8 basic plugins you MUST have on your WordPress blog

Once we have our WordPress blog and our Google Analytics integration, we want to install some basic plugins. Plugins will do the hard work most of the times, giving us flexibility to improve, change or decide stuff in our blog.

Basic plugins that I have installed on day 1 are:

Jetpack plugin by WordPress.com:

As told in my first post, at some point we have to choose between Wordpres.com or self-hosted WordPress. We went for the self-hosted version to create this blog because I consider there are more Pros than Cons. The interesting thing is that the WordPress.com back end has some cool features that you don’t find in the self-hosted version of WordPress. Here’s where Jetpack by WordPress.com appeasrs. This plugin will bring to our self-hosted WordPress most of the WordPress.com features.

  • Traffic insights. Jetpack tells you a lot of useful information about your site visits and helps you increase your numbers with features like related posts, publicize, sharing…
  • Security. Brute force attacks protection and unauthorized logins control. Also monitors your site’s downtime.
  • Image management. Generally we will blame images for the excess of load time on your page. Jetpack automatically optimizes image size to make them load faster and reducing you hosting needs.
  • Centralized dashboard. You can manage plugins and menus, publish posts, view multiple sites states and much more from the same page.
  • Customization. Jetpack also includes features that will help you customize CSS, contact forms, notifications and subscriptions, galleries and carousels…

jetpack plugin review wordpress

Google Analytics plugin by Yoast:

As told in my last post about how to integrate Google Analytics with your WordPress blog, Google Analytics  by Yoast is a good and fast option. You will be able to easily track basic stuff in a couple of clicks.

Main features of the free version are:

  • Immediate Google Analytics integration.
  • You will be able to track visits, sessions, and all basic Google Analytics but also 404 error pages and user searches.
  • You will get basic dashboards in your WordPress back end.

yoast google analytics review for wordpress

Paid version also let’s you track custom dimensions, adsense and access their support team.

Yoast SEO:

I will write more (probably much more) about SEO because it’s a topic I love, and people who have worked with me can tell. This is why I think SEO principles are super important for everyone who wants to create any kind of website. Yoast SEO is a cool plugin with many features. I really think it is a must.

Main features of the free version are:

  • Real time SEO evaluation of your posts.
  • Easily edit the title, slug and description for Google’s snippet.
  • SEO friendliness content analysis of your posts in real time.

yoast-seo-review-wordpress

Akismet plugin for WordPress:

This one will take care of your posts’ comments making sure you don’t get any spam. The way it works is, every time you receive a comment, your WordPress runs each comment through Akismet servers that check the chances for it to be spam. This plugin is free for personal blogs and need subscription for businesses and commercial sites.

Those would be the main features in Akismet:

  • It does the comment checking automatically and filters the ones that have more chances to be spam. You will be able to “approve” them later.
  • You can see how many approved comments each user has. That’s good to keep track of your best commentators, and helps you when you have to decide if you approve or not someone’s comment.

Akismet plugin review for wordpress

  • Users cannot post a link where they hide the destination URL. Everything will be transparent and the destination URL will be shown. That solves a lot of misleading links issues.
  • Even if you approve a comment, you will always be able to see the comment’s history to check if it was flagged as a spam. This one is specially useful when there’s a moderator taking care of your blog’s comments.

Crayon syntax highlighter:

This one is a bit technical, and in future posts we will understand why we need its features. It is just a nice editor for coding purposes, I know I will play a bit with the code one day, so this plugin will be helpful at some point.

crayon syntax ighlighter review wordpress

Simple 301 redirects:

Super simple plugin. The only feature is doing 301 redirects. A 301 redirect is an action that you should do when a page is not available anymore. Why? Because chances are that the page was already indexed on Google, and if someone clicks on it will go to the 404 error page. This is a bad experience, so we will redirect this people to another page automatically. Another reason to use a 301 redirect would be to preserve the links. If someone else is linking to a page in our blog that no longer exists, then users will have the horrible 404 error experience again. Also we want to keep those external links working for SEO purposes.

WP super cache:

WP super cache is a cache engine for your site that will deliver plain html files instead of the original php pages from WordPress. What does that mean? Short answer is: It means that your site will load much faster.

Wordfence security plugin:

Wordfence security is the most downloaded security plugin for WordPress. It is pretty complete and reliable. It include cool features like:

  • Firewall
  • Blocking features
  • Security scanning
  • Login security
  • Monitoring
  • Many more security features…

So, if you followed the last 3 posts, little by little we are building a good baseline for our blog but it still doesn’t look any appealing at all. Next post I will go through choosing the right theme for my needs. Keep visiting this blog and feel free to comment!

2 Comments

  1. Ester

    Hi! I’ll take a look to all these plugins! may be i’ll add some of them in the blog I’m doing! I have already installed several plugins, I don’t know if there should be a maximum or if they can make the web work too slowly if I install to much things…

    1. Raul

      Hey Ester! Nice to have you back! I’m sure you’ve noticed some changes since your last visit, I’ll keep posting on how I did it.

      About those plugins, yes, try them and please let me know if you have any questions or you think it’d be good to include additional information on that post. In terms of number of plugins and your website’s load time, you don’t have to worry that much about the number of plugins itself but about their complexity (a plugin that loads a lot of scripts, performs complex operations, connects to external APIs, performs database queries… that will definitely affect your page speed) and how “well-developed” they are (you want to trust only reliable sources that potentially deliver clean and optimized plugins).

      If your page speed worries you, other than the plugins you also want to consider paying attention to your theme (some themes are so resources consuming) and eventually your hosting (I have to say that in terms of page speed I’m not very happy with the x10hosting.com that I recommended on my first post).

      And my last tip here, if you want to diagnose your page speed (or any other website’s pagespeed), you may find Google´s Pagespeed Insights useful. You just have to enter a URL and the tool will diagnose and troubleshoot your pagespeed.

      I hope this helps and brings you back soon!

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