My WordPress Plugin Stack “Blueprint” for 2023

More about this video

A year ago I recorded a video overview of my official WordPress plugin stack. Since then, 11 major changes or additions have happened. So, to kick off 2023, let’s do an updated stack overview!

Note: Since Bricks Builder isn’t a plugin, I didn’t mention it explicitly, but it’s definitely the top of my stack since it serves as the exclusive page builder.

You can see my entire plugin stack on my tools page.

Video Transcript

What is up my friends? Welcome back. It is 2023. A brand new year is ahead of us and to kick off the new year, I think it would be a really good idea to remake one of the videos I made about a year ago that overviews my WordPress plugin stack. Over the past couple months, people have been hitting me up saying, hey Kevin, I know your stack has changed. I want to see what you’re working with now. What is your go-to WordPress stack? And I feel like, hey, we’re starting a new year, let’s go ahead and do it now. Like let’s show people the WordPress stack that we’re using heading into 2023. That’s not to say, by the way, that this WordPress stack isn’t going to change this year.

It may very well change at some point this year, but that gives us an opportunity to make a new video at that point. But it has changed significantly. I went back, I looked at that video. There’s been 11 key changes or additions to my plugin stack since I recorded that video about a year ago. So it does make sense to remake this. With that said, let’s go ahead and dive right in. So the first plugin, I’m just going to go in alphabetical order.

These are not in order of importance or anything. I’m literally just going to go top to bottom down the list. This is our literal blueprint website, okay? If you don’t have a blueprint website or you don’t know what a blueprint website is, I guess that would be a good thing to cover first. A blueprint website, I think everybody should have one, is basically a blank site, has WordPress installed, has all the plugins that you love to use, not like every single plugin you own.

I’m talking about the plugins you absolutely pretty much use on every single website. If you need others for a specific project, you can install them later. You don’t put those on your blueprint. Your blueprint is like what is the most efficient WordPress install setup that I can rock and roll with that I know is pretty much every project this is going to work well for. So you put in those plugins, you put in your license keys, you make sure everything is up to date. Whatever page builder you like to use, whether it’s Bricks or Oxygen or anything else. By the way, shout out to the video that I did on 20 things your page builder must have in order to be a legit page builder.

I would highly recommend you go watch that if you haven’t. If you’re looking for a page builder, if you want to know why I use page builders like Bricks and Oxygen, then definitely go watch that video. But whatever page builder you happen to use, make sure that’s installed on your Blueprint website. Make sure that it is set up and configured the way that you like, right? What is the website max width that you like?

What is the, all these page builders have a bunch of settings. And then of course, if you use automatic CSS, which we’re gonna cover in a minute, you want your page builder set up, configured to work properly with automatic CSS and vice versa. All of that stuff should be set up out of the gate so that when a new project comes along literally all you have to do is clone your blueprint site to a new URL and you’re off to the races.

You don’t have to go in, I see developers, I see agencies and freelancers, they get a new project, they spin up a clean WordPress install and then they start installing plugins and putting in license keys and then configuring said what are you doing? What are you doing? You’re wasting time. That’s so inefficient Make a blueprint site that has all this stuff ready to go when I get a new project Literally our team go they click a button they type in the name of the new project The whole thing is set up and ready for action. We can immediately get started on our work We’re not duplicating our work over and over and over again. Say, oh, we’re going to install these by hand. We’re going to put in all the license keys again. We’re, no, no, that’s so inefficient.

Stop doing that. Create a blueprint website, rock and roll with that blueprint. You’re looking at our exact blueprint website right here. All right, so this is our plugin stack. Number one is Admin Columns Pro. This is not a plugin that I would say is essential for you. So if you’re like, Kevin, what are the essential plugins? This is not essential, and this was not on my list last year. However, it is a very good quality of life plugin, and it’s one of those plugins where when you have a project that’s a larger project, well, really, it’s one of those plugins that after you’ve kind of used it, you miss it if it’s not there, but especially on projects that are larger.

For example, we have clients that might have dozens of service area pages, right? A dozen service pages, for example. A lot of just normal pages, okay? Let me explain what Admin Columns Pro does. I’m gonna click on Services right here, this is a custom post type. And by the way, on your Blueprint website, like I said, this is my Blueprint site, right? We have a Services custom post type already set up.

We have a Reviews custom post type already set up. Why? Because we work with service based businesses. Every project that we tackle is going to need a services custom post type. It’s going to have reviews and testimonials. These things are already pre-configured for us. We don’t have to do this over and over and over again. We’re looking for efficiency. Okay, so services. You see here title, featured image, permalink.

These are not the default columns that you see in WordPress. I think you see date, author. Well, guess what? Date and author for a service custom post type are completely irrelevant pieces of information. I would rather see relevant information when I’m looking at these pages at a glance. I can even put SEO columns in here. Not only can I see relevant data because of Admin Columns Pro, and I’m going to hop over here right here, Settings, Admin Columns. You’re going to see here, we are on the Services Custom Post site. You can control the columns of data that you see on all these different bases right here.

I’m going to choose Services. Here’s my title, featured image, permalink, but let’s say I wanted to add a column. So I go up here, look at this. I can add SEO details, title, description. I can see custom field data. So let’s say that I have some custom fields for these service pages, and I want to be able to see what values we’ve put in for those specific custom fields.

I can absolutely do that. Look at this entire list of stuff that you can add to your columns right here. So I’m going to go back to our services area. Right now I’m only showing two things, but you could literally show five things, 10 things here. Whatever fits in this amount of space. And the key here, it’s not just about seeing data at a glance. Actually, before I tell you the secret, in order to see that data, typically, like let’s say this had custom fields, and I’m like, what are the values that we put in for those custom fields. Well, guess what?

I got to open the post. I got to wait for it to load. And then I got to scroll down to where the custom fields are and actually look at them physically, look at them inside of the page or post. Then I got to go back and then I’m like, all right, well, let’s wait for it to load. All right. What, what about the next one? Okay. Click into the next one. Now go look at that one. You cannot see things at a glance in WordPress. And it’s very frustrating with admin columns pro. I can see the content I want to see at a glance, but not only that, here’s the magic. You can in line edit it.

So let’s say I wanted to edit this permalink right here. I can click the pencil. I can say change. Okay. And look at this, the URL now the slug of that page has been updated in line. I don’t have to open that. If I want to drop a featured image here, look at this. I can drop a new featured image here. I can see the change. I can edit the content without opening the page. When you have a larger project with dozens of pages and posts, this is tremendous efficiency.

So it’s not something you have to have, but if you like efficiency, if you like a better workflow, if you like to not be as frustrated with this outdated WordPress dashboard situation that they’ve got going on, this is the plugin for you. I would highly recommend it, okay? I’m not an affiliate of Admin Columns Pro. In fact, I’ll tell you what I’m an affiliate of and what I’m not an affiliate of as we go through this video.

I want you to know this is my stack because this is my stack. And this is what I’ve decided we need to have as our stack, plain and simple. I’m not doing one of those videos where, oh, well, let’s just tell them all the things we’re an affiliate of and tell them to get those so they can, and that’s not what this is about. I’m literally showing you my stack because that’s what the title of this video is.

All right, so let’s go into plugins again. Next one is Automatic CSS. Am I an affiliate for Automatic CSS? I’m the creator of Automatic CSS. It’s obvious that Automatic CSS would be in my workflow and in our blueprint. We use it on every single website. But it’s not just me, it’s not just us. Automatic CSS has been voted, okay? There’s been many polls in different groups, has been voted time and time and time again as the number one CSS framework for specific WordPress page builders, namely Bricks and Oxygen.

However, Automatic CSS is about to come to Gutenberg, and that’s going to be a complete game changer for Automatic CSS, but for a lot of WordPress users as well. And, you know, with not luck, with hard work, dedication, and a lot of thought and ingenuity, and, you know, everything that we put into Automatic CSS, I believe that Automatic CSS will be the number one framework, CSS framework for Gutenberg as well. And then of course we’ll be coming to other page builders after that.

But automatic CSS is so critical to our team and not just our team, but you can ask pretty much anybody who uses automatic CSS, they will tell you the same thing. It takes about one website build to learn it. And it takes about two website builds or three website builds for some people. Some people are slower than others, all right? Two or three website builds to be addicted to it, to be hooked on it, to basically realize I shouldn’t build a website without automatic CSS ever again.

What it gives you on the color management front, the dynamic responsive typography, fluid responsive spacing, the fact that you build sites with automatic CSS and almost never have to touch the breakpoints. You never have to like go change styles at breakpoints. It is just the consistency. The way that a team can use automatic CSS together and nobody needs to, you know, nobody’s using random values, nobody’s doing stuff that’s like, whoa, why did you do it that way?

You’re staying within the framework of automatic CSS. Everybody knows the language of automatic CSS, and it just makes things way more efficient, way easier, way more enjoyable, way more consistent, way more maintainable and scalable, very, very important things for any agency or freelancer to be thinking about, stuff that I teach on this channel all the time. It’s just invaluable. Automatic CSS is invaluable.

The users of Automatic CSS will tell you that it’s invaluable. There’s a reason it gets consistently voted number one. There’s a reason so many people talk about it and recommend it. So if you’re not an Automatic CSS user, two things I’ll say, and I’m not going to go into it. I’m not going to show you all the things because here’s the deal. I use Automatic CSS in every video on this channel. Every time I show development, I’m using automatic CSS to some degree. Automatic CSS has its own YouTube channel. You can go there right now, watch all the automatic CSS videos you want, see all of the ways that it’s going to help your workflow.

So I’m not going to cover all that stuff in this video. I’m just showing the stack and explaining why these items are here and a little bit about what they do. All right, so number two is automatic CSS. Number three is frames. Frames, am I an affiliate for frames? No, I’m also the creator of frames. Frames is an add-on or like a sister product for Automatic CSS. And what it does, and it’s yet another invaluable part of our stack, we’ve been using it for months now.

And I will say this, when we were creating frames, we thought, well, this could be invaluable, but will it really be invaluable was the question, you know, the concept, this could be invaluable, but how is it, how are we going to execute on it? And then when we actually start using it, is the concept going to bear fruit? Like, is it really going to turn out that this is invaluable? Well, it turns out it’s more invaluable than we expected it to be. And that’s saying a lot because I had high expectations. It’s more valuable to workflow than we expected it to be. The amount of margin we have gained on every single project, the amount of extra revenue that we’re able to bill in, is just, this is a, I hate using the word game changer because people overuse it, but Frames is a game changer.

I think the people who use Frames will also tell you that it’s a game changer. But what it basically allows you to do is rapidly wireframe a website directly inside of a page builder like Bricks or Oxygen. And I can show you here, you know, we can go to a page and I can show you how easy it is to drop things in. Well, I don’t even know what Bricks 81 is. Let’s just open that. Okay, it’s just a blank page. So I’m going to go to templates, remote templates. This is the frames library right here. You can see that it’s a pretty extensive library and thankfully you can sort it right. So I can say hey I’m at the top of my page. I haven’t added anything yet. What would it make sense for me to add? Well a header if I want to add a header. Okay that’s easy there’s a lot of headers you can add. But I’m on a page right. What would what would be first? A hero section. Okay so what I’ll do is I’ll go down to hero sections and then we’ll just take a look at what my options are. All right.

So I’m going to come in and I am going to choose. How about this one right here? We’ll insert Juliet. I’ll say import images contains a theme style. That’s perfectly fine. And there you go right there. So I’ve got a hero section with three featured images here. It’s fully responsive. Everything works the way that you would expect we build these frames with the highest standard of HTML 5 Compliance we focus heavily on accessibility So not only are you able to quickly wireframe a page out? I’ve shown wireframing a page in five to ten minutes right stuff that would take you two three hours By hand in Figma you can do inside of bricks coming soon to Gutenberg, perhaps coming to Oxygen.

You can do this in five to 10 minutes. Wireframe out a page, charge money for that wireframe. You’ve already got 75% of the development done at that point. So once a page is wireframed out, 75% of the development is done. The only thing left to do is style it, right? So if you want to style it inside the builder, you can do that. If you want to create a design based on your wireframe and Figma, you can do that. We have a wireframe or I’m sorry, we have a Figma add on for frames coming very, very soon that everything that’s available to you inside of the page builder will also be available to you inside of Figma.

That way if you love doing design work in Figma, you can use frames and then go add them inside of bricks or Gutenberg or wherever, and then style them to match how you style them in Figma. Either way, it’s a tremendous workflow advantage. And what you have here is the ability to, almost like you’re using design sets, but without the limitations of design sets. Because design sets, number one, they’re pre-designed. So all your websites are going to look more or less the same, unless you do a lot of work backwards, right, to undo the design and then apply a new design to it, but you’re just doing extra work, extremely inefficient. And then most design sets, what do they do? They style at the ID level.

They don’t care about accessibility. They don’t care about HTML5 compliance. They don’t care about any of these things that we care about with frames. I built frames as a standard tool for my agency. So when I think, you think about the quality that I wanna have in my own agency’s work, that’s what we built Frames for. We built Frames to be able to use it to make our websites faster and better, and then we just sold it, right?

So we said, hey, everybody can get in on this. So it is truly a game changer, and I will say this. When Frames comes to Gutenberg, look out, my friends, look out, right? There is going to be a new player in the market that everybody is going to be paying attention to. It’s going to be frames and you’re going to wish that you had a copy. Now besides just wireframing stuff out and having something that is design ready for you with BIM classes, scalable and maintainable, best practices for you to easily go in and start styling things up, you also have dynamic accessible components. We’ve already released the modal component.

We’ve already released the dynamic table of contents component. We’re working on the carousel component right now. We’re being very aggressive developing these, what we call dynamic accessible components. This extra functionality that you wanna have on your websites, we’re building it better than it’s already been built. So if there’s a native component for it, the frames version is gonna be better.

If there’s a third party that you’re using currently as an add-on, the frames version is gonna be better. We’re focusing on better things under the hood that a lot of others don’t focus on, just like we did with the frames themselves, just like we’ve done with automatic CSS. A lot of forward thinking goes into these products that you just are not gonna find in the alternatives. And so like I said, if you don’t own a copy of frames yet, you’re going to want to copy my friend. I’m telling you that right now. So let me get back to my plug-in stack.

All right, so we’re going to go back here, and we’re going to go to plugins. All right, Happy Files Pro. Am I an affiliate of Happy Files Pro? I don’t think so. I might be, but I don’t know. Again, that’s not the point of the video. Happy Files Pro is another not necessary, not essential plugin like automatic CSS and frames, they’re in the essential category. We don’t build websites without those. Happy Files Pro is another quality of life plugin. Happy Files Pro allows you to organize your media gallery. So you can create these folders over here. These folders, they can behave like actual folders where you can put one image in a folder, it can’t be in multiple folders.

Or these folders can behave like tags where one image can be in multiple folders. Okay, so you’re organizing however you choose, which is fantastic. So there’s not a lot of limitations there. You can nest folders in other folders, which is also fantastic. And the really big benefit here is, I think while it was designed initially for the media gallery, it’s not confined to the media gallery. So I’m going to go to settings, happy files, and you’re going to see here that I can actually organize almost anything inside of WordPress with Happy Files Pro.

So if I wanted to categorize or folderize all of my services for my custom post type, I could do that. If I wanted to categorize my reviews, I can do that. And now guys, here’s the real benefit of this, not just organization on the backend. This is phenomenal. And by the way, Happy Files was created by the same developer who developed Bricks Builder. So that gives you any indication of the quality that is there.

But here’s the great thing, and their forward thinking over at Bricks, I like the way that they think, I like the way that they do things, I give them a lot of props. You can query on your website. You can query from happy files folders. So if you’ve got data like images in a happy files folder and you’re creating a gallery, just like you could say, hey query from the media gallery, you could say, no, no, no, no, query from a Happy Files folder. It is, that is a real advantage to something like Happy Files Pro. So it’s not essential, but it’s really, really, really powerful.

We put it on every single website. It’s not, you know, it’s not a deal breaker. If you don’t have it, you can get by without it, I’m sure. I’ve built a lot of websites in the past without Happy Files Pro. But once we’ve had it, you get kind of spoiled with some of these plugins, right? And if you start working on a site and it’s like, you don’t have Happy Files? Well, you don’t have Happy Files. I’m not liking this so much now, right? You really want it to be there. So Happy Files Pro, highly recommended.

Let’s go back to our plugins list here. MetaBox AIO. One is the free version, and then this one gives you all the pro tools that go along with it. So there is a freebie version of this, a freemium model. We have the LTD, I believe, for MetaBox AIO. And this allows you, if I just scroll down here, you can kind of see, allows you to create your custom post types.

So the services, reviews, those are all created with MetaBox. And then it allows you to create custom fields and assign those custom fields to your custom post types, which starts to make your WordPress install very, very powerful. I’ve done a lot of trainings on custom post types. And then also custom taxonomies, which is fantastic. So your categories and tags, creating custom category groups, custom tag groups, assigning those to specific areas of your website, very powerful.

But then on top of all of that, you have bi-directional relationships built in. So in my old video, I talked about advanced custom fields. I talked about custom post type UI, two different plugins that you need to accomplish this job. And then you need an additional plugin if you wanna use bi-directional relationships. What’s a bi-directional relationship? Very, very powerful.

Let’s say I have services and I have reviews, and I did a whole video on different bi-directional relationships that you may wanna set up. But this is just one example. So services and reviews. Let’s say you have five different services and then you got all these reviews over here. When you’re building out your services pages, let’s say you have service A and it’s like you know we want to show testimonials, reviews on the service page, but we don’t want to show random testimonials like it doesn’t make sense for a testimonial for service B to show up on the sales page for service A.

That doesn’t jive, there’s a disconnect there right? It doesn’t help our sales pitch. What would help our sales pitch is if someone’s looking at service A, they only see reviews for service A. Well, that’s where a bidirectional relationship comes in. You can go into all of your reviews that are associated with service A and tie them together in the database and say, hey, these reviews right here should show up, they’re attached to service A. Or you could do it the other way. This is why it’s called bidirectional.

You can go into service A and say these are the reviews that we want to associate with service A and then when you’re building your page you can create your queries to query the bi-directional relationship so rather than querying all testimonials you can query only testimonials that are associated with service A very very powerful stuff a little bit advanced but this is what pros do this is how pros think and if you want to be a pro you got to act like a pro. And you got to think like a pro. Thankfully, I teach you this stuff. I’ve done videos on this stuff before on this channel.

So if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you need to take a trip back into the archives, find those videos on custom post types and bidirectional relationships, and watch them and get up to speed and then start doing this stuff on your own site. And then you’re going to realize, oh, this MetaBox thing, kind of valuable, right? MetaBox works flawlessly with oxygen, flawlessly with bricks, really, really fantastic and helpful. And then if push comes to shove and you need to show custom field type content, queries, things like that, with a builder that doesn’t necessarily have the right functionality built in, MetaBox has something called views where you can actually build out custom views for that data that you are managing and I’ve said this time and time again guys WordPress is a custom, I almost said custom, CMS a content management system. If you’re not using WordPress to manage content properly why are you using WordPress? So for example I just audited a website.

They’ve got services, they’ve got products, they’ve got this, they’ve got that. Everything was listed as a page in the website. Absolute nightmare. This is not content management, my friends. Custom post types, custom fields, custom taxonomies, bi-directional relationships, that’s content management. That’s using a CMS to its full capabilities. Dropping everything in as a page, dropping everything in as a post, you don’t know what you’re doing, right?

This is not content management. So stop doing that, go back in the archives, watch my videos on this stuff, learn the right way to do this, and then you’ll understand the power and the necessity, had trouble finding that word, the necessity of something like MetaBox, okay? And why you would wanna pay, because I don’t even know what the cost is these days.

MetaBox, WordPress, let’s see, I don’t even know what their website is. So you go over to, here you go. Let’s go over to their pricing. So personal plans, agency, I’d look at the agency plans here. Unlimited websites, 229 a year or 699 lifetime. A lot of people would look at that and say, oh, oh, they’re getting heartburn, right? Guys, this is nothing, nothing compared to the amount of money you’re gonna make putting this kind of thought and detail into the websites and pricing accordingly for your websites.

And if you’re not pricing accordingly for your websites, yet again, you need to take a trip back into the archives. You need to find my videos on pricing, right? And sales and all that good stuff. And up your game in those areas so that when you look at a price like this on a tool, you’re like, Oh, that’s a drop in the bucket. My friends, um, you, you should not see this as any sort of expense whatsoever, especially, especially if you’re doing the proper thing and doing website management plans for all of your clients. Every client that you have should be on a website management plan, paying you monthly or annually for hosting, for management of the website. And part of that fee, my friends, is to pay for all of the third party tools that you use and that you need in order to build their sites, which is a lot better than them having to buy all of their own licenses for these tools.

You shouldn’t be making your clients buy all of their own licenses unless they decline your management plan. But if they enlist in your management plan, your clients are paying for all of the tools, guys. I don’t wanna hear any more objections to price, or subscriptions, or anything else. These costs need to be passed on to your clients, because they would need to buy these tools anyway, okay? It makes sense and it’s easier for them to just pay you a management fee, and then you spread out the cost of these tools across all of your clients and I guarantee you each client individually is paying less than they otherwise would pay if they bought all the tools themselves and everybody wins. You don’t have to fret and cry and moan and complain about subscriptions or or third-party tool prices anymore. Your client doesn’t have to whine and complain about it because they can all afford a management plan.

I guarantee you these things are not that expensive, right? So do it the right way and the numbers don’t matter anymore. We can all quit complaining and worrying about it. Okay, let’s move on. Let’s get off my soapbox and away from meta box and let’s get on to the next thing. Perf matters. This was not in my plugin list last year. I think I had Flying Press in my plugin list last year. I’ve gotten rid of Flying Press. I much prefer, prefer Perfmatters, okay?

This is getting very terrible. I will be here all night, but you guys probably don’t want me to be here all night at this point. All right, so as you can see right here, Perfmatters is a lightweight performance plugin developed to speed up your word sites. I’m gonna go into settings right here and look at all of the things that you can do very just easily like toggle switchy kind of workflow to speed up your website.

Now this is kind of the basics right here. Then we get into assets over here. Now we’re talking right? Deferring JavaScript, you can exclude certain things, you can delay scripts. I’ll do a video, I’m planning already on doing a video on how to optimize a WordPress website. But Perfmatters, I’m finding it, man, it’s all I need. It’s all I need. You wanna get those green lights on PageSpeed Insights, you wanna get your websites faster, you wanna make sure that everything is optimized as much as possible, Perfmatters is pretty much all I need at this point.

It is a paid tool, I don’t know how much it costs. Let’s go Perfmatters. It’s not expensive guys. And again, why do I not know how much these things cost? Because I don’t care. I don’t care about the cost. I don’t pay for the tools. My clients pay for the tools. Pricing. Okay, $125 a year. It’s a little more than I thought it was going to be. Again, I don’t know the price because I don’t what it is. Three site plan you can get it for 55 bucks a year or 25 bucks for one site. Again this stuff the prices don’t matter all right it does not you do this stuff correctly you set up your agency or your business correctly this stuff does not matter. It’s a drop in the bucket especially for what you get right because think about this guys you don’t have to do speed optimization by default for every website that you do. Why don’t you upsell that as a service?

Why don’t you say, hey, look, listen, we’re gonna build the cleanest, most efficient website that we can possibly do because that’s what we do here. We care about code quality. We care about website speed. But I’m just gonna be honest with you. We load up the website with a bunch of stuff like Google Analytics, that help scout icon that you wanted, all these other features and functionality, these things don’t always play nice with Google and PageSpeed unless we do a lot of extra optimization work. Well guess what? We can’t do all that optimization work for free, right? So if you want to pass Core Web Vitals, for example, here’s our optimization package. It’s XYZ dollars, you add it on, we’ll do it. Do you think, let me go back here, do you think $124.95 per year for unlimited websites, do you think I should care about that number at all when I can charge $1,200 for one website optimization package?

Do you think I should care about this price at all? No, no, no, nobody, no. Stop being, what do they call it, penny rich, pound foolish? Is that the saying? Give me all the sayings you can think of where people focus on the wrong numbers and they don’t see the big picture, okay? Again, I’m ranting, but I can’t take it anymore. I can’t take, oh, that’s too much.

Oh, I don’t want a subscription. Oh, like, oh, I’m tired of you not pricing your projects the right way. And so you’re actually worried about these numbers. You’re not paying these numbers if you do it right, okay? So just start doing it right and then we can all stop complaining. All right, so Perfmatters, fantastic, fantastic. Replaced, hands down, Flying Press for me. Okay, next one, RankMath.

Again, these are a two in one. So RankMath has a free version, but there’s also a pro version. Do you need the pro version? There’s a lot of, first of all, let’s have this conversation. I don’t have anything against SEO press. I don’t have anything against any other number of SEO plugins, Yoast, or whatever you wanna, you know, bring up as like, oh, this is my SEO plugin.

Okay, they’re all more or less the same. First thing we need to get out of the way is these plugins don’t make you an SEO. This is not about getting green lights on Yoast or RankMath because they all have their little rating scales, they all scan pages and content, they all tell you how well your content is optimized. No, none of that matters whatsoever. What these plugins exist to do are a few specific things. of pages, manage the meta description of pages, schema, okay that’s a big one we need to talk about that in just a second, redirections, let’s in fact let’s pull this up so settings or I think it has its own thing, rank math, general settings, okay breadcrumbs, that would be another one if you’re if you’re using breadcrumbs, getting your robots.txt edited, so there’s a lot of technical stuff that just doesn’t exist inside of WordPress by default that these plugins add for you.

A 404 monitor, the redirections is a big one. What it eventually comes down to is the UX. So how good is the experience of managing SEO with any given plugin? I think Rank Math blows something like Yoast SEO out of the water. But then there’s other things like I’m gonna go to let’s go to the dashboard maybe yeah so look at all these modules that I can activate or deactivate and when we look at something like s with Rank Math Pro so image SEO local SEO is a big one right think about multi locate if you’re doing a multi-location local service business but Rank Math Pro can. Your site maps, the settings that you are able to enable or disable related to your site map and then we get into schema, right? The ability to create custom schema templates and assign those to different areas, not just have schema presets. If you really know what you’re doing with SEO, these tools are basically a means to an end. You could do all of this stuff by hand, but it just comes down to what is the user experience like and what are the limitations or non-limitations of each individual plugin.

I’ve settled on RankMath. I like RankMath Pro. I recommend this. But I will be upfront and honest that I don’t use every SEO plugin every single month or every single year. I’m not up on the latest of what SEO Press is doing or what any of these other plugins are doing. I’ve settled with RankMath. I love it. It doesn’t have any limitations as far as my workflow goes. And so I just stopped thinking about it. I’m like, I just chose it. I use it.

We all know it. We all like it. We don’t have to think about this any further. So I’m not saying that RankMath is hands down the number one SEO plugin for web. I’m not saying any of that. I’m just saying, this is what we use. This is what we recommend. And I’ll be honest and upfront, I don’t try all of them. I don’t use all of them.

So I can’t rank them. I can’t rank them. RankMath, okay. We’re just, we’re hitting all the puns tonight. All right, back to plugins. Short Pixel Image Optimizer. This one is like, it’s kind of what I just said with RankMath. There’s a lot of image optimization plugins. I’ve settled on ShortPixel.

One thing that I did not find in some of the other plugins was the ability to resize images on the fly. So for example, with ShortPixel, I can say, ShortPixel, if me or a client, but we don’t really let clients edit websites, but me or another person on the team, if they go wacko and they upload a 3, 3500, 4500 pixel image, something like that, don’t just accept that image, okay? Take that image and make it 1920 pixels max. Don’t let any image get onto this website bigger than 1920 pixels.

So I’m able to resize on the fly. The optimization is very, very good. I can have a different API key for every single website. And this is something that we’re able to build into our management plan as an option, by the way. Do you want image optimization? Because we have to pay for this, you know? It costs us credits. So it makes sense that the client would have to pay for it too.

We highly recommend it. For, you know, at a base level, we make it mandatory for the initial site build, but then on an ongoing basis, they don’t just get to keep using our API key, right? It becomes a situation of, well, you got to have a management plan. The management plan, our base plan includes image optimization. But again, it’s a line item in the management plan. So we’re not paying for the image optimization for all of these sites. The client is ultimately paying for the image optimization.

And we have the ability to turn off their ability to optimize images with short pixels from the short pixel dashboard if need be. I don’t know why I really mentioned that because it’s never happened. It’s really not even that important. You could literally just log into the website and turn off their access, but it does have the benefit of giving you multiple API keys. The other thing makes it very easy. You tick this box right here, automatically will create WebP versions of all of your images.

And then look, deliver next generation versions of images in the front end. So what ShortPixel will do is it’ll say, hey, does this browser support next gen images? Yes, serve the next gen images. No, serve the JPEGs or the PNGs or whatever. It also has the ability to optimize PNGs, convert PNGs to JPEG if they don’t have a transparent background. There’s a lot of stuff that you can do with this that is really good for image optimization, image management, all that good stuff. I’m not going to save anything that I just did. I’m going to go back. But that is ShortPixel. Are there other plugins that do it? Yes, there are other plugins that do it. Are there other plugins that are better than ShortPixel? Couldn’t tell you. Couldn’t tell you.

I’m sure there may be, right? But what I do know is I looked at a few, some of them had limitations, ShortPixel did not have the same limitations, therefore I implemented ShortPixel. We all like ShortPixel. ShortPixel does not give us any problems. There’s no reason for me to go investigate any other image optimization plugins. This is just what we use and we recommend, all right?

Next up is WP Grid Builder. Again a two for one. So WP Grid Builder is an interesting one. This was on my last one. Short Pixel also on my last video. Rank Math also on my last video. So if you’re interested in plugins that have survived the test of time, Rank Math, Short Pixel, WP Grid Builder, these ones that I’m talking about right here are right in the thick of it. WP Grid Builder though is interesting because I don’t use it for its main intended purpose. Its main intended purpose is building grids of data and querying things and I used to actually need that you know back in the day. Oxygen for example. Oxygen cannot there the repeater cannot query categories for example. Well if you need to query categories and oxygen can’t do it, what can? Well, turns out WP Grid Builder can absolutely do that.

So that’s kind of what its main thing is. And if we go to the WP Grid Builder website,, we can kind of show you this, right? So we’ll just go to the demos. So we can go to a blog demo, for example. All right, so you see these blog cards. These are all kind of like preset things that are available to you, grids of cards inside of WP Grid Builder. All this functionality, you can customize this easy, the pagination, all of that good stuff.

The facets right here, right? All this is part of WP Grid Builder. One that really I’ve used many, many, many times. These dynamic maps, right? With the pins, and then this data that’s showing up on this map overlay is actually queried from these posts over here. And you can see that they interact with each other. Wow, that’s some pretty fantastic functionality. I use this on many large client sites, really, really impresses the clients.

We don’t have to do any custom back-end development work for this, WP Grid Builder does this stuff out of the box. Absolutely, but here’s the thing, this grid right here, what if I could build this grid with a bricks query loop so I don’t have to use WP Grid Builders grid and cards for this, I can use my own cards and make my own grid, but I still want these facets. I still want this map. I still want my bricks query loop, my BRICS grid, my custom cards to interact with this map.

Oh, I can still do all of that, my friends, because if we look here, you’re gonna see the WP Grid Builder has a BRICS add-on. WP Grid Builder has an Oxygen add-on. We can create our own queries custom and still have the power of fastening, and still have the power of dynamic max and all that good stuff. I mean, look at this on the e-commerce side of things, right? I mean, the ability to choose product styles, to show more, to sort by brand, to do a price range, to do different ratings, show me what is associated with what color, right?

And then I’m dynamically doing this Ajax style search fields. I’ve used the search for WP Grid Builder. Just the faceting alone and they don’t really market the faceting. I don’t know why. Go to features up here. I don’t really see, you know, their integrations. Okay, they talk about advanced filtering system but they don’t really have a like that should be front and center because it is like the most powerful part of WP grid builder. There are faceting plugins like facet WP and stuff. WP grid builder doesn’t even market their facets very well. Their facets blow all those things out of the water. So we use WP grid builder primarily for the faceting functionality. The ability, by the way, guys to create, let me show you this WP grid builder.

Here it is grid builder right here. I always look for WP, but I forget it’s attached to the end right there. Go to all facets. Watch this create a facet guys. You don’t even, you’re aren’t even stuck with like the, you’re out of the box facet options. You can create your own filter. Say I want it to be a radio filter, and this is what I want it to filter. Right? I can go down and say I want to filter happy files categories. I can filter with this custom facet that I’m making. I can isolate it by parent terms or exclude terms. I can choose to show children, show empty choices, show a choice count. I can select the number of choices it’ll sort by. I can create a complicated facet that would take hours of development time to do this by hand.

I can create it in seconds, hit save, go drop it into a page using a short code, tell it which query loop I want it to interact with, and it all does this stuff on the fly, like that. You don’t have to know anything about coding. Go do that with Facet WP and tell me how user-friendly it is, okay? Unless they’ve made some changes recently, I’ll just give you a little you know cliff notes it ain’t it ain’t user friendly. So WP Grid Builder for the facets alone is why this is still in our lineup even though we don’t use the cards we don’t use the grids we don’t use anything else we only use the facets. Okay back to plugins. All right please load thank you. WP CodeBox all right I’ve done a whole video on WP Codebox as well. So what do we use WP Codebox for?

Well, we use it for adding all of that pesky, you know, integration code that you need to add to the header of your site or the footer of your site. Yes, it manages all of that stuff. Functions.php, it manages all of that. But really, really, really what we use it for is writing Sass inside of WordPress. The ability to come over here, so we have a default global style sheet, which is blank. And notice it’s a SaaS sheet, how to render the SaaS.

And then what we can do is an auto reload change. Actually, it should be checked. I need to check that. Let’s just go ahead and save. Okay, so auto reload changes is checked, which means I can have this open in this window and I can have my website or builder open in this window and as I write Sass it live compiles the Sass and I can instantly see the changes on the other side without reloading the page over and over and over and over again. The amount of power number one in being able to write Sass inside of WordPress if you don’t know Sass is like CSS with superpowers that’s kind of how I explain it to people but not just the ability to write SaaS directly in WordPress, the ability to live see your changes as you do it without reloading the page is just really, really, really powerful stuff.

So now aside from that, the other really unique feature of this is you can save snippets, style sheets, anything you want to the cloud, which means that let’s say you have a hundred different websites that you manage and you come up with this brand new WordPress snippet that you’re like wow this is really important like for example custom source set image sizes. We define all of our custom image sizes so on every single website when we upload an image WordPress generates all these size versions okay really great for source set obviously if you don’t know anything about source set yet another reason you need to dig into the archives, you need to find my video on source set. You need to watch it. You need to get up to speed with it. Very, very important stuff. Here is the code for rendering all of these different image sizes.

Well, let’s say we have a hundred different websites. Should we take that code and say copy and then go to every single site and paste and paste and paste and paste, no, should not do that. What we should do, thanks to WP CodeBox, is add that snippet to our cloud library and then every website, all we have to do is go in and say import from cloud, import from cloud, import from cloud, and it imports it and then we’re ready and we’re good to go. So really, really good when you’re starting a new project.

You have a whole library of snippet functionality, header stuff, footer stuff, whatever you want to be in there. Certain style sheets and you could say for this project I want that one and that one and that one and that one but I want to name the others and it just imports them into your site. You don’t have to copy paste, you don’t have to think about it, you don’t have to store these elsewhere. It’s just really really phenomenal stuff. So WP Codebox 100%, one of those tools that I just, we cannot live without. It’s got to be on every single website. Alright back to our plugins list. Last but not least, WSForm Pro. I’ve said time and time again, I maintain this. This is a plugin that was in my list last year.

This is the best forms plugin for WordPress, hands down. People will argue, they will say, Fluent Forms is better, WP Forms is better. This is better. You know why they say those things? Because they have used those things, but they haven’t used all the things. They haven’t used WS Form. They haven’t used a lot of them. They’re comfortable with the one that they’re saying is the best, but they haven’t used them all.

I told you a minute ago when it came to something like Rank Math, when it came to something like Short Pixel, I said, you know, there’s other options out there that do this. And frankly, I haven’t really used them. So I don’t know all of their limitations. I don’t stay up to speed on them. Well, guess what, my friends, I’ve used all the other ones for forms. So when I say WSForm Pro is the best, it’s because I’ve used every one of the others that people are gonna try to insist are the best. The question is, have those people used WSForm?

Have they used all of the options? And by the way, it’s not just preference. I figured out a long time ago when I first started using WSForm, because what would happen is, I would just be getting along with it and I’d be like yeah this is good it’s good it’s good it’s good it’s good maybe it’s the best one I don’t know it’s good but then a client would come along and they would say we need XYZ and I’m like mmm that’s that’s a little complicated let me get back to you on that okay and then I would go investigate and I’d be like, womp, womp, do I have it?

There it is. Womp, womp. It turns out fluent forms can’t do that. It turns out gravity forms can’t do that out of the box. It turns out WP forms can’t do that out of the box. So I keep looking and I’m like, oh, this is WS form pro. And you know, I’ll be honest with you, websites not super flashy, okay? You know, it looks basic on the web, so it’s a basic website.

It doesn’t really make you wanna get it, right? It’s not screaming modern, it’s not screaming advanced, it’s not screaming like, okay, so you get the point, right? But I download, I give it a shot, and I’m like, ooh, it can do it. It can do that advanced thing the client wanted, it can do it. It can do it out of the box. Then you start to realize, because you put in maybe a few support tickets asking how to do this or that, and you start to realize, oh, this support is really, really, really good.

Like, they respond like that, and they help tremendously. It’s not, you’re not just getting, you know, boilerplate responses. You’re getting legit support. Like, they are helping you solve the problem that you are facing. And then, and then, you start using WSForm long enough, and you start running into things where you’re like, I just don’t know if WSForm can do this, I don’t see it really in the documentation, I’m not really sure. You reach out, and they’re like, oh, it can do that, here’s how you do it, right?

And then there’s been times where it legit didn’t do something, and I was like, you know what, I really wish WSForm would do this. And I told Mark, Mark’s the owner of WSForm. Told Mark, I’m like, I really wish it could do this. And he’s like, you’re right, it should do that. And then I’m like, all right, well, you know, it’s like any other plugin. It’s like, there’s probably some like feature request list I gotta go add it to. And then we’ll wait months and months and months.

Maybe it’ll happen, maybe it won’t. Literally wake up the next day and there’s a file in my inbox, I try this version. Like he just makes it for you overnight, adds the functionality and it’s like here. And then I load it up and it’s like, oh wow, it works. It’s good to go. Like this is phenomenal. This is an experience you are not going to get with other form systems. It is when it comes to advanced functionality, and by the way, making advanced functionality easy is also something WSForm does.

So when I say advanced functionality, advanced forms, advanced use cases, I’m not saying hard. I’m not saying that there’s a mountain of a learning curve involved here. It’s really makes it very easy to do this stuff. But when I say it’s more advanced than any other form builder, it’s not blowing smoke. It’s not being any other word that you want to use or terms you want to use. I have not run into something that WS Form just can’t do.

And I’ve done a lot of really advanced things with forms for clients. WS Form just performs over and over and over again where other form systems that people try to claim are the best, failed. And failed miserably. And failed fast, okay? So I roll with WSForm. I roll with WSForm. That was stupid.

I roll with WSForm. I promote WSForm every chance I get cause it’s the best. Okay? And that concludes, good thing it concludes cause we’re getting a little loopy here. That concludes my WordPress plugin stack for 2023. If you have any questions, drop them down below.

If, here’s the big if, if you want me to cover my whole tools stack, like let’s go outside of WordPress, or let’s go into hosting, let’s go into this area or that area, accounting, I don’t care what it is. If you wanna see other stacks, let me know down below what stack you wanna see. And I will do a video on it. I will show you all the other tools that I use for various purposes and, and, and situations, no problem whatsoever, but I’m not just going to make them unless you want them.

So if you want them, drop a comment and you got to pay with a like, okay. If you found this video valuable, or maybe you were like, ah, it wasn’t really valuable, but it was entertaining, whatever. Hit the like button, pay with a like, help us get this channel to grow even faster in 2023. We’ve done some phenomenal things. We just passed 8,000 subscribers. We need to pass 10,000. We need to pass 25,000. We need to pass 50,000.

We’ve got to get to where these other channels are because you know this content. This is, you know, look at the web design for dummies that I do. Look at the digital agency table talk. Look at the detail on all the training videos that I do. And tell me, what other channel is doing it better? What other channel is giving more value? If you know of another channel that’s giving more value than this one, I would love for you to send it to me.

Say, Kevin, this guy’s kicking your ass. This guy is doing it way better than you. Send me that channel. Or it could be a girl, I don’t care. This girl’s doing it way better than you. Send me the channel that’s doing it better. I want to know. I want to go study. I want to go see what they’re up to. Okay. But I feel like we’re doing a lot here. We’re giving a tremendous amount of value. So we’ve got to get our subscriber count to reflect that. You guys already kick ass and take names when it comes to commenting. The engagement on the videos is tremendous. The likes on the videos is tremendous. We’ve got to get these videos in the hands of more people though.

We’ve got to get that subscriber count way higher than it currently is. And that’s a big goal that I have in 2023. I’m not going to get there unless you guys help me. You got to help me do it. OK. So with that said, drop your comments. Let me know what stack you want to see next. If you have questions about this stack, I’m happy to answer them. That’s it for me. I am out.