WordPress is a superb platform for creating blogs, professional websites, and WooCommerce stores. All these different types of websites require different plugins. However, there are some plugins that all WordPress sites should have. In this article, we are listing what we consider essential plugins for WordPress websites.
We think these 6 types of plugins are essential for your site’s security, speed, and success. We hope you’d like our list, and it will help you create an efficient website that has a strong base to deliver trouble-free performance and achieve success.
Essential Plugins for WordPress Websites
Security Plugins for WordPress
No matter how small your website, it is still in danger of getting hacked. Threats to your website are far too real and common. So, before anything else, you need to make your site secure. You need to ensure nobody can exploit your login information or your website’s script.
There are many free & premium plugins that can help you safeguard your site. But the most important security of your website is — your common sense. Do follow the basic security practices of using strong and unique passwords and taking advantage of Two-Factor Authentication methods. Never share your login details with anyone. And never use the same password at multiple places. Create a strong and unique password for your website, blog, or e-commerce store.
Another important thing to remember is to get the website theme and plugins only from the trusted sources. Download them from wordpress.org, theme/plugin marketplaces, or directly from the developer’s sites. Don’t fall into the trap of spurious sites offering paid themes/plugins for free. These would either be the nulled and outdated versions or injected with malicious codes that may prove too expensive to you.
Also, you must keep your WordPress themes and plugins updated. Remember that if the developer hasn’t updated a theme or plugin for over two years, it is probably abandoned, outdated, and insecure. Don’t use such themes and plugins. Find newer alternatives.
It is also important to choose a good host for your website. Inadequate security measures of a bad host may also put your website in danger. Hosting companies such as Bluehost and Siteground may be a little expensive, but they can give you peace of mind.
Finally, you can use several plugins to make your website secure. Here are some of the best WordPress security plugins:
One of the most popular WP security plugins with powerful protection features against brute force attacks and hackers. Its features also include a firewall.
IThemes is another very popular plugin for securing your website. Its feature list can compete with the features of WordFence. This security plugin is the preferred choice of many for protecting their website.
Sucuri – Premium
Sucuri is a cloud-based platform packed with features for protecting WordPress websites. It is a robust plugin that can help you remove malware from your site and recover your website from the blacklist status. Sucuri can also repair the damage done by SEO spam and link injections. Its powerful firewall can protect your site from future attacks.
Google Authenticator – Free
Google Authenticator is one of the most trusted plugins to apply Two-Factor Authentication login protection to your website.
Jetpack by Automattic is an extensive plugin with many features. These include basic security and speed optimization features. You can use it to apply brute force protection to your site. However, the real value of Jetpack lies in the many functionalities it provides for content creation, sharing, and presentation. The best thing about Jetpack is that it is packed with useful modules that can do the work of several plugins.
Speed Optimization Plugins of WordPress
You have given your website an attractive design and filled it up with top-class content. But it will not matter if your website is not fast. Your site’s slow speed will cause a bad user experience, which will lead to high bounce rates, low ad impressions, and low conversions. In short, if your website is not fast, it will struggle to succeed. That is why our list of essential plugins for WordPress includes speed optimization plugins.
The people surfing the net have very little patience to wait for your site to load up. This is especially true for people using their mobile phones to visit your website. As per research conducted by Google, over 50% of mobile users will leave if your website takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
As speed is an essential factor for user experience, Google has also made it one of the most crucial ranking factors. So, having a fast website is also important from the SEO point of view.
Many things can slow down your website. You may be using unscaled heavy images or far too many fancy plugins. Ads are great for generating revenue, but too many ads can also slow down your website and result in a bad user experience.
There are many optimization strategies you can follow to ensure your website has optimum speed. First of all, choose a theme that has clean code and is optimized for speed. Whether you use a free WordPress theme or a premium WordPress theme, it should make your website load fast.
Several optimization plugins are also available that you can use to speed up your site. These include caching plugins, minifying plugins, lazy loading plugins, and image optimization plugins. Several popular speed optimization plugins give you a complete package to optimize your site’s code and images. Here are some of the best plugins for making your website fast:
WP Rocket – Paid
WP Rocket is undoubtedly one of the fastest and most user-friendly cache plugins. When you activate it, WP Rocket automatically applies several best optimization strategies to speed up your website. Its features include page caching, GZIP compression, cache preloading, browser caching, and file, media, database, and e-commerce optimization.
Autoptimize – Free
It is one of the best and most popular free caching plugins for optimizing your website. It uses CDN integration and other powerful features to speed up your site. It is a host agnostic Web Performance Optimization plugin. W3 Total Cache fully supports Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), Secure Socket Layer (SSL) and gives you several caching features.
WP Super Cache – Free
This is another very popular free caching and optimization plugin. It generates static HTML files from the dynamic WordPress sites. Then it serves these optimized files to site visitors instead of the heavier WordPress scripts. Its features include preloading, Garbage Collection for keeping the database clean, and CDN support.
Optimole is an excellent WordPress plugin for image optimizations. Besides optimizing images, Optimole also picks the right image size for your site visitor based upon the browser they are using. This plugin’s features also include lazy loading and image CDN.
Backup Plugins for WordPress
No matter how secure you make your website, accidents can happen. Your website may get hacked. Or a plugin update may break it. That is why it is vital to backup your website regularly and store this backup copy in a secure location.
Many web hosts provide daily backups with their hosting plans. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to backup your site at all. Experts suggest having at least three backup copies of your website. So even if your host provides daily backups, you must do it too.
WordPress provides a nifty tool that can help you export your page/post data. You can access it by going to your site’s Dashboard => Tools => Export. You can use it to backup your website. But this tool only backups your posts, pages, and media. It does not back up your theme settings, plugins, and comments, etc.
That is why you need to take other measures to save copies of your website. Here are some of the best plugins for WordPress backup and restore:
With over 3 million installs, UpdraftPlus is one of the most popular WordPress backup plugins. You can use it to do manual or scheduled backups and store these backup copies in remote locations, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and Amazon S3.
Though not as popular as UpdraftPlus, it is still a great option for creating and restoring website backups. It can save your complete installation and keep the backup copy in a remote location, including Dropbox, Amazon S3.
We come back to Jetpack. VaultPress began as an independent plugin. It was founded by Matt Mullenweg, the co-founder of WordPress, and his team at Automattic. However, VaultPress is part of Jetpack now. It is a premium feature of Jetpack, which makes backup and restore easy. Features of VaultPress include automated daily backups of your whole website, 1-click restores, brute force attack protection, spam protection, uptime monitoring, and site migration.
BackupBuddy – Paid
BackupBuddy by iThemes is a powerful premium option for creating secure backups of your WordPress websites. With just a few clicks, it can backup your entire site from within your WordPress dashboard. Its backups include your posts, pages, plugins, widgets, users, and even comments.
Here’s another powerful and popular plugin for backing up your entire website. Its features include free cloud storage, free staging, and easy site migration options. It supports incremental backups.
SEO Plugins for WordPress
You have secured your website and made it fast. But to help it succeed, you need search engine optimization as well. However, not everyone can hire a professional for it. Don’t worry, many free options are available to make your website SEO-friendly. We consider this type of plugins as essential plugins for WordPress websites because they are necessary to achieve high search engine rankings.
First, you need to get some idea about what SEO is all about. So, do some research, read about SEO, and get an idea about what it is and why it matters.
Next, you need an SEO-friendly WordPress theme. Fortunately, all good quality themes, even the free ones, now implement SEO strategies in their core. You must also remember that speed and mobile-friendliness are also important factors for SEO and can affect your website rankings. (That’s why we ensure that all our WordPress themes are fast, responsive, and SEO-friendly.)
Once you have chosen your website’s theme, you need to install a plugin that can help you tune your on-site SEO. Here are some of the best SEO plugins for WordPress websites:
Yoast is the best known and most recommended SEO plugin. It makes optimizing your content easy. Its features include SEO analysis, readability analysis, Schema blocks, XML sitemaps, AMP integration, and automatic SEO improvements, such as meta tags and canonical URLs.
RankMath is comparatively new, but gaining quick popularity. It is the SEO plugin that we use at Themesrain. Its features include content analysis, headline analysis, Search Console integration, Google Schema Markup, and useful blocks. These include How-To and FAQ blocks. The best thing about RankMath is that it uses a module-based system. So you can activate the features you want and keep the others deactivated.
The SEO Framework is a lightweight and fast SEO plugin that pushes no advertisements or upsells on you. It comes with many features pre-configured and can help you quickly up the SEO score of your WordPress website. Its features include AMP integration, redirects, and incognito mode. While other SEO plugins use the ‘focus keyword,’ the SEO Framework prioritizes ‘focus subject.’
AIO SEO is perhaps the oldest SEO plugin on wordpress.org. It was launched in 2007 and has achieved over 2 million installs by now. It is a comprehensive SEO plugin with many features in its toolkit. These include XML sitemaps, optimized search appearance, SEO meta description and keywords, social media integration, Search Console and Webmaster Tools connections, and more.
This SEO plugin for WordPress sites can help you boost your site’s SEO. Its features include better social sharing, meta description, custom canonical URLs, creating HTML & XML sitemaps, creating optimized breadcrumbs, and using schemas.
Complianz is a comprehensive suite with many features to make your website compliant with legal requirements. Its features include cookie consent notice, auto-generation of cookie information page, privacy page, etc. It can also help you create cookie notices and privacy pages specific to your region or country.
This plugin can help you quickly create the cookie notice pop-up or banner. You can customize this pop-up and use options like custom messages, multiple cookie expiry options, redirect the user to a specific page, options to refuse/revoke the consent, etc.
This plugin by WebTofee enables a WordPress cookie notice to make your website compliant with GDPR, CCPA, and even LGPD of Brazil. You can fully customize the cookie notice to make it match with your web design.
Analytics Plugins for WordPress
When your website goes live, it is crucial to monitor how it is performing. If you don’t know how your site is performing, how will you improve it? That’s why analytics plugins are also among the most important plugins for WordPress websites. Here are some of the best analytics plugins you can try:
Site Kit – Free
Site Kite by Google is a comprehensive plugin that can connect with Google services such as Google Analytics, Search Console, and AdSense. It helps you quickly check out metrics from all these services. It also gives you PageSpeed insights and provides a powerful Tag Manager. Using Site Kit, you can quickly connect your site to various Google tools. It is by Google!
With over 2 million installs, this is a very popular WordPress analytics plugin. You can connect it with Google Analytics and see your site stats within your WordPress dashboard. Its features also include WooCommerce tracking.
As mentioned earlier, Jetpack is a comprehensive plugin with many features. These include site stats. If you activate this module, you can view and analyze your website’s statistics within your WordPress dashboard. If you already use Jetpack, you can use its analytics features, too.
WooCommerce Google Analytics Integration – Free
This plugin by WooCommerce can help you keep track of your WooCommerce statistics. It connects with Google Analytics and supports Global Site Tag, E-Commerce Event Tracking, and Universal Analytics.
GA Google Analytics – Free
This lightweight and fast analytics plugin connects with Google Analytics and supports Universal Analytics, analytics.js, Global Site Tag. Its features also include the options to disable tracking of admin users.
What are the essential plugins for WordPress according to you?
In our list, we included what we consider the most important plugins for WordPress websites. What do you think of our picks? What are the essential plugins for WordPress according to you? Do let us know!