What WordPress plugins do you need on every new site? There is a plugin for just about any need you can think of. There are tons and tons of plugins that serve the same or similar functions, and as of this post there are 33,909 total plugins on the WordPress.org site.
Making your way through all that chaos isn’t easy. Especially when you’re just getting started with a new WordPress project. But there are some staples that just about every WordPress site needs to have.
When you’re starting a new WordPress website you need to make sure a few things are in order:
- It needs to be fast
- It needs to be easy to use
- It needs to be easy to manage
- It needs to give you great feedback
- It has to be welcoming to visitors
- It has a way to build your list
- It has the right tools
The needs for any new site will vary depending on what your objective is, but these things are pretty much universal, and in order to get WordPress there you need to add some functionality to make it happen.
These are the ones that I start with on just about every new site. The plugins mentioned here establish a great foundation for you to build your new WordPress site on and give you the ability to continue to grow and scale your site.
Plugin #1: WordPress SEO by Yoast
Getting your on-page optimization right should be part of every blog post or page you create. This plugin helps you to focus on a keyword that’s associated with your article and then drives the point home by reminding you where it needs to be used and how to do it.
It also helps optimize the small under-the-hood parts of WordPress so that you’ve got all the power you need on a post by post basis. There is a lot more to SEO than on-page optimization, but this plugin will take you a long way in getting where you want to be with your site.
Plugin #2: Disqus
Disqus is a fantastic tool that makes managing comments on your blog super easy. It makes it easy as it can be to get people commenting on your site because it’s popular on other blogs and removing barriers to engagement facilitates discussion, which is the whole point.
Disqus also helps clean up spam comments and provides moderation tools that enabling you to manage commenters at the user level. Comment spam is just a pain. Disqus makes comment management a snap.
Plugin #3: Login Lockdown
WordPress security is a big deal and you need to be mindful of it from day one. One of the things you need to do is eliminate the threat of brute force attacks on your site. Login Lockdown does this by keeping track of failed login attempts based on the user’s IP address and time, and if the user exceeds the allowed number of login attempts without being able to successfully log in, they’re locked out and will have to wait until they can try again.
These settings are configurable under the options in your WordPress dashboard, but defaults to locking things down after 3 failed attempts in 5 minutes or less. If the user fails to successfully login, they’re locked out for at least an hour by default.
Plugin #4: Google XML Sitemaps
Google uses crawlers to learn what your site is about and how it’s structured. You want that exploration process to be as easy for the crawlers to understand as possible, so providing a map is a great way to do this.
Google XML Sitemaps delivers guidance for search engine crawlers and works in conjunction with your Google account via Google Webmaster Tools.
This plugin can be redundant since Yoast’s SEO plugin also has an option for sitemap configuration. It’s really a matter of preference and how you use these plugins. If the features in the WordPress SEO plugin work best for you, then you can skip this one. It’s really a matter of preference and what works best for you, and how you’re used to putting your WordPress sites together.
Plugin #5: Gravity Forms
WordPress does not have a native contact form. I know, that’s weird. But there are a lot of options for forms that will make your life easy as a website owner and there is none that is better than Gravity Forms in my opinion.
You can do everything from creating a simple contact form, to larger more complex forms, that allow you to integrate a payment gateway, do lead capture, and more.
Plugin #6: Google Analyticator
Plugin #7: WP Super Cache
Site performance isn’t something that you need to be waiting on. Your users want your site to be fast. Google wants your site to be fast too.
Basically everyone that matters wants your site to be fast, so you need a tool that will make your site fast and WP Super Cache will do that.
WP Super Cache generates static html files from the dynamic sources in WordPress making it much easier and faster to load. Once you get it set up correctly, this plugin will do wonders for your site’s performance.
Plugin #8: Use Google Libraries
Using a CDN to power different parts of your site is almost a given for any website these days. Whenever you’re able to let someone else carry the load you need to do it, because it can only help you when you do it right. This is one of those tools that will do that for you. The Use Google Libraries plugin connects your site to Google’s hosted libraries for things like JQuery which will make your site faster by potentially having that script already cached on a user’s computer, and take load off your hosting setup which is a win-win all the way around. The only thing to make sure you check is theme compatibility, and make sure it will all work together seemlessly. A quick check with your theme creator will clear it up for you.
Plugin #9: Pretty Link Lite
You want to be able to manage your links – on your site and off – and Pretty Link gives you a lot of help with this. Manage your affiliate links, and redirects, clicks from your email newsletters, shorten links using your own domain, and more. On top of all the link management features you can track the performance of your links to see if what you’re doing is working. This is a fantastic tool you’ll want from day one for your new WordPress site.
Plugin #10: Newsletter Plugin
Finally, when starting a new WordPress website it’s crucial to make sure you’re set up to build your list from day one. To do that you need to implement a newsletter opt-in from day one. Whether it’s Aweber, MailChimp, Constant Contact or something else you need to get this set up and running on your new blog as soon as you can. Pat Flynn among many others have pointed out how they wish they’d started building their lists earlier. Don’t wait to get started on this list. You can always figure out how you’re going to work with it later.
There are a lot of options to choose from when you’re starting a new site. You have to start somewhere and you want tools that establish a great foundation for growing your site.
These plugins are the staples and cornerstones that will set you up with that foundation with your new WordPress project, and I use this same stack on just about every WordPress project – both for myself, and for my clients.
So what do you use for your WordPress boilerplate? Which plugins are part of just about every new WordPress site you spin up?
image by Cristian Labarca