Let’s talk WP plugins! When you first find them – 10s of 1000’s of them – it’s like Christmas at a candy store. So many neat things you can do to make your site look or function differently. And all with the click of a button!
I do think it’s my life’s work to crush dreams and insist that these are not all they’re cracked up to be! In this security week post, we go over the basics on the dangers of plugins, how to select one and how to know which are safe.
[info_box type=”note_box”]Must Read: Security Holes & Plugins[/info_box]
Today however, I want to cover the plugins that we do recommend, organized by function. Note that if any plugins are premium, requiring a fee to use, I’ve noted a $. If I’m not recommending something, I’m speaking in general terms for most people! Of course there are going to be exceptions!
Let’s get this ball rolling!
WordPress Plugin Recommendations by Function
Advertisements are usually a piece of code that you are instructed to copy and paste. The easiest way to get that code in your site is to add it to a text widget. I do NOT recommend adding any advertisement ‘management’ type of plugins as they can mess with the theme coding and slow down the site.
AMP is misunderstood by most. Right now, if you install the WordPress AMP plugin, nothing will happen! The pages will be prepped, but not connected to the existing pages – so technically they’re not available to anyone. I’ll link to a coming tutorial on installing AMP soon.
Also, for most bloggers, AMP may not be a good fit. If you want to encourage conversation, if your homepage changes often, or if first impressions are important (designers, DIY, fashion, etc) then you won’t like the restrictive design of AMP pages. More on this coming soon.
Akismet is the best plugin there is in my opinion for preventing spam. There is a fee if you’re using your blog for business. Others that we will use are WP Zero Spam, Anti-Spam Bee and Antispam by Clean Talk.
Your backups should be stored off of your server so if your server has a failure at least you’ll have your backups! Updraft Plus connects to DropBox, Amazon and a number of others. It also will automate the backup process and email you if something goes wrong.
If you blog a number of times per week I recommend a daily database backup, keeping one week’s worth: 7. And a weekly file backup, keeping two week’s worth: 2.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Get the list of recommended plugins by @wpbarista! #stoppluginfatigue” quote=”Get the list of recommended plugins by @wpbarista! #stoppluginfatigue”]
Adding your media (including PDFs) to your media tab is easy. And you can link it up to any post or page on your site. Once linked up, a reader can download it. A plugin for simple downloads is not necessary.
WooCommerce: a shop for digital & tangible products with shipping & taxation needs. Add-ons for a fee.
E-Store($): easy to integrate into your own landing pages; best for digital products
Paypal: if you only need donations, or one-or two simple products, this is the easiest solution
Google Analytics & Google Search Console
You do not need a plugin to connect your site to these services. And you should connect your site to them! Just copy and paste the code they give you for verification purposes into the head of your theme (usually through a theme options page). And be sure the tracking code for Google Analytics is inside the head of each page. In Genesis, you can do this through Genesis > Settings > Header Scripts.
Learning Management System
Granted I’m new to the LMS world, but we’ve been creating client LMS using LearnDash and love it. All the features that you’d find in Teachable are available, and the support is awesome!
I’m not sure why you’d use a plugin for any media management at all. Video, MP3 players are already in WordPress – all you need to do is copy and paste the URL from the most popular MP3/MP4 hosting sites.
Galleries are built in. The only thing it doesn’t have is a lightbox feature. To get some more robust features for WordPress galleries, I recommend Envira Galleries ($).
Search Engine Optimization
Yoast SEO is one plugin that I recommend on each and every WordPress install. Not only is it valuable for the keyword hints (you’ll learn those on your own in a few posts) but it provides a ton of settings and integrations that you can use to easily connect to Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Google Search Console and Google Plus.
Go through each tab and complete it as thoroughly as you can. It makes me cry a little each time I see this plugin installed and not configured!!
I’m going to surprise you by saying, I do NOT recommend any security plugins. If you follow best practices you won’t need any.
Note regarding SSL: you will not need a plugin to maintain HTTPS links if you do it correctly. See this post for a full tutorial on adding SSL to your WordPress site.
See “E-commerce” above.
Social Media Follow Buttons
Simple Social Icons for Genesis users.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Remember that each plugin you add is another opportunity for a vulnerability to creep into your site.” quote=”Remember that each plugin you add is another opportunity for a vulnerability to creep into your site”]
Social Media Sharing Buttons
Hands down, the easiest plugin to recommend – works for everyone and is fast is Social Warfare. It is created by coders who support it well, have plans for long term grown (means longevity and support), but they focus on speed and optimization. Here’s the link to have us install & configure it for you: Social Warfare($)
Hidden Pinterest Images
Included in Social Warfare.
Separate Images for Pinterest & Twitter/Social Media
Images and descriptions can be unique for each social media platform with social warfare.
Brilliantly – this is included in social warfare.
Also included in social warfare.
Share adding (for SSL)
Also included in social warfare!
This is a constant battle for most bloggers. Speed is a result of good hosting, clean coding, optimized images and caching. For these I recommend a careful test of the following to see which works for you:
- WP Super Cache or W3 Total Cache or WP Rocket ($)
- Speed Booster Pack (not necessary if using WP Rocket)
- EWWW Image Optimization or ShortPixel ($)
- For CDN I recommend Cloudflare – you only need this after 1,000 uniques/day
Total number of Plugins needed in WordPress: 7
Remember that each plugin you add is another opportunity for a vulnerability to creep into your site: be careful!