13 Must-Have WordPress Plugins for Your Niche Site
There’s a plethora of WordPress plugins out there that it’s sometimes hard to separate plugins that our site needs from those that we just want to install because the features are cool. Well, I’m here to help you out on that – I present you the 13 plugins I always use on my personal and client niche sites! I categorized the plugins by their general function so just click one below to take you to that section.
Table of Contents
- 1 What We’ll Learn:
- 2 Safety First
- 3 Security Plugins
- 4 Functionality Improvement Plugins
- 5 SEO and Analytics
- 6 My Theme Shop Plugins
- 7 Y U NO Install…
- 8 Conclusion
What We’ll Learn:
Know what essential plugins to install in terms of:
- Functionality Improvement/User Experience
- SEO and Analytics
- Extra: My Theme Shop Plugins
- Why U No Install insert-plugin-here?
Before I go ahead and show you these awesome plugins, let me give you a few precautionary advice:
Backup your website – you never know how these plugins will interact with your current theme or WordPress version (if you haven’t updated to the most recent one) so do yourself a favor and backup your site! Although the plugins on this list are often updated for compatibility, if worse comes to worst and your site gets broken, you can restore your site with a backup.
Take my word with a grain of salt and always be critical – Read the reviews, look at the features and see if these plugins are right for you. There are many alternative plugins out there. For example, you can use All-in-One SEO instead of Yoast SEO and you can achieve the same level of optimization.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s dive right in!
Security is definitely priority one for me. Without proper security measures in place, your site is vulnerable to hundreds of black hatters and hackers trying to squirm their way into your website. One of my niche sites get 50 to 100 login attempts from IP addresses from Ukraine everyday. If I don’t have security plugins installed and configured properly, they would have hacked it a long time ago.
Akismet is WordPress’ go-to anti-spam plugin. In fact, it’s automatically installed along with WordPress!
Akismet vastly improved over the years – it was once an annoying plugin because it gets a lot of false-positives and sometimes lets spam through, but it does a good job of keeping spam messages at bay now. You do need to have your personal API to use it so register first at Akismet.com for a free account (there are 3 more levels of paid subscription but for my niche sites, the free version works perfectly.)
The image above shows your Akismet account dashboard. You need to copy your API key and paste it on your Akismet WordPress Dashboard and then hit Save Changes.
This plugin limit…err…login attempts to your site. It’s a very simple plugin that’s almost plug-and-play so there’s no need for too much explanation! This plugin is a double edge sword though, so be careful that you do not lock yourself out!
AIOWPS is my go to security plugin. It’s robust, yet simple enough that I can figure it out in an hour or two. Honestly, there are more powerful security plugins that AIOWPS like iThemes Security, but I prefer the first one simply because it’s easier to configure and still gets the job done. I
I have a dedicated (and updated!) post about configuring your WP Security which you might want to check out.
The thing about migration plugins is that they act as great backups too. I’ve been using All-in-One WP Migration, a free plugin, for all site transfers whenever I flip sites or transfer over client sites. The interface is easy to understand as well. There are clunky situations like hanging during import or export, but overall the migration and backup process is great.
Functionality Improvement Plugins
These plugins will improve user interactions with your site. Create better call to actions, present more organized information, speed up loading times, and let visitors quickly understand what your page is about with these plugins.
My Theme Shop doesn’t have good-looking sharing (not to mention animated) buttons on its themes that’s why I always install this plugin which is by far my favorite social sharing button plugin. It quite robust and offers multiple customization options for it’s buttons. It is compatible with over 20 social networks so social sharing is quite easy.
6 – 10. Speed Optimization Plugins
I actually have a separate post dedicated for site speed optimization plugins which contains configuration tutorials, other how-to’s, as well as ranking results correlated to speed optimization. To give you an overview here are the plugins I mentioned in the post:
- Cloud Flare for WordPress (#6)
- WP Super Cache (#7)
- Autoptimize (#8)
- Compress JPEG and PNG Images (#7)
- Remove Query Strings from Static Sources (#10)
I don’t know what to do if I don’t have Short Codes Ultimate for my niche sites and postponed my Thrive Themes purchase. It is hands down the ultimate short code plugin on WordPress. Period. There are a total of 55 short codes available when you download SCU, so there’s definitely a short code for every need.
I usually use shortcodes ultimate to create clear call to actions and better-designed table of contents. There are many more shortcodes such as buttons that I usually use for call-to-actions. The colors are unlimited and there are several button types to choose from, but I usually choose contrasting, bright colors so it attracts more attention.
Another must-have plugin for affiliate niche sites is Table Press. You’re going to need these for those sweet comparison tables you can place on any page.
Creating tables takes a bit of getting used to and the custom CSS options for tables is a bit clunky, but Table Press is still my top choice for tables plugins. There’s just no other plugin that matches it’s capabilities.
You need to know a bit of basic (super basic) HTML because that’s what you use to populate the table. Well, you can do away with HTML and just come up with plain text, but if you want to bold, italicize, or change text colors then you need to know a bit of it. After creating your table, you can simply copy and paste the table shortcode on the page where you want it to appear, hit Save Changes, and you’re done!
There are more options at the bottom of your dashboard and you can use these to enable or disable filtering, change how the table treats the Head Row and Foot Row, and many other options.
If you want to change column width and font sizes, you can go to Plugin Options and edit the tables through Custom CSS. I plan to have a full tutorial for TablePress so definitely watch out for it.
SEO and Analytics
Nothing much to say here, other than you simply have to have your on-page SEO in check before building any links. You also have to track traffic and where it came from.
13. Yoast SEO
Of course, who can forget Yoast, the number one SEO plugin for WordPress. It’s definitely a must-have for niche sites so we can monitor our on-page SEO standing – are you over optimized? Do you need a better meta description? How about a page title? These are some questions that Yoast SEO can help you answer.
Honestly though, I never try to achieve all those green buttons because especially on the keyword density part simply because Google is very smart now and can understand what your website is about with just a few keyword occurrences. No need to achieve that 1% keyword density anymore.
My Theme Shop Plugins
I’m a big fan of My Theme Shop because of their affordable and easy to use themes. Although I’m a bit frustrated recently with their lack of theme releases. Their latest theme release was Matthew Woodward’s website theme. Personally, I don’t find that theme appealing.
Their superb support, over 50 affordable (not to mention their frequent sales and discounts) and easy to use themes more than make up for their lack of new themes however, so I’m still happy with them. Anyway, if you’re an MTS theme owner, here are some must-have plugins you have to install:
My Theme Shop Updater
This plugin syncs your website to My Theme Shop so you’ll get notified of any theme update. After that, it’s just a matter of heading to the Updates Page and updating the theme. I can’t seem to find it on WordPress.org nor on My Theme Shop, but it’s definitely on the list of recommended plugins when you first activate an MTS theme.
Y U NO Install…
Clicky/Google Analytics Plugin – Honestly, I just don’t find the need to install them. I simply go directly to Google Analytics or Clicky and view my traffic there, but I do understand the convenience of having everything right on your dashboard.
Table of Contents Plus (TOC+) – For those who don’t know TOC+ is an easy-to-use table of content plugin that looks like the ones you see on Wikipedia. I personally prefer to create my own Table of Contents section using Shortcodes Ultimate and a bit of HTML simply because TOC+ doesn’t look good, but it’s a great plugin for anyone.
If you need a plugin that does x function, chances are there’s a plugin for that already so simply do search on Google or WordPress.org. Just be careful and create a backup before installing any plugin. Might as well research and check the plugin reviews as incorrect or incompatible plugins might break your site – been there done that.
I’ll be updating this list every now and then depending on what plugin I deem necessary to use.