Hey, my fellow KMers! Today I was scanning through my plugins in my WP dashboard and wondering how in the world anybody, especially beginners, is supposed to know which plugins they need on their WordPress website.
The truth is, there are so many plugins out there that it can be completely overwhelming when you're first getting started with your blog. I think most times, people tend to install way more plugins than necessary, which is a great way to clog up your site and cause it to run super slow (not good).
So, with this on my mind, I thought it might be helpful if I gave my readers a complete rundown of the 6 plugins I consider to be essential to each and every WordPress site I create.
Affiliate Disclaimer: You will find some links to certain plugins and products throughout this document. According to my personal Code of Ethics and in order to comply with FTC Compliance Standards, if the link is an affiliate link, meaning I'll make money if you buy the product, it will be followed by “(Aff)”. Don't worry, I'm not taking advantage of you. In fact, most websites online are making money from you, they just aren't disclosing it to you!
Now that we got that out of the way, here are my 6 must-have plugins in no particular order:
#1: All-In-One SEO Pack
Cost: Free + Optional Upgrade
What It Does: In short, All-In-One SEO Pack does everything you don't know how to do when it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This plugin is constantly working behind the scenes to optimize every aspect of your website to increase your likelihood of being discovered and ranked by all of the search engines, such as: Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.
All-In-One SEO Pack manages all of your SEO settings. For example, it will optimize your home page, post titles, keywords, and custom posts, just to name a few. It also makes it super easy to verify your site with Google and Bing Webmaster Tools as well as Pinterest.
Why You Need It: It will save you a ton of time…and you'll get better SEO optimization than you would trying to do it all yourself. Just imagine having to do everything this plugin does for you. You would be spending all of your time trying to figure it all out (and probably failing because it's super complicated stuff that I don't even know how to do) instead of writing new content for your site. It's the content that will ultimately draw traffic, so that's where you want to be spending your time, not on SEO optimization.
Cost: Free/Name Your Price + Optional Upgrades
What It Does: Akismet is will make your life so much easier! How, you might ask? Well, because it will be constantly working to protect your site from all of the nasty spam that is continually trying to attack your site. It scans your site literally thousands of times a month and is constantly evolving to stay ahead of the latest spam techniques.
Why You Need It: Simple, there is nothing more annoying that getting excited because you have received 10 new comments on the new post you published two hours ago only to log in and see they are either gibberish nonsense linking to some sketchy site, or a massively long message completely irrelevant to the subject matter of your site. Either way, they are both spam and completely worthless to you. It's just easier not to have to deal with them in the first place, and Akismet will do this for you.
#3: SI CAPTCHA Anti-Spam
What It Does: SI Captcha Anti-Spam is another layer of spam filtering that requires an action to be done by the person writing the comment. I've sure you've seen those confusing letters and numbers you have to decipher in order to leave a comment or submit your query. Well, that is SI-CAPTCHA making sure you are a real human, and not some automated robot trying to spam your site.
In essence, SI CAPTCHA differentiates between human beings and robots.
Why You Need It: You need SI-CAPTCHA because it is just another layer between you and all of the spam trying to make its way into your website's comments. If you don't have it, you run the risk of being totally inundated with long, obnoxious, worthless comments you're just going to delete.
ADVICE: Akismet and SI-CAPTCHA Anti-Spam can be used in conjunction with one another. In fact, this is my preferred method as it is much more difficult for spam to get around two different filters than just one on its own.
#4: Pretty Link
Cost: Free + Optional Upgrade
What It Does: Pretty Link does exactly what it's title implies: it makes your links pretty. Using this plugin allows you to take any link, no matter how long, and turn it into a nice and simple link. When a visitor sees the destination URL they will just see the URL you create, as opposed to a super long, complicated link.
Read My In-Depth Review Of Pretty Link Pro
Pretty Link Pro also has a plethora of statistical tracking features as well. The Pro Version allows you to mask your links in a variety of fashions as well as split test your links so you know exactly which links/pages are converting highest.
Why You Need It: In short, Pretty Link will make your site a lot more attractive. If you're not yet aware, affiliate links are usually crammed packed with lots of nonsensical letters, numbers, and symbols. It's just so much nicer to have a nice clean look to your links, not to mention the insightful analytics and split testing that come with the pro version.
Here's a before and after of what Pretty Link can do for you:
Isnt' the after so much more attractive, and honestly, much more informative.
#5: Subscribe to Comments Reloaded
What It Does: Subscribe to Comments Reloaded allows readers to subscribe to your comment threads. This means that, should they choose, they can be sent an email everytime a new comment is posted on the thread they are following. They can choose whether or not to follow just their own comment, the entire comment thread, or the entire website.
The plugin also comes with a full subscription manager page so all of your subscribers can manage exactly which comments and threads they are following and receiving email notifications from.
Why You Need It: You need this plugin because it will greatly increase reader interaction and participation in your comment threads. Without this plugin, if someone leaves a comment, they have no way of knowing if anyone has responded unless they manually go back and check periodically. This is a huge hassle and, let's be honest, most people will forget they left the comment after a few hours anyways.
With Subscribe to Comments Reloaded you don't have to worry about commenters forgetting about their comments because everytime there is an action or response to the comment they will be notified and provided with a link that takes them right the new comments where than can respond again themselves.
#6: Google XML Sitemaps
What It Does: Out of all of the plugins on this list, Google XML Sitemaps is by far the simplest. It's one responsibility is to create Sitemaps of your site that can easily be indexed by the most prominent search engines, such as, Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Ask.com.
Why You Need It: Being indexed is the foundation to obtaining high rankings in the search engines. Without being indexed, the search engines will have no idea what your site is about and, consequently, won't send you any traffic.
Think about this for a minute…how long would it take you to make a list of every single page, image, link, etc. on your site? Even with a relatively small website, this would take some time. If you have a site with hundreds of posts and images, well, it will take you days. Google XML Sitemaps does all of this work for you and in a way that you know is correct and not missing anything.
There you go. These are the six plugins I install on nearly every website I own without fail.I would highly recommend taking a look at each and every one of them and installing them on your very own blog.
If you have any questions or comments regarding these, or other, plugins, please drop me a message below or send me a message through my contact form. Also, if you'd like to receive more valuable content like this for free, please become an official Kirby's Marketing (KMer) by signing up to my email list here: