If you’re like 24% of the entire world wide web, then you have a website that’s powered by WordPress. It’s a super simple and easy to use content management system (aka CMS) for anyone who wants to setup a blog, online store, digital portfolio and/or multi-media site. Having a self-hosted WordPress site means you’re also managing plugins and themes, which can become a task in itself.
What many WordPress users don’t realize is that the more you install plugins, the more you leave your website open for bugs and malware. Sure, adding features helps extend the capabilities for your site. Who can pass up on those uber cute social buttons and that super important opt-in popup? Install to your heart’s desire, but do so cautiously and take precautions.
There’s no time like the present to clean up your WordPress site so that you’re optimizing it to be as awesome of a site that it can be. Here’s a list of you-might-want-to-seriously-consider plugins to charge up your WordPress site.
WP Super Cache: This is a must-have IF your web hosting allows it. Some web hosts will already have their built-in cache system so they’ll disable this plugin if you install it. However if you’re using a generic shared hosting plan, such as what you’ll find with sites like Hostgator and Bluehost, then you’ll want to include this plugin on your site.
Yoast SEO: Don’t believe the hype. SEO is not dead. Leveraging a strategic approach with keywords will pay off in the long term. This plugin rocks and is super detailed about how you can trick out your website for search engines AND social media.
Sucuri Security: This is one of several security plugins that you can AND SHOULD include on your site. If you think only large sites get hacked, think again! I end up having to clean a few websites each year from site owners who did not include any kind of security system into their site. While this plugin won’t guarantee a malware hack, it will give you some peace of mind and monitoring so that you can try to minimize the possibilities.
Jetpack: This is like a collection of plugins within one and it’s powered by WordPress.com so you know it’s on point. You have to be careful with what plugins you install. If a plugin is not secure then it may leave your site more vulnerable. This is why I recommend Jetpack because you can trust the development team behind the plugin. You’ll get features like additional security, image optimization, social shares as well as automatic posting of new content to your social media pages.
Custom Login URL: I can easily tell if your website is WordPress based and if it is then I know the default login URL will be “yoursite.com/wp-login.php.” From there I can try a series of passwords in an attempt to break into your site. One great way to avoid this is to hide your default login URL so that it’s not so easy for me (or others) to access it. With the plugin below, you can reset your login URL to a name that only you will remember.
Akismet: This is one of the only default plugins that come with every single installation of WordPress, and with good reason. Without spam blocker you risk having to spend an entire afternoon deleting upwards of 10k spam comments and/or having your site shut down for CPU overage by your web hosting company. That’s because all of those “unlimited” plans are anything BUT unlimited and you’ll quickly find out if your website gets inundated with spam comments.
BlogVault: One of the worst feelings is finding out that you’ve lost all the content to your website. There’s a number of scenarios that could result in a lost or damaged website. One thing to remember about WordPress is that it’s powered by a database, which can get corrupted. So doing periodic backups will keep you from the pain of having to restore your website from scratch.
While all of the other plugins recommended here are free to use, BlogVault is not. This is a paid service, which is well worth it’s weight in gold. Having done both, restoring websites from scratch and restoring websites using BlogVault, the latter is the best.
With great websites comes great responsibilities! Your website is your online home, and just like your place there are dust bunnies that occasionally need cleaning. Keeping your website is top shape is one way to have a kick-ass online presence because a top notch backend makes for a consistent user experience.
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