As 2018 nears, and website owners gear up to start a new site or improve on their existing one, it is time to think big – when it comes to plugins that is.
Of course, installing as many plugins as you can onto you WordPress website is never recommended (more on that in a second). And, if there is ever a plugin that can handle two features at once, rather than installing two separate ones, this is always the better choice.
That said, WordPress plugins are what make the WordPress content management system (CMS) so amazing. They extend the functionality and design of your website in endless ways, and provide you the opportunity to create any kind of website you can think of, complete with personalized design and solid functionality for an exceptional user experience.
Not to mention the right WordPress plugins helps with administrative tasks as well. For example, security, backup, site optimization, and more are all handled using WordPress plugins.
But how do you know which plugins are right for you?
In an effort to make things a little easier on you this upcoming New Year, we have rounded up the very best plugins you should consider using on your WordPress website so that you can focus on other things like growing your business and becoming more successful than ever.
But before we get started, a word on using too many plugins.
How Many Plugins is Too Many?
There is no magic number when it comes to number of WordPress plugins you should install on your website. After all, if you need something to look a certain way or perform a certain way, and there is a plugin available to meet your need, then you should use it.
That is the beauty of using WordPress as your CMS.
However, here are some helpful tips when it comes to installing plugins onto your site:
- Use What You Need, and Nothing More. It can be tempting to add a million different design elements and features to your website. But, in an effort to not overwhelm you site visitors, and avoid spammy and bloated plugins that can harm your site’s speed and performance, stick to what you need.
- Watch Site Performance. It has long been established that site visitors are more likely to bounce from your website if your website takes more than 2 seconds to load. And, if you have too many unnecessary plugins installed onto your website, there is a chance you may strain your server’s resources and drag your site down when it comes to page speed. Keep an eye on your site’s performance (using an online tool like GTmetrix) and get rid of plugins that slow it down.
- Assess Plugin Developers. Anyone with the right skillset can create a WordPress plugin and offer it to the public. Take care to make sure you only use reliable and secure plugins for your site. Plugins that are poorly coded expose your site to security vulnerabilities. If you don’t know where to start, check out the WordPress Repository. There, all plugins go through a strict screening process to ensure your site is safe if you install them.
- Delete Those Not in Use. Again, routinely evaluating your website’s needs, and deleting plugins that are no longer in use, make for a more secure and highly performing website that site visitors will enjoy visiting.
Okay, now that you have a better idea of how to use WordPress plugins responsibly, lets get to the exciting part…
Top WordPress Plugins to Use in 2018
With more than 53,000 plugins to choose from in the WordPress Repository alone, not to mention the thousands of free and premium plugins available across hundreds of marketplaces, it’s no wonder people get overwhelmed.
When it comes to choosing solid plugin, there are several things to look at when deciding whether to use it or not:
- Active installations
- The last time it was updated
- The user ratings and reviews
- Support that is offered
- Whether the developer is accessible
- Compatibility with your WordPress version
We looked at these things before suggesting a plugin to you and adding it to this list. And, you should do the same before installing any plugin on your website as well.
And now (really this time), here are the WordPress plugins you should consider for your 2018 website.
1. Yoast SEO
SEO is the key to getting your website indexed and found on search results. With Yoast SEO, you will be able to write better content that will engage your site visitors, rank well in Google search results, and attract more traffic than ever.
- On-page content analysis, complete with an SEO score and suggestions
- Ability to write meta titles and descriptions
- Create pretty permalinks
- Enable an automatically created XML sitemap
- Allow breadcrumbs for improved site navigation
One of the best ways to speed up your website is to use a caching plugins like W3 Total Cache. Improving SEO, the user experience, and website speed by integrating with a CDN, this plugin is one of the best choices when it comes to caching site content and delivering it quickly to site visitors.
- Compatible with all hosting environments
- Built-in minification of HTML, CSS, and more
- Browser caching
- Caching statistics
- SSL support
3. WP Smush
Your website’s images are part of what makes your website so appealing to site visitors. However, they have the tendency to take up a lot of your site’s resources and pull its page loading speed down. That’s why an image optimization plugin such as this user-friendly one is necessary.
- Compress images without sacrificing quality
- WPMU DEV’s super servers do the work for you
- Compatible with all popular media library plugins
- Optimize any image in any directory
- Enable auto scan so every time you upload an image, it gets smushed
Page building makes site creation a cinch. With drag & drop technology, an intuitive page builder tool such as Beaver Builder will aid even the most novice of website owners through page and post creation. In the end, you will end up with a completely customized and fully functioning website.
- Frontend page building with drag & drop ability
- Use WordPress widgets and shortcodes
- Works with pages, posts, and custom post types
- Add your own CSS
- Photo, color, and video row backgrounds
Securing your website from outside attacks is crucial, especially if you run an eCommerce shop that handles customers’ personal information. Enlist the help of a plugin like Wordfence so you don’t have to worry about hackers stealing your content, using your site for malicious means, or harming your bottom line.
- Built-in firewalls to block brute force attacks
- Security Scan alerts you of any security issues
- Metrics regarding traffic and hack attempts
- Automatically updated firewall rules
- Security incident recovery tools
If you don’t know by now, you should be regularly backing up your WordPress website. You never know when your host’s server might crash, you might accidentally break your site, or a hacker may ruin your site from the inside out. Having a good backup like Updraft on hand that you can easily access is the key to not losing all your hard work.
- One-click backup and restore options
- Save site data to an external cloud storage
- Schedule automatic backups or conduct manual backups
- Reduce server strain and maintain optimal site speed
- Backup both files and the database
Every website owner has to contend with comment spam. Spammers (or their bot counterparts) love to sneak stuff onto your website and leave comments that attempt to drive traffic to their own websites, without offering anything useful to you or your readers. Manual comment moderation can be time consuming unless you have a cool plugin like Akismet helping you out.
- Integrates easily with Jetpack and Contact Form 7
- Automatically check all comments and filter spammy ones
- Access comment history so you can see what Akismet has filtered
- Discard feature gets rid of outright spam
- Manually approve comments in the spam queue
Notable mentions: Antispam Bee, Stop Spammers, and Spam protection, AntiSpam, FireWall, Cleaner by CleanTalk
Building a bigger email list is the key to forging stronger relationships with your followers or customers. Luckily MailChimp, one of the most affordable and user-friendly email service providers, makes creating optin forms on your website easy with this free plugin.
- Easily connect to your MailChimp account
- Create customized sign up forms to encourage more subscribers
- Send out regular newsletters to subscribers to keep them in the know
- Display optin forms anywhere on your website
- Automatically add new subscribers to your MailChimp list
As you can see, there are plenty of exceptional WordPress plugins you can use going into 2018 that will set you up for success. And, while this list is not meant to be exhaustive in any way, it definitely points you in the right direction, especially if your website is brand new.
So, make note of what you want to achieve this upcoming New Year and start making a list of WordPress plugins that will help you achieve those goals. You have nothing to lose and increased website traffic, improved sales, and higher conversion rates to gain!
Have you ever used any of the above-mentioned WordPress plugins for your website? Do you plan to use any this upcoming year? I would love to hear all about it in the comments below!