So you decided to start a new blog in 2015 and installed WordPress. But where to go from there? How about starting by installing some of the essential WordPress plugins? Find below a complete list of absolute essential WordPress plugins as well as some good to have WordPress plugins to install in 2015.
All the WordPress plugins listed below are free of cost and very popular among WordPress users. Some of the plugins may also offer advanced functionality at a price but all the basic features are available free of cost.
What type of plugins are must have for WordPress?
When you go through our list of “Must have WordPress plugins” below, you will find that we have included a very few plugins in the list. All other plugins have been included as “Good to have WordPress Plugins” or “Recommended WordPress Plugins”. The reason we have done this is that, we don’t recommend you to install a large number of plugins on your WordPress blog. General rule of thumb is that, the greater the number of plugins on your WordPress site, the slower it will become. And therefore you should look for absolute essential plugins and install others only when needed.
There are certain types of WordPress plugins which we consider as absolute must for any kind of WordPress blog or site. These plugins are required for security, performance, backup and SEO of your blog and are therefore unavoidable. Find below the list of all must have plugins providing you with the essential features required for your WordPress installation.
List of Must have WordPress Plugins
All the plugins listed below are an absolute must on any kind of WordPress installation. WordPress does not come out of box with features such as security, performance, backup and SEO and therefore the following plugins are needed to gain these features. Most of the plugins have their alternatives also listed. All of these plugins provides all the basic features for free but may provide additional features at some cost.
If your living depends on your blog, then I cannot stress more, how important it is to have a back up of your WordPress blog at regular intervals. There have been many occasions and many reasons for people to lose their data stored in their WordPress and a plugin which automates taking backup on your behalf is the only thing that is going to save you from that.
We have a seamless backup plugin called BackUpWordPress which is loved by all, and does an excellent job out of the box to maintain backups (both database and files) of your WordPress install. You may also want to look into additional options like getting support for syncing to your Drobox folder.
Next comes your website speed, for which we have W3 Total Cache for WordPress. This plugin will make sure that your website stands the onslaught of visitors without hurting your hosting budget.
If you don’t have any caching plugins installed on your WordPress website, you will face slow page load time. In case you are using shared hosting then many a times, under high traffic, your web host provider may even turn your site off, if it finds over the limit quota usage of CPU for your site. So do make sure to install some kind of caching plugin for your site. I have always trusted W3 Total Cache for this.
There is a constant increase in attacks on WordPress sites. Hackers all around the world, are trying to compromise your site to use it for their own purpose. Hackers use multiple known back doors in WordPress along with a bruteforce attack on your WordPress login system.
The only way to maintain a safe stand for your WordPress website is to be proactive and make sure to always update to the latest version of WordPress as well as all the themes and plugins. On top of that, a plugin such as Wordfence Security, plays crucial role in shutting down doors to hackers. It is an essential tool to safeguard against bruteforce login hacks and other kinds of automated hacks from a know list of hacked IPs.
Wordfence Security also has a Flacon engine which can be used for caching and improving performance (speed) of your site.
Alternatives: iThemes Security
Search Engine Optimization of your blog plays a crucial role in increasing the reach of your content on the search engines. Chances are that, you are already aware of it but don’t know what to do about it. SEO is an ongoing process and having a plugin like WordPress SEO will be able to assist you on a long term basis.
WordPress SEO plugin takes care of all the technical optimizations of your site along with additions like adding social meta tags. More than that it helps you write better content by forcing you to choose a focus keyword and making sure that your content revolves around it.
Jetpack is a suite of plugins and there are more than one reason we have included it in the list of must have plugins.
First of all, Jetpack includes support of Photon CDN to serve up images of your blog. This can speed up image delivery and thus increase your website speed and reduce bandwidth consumed for your hosting plan.
Secondly, Jetpack Monitor can be used to monitor the uptime of your site, and notify in case your site goes down.
Moreover, Jetpack has many desirable tools such as Social Sharing, Publicize, Related Posts, Shortcode Embeds and so on which are generally crucial to increase engagement of your content.
List of Good to have WordPress Plugins
In the list of Good to have WordPress Plugins, we have plugin offering features like social sharing, comment spam protection, Image file size optimizers and more. All these features are good to have on your WordPress blog and you should choose to install them depending on the type of blog you have.
Akismet helps in preventing spam comments on your WordPress website.
Anti-spam plugin blocks spam in comments automatically, invisibly for users and for admins. Learn more about this WordPress Anti-Spam plugin.
EWWW Image Optimizer helps trim down the fat of the images that you upload by making them smaller in size. Works for JPG, PNG and GIF images.
Alternatives: WP Smush.it
Enables advanced features of TinyMCE, the WordPress WYSIWYG editor.
A little know plugin, but helps in keeping your site clean by avoiding pingbacks from your own posts.
Avoid database bloat by restricting the amount of revisions that get stored for each posts.
More Recommended WordPress Plugins
All the plugins listed below are recommended set of WordPress plugins and should only be installed when needed. They provide very specific features which may not be needed on every WordPress blog. Nonetheless, these plugins are best of their bunch and are therefore recommended by Super Blogging team.
A simple but flexible contact form plugin.
Alternatives: Contact Form feature included in JetPack
The Disqus comment system is an alternate WordPress comment system.
Add google analytics to your WordPress blog and easily access the stats right into your WordPress dashboard.
Enables you to replace already uploaded images in WordPress. This may be crucial if you need to update images in your published posts without changing the image URL.
Enable sending better emails from your WordPress. Good to have if your WordPress is enabled to send mails.
Enables you to use SMTP instead of default mail() function used by WordPress for sending out mails.
Add a favicon to your blog and WordPress admin pages.
Alternatives: Site Icon feature included in JetPack
Adds a more advanced paging navigation interface to your WordPress blog.
WordPress & Plugins in 2015
As WordPress continues to grow, we believe a lot more plugins will get added to WordPress plugin repository offering similar functionalists and it will be tough to filter out the best.
Automattic, the team behind WordPress will continue to grow its JetPack plugin which in our opinion would slowly fill all the gaps in WordPress functionalities which are not present in its out of box installation.
Since WordPress believes in a modular approach and advocates adding features via plugins, WordPress will never have all the required features out of box and therefore the need of plugins will always be there.
What plugins do you use on your WordPress blog? Do you have suggestion for a better alternative for plugins listed in our post. Do share your recommendation with our readers.