When to use WordPress plugins ?
WordPress plugins are one of the reasons behind its popularity.There are more than one plugin for a particular task.The vast repository of plugins is increasing day by day.But plugins should be used with care.Too many plugins do slow down your website.You can read this post for details.
You should not use more than 15 plugins.The lower the number the better it is.You should use plugins only for critical tasks or tasks which require more code changes.For simple tasks it is better to avoid using plugins.Two very common and simple tasks for which plugin usage is not recommended are
- Adding Ads code on your website
- Adding Social Media buttons
- Backing up WordPress and your files,folders
This task can be achieved simply and more efficiently using simple code.I have written series of posts on this topic.For example to add ads code between content or top and below of content read this post.To add social media buttons you can read either of these two tutorials (link1 and link2).
Now after doing these tasks without using plugins.It is now time to see WordPress plugins which you should use.I have used these plugins on my site with success and good result.So I am recommending these plugins to visitors as well.I will be updating this post from time to time with new plugins.
WordPress plugins for SEO
Search Engine Optimization ( SEO ) is one major focus point of bloggers.WordPress by default is pretty good in SEO.But it is better to use a dedicated SEO plugin.There are many SEO plugins available for free in WordPress repository.Some of them like All in one SEO pack has both free version and paid version.
On this blog I am using WordPress SEO by Yoast.I am using this for quite some time now.This plugin does provide lot of functionality.So if you are not using any search engine optimization plugin on your website then start using it now.
Sitemap plugins by me
I have published couple of sitemap plugins on WordPress.org for free.I am using these plugins on this website as well.The plugins generate image sitemap and mobile sitemap.Sitemaps have became essential part of SEO.So it is good to have these sitemap plugins in your kitty.
The plugins do not add to page load time on your website (verified using P3 plugin performance profiler plugin).So you do not have to worry about your site performance installing these plugins.You can read this post for image sitemap plugin and this post for mobile sitemap plugin.
WordPress plugins for Spam protection
Spam protection is important part of blogging.You should protect your website from junk comments.I tried many plugins over the past for Spam protection.In case you are using Disqus comments or Facebook comments then there is no need of Spam Protection.You can read more about Disqus comments configuration in this post and about Facebook comments in this post.
But in case you are using default WordPress comments then Spam Protection plugin is important.Recently Invisible plugin have become my favorite.I used Captcha plugin for long time.The reason was Captcha adds simple maths to comment form.So it was visitor friendly and effective as well.
But Invisible captcha does not add anything to comment form (visible to visitors).So visitor does not have to fill any additional field to post comment.So go ahead and protect your blog with this plugin.I have written a detailed post comparing popular spam protection plugins here.
WordPress plugins for performance
Performance has became one of factors in search engine optimization and visitor experience.So having a dedicated plugin for performance is essential for your website.There are many plugins available for free.But for long time WordPress Total Cache has become my favorite.
I am no longer using this plugin after moving to VPS hosting.But if you are using Shared Hosting then this plugin is best bet.New users do find it difficult to configure due to large number of options.I have written a detailed post on W3 Total Cache.In case you are interested then read the tutorial here.
WordPress plugin for Social Analytics
Having so conservative about number of plugins Why am I using plugin for Social Analytics? WP Social Statistics give number of times your post is shared on different social media networks like Facebook,Twitter,StumbleUpon,Linkedin and Pinterest.This gives idea about social popularity of your post.
I use this plugin for two purpose
- Go get an idea about social networks used most by visitors
- To get an idea about social actions on a given post
I revisit my socially popular posts and try to find reason of it being so popular in social networks.Doing this for few popular posts helps me improve my content writing skill and making changes to other not so popular social posts.
WordPress plugin for Security
Security is very critical for every blog.It is sad but true that there are people out there who are just looking to break into your system and ruin your hard work over the period.I would advice using a dedicated security plugin for your website.Usage of a dedicated plugin will help you secure your website with ease.
I do not use any security plugin as such.I like to tune security of my site myself.But I would strongly advice to use security plugin.There are many plugins out there.It is better to declare one of them as best one or better than other.I have used in recent past WP Better Security and All in one WordPress security.
All in one WordPress security is new plugin compared to other legendary plugins in this area.It has good amount of features.You can easily enable or disable features from dashboard with single click.The plugin is easy to work with and is supplemented with help texts everywhere.
I would suggest you to have a look into this plugin.But in case you are already using the top security plugins like WP Better Security or WordFence then you can continue using them.But if you are not using any then start using one.
Other Important WordPress plugins
This plugin is heavily used by me.Lets understand usage of this plugin.You have two posts A and B for example.You created a third post C merging two post A and B.Then you can delete post A and B after pointing their URL to URL of post C.This is one of the use case.
Also you might want to rewrite your old posts.After rewriting your old post at new location you should delete your old post and point URL of old post to new post.Redirection comes very handy in this case.
There is no need to install this plugin if you have not performed any of above tasks.I will advice using it only if you are making changes as mentioned above.This plugin is bulky in nature.Despite this I am using this plugin.
This one is top plugin in related post area.I sometime delete this plugin but after few days install it again.I delete it to test whether it helps me increase page visits.So far in my testing (more than couple of times) it does increase page views.I am using this plugin.It is easy to configure and performance has improved with time.
There are many related posts plugin.nRelate related post plugin helps you make money as well while displaying related posts on your site.So in case you want to make money while displaying related post nRelate is for you.You can know more about nRelate in this post.I have also written detailed post comparing nRelate and Yet Another related post plugin.You can read the comparison here.
This plugin cleans your database and optimizes it.There are lot of plugins for these tasks.I was using WP optimize before but recently switched to this plugin.It deletes transient options also which WP Optimize does not delete.It also optimizes database tables as well.
These tasks can be performed with query.But for non technical users I will not advice using query.You should use plugin instead.As slight mistake in query might corrupt your database.You do not want to mess up your database.
Out of all the plugins mentioned above I am not using W3 Total Cache.As I am currently on VPS and there are much powerful performance tools in hand I have abandoned using this plugin.But I was using it before for long.I will be updating the list with time.As every day new plugins are getting added in repository.
I have not included plugins for specific tasks like adding photo gallery.You can add couple of plugins on top of this list.But try to keep total number of plugins less than 15 for better performance and Time to first byte.
Feel free to share plugins you found useful and enhance this post with your input.
Consider sharing the post in case you found it useful.