Must-Have WordPress Plugins

Best WordPress Plugins for Your Blog and Website

Every install I do uses these six plugins. They are absolute must-haves! If you have a WordPress blog or website, there is no excuse not to have these! I believe each one is the best for what it does! In fact, I’m always surprised when I do an install on an existing blogger, and they are missing one of these!

Three of these six recommendations come from Automattic, the makers of WordPress.com as well as a whole bundle of complementary plugins including WooCommerce, Vaultpress, Jetpack, and Akismet. I always choose to use a plugin by Automattic rather than a third-party. Automattic is all things WordPress, and they are invested in the platform.

Jetpack

I’ve mentioned this a few times on the blog (here and here), but Jetpack is always a must-have for me. It’s a plugin on steroids, and it adds a lot of functionality to your site with just one install. Plus, I can manage and check in on my site on my iPad and iPhone; a huge time saver when I can respond to comments with ease! My favorite settings include:

  • Monitor: Receive notifications if your site goes down via email. You will get a notification when it comes back up!
  • Protect: Brute force attacks are more common than you would think, and the Protect tracks failed login attempts.
  • Shortcode Embeds: Want to add youtube and vimeo videos to your site with ease, shortcodes are the easy way (no coding required).

Akismet

The best anti-spam service is by far Akismet. Akismet marks spam comments for you, and integrates well with Jetpack and Contact Form 7. If spam comments are an issue for you and you don’t have this plugin, here’s your solution.

Yoast SEO Plugin

This plugin significantly changes your control of your website’s SEO compared to other platforms. Yoast SEO gives you accurate and detailed responses about your posts effectiveness,. If you are curious about SEO, I would recommend any of the YOAST E-books. Plus, in the latest update, it makes it even easier to connect to your Google Webmasters account.

Google Analytics by SEO

Compared to Google Analytics plugins, this version by Yoast is by far my favorite. You can connect to your GA account through your Dashboard, and see real-time accurate statistics.

Caching Plugin

Nothing kills readership like a slow site, especially on mobile. A slow site can lower your Google search rank and decrese your potential. However, there’s two very good caching plugins that can easily improve your site. WP Super Cache is easy to set up and install for anyone. W3 Total Cache has a lot more customizations, which makes it less user-friendly for the novice, but it has a lot of great potential, like minifying! These plugins do not mean that you stop saving down your images. YOU MUST MUST MUST SAVE YOUR IMAGES FOR WEB!

Please Note: If your website is hosted on Go Daddy, you can’t have a caching plugin. It interferes with their servers. In the past, Go Daddy would not let you download them. With the last few updates, you can. I would proceed with caution, your site might go down. You should really get off Go Daddy if you can.

VaultPress

What would happen if you lost all your blog posts and website content tomorrow? Would you have a backup? In fact, most bloggers and entrepreneurs don’t install a back-up plugin on their site. You cannot trust that most hosting companies will back-up your site for you; I have a client who learned this the hard way and lost everything. There are several different free backup plugins, but VaultPress costs (as low as $5 a month).

Other Recommended Plugins:

Social Sharing: For integrating different opportunities for social sharing, I like SumoMe and Add to Any. Sumome has free and premium extensions, but the free ones: sidebar sharing, adding sharing on mobile, etc, are a few of my favorites. Add to Any is also a great plugin to customize social sharing.

Instagram: Tons of Instagram plugins exist, but not all our built equally. An ideal Instagram plugins links the photos back to your account, and not a third-party. My two favorites are Alpine PhotoTile for Instagram and Light Widget (not a plugin).

Slideshow: I struggled to find the ideal slideshow plugin for my clients for a while. I needed something that was both easy for them to use as well as highly customizable on my end. Then, I found my absolute favorite – Soliloquy – and I’m absolutely grateful for each day I use it. I have a developer license which provides me access to very valuable add-ons that I can customize with client.

If you are curious about e-commerce plugins, I plan to write a specific post on these. There’s a few different ones that I would recommend.

Want to know more about WordPress, make sure to sign up for WordPress Simplified! This e-book will be your guide to getting 110% out of your WordPress blog.

  • Meet Lindsay Humes

    Hi! I’m the designer and owner behind White Oak Creative. I partner with creative entrepreneurs, lifestyle publishers and content creators to design the best brand identity to grow their audience and brand. My blog is full of resources on Branding, WordPress, SEO, and more!

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    9 thoughts on “Must-Have WordPress Plugins

    1. Christine

      Great tips, I use mostly all of these plugins. Why do you say that you should really get off Go Daddy if you can. Is it just for the caching purposes or are there other reasons as well?

      Reply
      1. Lindsay | White Oak Creative Post author

        Hi Christine! The quality of hosting can make a huge difference in the long-term stability of a website as well as the ease of development. Go Daddy is considered a sub-par hosting provider in the development world; it’s popular not for the quality of service but it’s great marketing campaigns. Go Daddy’s hosting and customer service doesn’t compare to Bluehost or Dreamhost. In the long term, they are also the least affordable option. In fact, I’ve had clients who have chosen to stay with Go Daddy experience – several outages, raised rates, hacked sites, and a plethora of other problems. If a site gets hacked on Bluehost, Bluehost helps resolve the issue because they know that it impacts the quality of their servers. Does that make sense to you?

        Whenever possible, I try to get my custom work clients off of Go Daddy. They’ve invested the money on quality web design, they need quality service provider.

        Reply
    2. Kory

      I love that Jetpack will let you know when your site has gone down. I just recently found that out via Allyssa Barn’s blog, and I immediately set that up! Also, I’ve never heard of Vaultpress! I use Backup Buddy for my backups, but I agree – it’s SO important to make sure you’re backing up your blog. It’s also important to make sure your backups are being saved somewhere safe. I have mine go to a specific Dropbox folder so even if my computers get weird I still have access to my backups 🙂

      Reply
      1. Lindsay | White Oak Creative Post author

        The Jetpack Monitor is a great tool! I swear that having it setup alone prevents your site going down, but it is a great piece of mind functionality. I do like Vaultpress a lot. It’s made by the same people who do Akismet and Jetpack, and there are options with Akismet for both. I’ve had a few clients use Backup Buddy, too. I should do a whole post on Dropbox. That’s my savior! Thanks for commenting, Kory!

        Reply
    3. Jessica

      I can not tell you how many posts from White Oak Creative has helped me in the process of setting up my blog. The setting up process has been harder then I thought, White Oak has seriously been a lifesaver. Keep up the awesome content. I love everything about your blog. Gorgeous and some seriously good content.

      Reply
    4. Katie

      I love the Instagram plug-in you use! The one I use currently stretches out my images and I hate it. However, I tried to install Alpine PhotoTile for Instagram and it’s not there anymore. Do you know where else I can download it?

      Reply

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