Having the right plugins on your website can ensure it is optimized for a better user experience while increasing its functionality.
So, what exactly is a plugin? A plugin is a piece of software that acts as an add-on to a web browser, giving it additional functionality. A plugin also allows your web browser to display content it was not originally designed to display. When you start to work with WordPress, you will learn there are hundreds of thousands of plugins. It can be a process to figure out which ones are the best fit for your site. Some work very well, while others may not play well with your theme.
We have put together a list of tried and true basic plugins that will work with almost every theme while increasing the functionality of your site.
Yoast SEO is one of the most popular plugins to help optimize your website. We like it because it gives the author a list of checks and balances to follow when creating content. The plugin itself doesn’t give you higher search rankings, but it ensures you include the right information so Google can learn more about what the article is about. For brands who want to amplify their content on social, there are custom boxes where you can add specific text, images and titles to attract more engagement.
Yoast also offers Google Analyics and Webmaster Tools integration.
Social Media Buttons/Sharing
Your website and social media channels should work seamlessly to promote your brand. Social media buttons make it easy for your audience to share your content right from your website. Best practice suggests that social media sharing buttons should be displayed along the side, top or bottom of your webpage.
A XML Sitemap helps search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing better index your website. Using a sitemap makes it easier for crawlers to see the complete structure of your sitemap and retrieve it more efficiently. Additionally, the sitemap plugin will notify search engines when new content is posted to your website.
Akismet is an advanced anti-spam service that uses an algorithm to filter spam from comments, trackbacks and contact form messages. When someone comments on your blog, Akismet servers reviews the post and user to determine if it is spam. Spam is a huge pain to sort through and can hurt your SEO if not properly monitored.
W3 Total Cache
W3 Total Cache helps to improve user experience and SEO of your website through caching the site’s pages and assets. Caching is the temporary storage of web documents such as HTML pages and images. The storage of these web documents helps to reduce bandwidth usage and speeds up server load, making your website faster.
While this plugin is important for optimization, it can be tricky to set up, so make sure you follow the steps on their site to ensure you are taking full advantage of the plugin’s features.
WP-Optimize automatically cleans your WordPress database so it runs at maximum efficiency. If you create a lot of content or are constantly updating your webpages, you will create a lot of bloat on the back end with post revisions. You can reduce database size by cleaning up your website regularly, which means quicker and smaller backup files. WP-Optimize will also clear out spam comments and the site’s trash can. Running this plugin once a month will keep your database clean and your site as light as possible.