In Part 1 of our 3-part series on launching a WordPress site, we discussed hosting, basic setup, and design. In Part 2, we tell you how to tune up your website for optimal SEO and overall functionality before launching it. There are several elements you want in place before launching a WordPress site, including some plug-ins that will help ensure your site performs well in search rankings and doesn’t drive you crazy with spam.
What’s a “Plugin”?
If you’re new to launching a WordPress site you may not realize that the basic installation of the software only comes with a fraction of the features available to you. Plugins essentially allow you to add features to your website that are available to you from the dashboard. There are thousands of plugins available that enable you to do everything from making your site more accessible to people with disabilities to improving your site’s SEO.
Below we break down the most invaluable plugins pretty much everyone running a WordPress site should have installed.
Step 8 of Launching a WordPress Site: Activate Akismet
One of the main problems with launching a WordPress site is spam. Once your site goes live, the spam bots will be attracted like tiny virtual moths to a flame. They will flood your site with comments, log-in attempts, you name it. This isn’t uncommon for any open source software, however.
One of the best ways to combat spam is Akismet. Akismet is a pre-installed plug-in that comes standard with every WordPress installation. All you have to do is activate it by going to Plugins > Installed Plugins and clicking “Activate.” Once you do so, you’ll need to follow the steps included in the plugin description, which involve signing up for a (free) key to activate the service.
There are lots of WordPress spam blocker plugins. Trust us: Akismet is the best one and is the easiest to use.
Step 9 of Launching a WordPress Site: Install and Activate Broken Link Checker
Another handy-dandy plugin that no one launching a WordPress site should do without is Broken Link Checker. This incredibly useful plugin checks your website on a daily basis for broken links, and if it finds any it emails you within 24 hours to prompt you to fix them. As your new site grows and collects inbound links, you’ll want to make sure all of them are live and functioning, so BLC is a great tool to make sure your site visitors don’t ever click on a link that leads nowhere.
Step 10 of Launching a WordPress Site: Install and Activate EWWW Image Optimizer
As you upload images to your website, whether those are icons, photos, logos, or blog post headers, you’ll start to slow down your site. Images can add precious seconds to your site load time, which can frustrate impatient visitors. To make sure your site is as speedy as possible, be sure to make use of EWWW Image Optimizer, which enables you to automatically web-optimize every image you upload to your site.
Step 11 of Launching a WordPress Site: Install and Activate Google Analytics Dashboard for WP
WordPress has a native plugin that you can use to keep an eye on visitor traffic, but nothing beats Google Analytics when it comes to free tools for parsing out who is finding your website and why. The Google Analytics Dashboard for WP plugin enables you to see most of the information from the full GA dashboard every time you log in to your dashboard.
Step 12 of Launching a WordPress Site: Install and Activate Jetpack by WordPress.com
A few years back, people who preferred to install WordPress on their own custom domain were forced to missed out on some of the functionality from the WordPress.com side of things. This included a powerful plugin set called Jetpack. Jetpack enables you to do lots of things, from automatically sharing all your new blog posts on social media to allowing users to subscribe to your blog. It’s a great plugin for just about anyone and it’s now available to all WordPress users, whether they go through the .com or .org routes.
Step 13 of Launching a WordPress Site: Install and Activate WP-Optimize
Another thing that can cause your website to slow down over time is junk files. From revisions of old posts and pages to miscellaneous other temporary files, WordPress can store up a lot of unnecessary junk. To keep it from doing so, use WP Optimize. This plugin functions like an automatic garbage disposal for your site. You can set it to clean up different types of files automatically so your site doesn’t get bogged down.
Step 14 of Launching a WordPress Site: Install and Activate Yoast SEO
One of your best friends as a WordPress website owner is the Yoast SEO Plugin, which pretty much does everything you need to do for SEO. The plugin allows you to ping various search engines (i.e. Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.) to make sure they’re indexing your site, automatically creates XML sitemaps to ensure search engines keep indexing your site correctly, and even provides you templates for writing posts and pages that encourage best practices in SEO.
Especially if you’re confused by how to keep your site SEO-friendly over time, Yoast SEO is the way to go.
Next Week: Maintenance
If you’ve read this far, you’re now ready to launch your new WordPress site whenever you want to by removing that password protection we talked about in Part 1. Check out our next post to see what you should know about maintaining your new site as the weeks and months roll by.