WordPress is unarguably one of the most popular platforms (also called CMS, or Content Management System) for hosting a website with 74.6 million websites hosted worldwide. It has become an easy first choice for both beginner and seasoned web developers due to its open source nature, vast third party support and general ease of use.
Unfortunately, WordPress websites often fall victim to cyber attacks because of loopholes in the installation code or third party plugins that allow for backdoor access into the system. Shockingly, over 70% of WordPress websites are vulnerable to a cyber attack for this reason.
The most effective way to avoid WordPress security vulnerabilities is to keep plugins and installations updated. In most cases, updates are often pushed to correct security issues (bugs) that could expose your website to hackers.
Regrettably, not all bugs are found and corrected quickly, sometimes taking weeks or even months to uncover and correct, leaving your website out in the open for cyber attacks. Additionally, with over 35,000 WordPress plugins listed on the official directory, it can be daunting trying to find which ones are the most secure and have constant development support.
Below is a list of 5 of the most reputable and up to date plugins that I think are must-haves for your WordPress website.
W3 Total Cache
If your WordPress installation isn’t on a high-performance server, like a VPS, things can tend to run slow because of the way PHP works (the programming language that WP is built on). W3 Total Cache aims to improve your WordPress server performance by reducing download times and increasing page speed through the use of some nifty page caching features and file minification.
WordPress SEO by Yoast
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is extremely important for getting your website exposure among the 1 billion+ other websites around the world. While WordPress is generally “SEO ready” out of the box with features like tagging, permalinks and post descriptions/excerpts, WordPress SEO by Yoast takes things a step further by automatically optimizing keywords, meta tags and providing analytics for your individual web pages.
Google AdSense by BestWebSoft
Whether your WordPress website is used for a personal blog, online magazine or company, you’ll probably want to find a way to monetize it.
Google AdSense is a great way to start displaying targeted and relevant ads on your website. When a website visitor engages with AdSense ads, it results in dollars in your pocket. The Google AdSense plugin for WordPress allows you to customize how ads display on your site with formatting and positioning options, so that they don’t look intrusive to the average reader.
Disqus Comment System
If you’ve enabled commenting on your WordPress website, chances are you’ve received some unwelcome and spammy comments. The built-in WordPress commenting system is very basic and leaves much to be desired. Disqus is a full featured WordPress comment system that allows you to customize the look and feel of your comments, moderates and filters spammers, and indexes comments to search engines to help boost SEO.
Multimedia content support within WordPress has come a long way over the last few years with the addition of galleries and drag and drop features, but it’s still not completely there yet. NextGEN Gallery adds a bunch of powerful features to your content, allowing you to batch upload galleries of images, import meta data, automatically generate thumbnails and create custom slideshows.
What are some of your favorite WordPress plugins? Post your suggestions in the comments below.