One of the great things about WordPress is the fact that you have access to a complete open source market of plugins, to provide, pretty much, whatever functionality you want. The problem with WordPress is the exact same point – what type of plugins should you install and activate on your website? There’s so much to choose from!
Typically, and I’m sure you will be able to relate to this, it is easy to be side-tracked into adding plugins that many people have installed. If 2 million people use this plugin, then surely I need it? Wrong, and if you get into that mindset, your website will quickly get cluttered with unwanted code from plugins that will slow the website down, whilst being another security risk (of 3rd party code on your website).
Taking this into consideration, one of my projects has just hit 1 million views/month of recent (back in November 2019). Instead of recommending a load of different plugins, as most websites tend to do, I’m simply going to list every plugin the website uses, with the reasoning behind each one.
If you have a lot of categories on a website, a useful way of displaying them all for the web user to browse through is with a plugin such as this. It makes an automatically updating directory, using simple code, to show all of your posts, categories, tags etc. in a format that is easy to read.
If you want to have complete control over your website, this is a good plugin to have. It will show you what each user has done when logging in and out, so you are able to find any problems with freelancers, or any hackers hacking into your website.
Ad Blocking Advisor
Although it could be seen to be more financially beneficial to have a more robust and intrusive ad blocker, I really like this plugin, since it shows a small red banner at the top of the website. I don’t want to hinder people from accessing the content on my website, but I would like to remind them of the impact ad blockers have on websites that monetize through advertising.
Ajax Search Pro
I have played around quite a bit with AJAX search, and this is by far the best AJAX search plugin out there.
Ajax search Pro has a ton of features, which makes it the best search plugin, bar none. What actually attracted me to the plugin was the speed of the AJAX load. A few of the other AJAX search plugins tended to take quiet a long time to load. What sets Ajax search Pro apart is the fact they have speed optimizations, such as creating dedicated databases, to massively speed up the load time, to near instantaneous.
I would have said use Askimet. However, if you were to use Askimet as an anti-spam plugin mainstream, or as a business, you will have to pay for it. This is why I turned to use Antispam Bee. For free, it is just as good as Askimet at sifting through the spam comments.
Asset CleanUp Pro: Page Speed Booster
Asset CleanUp Pro has a ton of features, such as caching, minifying and much more. The feature that attracted me to using this plugin is the option to disable code and plugins from running on different types of pages. This means, if you have a plugin, such as a contact plugin, run on one page only, you can make sure it is disabled for every other page – this, all in all, will greatly reduce the loading time for the rest of your website, by only loading the code that is used on each respective page.
Although the new Glutenberg look has a lot of benefits that come with it, for me, I am quite happy still to use the classic editor. For this reason, I made sure to install on it all my websites – this also is something many freelancers still prefer to use too.
DW Question Answer
I find having a questions and answers section on a website is a must. Not only does it add to SEO (since you are able to create new contextual content with every question submitted), it is a great form of market research. It enables you to find out specifically what questions your audience wants answering, which will, in turn, potentially shape what type of content you create in the future.
Inline Related Posts
I really like this widget, since it helps to keep web users on the website, by showing contextual content within the content. What separates this from others is that many related posts plugins show the related posts at the end of the content, and in a preview mode with images. Inline related posts is a really minimal way of showing related content to the post its embedded into.
Jellyfish Counter Widget
I have this to show a live count of how much my website has donated to charity – it seems to be a pretty good counter if you wanted to have one too!
Link whisper is effective at using artificial intelligence to determine where you could link within your content internaly. You can target orphan content, or content without outbound links, or however, you see fit. Either way, this plugin can provide a huge SEO boost when used correctly.
Open External Links in a New Window
It’s a bad idea to not have external links open in a new window – you’re pointing people away from your website to someone else’s. By using this plugin, you make sure your website tab stays open helping to retain your traffic better.
Print, PDF & Email by PrintFriendly
This plugin inserts a little image at the bottom of articles, allowing web users to print off your content in a format they would like (or to save as a PDF). For those providing educational content, this is something that would prove very useful.
Q2W3 Fixed Widget
Having fixed widgets is a great way of making some of your widgets stand out as more important, if you want them to stay above the fold, even on scrolling. This is also a really good way to increase the revenue from advertising units too – if the advert stays above the fold, the exposure increases for the unit, helping to increase the click through rate associated to it.
Query monitor is a way of seeing what code on your website runs slowly, so you can target it to improve your website. For example, I had no idea that Jellyfish counter (outlined above) is actually a really server CPU hungry plugin! It will help you identify the plugins that are causing your website to load slow, and look for lighter replacements.
ShortPixel Image Optimizer
ShortPixel optimizes images into NextGen formats, which use less memory and take less time to load. What I like about this plugin is that any time you add an image onto your website, be it in a post or avatar etc., it will automatically convert the image into a format for optimum loading time and memory usage.
Similar post-title checker
When you start to have a website with thousands of articles, its very easy to start an article about something already very similar on your website. This is bad for a multitude of reasons, including SEO, web user experience and more. For this reason, the similar post-title helps by actively scanning your posts to see, once you have created your new post title, if you have made content like that already on your website.
Site Kit by Google
Site Kit is an official Google plugin that lets you integrate with all of Google’s services. This includes Search Console, Analytics and Adsense.
The best plugin for comments, Thrive is slick and has many features the standard WordPress comments does not have.
Security is important, hence why Wordfence is used. It is the most used security plugin on WordPress, and has one of the best firewalls I’ve seen for websites.
To save on your server usage and keep your website fast, its important to have a cache plugin. WP Rocket does this, plus so much more. Although you have to pay for it, it is streaks above the competition for making your website fast.
WP Shortcode Pro by MyThemeShop
Shortcode Pro allows you to add a whole range of different features to a post, enabling the post to become easier to read and more interactive. A greater user experience results in many benefits for website owners.
WP Time To Read
WP Time To Read displays a small strip of color at the top of the webpage, outlining how much of the page you have scrolled. This is a great visualisation for web users to understand how long the content is, in a nice and colorful way.
Yoast SEO Premium
The all in one SEO plugin helps you point out where to optimize posts. I have committed to Yoast for the next year, although Rank Maths is looking to be just as good, if not better, at no cost.