A Checklist of WordPress Plugins for the Best Website Experience

You’re providing your users with great content, but having a positive experience on your website is another important reason they would ever decide to come back. So how do you get your users to the point of return?

It’s not just about making it look nice and organized, but other factors can help make it the beautiful, robust website you imagined it to be … as long as it has the right WordPress plugins.

Since this website is written for the ultimate beginner, we’re going to make it as easy as possible by providing you with a checklist of important website features that can easily be added with a simple click of a button. You may have heard of the magic of plugins, but with more than 54K of them available on the WordPress collection, how do you know which ones are the most important?

A Checklist of Important Features for the Best Website Growth Experience

Before we give you our recommendation of important features to have on your website, please note that each section has a list of plugins, tried, tested, reviewed by WordPress users from all over the world. So without further adieu …

  • Security and Safety
  • Security is a must for every business with a website. Many business owners have a misconception that hackers are just after credit card information. If a website doesn’t have a shopping cart on it, then there’s no reason to worry. Well … we’re here to tell you that isn’t always the case.

    Hackers can spread malware and viruses to site visitors, stealing contact information, and even crashing websites. These instances can result in bad business relationships and ultimately, a bad reputation for a company. For these reasons, it’s always best to be safe than sorry, because if things were to go wrong, the cost of the damage can be quite significant.

    Top WordPress Security Plugins

    WordPress has several great security plugins available. However, WordFence Security has always been highest on our list of recommendations. With more than 1 million downloads and over 3,200 reviews, it is well known for its high powered protection feature, which includes scanning for known hackers and malicious attackers. The following is a list of other security features you might want to consider:

    • full WordPress firewall protection with real-time firewall rules and signature updates
    • real-time Malware protection with alerts for potential and vulnerable security issues
    • checks your IP address for blacklisting due to malicious activity
    • more >>

    Regardless of the added features other plugins might have, WordFence, according to our own personal experience with them over the years, is the most sophisticated, reliable WordPress security plugin there is. Of course, you’re more than free to try other great security plugins for WordPress:

    Plugin WP (5 Stars) Rating Active Installations # of reviews
    All in One WP Security and Firewall 5/5 600,000+ 748
    Anti-Malware Security and Brute-Force Firewall 5/5 200,000+ 502
    iThemes Security 4.5/5 900,000+ 3,835
    JetPack 4/5 4+ million 1,474
    SecuPress 5/5 9,000+ 52
    Shield Security for WordPress 5/5 70,000+ 736
    Sucuri 4.5/5 300,000+ 294
    VaultPress 4.5/5 100,000+ 52
    Wordfence Security 5/5 2+ million 3,227

  • Moderate comments and block spam
  • Although having comments on your blog shows you’ve got traffic and reader participation, it’s also a haven for spammers to drop irrelevant links that can cause a negative impact on your blog or website. When these links sit on your blog long enough for Google to analyze its presence, the search engine can drop the position of your blog, which may eventually cause a decrease in your site’s traffic.

    The best way to prevent the harmful effects of irrelevant links on your site through comments is to download a really good spam blocking plugin. However, if you made the decision to download the WordFence plugin, you may not need an additional plugin, since it already has a fantastic comment filter system. Having too many plugins can affect your site’s performance. So the less you have, the better.

    The WordFence free version has a sophisticated system that runs all of its comments through the Google Safe Browsing list. This list was specially put in place by Google to help determine which URLs are linked to malware. For the added protection of comment spam, we recommend the WordFence premium version. It will check the IP source of the spam and does extra checks to filter out what may otherwise have slipped through the cracks of other spam blocking filters.

    Top Blog Comment and Anti-Spam Plugins

    If you DIDN’T choose the WordFence plugin to filter your comments, there are other great options:

    Plugin WP (5 Stars) Rating # of reviews
    Akismet byAutomattic 5/5 860
    All In One WP Security & Firewall 5/5 748
    Antispam Bee 5/5 137
    Spam protection, AntiSpam, FireWall, Cleaner by CleanTalk 5/5 1,945
    Stop Spammers 4.5/5 159
    Wordfence Security – Firewall & Malware Scan by WordFence 5/5 3,227

  • Backup
  • Surely you’ve heard about the horror stories of what happens when you don’t backup your work. All of that hard work gone into thin air after hours and hours of productivity!

    For many people, including businesses and institutions, their website can be their lifeline. So if it was to get hacked or suffer from the effects of malware or viruses, even an IT may have his hands tied if there’s no backup to help recover from the mess.

    Lucky enough for WordPress users, there are plugins that could make the backup process easy peasy.

    Top 5 WordPress Backup Plugins of 2018 (updated)

    The following is a list of 5 of the best backup plugins of 2018 (so far).

    Plugin WP (5 Stars) Rating # of reviews
    BackUpWordPress 4.5/5 1,108
    BackWPup – WordPress Backup Plugin 4.5/5 646
    Duplicator – WordPress Migration Plugin 5/5 1,568
    UpdraftPlus 4.95/5 2,761
    VaultPress 5/5 52

    You might be wondering why VaultPress is part of this mix when it has such a low number of reviews. It’s fast becoming the popular new backup plugin, simply because of the trusted name and team behind it, Automattic. Automattic is the company behind WordPress, JetPack and other well-known plugins. The name alone calls for “reliability.”

  • Website Speed
  • Why are website speeds important and how does that affect its performance and page rank? Well, think of your own website experience. How long do you think you can wait for pages to load before you get fed up with waiting?

    According to Maile Ohye from Google, Akamai once claimed 2 seconds as the threshold for e-commerce site “acceptability.” However, Google feels the best possible user experience would fall under the half second time.

    Website speed can also affect the crawl budget of search engines. Slow page loads tells Google that your site may have a few errors, even an unhealthy status. With slow page loads, a site’s index can head towards a negative status.

    Operating costs are also known to impact the performance of a business. According to an experiment performed by Google, users do less searches the longer it takes for pages to load. So if users were looking through a retailer’s website, they may be less likely to purchase products if they’re tired of waiting around for pages to load.

    Website Speed Testing Tools

    There are 4 very popular, free testing tools to help you determine your website’s speed and performance level:

    social media panel gtmetrix results

    Top 3 Plugins for Speeding Up Your WordPress Website

    Plugin WP (5 Stars) Rating # of reviews
    Autoptimize 4.5/5 574
    W3 Total Cache 4.5/5 3,957
    WP Fastest Cache 5/5 1,906

  • Optimize WordPress Database
  • There are plugins that may provide heaps of helpful functionalities to keep your website safe and secure as well as optimized for the best possible user experience. But why is it so necessary to clean and optimize our website and its database?

    Just like your computer, your website and database are allocated a certain amount of space. As you create more posts and your website continues to be updated, you might notice your web pages getting slower and slower as it loads. This is because it’s having to go through old, new, and heavy (large amounts of data) information in order to help you where you want to be – your most current page information.

    The following plugins can be helpful choices for clearing cache (removing old, unnecessary data to free up space) and optimizing your WordPress database:

    Plugin WP (5 Stars) Rating # of reviews
    Advanced Database Cleaner 4.5/5 114
    W3 Total Cache 4.5/5 3,957
    WP-Optimize 5/5 847

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Search engine optimization, also known as SEO involves the process of creating the right content and playing with the right links in order to get the best possible placement on search queries. The better the search engine query placement, the more traffic a website is likely to have.

    Search engine algorithms change all the time, which makes the installation of the right SEO plugin extremely helpful. If you’re not particularly techy and don’t know the first thing about search engine optimization, then you may be completely lost. With the help of a good SEO plugin, you will be on top of the latest algorithm changes, get the guide you need to optimize your content, create SEO titles and descriptions and so much more.

    Plugin WP (5 Stars) Rating Active Installations # of reviews
    Yoast SEO 5/5 5+ million 19,101
    All in One SEO Pack 5/5 3+ million 534

  • Redirects and 404 errors
  • A 404 error is a web page that shows up as an error because it can’t be found. This is usually due to a change in url (a web page address), the deletion of a page, or some sort of a website malfunction.

    SEO is a big deal for website owners. And sometimes it might require a redirection of links, which can be tedious and something you definitely want to make sure is done right. I mean, can you imagine if you had to change over a thousand links that could potentially cause 404 errors?

    For many WordPress users, having the availability of 301 redirection plugins are extremely helpful. A web page can generate positive ranking factors, called link juice. When 404 errors occur, 301 redirects can help pass on the link juice to the redirected page.

    Plugin WP (5 Stars) Rating Active Installations # of reviews
    404 to 301 4.5/5 100,000+ 88
    Redirection 4/5 <900,000+ 356

  • Social Shares
  • We no longer live in a world where social media can be avoided. So the best we can do is embrace every opportunity we can get from it.

    Providing a way for your readers and visitors to share your content is one of the best things you can do for your site. The growth potential is strong with opportunities of engagement (a great contributor to SEO), increasing your reach and gaining more followers.

    Take a look at the following list of helpful plugins for your convenience:

    Plugin WP (5 Stars) Rating Active Installations # of reviews
    Kiwi Social Share 4.5/5 30,000+ 7
    Social Media Share Buttons & Social Sharing Icons (Ultimate Sharing)
    5/5 100,000+ 4,016
    Super Socializer 5/5 50,000+ 327
    Social Media Flying Icons | Floating Social Media Icon 5/5 50,000+ 545
    Sassy Social Share 5/5 40,000+ 79

  • Subscribers
  • Most people are generally paranoid about getting spam or junk mail, but when someone subscribes to your mailing list, you know you’ve done something very special. Having subscribers means you have very dedicated, loyal followers who have physically included their email address on your mailing list so they could get access to your latest information.

    A subscription list can become an asset for most website or blog owners, because they can reach people who have a true interest in their content. Obviously, the first step is to have interesting content and then an easy to use feature for them to add their email address to. Any of these plugins will be very helpful:

    Plugin WP (5 Stars) Rating Active Installations # of reviews
    Contact Form by WPForms – Drag & Drop Form Builder for WordPress 5/5 900,000+ 1,648
    Email Subscribers & Newsletters 5/5 100,000+ 317
    MailChimp for WordPress 5/5 1+ million 910
    Ninja Forms – The Easy and Powerful Forms Builder 4.5/5 1+ million 860
    Popups by OptinMonster – Best WordPress Lead Generation Plugin 4.5/5 600,000+ 135

    Have you ever noticed how fancy websites just happen to find ways to grab your attention with offers and various ways for you signup? Sometimes it’s so appealing that you absolutely can’t help, but do so! Well, thanks to a plugin like OptinMonster, you can now have the same features for your own website!

    get subscribers

    At the moment, OptinMonster is known as one of the hottest and most sophisticated email generators out there. It helps you convert visitors or “passerbyers” into interested, dedicated, loyal followers.

  • Affiliate Marketing Earnings
  • Although having a blog can sound like a fun idea, it always has the potential to also bring in lucrative income. As your blog grows, so will the amount of content you have. With the help of SEO, social media, growing number of subscribers, and your own referral system, there’s just no way you could stay away from all the different ways to make money, especially through affiliate marketing.

    Affiliate marketing is when an online store pays you, the blogger, online promoter, advertiser or whatever you’d like to call yourself, a commission based on how much you sell or how much traffic you send over to their site. The process usually involves an online application and a wait time for an approval, where you will be provided a link that tracks the interest activity from your website to theirs.

    You can be an affiliate marketer for several companies, which can get overwhelming and quite tricky to manage. As you write and publish posts, the amount of affiliate links might also increase. How will you know what links are working and which ones need to be updated?

    We have difficulty suggesting any other plugins for this, because Thirsty Affiliates makes our job so much easier! The following is a great video from the company itself, letting you in on how easy it is to use their system. Their system helps you see the health and status of your links as well keeps you organized so that updates can be made very easily.

There you have it! The list to get your website developed towards the direction of a whole lotta growth potential!

About the Author Karlyn Bishop

Digital Marketing | SEO | Social Media - Karlyn once went by the pseudonym, Lexie Lane and co-authored the book, The Blogger's Survival Guide.

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