Unsurprisingly, new webmasters struggle with choosing the right plugins after installing WordPress. With thousands upon thousands available, each claiming to be better than the next, it’s difficult to decide which are overhyped and unnecessary. And then there’s the type of website and the niche it belongs to. This often means even more required plugins, and thus even slower loading time and likely lower search ranking, and poor user experience. To solve those problems, we’d start with these must have plugins for WordPress. Then, only install additional ones after deliberation.
1. Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO, with 5+ million active installations and a perfect 5-star rating, tops our list as one of the must-have WordPress plugins. The purpose of this free plugin is to help you rank higher than the competition. It starts by helping you determine and the right focus keyphrase, then use it consistently, and then create and preview search result snippets. It also rates content readability, making it suitable for both humans and search engines. Plus, it increases the likelihood FAQ and how-to guides appear in search results directly. Yoast SEO also covers your XML sitemap, website’s breadcrumbs, meta tags, and canonical URLs automatically.
2. WP Rocket
MonsterInsights is the most widely used analytics WordPress plugin with 3+ million active users. Without knowing how many people visit, how they found you, and in which ways they interact with your website, you must guess your way to success. Well, no more – this plugin provides exhaustive information after a few clicks, for free, with no coding knowledge. It tracks the country, gender, device, age, demographics, and behavior of your visitors. The Forms Report add-on tracks conversion rates and forms submissions. Paid add-ons expand functionality to eCommerce, content ranking, affiliate links, ads, site speed, SEO, etc.
Elementor is the top website builder WordPress plugin, both by popularity (5+ million active users) and positive reviews. It’s mobile-friendly, compatible with many top-rated WordPress themes for speed and performance, and has enough free elements to build a successful blog. You’ll spend most of the time doing drag-and-drop and click-to-edit, and none doing any coding unless you need a complex result. Elementor Pro, for $49 per site, adds grid widgets, Embed Templates Anywhere, and many quality-of-life and essential functionalities to elevate your website to the next level.
While you can create a backup using external services or your web hosting cPanel, this leaves no space for a backup of a backup. Well, the leading backup WordPress plugin, UpdraftPlus, performs the task quickly, easily, and effectively. You can backup the files of your choice, perform a full backup or even schedule backups. UpdraftPlus is compatible with Rackspace Cloud, Google Drive, Dropbox, Amazon S3 servers, Microsoft Azure, and many other cloud services. The paid version allows cloning and migrating websites, expand storage space, and introduces more backup options.
6. Sucuri Security
Most people skimp on security until disaster strikes. Then, they seek a top security plugin for WordPress to solidify their website protection and run into Sucuri Security. The plugin monitors for changes and notifies you of suspicious events and activity. It also runs a site-wide file integrity scan and searches for malware. Sucuri Security also lets you know if you’re on the search engines’ blocklist, and helps to recover from hacking attempts or successful attacks. The paid version adds DDoS prevention, Firewall, quicker and more frequent security scans, and elicits faster, better developer support.
Obviously, a webmaster that can’t afford WP Rocket can’t serve scaled images and enable lazy-loading of images, videos, and iframes. Instead, we recommend they install Smush, a top optimizer for images with 1+ million active installations. The plugin analyzes pictures of up to 5M, then resizes, compresses, or lazy-loads them before displaying them on the front end of one or multiple sites, for free. Pro version adds lossy compression, auto-conversion of formats (including WebP), access to CDN image delivery, image backups, and rises the image limit to 32 MB.
Letting your visitors contact you boosts engagement, reduces bounce rate, builds a connection, and inspires loyalty. After installing WPForms Lite, the best free contact form plugins for WordPress, you can do this in under 5 minutes. The free version is limited to basic fields, e-mail notification, CAPTCHA challenge, and a thank-you response. WPForms Pro expands the capabilities to feedback, conditions, e-mail subscription, marketing/business data, single/multi-page, and features such as file uploads, payments, signature, and geolocation. We even demonstrated adding a WordPress contact form.
404 errors can appear on all posts and pages of your website, and force your search result rankings into a nosedive. And while you can find and fix broken links in WordPress manually, that’s more labor-intensive, slower, and more dangerous, since an incorrect redirection type can affect your website negatively. Additionally, you must check your website constantly to solve broken URLs as they come up. Instead, we use Redirection, as should you. It can handle thousands of redirects and allows you to add or remove them manually. The plugin can also monitor posts/pages and create automatic redirects.
10. Cookie Notice & Compliance for GDPR / CCPA