Top WordPress plugins every site should have

2 weeks ago 27

Jono Alderson

Jono is a digital strategist, marketing technologist, and full stack developer. He's into technical SEO, emerging technologies, and brand strategy.

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Out of the box, WordPress is a great system for blogging and managing websites. But to truly unlock its power, you need to add plugins to tailor it to your precise needs. Adding some of our top plugin recommendations can make really turbo-charge your site!

People frequently ask us for recommendations on which WordPress plugins they should use on their site. Of course, we’ve written quite a few WordPress plugins ourselves, but the list of great WordPress plugins is much larger than that.

Key features

These plugins add entirely new areas of functionality to WordPress – from supporting multiple languages, to selling online, and beyond.

  • Yoast SEO – The best way to optimize your website for search engines. But you already knew that, right?
  • WooCommerce – Adds ecommerce capabilities, with a huge ecosystem of addons and extensions for every type of store and website.
  • Gravity Forms or Ninja Forms – Adds sophisticated form creation and management tools, with loads of integrations and addons.
  • wpDiscuz – A great, modern, fully-featured replacement to WordPress’ default comments system.
  • MultilingualPress or WPML – Translate and localize your website for different territories and languages.
  • Relevanssi – Overhauls WordPress’ search functionality to prioritize relevance over date.

Site speed

Making your website lightning fast can be a complex task. These plugins can help to speed up the process, and speed up your site.

Be careful when installing multiple caching or optimization plugins; they can get in each others way, and slow down your site!

  • WP Rocket – Very powerful, and one of the best options to make your site faster. Designed to be simple. No free option.
  • W3 Total Cache – Extremely powerful, and extremely flexible. Designed to be comprehensive. Hundreds of checkboxes and options.
  • WP Optimize – A good middle ground, with basic full page caching, and some sophisticated database + media optimization tools.
  • WP Super Cache – A basic solution which offers full page caching, but lacks other/advanced optimization techniques.
  • AMP – Automatically converts your website’s theme to be compliant with AMP HTML standards.
  • Autoptimize – Some really clever JavaScript/CSS/HTML optimization, though no full page caching (should work well with a dedicated full page caching solution)
  • Compress JPEG & PNG images or Optimole – Compress, optimize and manage your images.

Measurement

Monitoring and understanding your website’s performance is key if you want to improve those key metrics. These plugins can help you to measure how you’re doing.

  • Site Kit by Google – Connects your website to Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Search Console, and more, all in one place.
  • Monster Insights – Puts Google Analytics data right in your WordPress. Great for beginners.
  • Google Tag Manager For WordPress – Adds a whole bunch of data to your Google Tag Manager container, which you can pick up in Google Analytics and other systems.
  • Microsoft Clarity – A privacy-friendly approach to monitoring how users interact with your website, with session recordings, heatmaps and clever metrics.

Admin improvements

Managing and running a website doesn’t need to be a chore. These plugins help you to streamline the process.

  • Admin Menu Editor – Helps manage and tidy up the WordPress admin sidebar menu when you run lots of plugins or features.
  • User Role Editor – Tweak which roles and individual users have access and permissions to which features.
  • Public Post Preview – Share private links to posts which you’re still writing, drafting or proof-reading.
  • Nested Pages – Makes it much easier to organize larger sites with complex page structures and hierarchies.

Security & backups

An extra layer of defence can protect you from unwanted intruders, and, help you restore order if somebody breaks in.

  • UpdraftPlus – Take regular backups of your filesystem and database, and restore snapshots with a click.
  • Sucuri or WordFence – Lock down your site, manage access and security settings, and monitor for problems.
  • Two Factor Authentication – Add extra security to your login process.
  • WP Activity Log – Keep a record of everything that happens on your website.

Anything else?

Are we missing any critical plugins, which every site should know about? Or, do you have a suggestion for a replacement to one of our top plugin recommendations? Let us know in the comments!

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