10 Essential WordPress Plugins

When you build your WordPress website, these free 10 WordPress plugins will make a substantial difference. These 10 plugins are so basic and impactful, I consider them to be part of the base install before proceeding to consider others. I do have a second level of plugins, that I install and use, but these particular plugins are what I would consider the most basic and necessary plugins.

As always, I am taking the perspective of doing as much as possible as effectively as possible, and this includes saving expenses. Spend money where you need, not on plugins unless absolutely necessary. These plugins do a great job for free.

At the time of this post I am using:

WordPress version: 4.9.5
PHP version: 7.0.29.x
Apache version: Apache/2.4.7

The quick list of the 10 plugins:

All In One SEO Pack
All In One WP Security
BJ Lazy Load
EWWW Image Optimizer
Force Email Login
Google Analytics Dashboard for WP (GADWP)
Google Captcha (reCAPTCHA) by BestWebSoft
W3 Total Cache
WP Author Slug

I will be going into further detail on each of these plugins, including the configuration in subsequent posts. But for today, here is a quick summary.

All In One SEO Pack – This high quality and free SEO plugin features custom descriptions, auto-generated titles, custom sitemap(s), Open Graph settings, and more. I find that the All In One SEO Pack meets all my SEO needs (so far).

All In One WP Security – I find this plugin to provide a great initial line of defense to help secure your WordPress site. Be mindful, that nothing is 100% secure. And new vulnerabilities are discovered with different software all the time. This plugin will help protect your site as much as can be expected. Protective areas cover: User Accounts, User Login, User Registration, File System, Blacklist, Brute Force and other miscellaneous settings. I recommend this plugin highly, and have a specific configuration checklist which will be covered in a post specific to this plugin.

BackWPup – Use this plugin to backup your complete installation including /wp-content/ and save to an external Backup Service, like Dropbox, S3, FTP and many more. With a single backup .zip file you are able to easily restore an installation. I myself use BackWPup to backup my sites to Dropbox. There are indeed better backup solutions out there, but this one is free and works just fine. If you are just starting out, BackWPup is a great backup plugin while you are in economy mode.

BJ Lazy Load – BJ Lazy Load will help your website load right now, images later. BJ Lazy Load will load your images when they are needed – which means a phenomenal difference in load time, depending on the number and size of the images on your webpage. If (hypothetically) you had 100 images on a huge webpage, only the images visible when the webpage is first loaded would even be part of the load time. As the webpage is scrolled down, the next image will be loaded as its position gets near the visible screen. I’m excited to show this in action in a later post AND video!

EWWW Image Optimizer – EWWW significantly reduces space used on the server. You can set a max size so that all images uploaded will be reduced (resized) to a maximum width/height. If your website maximum width is 1200 pixels, for example, you likely would not need to have any images larger than this. Setting max width in EWWW would automatically resize an image that could be 5000 pixels wide to that 1200 pixels, and also compress. An image that is 5meg could be reduced to 200K or so. I’ll explore this plugin more in-depth as the value proposition is excellent. Also, a free plugin. Hard to beat.

Force Email Login – This simple little plugin does exactly as advertised. Once installed, will require an email address to log in, any usernames only will be rejected. This is a security gambit, which means if a username is guessed, it is still totally useless from a brute force login attempt perspective.

Google Analytics Dashboard for WP (GADWP) – Not only does this insert the Google Analytics Tracking Code into your WordPress site, it also lets you see basic stats right inside your dashboard.

Google Captcha (reCAPTCHA) by BestWebSoft – Add the Google captcha (I’m not a robot) to login and comment forms. It is a simple little check, but man oh man did this almost completely eliminate the spam I was getting. Quick. Easy. Free.

W3 Total Cache – W3 Total Cache has worked great in my experience so far. Basically, once your “webpage” is assembled from all of the components, W3 Total Cache will save the page in a “Ready To View” format so that subsequent visits take less time to display the webpage. Without caching, every page load is created from scratch, which requires programming code to run, database queries to run, etc. All of this takes time and processing power. W3 Total Cache is not a magic bullet, but it does help in many use cases. If your website is simply displaying posts and pictures, then this plugin is a great choice. I’ll do a post on this plugin in the future. It will be a long post because W3 Total Cache has a lot of features. Cost? Zero.

WP Author Slug – WP Author Slug helps with both security and presentation. It will prevent hackers from finding out your login name through the author archive’s URL and works towards your friendly URLs with using your display name. Another free plugin, one that I highly recommend for every basic WordPress project.

This has been an overview of 10 recommended plugins for every WordPress site.

For any project you are working on, always consider the reason for each and every plugin that is installed. Each plugin can use additional resources, and going plugin crazy filling your site with features has a cost. And that cost is usually a slowdown of your site unless the needed resources are provided – which are usually only provided with greater expense.

Have questions about plugins to use on your site? Just ask: dr7media.com/help/

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