Written by: Matthew L

October 1 2017

Tried and tested WordPress plugins.
A note on performance, to enable compression go to cPanel / Optimise Website and enable compression for all content.  Test this with Google Page Speed to see if it’s effective in improving performance for your site.

The main tasks you want your WordPress site to do security, backup, performance, content management, organisation and SEO, measure and track goals.

1. Health Check

From WordPress.org a great plugin to check the overall health of your site.  It enables you to enter a troubleshooting mode that can turn off all plugins to help discover any conflicts that plugins might be causing.  This has no effect on your site visitors, they will continue to view your site as usual, but WordPress goes into a state as if you had just installed it.
You can enable individual plugins or themes, helping you to find out what might be causing issues on your site.  Any changes you make to settings will be kept when you disable Troubleshooting Mode.

2. WP Activity Log

WP Activity log provides a log of who made what on your WordPress website.  Also links with Yoast to see what SEO updates have been made via Yoast.

3. BackupWordPress

Backup is often left until last, which is logical, however, it’s pretty simple to do so no excuses not to set it up early.  BackupWordPress will backup the database and files on a schedule that you set.  Once installed it’s found under tools / backups.  By default the backups are held on the same server as your WordPress site which doesn’t help if the whole server goes down for whatever reason.  To backup to a cloud service like Dropbox or Google Drive is a paid ‘extension’ to the free plugin, single site or unlimited site options are available.
Another option is Duplicator but I don’t think it schedules the backup and it’s designed more for moving your site to another host or domain.

4. Yoast SEO or RankMath or All in one SEO

Although I can’t help think if everyone is doing exactly the same thing that the SEO results should be the same, but I suppose it’s how you use this tool that matters.  The alternative would be the all-in-1-seo

5. Sumome Share

Highly rated by users and works well on mobile sites with share buttons shown as floating footer links.  There so many of these share services around, this one seem to work, although it would be good to run P3 above over it to see how long it takes to load.  Another performance issue with these share services is how long it takes a user to actually share a page after they click on the share icon.

6. Welcome Mat

Full screen email subscriber form from Sumome.

7. Co-Schedule

Content scheduler

8. Broken Link Checker

This might be something that Yoast already does but this is a simple tool to check that your sites internal and external links are pointing to valid pages.
Once installed it’s found under tools / broken links.  The links are listed under OK, broken or 404 pages, and redirects 301, 302. It also emails you a copy of the broken links found.
The next 3 plugins will likely get you past 80/100 as a Google Page Speed score, Autoptimize to minify, CSS, Javascript and HTML, WP Super Cache to cache pages, Optimize to compress images.

9. Autoptimize (minify CSS, JS and HTML)

If you are looking for this plugin make sure search with a ‘z’ in the spelling, searching for Autoptimise will yeild strange results.
Minification is a long word for making files shorter, essentially by removing uneccesarry characters like spaces and line breaks which computers don’t need to be able to read code.   A shorter file means a lower kb file.  A lower kb file means its downloaded over the internet faster.  Css, javascript and html with Autoptimize.  Suggested caching plugins to also improve performance are WP Super CacheHyperCacheComet Cache or KeyCDN’s Cache Enabler.

10. W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache

WP Super Cache has over 1 million downloads/installs which is similar to W3 Total Cache.  The difference to W3 total cache is WP Super Cache just does the caching work and for minification you will need another plugin like Autoptimize above.
A note on Caching – w3 Total Cache does CSS, HTML and JS minification too – so you don’t need Autoptimise.  I have noticed issues with running Autoptimize and WP Super Cache together.
w3 Total Cache also has some custom features for Genesis themes, but after you switch them on it claims you need to also ‘enable Fragment Cache module to make sure Genesis extension works properly’ which costs $99/year and is included in the pro/upgraded version of w3 Total Cache.  Most Genesis themes seem to operate ok without the Fragment Cache model.

11. Optimize images

Once you run a Google page speed test optimised versions of images (and JS and HTML) are produced for you.  You can upload these optimised images to your site  developers.google.com/speed/docs/insights/OptimizeImages

12. Contact Form 7

Simple contact us form, include Google reCaptcha to stop spam comments (under the Contact/Integration menu).  Flamingo is an addon to capture all details of contact form submissions.  Mailchimp integration (under MailChimp/Integration) can be added to Contact form 7 also to enable subscription via a checkbox on your contact form.

13. Wordfence

A great application level firewall.  It can easily be set to block unwanted login attempts.  A great feature is alerting you to plugins which have not been updated recently.  This makes sure you are always on top of the best in class plugins for the job you are doing.

14. Qtranslate

A popular and free translator plugin and alternative to GTranslate.

15. Redirection

Great plugin for picking up broken links from referral traffic to your website.  It helps to surface info from your websites log files that would otherwise go noticed.  It shows where hackers might be looking certain URL’s on your site and easily redirect old URLs to new URLs.

16. User Switching

Great for multi-user WordPress installs where you might have a membership site.  You can login as any user and see what they see.

17. Table of Contents

Easy Table of Contents, helps make long posts more digestible which should improve dwell time on the page if readers can easily find the content they want.

18. Rich Snippets



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