Starting your WordPress website is easy, but choosing from the thousands of fun plugins can be a little overwhelming.

Don’t be tempted by shiny object syndrome – the important thing to remember is that the more plugins you install, the slower your website will get, which can adversely affect your search engine rankings…and make your readers grumpy.

Also, some plugins don’t make friends with the other plugins, which can mean your website stops playing nice and causes you all manner of grief and downtime.

You only need a few basic plugins installed to start with. These should mainly focus on:

  • Keeping your website secure
  • Improving your SEO (search engine optimization)
  • Making your pages faster to load for visitors

You may have already done your research and chosen the plugins that you want, but I’m going to show you the ones I use to keep my site running nicely. The best thing about these plugins is that they all have free versions which will be all you need in most cases.

Akismet 

This is a must-have to protect your website from spammers. It comes installed with WordPress – all you need to do is activate it and sign up for an account on the Akismet website.

Relevanssi

WordPress is good at a lot of things, but its built-in search function leaves a little bit to be desired. This plugin improves searches within your site, ensuring improved functionality when users search for keywords, tags and categories.

BackWPup 

Building your website could take hours, weeks, years of your life, so backing everything up is critical. While you should regularly back everything up on an external hard drive, the WordPress database stores everything you’ve written and created on your site, so a regularly scheduled backup will give you peace of mind. This plugin is great in that you can set and forget it, and it can sync backups to DropBox, Google Docs and other providers to ensure your data is safe in the event the unexpected happens.

SumoMe 

See those red social share icons on the left of this screen? That’s the SumoMe plugin! It allows you to put sharing buttons from a large range of social platforms on your site so people can easily tweet and pin about the awesome things you’re writing. It’s easy to set up and you can choose where on the screen you want your icons to appear.

TinyPNG 

Large images on your site can make your website run reaaaaaaaally slowwwwwwly. This plugin optimizes new images as you upload them, and you can bulk optimize all the existing images on your site. This means all your image sizes as compressed as possible so that your site stays speedy and keeps your readers happy.

Jetpack 

As its name implies, Jetpack is a package of different features to supercharge your WordPress site. It includes contact forms, widgets, spell check and a bunch of other bits and pieces for you to play around with.

W3 total cache 

Caching is important to have on your website to increase the speed of your page load times. The plugin creates saved copies of your pages which means your hosting server doesn’t have to generate fresh copies every time somebody new visits your page. Fast pages = happy readers that will stick around on your site longer.

Yoast

I’ve saved the best until last! Yoast is the Holy Grail of WordPress plugins. It is the best SEO optimizer available, and lets you know what needs improving in your pages and posts so that they get as much love from search engines as possible, which in turn means people will find your website more easily. You can create metatags and descriptions for your posts, create a sitemap for search engines to read, and optimize your posts to share on social media. It’s easy to follow, and yes, it’s freeeeeee!

I hope you find these suggestions helpful for your WordPress site. At the very least please try out Yoast, you won’t know how you lived without it!