There are thousands of WordPress plugins out there but below are some of the essential ones we recommend. As these plugins may change over time, we will try to keep this article updated. And if Evolv helped to develop your WordPress site, we may have installed one or more of these plugins for you already. Just check your Plugins page.
One of the most important plugins to have on any WordPress site is a backup plugin so that you can implement upgrades and give you some peace of mind in the event of a malicious hacker event. We recommend BackUpWordPress because it is easy to install, setup, and has the following features:
- Can back up BOTH parts of your website separately – the database (content and settings) and the website files (layout/theme files, plugins, and images/uploads). It is best to have those options separate because the website files can get quite large and don’t need to be backed up as often as the database.
- Can manually download a backup from a secure server location at any time and/or schedule automatic backups. We recommend that you first manually download a backup of BOTH database & files (click Back Up Now button at top and then Download when it is complete) and download whenever you finalize or make any changes to your theme, layout, or images. Then change your settings to schedule automatic backups thereafter of ONLY your database depending on how often you update your content (daily/weekly/fortnightly/monthly). We do NOT recommend that you email backups to yourself for security reasons (EMAIL IS NOT SECURE).
Settings are located under Tools > Backups > Settings.
If BackUpWordPress doesn’t work, then try UpDraftPlus which has an easy Restore feature that BackUpWordPress does not.
Also, please note if you are hosting with Evolv, we offer backups up to 20 days for a small fee of $20 when requested, but not all hosts offer this option.
Another headache-saver is an anti-SPAM plugin, because as soon as you publish your first few posts, it’s likely that a large number of spammy comments will come crashing through your WordPress installation. We recommend Akismet – the most robust anti-SPAM plugin available. They charge a minimal fee of $5/mo fee for businesses, however personal sites remain free, and it takes only 3 easy steps to install – activate, purchase API key, and enter key into the Akismet Configuration page (under Plugins). If you prefer a free option, try G.A.S.P. or Defensio. Be careful to use only one anti-spam plugin at a time unless you are an advanced user. Some plugins can conflict and may end up blocking comments from your real readers.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Plugins
An SEO plugin is a MUST for any WordPress owner, because the basic WordPress installation does not offer much other than General & Permalink settings. The All in One SEO Pack plugin gives you more control over your meta keywords, descriptions, and titles for each page as well as a place to enter your Google Analytics ID. Other highly rated plugins that give you fine control over your SEO are WordPress SEO by Yoast and Headspace2 SEO, but keep in mind these are meant for more advanced users.
How to Install WordPress Plugins
When you find a plugin you like, login to your WordPress website and go to Plugins > Add New. Use the search box to find the specific plugin you’re after and install from there. If you cannot find it through search, you can install the plugin manually by following the directions on the particular plugin page or have Evolv do it for you. You may also need to click activate underneath the plugin for the plugin to start doing its job. Depending on the plugin, there may be further configuration needed. Find the individual settings for that plugin – this may be under Settings, Tools, or possibly in a new tab on your sidebar.
Don’t Go Overboard!
Once you discover all the nifty tricks that plugins can do, the temptation is to install them left and right until your plugins folder is bursting. However, the more plugins you install, the more you have to update. Plus, your site may slow down, conflicts between plugins might arise, and there will be more avenues for hackers to get through. So please be thoughtful about which plugins you need, and if you find yourself really needing dozens of plugins – well then WordPress may not be the ideal platform for your website. You may need a more complex CMS.
If you are interested in more plugins that could serve to enhance your WordPress site, check out our next article on Enhancement WordPress Plugins.