Use these 45 essential WordPress plugins to provide extra security, performance, backup, functionality, and social sharing options for your WordPress site.
Make Your WordPress Website Work Harder!
The majority of business websites use on WordPress. And that gives business owners almost endless options to extend the functionality of their website. No matter what you want your business website to do for your business, most likely, there is a plugin for it. To get you started, we compiled a list of 45 essential WordPress plugins you should consider using.
Keep in mind that we are strictly talking about your basic WordPress business website. If you have an e-commerce store, run a membership site, or are an active blogger, there are lots of additional WordPress plugins specifically for you. And we will go over some of those in upcoming blog posts. But for today, we are strictly focusing on some essential WordPress plugins we install on almost every WordPress site we build.
We have tested and used every WordPress plugin mentioned in this post. We installed many of them on our website, as well as client sites. In some cases, we provided you with multiple alternatives, depending on your specific preferences and requirements.
45 Essential WordPress Plugins
WordPress Plugin Platform
This plugin bundle is the ultimate solution for site owners, developers, freelancers, and agencies. It takes care of everything when it comes to WordPress security, performance, SEO, marketing, and more. Some of the included WordPress plugins are listed later in this post.
This plugin provides great SEO options for more advanced SEO users. It incorporates everything from a snippet preview to page analysis functionality that helps you optimize the content of your pages. Yoast SEO can also help you optimize image titles, Meta descriptions, XML sitemaps, and many optimization options in between.
All in One SEO Pack
This plugin offers many flexible SEO options in a single pack. It supports Google Analytics integration, as well as customization of page titles, Meta descriptions, and supports advanced canonical URLs. A great option is that it automatically optimizes page and post titles.
Google XML Sitemaps
This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap, which helps search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo to better index your blog or site. With this sitemap, it is easier for crawlers to understand and retrieve the complete structure of your website.
Monster Insights Google Analytics
This plugin makes it simple to add Google Analytics to your WordPress site, adding lots of features, e.g. error page, and search results. It also offers automatic outgoing links and download tracking.
This WordPress plugin helps you write content that is both human and search engine friendly. It provides SEO advice while you are writing your page content or blog posts and finds the content and topics that interest your readers. It tracks down all the aspects of your content marketing strategy and shows you the social media impact. It even provides free images and headline suggestions!
AMP for WordPress
AMP for WP automatically adds Accelerated Mobile Pages (Google AMP Project) functionality to your WordPress site. This plugin makes your website faster for Mobile visitors, which in turn will help your search rankings and visibility on Google.
Schema and Structured Data for WordPress and AMP
Schema & Structured Data for WP & AMP adds Google Rich Snippets markup according to Schema.org guidelines to structure your site for SEO. (AMP Compatible)
WP Rocket is one of our favorite WP performance plugins, and we frequently use it as part of our best practices for speeding up WordPress websites. This plugin makes WordPress load fast in just a few clicks. It is recognized as the most powerful caching plugin by WordPress experts.
W3 Total Cache
This plugin improves the user experience of your business website by increasing server performance, decreasing download times, and providing transparent Content Delivery Network (CDN) integration. One of the most effective caching plugins we have found yet! But due to the number of options, you can configure this WordPress plugin is recommended for more advanced users.
WP Super Cache
This WordPress plugin generates static HTML files from your dynamic page or post. After creating an HTML file, your web server will serve it instead of processing the more extensive PHP script. Due to its simplicity of setup and use, novices favor this plugin.
WP-Optimize is an excellent tool for cleaning up the WordPress database and optimizing WordPress. It automatically removes unnecessary data from WordPress without manual queries. The plugin always keeps your database optimized for the best performance.
You can compress and optimize the images without reducing the quality of the images using the WP Smush plugin. It optimizes all of your image files in JPEG, GIF, and PNG formats using advanced compression techniques and save lots of storage space. It auto-smushes all your attachments on upload while you can also smush your attachments manually in the media library.
ShortPixel is an easy to use, lightweight, install-and-forget-about-it image optimization plugin that can compress all your past images and PDF documents with a single click. New images are automatically resized/rescaled and optimized on the fly, in the background. It’s also compatible with any gallery, slider, or e-commerce plugin.
Kraken Image Optimizer
This plugin allows you to optimize your WordPress images through the Kraken API, the world’s most advanced image optimization solution. Kraken is a premium plugin; you pay according to the number of images you need to optimize.
This enterprise-class security plugin includes a firewall, virus scanning, and real-time traffic with geolocation, and offers both free and premium versions. It is one of our recommended plugins for securing your WordPress website.
This malware scanner plugin enables you to scan your WordPress site for malware, phishing, and malicious attacks against the Sucuri database right from your WordPress admin dashboard. A more advanced premium version is available as well. It is one of our recommended plugins for securing your WordPress website.
Contact Forms Plugins
Forminator is your completely free and expandable form builder plugin for WordPress. It’s the easiest way to create any form – from contact forms and feedback widgets to interactive polls with real-time results, BuzzFeed-style “no wrong answer” quizzes, service estimators, and registration forms with payment options including PayPal and Stripe.
This plugin allows you to build WordPress forms in minutes. Select your fields, configure your options, and easily embed custom forms on your WordPress site using the built-in tools.
Contact Form 7
This plugin can manage multiple contact forms. Plus, you can customize both the contact form as well as the email content with flexible and simple markup. No coding required! This form supports Ajax-powered submitting, CAPTCHA, Akismet spam filtering, and more.
This drag & drop online form builder allows you to easily create contact forms, email subscription forms, online order forms, payment forms, surveys, polls, and all other types of online forms with just a few clicks. WPForms integrates with all popular marketing and payment platforms so that you can build powerful forms in less than 5 minutes. It even comes with options to help you create a custom WordPress user registration form and login page. This plugin comes both in a free (Lite) and premium version.
Live Chat Plugins
Tidio Live Chat
Tidio Live Chat is one of the most accessible live chat plugins to get up and running – activate the plugin, and you’re ready to go. The chat boxes come in three designs, which can be fully color customized to fit your branding. The free version of Tidio allows you to have one agent and one chat open, with no other restrictions. You can add additional agents using the premium version, which also enables unlimited concurrent chats and automatic messages.
LiveChat is a WordPress chat plugin you can use to quickly and easily add live chat support to your WordPress website. It allows for instant communication with on-site visitors and customers and enables prompt resolution to their questions or concerns. LiveChat comes with a comprehensive set of features, including proactive chat invitations – so chat operators can automatically send personalized messages to appear based on specified conditions, such as the number of visited pages or time spent on the website.
WooCommerce is the all-in-one open source eCommerce platform for WordPress webmasters. With a plethora of features, extensions, and customizations built into the platform, WooCommerce makes selling on your WordPress site easier than ever before.
Email Optin Plugins
Mailchimp for WordPress
MailChimp is one of the most popular email marketing services to manage subscribers, send emails, and track results in bulk. It is a great marketing tool for webmasters and business owners. To integrate MailChimp for a WordPress site is straightforward with the plugin MailChimp for WordPress. It is a free plugin that allows you to add beautiful subscription forms in your WP blog. If you want to use the plugin for commercial purposes, you can try the premium version.
This WordPress plugin lets you create beautiful opt-in forms to add more subscribers to your email list. Besides, you can easily integrate the plugin with any other submission form on your sites like contact form, comment, or checkout form. It supports all submission form plugins such as Contact Form 7, WooCommerce, and more.
This WordPress plugin and application helps you get more email subscribers, fast. OptinMonster comes with pre-made high-converting opt-in forms that you can easily customize with their drag & drop builder. Their extensive display targeting features allow you to personalize the campaigns for each user so that you can show the right message at the right time. It is an excellent solution for bloggers, business websites, and e-commerce websites. If you want to make more money from your website traffic, then you need OptinMonster.
Constant Contact Forms by MailMunch
Constant Contact Forms by MailMunch allows you to painlessly add Constant Contact sign up forms to your WordPress site. The sign-up form captures the lead and sends it to specific Constant Contact lists automatically. You can set it to no op-in, opt-in, or double opt-in. The plugin allows you to add forms to posts, pages or sidebar, and also open it as a popup or top bar. Simply sign up and connect your Constant Contact account into the plugin admin settings. It will pull in all your Constant Contact lists. From there, you can choose the mailing lists for which you want to make forms.
This plugin checks your blog comments against the Akismet web service to determine if they are spam or not. It also lets you review the spam it catches in the “Comments” section of your WordPress admin dashboard.
There used to be some great features only available to WordPress.com users, not for self-hosted sites. This WordPress plugin supercharges your self-hosted WordPress site by connecting it to the cloud power of WordPress.com. This plugin features over 40 modules you can activate and configure individually.
Really Simple CAPTCHA
Really Simple CAPTCHA is a CAPTCHA module intended as an add-on for other plugins. It was created for the Contact Form 7 plugin.
The Redirection WordPress plugin is handy when you are migrating pages from an old website or changing the directory of a WordPress installation. In such cases, Redirection helps you to manage all the 301 redirections and keep track of 404 errors. The plugin automatically adds a 301 redirection when a post’s URL changes. You can also manually add 301, 302, and 307 redirections for any post or page. Another nice feature is that Redirection provides full logs for all redirected URLs.
Quick Page/Post Redirect Plugin
Redirect Pages, Posts, or Custom Post Types to another location quickly (for internal or external URLs). The plugin includes individual post/page options, redirects for Custom Post types, non-existent 301 Quick Redirects (essential for sites converted to WordPress), New Window functionality, and rel=nofollow functionality.
Easy Theme and Plugin Updates
This plugin allows for installed themes to be upgraded by using the Appearance > Add New Themes > Upload feature of WordPress. Without this plugin, to update any theme, you must first delete the current version of your theme before installing the newer version.
TinyMCE is a simple free-to-use plugin that allows you to add, remove, and rearrange the buttons shown in the Visual Editor toolbar. It gives you the ability to configure font sizes, font family, text/background colors, tables, and much more.
By default, WordPress does not allow you to create a multilingual website easily. This shortcoming is a challenge for businesses that cater to a multilingual customer base in different geographic locations. WPML is a WordPress multilingual plugin that allows you to create multi-lingual websites with WordPress easily. This plugin is very easy to use, SEO friendly, and helps you easily create content in different languages.
WP Mail SMTP
By default, WordPress uses the PHP mail function to send emails. The problem is that either WordPress hosting companies don’t have this feature set up correctly, or they block it to prevent abuse. The result is that you and your users may not receive relevant email notifications from your WordPress site. WP Mail SMTP solves this problem by sending WordPress emails using a proper SMTP mail server.
BackupPlus allows you to create backups locally or upload them to Amazon S3, Dropbox, Google Drive, Rackspace, (S)FTP, WebDAV, Google Cloud Storage, OneDrive, and the integrated UpdraftPlus Vault, and email, on automatic schedules. The premium version is also an excellent plugin for migrating WordPress sites to a new host.
VaultPress is a security-oriented WordPress plugin built to create real-time automated backups for your website. The Jetpack powered theme easily syncs up every content, post, comment, and media file on your website seamless and provides protection from many web issues and attacks.
VaultPress allows you to create optimized backups regularly and restore your website in a matter of seconds with just a single click. With multiple subscriptions, you can also monitor, backup, and manage multiple sites through a single dashboard.
This plugin lets you back up your entire WordPress installation. You can automatically schedule backups of your themes, widgets, plugins, content, and even your SQL database regularly.
Social Sharing Plugins
Monarch is another one of our favorite WordPress plugins. The Monarch plugin allows you to take social sharing to the next level. This plugin is endlessly customizable to fit almost any design. Monarch allows you to select from more than 20 social sharing networks to display on your website to create a custom collection of sharing options for your visitors.
This WordPress plugin lets users promote their content on over 330 social networking and bookmarking sites. Users can easily configure settings that allow them overviews of stats like shares and clicks on a daily or weekly basis.
This WordPress plugin helps people share, bookmark, and email your posts using over 100 social networking and bookmarking sites, including Facebook, Google, Twitter, Mix, Digg, and more. This social sharing plugin is a viable alternative to AddThis.
This plugin is an all-in-one content sharing and amplification platform. It includes related content recommendations, promoted content, following, and even site monetization apps like affiliate linking and social analytics.
MashShare is a professional and highly customizable WordPress plugin for social media sharing and optimizing your valuable content. It also includes subscribing buttons for your news feed and mailing lists.
Installing and Configuring WordPress Plugins
A Few Basic Thoughts
Essential WordPress plugins can make your business website the best it can be. And it is easy to overdo it. Before you start adding every plugin, you can think of or that you come across, ask yourself if you need it. Having some unique feature on your website is fantastic, but not if it interferes with some other functionality. Limit WordPress plugins to those that enhance your site.
Since WordPress plugins are so easy to download and install, we recommend you delete any deactivated plugins instead of keeping them in your plugins. Having inactive plugins not only slows your site down; it can also expose your site to additional security risks. It is easy and more secure to download the plugin again if you change your mind later.
Before You Get Started
Before you install and activate any essential WordPress plugins on your business website, make sure you have a complete backup of your entire site just in case. Nine out of ten times, everything will go without a glitch. But every so often, a plugin conflicts with something on your website and breaks it. With a backup, you will be up and running again much faster than trying to debug a plugin.
And be sure to check out any essential WordPress plugins you are considering before installing them. We recommend you make sure they are current with your version of WordPress (5.4 as of 04/08/2020) and have a reasonable number of users. We would not trust a WordPress plugin that was only downloaded a few hundred times, would you?
Installing WordPress Plugins
Once you have narrowed down your list of essential WordPress plugins, you are ready to install and activate them. Installing is easy; simply use the “Add New” functionality in the Plugins panel of your WordPress admin dashboard. Search for your plugin, confirm it is the correct one, and “Install” it. After the plugin successfully installed, you will need to “Activate” it before you can proceed.
We highly recommend that you install and activate one WordPress plugin at a time! Afterward, make sure your business website looks and functions as before. If everything looks good, you can move forward and install the next WordPress plugin. If not, you need to deactivate the plugin, check again, and delete the plugin if required.
Configuring WordPress Plugins
Most WordPress plugins are straightforward to configure. In many cases, you don’t even have any configuration options available. You are good to go. Other configuration requirements may include providing your email or selecting a user name and password. These days you may be asked for your cloud services provider, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, or similar.
But some of our essential WordPress plugins can have extensive configuration options that are well beyond most novices. This type of plugin usually includes performance and caching plugins like W3 Cache and similar WordPress plugins. And we don’t recommend that you attempt this on your own unless you feel comfortable. And we hope you read the earlier bit about backing up your site before you start!
Getting Professional Help
Yes, I know, not what you wanted to hear. But I am going to mention it regardless. If you think having your web designer or agency help you with this is too expensive or unnecessary, think again. What could end up being a frustrating exercise for you may only take a few hours for an expert. Most often, they have already configured and installed the same WordPress plugins many times. So before you do this on your own, consider getting some professional help.
We Deal With WordPress Plugins
PixoLabo is a top WordPress web design company. We offer a full range of mobile-first WordPress website consulting and design services, including mobile-first web design and development, e-commerce solutions, and business website hosting and maintenance.
Contact us to learn more about our WordPress design and development services. Our team can help you install and configure all required WordPress plugins on your business website.
Are You Using WordPress Plugins?
Do you have anything to add to our essential WordPress plugins list? Did you install one or more plugins from our list? How did that go for you? Perhaps you have a favorite or favorites of your own? Please leave your comments below so our audience can benefit as well, and grab our feed, so you don’t miss our next post! And help your associates with their small business websites by sharing our WordPress plugins post with them!
Thank you! We appreciate your help to end bad business websites, one pixel at a time!