Pither.com / Simon
Development, systems administration, parenting and business

Wordpress - my essential plugins

If you've ever hosted a website, especially a blog, I'm sure you've considered Wordpress as the potential software to use.

Despite this personal blog not using Wordpress, I do use it for a few others, where I just wanted to get up and running really quickly with a pretty standard set of features. That was exactly what I wanted for a new time tracking site I just announced. So with it fresh in my mind I thought I'd document the key plugins I use (not least for my own future reference).

Wordpress Plugins

Firstly, I always delete the "Hello Dolly" plugin that comes pre-installed. I'm not quite sure why Wordpress think it's worth pre-installing but it's not exactly useful and it's always best to have the least code on your site that you can manage.

All in One SEO Pack

Not only does this add lots of important metadata fields to posts/pages and the admin, it will also output Google Analytics tags (fill in your UA-xxx number in the All in One SEO admin).

Make sure you visit the "Feature Manager" inside the All in One SEO admin pages - I always enable the "Social Meta" feature. There are also features for XML Sitemaps and robots.txt control, among others.

W3 Total Cache

Page speed is essential for good search rankings and for a good visitor experience. This is the best free caching and optimisation plugin I've found so far. The settings screen can be a bit daunting, but most importantly make sure that the Page Cache is enabled.

EWWW Image Optimizer

Finally (yes, only three plugins make it to my essentials list) is another important part of page loading speed, that's a bit too specialised for W3 Total Cache. To get the best from this plugin your server does need to have certain tools installed but assuming they're in place it's a great first step towards smaller and faster loading images throughout your site.


I quite like the current default "Twenty Seventeen" theme that comes with Wordpress, but to make it work you really need a nice big front page image. Thankfully there's an excellent free stock photos site that has a large and growing catalogue that will probably have something suitable. And all of the images are of brilliant quality.

New Editor

This was my first Wordpress install since they started pushing the new Gutenberg editor so I thought I'd better give it a go.

So far I think it's great. The concept is something I've seen elsewhere and really liked. SEOSS has even had to build similar ideas into custom themes with the help of the excellent (but not essential) Advanced Custom Fields. So having blocks built right into the Wordpress editor is a very welcome improvement.

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