27% of the World’s website runs on WordPress! That’s a whopping number!! WordPress is free and offers limitless possibilities to designers, developers and to those who just love writing and publishing. There are more than 45,000 approved WordPress Plugins that continue to extend the versatility of this platform.
Some of the most popular Websites and Blogs of the World are built on WordPress. A few notable mentions are Bloomberg Professional, Chicago Sun Times, Vogue and Angry Birds.No matter who says what, no other platform can defeat #Wordpress #bloggers Click To Tweet
When I started my first blog I used WordPress. When I started my 10th Blog, I used WordPress. But I know what all I did miserably in my first blog and how I continued to learn using the best resources for building the most optimized Blog within the least budget. Do you want to know as well?
The WordPress Plugin directory is so attractive and lucrative that it will make you install one plugin after another. Many plugins, although tested and approved by WordPress, may become incompatible with your Theme and will give undesirable results to your website.
So I am listing down the minimum set of WordPress plugins that can make your site run like a pro without compromising on the appearance.
Remember, try never to exceed a total count of 30 WordPress plugins.
This is the first and way too important for a successful blog or website. I have used almost all of the popularly advertised hosting platforms. I finally chose and agreed that DigitalOcean gives you an unparalleled benefit. Without getting into too much of technicality on why DO gives the best, let me just highlight a few pointers that can be understood by anyone.
You can buy a DO Cloud Server (they call it droplet) for as little as $5 a month. This droplet and its resources like RAM, Storage, Memory, etc are dedicated for you and not shared among 400 other websites.
This is not a publicly known fact that most of the other hosting providers will promise you a configuration but share the resources with many other parties. However, I would recommend you to use a $10 Droplet from DigitalOcean which will be enough to give you a fast website for 100K monthly traffic.
The Configuration of a DigitalOcean Droplet may require an elementary technical knowledge but it is no rocket science. However, if you do not want to do it yourself, or you are not technically inclined, you can hire an expert for as less as $20. These experts will configure your droplet and install WordPress with precision.
“Algorithm – Word used by programmers when they do not intend to explain what they did.”
Performance WordPress Plugins
The performance of your blog is the most critical aspect which is usually ignored in the beginning and later becomes a mess. Do not do the same mistakes I did. Take care of your Blog’s performance from day 1.
CDN. Once you have the best hosting and the perfect installation, the next important thing is to go for a CDN. CDN stands for a content delivery network. A CDN will deliver web pages and other Web content to a user based on the geographic locations of the user irrespective to where your website is hosted.
If your blog is hosted in New York and someone is trying to browse your posts from Jakarta, the CDN will ensure a quick replication from a nearby server. So the speed and performance will not be compromised. Well, that’s the most simple way I could address this complex technology.
I would blindly recommend Cloudflare. First of all, it has a Free plan which is good enough for blogs up to 100K monthly traffic. Second, it also gives you a free SSL Certificate. (SSL certificate gives more trust to your blog or website and helps in search engine optimization).
It enhances the security of your blog with its Firewall, increases the Speed and does everything else that other expensive CDNs do, all for Free. Cloudflare also has a WordPress Plugin which makes it very convenient to configure and use from your WP Admin panel.
JetPack. An essential Plugin from the makers of WordPress themselves. It gives you Site Statistics, Downtime Monitoring, Image CDN on performance enhancements. From the marketing perspective, it provides instant notification when someone comments, offers Social Sharing Buttons, Automatic Post syndication to connected social networks, and allows you to collect email subscribers.
It has more features on appearance enhancements of your website as well, plus some more paid features like Ad networks, backup, and recovery. Along with Akismet, it is a very useful tool to block Spammers as well. Many of us ignore activating Akismet and end up with loads of Spam comments and blacklisting of our blog.
Did you know? Retainly is the only marketing automation platform that can connect with your WordPress and automatically pull all Subscriber information, User or Member information and then send them marketing emails?
W3Total Cache. This is another performance enhancer and works well with almost any Theme you choose. The only web host agnostic WordPress Performance Optimization (WPO) framework recommended by countless web developers and web hosts.
It improves the SEO and user experience of your site by increasing website performance and reducing download time.
Autoptimize. It concatenates all scripts and styles, minifies and compresses them, adds expires headers, caches them, and moves styles to the page head and can move scripts to the footer without compromising your website’s appearance.
Imsanity. Automatically resizes huge image uploads down to a size that is more reasonable for display in a browser, yet still more than large enough for typical website use. The best image optimizer I have finally concluded on.
Wp-Optimize. Must Plugin, is an effective tool for automatically cleaning your WordPress database so that it runs at maximum efficiency. It helps make more space and removes waste and garbage collected automatically over the time.
After the performance, you need to be very particular about your blog’s security. With the popularity of WordPress, hackers around the world continue to build bots that try to malaise WordPress and find some backdoors into it.
Although WordPress too keeps working on making its platform more secure, a little bit of extra caution will not harm. You don’t need to be a security expert. Just install these plugins.
All in One Wp Security. An easy to use, stable and well supported WordPress Plugin. It helps to add some extra security and firewall to your site by using a security plugin that enforces a lot of good security practices.
SSL Insecure Content Fixer. Sometimes you may be using some external script that don’t have a secure source. Installing the SSL Insecure Content Fixer plugin will solve most insecure content warnings with little or no effort.
There is no end to the WordPress Plugins which cater to better and convenient marketing of your posts. None the less, with the sole objective of identifying only the least possible one, let us finalize on these plugins that will help you market your blog like a pro.
Yoast SEO. The elixir. You cannot do without it and no other WordPress Plugin will be half as good for your SEO needs. This plugin is written from the ground up by Joost de Valk and his team at Yoast to improve your site’s SEO on all needed aspects.
While this Yoast SEO plugin goes the extra mile to take care of all the technical optimization, more on that below, it first and foremost helps you write better content.
WordPress Ping Optimizer. Did you know your WordPress blog pings unnecessarily every time you edit a post? Think how many times you click on “Save and Continue Editing” or “Save” button.
Your blog will ping unnecessarily that many times you click on those buttons. Save your blog from getting tagged as ping spammer by installing this plugin.
Off topic, on WordPress Pinging, I could not keep myself from it, I would like to share you a precious little gift of a set of pinging URIs from ShoutmeLoud. This drastically helps in faster indexing of a new post.
Website Tools by AddThis. By simply installing this plugin through your WordPress site, you can make edits to your AddThis tools, such as share and follow buttons, all within the AddThis dashboard. This is just in case you do not intend to use the Social Share options provided by Jetpack.
Social Login. If you are creating a membership kind of a website, you may want to simplify your user’s registration and login using Social SSO. Social Login is a professionally developed and free WordPress (BuddyPress compatible) plugin.
It allows your visitors to comment, login and signup with 30+ Social Networks like for example Facebook, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn, PayPal, LiveJournal, Instagram, and Yahoo. This plugin is far less complicated to configure compared to other social login plugins.
Featured Image in RSS. This is one small shortcoming in the WordPress Platform. Their RSS feeds do not provide your post’s featured images into the feed. This Plugin adds featured image to your RSS feed. You can changes the image size from the setting page of the plugin under Settings > Image In RSS Feed. By default, the plugin uses thumbnail size.
Better Click to Tweet. This is becoming extremely popular. Most often, readers do not want to tweet about the entire article. Rather, they would choose to tweet a particular sentence or a quote which caught their attention. This plugin allows you to easily create tweetable content for your readers. Using a simple shortcode, your selected text is highlighted and made tweetable.
It took me lots of years and experience to narrow down on these just 14 WordPress plugins. You are now left with 16 empty plugin slots that you can choose at your own free will. Remember, don’t overkill. Lesser the plugins the better.
Also an important piece of advice on choosing your WordPress Theme. Buy it from ThemeForest after screening all the comments from other users.