So you have a new WordPress website. Awesome! You have a blank canvas on which to create anything you want. And you’re going to need plugins for that. Here are six plugins I use on every website I build.
So you’ve just created a new WordPress website for yourself. Great! Just look at that blank canvas where you can do almost anything that you want to do.
But you currently have no plugins. You want to add some cool functionality to your website, but there are over 56,000 plugins in the plugin repository. 56,000! How do you know which ones are going to help you build a cool website?
Well over the past 10 years or so of working with WordPress, I’ve figured out which plugins are built well, are worth using and will help me accomplish my tasks and goals. So today, I’m going to tell you the six plugins I use on every website I build, ranging from SEO to security to even development.
Let’s get started.
Internet security is as important today as it has ever been. And securing your WordPress website is goal number one after creating it. And I’ve found that the best way to do that is through Wordfence.
Wordfence comes with a free version, which is available from the WordPress dot Org repository, and a paid version. I have found that the free version is very good. It allows you to have a firewall to protect against brute force attacks and sends a weekly report on security-related stats. Plus, it will scan your WordPress core, plugin and theme files to see if anything has changed from the most recent version in the repository.
Meanwhile, the paid version gives you a real-time firewall with real-time reporting on your security statistics. And it will check to see if your website is blacklisted somewhere else.
Also, Wordfence runs a great security blog, alerting you to potential issues with the plugins and themes you are using, which can help you make sure your site is always secured.
Google Site Kit
Google Site Kit has only been around since November 2019 but it’s already become the best analytics plugin for WordPress. It’s open source and maintained by folks who work for Google.
And because of that, it’s integration with different Google products is seamless. Seriously. The best feature of Site Kit is that you can hook up your website to Google Analytics, Search Console, Tag Manager, AdSense and Optimize with just a couple of clicks of the mouse and without touching any lines of code.
The plugin also shows you some basic stats from Analytics and Search Console, but you will need to go to those services to see your full range of stats. Still more and more features are being added with each release, and the easy integration and lack of bloat is more than enough to add it to your website today.
When it comes to search engine optimization, there are a lot of good options. But I’ve continued to find that Yoast SEO still stands tall among the rest.
On its own, it creates the proper JSON markup so that your pages are properly indexed by Google without you needing to do anything. And it adds in the meta tags needed for Facebook and Twitter.
Also, it shows on your posts and pages how your SEO and readability are looking, from red, yellow and green, and gives you tips on how to improve them. Plus, they’ve added how to and FAQ blocks with the proper markup for Google’s indexing. And their weekly newsletters are great places to learn more about SEO.
But there are concerns about bloat with Yoast SEO and all of the admin baggage. Plus, there are plugins that are catching up with Yoast without all of that bloat, like the SEO Framework.
But for now, I’m still a fan of Yoast SEO.
When it comes to forms, I love Gravity Forms.
Unfortunately it’s not a free plugin. The lowest price is $59 per year. But I’ve found that it’s well worth it. The interface is incredibly easy to use, especially to other form builders I’ve used throughout the years. And I can create complex forms in just a few minutes. Plus I can customize different notification messages to different people.
Also, there is an incredible library of different integrations. If you need to hook a form into your CRM service like Salesforce or Agile CRM, you can do that with no problems. Or if you need to use a form as a checkout for a retreat or something similar, you can hook it into Stripe and Paypal.
So even though there is a starting cost, it’s well worth the price to use Gravity Forms on your website.
Easy Digital Downloads/WooCommerce
Okay, so technically these are two different plugins, but they both work in the ecommerce space for different things you want to do.
If you’re selling physical products, WooCommerce is the best ecommerce plugin out there. It makes it extremely easy to set up your online store in just a couple of hours. The basic version of WooCommerce comes with support for shipping and basic payment gateways. But you can extend it with a myriad of extensions, like shipping labels and other payment options.
Plus, there are plenty of WooCommerce-ready themes available that can help you get started with a great-looking website. And it’s got a great user base and there are plenty of places to get help.
But if you’re selling digital products, like software or ebooks, then Easy Digital Downloads is something you want to look at. Like WooCommerce, it makes it easy to set up an online store in a few hours, but for those digital products. You can also customize the purchase buttons and place them anywhere on your website. And it also has a bunch of different extensions that you can use.
So look no further than WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads for your ecommerce needs.
Advanced Custom Fields
Finally, for the developers out there I highly recommend Advanced Custom Fields. There is a free and paid version of ACF, but the paid version is so worth it.
In both versions, you are able to easily create as many custom fields as you want for posts, pages and other post types. And it’s pretty easy to display those fields in your templates using get_field and the_field.
In the paid version you also get cool fields like the repeater field, which is a monumental pain to try and create by hand, options pages, flexible content fields and more.
If your project requires custom fields, get ACF as fast as you can.
Question of the day
So today’s question is what is your favorite WordPress plugin and why? Be sure to leave your answer down in the comments section below. And if you have a question about any WordPress plugin, be sure to leave them down there too.
And make sure you get new videos about WordPress tips, tricks, and ideas, be sure to subscribe and to hit that notification bell.
But that’s all for today. Until next time, happy WordPressing!