What are WordPress plugins?
WordPress plugins are bits of software that can be uploaded to extend and expand the functionality of your WordPress site.
Your four main plugins
- WordPress: A free, lightweight content management system (CMS)
- To customize WordPress, choose from a database of 49,000+ different plugins
- Popular plugins include
- Comment spam protection,
- Contact forms and
- Sitemaps to help search engines work more effectively
- This post will discuss free WordPress plugins to help in those 4 areas
Each of those 4 main plugins is discussed below.
- Akismet (one of the more important WordPress plugins) gives you comment spam protection
- Click on Plugins in left-hand column of dashboard
- Akismet will likely already be there
- If not, click on Add New and enter Akismet in search box
- Click Activate
- Click the white Activate your Akismet account on the blue background
- You will be asked to get an API key that looks something like 9a5a63903bdc
- Enter that in box, click a few buttons and amount of comment spam will be drastically reduced
2. SEO WordPress plugins
- SEO stands for search engine optimization
- We will use WordPress SEO by Yoast
- Search engines such as Google are much more likely to rank you higher
- This free plugin is very important. I use it to help me SEO EVERY single blog post that I make.
- To get started, click on Plugins > Add New
- Enter SEO into search box
- Given a large list of plugins
- Select WordPress SEO by Yoast
- Click on Install Now and wait for successfully installed
- Click Activate Plugin
- Says SEO near bottom of dashboard
- Now you’re ready to start using new plugin
- Create new page
- After you’re finished adding text, scroll down below page and click on General tab
- Fill in the blanks
- Hover over question marks to get understanding of what each heading means
- Click blue Update button
3. Contact Form
Since I first wrote this post, Caldera has become my very favourite WordPress contact form plugin. Go there now for simple instructions on how to install Caldera.
- If publish your email address on web page, running risk of getting lots of spam
- People have bots that harvest email addresses
- So, add a WordPress plugin contact form instead
- Go to new plugins page and search for form
- Get a large list of form plugins
- For this example, we will select Form Maker and click Install Now
- Wait a few seconds and click Activate
- Near bottom of dashboard click on Form Maker > Manager
- Get list of nine different forms
- We will use Contact
- (Note that contact form ID is “1”])
- Click Edit > Add a New Field > Captcha
- Captcha: acronym for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart
- Prevent robots from automatically filling in form and giving spam
- You will probably want captcha code to be above submit button
- So, click on the up arrow
- To make sure the email will be sent to you, click the Options button
- It should be intuitive
- Main thing is that you want emails sent to your address
- Click on Actions after Submission button
- You may use custom text with a message such as Success! Your form has been sent
- People like confirmation that form indeed was sent
- Click Save button
- Try out new form
- Do you remember the shortcode mentioned above?
- Go to one of your pages and decide where you would like a form
- At that point, type in CONTACT_FORM_TO_EMAIL id=”1″
- The above snippet must be within square brackets
- Update your page
- View the page
- Check to make sure form works
In order to prevent the spam filter from blocking messages, it is important that you use a “from” address that has the web address in it. For instance, if the domain name of your website is myspecialwebsite.com, an acceptable from address would be firstname.lastname@example.org.
To find the window to enter the from address, click on Settings > Contact Form to Email. Then click the Settings tab.
4. Sitemap WordPress Plugin
Note: If you use Yoast SEO, you already have a sitemap. Adding another sitemap could cause a software conflict.
- A proper site map may help you get high rankings on Google
- Especially true if you update your website often
- Sitemap helps site owners get new content earlier on Google’s SERPs (search engine result pages)
- Google XML Sitemaps notify all major search engines every time post new content
- Help search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo to better index
- With an XML sitemap, much easier for crawlers to see complete structure of site and retrieve it more efficiently
- To get started, go to Plugins > Add New and search for sitemaps
- Cmd F to find Google SML Sitemaps
- Likely find several choices
- Go to one that is Google SML Sitemaps without anything else in name
- Click Install Now
Two other valuable plugins in investigate
When I want to investigate a new plugin, I enter this into a search engine: review wordpress plugin nameofplugin.
You may want to investigate these 2 plugins:
- Gallery: Add beautiful photo galleries and albums to your site.
- Appointments+: Let your customers book and pay for appointments by themselves.