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As any web developer knows, plugins are essential if you’re working with WordPress as they give you all the additional elements within a website. All developers have their list of essential WordPress plugins, and that’s because most plugins are good for certain projects, and have a specific use for those projects.
However, before getting into building out the “parts” of a website to make it what it should be, ie: e-commerce, membership, blog, etc, these are the essential 4 plugs that you NEED to install & activate when you first start your WordPress Website. These plugins are essential for the functionality and security of your WordPress website.
Site Security – Wordfence
Also known as WAF (Web Application Firewall), this is a firewall developed by Wordfence to protect web applications. The reason it makes it to the list of essential WordPress plugins is that security should be among the top of your priorities when developing your site. WordPress being 33% of all interwebs platform of choice, this opens a much larger door for potential security breach opportunities within your website. A breach could look anywhere from a few things deleted, a random code added, web pages renamed – or 100% loss or your website being held, hostage. Wordfence helps prevent this sort of issues by including a two factor authentication, malware scanning (which can be scheduled) and blacklist checks, and even country blocking. The plugin is also updated to filter attacks in real time as they occur, and it’s exactly what you need to keep your site up and running in a single package.
Paid Alternative: Defender by WPMUDev
All the plugins in this list are Free (some with some premium paid upgrades which really are not needed), however the plugin that we use & trust for ALL of our clients is part of a premium plugin subscription called WPMUDev. If you are a Developer or have a high traffic website (blog, e-commerce, etc) Defender & other plugins included within WPMUDev is WORTH the investment.
Tracking Traffic – Google Analytics with Google Sitekit
One of the most important elements to your website once it’s released is the traffic it attracts. Google SiteKit gives you all the insight you need when it comes to studying your site’s performance and sustainability. Google SiteKit allows you to track and measure the effectiveness of your digital marketing, and it’s created by none other than the center of the internet: Google.
Google analytics works by inserting lines of tracking code into your website’s code; it takes care of monitoring and keeping a record of everything each visitor does in your website—as well as their attributes—and presents it to you. Having your visitor insights also will help if you are planning on using ad’s to promote your business.
This is a Free plugin, and there should be no need to upgrade/pay for more features as the basic Google Analytics is sufficient to track all and any of your analytic needs.
Be Found on Search Engines – Yoast
Having a stable website means nothing if people can’t find it on Google’s search results, and that’s why Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is vital. Yoast is a tool that does just that: guide you through anything that can affect your website’s positioning in search results. From element placement to the way each sentence is structured, everything can influence how easy it is to get to (and enjoy) your website. The reason why Yoast is among our essential WordPress plugins is that it’s the most complete SEO plugin, and the easiest to use! All you need to do is install it and let it scan your website as it gives you tips in real time on how to optimise it.
You do not need the Pro version of Yoast – yah it has some additional tools, but it is not REQUIRED that you update it!
Dependable Forms – Caldera
Forms are one of those elements that you don’t expect to be critical for success until you’re knees deep in the internet industry.
That’s why Caldera is one of the essential WordPress plugins: you can set up all types of forms in any way you want.
It works by simply dragging elements to where you want them to be, and its simple and intuitive user interface makes it perfect for beginners, while its large array of options for customization makes it the best choice for the most advanced developers.