The right WordPress plugins can make your website or blog more attractive, improve connections with readers, and keep them coming back. The big question is how to pick the best ones when thousands of them are available. Let’s look at some popular and well-regarded ones.
Jetpack is a very useful plugin, supported by WordPress.com. By way of background, WordPress.com hosts sites rather than letting users set up their own installations. It provides a lot of nice features but limits the amount of customization its users can do; you can’t install your own plugins on a WordPress.com site, and you can use only approved themes. Jetpack makes many of these features available to independent WordPress installations. Many of its features require a free WordPress.com account.
Jetpack consists of a lot of modules, many of which it enables by default. These include a lot of features that will improve a site’s ability to attract users:
1. It presents statistics in your dashboard, showing visits by day, week, month, or year, as well as figures on individual posts and pages. You can see which posts are doing best and how well your campaigns are doing.
2. It monitors your system, prevents malicious sites from trying to log in, and notifies you if your site goes down.
3. It uses the WordPress.com Content Delivery Network (CDN) to provide faster delivery of images.
4. It lets you manage your site from WordPress.com. If you have multiple sites, this can be very convenient.
For best performance, you should look at which Jetpack modules you actually want to use, enable those, and disable the ones you don’t need.
Spam comments make your site look less welcoming, lower your search engine rank, and can lure readers into downloading malicious software. Akismet is very effective at identifying and blocking spam, while rarely blocking legitimate comments. All the comments it blocks go into a spam folder, so you can review them and approve any that are false positives.
Akismet comes with a standard WordPress installation, but activating it requires a WordPress.com account and an Akismet API key. This is free for personal sites but requires a paid subscription for a commercial site.
Social media plugins
A huge number of plugins compete to offer connections between your WordPress site and your social media accounts. Here are a few of the most popular ones.
1. Social Media Feather lets you add buttons for sharing to various sites and linking to your profiles. It boasts of being lightweight, simple, and unobtrusive, hence its name.
2. Flow-Flow, a paid plugin from CodeCanyon, lets you show streams from your social media accounts on your WordPress site. You can display them in a post, page, or sidebar widget.
3. AddThis lets users share your content on social media sites. You can add a sharing sidebar or a mobile sharing toolbar to your site. The plugin is free, but it requires registration with AddThis, and some options cost money.
WordPress SEO plugins
WordPress sites can always use some help with SEO. Offering “help” in this area is a favorite subject for scammers, so be extra careful in your choices and don’t take recommendations from spam comments.
1. Yoast is extremely popular. When you write an article, it makes you select a focus keyword and then reminds you to use it as much as possible, including ALT text with images. It optionally creates sitemaps for you, aiding search engines in telling primary from secondary links.
2. All in One SEO Pack, which also gets huge numbers of downloads, is for users who already understand SEO fairly well and provides a somewhat simpler interface. In the end, both offer similar features.
Whatever plugins you choose, get them only from the most reputable sources. If you install a malicious plugin, it has the full run of your site. Keep them up to date, in order to make sure you have the latest security fixes.
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