Out of the box, WordPress is a powerful, easy-to-use content management tool. One of its best features, though, is that it is infinitely extendable with WordPress plugins. Many options are available, but here are 3 that you should be sure to install.
Akismet is a spam filter for WordPress. If you have a spam filter for your email, you know how important and helpful it can be. If you have comments enabled on your site, it’s just as important to have a spam filter on your site so that spam comments do not take over every post you create.
Akismet comes with most installs of WordPress but it’s not activated by default because it requires a slight amount of setup. After you’ve activated it, you’ll need to get an API key to make it work. You can sign up for one here. You’ll then save your API key to your configuration page, located at Plugins > Akismet > Settings in your WordPress Dashboard.
Akismet has blocked almost 480,000 spam comments on my personal site, which has been active for just over five years. If you plan to allow comments on your site, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to use Akismet to block spam.
Jetpack includes 37 modules to enhance your site’s functionality. These modules were originally designed for sites hosted on WordPress.com, so you’ll need to create an account there to add these to your self-hosted (WordPress.org) site. Some of the modules are more useful than others, but the ability to track your site’s traffic (“Site Stats”), create shorter links to pages on your site (“WP.me Shortlinks”), and the ability to receive notifications from your site on your phone’s WordPress app (“Notifications”) make this plugin more than worthwhile. Visit jetpack.me for more information.
3. Yoast SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a key factor in getting your site discovered. Does your site play nicely with social media? Does it show up on relevant searches? Yoast SEO strives to help you in these specific areas.
Yoast consists of three main areas, and we’ll focus on two of them. First, it provides SEO optimization tools. It displays a snippet of what your page or post will look like in a Google search result. There, you can change the headline and description the snippet displays. You can also set a “focus keyword,” which helps inform search engines what search term you think applies best to the page or post you’re writing. While it doesn’t guarantee it will work, it should help boost your results some. Below, it provides a “content analysis” section with tips on how to improve your page’s result in searches.
Second, Yoast provides a sharing section. Here, you can set the title, description, and image that Facebook and Twitter display when your post is shared. This helps your post appear the way you want it to appear on these social sites. Facebook can be especially tricky otherwise, so this is an incredibly helpful tool.
While many WordPress plugins are incredibly helpful, these three offer a great start. No WordPress site should be without them.