Unless you have been living in a bubble for decades, you’ve probably heard of this little thing called WordPress. This nifty and all-encompassing blogging software has changed the way we create websites, and has pushed developers to formulate essential add-ons and utilities to enhance the WordPress experience.

Plugins have emerged as integral additions to any WordPress installation. These add-ons tools provide convenience to the website owner in terms of customizing the content, layout, and interface of the WordPress site. What makes the current roster of WordPress plugins impressive is that they can cater to practically anything that you want to achieve in your installation.

Without much further ado, here are ten of the best and most important WordPress plugins that every WordPress installation should be paired up with:

IThemes Security (formerly Better WP Security)

Is your website frequently under attack, causing errors such as altered log-in credentials or unauthorized access? iThemes Security was built and designed to counter these types of problems. Once activated, iThemes Security (previously known as Better WP Security) will automatically fix holes, strengthen user identification and prevent automated attacks. Prepare to enjoy protection 24/7 because this plugin can easily detect security problems and possible unauthorized tampering of files and databases.

One good thing about iThemes Security is that your WordPress database is being backed up on a regular basis, allowing the user to restore previous backups in case a threat destroys the current installation.

Akismet

Web spammers have become any website owner’s worst nightmare. As simplistic as they seem to be, spammers can invade websites by first posting comments or messages on your website. This leads to a wide array of problems – unwarranted promotion of their products in your site, and even damage to your site’s SEO once Google finds the links as spam.

Arguably the most popular WordPress plugin gives absolute convenience to any blogger in terms of blocking spam. Akismet is a default WordPress installation partner that gives you the ability to automatically filter web spam messages that may encroach on your website.

WordPress SEO by Yoast

Most bloggers are trying to reach the top in terms of search engine results page (SERP) ranking, because it will ultimately yield more customers and interested parties.

Sure, WordPress is intrinsically SEO-ready right out of the box, which means that search bots can easily discover your site content. However, if you want to boost your chances of getting into the big leagues of search engine pages, then I highly recommend WordPress SEO. This amazing free plugin from Joost de Valk provides a convenient way to improve your WordPress site’s SEO, while giving you a control panel where you can further customize the attractiveness of your site to the search engine spiders.

Google XML Sitemaps

If this is the first time that you are hearing the term “sitemaps”, then you need to read on. A sitemap is a list of pages accessible through your site. It will identify which of the links are given a weighted importance and how requent the changes on the pages are being made. The current trend is to use sitemaps in XML format, which is easily read by search engine crawlers.

While you can manually add a sitemap for your website, why not do it automatically? Google XML Sitemaps does just that: the plugin creates an XML sitemap based on your pages and posts. You can set the frequency of updates for each post type, and also update the sitemap manually to your liking.

To date, this fast and powerful plugin has been downloaded by more than 280,000 users and was rated 4.4/5 stars.

WP Optimize

Huge data stored in your database will make your website slower, so it needs to be cleaned to bring your site up to speed. However, for an average user, can you really monitor when your WordPress MySQL database will approach full capacity? Remember that every time you post create a new post or page, WordPress will automatically save data into the database. As a result, the volume of data will immediately fill the database, and eventually slow down the performance of your website.

WP Optimize will help solve this problem by running into the database, eliminating unnecessary post revisions, and creating new space for upcoming entries. It has a built-in cleaning property that optimizes your website to perform faster and more efficiently.

This speed optimization plugin is highly rated because of its easy-to-use concept. Once you activate the plugin and update its settings, you’re good to go.

Wufoo Shortcode Plugin

Embedding online forms became easy and fast with the arrival of the Wufoo Shortcode Plugin for WordPress.

Wufoo is a web application that creates online forms for your blogging platform easily. The app does this by providing a code snippet that you can embed in your WordPress installation. It works efficiently for WordPress because you only need to copy and paste the snippet into your chosen page.

If you are using Wufoo but are allergic to JavaScript, then I suggest you install the Wufoo shortcode plugin instead. With this plugin, you can place your Wufoo forms on any of your pages using a shortcode (instead of JavaScript gibberish).

Google Analytics for WordPress

Want to know how the profile of your website visitors? Google Analytics is a WordPress plugin that has the capability to measure the activity in your site. Installation is simple and fast, and you only need to fill up the Google Analytics form to activate the code in your site.

By default, Google Analytics already gives you the comfort of knowing the statistics of your pages by visiting the Analytics page. With this plugin, you don’t even have to leave your WordPress dashboard to see the stats!

In Google Analytics for WordPress, just check the “Track outbound clicks and downloads” to discover the power of this plugin. It will give you valuable information such as your most visited and clicked pages, and the location of your visitors.

WordPress Related Posts

Internal traffic is one of the points that will give you better SEO. Search engine spiders like it when they can browse through your pages by accessing related links on a particular page. This is where the advantage of putting a “related posts” section comes in.

If you want this section to be automatically generated, go ahead and install WordPress Related Posts. This free plugin automagically puts a Related Posts area at the footer section of your posts. You can choose how the related posts will be displayed (i.e. through a selection of styles and thumbnail options). It also has the ability to adjust according to responsive layouts.

Easy Coming Soon

While you are busy prepping up your website for its upcoming launch, don’t you want to drum up excitement and tickle the anticipation of your target audience? Put up a Coming Soon page for your website!

Easy Coming Soon is a free WordPress plugin that allows you to create and design a temporary landing page for your website. It’s a good tool in creating “coming soon” or “under construction” pages.

After plugin installation, you may customize the appearance of your Coming Soon page, by putting thumbnails and images as well as YouTube / Vimeo videos. The pages generated using this plugin are responsive-ready, and can provide connectivity to social networking sites. More importantly, site visitors can drop in their e-mail addresses, which will be automatically subscribed to your mailing list.

W3 Total Cache

If you dream of having a faster website, try this web performance optimization plugin. W3 Total Cache is a highly recommended WordPress plugin, given high marks by web hosting companies such as Media Temple, HostGator, and GoDaddy.

W3 Total Cache will give you an experience of fast web browsing, speedy page downloads, and transparent content delivery network (CDN) assimilation. This plugin will help improve your server performance and has the ability to cache every aspect of your site.

Aside from getting rave reviews from site visitors, one of the greater benefits of W3 Total Cache’s site speed impact is better search engine placement. Search engines have put a huge premium on fast-loading websites, so installing this plugin can make your website turn up in the top pages of Google.

There are more than 30,000 plugins in the official WordPress Plugin Directory, and even more from third-party plugin providers. Make sure that you choose plugins for your WordPress site that are not only fit for your use, but are also backed by great author support.

Plug icon by Alex Kwa

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