Essential Plugins for WordPress

By Nathan Segal

WordPress is a wonderful CMS (Content Management System). With the large number of plugins and templates available you can build just about any site you can imagine. This flexibility makes WordPress one of the best website development programs available.

One down side to the flexibility is security. Many hackers target WordPress so when you’re planning an installation, it’s important to consider security, first. One ISP (Internet Service Provider) to check out is Turnkey Internet, which boasts bulletproof hosting. The service is more expensive, but if security is important to you, they’re worth checking out.

In addition, you should take further steps to secure your WordPress installation. Here’s what you can do:

  • When setting up access to your blog, ask your ISP to enable SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol). As for software, there are many programs available. The one I use is WinSCP.
  • Update your passwords regularly and make sure you use strong passwords. I also recommend using a minimum of 16 characters.
  • When setting up your WordPress blog, use strong passwords. Never use the default "admin." If you have, it can be changed after the fact in the database.
  • Keep your blog updated with the latest version of WordPress.
  • Make regular backups of your database (once a week is good). The plugin I use is WordPress Database Backup. Another option is to use cPanel and the Backups tools to download your database.

To do so, log into cPanel and scroll to the Files section and click on the Backups icon.

In the highlighted section above, click on a database to download it.

  • One useful plugin to prevent hackers from breaking into your site is Limit Login Attempts. Here’s why you need it: “By default WordPress allows unlimited login attempts either through the login page or by sending special cookies. This allows passwords (or hashes) to be brute-force cracked with relative ease.”
  • “Limit Login Attempts blocks an Internet address from making further attempts after a specified limit on retries is reached, making a brute-force attack difficult or impossible.”

 

Comment Spam Issues

Each WordPress installation comes with Akisimet to deal with comment spam, but if you're being inundated with spam, Akisimet may not be enough. One solution is: WP Spam Free. (It's no longer supported but it's extremely effective in catching comment spam).

Analytics

One of the aspects of making your blog popular is promotion. If you know the keywords that visitors are using you can use these in your articles. One such plug-in is the Google Analyticator This plug-in adds JavaScript code necessary to enable Google Analytics. After you enable this plug-in, go to the settings page, input your Google Analytics UID, then click on authenticate your Google Analytics account.

Google Sitemap is a plugin which allows you to add a sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools. This also allows you to get information about your site.

SEO

For quite a while I was using Shareaholic for my SEO. That changed when I was told to switch over to Greg’s High Peformance SEO, According to the site, it offers “direct control over more than 100 separate on-page characteristics important for SEO, while loading fewer than 700 lines of code for each ordinary page view. This plugin is intended for anyone who wants to help search engines find their material.”

Jetpack

Jetpack By Wordpress is one of my favorite plugins because it offers so many options.

Here’s a partial list of some of the options: Simple, concise stats, email subscriptions for your blog's posts and comments, social networking comment system, monitor and manage your site's activity, Akismet-backed contact forms. WP.me URL shortener,  embedded media from popular sites like YouTube, Digg, and Vimeo, the ability to post to your blog from any email client, the ability to automatically post to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Path and LinkedIn, grammar checker and more.

Miscellaneous Plugins

The do follow plugin allows you to remove the no follow attribute from your comments.

Buffer My Post is a plugin that allows you to bring new life to old posts. So many bloggers create an article, post it and move on, never re-using their old content. Buffer My Post makes it possible for you to reuse your old content and draw more eyeballs to your blog.

Some of your options are:

  • Choose the interval between post (I chose 24 hours)
  • The minimum age of post: I chose zero because I wanted to have all my posts available for use
  • Maximum age of post: Again, zero because I wanted all my posts made available
  • Number of posts to post: 1 (at a time)

Even with these settings you might not want to use all your posts, so to exclude specific posts, go to the Exclude Posts header

As you can see on the page above, you can choose which posts you want to exclude. When you’ve finished with your selections, click on the Exclude Selected button.

Conclusion

As stated earlier, one of the great things about WordPress is its flexibility. As you will see, there are many plugin options on WordPress.org and many other sites. Chances are, you’ll find one or more that will meet your needs.



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