5 Essential and Free Plugins Every WordPress Website and Blog Must Have

One of the great things about WordPress is its extensibility. Through the use of plugins users are able to conjure powerful functionality that can really bring their websites to the next level. However, due to all the cool WordPress plugins out there new users can sometimes go overboard installing more plugins than they actually need which in turn can result in slower website performance. Today we’ll take a look at the essential plugins that every website or blog needs for enhanced core functionality.

WP Super Cache

wp-super-cache

As stated above, plugins can impact website performance drastically. One of the ways to mitigate this is by using a caching plugin. The 2 leading solutions are WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache. We recommend WP Super Cache for most beginners due to its simplicity. Although arguably more powerful, W3 Total Cache has a wealth of options that can easily confuse most beginners and ultimately lead to misconfiguration and slower performance.

So why is caching important you ask? WordPress is dynamic meaning everytime you load a post or page WordPress processes the PHP code from your theme and active plugins in order to generate a page. WP Super Cache works by creating a static html file which is a snapshot of the page or post that was generated so instead of processing all the php code each time, your visitors are quickly served a simple html file meaning your website loads super fast.

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Yoast SEO

yoast-seo

Formally known as WordPress SEO, Yoast SEO has cemented itself as the defacto SEO solution for WordPress websites and blogs everywhere. Yoast SEO encourages you to think about your on page SEO which in turn should help organically build your off page SEO. It comes jam packed with many useful features including you full control over your title tags and meta descriptions as well as enabling you to easily do key word research without leaving the post editor. One of the great things about this plugin is that it is constantly evolving as Google and other search engines update their platforms.

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Redirection

redirection

Redirection is a must have tool in my opinion. It is especially useful if you’ve moved domain but even if you haven’t its usefulness makes it an essential plugin. It enables you to redirect posts pages and urls to new locations as well as monitor 404 errors. The plugin is also able to automatically redirect posts that have had their permalink changed meaning you don’t lose traffic.

The feature that makes this plugin especially powerful is its support for regular expressions which means you can redirect an endless amount of posts or pages with one redirect. For example if you changed the author slug as we did on one of our sites we could redirect website.com/author/user to website.com/new-slug/user without the need to redirect each users author page individually. This can also be useful if you change the name of a category.

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WordPress HTTPS

wordpress-https

With Google now using https as a signal for page rank it is becoming an increasingly important factor to consider. Although WordPress HTTPS hasn’t been updated in a while it is still the most powerful way to implement SSL on your WordPress website or blog. It’s powerful filters are able to remove non-secure content from your pages thus eliminating mixed content errors. I’ve had success with this plugin where other plugins have failed when it comes to ensuring all the content on a page is secure.

Of course you will need an SSL certificate to use this plugin. You can get free SSL certs either through Cloudflare or Let’s Encrypt once it launches.

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Code Snippets

code-snippets

This is perhaps a more advanced plugin but very useful nonetheless. One of the other ways to minimise plugin bloat is to use code snippets. This gem of a plugin allows users to insert snippets of code as though editing their theme’s functions.php file. This is handy because it eliminates the need to edit the functions.php file and also the edits persist even if you change your theme.

Code snippets can be used for a multitude of purposes from implementing google analytics code through to custom css and javascript. Using code snippets can eliminate the need for multiple plugins and enable you to implement only the core functionality you’re after.

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So there it is. There are infinite amount of plugins available for WordPress but we never start a website without any of the above and you shouldn’t either.

Do you have any plugins you can’t live without or any you think we’ve missed from our list? Let us know in the comments below.