more visible. Better SEO makes your site easier to find in search engines like Google. The better your SEO, the easier your site is to find.
SEO is a business in itself. Thankfully there are a few small steps you can take to improve your ranking relative to other sites. SEO plugins automate the small, repetitive parts of this work. Great SEO plugins also give you tips on how to improve your site content’s SEO.
Site Design Plugins
WordPress lets you do almost anything you want with its design. By manually editing HTML, CSS, and other code, nearly any theme or design can be created. Site Design plugins, including theme and page builder plugins, speed up the process. They let you do more, faster, with less coding. If you’re new to design, these plugins help you make great looking sites fast. As you get more experience designing sites, these plugins keep your workflow efficient.
Recommended Plugins: BoldGrid Post and Page Builder
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