You can add new features and improve the overall functionality of your WordPress website with plugins. However, with more than 54,000 options how do you know where to start?
Here are the five plugins we think every WordPress website needs:
A caching plugin
In short, caching creates static copies of your web pages—specifically those pages you don’t update often—and delivers them to your visitors. The process reduces the back-and-forth queries to render a page, reduces the server load, and increases the speed and performance of your website.
As you know, people don’t have the patience for slow-to-load websites, and page load times can even impact your Google ranking, so using a caching plugin just makes good business sense.
Our pick: WP Super Cache. This free plugin is super simple to configure, use and maintain, so it is ideal for caching newbies—but it does allow for some customization if needed and can also support your content delivery network (CDN).
A content optimization plugin
If people can’t find the content on your website, why go through the trouble of creating it? Search engine optimization (SEO) is critical to driving traffic to your website, and content optimization plugins take some of the hassle out of the process. They will help you improve both your SEO, through keywords and meta descriptions, and the overall readability of your content.
Our pick: Yoast SEO. This SEO plugin offers suggestions for improving your blog post titles, specifically their lengths, and allows you to add meta descriptions of your post. It will also score your readability. The base version of Yoast SEO is free and you can upgrade to a premium with more features for a fee.
An image compression plugin
Images can take a while to load, so they can slow the speed and performance of your website. With an image compression plugin, you can automatically optimize all your images, compressing them and making smaller and more suitable for website delivery.
Our pick: reSmush.it. With this free plugin, you can automatically optimize your images when you upload them into WordPress, based on the optimization level you need. Even better: You can execute a bulk optimization for all your older images.
A backup plugin
Just like you need to backup important files on your computer, you need a backup plugin to save your website if you are hacked or you lock yourself out of the website altogether.
Our pick: UpdraftPlus. With this plugin, automatically backup your entire website and either save it on your computer or in the cloud, for example, to Dropbox or Google Drive. Additionally, you can pick and choose which aspects of your website you want to backup, and you can schedule the backups or conduct them as needed.
The base version is free, and you can upgrade to a premium version that offers more add-ons, features and priority support.
A security plugin
Security plugins can offer you an end-to-end security solution to protect your WordPress website, and given that all websites are fair game for hackers, a little added security is wise. Security plugins can provide login page hardening that blocks users who have several failed login attempts. They also protect your database, where all your information is stored, and can even provide firewall functionality so that you can block unwanted connections. In other words, it makes your website less vulnerable to attacks.
Our pick: Wordfence. This plugin provides real-time monitoring of visits and hack attempts, as well as a firewall and malware scanner. The base version is free, and you can upgrade to a premium version that offers more capabilities.
Your website is one of the most important investments you can make, so make sure it is running optimally. Plugins like these can improve the functionality of your website, make it more user-friendly and less vulnerable to attacks—often at no extra cost.
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