Install and Configure Basic WordPress Plugins for Advanced Features

Learn about the basic WordPress Plugins that you need to install in a new blog installation. These WP plugins help in enhancing and unlocking the features that are not readily available.

The ability to extend the features using WordPress plugins is one of the major reason why most bloggers and web developers use it. WordPress has been in the market for more than 15 years now and still, it’s most preferred.

The ability to add, delete and updating plugins is seamless. And there are tonnes and tonnes of Plugins in the WP repository for every need.

In this post, I will be covering basic as well as advanced WordPress plugins for every user to skyrocket there blog.

If you are following us, then this is the fifth article and video demo in #WordPressCloud series. We recently posted about WordPress Appearance settings covering themes, site branding, and a built-in editor.

Let’s dive into WordPress Plugins installation and configuration right away —

What are WordPress Plugins?

WordPress is developed based on themes and plugin architecture. This makes the WordPress #1 choice for any web developer and even a noob. The plugins unlock all the barriers to use WordPress at the full extent and also mold per needs.

Say suppose, if you want to add any extra feature that is not readily available in WordPress, then you can search and install any community developed plugin from the WordPress Plugins repository. You even can develop your own plugin and install.

WordPress Plugins Repository - Popular

Most of the plugins available in the repository are Freemium. This means you can use certain features for free. However, if you need any advanced options, you may need to upgrade and buy a premium version.

While WordPress Plugins are great, but also has some caveat. If you install too many of the plugins, then it might severely affect the performance, speed, and may also result in server issues.

It’s is strongly recommended to keep the Plugins at the limit, and install only those are absolutely required. If there are any plugins that you no longer need, just deactivate and delete from the WordPress blog.

WordPress Basic Plugins

These are some of my personal basic WordPress Plugins that I think will be useful for everyone.

However, this doesn’t mean you should restrict to these only. If you find any alternative best option, then please feel free to drop below comment — I will be happy to test and update the list if required.

Akismet Anti-Spam

This plugin comes pre-installed in WordPress and one of the best for spam comment protection. The WordPress blog attracts lots of spammers and these spambots are smart enough to bypass comment’s security setup.

With Akismet plugin, these spam comments are recognized within WordPress and automatically marked as Spam. Thus reducing your workload to manage the comments and mark each spammy comment as a SPAM.

All you need is to configure the Akismet plugin with an API key, and the plugin will do the work. You need to register the WordPress.com website to get the API key.

Akismet WordPress Plugin

Follow the steps below to configure Akismet Anti-Spam plugin:

  • Install and Active the Plugin in your WordPress CMS
  • Access Akismet site to get started with Personal for free
  • Register on WordPress.com website or login if you already have an account
    Login WordPress.com for Akismet API Key
  • Generate an API key
  • Copy and paste the API key in your WordPress Akismet setup page
  • Save the settings

Akismet API Key Configured

That’s it. Your Anti-spam plugin has now been set up and your blog is now spam-free.

The plugin will make all the irrelevant comments which you can see under “Spam” bucket in comments tabs. You can visit the Spam section and wipe out all on single button click.

Classic Editor

Back in December 2018, WordPress had released a major upgrade in the editor which is called Gutenberg OR Block editor along with Twenty Ninteen theme.

WordPress Gutenberg Block Editor

WordPress was super excited about this upgrade, however, most the bloggers and business owners we not comfortable switching to this. They still wanted to have the old traditional editor.

Hence, along with the collaboration, with few community developers, they introduce this sweet plugin called Classic Editor.

If you’re relatively new to WordPress, I suggest getting used to with this new block editor. However, if you like an editor which looks similar to Microsoft Word and Google Docs, then Classic Editor plugin is your buddy.

Follow the steps to install and configure the Classic Editor plugin.

  1. Search and Install the Classic Editor from WordPress plugin repository
  2. Active the plugin from Installed Plugins menu
  3. Navigate to Settings > Writing tab in WordPress Dashboard
  4. Select the Default editor for all user to Classic Editor
    Writing Settings - Classic and Block Editor
  5. Next, based on your personal preference — Allow users to switch editors to either Yes or No
  6. Hit on Save Changes button

Classic Editor WordPress Appearance

If you select Yes in step #5, then you or any of the registered user can switch between Classic or Block editor option from User Profile page under Users tab.

Default Editor in WordPress Users Profile

Contact Form 7

If you’re running a blog or a business website using WordPress, you need to have a contact page where the user will be able to send the contact request form.

WordPress readily do not have the feature to create a contact us from, that’s where the Contact Form 7 plugin becomes a savior. All you need is to configure the contact form and copy the shortcode into a Page.

Follow the below steps to configure the Contact Form 7 plugin and publish in a page:

  1. Search and install Contact Form 7 from the plugin repository
  2. Activate the Plugin in WordPress — a new Contact menu will be added into dashboard
  3. Under the Contact menu, hit on Add New tab
  4. Give the contact form a name; say Contact Us
  5. Under the Form tab, you can customize the form template following this guide. However, I think the default form template is good and you don’t need to modify it
    Contact Form 7 Setup
  6. Switch to Mail tab, check if From, To, and other options available look good in here
  7. Check the other two tabs – Messages and Additional settings; customize per your needs
  8. Hit on the Save button to generate a shortcode something like this: [contact-form-7 id="3" title="Contact Us"]
    Shortcode for Contact Form
  9. Copy the shortcode and create a new Page (not a post)
    Contact Form 7 Shortccode Published in WordPress Page
  10. Name the page as Contact Us, paste the copied shortcode and publish the page

Check out the page to see it looks good. In order to modify the look, you can adjust the Form Template as mentioned in step #5.

Contact Form on WordPress Contact page

You can also hyperlink the form into Primary Menu to make it visible on top of the page.

WP Sitemap Page

The sitemap is one of the basic pages that you should have on your blog or business site along with About Us, Contact Us, and Privacy Policy. Even I have got the sitemap page on the restoreBin blog.

Sitemap Links in restoreBin Blog

This is the quick link page that has all the links of your blogs and also defines the structure hierarchy of the website or blog for ease of navigation. But, please do not get confused with XML Sitemap which is totally different, and will be covering this later.

It’s quite difficult to manually add the new blog post or pages that you create on a regular basis. Hence, WP Sitemap plugin helps in automatically updating the links on the Sitemap page.

The installation is quite simple just with a shortcode. Follow the steps to install WP Sitemap plugin:

  1. Search and install WP Sitemap plugin from WordPress repository
  2. Activate the Plugin from Installed Plugin pages
  3. Create a new Page in WordPress with a name Sitemap
  4. Paste this shortcode in the content section – [wp_sitemap_page]
    WordPress Sitemap Shortcode
  5. Publish the post and see the changes live

WP Sitemap Page plugin live demo

If your theme supports the footer widget area OR footer navbar, you can consider adding this sitemap to the menu link list.

Cookie Notice WordPress Plugin

One of the primary requirement after the GDPR compliance policy is to display the cookie notice to all the users.

If you’re using AdSense or Google Analytics then you have to mandatorily display this notice. This plugin Cookie Notice makes the job easier.

Follow the steps to add Cookie Notice into WordPress:

  1. Search and install Cookie Notice by dFactory
    WordPress Plugin - Cookie Notice for GDPR
  2. Activate Cookie Notice from Install Plugin list
  3. Navigate to Settings > Cookie Notice from WordPress Dashboard
  4. Configure plugin settings per need and instructions on the page
    Cookie Notice Plugin Setting and Configuration
  5. Once done, hit on [Save Changes] button, and visit the blog to visualize the notice bar

Cookie Notice GDPR Bar on the WordPress blog

Your cookie notice bar is set up. You can also adjust the look and feel of this bar in the same configuration page.

Easy Table of Contents

This is a fantastic plugin to add the Table of Contents section in WordPress. It was inspired by Wikipedia sections and recommended by the SEO community to improve the SEO ranking.

However, I personally feel this is a great plugin to create intra-page-navigation links within the post. You can adjust the settings to display only particular tags H2, H3, H4 or whatever you need.

Table of Contents Plugin Header Selection

You can also adjust its position to add the table of content either at the top or after a few paragraphs, etc. The skin is highly customizable.

Follow the steps to add the Easy Table of Contents plugin in the blog post:

  1. Search and install Easy Table of Contents plugin
  2. Activate the Plugin after installation from Installed Plugin page
  3. Navigate to Settings > Table of Contents menu
  4.  Setting the configuration per your need, it’s quite easy and simple
    Table of Contents Plugin Settings
  5. Once the setting is done, just hit on the [Save Changes] command button at the bottom
  6. Visit your blog post to see the automated table of content added per your settings

restoreBin Table of Contents Look

You can highly customize the table of content display in your blog post.

WordPress Advanced Plugins

You’ve already learned about the basic WP Plugins and its uses. Now, these are the list of advanced WordPress plugins I use on the restoreBin blog. I’m going to cover these as a part of the series in upcoming articles and videos.

These all plugins are very important to keep you WordPress smooth, optimized, and secured. Most of these plugins need you to have access to SSH and SFTP to configure, hence I always recommend to use Cloud Server rather than a cheap Shared hosting.

  • Rank Math SEO — This is the new SEO plugin that I’ve been using from several months now. I really feel this is more powerful with great features that were missing in the Yoast SEO (free) plugin.
  • CDN Enabler — This plugins help to enable the CDN URL for media and images.
  • NGT jsDelivr CDN — This is another super helpful plugin that I use to off-load the static JS and CSS files to save the server bandwidth. All you need is to install and activate this plugin, and it will take care of rest.
  • Nginx Cache — I use Nginx server-side caching and this plugin helps in clear the obsolete cached files after updating the post and pages on WordPress blog.
  • Redis Object Cache — This is another server-side caching plugin which helps to cache the complex database queries.
  • WP fail2ban — This plugin use for setting up a fail2ban server-side program that helps to secure the WordPress login attempts. You can define the number of times a bot or user can attempt invalid authentication before banning the IP address
  • WP-Optimize — This is another great plugin to optimize and clean the database. Every time you delete any plugin or settings, the traces are left in our database. This plugin not only helps to identify but also remove the records. Recently, the plugin as also added with a feature to compress and optimize the image size using WP Smush API.
  • WPvivid Backup Plugin — This is an amazing plugin to create and restore the backups in an off-site location. You can create and retains backup in Google Drive, OneDrive, Amazon Cloud, etc. You can also schedule the Backup intervals like daily, weekly, monthly, etc.

Watch video on Basic WordPress Plugins

You can watch this video on how to install WordPress Plugins, and I’ve also covered setting up for a few plugins from the list.

Hope you liked this video, please subscribe to our YouTube channel for more videos.

What’s Next in #WordPressCloud Series?

While we have covered only the basic WP Plugins in this article. In the next couple of articles, I will be posting about the advanced WordPress Plugins.

We will start-off with security plugins – WP fail2ban and later move into the optimization and CDN plugins setup.

If you've any thoughts on Install and Configure Basic WordPress Plugins for Advanced Features, then feel free to drop in below comment box. Also, please subscribe to our restoreBin YouTube channel for amazing videos tips. Cheers!

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