WordPress has become one of the most recognizable web software tools online. It is powerful, versatile and lets one build an entire website or blog from scratch in a few minutes. That said, it can’t do everything. It has basic functionality and for most specifics it’s lacking. Enter the plugins for WordPress, with a wide range available today, making a choice of what to use is a hard task. Here are the top 5 picks.
Comments from blog readers are very important to aid in the growth and nature the site experiences. Unfortunately, not all comments are genuine, most will be spam mainly sent by automated bots. To distinguish between the real comments and the chaff is a very daunting job. Akismet makes this distinction possible and easier. It monitors all the comments, and filters out those that look like spam. It maintains a status history to show which comments were caught or cleared. It shows URLs to reveal links that are either hidden or misleading. It automatically blocks the worst spam, preventing them from slowing down the site.
To use this plugin, you need an API key from Akismet.com. Keys are given free of charge for personal blogs while paid subscriptions are available for businesses and commercial sites.
2. Wordfence WordPress security plugin
This plugin deals with the security aspect of your site. It cleans and speeds ups websites. It’s offered free of charge and is open source. It first starts by checking if the site is infected by carrying out a server-side scan checking it against the official WordPress repository. It provides real-time blocking and can even block and entire network deemed malicious. Threats like scrapers and bots doing security scans for vulnerabilities are blocked. Admin and user passwords are checked for strength while brute force hacks are stopped to enhance login security.
Wordfence performs security scans for signatures of known malware variants and backdoors that create security holes in a site. Known vulnerabilities such as HeartBleed are assessed. It also scans for heuristics of suspicious code and other security issues. A firewall for the site is also included in this plugin.
Premium services such as Country Blocking, Scheduled Scans, and Password Auditing are offered via an API key.
It has monitoring features that allow the following:
- Viewing of traffic in real-time, including robots, humans, 404 errors, logins, and logouts plus who is consuming most of your content. Real-time traffic includes reverse DNS and city-level geolocation. Know which geographic area security threats originate from.
- A real-time view of all traffic including automated bots that often constitute security threats.
- Monitor your DNS security for unauthorized DNS changes.
- Monitors disk space which is related to security because many DDoS attacks attempt to consume all disk space to create a denial of service.
For anyone planning to have an online store, WooCommerce is a must have. It allows you to sell anything and is the perfect eCommerce solution. Selling of all kinds of goods; physical and digital, offering instant downloads is a cinch with this plugin. Offering different options for shipping goods is possible, from free shipping to drop shipping. Payment integration has been covered intensively. Ability to accept all major credit and debit cards, PayPal and even cash on delivery are included. Popular gateways like Amazon Payments, Authorize.net and stripe come integrated.
From the store WooCommerce gives complete control over tasks such as doing taxes, checking stock levels and monitoring client accounts. The Storefront theme is available for WooCommerce stores and allows endless amounts of customization to fit the exact need required. This plugin is able to scale to meet any requirements. Security auditing is carried out regularly to ensure it’s bug free.
4. Yoast SEO
The goal of every website is to be seen, once a site has been launched there are a few details that need to be optimized. To rank high when a user performs a search on a search engine like Google, the SEO aspect has to be addressed. Yoast SEO does this automatically. It helps choose what keywords should be used for the site and takes care of all the technical optimization.
This plugin helps you write better content by forcing you to choose a keyword then checks that the usage is throughout the article. Alt tags for all images, meta description and presence of the keyword in them are checked. XML sitemaps are automatically generated and it notifies the major search engines of its existence. RSS optimization is embedded inside. It adds a link to the website RSS feed pointing back to the original article. This increases rankings and gets rid of scrapers.
5. W3 Total Cache
This plugin improves user experience by decreasing download times, offering transparent content delivery network (CDN) integration, and improving server performance. When it is fully equipped, it offers a 10x improvement in site performance. Conversion rates and site performance which affect your site’s rank are improved. Browser caching is done, providing instant subsequent page views. Time taken for the page to load is reduced improving web performance and sustaining high traffic.
It has the following features:
- Compatible with shared hosting, virtual private / dedicated servers and dedicated servers / clusters
- Mobile support: respective caching of pages by referrer or groups of user agents including theme switching for groups of referrers or user agents
- Caching of pages and posts in memory, disk or on CDN
- Browser caching using cache-control, future expire headers and entity tags (ETag) with “cache-busting”
- Import post attachments directly into the Media Library (and CDN)
With the millions of plugins for WordPress on the market, website developers are spoilt for choice. Using these 5 will get you started. There are plugins for any task needed to be carried out located at the wordpress.org site. Read the reviews and comments before downloading any plugin to ensure it can do what’s needed and its compatibility+- with the website. Remember for any plugin used, ensure it doesn’t cause a vulnerability in the website by upgrading to the latest edition of the software.