If you are using WordPress to power your real estate website and access your dashboard, you probably know there are thousands (38,230 at last count) of possible plug-ins to customize it.

Figuring out which plug-ins to use can be overwhelming. Personally, I’ve tested hundreds of them to power the different sites I’ve designed. Most people will try to add too many plug-ins, bloat the site and cause slow load times or even crashes.

For any site I design or help consult on, I always make sure these five plug-ins are installed before the first post.

Here are five essential WordPress plug-ins:

1. Akismet

What it does: Akismet blocks your site from spam comments, which can number in the hundreds quickly, clog up your site and make you look unprofessional. You will need to snag an API key, which you can get by clicking here. After installation, it will ask you to enter the key in settings.

2. WordPress SEO

What it does: This handy plug-in helps you craft each page and post for maximum SEO-worthiness. You can specify keywords, titles and the ever-important meta description. Once installed, this box will show up under the text entry on each post and page.

You can install this plug-in (and Akismet) within WordPress, and I’ll show you how in a sec. But for more help on why all this SEO stuff matters for each post and page, I recommend you read the section on post titles and meta descriptions written by the plug-in’s creator (it’s a two-minute read).

3. SumoMe

What it does: SumoMe is multiple plug-ins under one roof, including heat maps (to see where the clicks are), email marketing and more. It takes a little bit more work to set up, but you get a lot out of it. FYI: The email marketing piece is something that deserves an entire post, but it’s a foundational part of your blog.

You can download the plug-in and see installation instructions here.

4. Pretty Link (Lite version)

What it does: A cool plug-in, Pretty Link takes long, ugly links and turns them into something, well, pretty. Why does this matter? Here’s an example:

Let’s say you find a post that you want to share with your audience, but the link is too long or ugly to insert nicely in the email. Because I’m in Nashville and Bonnaroo is looming, let’s use this “packing list” post from Nashville Guru: http://nashvilleguru.com/11446/bonnaroo-what-to-bring.

Not bad, but we can do better.

With Pretty Link, you can take this link and create a customized link for your site, such as:


There we go. You can also create groups of links so that it could be “/festivals/bonnaroo.” This plug-in works best for the endless links that Amazon and other retailers use, but it’s helpful for any site.

Quick reminder: Don’t use this link as a way to take credit for content you didn’t create. Always cite the source.

5. WP SuperCache

What it does: Basically, it’s a way to make sure your site runs faster by “caching” static files. All you have to do is install the plug-in, and it takes care of everything for you.

OK, so this is all great, but how do you install these plug-ins?

Installing plug-ins

On the WordPress sidebar, hover over Plugins and click Add New. Now there are two ways from here. For each plug-in listed except for SumoMe, you can copy and paste the plug-in name into the search bar.

When you see the plug-in, just click Install Now, confirm your want to install and then click Activate on the next screen.

Click here to see it done in less than 20 seconds.

The second way (for SumoMe) is from the same main plug-in screen, except you’ll click on Upload Plugin near the top of the page. Then click to upload, just like you would any photo or file. Next find and select SumoMe.zip, click Install Now, confirm you want to install and then click Activate on the next screen.

I hope this helps you get started on making your site faster, cleaner and easier to follow. Even if you don’t have immediate access to your WordPress dashboard, check in with your webmaster and see what plug-ins the site is running to be at its best.

Matt Ragland is a content strategist based in Nashville. As a special for Inman readers, visit EngAgentCourse.com/Inman for a free guide to content marketing and social engagement. You can also follow Matt on Twitter at @MattRagland.

Email Matt Ragland.

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