WordPress is a content management system that anyone can use. Its core code is simply a framework that provides essential elements for creating a basic website.
To fully customize a site’s functions, appearance, and performance, you’ll need a set of plugins – independent pieces of code that can be added to any WordPress website to meet a user’s specific needs.
With just a little know-how and guidance, you’ll find that building a WordPress website is easy, fast, and affordable for all website owners.
Since WordPress is open-source code, anyone can create and sell a plugin or make it available for free. With so many options, selecting which plugins are best for your WordPress site can be tough.
Keep reading to discover 12 of the best WordPress plugins for executing essential functions on just about any WordPress site.
What website plugins do you need?
Whether you are looking for free live chat plugins or plugins for photographers, you can use various templates and plugins to create a unique website.
The crucial plugins that are essential for most operational WordPress websites can be categorized into the following key groups:
- Content management – WordPress comes with basic tools for creating, publishing, and managing a variety of content types, but specialized page builder plugins can make your workflow more efficient and your content more accessible with appealing landing pages. Plugins related to content management include those for editing and formatting, image optimization, galleries, and many other custom post types.
- Social sharing, marketing, and SEO plugins – Any website hoping to find an audience needs tools for optimizing a site for searchability and sharing on social media.
- Website performance – Plugins can speed up loading time, optimize images, and provide a better user experience.
- Security and safety – WordPress security plugins can back up the site, add firewalls and other protections against hacking, and protect the site from spam and spam comments.
- Website Analytics – See where you’re succeeding and where you need to tighten up. Analytics plugins can break down any site’s traffic using Google Analytics to help understand your visitors’ conversion rates and audience better.
Some of the must-have WordPress plugins are free. Others have both free versions and premium versions with additional features.
Best WordPress Plugins
Here are twelve great plugin add-ons for users looking to improve their site:
1. Yoast SEO
Yoast automatically grades content for keywords and metadata and tags areas for improvement. Efficient and functional, Yoast is available from the WordPress plugin directory as a free plugin with a premium version for more features.
Price: Free. Premium plans start at $89 for one website.
Alternative: All in One SEO
Initially created for the hosted WordPress site WordPress.com, Jetpack is now available for self-hosted WordPress sites. It’s an “all in one” solution for social media sharing, site statistics, and search engine optimization.
Users can activate and customize the Jetpack features of their choice. It’s available in a premium or free version from the WordPress Plugin Directory.
Price: $47.97/month when billed annually.
WordFence Security is a full-featured security solution for self-hosted WordPress sites. Available in free and premium plugin versions, WordFence Security provides a firewall with multiple features and protection from hacking, malware, and viruses.
WordFence also includes email alerts for critical problems and real-time traffic monitoring.
Price: Plans start at $99/year.
MonsterInsights brings the features of Google Analytics right to your WordPress dashboard. This plugin allows tracking traffic, clicks, visitor statistics, and more without manually installing or interfacing with Google’s comprehensive analytics tool.
MonsterInsights is a premium plugin with multiple plans from third-party developer MonsterInsights.com.
Price: Plans start at $199/year.
5. WP Rocket
Improving site functionality, WP Rocket is one of the best premium caching plugin options. While there isn’t a free version, it makes up for it with its user-friendly interface, decreased load times, and lazy loading options.
Offering database optimization and two different methods of cache preloading, it’s simple to configure, speeding up any WordPress page in no time.
Price: Plans start at $49/year.
Alternative: WP Super Cache and SiteGround Optimizer
WooCommerce is one of the most popular e-commerce plugin solutions in the world. This plugin includes all the features you need to set up a full-service online store on your WordPress site.
You can get started using WooCommerce in either its free or premium version from WordPress.
Price: Plans start at $24.95/month with a triennial plan.
Alternative: Easy Digital Download
7. Pretty Links
Pretty Links include auto-linking to keywords and a year of support and updates with all plans.
Price: Plans start at $79/year.
Really Simple SSL converts a site from HTTP to HTTPS with one click. This plugin allows you to safely migrate your entire site to a secure site in a single step and avoid the “Not Secure” warnings on Google.
Really Simple SSL updates site URLs, handles redirects, and enhances site security. You’ll need to acquire a free SSL certificate to use this free plugin, with paid versions available across multiple sites.
Price: Plans start at $29/year.
WPForms is among the most user-friendly contact form plugin options. You can also get on board with WPForms Lite, one of the best free WordPress plugins.
With its drag-and-drop form builder, it’s an excellent primer for email marketing and building up an email list or gaining subscribers for more effective lead generation.
It provides spam protection, and it’s fully customizable with pro versions. Moreover, it can easily integrate with services such as MailChimp, making it one of the top WordPress plugins with just cause.
Price: Plans start at $79/year.
Alternative: Formidable Forms
10. W3 Total Cache
Alternative: WP Rocket
Related content: The best WordPress newsletter plugins.
If you’ve always wanted a more feature-rich commenting system for your blog, then Disqus is for you. Disqus features a full range of user icons, login options, spam protection, and share options.
A single Disqus account works across all blogs that have the plugin installed, so the user can keep track of comments wherever Disqus is found.
Disqus is already featured on more than 2.5 million websites across the web, so chances are you’ve seen or heard of it already.
Price: Plans start at $12/month for the ad-free version | Free version will have ads placed above the comments
You don’t want to be left behind as the world surges towards the mobile web.
WP-Touch lets you design a touch-friendly mobile website that is optimized for different screens without changing the desktop site or content.
Initially, it only created websites compatible with iPhone, but it has since expanded to create more fluid, responsive websites. There is a free version and a premium version that allows you to add your own branding and embed ads.
Price: Plans start at $45/year
Whether you’re a humble blogger or a business owner looking to secure services with an e-commerce store, these plugins should help get you on the right track.
Fitting into all WordPress blogs and pages, plugins, and widgets are easy to manage with simple tutorials and competitive pricing options.
WordPressplugins are a boon to those who want to get more out of their WordPress site. However, a word of caution: Don’t get too plugin happy. Installing too many at once can slow down your website, and some might even conflict with each other. Choose your plugins wisely to ensure that you get the best WordPress plugins and enjoy the great results they yield for your website.
And remember, no matter which plugins you choose or how great they are, you must back your site with reliable hosting to ensure your customers and visitors enjoy an excellent user experience.
Common questions about the best WordPress plugins
A WordPress plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. It extends or adds functionality to the site. They work by integrating seamlessly with WordPress through hooks, actions, and filters, allowing users to customize and enhance their website without altering the core code.
Yes, plugins can affect site speed. Some are well-optimized and have minimal impact, while others can be resource-intensive, leading to slower load times. It’s essential to choose well-coded plugins and avoid overloading your site with too many.
There’s no strict limit, but it’s best to use only the plugins you need. It’s about quality, not quantity. Every plugin can introduce potential vulnerabilities, conflicts, or performance issues. Before adding a plugin, ensure it’s necessary, well-reviewed, and maintained.
Popular or top-rated plugins often have a good track record of reliability, support, and regular updates. While being popular doesn’t guarantee quality, it can be an indicator. It’s essential to evaluate each plugin’s merits, reviews, and developer support before deciding.
The term “best” is subjective and depends on your needs. For example, “Yoast SEO” is highly regarded for SEO optimization, while “Wordfence” is popular for security. Always assess your site’s requirements and choose plugins that best fit those needs.