Here at NameHero, we value site speed, security and SEO most when building websites because we know that customers and Google expect that good websites should be fast, secure, and SEO-friendly. After all, how else are customers supposed to find your website and have a good experience if you don’t get these things right?
Setting up WordPress is easy, especially if you bought one of our WordPress Hosting packages that auto installs it for you… but what comes next? Check out our guide below on what plugins we recommend installing right out of the gate to make sure your WordPress site has it’s best foot forward for SEO and speed.
We are going to pick one plugin for each category or purpose instead of overloading you with options and discussing the pros and cons of each. We actually recommend installing all of them as part of an optimal WordPress setup but even just a few of these plugins should get you started in the right direction.
We will also try to pick plugins/themes that all have a free or low cost option, nothing to break the bank here!
- What Do I Do After I Install WordPress?
- Best WordPress Plugin For SEO
- Best WordPress Plugins For Security
- Best WordPress Plugins For Site Speed
- How To Make Sure I Don’t Pick A Dangerous WordPress Plugin?
- Our Favorite WordPress Theme
First let’s start with the basics…
What Do I Do After I Install WordPress?
If you purchased one of our WordPress hosting packages, then you don’t need to do any sort of install, it’s already done for you!
If you purchased one of our cloud web hosting packages then you’ll need to install WordPress from cPanel in just a few clicks. You’ll immediately have your login credentials generated in the user interface. The link to then login to your WordPress back-end should look something like this:
Once you login to WordPress, you can get started by navigating to “Plugins” on the left side menu clicking “Add New”. From there, you can search the plugins below in the search bar on the top right and install them straight from your WordPress interface!
If nothing is found at this address, and you are greeted by a 404 error, then chances are your WordPress instance did not get installed correctly. If you are a NameHero customer, login and create a support ticket and we’d be happy to take a look and see what might be the issue or contact us on live chat!
Now let’s talk plugins and themes!
Best WordPress Plugin For SEO
I personally recommend using Yoast SEO. A lot of plugins out there claim to be the best but Yoast has been around the block for some time and offers all of the SEO benefit without any of the bloat. There’s a lot to cover on Yoast feature wise and we feel it’s one of those plug-in’s that you have to really get your hands dirty to learn. The Yoast team has plenty of awesome videos on their YouTube channel if you want to learn the in’s and out’s but I would recommend just installing it and moving on instead of getting too far sucked into learning it in the beginning phases of your website.
My favorite part about Yoast: After enabling the plugin, when you are working on an article, it will do a real time analysis based on a targeted keyword to help you achieve optimal SEO and readability. This doesn’t guarantee success in SEO (if it was that easy…) but helps you get all the little stuff right to start!
Best WordPress Plugins For Security
WordPress security is extremely important but “security” can mean a lot of different things. We are going to have multiple plugins that we recommend for this category that all do slightly different things.
To put it simply, Wordfence helps keep the bad guys out of your WordPress instance. So if they keep knocking on the door of your login page, you’ll know about it and it will block them from trying to access your site further.
If you purchased a NameHero web hosting package then you got a free SSL certificate so you already have the first ingredient for this plugin. This plugin helps you establish your site securely for e-commerce transactions or any other actions. You’ll get the little lock icon next your URL that you may see in Google Chrome to the left of the URL after enabling and following the settings.
Best WordPress Plugins For Site Speed
Site speed can be impacted by a lot of different things but if you have a lot of images, especially high resolution images on your site or plans to have hundreds of blog pages, then having an image compression plugin is extremely important. We like Smush because it’s easy to compress images with just a few clicks. It’s good to have a lot of high resolution images on your site because they look great but if you have images that are above 500kb, especially multiple on one page, it can really slow down your site. This plugin can get them down to 50-100kb in most cases, sometimes even smaller, without sacrificing quality.
If you didn’t know it already, one of NameHero’s competitive advantages is that we use LightSpeed servers instead of Apache servers. This is now your competitive advantage as well! These servers are much faster than Apache in most cases and can deliver your content to users.
So what’s this plugin do? It maxes out this speed and caches your content so you get the full potential of the LightSpeed server that is part of your hosting package.
How To Make Sure I Don’t Pick A Dangerous WordPress Plugin?
Obviously it’s hard to predict where vulnerabilities might lie with WordPress plugins. However, there are a few things you can do to play on the safe side of WordPress plugins:
#1. Find Plugins With A Lot Of Reviews
This may sound like a no brainer but even though WordPress plugins are free you should treat them just like shopping for something on Amazon. You don’t need to have a thousands of 5-star reviews but it’s good to see some recent positive reviews to signal that this plugin is going to solve your issue or meet your need and isn’t going to be more risk than it’s worth.
I like to see more than 15-20 reviews, with 1-2 being in the last 30 days as a rough rule of thumb.
#2. Number of Downloads & Recent Updates Are A Good Sign
On the right hand side of a plugin’s profile page on WordPress.org, you can find a lot of helpful information including how many downloads there are and when the plugin was last updated. It’s good to see a recent update here because we can infer that they are up to date with any security updates but also continually improving the product based on user feedback presumably:
#3. Check Reviews on WordPress’ Marketplace
WordPress.org has basically a plugin marketplace with a fantastic source of unbiased reviews. If you do a Google search of some WordPress plugins, you may find a lot of paid reviews or affiliate reviews that are overly positive, especially if they are paid plugins. However, the reviews page in the marketplace can help you get the real story if a plugin’s owner has abandoned the plugin.
I like to do my research from the page above first. Then, as recommended at the beginning of the article, once I’ve decided on the plugin I want to install, I login to my instance of WordPress and install it directly from there using the Plugins > Add New link in the left side bar.
#4. Check The Plugin Creator’s URL/Site Listed In The Marketplace
This is a quick check to make sure there’s nothing shady going on with the company that makes the plugin. If the website 404’s, they don’t have the plugin listed anymore on their website, or you see something else that might make you second guess, then this could be a small red flag to dig deeper.
Our Favorite WordPress Theme
This is a tricky category to just pick one because websites can take shape into a lot of different designs or forms depending on what your goal is, but if we have SEO in mind and we want to focus on speed and something that looks great, we recommend checking out Astra.
Things can get quite complicated with themes these days – between theme builders like Elementor, to plugins and marketplaces. We want to take a simple approach and just pick one that looks great with some Starter Templates and a lot of flexibility. Additionally, some WordPress theme makers churn out themes and have no updates, bug fixes, or communication and that can leave users at risk or stranded. This isn’t the case with Astra.
Astra has over 4,500 downloads per day on average so you know it’s one of the best and most secure themes. It’s easy to think that you “don’t want a website that looks like every other one out there” but even with the number of downloads per day, you can still customize this theme or use starter templates that make your website unique. After all, there are a lot of websites out there!
If you’d like to learn more about theme builders and coming up with a bit more of an advanced plan for a theme, we have an article coming soon!
John is the COO of NameHero and is an entrepreneurial, data-driven digital marketer and business operator with +16 years of experience across many different marketing channels, industries and strategies (B2C & B2B).