So you got your WordPress website up and running, and now you are wondering what to do next? Don’t worry I got you covered. Bellow it’s a list of must have plugins when you start a new wordpress website.

Choose wisely.

There are some aspects that you should consider when it comes to plugins, because to many of them could mess up your website speed, performance and SEO rankings. My personal advice, is that you only should install plugins that are absolutely necessary.

I’m not saying that all plugins are poorly coded, but there are many plugins that are bundled up with tons of complicated options that you probably don’t even need.

Considering that nowadays site performance and speed is a big ranking factor for search engine optimization, who would want a slow website anyway?

Let’s dig deeper

With the aspects mentioned above in mind, here it’s a list of must have wordpress plugins on a new born website, that I can vouch for and will not slow down or hurt your website in any way, but better, using some of them wisely will increase your website speed and performance visibly. So without further ado, let’s dig into it:

1.Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO WordPressPlugin

Born in 2008, Yoast SEO is the most trusted SEO wordpress plugin that will help you rank higher in search engines. With over 5+ million active installs, this plugin can cover all the SEO techniques and aspects such as:

  • Setting up page title and meta description
  • Take full control of your website breadcrumb
  • Schema implementation which helps search engines make sense of your site
  • Set canonical URL to avoid duplicate content
  • …and if that’s not enough they also have the premium version with more enhanced features

2.Google XML Sitemap Generator

Google XML Sitemaps Generator

A good XML sitemap acts as a roadmap of your website which leads Google to all your important pages. XML sitemaps can be good for SEO, as they allow Google to quickly find your essential website pages, even if your internal linking isn’t perfect. This post explains what they are and how they help you rank better.

Yoast SEO Team

Yoast Seo also has an advanced XML sitemap generator, but I choose Google XML Sitemap Generator over Yoast, because it’s very intuitive and easy to use, especially for beginners. You push a few buttons, and the plugins does the rest.

It does exactly what it supposed to do, and nothing more, and that’s a winner in my book. Every time you publish a new post, create new category or add a new post tag, the plugin automatically add those URL’s to your XML sitemap.

This help search engines to understand better how your website data is structured, and in addition to that, the plugin also ping all major search engines (Google & Bing) when you publish a new post.

3.reSmush.it Image Optimizer

reSmush.it Image Optimizer

Mobile devices are a huge source of traffic nowadays, so you always, always, always should consider optimizing your images.

Image optimization is a very important aspect of your website, as smaller images, means less bytes transferred over network, and less data usage for your mobile visitors.

Let’s have a look at what Google has to say on Think With Google.

22 seconds is the average time it takes to fully load a mobile page. And on top of that, 53% of people will leave a mobile page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

Google

With that in mind, think again if you believed you could skip this step, Jack!

ReSmush can easily optimize all your images, the plugin is totally free, and it can optimize files up to 5MB in size. After activating the plugin you can find it’s options on wp-admin at Media > reSmush.it

You can optimize images in bulk, or each one separately by going to the Media option in wp-admin, and by clicking on each image. It also has an option that let’s you specify the image quality. Pretty neat, for a free plugin.

If that’s not enough for you, you can always make a quick search on the WordPress Plugins network, with the keyword “image optimizer” and you will find free and premium versions for this type of plugins. You can also read reviews, compare, and see which one is best for you. For me it’s this one, as it does what I need, it’s simple, and fast.

4.Autoptimize

Autoptimize WordPress - Combine , Minify CSS and Javascript Files, Cache Website

Before rendering any page in the front end, in the back-end interface wordpress calls a series of functions and php classes, which make some database queries and then display the page requested to the user.

Starting from this premise, you should cache your website content, minify and combine your assets such as javascript and css files.

What is website caching?

Website caching represents the operation of storing page data (such as images, css , js files etc.) for further reuse and visits. Quick example:

A user visits a specific page, and all data such as images and files are saved on his local machine. On his next visit, the page will load more faster as all assets required to load the page are already saved locally.

What is file minification?

Minification is the technique in which a file is stripped of any unnecessary data (such as comments , new lines, spaces etc) in order to obtain a smaller file in size.

What is file combine?

File combining is the technique in which more files are combined together into a single larger file.

Minification & file combining technique used together, dramatically increase your site speed and performance (fewer files, fewer requests), which translates into a better user experience, especially when browsing from a mobile device.

There are many forms of caching, such as browser caching, database caching, memory caching, but we’re not going to dig this deep into this article. We’re just gonna stick to the basics, as by using Autoptimize you don’t have to be a rocket scientist, to cache and optimize your website.

By default, Autoptimize is ready to go as it is, but you can experiment with it’s settings, and see which combination works the best for you.

Important note: Be careful if you are a shop owner to exclude shop checkout and cart pages from cache, otherwise visitors might have problems when trying to add products to cart, or when going to the checkout page to finish their order.

Final thoughts!

Of course there are many more other plugins on the wordpress repository, which you can download and experiment with, but the list I gave you it’s the kickstarter you need in terms of SEO, speed and optimization, and will keep your website happy and blazing fast, without adding any unnecessary and complex data, that eventually will slow down your website.

Note to yourself: original content it’s the best form of SEO!

If you have any suggestions, or comments, feel free to comment.

Let’s make the web a better place together!

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