So, you have your new WordPress site. You’re excited to write and publish your first article.
Before you begin writing, step back and let’s do a little housekeeping and make sure your new website is going to run smoothly for many months to come.
Adding these plugins will save you a lot of frustration, hours of lost time and even keep you from questioning why you embarked on your publishing career.
These essential plugins that will keep your new website safe, secure and running at peak performance. I strongly recommend seven plugins to help you do just that, and the best part . . . they’re all FREE!
If your going to depend on your website to provide your primary source of income, support a hobby or use as a platform for your favorite political cause, you want to be sure your site is secure from potential hackers, identity thieves or brute force attacks. iThemes Security is a complete, easy-to-use security solution.
Once installed this plugin will walk you through a complete security audit and plug over 30 potential vulnerabilities that exist in any new WordPress installation. iThemes Security does offer some paid ’premium’ services aimed primarily at larger multi-author/editor websites. For the typical solo artist or small business, the plugin’s free version is more than adequate and will provide you with bulletproof protection from all but the most sophisticated, complex and aggressive attacks.
Technical expertise in WordPress security is not required. But if you have any doubts about a setting, iThemes provides over 60 minutes in video tutorials that will answer your questions.
This plugin has been downloaded over 3.4 million times.
If your going to accept public comments on your blog posts or articles, then you definitely want to activate Akismet. It automatically scans all public comments for potential spam and provides a host of options for processing potential inappropriate comments, including blacklisting problem users or obvious spam. This plugin is built into WordPress so it doesn’t require an additional download to use. The plugin is activated through WordPress.com and is free for personal blogs and as a paid subscription for business sites. This is the most widely recommended security plugin for WordPress and definitely worth the investment as a free or paid account.
This plugin has been downloaded over 24.4 million times.
Now that you’ve secured your new website from external threats, it’s time to turn inward. More than hackers, you’re probably the most likely threat to your website. Without a doubt the day is going to come when you want to incorporate nice little “tweak” to spruce up your site . You may want to add a new custom function to your WordPress theme, create a new color scheme that better reflects your personality or the image of your business. If you get the urge to play with a little code, make sure you have a complete backup of your site — files, plugins, themes, media uploads and databases.
I have, more than I would care to omit, been thankful that I had a complete backup to restore a broken site. It only takes one minor error in code completely break a site. If you don’t have the right tools and technical knowledge you could lose valuable hours trying to recover. My go to backup plugin is UpdraftPlus Backup and Restoration.
Once installed UpdraftPlus will automatically backup your site as often as every four hours and to a remote site such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3 and a host of other options. One-click restoration makes recovery a breeze and you’ll have your site up and running again in a matter of minutes. I use the the basic, but very complete, version of the plugin. There are add-ons available that allow for encrypted database backups, time-specific backups, ability to backup to two different remote sites, and a few other options. They range in price from $10 to $30.
Very easy to setup . . . automatic, worry-free backups . . . and it’s comparable to the most popular backup services such as VaultPress and BackupBuddy, which can cost upwards of $80 a year or more.
This plugin has been downloaded over 1.3 million times.
With nearly 1.4 million users Wp-Optimize is one of the most popular WordPress plugins. It keeps your WordPress database (think content — posts, articles, etc) running smooth with an eye towards performance. An overly large database can slow down your sites performance. WP Optimize removes old revisions of posts, empties the various trash bins, removes discarded spam comments and a host of other functions. The current version also allows automatic updates so you know your site’s database is always at its optimal best. Just set and forget.
This plugin has been downloaded over 1.3 million times.
This plugin is one of the top performance applications for WordPress. Unlike the other plugins presented in article, W3TC can be intimidating. It has a seemingly endless list of setting, many of which are for more advanced developers. But, even at its most basic settings, W3TC does result in very measurable performance improvements. It is a free plugin, but if you are hosting a large inventory of visual media, downloadable software and publications it is designed to work hand-in-hand with a content delivery network (CDN) such as MaxCDN and Cloudflare among others. Setup and be a little daunting, so for a thorough walk-through of recommended W3TC settings I recommend this article from WPBeginner.
This plugin has been downloaded nearly 4 million times.
Is your website gaining traction, showing growth? What’s working and what’s not? Google Analytics by Yoast easily integrates your website into Google’s powerful tracking features providing valuable feedback on page views, link performance and other critical performance statistics, including site errors and broken links.
This plugin has been downloaded over 6.3 million times.
This plugin is an absolute essential for do-it-yourself SEO. On-page and in-post search engine optimization. It analyzes each page and post before publication, indicates potential areas for improvement and shows you exactly how it will look in a Google search. Other features include the automatic creation and update of sitemaps and submission to Google and Bing; select which pages you want to display in a Google search; integration with major social media sites; RSS optimization; multi-site support and much more.
This plugin has been downloaded over 13.5 million times.