When I made the move to WordPress a few weeks ago I had a lot to learn, both in terms of functionality that WordPress had to offer, as well as plugins that I could install and which of those plugins actually worked well!
So I’m going to spend this post sharing what plugins I found the most useful so that anyone else who is getting into WordPress can have an easier time getting started.
Even if you don’t use Facebook or Twitter, chances are that your visitors do and they share your content on those sites. So this plugin is probably the most important plugin of the entire list, because it adds the appropriate meta tags to ensure that when your content is shared on either service, it is rendered correctly.
Furthermore, the Open Graph plugin allows you to set a default image and override it with other an image from the post itself or one uploaded separately:
Again, I cannot stress it enough–if you want your content to look presentable on social media sites, you need to use this plugin. Otherwise, you are passing up a huge opportunity.
If you want backups, UpdraftPlus is THE plugin to use! You can make backups of your WordPress site to a variety of cloud providers, including Updraft’s own cloud service. I personally use the free version to do backups to Amazon S3, and I found that it’s fast and effective. I can even perform a website back from my iPhone!
Are you migrating content from an old website? Then this plugin is for you! You can set up redirection for arbitrary URLs to be forwarded to existing URLs on your website. This even lets you forward by regular expression, so you could forward a URL that is something like “/old-blog/.*” to “/blog/”. Furthermore, there are stats for which redirectors are hit and how often!
Crontrol allows you to view what plugin have cron events scheduled on your website and often they run. In addition, you can edit those cron events or add your own. This is helpful for if you want finer grained control over your website.
If you want to allow users to comment on blog posts on your website, WordPress has its own built-in commenting system. While the built-in system is okay, Disqus lets you take things to the next level. With Disqus, visitors can log in with Facebook, Twitter, or Google, threading is supported, and comments can be voted on. Note to mention that the size of Disqus means that the service has some spam protection built right in!
The Jetpack plugin does a lot of things. The main things which I use Jetpack for are its content delivery network for images in my posts (free image speed up!) and the built in stats. I mean, Google Analytics is also a nice source of stats, but it’s really the kitchen sink of analytics platforms and sometimes you just want to see what the popular articles on your website are after the last week. 🙂
Password Protection is great to use when you are still developing your website and maybe want to share it with a few friends but don’t want Google to index it. Install this plugin, and you can protect every page on your website with a password. It’s simple but effective!
Front Page Category
Front Page Category is a neat little plugin. Sometimes you might want to write a blog post that shows up in your blog, but doesn’t get sent to the front page. This can especially be useful if you are porting over content from another website that has a lot of external links pointing to it but don’t want it to show up on the front page of your website.
When you publish a website, Google will start crawling the pages on the website. One thing you can to do speed up the inclusion of your content into Google is to have an XML Sitemap. An XML Sitemap is a special file which contains a list of all the posts on your website in a format that Google’s crawler can understand. Then, all the crawler has to do is load that and it will have a list of every post on your website, instead of having to crawl your website by hand.
Got any other WordPress plugins that you find really useful? Let me know in the comments!