Recommended WordPress plugins (2018 edition)

I last wrote about my list of recommended WordPress plugins back in 2016. Of course, a lot can change in two years, so I thought it was due for an update. Here’s an updated list of WordPress plugins I enjoy using.

Avoiding plugin problems

It’s best to not use an excessive or unnecessary number of plugins, as a way of: avoiding plugin conflicts; reducing the use of system resources; and avoiding any possible security issues (fewer plugins to keep up to date, etc.).

Regarding conflicts, while I list several security plugins below, you only need one. For example, if you’re using Wordfence, you don’t need iThemes Security.

Finally, it’s advised to uninstall (versus merely deactivating) any plugins not being used long-term.

Recommended plugins

Editorial Calendar

Plugin: https://wordpress.org/plugins/editorial-calendar/

The Editorial Calendar plugin lets you see upcoming scheduled posts on a calendar-style page. You can drag and drop scheduled posts to different dates on the calendar page, and schedule (as created drafts) future blog posts.

This plugin’s particularly useful for my blog. I can create and schedule blog topic ideas in advance, yet view them in a calendar layout.

EWWW Image Optimizer

Plugin: https://wordpress.org/plugins/ewww-image-optimizer/

EWWW Image Optimizer compresses uploaded images to optimize them for web usage.

Unlike some similar plugins, EWWW performs its basic functions solely on its installed server, versus temporarily uploading images to an external service. Those concerned about resource usage might want to consider a similar plugin, such as Smush.

Google Analytics Dashboard for WP

Plugin: https://wordpress.org/plugins/google-analytics-dashboard-for-wp/

Google Analytics Dashboard for WP allows you to enter your Google Analytics tracking code for your site. The plugin also lets you view various basic statistics on site traffic from the dashboard.

iThemes Security

Plugin: https://wordpress.org/plugins/better-wp-security/

Formerly known as Better WP Security, iThemes Security provides various security features. It can protect sites from brute force attempts, ban certain unwanted visitors, and provide database backups.

Jetpack

WordPress buttons and stickers

Flickr photo by Nikolay Bachiyski (CC BY)

Plugin: https://wordpress.org/plugins/jetpack/

Jetpack is a plugin by Automattic, WordPress’ guardian, that adds to sites multiple functions that would normally only available to WordPress.com users. Some of Jetpack’s functions include:

  • Site statistics
  • Email subscriptions for blog updates
  • Access to the WP.me URL shortener
  • Contact forms (integrated with Akismet)
  • Automatically posting new posts to social networks (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)

One advantage of Jetpack is that it cuts down on the number of separate plugins that would otherwise be required. On the downside, while it’s one of my recommended WordPress plugins, Jetpack’s also one of the bigger plugins to run on a WordPress site, which some might not like.

Redirection

Plugin: https://wordpress.org/plugins/redirection/

Redirection is a plugin that allows you to set up 301 redirects, or redirect posts/pages from one URL to another. It can also track 404 errors.

TinyMCE Advanced

Plugin: https://wordpress.org/plugins/tinymce-advanced/

TinyMCE Advanced adds extra functions to the Visual Editor toolbar. This includes managing formatting features, such as font sizes and text color. It also handles creating and editing tables.

Wordfence Security

Plugin: https://wordpress.org/plugins/wordfence/

Wordfence is one of several security-related plugins for WordPress. Some of Wordfence’s functions include:

  • Scanning a site installation for malware and other vulnerabilities
  • Limiting the number of wrong logins to block brute force attempts
  • Firewall for added security

From my usage, Wordfence has more features than iThemes, but iThemes seems lighter on resources. While both make my list of recommended WordPress plugins, I prefer iThemes these days.

WP Super Cache

Plugin: https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-super-cache/

WP Super Cache is one of several caching plugins. Its function is to reduce a site’s resources by serving up cached versions of pages.

This plugin is particularly useful for periods of high traffic, lowering the risk of the site being unavailable altogether. An alternative plugin, albeit more complicated/with more features, is W3 Total Cache.

Yoast SEO

Plugin: https://wordpress.org/plugins/wordpress-seo/

Yoast SEO is a plugin that greatly extends WordPress’ search engine optimization (SEO) functionality. The plugin sets up and manages various features, including XML sitemaps, meta elements, breadcrumbs, custom RSS feed text, and more.

Conclusion

The above sums up my favorite/recommended WordPress plugins as of this writing. Of course, this list will change over time, so expect a newer version of this post in the future.

(Updated 10/27/2018)

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