When starting a web site or a blog of any kind on WordPress there are certain plugins that can make your life 1000x easier. Not only will they save you time, but plugins can bring your site to the next level by making it more usable, searchable, and innovative.

So what is this magical “plugin” we speak of? A plugin is simply a program that you can install to add a specific feature to your website. For WordPress, these plugins are written in PHP and integrate seamlessly with your site.

Installing A Plugin

Installing a plugin can be a little bit tricky if you haven’t done it before. First, log in to your WordPress admin page (https://[yourdomain.com]/wp-admin). From the admin dashboard, look to the left sidebar menu. There is an option on that menu to choose called “Plugins.” Click it! You’ll open the plugins settings tab. From here, there are two main ways to install:

1.  Search for a plugin in the plugins library

When you open the plugins setting tab, there is a search box on the main page. Type in the name of the specific plugin you are looking for, or a keyword (i.e. “SEO”) to find a list of options. You can also search by popular, new, favorites, or pre-determined keywords. Once you search, a list of matching results will appear. Research them by clicking “details” or install right away by clicking “install now.”

Search for Plugins

2. Upload your plugin

You can download a plugin as a .zip file to your computer, and then upload it to your site. Click the “upload” tab in the top navigation on the plugins settings tab, choose the file, and voila! Your plugin will upload and install for you. An important note is that you can only upload files in .zip format, so if you get an error message, check that!

Upload plugins

Every plugin is slightly different with the setup required once it is installed – some require none at all, and others require a bit of work. Click into your plugin once you install it to make sure you follow the correct steps to get it up and running!

Must Have Plugins

As you will see, there are thousands of plugins to choose from. What makes a plugin a must-have? Here’s the criteria we like to use at Skillcrush:

  • Will the plugin make your site faster?
  • Will the plugin reduce spam?
  • Will the plugin help you better accomplish your site goals?

We scoured to find you a few wonderfully helpful plugins that will accomplish just that! Try them out to make running your website much easier:

Akismet

This is a great plugin for getting rid of annoying comment spam. If you are frequently disapproving or deleting spam comments, you need this. [Download here]

Google XML Sitemaps

This plugin makes it much easier for search engines to go through your content. And, when a search engine can better index your content, it is more likely to show up in searches! Plus, this plugin notifies search engines whenever you publish a new post. [Download here]

Flaunt Your Clients

This is a fun plugin for web designers to use to make it easy for your clients to show how pleased they are with your work!  It creates a new custom post type specifically for client stories and testimonials. These “client pages” can be sorted by category, linked to blog posts, and more. [Download here]

WordPress SEO by Yoast

This plugin is super useful for ANY blog: it is the ultimate optimization plugin. It enables you to determine how your post will look on Facebook and Google. It also allows you to optimize your page or post for Google search. There is a reason there have been over 7 million downloads to date! [Download here]

Slick Social Share

This plugin will get your stuff shared on social media seamlessly. Plus, it looks gorgeous on your site! [Download here]

W3 Total Cache

This plugin will help your site load faster (which, especially if you have a lot of high-resolution photos or images, is quite important). It has page cache, minification, database caching, CDN integration and browser caching to speed up loading times for site visitors. [Download here]

SEO Smart Links

This plugin fully automate the internal linking process of your WordPress blog. One of the best ways to keep people on your site and improve SEO is to link between your own site content and posts, and this makes it straightforward and no-brainer. It also can convert specific keywords into internal and affiliate links. [Download here]

Video Capture

This plugin integrates video into your site in a big way. You simply put a shortcode into any page or post, and users will be able to record short videos, up to three minutes in length. It’s a fun feature to add, if you have a creative way to use it! [Download here]

Meet My Team

This is great for showing off who is on your team. This plugin will provide you with a custom post type designed for displaying team members and their info. A shortcode displays the team members in a responsive grid on any page or post you like. Until you take a Skillcrush JavaScript class or blueprint, it’s a great shortcut to make your site responsive! [Download here]

Contact Form 7

If you ever filled out a contact form on a blog, it very well may be through Contact Form. This plugin provides easy contact forms for blogs (i.e. contact us for help / advertising, etc.). It also works in conjunction with Askimet (above!) so there won’t be any spam abuse with these forms. [Download here]

Do you have any particularly helpful WordPress plugins? We’re always on the lookout for new favorites! Let us know.

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