Most useful WordPress plugins

Most useful WordPress plugins

Introduction

WordPress is no doubt the most popular framework for building a website. With WordPress, you can build a website from scratch within 5 minutes. If you are a WordPress beginner, the following plugins may help you get started even faster.

1. Insert Headers and Footers

Developed by WPBeginner

Insert headers and footers configuration screenshot

This plugin lets you insert JavaScript, meta tags, html tags, etc. in the header or footer of all pages in your website. While the concept is simple, this plugin becomes super handy when you want to add 3rd party services to your website via html or JavaScript.

Adding Google Analytics tracking script

If you don’t know it yet, Google Analytics is the best analytics tool out there for your website and what’s even better is it’s totally free. I believe almost every website in the world is integrated with Google Analytics. Therefore, I would highly recommend that you have your website integrated with this amazing tool.

When you want to integrate Google Analytics tracking script into your WordPress website, just copy the script provided by Google and paste it into the footer slot in the plugin configuration page. That’s it! Done! No additional plugin needed. No HTML editing needed. Your site is now fully integrated with Google Analytics.

Adding Webmasters Tools (Search Console) verification meta tag

While Webmasters Tools provide a lot of ways to verify your ownership of your website, the easiest way would be adding the verification meta tag to your website’s header. With Insert Headers and Footers plugin, it is as easy as copying and pasting the verification meta tag into the header slot in the plugin configuration page. Save the configuration and now you can go to Webmasters Tools and ask Google to verify your website.

Adding other 3rd party JavaScript

As your web building journey goes on, you will find yourself integrating a lot more 3rd party services to your website via JavaScript. In most of the cases, the 3rd party tells you to add a tracking script to the header or footer of every page in your website.

With this plugin installed, you just have to go to the plugin configuration page and add the new script to the existing other scripts that are already there. Oh! Did I forget to mention that you can add multiple scripts to the same slot (header or footer)? You can do that just by pasting the scripts one after another in the slot you want (header or footer). The whole slot’s content will be rendered into the html of every page in your website.

Header or footer?

In most of the cases, 3rd party scripts can be inserted into either header or footer and still work perfectly. However, whenever it’s possible, you should put the scripts in the footer because that will make your website load faster as your website will have a chance to render the content before loading the JavaScript.

2. Yoast SEO

Developed by Team Yoast

This plugin makes your SEO life a lot easier, especially if you are a beginner to SEO.

After this plugin is installed and activated, it will give you a configuration page with several tabs. The configurations are very easy to understand and the default settings are good enough, so you can just leave the default there and you’re good to go.

Now your website front-end already has the following features:

  • Auto generated meta description, social sharing meta tag (based on configured template),
  • Auto generated meta title (based on configured template),
  • Auto generated sitemap xml (default to yoursite/sitemap_index.xml).

And your back-end is provided with the following tools:

  • A dashboard on SEO performance,
  • Titles and Metas configurations,
  • Social platform integrations,
  • XML sitemaps configurations,
  • Robots.txt editor.

Yoast SEO also adds a form in your regular post editor, where it allows you to specify a keyword that you want your post to focus on, and then it uses some best practices’ rules to score the SEO performance of your post versus that focused keyword and also score the readability of the post. It also tells you what you did well and what you can improve to make your score better.

Yoast SEO has more than 1 million active installs (as of 2016). The number says it all. I would definitely recommend this plugin, especially if you are new to SEO.

3. Image Teleporter

Developed by Blue Medicine Labs

When you copy the image from another web page to your post editor, the image URL is still from the original host, not your WordPress website’s host. This plugin turns images in your posts that are hosted externally into images that are uploaded to your Media Library.

When you finish editing your post and hit Publish or Update, this plugin finds images that are still hosted externally in your post, downloads them, uploads them to your Media Library, changes the image links of your post to the Media Library version and saves the post again.

By changing the external linked image to your Media Library, your website performance will not be affected by the external host performance. Moreover, if the external host goes down, the images on your posts will still load beautifully.

Imagine the workload you would have to do without this plugin: downloading, uploading, inserting the image for every image in your post, multiplied by the number of posts you have; not to mention the troubles when the external host goes down several years later. Now, while this brilliant plugin is doing all the hard work, you can go out and drink beers with your buddies!

4. Jetpack by WordPress.com

Developed by Automattic

Jetpack provides us with a lot of cool features out of the box. Below are some of those:

  • Photon – free CDN hosting service by Jetpack. Jetpack automatically cache images on our website on their CDN and serve static contents like images on our website to our visitors from their CDN. This feature helps releasing stress to our server, with no cost at all.
  • Site stats: traffic, visitors
  • Infinite scroll: Load more posts as the reader scrolls down
  • Social: Add social sharing buttons to your posts, automatically share your posts to your fan page

There are a lot more waiting to be discover. I would recommend that you give this awesome plugin a try.

5. Page Builder by SiteOrigin

Developed by SiteOrigin
Also install SiteOrigin Widgets Bundle by the same developer.

SiteOrigin Page Builder is the most popular page creation plugin for WordPress. It makes it easy to create responsive column based content, using the widgets you know and love. Your content will accurately adapt to all mobile devices, ensuring your site is mobile-ready. Read more on SiteOrigin.

With SiteOrigin, your editors immediately become professional html designers. All of the layouts, components like google maps, carousel slider, etc. that you can think of, can be done with SiteOrigin using only drag-and-drop. No single line of code or html editing will be necessary.

I would strongly recommend that you install this plugin and give it a try.

6. WP Super Cache

Developed by Automattic

If your website content does not need to be 100% real-time, this plugin can help a lot with your hosting cost, because you can now use only one tenth of your hardware resources to serve the same amount of traffic. Moreover, the settings are pre-configured out of the box. You can install the plugin and just use the default options, yet everything still works perfectly.

This plugin generates static html files from your dynamic WordPress blog. After a html file is generated your webserver will serve that file instead of processing the comparatively heavier and more expensive WordPress PHP scripts.

The static html files will be served to the vast majority of your users, but because a user’s details are displayed in the comment form after they leave a comment those requests are handled by the legacy caching engine. Static files are served to:

  • Users who are not logged in.
  • Users who have not left a comment on your blog.
  • Or users who have not viewed a password protected post.

99% of your visitors will be served static html files. Those users who don’t see the static files will still benefit because they will see different cached files that aren’t quite as efficient but still better than uncached. This plugin will help your server cope with a front page appearance on digg.com or other social networking site.

7. WP Mail SMTP

Developed by Callum Macdonald

Some cloud hosting, including Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure Cloud, won’t let us send emails via SMTP from within the web server. To send emails, we should use some 3rd party email services like SendGrid, MailGun, etc. that allow us to use some custom SMTP port, that can get through the cloud firewall policy.

This plugin helps us configure SMTP and also test the configuration easily with only one page of configuration. Without this plugin, configuring SMTP settings and testing them would be a pain, especially if you don’t have ssh access to the hosting server.

The plugin configuration page is so simple that an average user can do it by himself.

8. Contact Form 7

Developed by Takayuki Miyoshi

If you are looking for a contact form for your website, look no more. Contact Form 7 plugin provides a contact form out of the box. It also integrates well with Google’s ReCaptcha service to prevent your websites from spams. The configurations are simple yet very flexible.

If you already have SiteOrigin plugin installed, SiteOrigin also comes with a very powerful contact form in their Page Builder feature. In my opinion, SiteOrigin’s contact form and Contact Form 7 are equally good. It’s only a personal preference matter when it comes to choosing which to use.

 

Conclusion

In this topic, I have mentioned the plugins that I find useful and install on all of my WordPress websites. Hope they can help you, too!

What are your favorite WordPress plugins? Let me know in the comments! 😀

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