One of the beautiful aspects of using a popular Content Management System like WordPress is that there is so much extra functionality that can be plugged right into your website with free plugins that are created by members of the WordPress development community. Having access to the huge library of WordPress plugins means that whenever you’re looking for a new feature for your WordPress site, instead of needing to have custom programming done, a plugin likely already exists for it and can be installed with a few clicks.
Here is a list of plugins that we install on every single one of our installations. There are often a handful more but these are part of our checklist when setting up a WordPress installation.
1. Advanced Automatic Updates
One of the most important, but often overlooked, aspects of your online presence is ensuring that your website is protected from malicious attacks and intrusions. As popular as WordPress has become, that same popularity is also a weakness from a security perspective. If you are running an outdated WordPress installation, plugin, or theme with a known vulnerability, it won’t take long for hackers to find sites with these security holes and exploit them. In order to protect yourself, it is an absolute must to keep all aspects of your WordPress installation up to date. If you don’t log in to your site all the time, it can be easy to fall behind on your updates.
We’re all about automation so instead of relying doing updates manually, you can install the Advanced Automatic Updates plugin. It will ensure that core security updates are automatically applied as well as automatic updating of plugins and themes. A time-saving plugin that will also keep your WordPress site safe.
2. iThemes Security
Continuing on our security angle, the next must-have plugin in our list is element in your line of defense for securing your WordPress installation. Formerly known as Better WP Security, iThemes Security is the #1 rated security plugin with over 2000 5-star reviews at the WordPress Plugin Directory. It has 30+ methods to protect your site from attacks. It works in several different ways such as obscuring certain public details about your installation to prevent attackers from learning too much about your site. The plugin also regularly scans your entire installation for vulnerabilities and will patch them immediately. There is also the brute force protection which means that it will block anyone who is repeatedly trying to log in to the admin with the wrong credentials. Too many features to list.
It is highly configurable with granular control of settings but for those who aren’t as tech savvy or patient can simply use its “one click” activation to automatically enable the majority of it’s features.
3. Broken Link Checker
One thing you want to avoid is having broken links on your site. If a visitor is browsing your site and clicks an external link that leads to a website or page that no longer exists, it’s a pretty unpleasant user experience. The visitor will likely doubt the authority of your site and wonder if they can really trust a website with broken links. Staying on top of external links on your site is a tedious task, especially once you have a lot of content. Like we said before, we’re huge fans of automation and this plugin will automatically do the work for you.
Broken Link Checker will scan all your content on a regular basis and provide you with a dashboard of all the links that need fixing, with optional email alerts. The plugin is also able to check for broken images and video content such as YouTube and Vimeo as well.
4. WordPress SEO by Yoast
Every website owner understands the power of ranking well in Google. We all want to rank at the top of the Google search results for our relevant keywords. There are reportedly over 200 signals that Google’s algorithm uses in order to determine rankings. WordPress is already pretty good for SEO right out of the box but it can still be improved. This plugin, WordPress SEO by Yoast, right after installation, will guide you through some basic settings that are recommended to be changed within the WordPress admin dashboard. Furthermore, when writing content, you will have a new panel under the post that helps guide you to writing content that will rank better.
WordPress SEO also takes care of all the technical optimization elements such as certain meta and link elements as well as creating an XML sitemap for search engines.
5. Google Analytics by Yoast
Google Analytics is a service offered by Google that allows you to track the activity on your website such as how many visitor’s you’re getting daily and where they’re coming from. Installation is a breeze and allows you to add Analytics to your site without having to mess with the source code.
Once installed, you’ll be able to view traffic stats right from your dashboard. The plugin also has the useful option to track outbound clinks and downloads.
Now that your WordPress installation is secure, without any broken links, and optimized for search engines, the last and most critical step is to install a plugin to manage your backups. Trust me, stuff happens. Your site can be wiped out in many disastrous scenarios. Backups have saved us several times and you will thank yourself later for preparing for the worst.
UpdraftPlus makes backups easy. We usually configure it to backup the entire site on a daily or weekly basis and automatically upload it to a remote cloud storage provider such as Dropbox.
That wraps up our collection of must-have WordPress plugin. We hope it helps.