WordPress is a powerful content management system (CMS) we use with many of our clients. Why?
- It’s an open-source platform, which means it is less expensive, it’s updated frequently, and there is an abundance of plug-ins for almost any industry.
- Our clients can maintain it. It surprises me how many clients that come to us who don’t have access to their current website. Making a simple edit to a page requires them to pay their current agency. We believe that you should be able to edit your own website!
- The possibilities are endless. If you’re e-commerce, B2B, a SaaS product, a manufacturing company, a service company, or anything in between, WordPress is flexible enough to meet your needs.
When we create a new website from scratch, we have a set of plug-ins we always start with.
Akismet entered into the WordPress mix in 2005. Needless to say, they’ve been in the game for a while. In a nutshell, Akismet is a spam blocker for your contact and comment form submissions.
- Automatically checks all comments and filters out the ones that look like spam.
- Each comment has a status history, so you can easily see which comments were caught or cleared by Akismet and which were spammed or unspammed by a moderator.
- URLs are shown in the comment body to reveal hidden or misleading links.
- Moderators can see the number of approved comments for each user.
- A discard feature that outright blocks the worst spam, saving you disk space and speeding up your site.
Outside of the annoyance of being spammed, you want to avoid being penalized by Google due to spammy content in the form of hyperlinks and comments.
Google Site Kit
Released at the end of 2019, this is a big upgrade for anyone who has tried to integrate the Google Suite of products into WordPress in the past.
- Search Console — Gives you valuable information about how Google has indexed your website, the search terms visitors use to find it, and information about how your site appears in search.
- Analytics — How users are navigating your website, pages they visit, where they leave and more. It also has the possibility to set goals.
- PageSpeed Insights — How fast your website loads is important to your users (especially on mobile), so it’s important to Google too. See how your website is performing and tips on how to improve the load time.
- Adsense — If you have paid ads (also called PPC ads), you can enable Adsense. You can place contextual ads on your site to monetize traffic.
- Optimize — A/B tests allow you to create variations of headlines, images, and more. You can perform these tests without editing code.
- Tag Manager — Easily add new tags on your site, allowing you to track what you want.
When it comes to WordPress, Yoast SEO is often considered one of the most valuable plugins you can install. Search Engine Optimization can be a complicated subject, but this powerful plugin makes the process of creating an SEO friendly site much, much easier.
What can Yoast help you with? Here are just a few of the areas:
- Generates XML sitemaps
- Automatically submits XML Sitemaps to Google and other relevant search engines
- Create custom meta header/description
- Check focus keywords
- Preview Google search result snippets
- Add page redirects
- Add breadcrumbs
- Change permalinks
- Bulk edit titles and description
- Offers readability analysis
- Readability check
Keep in mind, Yoast can only be installed on self-hosted WordPress sites and will not work on WordPress.com sites.
Smush for WordPress is another one of our favorite plugins.
What does Smush do? I’m glad you asked. Here are a few of its useful features:
- Lossless Compression – Strip unused data without affecting image quality
- Lazy Load – Defer offscreen images with the flip of a switch
- Bulk Smush – Optimize up to 50 images with one click
- Image Resizing – Set a max width and height and large images will scale down as they are being compressed
- Incorrect Size Image Detection – Quickly locate images that are slowing down your site
- Directory Smush – Optimize images even if they are not located in the media library
- Automated Optimization – Asynchronously auto-smush your attachments for super fast compression on upload
Smush makes it much easier to optimize all your images for the web, which will help prevent unnecessary slowdowns in your site speed. Smush does this while maintaining image quality. It’s a win-win!
AMP for WP – Accelerated Mobile Pages
AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) for WordPress is an easy way to help your site load faster on mobile devices. With a large number of users on mobile devices, this is very important. User experience is improved by faster loading sites, which in turn helps you improve traffic.
Here are a few of the features:
- Out of the box compatibility for Yoast SEO, All in One Seo, Rank Math, Genesis, SEOPress, Bridge Qode SEO, The SEO Framework and Squrilly SEO Plugin.
- 3 Pre-built AMP Layouts for Business websites and landing pages
- Advanced WooCommerce Support
- Gravity Forms Support
- Structured Data Options
- Page Break / NextPage (Pagination) Support
- Email Opt-in Subscription form support in AMP added
- Call to Action boxes and notification bars
- Google Tag Manager Support
- Page, Category & Tags Support Added
- Google Analytics Support.
- Much, much more!
Over 50% of users are on mobile devices and you need to make sure you are doing what you can to optimize their experience on your site. It can also help with Google rankings due to an alleged bump in mobile searches.
Elementor Blocks for Gutenberg
Elementor Blocks for Gutenberg provides a super-easy way to insert any Elementor template into Gutenberg with just one click. We really love it for a quick and easy way to insert a table of contents or a Call to Action box (both designed in Elementor) into a WordPress blog post.
- Insert Elementor blocks and templates in any area inside Gutenberg
- Preview the template right inside the Gutenberg editor
- Easy access to edit any Elementor template right from Gutenberg editor
- Choose from over 300+ pre-designed blocks & 100+ pre-designed pages
- Customize your Elementor blocks with unlimited design options
Since we are big fans of Elementor, Elementor Blocks for Gutenburg provides us an easy way to integrate Elementor functionality into WordPress.
We have mentioned site speed over and over…and here we go again. This time around we want to mention WP Rocket. WP Rocket is a WordPress speed optimization plugin at its core.
What can WP Rocket help you do? Here are a few of the features:
- Sitemap Preloading
- Browser Caching
- Mobile Detection
- Database Optimization
- Google Fonts Optimization
- Remove Query Strings from Static Resources
- DNS Prefetching
WP Rocket is a paid plugin, but we feel it is well worth the money. Give it a go and if you don’t like it you can take advantage of the 30-day money-back guarantee.
WP Broken Link Status Checker
Broken links can create a disappointing experience for a visitor to your site. It can leave a bad taste in their mouth and they may not get over it, creating a bad user experience. In addition, it can also have a negative impact on your SEO. Google likes things to be running as smoothly as possible.
As your site grows, as things change, as other sites change links, etc., you will find yourself struggling to keep all your links up to date. Fortunately, there is help out there. This is where WP Broken Link Status Checker comes into play.
WP Broken Link Status Checker is a free plugin that has a number of advanced features (all easy to use) which can help you vastly in your efforts. It also allows you to manage and create separate scans and it also enables you to scan portions of your site if you wish.
Give and a go and see how it can help you with:
- Content links
- Image links
- Broken links
- Nofollow link warnings
- And much more
Viewing results in realtime is an added bonus saving you the hassle and frustration of waiting on the results from a large site. Try it out and take back control of your links.
Sucuri Security – Auditing, Malware Scanner and Hardening
Sucuri Security – Auditing, Malware Scanner and Hardening is one of the top security plugins in the game. It offers security recommendations, malware scanning, and website blacklist notifications, and more.
Here are a few more of its features:
- Security Activity Auditing
- File Integrity Monitoring
- Remote Malware Scanning
- Blacklist Monitoring
- Effective Security Hardening
- Post-Hack Security Actions
- Security Notifications
We use the free version and find it offers great protection and is sufficient for our needs.
Redirection is a plugin we have become very familiar with. If you have ever had to create a bunch of 301 redirects, you know how much of a pain it can be. You also know it is extremely important in maintaining your domain authority and search ranking if your URL has changed.
Redirection can help you set up redirects when you:
- Rename a post or page
- Perform a site migration
- Update categories or tags
- Update permalink structure
- And more…
Make sure your visitors end up where they need and want to be and keep your site healthy with Redirection.
These are eight of our go-to, must-install plug-ins. What other ones would you add?