WordPress Plugins 101 What Do You Really Need

Plugins Make Your Life Easier

When I first started using the WordPress platform on a self hosted site it was a bit daunting.  But one of the great things about the CMS (content management system) is that its really easy to get going.  But it does lack some things that could really make a good site great.  And that is where WordPress plugins come in.

Plugins for WordPress really run the gambit of functions.  There are WordPress plugins for opt-in forms, caching, search engine optimization, even pop-up’s.  But just like all things sometimes too much of a good thing is a bad thing.  Plugins that put something on your site when you load it up can slow your site down.  This has been proven to slow down your sites page speed.

And there are some WordPress plugins that just don’t work right with certain themes.  Or worse yet, that conflict with each other.  There have been many times when plugins on my site here have caused issues.

Wordpress Plugins 101

Choosing The Right Combination

Now if your a website designer or program your probably going to argue that you don’t need a lot of the plugins listed on the info graphic.   And its true, they are not a one size fits all solution.  For example, if your a marketer pop-ups might be a good idea.  But if your blog’s purpose isn’t to capture leads then why have it installed.

Also, sometimes going all out on graphics isn’t the right thing to do.  But lets say you do a lot of video.  A plugin that helps ensure your video’s play right, or look good, may be required.  So just make sure your choosing the right set for your application.

There are a couple plugin’s that I feel are mandatory for every blog however.

First, you need a good cache plugin.  I prefer W3 Total Cache.  Its a bit complicated to set up, but I found this tutorial to be the most helpful.  This plugin is designed to ensure that your site loads as fast as possible.  WP Super Cache is another option and its almost plug and play.  I used it for a while because my host recommended it.  But it caused conflicts with some of my other plugins.

Second, you need a good SEO plugin.  There are a lot of options out there.  For example, All In One SEO or Yoast’s SEO Plugin.  Having used both I can say that Yoast’s plugin is hands down the winner.  Its allows integration with webmaster tools from the major search engines.   It creates all your sitemaps for you.  And it allows you to set up your meta tags for each post.

Finally, you need a good backup plugin.  I use one to back up my database on a daily basis.  Now don’t get comfortable and delete your backups everyday.  You never know when a problem started and its good to have a few different backups.  That way you can roll back day by day to ensure you found the issue.

Of course my list isn’t all inclusive.  Like I said you need to pick the best ones for your application.  But those three are the first ones I always set up when I am creating a new site.  (Hint: W3 Total Cache and WP SEO by Yoast have export functions so you only have to set up one site and then import those settings into your new site)

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6 thoughts on “WordPress Plugins 101 What Do You Really Need

  1. Hi Clint,

    Great post! Thanks for sharing. Same experience here when I got first started with a self-hosted blog. But like you, I got out from my comfort zone and took action and thats how really my blog was born accompanied with trainings from MLSP on how to set up a blog and the rest was history smile

    Those 2 plug ins are the best and must have if you have a self-hosted wordpress blog. It keeps your site optimized for speed and as well as make it SEO friendly. To check out your site, I highly recommend you do a test at http://gtmetrix.com/. If you see a low score you better tinker your site and w3 if setup properly will improve your site’s performance.

    Again thanks Clint for this great post and have a nice day.


  2. Hi Clint,

    Many thanks for sharing this post , I agree with you that back up is very important for wordpress and the right plugins make a great difference to a site

    Take care Rosemary Social Media Consultant and Training Ireland

  3. Clint: thank you for these hints. I have both of the plugins you’ve mentioned, thanks to reading the recommendations from Kim Castleberry first. I’m looking forward to hearing about other plugins you’re using. I find myself wanting to pare back on the number of plugins I use, but at this point I feel like I’ve cut back to the bare essential, and the number’s still over 20!

  4. Hi Clint,
    thank you for sharing this awesome infographic.
    When it comes to plugins I feel like a kid in a lolly shop and I am glad to also know Kimberly Castleberry to check them out and I have learn from the beginning through Ann Siegs site which ones to install and how to do it.