One of the best things about using WordPress for a website is that it makes personalization so simple. Depending on the kind of website you want and the features you need, there are literally thousands of WordPress plugins to help you give your website visitors a great user experience and that can help you achieve your personal or business goals online. Some of the most commonly used WordPress plugins can help you protect your website from attack, track visitor demographics, and make it easier to securely backup your website. But which WordPress plugins, out of the thousands available, are best for your website? What WordPress plugins do you really need?

Security, Website Backups, SEO, and Demographics

Whether you have a personal or business website everyone who has an online presence needs to be able to do four things: protect themselves and their visitors from online threats, be able to backup and save their website, make their site is as attractive to search engines as possible, and know who, where, when, and how people access their website.

Website Security

Security experts compare protecting a site from attack to an arms race. As soon as stronger and more resilient defenses are created hackers change their strategies to decrypt data, steal sensitive personal information, or simply try to bring down websites. Because the kinds of threats and the tactics of the attackers are ever-changing, it’s important to choose a security plugin that doesn’t just work for current threats and will be continually updated and improved.

Website Backup

If a website is hacked, or if a WordPress user wants to move to a new host, regularly backing up website data is a must. Some WordPress plugins allow users to do this manually while others will backup a site automatically. Either way, including a backup plugin on a WordPress site saves a lot of headaches.

SEO

If the search engines can’t a site, then neither can viewers and customers. Every search engine uses a complex algorithm to search and index sites and determine not only the content of each website page but also how useful it might be to viewers. WordPress takes SEO seriously and as a whole has strong search engine optimization right out of the box. But in this day and age, it’s impossible to expand a website’s viewership without strong SEO, and an SEO plugin can help catapult a website to the first results page on Google.

Demographics

There are so many benefits to having reliable demographic data that making use of a plugin to help track the visitor data for any website is mandatory. Not only does it allow users to see the gender, age range, and geographical area from which visitors hail, but it can also provide a ton of valuable information on how long each visitor stays on average, and what time of day is the busiest for traffic on the website. This can help determine what time of day is best for blog posts, identify pages on the site that aren’t attracting a lot of page views, and how to better tailor your web presence to reach new visitors.

5 Essential WordPress Plugins For Your Website

There are a number of wildly popular WordPress plugins that can help improve these four components of any WordPress website, some of which are free, while others may require payment to download. Below are the five WordPress plugins I recommend.

1. WordPress SEO by Yoast

This plugin has been the gold standard of search engine optimization for years, and for good reason. The plugin features valuable tools such as a keyword tracker, page analysis, alt tag suggestions for photos, social media integration, and more. This plugin will absolutely improve the technical SEO aspects of a website, but its primary goal is to help individuals write better content that is valuable to viewers and keyword driven. Although there can be a bit of a learning curve to using this plugin, it will absolutely help improve the ranking of any WordPress site. Best of all, it is free to download.

2. Sucuri

Sucuri is a free to use WordPress plugin that compliments the existing protection provided by the platform. The plugin offers seven key benefits to WordPress sites, but in short, it tracks each security event and login and automatically uploads that information to the cloud making it impossible for hackers to erase the evidence they may leave behind. The plugin also scans for malware and will alert you if search engines have flagged your site for security issues

Seven Sucuri Benefits:

  • Security Activity Audit Logging
  • File Integrity Monitoring
  • Remote Malware Scanning
  • Blacklist Monitoring
  • Effective Security Hardening
  • Post-Hack Security Actions
  • Security Notifications

3. iThemes Security

iThemes Security was formerly known as Better WP Security and specifically guards against plugin vulnerabilities, weak passwords, and obsolete software. By asking site visitors to create stronger usernames and passwords, this plugin closes commonly exploited loopholes and prevents automated attacks. The basic version is free to use, but there is also a Pro version available which offers some valuable features. The most interesting add-on provided by the Pro version is a temporary privilege option, which allows temporary access to the WordPress site for contractors.

iThemes Security Pro Features:

  • Two-Factor Authentication
  • Malware Scan Scheduling
  • Password Expiration
  • Google reCAPTCHA
  • Temporary Privilege Escalation – give a contractor or someone else temporary admin or editor access to your site that will automatically reset itself.

4. Duplicator

Duplicator does just what its name implies and allows WordPress users to duplicate, clone, backup, move, and transfer an entire site either from one location to another, or the plugin can be used as a backup tool to make it easy to restore a site to any location.

Duplicator’s Benefits:

  • Move a site between domains or hosts
  • Pull down a live site to localhost for development
  • Manually back up a site
  • Bundle up an entire WordPress site for easy reuse or distribution

5. Google Analytics

Google Analytics is an incredibly powerful tool. Beyond monitoring traffic to and from the website, WordPress plugins that incorporate Google Analytics, help improve visitor engagement and click-throughs. Although Google does provide advanced solutions for larger businesses, their basic suite of tools is free. Accessing visitor data through the Google Analytics dashboard is relatively easy, but there are a number of WordPress plugins that allow users to access necessary data directly from their WordPress dashboard.

Even though each website is unique, there are certain things that all WordPress users should prioritize. WordPress plugins that optimize search engine ranking, allow for better security, track a site’s visitors, and allow for regular backups are key to a site’s success.

For more information on website security check out Do I need website security?

If you have any questions about WordPress or WordPress plugins contact us today

7 Website Mistakes That Will Destroy Your Business Before You Even Start

7 Website Mistakes That Will Destroy Your Business Before You Even Start

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