5 Must Have Plugins for WordPress Websites

So, you have just set up a WordPress website. WordPress is the most popular CMS around the world. It powers 43% of the websites that are out there. Anyway, you have just set up your site, and now you are wondering what plugins you should install to get the functionality that you are looking for. We are going to help you with that in this article.

Minimize the number of plugins

Before we start talking about what’s essential for your WordPress site, we need to mention that you should strive, wherever possible, to minimize the number of plugins that you use. If you go overboard installing all manner of plugins, you will slow down your site.

In fact, plugins can be a huge drain on the performance of your website. So, the less that you have the better. That’s something to keep in mind. If you can get the functionality that you are looking for without adding a plugin, then by all means do that.

As an example, we have a recently created blog covering tech news and tips in South Africa. On our previous website, we had installed various Table plugins, such as Tablepress. However, this time around, we decided to stick with the native Table block. Guess what, it works just fine! Yes, it has its quirks, such as the inability to select entire columns, but that’s something that we have been able to workaround.

Anyway, the point here is that you shouldn’t be crazy about plugins. They can reduce your website’s speed and in the world of mobile devices, speed is everything. If your website is too slow, it will get penalized with a low rank by Google.

Best plugins for WordPress websites

Having said that, you do need plugins to extend the functionality of your website and the best way of doing that is through the use of plugins. Based on our experience, the following are the plugins that you need on your site;

Yoast

Yoast is probably the number one SEO plugin that can be found out there. We run several websites, and this is the plugin that we installed first on all of them. For those not in the know, SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization. It’s all about boosting your visibility on Google, Yahoo and others.

The power of Yoast, at least from our point of view, is that it gives us pointers while we are writing our content in WordPress. These pointers are meant to help ensure that our copy is as SEO-friendly as is possible.

As an example, Yoast tells us if we do not have the right keyword density level. It also tells us if we have too many keywords. We also get a loud hint (in red), if we have no internal links and if we have no external links. In this regard, Yoast has become indispensable.

AMP

There is an ongoing debate about whether or not to implement AMP on websites. AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages. At its launch, this project was meant to be revolutionary. However, AMP has a lot of critics. The major challenge with it is that it strips off Javascript code, thus removing the functionalities around which some websites are built.

From our point of view, however, AMP is essential. On the site that we mentioned at the top, SA Broadband, we have AMP installed. What we have noticed from the metrics is that 75% of our traffic comes from mobile devices. The goal, therefore, is to boost our speed so we can be competitively ranked.

Results from AMP can be amazing. We have another website that went from 500 to 2000 visitors a day after implementing AMP. Again, this has to do with the fact that most searches are now done from mobile devices. So, if you are competitive there in terms of speed, your rank will improve significantly.

Broken Link Checker

Now, here is a plugin that has virtually no controversy. Broken Link Checker is another essential plugin for any WordPress website. One thing that you will realize as you produce your content is that links to other sites can sometimes become broken.

That can happen because the web page in question has been removed. Whatever the reason, it’s essential to remove broken links from your site. For that, you can use Broken Link Checker. We have this plugin installed on all of our websites and it has helped keep things neat.

But why bother removing broken links? Well, if there are too many of them, they can get you penalized by Google. Remember links are the paths through which Google bots index the web. If there are parts to nowhere on your site, Google and other search engines will not take kindly to that.

Classic Widgets

WordPress has seen major changes over the past few years, including the introduction of the block editor. While that is great, it can take some getting used to. Indeed, we were fierce critics of Gutenberg when it was launched.

However, our view has since thawed. On our sites, we find that it’s difficult to manage widgets using the block editor. As such, we have installed Classic Widgets to give us the old appearance and feel in Appearance – Widgets and in the Customizer.

Redirection

Redirection is another essential plugin for WordPress websites. Like Broken Link Checker, Redirection helps keep things tidy on your site, which can improve your standing on Google. Let’s say you have deleted an article.

If there were links to that article from other websites, people clicking on them will encounter 404 errors. What you can do is to use Redirection to redirect people to another page. The plugin also automatically redirects pages when you change their URL.

Summary

Those are the essential plugins for WordPress. Plugins are there to make life easy for you as you try to get the look, feel and functionality that you have planned for your website. However, having too many of them can be detrimental to your site’s performance, so that’s something to keep in mind.

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