It is very important to invest in a website for your business, and nowadays more and more people want to have their own online presence. Even though creating a website can be somehow complicated and requires a lot of dedication, your business can receive a lot of benefits from it. When creating a website, you have to keep in mind some things:
- The design has to look great.
- It has to be user-friendly and easy to navigate.
- It has to be optimized for search engines.
- You need to protect it from spammers.
But you don’t have to worry, because to manage all these things and more, WordPress comes to your aid.
WordPress is the most popular system for managing content around the world. So, if you use WordPress for your website you have your website in safe hands. WordPress is awesome and open source, that’s what makes it a flexible and customizable website builder and content management system.
Here you have some of the most famous websites that use WordPress as well:
- New York Observer
- New York Post
- Thought Catalog
- National Post
WordPress comes with dozens of pre-made themes that you can use to help design your site, but it also allows you to install plugins. Plugins are apps you can use with WordPress and allow you to add new features to your site. You will need them because they help you to optimize your site for search engines, and also to improve the user experience.
There are over 52,000 plugins to choose from in the official directory, but we will inform you which ones every WordPress website should have. Down below you will have 9 vital and free WordPress plugins you will need to use.
1.Jetpack by WordPress
Having more than 52,000 plugins available doesn’t mean you have to download more than you need, because this will affect directly the performance of your website (your website will load slower). The best for your WordPress site would be to choose a plugin that provides several features in one place, and Jetpack is the right one for that.
Jetpack has more than 4 million active installs and it also comes with tools that will help you design your website, track statistics, improve social sharing, as well as prevent attacks (for free). This plugin also allows you to add advanced features like spam protection and daily backups, and also SEO tools (with their simple and affordable plans). Another advantage of Jetpack is that WordPress.com hosts all of its features.
The dashboard provides you an overview of the features you are using, like the analytics displayed below:
If you click on ”Settings”, it will open a new window with tabs and each of them has a group of features settings.
So, it’s a good idea to install Jetpack because it offers a lot and has the features that your business needs most.
All of you want your website to rank higher on search engines (SEO), but that is really complex. But, if you choose the Yoast SEO plugin, this is going to be quite simple. With the Yoast SEO plugin, on-page SEO efforts become a five-finger exercise. Yoast SEO is a powerful tool that allows you to select a keyword and then you can optimize your site around it.
You can see what this WordPress SEO plugin looks like at the bottom of the page or post editor, whereas at the top you are going to see 2 tabs. One tab is the readability and the other is the WordPress SEO plugin. The second tab shows where you are able to optimize your SEO title, slug, meta description, keywords, as well as URL.
As you can see, a meta description is what shows up on search engines underneath the title and URL.
If you are using a simple traffic-light system, you are also going to break down the SEO and it will give you some tips on how to improve the page. For example, here you can clearly see the necessity to add more keywords.
The other tab, readability, generally shows you analysis results and exposes your post’s or page’s problems. Not only that, but this tab also gives you suggestions and shows you how to improve your page/post.
No doubt Yoast SEO is one of the most popular WordPress plugins available. Yoast SEO also offers a premium version that provides extra functions and allows you to optimize your page for up to 5 keywords. What’s more, is that you can configure these features in the setting tab.
So, set up Yoast SEO today and start optimizing your page and posts to improve your website’s ranking.
A common problem that you may encounter with your pages is spam and everyone hates that. Unfortunately, your WordPress site is in danger of spam comments as soon as it goes live. You can expect spam comments at any time, and what’s worse is that many of them will look genuine. But in fact, comment spam will clog your site and will ruin the site’s performance and also the experience for your readers.
And if no action is taken, you risk losing readers and that will keep damaging your brand. To deal with this properly, Akismet comes to our aid and it will take care of you. Akismet is a reliable and effective anti-spam plugin, and it is officially made by WordPress parent company Automattic.
Having more than 35-million downloads makes Akismet the most popular plugin of all time. There’s a reason why it is so popular, that’s why you should install it immediately. Once you install Akismet, you need to get an API key to start using this service. To do that, simply click “Get your API key “, and just follow the instructions.
Once finished, paste your API key into the box and choose where you want spam comments to go. If you want to, you can update to a premium plan for higher security, but still, the free version of Akismet is fantastic. Go and install this essential plugin today, if you want a better site’s user experience and also to prevent comment spam.
4.Wp Super Cache
It may have happened to all of you to wait for too long for a web page to load and for sure you have lost your patience. It’s no wonder a slow site can frustrate visitors and will also worsen the conversion rate. WP Super Cache plugin is the perfect solution for that, and through the cache, your data will be stored temporarily. You all know that it takes a lot of time to load an entire web page, that’s why your browser will store the files in its cache from pages you visited before. In this way, the site won’t get much ‘fresh’ information and that will lead to a faster load-time.
WP Super Cache plugin will create static pages of your site for you, instead of making you process the full PHP scripts. This plugin also provides caching for visitors that use a mobile device.
Turning on caching will speed up your page’s load time, and also provides you many features and controls you can configure. So, optimize now your site and avoid frustrating your visitors with the WP Super Cache plugin.
5.Google XML Sitemaps
It is important to know that you will need search engines to index your site and to do this effectively search engines needs a sitemap. But what is a sitemap?
A sitemap is a file that helps your site rank higher in search engines and also to index your site properly. Without it, your site will crawl and you will get outdated information on the search engine display. Plus, submitting a sitemap to search engines is also essential to your SEO efforts. To avoid doing this manually, you need to install the Google XML Sitemaps plugin. Installing Google XML SItemaps will create a dynamic sitemap of your WordPress site and it gives you the same idea as if you are dealing with Google, Bing, and Yahoo. This plugin allows you to notify your search engines about the changes to your sitemap. So, as soon as you update your website or publish a new post, the search engines will be automatically notified by the plugin. Google XML Sitemaps is really a must-have plugin for any WordPress site and it will save you a lot of time. Install it now and boost your site’s ranking on search engines.
6.Smush Image Compression and Optimization
Images are essential, as they can make the content vital and very captivating. According to 37% of marketers, visual marketing is the most important form of content for their business. But having high-quality images will make your site slow to load and that might be a really annoying obstacle for your visitors. But what if choosing to skimp your images will make your visitors bored, and also using too many will frustrate them too?
Compressing your images before you upload them to your website might be a solution, but that will take you a lot of time. So the perfect solution would be the Smush plugin which compresses and optimizes the images automatically. With this plugin, you can use plenty of images on your pages/posts and still have a real quick load-time. Here’s what a plugin looks like when running a “Bulk Smush”.
Once you installed this plugin, follow the prompt to bulk smush all your images. Make sure to enable “Automatic smushing” which shows in the top right-hand corner of the window. You are also able to upgrade to the WP SmushPro plugin, which delivers better compression and removes bulk-smushing limits. Make sure to install the Smush plugin so you can continue to publish visual content, and preserve your page-load times at the same time.
Probably the easiest way for people to contact you on your website is a contact form. For that, you have to install WPForms, which is an incredibly user-friendly plugin but powerful in features too. Here you can see what WPForms drag and drop building looks like when you use it to create a contact form.
Firstly, you save a lot of time when you just choose from templates of the most commonly created forms. After that, you can easily customize the form by dragging and dropping the field you need as you wish.
You can edit your contact details for example if you want to add a phone number field, or even delete the message subject line field. Once finished, just click the embed button at the top of the window and paste the shortcode into the page you like it to show up. What’s more about it is that the forms come with simple styling and they are responsive and mobile-friendly default. Here is an example of how the forms look like.
You can also create as many forms as you want or need with WPForms. This plugin also has built-in automatic spam prevention that helps you prevent bots by adding CAPTCHA, reCAPTCHA, or even Google’s new Invisible reCAPTCHA. All these will help you to not frustrate your visitors. This plugin also allows you to customize the confirmation messages, and in this way, the visitors can see when they interact with your form. Just click on the “Settings” tab, then click on the “Confirmation” tab and you will be able to edit them. Plus, you can use WPForms to make sure you have a user-friendly and efficient way to get in touch with your visitors. You are able to upgrade with a premium version, and with that, you will be able to unlock a lot of features such as smart conditional logic, customizable email notifications, file uploads, multi-page forms, post submissions, etc.
8.Elementor Page Builder
The WordPress page editor is basic so you will need a page builder to create the designs you want really quickly. A page builder is a plugin that allows you to build your pages with modules, widgets, and also with sections. There are 2 types of page builders: front-end and back-end.
The back-end editor is used within the WordPress editor. If you use a back-end editor, you have to click “Preview” every time you make a change. You also have to refresh the live page to see the changes you made and how they look like, and that’s annoying. Whereas front-end editors let you edit the actual page so you can see what you are doing (when you are making changes), while you are doing them. Elementor is a plugin that gives you detailed control over every element on the page. This plugin is a simple and intuitive front-end editor packed with features. The best part of this plugin is that it comes for free.
Elementor comes with a bunch of templates ready to go, so this will save you valuable time and make it easier for you to create/build a page. Despite that, you can save your custom-built layouts so you can use them again on other pages if you want. Below, you can see how you can use the editor to start building a new page:
You can click on your web page and you are able to add a new section or template onto it. If you use the editor on your left-hand side, you can also add and edit all kinds of widgets. Maybe this plugin can take some getting used to, as it gives you a lot of design control for each module and allows you to make any changes you want. Elementor provides a Pro version with some extra features, but still, the free version has all its existing features. This plugin comes with great options for responsive settings, and what’s the newest from them is that they recently released mobile editing.
Data tracking is essential and vital if you want your website to continually grow and improve. To let you know, a tool like Google Analytics can help you improve your website as well as the content and user experience. This tool lets you find out which online campaigns are responsible for you getting so much traffic and conversions, and they also allow you to be alerted of how each web page is performing. If you choose to install the MonsterInsights plugin you will be able to easily add, customize, and manage the Google Analytics website-tracking services. What’s even better is that you can do all this from within your WordPress dashboard, and that makes tracking your website with Google Analytics even much easier.
MonsterInsights was originally developed by Yoast and then it was formerly named Google Analytics for WordPress. This plugin gives you access to view all the basic statistics like sessions and bounce rate. In addition, you can use the plugin to set up tracking for outbound and internal links, and for downloads as well.
MonsterInsights comes with a premium version that offers extra features such as like-commerce tracking through apps, like WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads. Once installed this app, you need to link it to your Google account and then you can begin using the features. So, just click on “Authenticate with your Google account” and follow all the instructions.
After that, click on the “Tracking” tab to see the list of all features there, and then you will be able to configure them.
Install MonsterInsights today and start gathering vital data on how to improve your website day by day.
A brief summary
It takes a lot for you to manage your website as it requires maintenance to operate properly and a good design. You will need to optimize your website for search engines and also improve the user experience. As you can see a lot goes into website design and maintenance, so you obviously will feel the need to use WordPress plugins. Start with Jetpack if you want to gain website-tracking features and even more. After that, set up with Yoast, to make sure your SEO is on point. Then use Google XML Sitemaps to help you rank higher.
Don’t forget to block spammers with Akismet; nobody likes worthless comments. Next, use WP Super Cache, and also Smush Image Compression and Optimization to ensure the speed of your pages (to load them quickly). In case you want to take things up a level and build beautiful pages, use Elementor Page Builder. In the very end, track all your hard work with MonsterInsights directly in your WordPress dashboard.
You can do all these necessary tasks manually, but this would take you a huge amount of time. You may also hire a web developer to do all of that for you, but that will cost you a fortune. No worries, because these core WordPress plugins can perform all these complicated tasks, for you. Plus, by installing these foundational and vital plugins, you are on the right way to a better-performing website and your business will be in safe hands.