One of the great things about WordPress websites is that there is almost nothing you can’t make them do. Need a powerful eCommerce site? No problem. How about incorporating MLS listings into a Real Estate website? Sure. Maybe you just need a powerful platform to host your content marketing efforts? WordPress is the perfect answer.
The thing that makes WordPress.org such a powerful website platform is that it can be endlessly customized, is built for SEO yet it can easily managed by anyone with basic computer skills.
The key to a successful WordPress website is to start with a solid theme (we build on the Genesis framework by Studiopress). Once installed, WordPress plugins make it easy to modify your website and design it to do almost anything you can possibly imagine.
It is important to note however that you shouldn’t go crazy when adding plugins to a WordPress website. Minimalism is key as too many or poorly designed plugins can slow down your website which can in turn hurt your search engine rankings.
The infographic below shows the top 30 most popular WordPress plugins. Here are five of those 30 plugins you can’t live without:
1. WordPress SEO by Yoast
Although most of my websites run either the All in One SEO plugin or the SEO functions built directly into the Genesis framework, I’ve recently started converting over to WordPress SEO by Yoast and now include the plugin in any new sites we build.
Along with the basics such as making it easy to add meta titles and descriptions, Yoast includes your Google XML Sitemap and a number of advanced sitewide SEO settings. What I like most about WordPress SEO by Yoast is that it provides a preview of what your post will look like in the Google search returns and helps with keyword optimization. Although I really like Scribe for keyword optimization, Yoast provides a nice option without the $97 monthly fee.
2. Google XML Sitemaps
If you’re not using the Yoast SEO plugin, Google XML Sitemaps should be one of the first plugins you add to your WordPress website. An XML Sitemap is like a roadmap for the Google spiders. It shows Google exactly how to crawl your website and provides important signs letting it know how to index the site. The Google XML Sitemaps plugin creates an XML sitemap, submits it to Google and let’s Google know when you’ve added new content so that it can also be indexed in the search engine results.
I am amazed at how many websites I see that don’t have an XML sitemap. This is probably one of the most important elements of a well optimized website.
Spam comments can create a huge drag on a website. Askimet is your first defense to stopping them. Askimet has blocked more than 40,000 spam comments on this website alone. It is built directly into Jetpack which comes with the WordPress install and it is a must for any website. Askimet doesn’t stop them all but it is a huge step in the right direction.
If you’re really having problems with spam, you might want to check out Cloudflare.. I have a PR5 site under a serious Spam attack and it looks like Cloudflare might be my way out. Cloudflare is now free with most Bluehost hosting plans. There are a number of CAPTCHA plugins available that can also help cut down on spam.
You’ve worked hard to build that website, protect it. WP-DB-Backup can be scheduled to automatically back up your core database files and any database tables you need. Backups can be saved to the server or sent by email. WP-DB-Backup has saved me at least once.
5. Yet Another Related Post Plugin
Ideally, you want visitors to stay on your website as long as possible. Offering links to posts related to the post they just read is a good way to keep them from bouncing away. YARPP automatically generates a set of related links and places them directly below your post. It also creates some cross linking in the process.
The nice thing about it is you don’t need to think about it. It just happens saving you an important step in publishing process. YARPP created the related post links at the bottom of this post.