With almost 50,000 WordPress plugins at your service, customization possibilities for your website are not far from being infinite. Plugins are bits of code that you can easily install and implement on your site in order to add extra features. They can either be related to frontend or backend use. Some will help you improve the appearance and user-friendliness while others may assist you in administering your website in a more efficient way. In other words, there is a plugin for everything!
However, with so many options knowing where to begin can be challenging. Not to mention that many provide you with comparable benefits. As a result, stating which one fits you the best is not an easy task.
Our goal here is to highlight what we consider to be the handiest plugins on the market. The must-haves for every WordPress website. You may also notice that all plugins mentioned enjoy at least a 4-star review from the WordPress community – a plebiscite that demonstrates not only effectiveness but also great user experience. In our selection, you will find most popular and efficient plugins. They are dedicated to helping you with security, visibility and user experience, communication and traffic increase. Make your choice!
Regardless of the hosting solution you picked, it goes without saying that activating security plugins is a must. Some security issues are so specific that only certain plugins can help you counter them. Among all issues, brute force attacks and potential downtime are the security issues you should be most aware of.
With WordPress powering more than 27% of the world’s websites it became the main target for hackers
iTheme Security offers a wide range of options helping you to secure your website. Blocking suspicious users or behavior is one of them. IP addresses will, for instance, automatically be blocked if several attempts to log into your admin area are made. The plugin also detects and registers all changes made in your database. You will be aware of anything happening. Finally, iTheme Security can also spot and eliminate scanning bots that are repeatedly looking for weaknesses on your website. It isn’t the easiest plugin to handle. Nevertheless, it is worth taking a close look at it if you are looking for high-level security.
Wordfence Security is specialized in stopping hackers from causing you any damage. Your sales and, worse of all, your reputation can be badly affected following content modification or deletion. In order to prevent you from undergoing such consequences, Wordfence Security provides you with a firewall against hackers as well as a quick alert system based on live traffic scanning.
All-In-One WP Security & Firewall is, as its name suggests it, a comprehensive but still user-friendly plugin. Not only does it allow you to assess security strength, it also provides you with advice regarding the must-have features that your website requires to benefit from optimal protection. Being able to scale your security is hugely practical.
UpdraftPlus is a great plugin when it comes to manual or automated backups. Methodically saving your website’s content gives you the opportunity of restoring it in the case of a website crash. Saving options, included in UpdraftPlus, also allow you to store your data in cloud solutions such as Google Drive or Dropbox. Similar functionalities also exist in BackupBuddy.
Improve Visibility & User Experience
Search Engine Optimization is a must. One could call it as the art of organically improving search engine rankings. You, therefore, rely on the quality of your content and not on any kind of search engine advertising to do so. As many WordPress users do not necessarily have a budget to spend on Google Adwords, SEO plugins can come in very handy. They will help your content make progress with criteria such as relevance (picking the right keywords accordingly to users search habits), authority (linking to other websites related to your activity) and page-loading speed.
A smart use of keywords is a first step forward in order to benefit from a better position in the search engine results
Yoast SEO provides you with case-specific advice in order to boost your SEO. It will in particular:
- Check how relevant your meta description is as well as the length of your title
- Give you the possibility to choose the pages you want to display in the search engines results
- Analyze the whole content of your page in order to define and improve its SEO quality and readability. Keyword density, the number of words, the percentage of passive sentences and many other criteria are taken into account.
In brief, Yoast’s suggestions should significantly improve your ranking and therefore your visibility within the search results.
Jetpack gathers an impressive number of fundamental functionalities that explains how popular it became among the WordPress plugins. Indeed, Jetpack will allow you to work on SEO matters with title format customization and meta description editing but you will also find:
- Content creation options: slideshows, social media feeds etc.
- Discussion and community features: email subscriptions, commenting with social media accounts etc.
- Security & backup services: brute force attack protection, malware scanning, website backup and restoring
Google XML Sitemaps is recognized as one of the best WordPress plugins. It improves your rankings through two different actions. On the one hand, it provides search engines with an XML sitemap. The latter makes it easier for them to understand and promote your content. On the other hand, search engines are notified whenever new content is published on your website. This plugin also enjoys a very good reputation in terms of optimization and should not slow your page loading from one iota.
W3 Total Cache is a caching plugin. It aims to improve user experience by making pages load faster. For every page which is loaded, it creates static files including images, CSS sheets etc., that are saved in a temporary folder. They will later be used to show what we call cached copies. Every second time a user will visit your website, his browser will be able to display pages much faster. And speed is precisely one of the parameters search engines are taking into account when building their rankings!
WP Smush focuses on another speed factor: images. When heavy, they tend to slow down the page loading as they request more data to the server. WP Smush compresses and optimizes pictures in a very easy way and with no quality loss. This should significantly improve your website’s performance.
SEO Friendly Images is a title attribution plugin for pictures thanks to which associating keywords to images becomes possible. Web users typing keywords in an image search engine will have more chances to come across your pictures. This could eventually lead them to visit your website.
Build Attractive Content
Make your content visually engaging can be challenging as WordPress does not offer an unlimited number of customization possibilities for your content. Moreover, the admin editing area does not necessarily display your content as it is going to be when published which can be frustrating. Fortunately, quite a few plugins will help you sort this out!
Once this done, get prepared to attract as many visitors as possible. Would be a shame if nobody enjoyed your hard work, isn’t it? As a consequence, make sure you have the right communication tools at your disposal in order to ease interaction between yourself and your customers or readers. This should definitely help you boost your traffic.
Listening to your clients is not an easy task but their feedback can be extremely enriching to improve the way you do business
Visual Composer is an easy-to-use drag & drop page builder based on the “What You See Is What You Get” principle. It enables you to create content in an intuitive but effective way. This way of doing also guarantees 100% responsiveness!
CK Editor is a text editor plugin. It helps you edit the text so that it looks as similar as possible to the page once published. In addition, many editing options integrated into desktop editing applications (such as Microsoft Word), become available for the web. You will find smiley insertion, customizable toolbar buttons, etc.
Contact Form 7 is a plugin enabling your visitors to contact you through contact forms or comment sections. You can, of course, customize the information visitors have to type in order to contact you.
Akismet efficiently detects and filters spam messages in the comment sections of your website. You can figure out the ones to be displayed or deleted.
CoSchedule helps you organizing the interaction you have with your audience. You can, for instance, easily plan all your content in one editorial calendar. You will also be able to schedule your posts not only on your website but also on any social media. Indeed, CoSchedule advises you on the best time slots to promote your content in social networks.
Social Icons WordPress Plugin is a basic but essential plugin. It allows you to make social media icons available on your web page. Your visitors can easily share and comment on your content.
BuddyPress empowers your WordPress website with various social network features:
- Activity streams
- Public or private groups allowing your users to break the discussion down into specific topics
- Private messaging
- Notification system
BuddyPress, therefore, helps you in tightening the bonds within any community: work, school, friends, sports team, etc.
- SumoMe allows you to display subscription pop-ups and social media buttons.
- Bloom aims to help you create opt-in forms enabling you to ask permission to send more messages to your customers and potential customers.
Offering these possibilities should encourage people to visit your website once again and new users to discover your content.
WooCommerce enables you to set up your web shop and control the whole e-commerce process from beginning to end.
- Many features regarding, for instance, shipping or payment exist.
- You can make your web shop practical and personalized thanks to hundreds of extensions and themes.
Safety issues are also taken quite at heart with regular audits.
The Ultimate Must-Have Among All Must-Haves
Google Analytics provides you with a complete set of real-time statistics
Last but not the least – analyzing your visitors’ behavior. Google Analytics Dashboard for WP precisely provides you with a complete and legible set of real-time statistics:
- Bounce rate
- Time spent on a page
- Number of clicks
Assessing the popularity of each of your sections is crucial in order to determine good practices. What implementations can you undertake to call to action and ease user experience?
It is high time you have a look around in the Plugin Directory and start filling your plugin cart! Other useful and user-friendly plugins are, of course, likely to be found. However, we guarantee that the ones highlighted above are safe values. If you believe one of them matches your needs, go for it!
Depending on website’s topic, you could check out whether more specific plugins related to your business exist. There is a plugin for almost everything! Even though it could turn out to be time-consuming to look through multiple plugins, it is worth doing so in order to make all the difference on your website. Remember, it’s all in the details!