WordPress is such a great content management system with thanks to the thousands of themes and plugins that make it so customisable. A huge community of developers thrive on using their skills to further increase the features and functionalities at users disposal. The sheer volume of plugins available to new users of WordPress can actually be a little bewildering until you have performed some trial and error on what you feel will be most effective for your purposes. There are however a few plugins that I consistently find myself installing on any new installation. Here are my five favourite must have WordPress free plugins:
There’s no point having a website if nobody ever looks at it! By default WordPress blogs don’t have particularly good SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). Thankfully – WordPress SEO by Yoast can take care of everything for you.
The most important part of WordPress SEO by Yoast are the input options you’ll find at the bottom of each post you write where entering a focus keyword and meta description will help target your listing in the search engines. WordPress SEO by Yoast will also check all of your posts and tell you when it thinks you can further optimise your work.
WordPress on a whole is a pretty robust and secure content management system. Developers are ironing out bugs and updating the software continually. That said, I’ve had my websites hacked on a few occasions. Normally hacks come from script kiddies who have learnt about a specific vulnerability to old WordPress installations. Whenever my site has been taken down I’ve managed to get it back up and running pretty quickly but it’s always been an annoyance. To help try and ensure you don’t ever fall victim to such attacks I recommend installing Better WP Security. Touch wood, since I’ve been using this I’ve had no problems.
Alongside the huge number of security measures you can enforce using Better WP Security, the plugin also gives facility to perform WordPress database backups at regular intervals. It’s worth downloading for this capability alone.
WordPress is quite susceptible to comment spamming from black hat internet marketers who want to get backlinks to their own sites. Akismet comes installed as default on WordPress installations but many people fail to acknowledge its usefulness and never activate it. Once set up, Akismet will distinguish between real comments and spam to help keep your blog tidy. I find it does a brilliant job.
A lot of people are perhaps confused with Akismet and think that they need pay for the spam filteration. As long as you select ‘Personal blog access’ and pull down the ‘What is Akismet Worth to You?’ slider to $0 then you will be granted a free access code. Of course – if you come to find the plugin is doing a fine job for you then I’m sure they would welcome your donations.
By default the WordPress text editor is a little bit primitive and short of options. If you’re serious about blogging then you’re probably going to want more features -such as the ability to easily jump between different paragraph and heading styles. TinyMCE Advanced will take care of this.
When you’re busy customising your blog it can become a bit of a drag to keep on having to go back to the Dashboard then navigate through multiple click through menus to find what you want. Ozh’ Admin Drop Down Menu can help dramatically speed up your workflow.
Ozh’ Admin Drop Down Menu is such a simple solution in helping you place more nicely with your administration panel. For me, a WordPress installation doesn’t look right without it now.
So there we have it – my five must have WordPress free plugins. Why only five you ask? Well it’s very easy to clutter up your dashboard and bog your site down with unnecessary plugins. Install them as you need to but don’t overdo it. I wouldn’t hesitate to install these five plugins on any WordPress installation. They are my go-to must have choices which form a solid foundation for my work. Anything else I decide to download usually is very much dependant on the type of site I’m building.
Do you agree with my choices? What plugins do you turn to first when building a WordPress site?