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 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.