This blog post is actually an answer to a question I was recently asked, What WordPress plugins would you recommend for a new site?. It’s a question I get asked pretty regularly, so I put together this post to answer it.
Standard WordPress Plugins
These are the plugins I recommend for your average WordPress site. If you want specific features, then of course the list will vary.
iThemes Security – Simple & Powerful WordPress Security
iThemes Security is the new and improved version of Better WP Security. It’s easy to use checklist style dashboard makes securing your faster and much less stressful.
I’ve got a tutorial on getting started with iThemes Security if you need some help.
If you aren’t looking for the complete Security package in one, I’d recommend using both Limit Login Attempts and Sucuri Free. They are small and very easy to use.
Limit Login Attempts
You’ve heard about the brute force attacks on WordPress websites using “admin” as their user name. The first thing you should do if you haven’t already is make sure there is user named “admin”. The second thing you should do is limit how many people can attempt to login. That’s what Limit Login Attempts.
For more info on Limit Login Attempts plugin, try my post on setting it up.
Sucuri scanner is a very simple plugin to use from one of the top names in security. There are a couple of 1-click buttons and a security check scanner. It’s not advanced and doesn’t have a ton of customizations, which is exactly why I recommend it for novices.
BackWPup – Flexible & Free Backup Solution
BackWPup is a fabulous backup plugin. Why do I say it’s fabulous? Because I’ve restored sites where someone accidentally deleted their database in a couple minutes.
Need help setting it up, try my tutorial on setting up BackWPup.
WordPress SEO by Yoast – Straightforward SEO
In my opinion WordPress SEO by Yoast is the best free SEO plugin. It has the tools you need laid out in a nice straightforward manner.
If you need help getting started with it, I’ve got a tutorial on using WordPress SEO.
W3 Total Cache – Quickly Speed Up Your Site
W3 Total Cache is very popular and powerful caching plugin. If you’ve ever looked at PageSpeed Insights and seen notices for enabling compression or minifying CSS, this plugin will take care of that. There are of course additional aspects to the speed of your site, but this plugin takes care of a lot.
Need help navigating the basics of W3 Total Cache, check out my post on it.
WP Smush.it uses Yahoo’s smush.it service to losslessly reduce your images. This makes your images smaller without sacrificing image quality. Talk about a win-win. I’ve got an article on Smush.it to help you as well.
ShareThis – Social Media Sharing
I use ShareThis because it’s an easy plugin to configure and does everything I want it to.
If you need help configuring the ShareThis plugin, I’ve written a tutorial for you.
These are a couple of helpful utilities for your website. Preserve Editor Scroll Position is a feature that I think should have been incorporated into WordPress years ago and Confirm Publishing Actions is great for anyone who’s accidentally hit “Publish” before they were ready.
Preserve Editor Scroll Position
Preserve Editor Scroll Position keeps your scroll position when you click on save or publish. So if you were 1/3 of the way down in your article, it keeps you there. It’s so simple. It just helps keep your sanity.
Confirm Publishing Actions
Have you ever been working on a draft and meant to click on “Save Draft” but accidentally clicked on “Publish”? Well, you aren’t alone. This handy little plugin just asks you to confirm that you really meant to click publish.
Blog Specific Plugins
If your WordPress site also has a blog, then I recommend a few blog specific plugins. Over half of them deal with comment spam.
Reducing Comment Spam on Your Blog
Akismet is from Automattic, the wonderful people who run WordPress.com. It is a top notch anti-spam plugin and very easy to use. Just get your API key and let it do the heavy lifting.
AVH First Defense Against Spam
If you aren’t running Akismet, then I recommend AVH. AVH ties in to Stop Forum Spam, Project Honeypot and Spamhaus. You can check against all three of these spam databases before allowing a comment to even be held for moderation.
Growmap is the alternative to captchas and quizzes. It adds a checkbox to your comment form asking the person to check it if they are a human. So simple and yet highly effective.
WordPress Related Posts – Keep Your Visitors on Your Site
Last and not least is WordPress Related Posts. This plugin automatically creates a list of related posts at the end of your post. Related Posts scours your blog and looks for similar posts which would be of interest to someone reading the current post. It then suggests to the posts to your site visitors.
A similar plugin from Yoast is YARPP. I did a comparison on these two, and you should use the one that’s best for you.
Subscribe to Comments
Subscribe to Comments adds a second checkbox to your comment form asking if the commenter wants to be notified of follow-up comments. That way if the commenter asks a question they can be emailed when the author replies.
There are of course other plugins that I like for specific purposes, such as cleaning up your database or eCommerce. But these are my favorite plugins to recommend for WordPress right now. If you’d like more in depth recommendations for you specifically or help maintaining your site, contact me.