Plugin – Backup
Plugin – Security
Plugin – Analytics
Plugin – SEO
Plugin – Spam Blocker
Plugin – Social Share
Plugin – Social Follow
Plugin – Subscription
Plugin – Contact Form
Plugin – Image Widget
Plugins offer custom functions and features so that you can tailor your site to fit your specific purposes. The most popular and official source for WordPress Plugins is the WordPress.org repository. Visit the Plugins page and click the Add New button to begin the Plugin selection and install process.
You’ll arrive at WordPress Plugins Repository page. Type the name of the plugin into the Search field.
If you searched the exact name of the plugin, it should appear first or near the top of the results. Review the Last Updated date, compatibility, and ratings before making the decision to install. Then click the Install Now button.
The final step in the installation process is to Activate the plugin. Many plugins will require you to provide additional settings. You can find the link to the Settings Page different locations depending upon the plugin. There may be a settings link near the title on the Installed Plugins page. There may be a settings link visible from the main Dashboard. Finally, there may be a settings link in a submenu of an item on the Dashboard.
Back Up: Updraft Plus
Maintain a weekly backup of your site files stored in another location than your hosting servers like Dropbox or Google Drive. Maintain a daily backup of your MySQL database as well. DO NOT depend solely upon the backup services provided by your hosting service. I keep all my personal and client backups on Dropbox. I prefer to automate this task.
Install a security plugin and set up at least the basic settings to block unwanted access to your site files.
Other highly-rated plugin options include:
- All in One WP Security
Extra security measures:
Spam Blocker: Antispam Bee
Your WordPress installation will automatically include a copy of the Akismet plugin as a
blocker. When you activate Akismet (by logging in to your wordpress.com account), have the option of paying nothing or a monthly fee of your choosing. Another top option is Antispam Bee. It requires nothing more than installation and activation.
Analytics: Google Analytics by MonsterInsights
Google Analytics by Yoast is now Google Analytics by MonsterInsights. It is the same plugin with a different owner. It appears in your WordPress Dashboard as͚ “Insights” with the image of the little monster with the magnifying glass. To use this or any analytics plugin, you need to create a Google Analytics account and add your domain to the account. This allows you to link your site to Google and to have access to reports and statistics about your traffic.
SEO: Yoast SEO
The Yoast SEO plugin provides many tools to improve SEO (search engine optimization) to your site, posts, and images. This is a robust plugin with many pieces and parts. I recommend that you focus on filling in as many details as possible during setup for General, Social, and Search Console. Then use the Yoast SEO section at the bottom of each post to edit your headline, editorial snippet, and post keyword. Clicking on the Social Icon to the left of the section brings you to fields to customize the content to be shared with Facebook and Twitter.
Clicking on the Help Center bar provides access to a tutorial video for each part of the plugin.
Then use the Yoast SEO section at the bottom of each post to edit your headline, editorial snippet, and post keyword.
Contact Form: Contact Form 7
Be sure to include a way to contact you on your site. I include a contact form, my email address, and a link to my Facebook group on my Contact Page. If you want more customization options, consider a paid plugin such as Gravity Forms. Another often recommended plugin is Simple Basic Contact Form.
Social Share: Social Media Feather
A social sharing plugin provides links (often at the top and/or bottom of each post) to encourage your readers to share your content with their friends. Depending upon the theme I am using, I experiment with other plugins as well. Always look at the last updated date, reviews, and the number of active installs information provided in the plugin directory before installing any plugin.
Social Follow: Simple Social Icons
Adding Social Icons to your site allows your readers to connect with you on various social media platforms in addition to your blog. The Simple Social Icons offers customization of color, size, shape, and alignment of your icons. It allows you to place the icons in any widget area. You can choose from several options in this category. I find this plugin to be the simplest to set up and customize to fit my theme. This plugin is an exception to the rule of make sure the plugin has been recently updated.
Email Marketing: Mailchimp for WordPress
The most frequently mentioned email service among bloggers is MailChimp. After backup and security, the other primary function needed is the ability to collect email addresses from your readers. MailChimp provides HTML code to create a sign-up form, but a plugin is usually the simplest way to add a form to your site.
Image in Sidebar: Image Widget
It is possible to add an image to your sidebar using the Text Widget and some HTML code. But the quickest way to grab an image from your Media Library add it and some text and/or a link is by using the Image Widget. This plugin is an exception to the rule of ‘make sure the plugin has been recently updated’.