If you’re a small business owner, then it’s likely you’ve heard of WordPress. What’s WordPress? It’s a content management system, that provides the user with a dashboard to modify and change their website. Because wordpress is a dynamic PHP website, the server side rendering allows changes on the front end to ‘call back’ any changes a user makes on the back end. The beauty of it, is once the site is setup, it’s completely attainable for marketers or business people to manage their own site without touching the codebase.
In fact 35% of the worlds websites run on WordPress, including these top international and Australian brands:
There are SO many plugins in the WordPress repository these days, and whether you are starting out or a seasoned user it can be overwhelming to know which plugins are worth having on your site and which aren’t benefiting your business enough to keep them installed.
Having alot of plugins installed on your site significantly slows your site speed down, and also increases the chance of having it break. So you want to operate with high quality plugins that are well maintained (my rule is if there isn’t an update at least every 3 months, do not use it) but also a minimal amount, with these two points in mind.
I am constantly looking for ways to reduce my website plugin dependency, and whilst a few are a work in progress, there are 5 plugins that as a developer or a user you absolutely MUST have in 2021.
Sucuri is a cybersecurity company that specialises in WordPress security and they protect your site from ddos attacks, malware, hackers and bot traffic. When you install this plugin, all of your site traffic goes through their firewall, and all the malicious activity is blocked before they enter your website. This ensures your site has only real customers, and no bots or hackers. Does this slow down my site speed? No not at all, they use a CDN, which I use alongside WP Rocket anyway to increase site speed.
One of the un-sung benefits of Sucuri is that this provides more transparency in your google analytics regarding your website traffic. I mean 40k visitors in a month looks great, until you realise they were mostly bots and your site is now compromised. Do you want to spend hours, days trying to figure out why your site is broken? Thousna d of dollars in lost business? Yeah, i didn’t think so.
The best part is the Sucuri wordpress plugin is FREE to everyone, so even if you’re not transacting online, I cannot think of any reason as to why you wouldnt install this plugin. An absolute MUST for E Commerce merchants.
2. Antispam Bee
Antispam Bee blocks spam comments on your WordPress posts, and also helps keep your google ranking in tact by not having spammy comments and links to spell casters in your website. I’ve chosen Antispam Bee over Akismet, purely because the Bee is free, and when you have a free plugin that does as good a job as a paid plugin, I’d always recommend the free one to keep costs down.
Spam comments don’t just look tacky, they fill your database with comments you don’t need or want, and if you allow these comments to continue then over time you are bulldozing your brand integrity as well as slowing your site down.
The backend options of Antispam Bee let you choose basic or advanced filters for spam protection such as trust commenters with Gravatars, trust approved commentors, and also to delete spam comments automatically after a period of time. You definitely want to have this, it will save you time and money later on.
3. Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is a well loved plugin in the WordPress community and for good reason. According to yoasts website, yoast will bring your more visitors, attract more visitors from social media, and increase your readers engagement. Sounds awesome right?
I use Yoast on my site, as well as client website to ensure each page has the right keywords to maximise its visibility in search engines, and I can tell you there is a big difference in the before and after, although the results take time – 6-8 weeks usually.
Heres what Yoast looks like under the hood. Each tab gives you tasks to work on to improve the keywords and readability of your site. Yoast is user friendly, and hugely popular because anyone can do it. The premium plan suggests popular search words and related keyphrases for you to add in, to increase your Google visibility.
It’s super easy to use, you won’t regret it.
4. WP Rocket
WP Rocket is the only paid plugin on this list, but it is SO worth it. WP Rocket is a caching plugin, that minifies all your CSS + JS files, lazyloads images, clears old database files, and spins up your website through a CDN for faster loading time.
WP Rocket is $49 a year- but that is a small price to pay for the results. As you know, how quickly your site loads affects your google ranking. But, it also impacts on your user experience. If clients come to your site and it’s loading slowly, they are likely to leave and well we don’t want that. If you don’t believe me, here is a before and after of this site, after I analysed it through GTMetrix.
I did all of the above, plus I deleted any unused media files, and cut down my plugin usage to reduce lag time. I also deleted some JS scripts and JQuery scripts that came with my Genesis child theme, that I wasn’t using. Now, bear in mind it is very difficult to get an “A” score on GTmetrix, in fact I’ve never seen it. If anyone has, please link it in the comments below.