The Five WordPress Plugins You Should Be Using

This isn’t going to be a long post, or sales pitch but is a list of the plugins I install and tell you to install again and again.
Editorial Calendar

1) WordPress SEO by Yoast

Greatly improves your Search Engine Optimization. Install and activate it and read the guide here (long but worth it).

2) Akismet

This comes with WordPress – activate it and add your API key, and protect yourself from spam.

3) WooCommerce

With version 2.0 coming very soon, WooCommerce is the best shopping cart plugin I’ve used for WordPress, and it’s free. If you don’t need a shopping cart to sell physical or digital products or services then you of course don’t need this.

4) W3 Total Cache

This speeds up your site by making static copies, but please, please refer to your web host for the best way to configure this. Usually it’s simple for shared hosting (page and browser cache on; database and object cache off; minify on if you know what you’re doing) and it can have a big effect on performance.

5) A Contact Form plugin

Having a contact form on your contact page not only looks professional but protects you from spammers. For free I like Contact Form 7, and for paid I love Gravity Forms (which I use on my own site). Gravity Forms has many benefits such as multi-page forms, email newsletter subscriptions, conditional fileds (if this is selected, show that) and so on.

BONUS 6) WordPress Editorial Calendar

This makes scheduling posts, seeing when posts are scheduled, and changing scheduled posts much easier. Simply shows a calendar with your blog posts (and times) marked on. For sites with multiple authors, or if you schedule a lot of posts, you’ll wonder how you lived without it.

18 thoughts on “The Five WordPress Plugins You Should Be Using”

  1. It’s always nice to hear about what’s new and valuable in the world of plugins – because often there’s a pearl. Thanks for drawing my attention to the Editorial Calendar plugin, a gem :-]
    I keep my number of plugins small, nothing indispensable among them – I do love my Ozh’ Admin Drop Down Menu plugin though :-]

    1. @beatcoach It’s a great idea to keep your plugins down, it helps speed up your site. The Ozh plugin is quite nice, I don’t really need it but I can see how it would be useful. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Wow,  When it comes to plugin on WP I leave that up to my tech guy, like Andrew and what is really great Joel is having you around too.  Between the 2 of you guys I always know that the plugins are something that i don’t have to worry about which takes a big worry of my mind. 
    Bless you for being around to help us NOT so TECHNICAL people out.

  3. Joel, I hadn’t set up a contact form yet. I use it on other sites, but I haven’t updated and standardized on a set of plugins for all my sites. I don’t need a shopping cart, yet. I like Andrew’s security plugins as well.
    My recent problem is my hosting account was attacked by malware and spyware. It took my host an hour on chat, then 24 hours when chat discovered all the problems to get rid of it. I’ve been lax in keeping up with updates on all my sites, and I’m back on a schedule. to update.
    What do you think of hosts offer of site security on their end? $15.95/year sound pretty good after what I just went through.

    1. @joubess Sorry to hear about your hack Sherri! I’ve seen the SiteLock heavily promoted around, and it is pretty cheap. Making sure you keep backups and most importantly keep all your WordPress installations and plugins (and any other software you have on your server) up to date, are the most effective defenses. Plugins help too, but keeping backups in case of disaster is like insurance.

    2. @joubess Re: Sitelock. My understanding is they only monitor your site and tell you if you have any problems. You them have to pay extra for them to resolve. Plus check they cover WordPress. My memory says to me, they don’t but I could be wrong.

    3. @andrewrondeau  @joubess Andrew, it is Sitelock, and the HostGator techs working on my issue didn’t recommend it or try to sell it. Either they haven’t been trained on marketing, or they don’t think it’s worth the money. They said to keep WP and plugins updated and use some security plugins. that’s what I’m doing.  It may not cover WordPress.

  4. Oh, I’ve not used the editorial calendar one.  But perhaps I shouldn’t…I’m concerned that running too many plugins is slowing down my site.  Interestingly I had to dump W3 Cache because it was disagreeing with my theme.  I’ve switched to WP Super Cache now.  I’m not sure I like it, but at least it’s not goofing up my graphics anymore.  
    Also, I got rid of Contact Form 7 when I realized that JetPack by WordPress does contact forms now.  Again, it was a lot about streamlining as much as possible because my load time is still not to my satisfaction.
    Question about the SEO plugin: I’ve been using All in One SEO pack for years and am concerned that if I get rid of it, all of the tagging and other work I did would be lost.  I don’t want to go through and re-label so many articles.  Am I wrong to think that would happen?

    1. @Amy LeForge A lot of people have had problems with the latest couple of versions of W3TC.
      WordPress SEO can import all the data from All In One SEO (AIOSEO), so I would do this:- Install WordPress SEO by Yoast- Go to the SEO > Import/Export settings page.- Import data from All in One SEO (but don’t check to delete data after import).- Once done, deactivate AIOSEO-  Check Posts/Pages that the data has been transferred to WordPress SEO.Note that you won’t see meta keywords anywhere as they’re not used anymore by the major search engines, though there is an option to turn those back on in the settings if you want.Any issues or if you don’t like it you can switch back to AIOSEO easily.

    2. @BlogTechGuy  @Amy LeForge One of the reasons I found out I had problems with my hosting account is when I updated to W3TC to and my blog gave me the dreaded white screen.  It’s been updated to and that one works fine. I hadn’t updated since

    3. @joubess  @BlogTechGuy Sherry, W3TC wasn’t doing that, it was just goofing up the home page graphics randomly.  Sometimes everything would load, other times all my thumbnails would not.  Very annoying.   Now that I’ve switched I haven’t had any problems.  I just have to figure out the CDN all over again.  🙁

  5. Good share, Joel.
    I also like the security ones like Login Lockdown, Secure WordPress and Ultimate Security Checker.

  6. I love this list. Several missing. One is Livefyre – the best comment system around which I use everywhere. Another is Google Analytics and a third for me even though it is a premium plugin is Backupbuddy. I will not do anything without Backup Buddy installed.

    1. @Robcairns Good additions Rob, thanks. I have Livefyre here of course, and Google Analytics for WordPress. However I no longer use BackupBuddy as I have my own backup and upgrade service now, but it is a great product too.

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