10 Essential WordPress Plugins Every Site Should Have.
One of the most useful aspects of building a site on WordPress is the sheer volume of almost every kind of plugin you can imagine. At the time of writing, there are over 31,257 WordPress plugins in the WordPress plugin directory, and more are being added constantly. Plugins are vital for websites that need elements that do not exist within the WordPress CMS. Here is my pick of 10 WordPress plugins I use on almost every site.
How many WordPress plugins are too many?
This question is asked often. While it is true that plugins can slow down your site, some listed below actually speed up your site. It is important that your site functions well and takes full advantage of what a website is for, to inform and generate leads. We have designed sites with 4 or 5 plugins, and we have designed sites that use almost 20 plugins. What you need is really determined by what your site’s needs are. More important than how many, is which ones. The key is to find ones that are highly rated, even better if they can perform several functions all in one plugin as some of this list does.
Without further ado, here are my 10 Essential Plugins Every Website Should Have.
1: Best Search Engine Optimization Plugin
There are many options when it comes to SEO plugins for WordPress. If you are unfamiliar with SEO and it’s importance read our article about Demystifying SEO. Picking the right SEO plugin is crucial, and they are not all created equal. My every site go to is WordPress SEO By Yoast. It is powerful, full of options and intuitively integrated into each pages editor. It places the page specific SEO input fields on the bottom of each page for ease of use. It also adds SEO functionality to all posts and images, which, as Google has been putting more weight on image meta this is a huge bonus. In my opinion, the finest feature is the SEO checker. This presents you with a color system for poor, fair, and good per page. Go for green with the best researched and appropriate keywords and your site will rank. It also creates a sitemap for the site, which replaces the need to either create it by hand or using a sitemap generating plugin. WordPress SEO also offer a premium version that integrates Google Webmaster and allows for creating redirects within the plugin as opposed to having to fiddle with the htaccess.
2: Best Contact Form Plugin
Some will swear by Contact Form 7, other will tell you to shell out $40/year for the Gravity Forms plugin. My newest favorite contact form plugin is Ninja Forms. They are very customizable contact forms for your site. Definitely, the most flexible I have seen. The plugin itself is completely free and they offer a plethora of creative add-ons you can buy for added functions such as: Paypal Express and Stripe payment right through the form, File Uploads, Conditional Logic Forms and more. This solution is great for standard email contact forms and anything beyond.
3: Best Anti Spam Plugin
Spam is a natural part of the internet, but you should always take care to protect your site from spam. Akismet is free for personal use and keeps comment spam at bay. No one wants to spend time cleaning the spam comment from their site and not to mention how bad the wrong kind of spam comment can look to your visitors. Akismet puts comments that may be spam in a section for approval.
4: Best Multi-function Plugin
JetPack is one plugin that adds multiple functionalities to your site. It adds widget options, shows you site stats, automatic posting to your social media accounts, expanded image gallery formats and more. Jetpack is an integral part of a WordPress website, you simply create a wordpress.com account and your good to go.
5: Best Backup Plugin
Backing up your site can be a pain. Restoring it from a backup can be even more of a hassle. Take precautions and never be in the worst of the three, trying to save your site because you haven’t been backing it up. Some hosts do backups, Siteground and WP Engine are a few. But if you are on a host that does not perform backups, as many don’t, Vaultpress does a great job. It is a premium plugin, running $55/yr at its lowest plan, but this plan offers daily backups as well as a one-click restore of any snapshot from the past 30 days. During set up, you add an FTP or SSH login and boom. With Vaultpress there is no need to make a restore any more complicated than it should be.
Free Option: BackUpWordpress
While Vaultpress is my preferred backup system, a free option is BackUpWordpress. While lacking a fair amount of features that make Vaultpress well worth the money, Backupwordpress does allow you to schedule backups to be performed and have them sent to your email, put in your Dropbox or added to Google Drive. It does not offer one-click restore, but you never want to be without a site backup. So at least there is no reason to NOT back up your site.
6: Best WordPress Caching Plugin
WordPress is kind of slow. This is because it is bulky, remember that while it has evolved into the most popular CMS it is primarily a blogging platform. This makes it pretty large and it lags a bit. Speed is also determined by your hosting choice, many of the cheaper shared hosting plans lend themselves to slow sites. Depending on how big your site is I go between 2 caching plugins. For larger sites, 50 pages+ I use WP Total Cache. Total Cache is very in-depth and can be quite intimidating to someone that doesn’t understand compression and caching lingo. There are many great tutorials online to help guide one with tech-savvy to configure it.
Another Option: WP Super Cache
For smaller sites I use WP Super Cache It is much simpler, and works great on sites that don’t have hundreds of pages, images, and products.
7: Best Image Compressor Plugin
Is your site image heavy? Better yet do you have large image files on your site? If so I recommend you add WP Smush It. It compresses images making them smaller and load faster. A large image file, while also adding unneeded bulk to your site, will also load very slow. Ever go to a web page where the image fills in slowly from the top? With Smush It the images will appear instantly. I recently used this plugin on a site with over 500 pages, most of them product images. After compressing the 900+ images on the site it reduced the site size by over 3 GB and changed the websites load time from 9 seconds to just over 5 seconds.
8: Best Email Collection Plugin
There are many email sign\up options for WordPress, even Jetpack includes a decent one, but if you are taking your email collection and email marketing seriously you should 1) sign up for a MailChimp account and 2) install this plugin on your site. It will capture email addresses and send them to your choice of lists within Mailchimp. You can then design emails and select the lists to send them to.Learn more about the importance of Email Marketing.
9: Best Testimonial Widget Plugin
Statistics show that people are much more receptive to buy from of go with a company based on customer testimonials. Featuring these on your website increases conversion. With this plugin, you can add beautiful testimonials to your site. This plugin is very customizable, allowing you to create a range of different testimonial layouts to fit best with your website design.
10: Best Social Media Icons Plugin
No site these days is complete without social shares. There are a ton of different plugins that can take care of this need. But as far as simplicity, aesthetics, and customization none is better than Simple Social Icons. Created by StudioPress, the maker of the amazing Genesis framework, this is a rock solid plugin. Pick your size, spacing, accounts, colors and hover colors and drop it wherever you want your shares to show.
So there you have it, 10 of the finest plugins to help our website function the way you want it. These plugins work with many themes and on many different WordPress versions so you can rest assured most of them will work flawlessly. Are there plugins you feel are essential to a well run WordPress website? If so, please let me know in the comments below.
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