Is your website, blog or online store powered by WordPress? If your answer was a yes, keep reading. Before we see what are the must-have WordPress plugins for your site, let’s take a closer look at WordPress. WordPress is a free and open-source content management system (CMS) software built on PHP and MySQL. There was once a time when people believed they could only blog with WordPress, but nowadays it has evolved so much that you could do more just blogging. Many people have started realizing its true potential – how powerful, easy and customizable it is to build anything you can ever think of. Be it a personal blog, company website, membership site, portfolio, online learning, you could build them all with WordPress.
Here are some surprising statistics about WordPress :
- WordPress now powers 33% of the web
- There are more than 54,913 WordPress Plugins
- 56 Translations of WordPress
- NYT, Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy, People Magazine, National Geographic, Forbes are some of the most popular sites on the internet using WordPress.
- More than 74.6 Million Sites Depend on WordPress
- Interesting facts about WordPress
But WordPress alone can’t help you build that dream site of yours. You need the help of several WordPress plugins to do that. Consider the example of a laptop. A laptop by itself cannot do anything but when you install proper hardware and software, it becomes useful. If you are a regular user, you won’t be needing much hardware resources. But if you’re a graphic or web designer, you will need more RAM and SSD for faster storage and access. Just like how the extra features make the laptop more useful, WordPress plugins help you extend the functionality of WordPress and make it more useful to you. You can add and remove features as you like by installing and uninstalling plugins.
Not all WordPress sites are the same because not everyone uses the same plugin and there are multiple plugins available for adding the same feature. In this article, I will share a list of must-have WordPress plugins for your site that can make it easier for you to manage your site, get started with powerful features, and increase your productivity.
NOTE: Almost all the below plugins are available for free from the WordPress.org plugin repository with the exception of OptinMonster and WP Rocket which are premium WordPress plugins.
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OptinMonster is a lead generation WordPress plugin that allows you to create effective email subscription forms and mobile friendly popups to collect email addresses from your website visitors. It comes with a drag and drop builder, exit intent technology and various attention-grabbing animations and sound effects to boost your email subscription form conversion rates. Check out my OptinMonster review if you’d like to know more about OptinMonster and its other awesome features.
Jetpack by WordPress.com
Jetpack by WordPress.com offered by Automattic (parent company of WordPress.com) brings a lot of features available on WordPress.com to self-hosted WordPress users. It simplifies managing WordPress sites by providing you with visitor stats, security services, CDN, and a whole lot of features to help you get more traffic. Jetpack is an amalgam of various plugin functionalities. Also, check out the various other useful Jetpack features and my full-fledged Jetpack review.
Akismet, also by Automattic protects your website from spam. Initially, it might look like you could manage all the spam comments and messages you receive on your site but once you start ranking for high traffic keywords, your site will get literally bombarded with spam. Manually reviewing and checking for spam comments is a headache and Akismet can help you with that. It automatically checks your comments and contact form submissions for spam and puts them under a separate folder for review after which it is permanently deleted. You can also configure it to automatically delete all spam comments without holding them for review.
AMP if the official AMP plugin for WordPress and it adds Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) support to your WordPress site. It makes your web pages load faster for mobile device users who land on your from search engines and social media networks. Also, check out how to set up Google AMP in WordPress.
Use Google Libraries
WP-Optimize is a simple but effective WordPress plugin that allows you to clean up and optimize your WordPress database. It also allows you to clean all post revisions, auto-drafts, and trashed posts from your database. Viewing tables present in your database and removing the leftover tables created by uninstalled plugins is also a breeze with this plugin. You can also learn how to limit or disable WordPress post revisions from this article.
Optimizing your website for search engines is one of the most important parts of maintaining a successful website. Since search engine optimization (SEO) is a complex topic, not everyone knows how to make their website search engine friendly. That’s where Yoast SEO comes into your rescue. Yoast is simply the best SEO plugin for WordPress. You can use Yoast to create a sitemap for your website, optimize your on-page SEO, and implement all the necessary HTML tags to make your website adhere to the latest search engine standards. Also, check out how to set up Yoast on your WP site.
Smush Image Compression and Optimization
Smush Image Compression and Optimization allows you to resize, optimize and compress all images on your website. It also allows you to automatically compress and optimize images on upload. Apart from that, you can set a max width and height to scale down large images as they are being compressed.
What more, compressing images using this plugin won’t eat up your server resources since all the work is done on their end and sent back to your server. So, you needn’t worry about inflated hosting bills and penalty charges.
Caching your web pages can provide your website visitors with an ultra-fast load time which is essential for improving search engine rankings. Moreover, it helps in reducing your bounce rate and increases your conversions since people will be inclined to read more of your content. WP Rocket is by far the simplest WordPress caching plugin I’ve ever seen which offers powerful features but is not difficult to configure. Using WP Rocket, you can easily setup page caching and browser caching which are very essential for improving the performance of WordPress sites. Apart from the usual caching, you can also enable gzip compression, set expires headers, and remove query strings from static resources. Click here to learn more about caching in WordPress.
Keeping your WordPress site secure should be your topmost concern after search engine optimization. Learn how to keep your WordPress site secure. Wordfence Security is a WordPress security plugin that comes with a built-in firewall and malware scanner. Just like how antivirus programs are constantly updated with the latest malware signatures and malicious IP address, Wordfence has got its own Threat Defense Feed using which it keeps itself updated of the latest threats and potential vulnerabilities in the WordPress ecosystem. Its Web Application Firewall (WAF) protects your website from getting hacked. Moreover, you can use its security scanner to look for malware, backdoors, SEO spam and malicious redirects in your WordPress site.
Shortlinks by Pretty Links allows you to shorten links using your own domain name and manage links and redirection on your website. You can use it to cloak the ugly affiliates links which are long and makes no sense with pretty links and manage them from one place within your WordPress dashboard. Shortlinks also allows you to track hits on each URL and provides a full, detailed report of where the hit came from. If you need advanced features like advanced redirect types, automatic keyword linking and automatic creation for pretty links, you can always upgrade to Pretty Links Pro.
It’s always a good practice to nofollow external links, especially affiliate links as you don’t want your link juice (authority) to pass to them. The external links plugin for WordPress lets you process outgoing links differently from internal links and is the easiest way to ‘nofollow’ all external links without having to manually add rel=”nofollow” attribute to all external links. Since it adds the attribute to external links on the fly, it doesn’t alter the original HTML code.
Schema – All In One Schema Rich Snippets
Schema – All In One Schema Rich Snippets enables you to easily add schema markup to your website without manually generating and pasting any code. You can easily add schema markup to your articles, recipes, reviews, event and many more using this simple WordPress schema plugin. It will help you increase traffic from search engines by making your search results eye-catching and exploding your click-through rate. If you need access to advanced schema types and article guidelines with live schema testing, you can upgrade to Schema Pro.
Thus I hope that you found this list of must-have WordPress plugins useful. These are also some of the best free WordPress plugins which are popular with most WordPress site owners. If you liked this article, please share it with your friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter so that they may also discover some useful WordPress plugins for their site.