One of the best things about using WordPress for your sites is how easy it is to add functionality to your site without having to know how to program. This is done through the plugin system.
There are thousands of plugins available from multiple sources. In fact, there are currently over 26,000 plugins available in the WordPress plugin repository alone!
We get asked quite a bit about which plugins we use and recommend. There really isn’t a right or wrong answer to that question as it really comes down to what you are wanting to achieve with your blog that plugins can make possible.
However, here are the five essential WordPress plugins that we recommend for every site, no matter what.
1. WordPress SEO
Yoast’s WordPress SEO Plugin is hands-down the best plugin for WordPress SEO out there.
Besides helping you get your on-page SEO set up correctly, it also includes Facebook OpenGraph, Twitter Metacard, and Google+ Authorship info. Plus, it has one of the most advanced XML sitemaps functionality in any WordPress plugin, so a separate XML sitemap plugin isn’t needed.
Akismet is possibly the best way to protect your website from comment spam. Akismet filters comments and trackback spam, so that you can focus more on managing other important things. It runs on autopilot and provides 24-hour protection.
3. W3 Total Cache
W3 Total Cache is a plugin that will improve your site performance and user experience via caching: browser, page, object, database, minify, and content delivery network support.
The W3 Total Cache plugin is extremely powerful but can be confusing to set up. For more details on how to not only properly configure the W3 Total Cache plugin but also other ways to speed up your WordPress site, be sure to check out our WP Speed Formula guide.
It still blows me away when I see the sheer number of sites that are not making their own backups. Most people mistakenly think that their hosting company is doing it for them. This is not always the case and you should always be making your own backups to be on the safe side.
The Backup plugin that we use and recommend is BackWPup.
It will backup your entire site, from the database to every file, all in one zip file.
It then automatically uploads the zip file to a FTP server, Dropbox, Amazon S3, and a bunch of other services as well.
Install a backup plugin now and starting making your own backups on a regular basis.
5. Better WP Security
Better WP Security is a plugin that will help improve the security of your WP sites.
It combines a number of WordPress security features and techniques and puts them in an easy-to-use plugin. It works by obscuring sensitive information, blocking unauthorized users, increasing security of passwords, and detecting bots and attempts at finding vulnerabilities.
What Are Your Essential WordPress Plugins?
Did we miss any plugins you consider essential? Which plugins could you not live without? Let us know in the comments below.