To extend, customise or add to the functionality of your WordPress site, you’ll need to use a range of plugins in order to get your site working the way you need it to. Some WordPress plugins will cover quite a few essentials such as stats, related posts, search engine optimisation, social sharing, protection, backups, speed and email list management. Others will add one single feature such as enabling you to show slideshows on your blog page. So out of all the plugins available to you, which ones do you really need, and which can you leave behind?
1. YOAST seo
The Yoast SEO plugin essentially holds your hand when it comes to content, guiding you through the ABCs of SEO best practices and getting all of your content ducks optimised and in a neat little row.
The plugin lets you choose a focus keyword and then ensures you use that keyword enough times throughout your article in order to get a good chance of ranking. You can also use a snippet preview to see what your article or page will look like to visitors in search results, so you can make necessary changes and potentially increase your rankings and click through rate. For example, you can check if your meta description makes sense in a search result context or see if there is any more character space available for a longer title.
The plugin’s Page Analysis functionality acts as a check list for things that your post is likely to need, such as images, keywords, alt tags and links, and it also flags up any issues you may not have noticed such as readability and post length.
MonsterInsights adds Google Analytics to your website so you can see essential information on how visitors find and use your website.
This is the most popular WordPress Google Analytics plugin on the markets with over 13 million downloads, mainly due to its focus on user experience and reputation for being beginner friendly and simple to use. The plugin easily connect to your Google Analytics accounts, includes ads tracking, custom dimensions and real time stats, amongst many others features, and it also lets you see your reports inside your WordPress dashboard.
3. ADVANCED CUSTOM FIELDS
The Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) plugin gives you more flexibility in the back-end of your website by allowing you to create bespoke fields that appear on the interface. This means that you are no longer just limited to the default fields that WordPress provides for pages, posts, etc. ACF allows you to add fields such as a date picker, checkbox, maps, and more. Custom meta boxes and their fields can also have conditions attached to them so that they only show on certain post types if, for example, certain boxes are ticked.
4. Query Monitor
Query Monitor is a handy WordPress plugin to have around for developers as it lets you view debugging and performance information on database queries, hooks, conditionals, HTTP requests, redirects and more. Some of the more advanced features of the Query Monitor can’t be found on other debugging plugins such as the ability to control output by plugin or theme, debugging of AJAX calls and REST API requests and redirects. This plugin regularly gets 5/5 by developers and is a tool not to be missed!
5. CONTACT FORM 7
Contact Form 7 is a must-have WordPress plugin that manages multiple contact forms. Its flexibility allows you to customise the forms and the mail content as well as supporting Ajax-powered submitting, CAPTCHA, Akismet spam filtering and more. It has a great reputation for being easy to use and efficient and has had almost 50 million downloads so far.
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