Hard to imagine but over 35% of websites run on WordPress. Due to this popularity, it is also estimated that there are around 50,000 WordPress plugins. How to choose from such a huge variety? Which WordPress plugins are the best for your site and will not slow down or limit it in any way?
In this post we will go over 9 plugins you should consider when you are running a WordPress site.
1. Yoast SEO
It never hurts to add some more SEO power to your website. So, it’s no wonder that Yoast SEO is one of the most popular WordPress plugins out there. With key features for optimizing content and improving search engine rankings, it is indeed an essential WordPress plugin.
Yoast focuses on helping you use the best SEO practices to drive more traffic and get more visitors. It offers an all-in-one solution for your website’s SEO needs. It analyzes the website’s readability, provides improvement guidelines, and also helps you optimize your copy with keywords and meta-descriptions. Popular features of this WordPress plugin include optimization for social media, sitemaps, meta tags, and Google Search Console connections.
Yoast SEO helps you make the most of your website content, increasing retention rates. It also automatically detects any broken links or changes in URLs and creates auto-redirects.
- Checks webpage readability by analyzing complexity, sentence length, connecting words
- Optimizes website content and forms for keywords, key phrases, and related keywords
- Analyzes internal and external links and suggests additional links
- Helps search engines retrieve information on what your page is about
- Snippet editor that offers a Google, social media, and mobile page preview
- Solves the issue of duplicate content by letting you indicate one original URL
- Improves website crawlability for search engines
- Built-in redirect manager to lead visitors to a new page with relevant information
- Indicates which pages need more SEO touch-ups
- Updated for Google algorithms
The Yoast SEO basic WordPress plugin is free. There is also a premium version with additional features available.
2. W3 Total Cache
If you’re looking to improve your website’s page load times, W3 Total Cache is the WordPress plugin for you. It helps increase website performance and visitor retention and offers caching statistics. Page load times and mobile optimization can also help improve your website’s search engine rankings. So, it’s a plugin that should definitely make your list.
W3 Total Cache has great built-in options for beginners. It’s also very user-friendly for advanced WordPress users. It improves web server performance, offers script feed compression and browser caching, and saves bandwidth.
- Reduces page load times with features like content delivery network (CDN) integration
- Improves search engine rankings by optimizing SSL and mobile responsiveness
- Improves website performance up to 10 times
- Optimizes progressive rendering
- Helps web server support more high traffic periods
- Minifies HTML, CSS, and JS files for 80% bandwidth savings
- Compatible with any type of hosting
- Offers support for Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and Secure Socket Layer (SSL)
- Imports attachments directly into Media Library
- Increased website security features
- Reverse proxy integration via Nginx or Varnish
W3 Total Cache is a free WordPress plugin and open-source software. The W3 Total Cache Pro version, with additional features, is $99 per year.
Backing up your WordPress site is one step you should never skip. So, while you’re at it why not enlist the help of a user-friendly WordPress backup plugin? BackupGuard can help you backup your website, as well as restore and clone it almost instantly. It’s an essential WordPress plugin because it can safeguard your content from any unfortunate errors or crashes and even hackers.
It offers one-click solutions for immediate website backup and restores options from any point in time. Its WordPress site migration option simplifies migration when you change your domain or server. For website backup, you can choose to do it only locally or also add it to a cloud-like Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive.
It also offers monitoring and security features for WordPress based websites.
- Designed with WordPress websites in mind and optimized for them
- Offers easy migrating solutions when you change domains or servers
- Cloud backup options
- Automatic and scheduled backup features
- Optimized for backup restore
- Includes archiving solutions
- Uses little CPU and RAM and offers a background running mode option
- Backup and restore processes are performed in chunks to avoid interruptions
The BackupGuard free plan includes one website backup and restores and uploads to the Dropbox cloud. The Silver Plan, for up to 2 websites, is $25/year. There are also options for up to 5 websites (Gold Plan at $35/year) and an unlimited number of websites at $99/year
4. iThemes Security
Since we’re on the subject of essential steps you should ensure you are covering for your WordPress website, security is a top issue.
The iThemes WordPress plugin is specifically designed by security experts for this platform. It’s easy to install and use and protects your website from nasty hackers. This plugin prevents security breaches and has features to block out malware or unauthorized access.
Among its useful protection features, the iThemes plugin limits the number of failed login attempts allowed per user and sends you to file change email alerts. It can be especially useful to know when someone is attempting to add, remove, or change a file on your WordPress site. The plugin also detects 404 errors generated by bots that may be scanning your site to find vulnerabilities. You can even set your time limit for blocking out a potential bot IP.
iThemes also works to improve your password security, hides the WordPress dashboard during specific hours, changes the default login URL to throw hackers off, and features database backups.
- Easy to use
- Instantly bans bad users and specific IP addresses
- Changes the login and admin URLs and the WordPress salts and keys
- Email notifications for file changes
- Database backup options
- Removes login error messages
- Forces SSL for any page
- Reduces the volume of comment spam
- Features user-friendly security logs and file permission checks
- Includes malware scan options
The iThemes WordPress plugin has a limited free version and three pro options:
- Gold for $199/year (unlimited number of sites)
- Small Business for $127/year (10 sites)
- Blogger for $80/year (1 site).
5. Google XML Sitemaps
Your website’s ranking is utterly important and affected by how friendly your website is to search engine crawlers. The Google XML Sitemap plugin for WordPress is essential because it can upgrade your site’s SEO by improving how search engines to index its pages.
When Google, Bing, and other search engine crawlers see your website’s entire structure they can easily get their info and read it. This, in turn, will impact how well your website does in search engine results. The Google XML Sitemaps plugin does not affect your page load or response times. It is a simple and effective tool to add to your WordPress site.
The Google XML Sitemaps plugin is open-source software and it’s completely free for use on personal or commercial WordPress sites.
Akismet is a pre-installed and essential WordPress plugin for comment spam filtering. Although it comes pre-installed, you will need to activate it to be able to use it. To do this, you need to go to their website and get an API key. Simply click ‘Get a WordPress Key’.
What Akismet does is learn to identify comments and pingback spam using an algorithm. The algorithm is fueled by information from participating websites. So, when they report a particular comment as spam, this WordPress plugin records this information and blocks any similar content in the future.
It has a log that shows what comments have been filtered out. From there, you can manage which comments should stay marked as spam and which can be approved and see their related URLs.
This plugin can save you a lot of time as it filters comments automatically.
The Akismet WordPress plugin is free for personal sites or blogs. For commercial use, it has several monthly or yearly plans. The most popular one, the Plus plan costs $10/month billed yearly. The Enterprise plan designed for larger networks is $50/month billed yearly.
WPForms is an essential WordPress plugin for beginners. It’s a very popular drag-and-drop form builder you can use to create email subscription forms, registration forms for online course platforms, contact or payment forms, donation forms, or any other kind of form you can think of. It’s a great way to make your site more engaging.
It’s a very user-friendly plugin. It has very adaptable form-building features that are optimized for mobile and desktop. On top of that, you can use WPForms to run customer surveys on your website.
It comes complete with pre-built form templates, instant form notifications, and a lead management feature. With WPForms you can make one page or several page forms, add file upload and captcha options, and use addons such as the Paypal one.
- Optimized for all devices and very responsive
- Easy, drag & drop builder
- 150 pre-built form templates
- Includes spam protection with smart CAPTCHA and Honeypot
- Options for including payments in your forms
- Instant notifications when a form is submitted and confirmation forms
- Includes file upload and multi-page options
- Custom survey form builder
- Instant integration with MailChimp, AWeber, and many other mailing services
- Show or hide form fields depending on the user’s actions with Smart Conditional Logic
- Entries are stored in your WordPress database
- Includes interactive forms
You can get the essential tools of WPForms in their Basic Plan, for $79/year. More advanced features are included in the premium plans:
- Plus for $199/year
- Pro for $399/year
- Elite for $599/year.
For lead generation, OptinMonster is one of the best plugins you can use on your WordPress site.
With this plugin, you can create easy opt-in forms that come with many options and even add animation features. With pop-ups, sidebars, or floating forms, you can use OptinMonster to nurture your leads, build your email list, get leads for an event on a webinar software or decrease abandonment rates.
OptinMonster is widely recognized and used for its exit-intent features. It does a great job of increasing conversion rates. Other options include A/B testing and data analytics.
- Pre-built templates
- Optimized for all devices from mobile to tablets and desktop
- 26 animation and sound effects
- Drag & drop fully customizable forms
- Several campaign options ranging from popup forms to box or bar forms
- Patented Exit-Intent and InactivitySensor technologies for decreasing abandonment rates
- MonsterLinks image to optin form convertor
- Timed display and campaign scheduling features
- Targets users based on their referral, the device they are on, the page they are visiting, or their location
- Real-time behavior automation and conversion insights
The OptinMonster Basic plan is $14/month billed annually. The Plus plan is $30/month, the Pro plan is $47/month and the Growth plan is $80/month.
Imagify is an essential WordPress plugin for optimizing images. It helps compress .jpg, .png, .gif, and .pdf formats to make your pages more responsive.
This plugin makes resizing your images a breeze with simple and intuitive options. It gives you a choice between Normal, Aggressive, and Ultra optimization levels. You can resize images to a specific width or height or use a percentage for more ease. It takes the need for Photoshop or other complex programs out of the equation. On top of that, it helps unload your server and saves you space and time.
The Imagify WordPress plugin offers a free plan that includes 25 MB of credit per month. There are also several types of paid subscriptions:
- The Lite Plan – 1GB of data per month at $4.99/month
- The Basic Plan – 2GB of data per month at $8.99/month
- The Standard Plan – 5GB of data per month at $19.99/month
- The Plus Plan – 15GB of data per month at $39.99/month
- The Enterprise Plan – 50GB of data per month at $69.99/month.
This completes our list of main plugins that you should consider for WordPress. The full range is of course much broader, you have various plugins for live chat software implementation, content management, implementation of various media, etc. so the list could go on. But we wanted to concentrate on a couple of the main plugins that you should consider.
We hope that this list will help you in your decision process and most importantly will simplify the setup of your WordPress site!
About the author
Vlad Falin is the founder and blogger at Costofincome.com, where he writes about online business, leadership, and various digital marketing tools.