Online presence is crucial for businesses. Accept it or not, most of your customers are online and if you want your business to grow; a functional, easy to get around and a customer-friendly website is a must-have.
WordPress is the first choice for small and big business owners who wish to create their website quickly and easily, as it’s the most feature-packed content management platform, allowing you to equip it with the functionalities needed for your business and your customers. Among the seemingly endless number of the extensions a.k.a plugins available in the WordPress directory, there is a considerable portion of essential plugins. They target different functionalities and can bring valuable features to your website.
WordPress out of the box is already superior to Blogger and, in my opinion, one of the best blogging platforms for bloggers. But to max out the WordPress Performance, you need to get all the right plugins installed and working to your advantage for optimal performance and viral traffic generation.
Table of Contents
- What is a WordPress Plugin?
- Basic WordPress Plugins You Must Install
- WordPress SEO Plugins to Choose From
- WordPress Security Plugins
- WordPress Performance-based Plugins
- WordPress Backup Plugins
- WordPress eCommerce Plugins
- WooCommerce Plugins
- WordPress Image Optimization Plugins
- WordPress Page Builder Plugins
- WordPress Social Media Plugins
- WordPress Commenting Plugins
- WordPress Membership Plugins
- WordPress BuddyPress Plugins
- WordPress Forum Plugins
- WordPress Menu Plugins
- WordPress Contact Form Plugins
- WordPress Slider Plugins
- WordPress Email Subscription Plugins
- WordPress Responsive (Mobile Theme) Plugins
- WordPress Utility Plugins
- Things to Keep In Mind
What is a WordPress Plugin?
A WordPress Plugin is a program, or a set of one or more functions, written in the PHP scripting language, that adds a specific set of features or services to the WordPress blog, which can be seamlessly integrated with the weblog using access points and methods provided by the WordPress Plugin Application Program Interface (API).
I know that the Internet is filled up with posts about the best WordPress plugins, but hey I can start one too right?
There are tons of WordPress plugins out there. Some of them can be helpful, while others are just a waste of disk space and resources. Let’s take a look at some of the most useful and essential WordPress plugins categorically.
Basic WordPress Plugins You Must Install
These are the essential WordPress plugins that you can’t live without them.
- Akismet – Akismet is one of the default plugins, it checks your comments against the Akismet web service to see if they look like spam or not and lets you review the spam it catches under your blog’s “Comments” admin screen. You need a WordPress.com API key to use it.
- Contact Form 7 – Contact Form 7 is one of the most famous and free contact form builder WordPress plugin.
- Jetpack by WordPress.com – Tracks views, post/page views, referrers, and clicks. Requires a WordPress.com API key. This is a robust plugin.
- Redirection – This plugin will monitor all your 404 errors and manages 301 redirects efficiently. Every website should install it to prevent SEO Juice using redirects for 404 error pages.
WordPress SEO Plugins to Choose From
- WordPress SEO by Yoast – Considered as #1 WordPress SEO Plugin. Download over a million times and recommended by all WordPress gurus. We at WPArena is also using SEO by Yoast. Write better content and have a fully optimized WordPress site using the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast. Search engine optimization is required on all kinds of websites nowadays, but for business and corporate websites, it’s a must-have strategy from the get-go. If you need any type of help with the optimization of your website, Yoast SEO plugin is the first and best choice you should make. It takes care of the full search engine optimization of your website. It helps you to write better keyword-rich content, reminds you to enable pretty permalinks, insert image alt tags, checks if your titles are long enough if your post’s meta description contains a relevant number of characters, etc. You can have a snippet preview of your posts and see what they will look like in search results.
- All in One SEO Pack– Out-of-the-box SEO for your WordPress blog.
WordPress Security Plugins
- WordFence Security – No.1 WordPress Security Plugin covering almost all the hackable factors of a WordPress site.
- iThemes Security (formerly Better WP Security) – If you’re running a website of any scale – or you store data on your web server that you might consider being sensitive – you’ll need a boost to WordPress’s already impressive security features. Enter Better WP Security, a free WordPress plugin that patches “as many security holes as possible” without influencing the operation of your website. Best of all, it claims to keep your site snappy and responsive, and can even detect broken links that might lead to 404 errors.
- Sucuri Security – Sucuri Security plugin is the best way to monitor all the security-related issues on your website. It offers robust security file integrity monitoring, security notifications, remote security malware scanning engine, security blacklist monitoring, effective security hardening configurations, post-hack security actions, and other advanced features to minimize the risks of attacks, operational problems, and other malfunctions. In short, Sucuri is a security toolset that works out of the box to keep your website safe out there.
WordPress Performance-based Plugins
- WP-Rocket – This is the most praised and easy to use WordPress performance plugin. It provides a lot of features and optimization tools and better than almost all the available alternatives in terms of usage and speed optimization.
- W3 Total Cache – Boldly claiming to enhance your site’s speed by at least ten times (once fully configured), W3 Total Cache is a must-install free WordPress plugin. It minifies HTML, CSS, and images, and cuts the number of HTTP requests your site has to make on loading. The custom DOM render starts rendering fast, without waiting for other stuff to load. All in all, it’s a free boost to site performance across any device. And, it’ll save mobile users data – ideal, if they’re using a smartphone or 3G/4G, enabled ultrabook — the only WordPress Performance Optimization (WPO) framework; designed to improve user experience and page speed.
- WP Super Cache – While writing this post; Essential WordPress Plugins, I can’t ignore this simple and most awesome caching WordPress plugin. WP Super Cache is maintained by Team “Automattic,” the people behind WordPress. You can significantly speed up your website with the help of the WP Super Cache plugin. It is a static caching plugin, which generates static HTML files without processing heavy PHP scripts. It basically betters your website performance and reduces the load on the server. As website speed is considered as an important aspect of search rankings, make sure to give a careful thought to it.
WordPress Backup Plugins
- UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin – On-demand and automatic backup of your WordPress database. The UpdraftPlus plugin will help you take care of the backup of your website’s database and make sure your files are safe out there. The good news is that you can have manual, as well as scheduled backups, and store your files in different locations such as Dropbox, Google drive, Google cloud storage, Rackspace, email, etc…You can have different backup schedules for files and database and also select which of the files to backup and which components to restore later on. Failed file uploads are automatically resumed until the backup is thoroughly done.
- Duplicator Pro – One of the most awesome WordPress migration plugin. Duplicator is being used on WPArena. Read the full review here.
- WP-DBManager – Allows you to optimize database, repair database, backup database, restore the database, delete backup database, drop/empty tables and run selected queries. Supports automatic scheduling of backing up, optimizing and repairing of database.
WordPress eCommerce Plugins
- WooCommerce – World’s Most used eCommerce plugin for WordPress stores. There is probably no need to introduce WooCommerce, the most popular e-commerce platform for WordPress. No matter what your business is about if it involves selling, Woocommerce gives you endless ways and possibilities to accomplish it. It combines all the features your business might need such as selling physical and digital goods, extensive shipping options, full control over your store, over 300 available extensions to meet the requirements of businesses of any type and size. With WooCommerce your business is secured and is bound to grow.
- Cart66 Cloud – Cart66 is one of the oldest eCommerce plugins existed to date with great features and uses. Read the Cart66 Review in detail.
- Easy Digital Downloads – The World’s easiest way to sell digital downloads through WordPress, for free.
- WooCommerce Flash Sales – Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sales Booster – Provide awesome discounts, flash sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday using this awesome plugin.
- WooCommerce Abandoned Cart Assistant – Don’t worry if your customer left without completing the order page. You can get back to the customer using this great WooCommcrce Plugin.
- Woocommerce Stripe ACH Gateway – Best Stripe Plugin for WooCommerce till date and is being used by one of our top WooCommerce sites.
WordPress Image Optimization Plugins
- Smush Image Compression and Optimization – Reduce image file sizes, improve performance and boost your SEO using the WPMU DEV WordPress Smush API.
- Restore Image Title – Reverses WordPress 3.5’s behavior of stripping the title from images inserted into posts.
WordPress Page Builder Plugins
- Beaver Builder – Best page builder to start your WordPress site for non-coders. Beaver Builder is one of the most recommended WordPress plugins for designing awesome sites by WPArena. Read the complete review here.
- Visual Composer – Most used WordPress Page Builder Plugin on the planet.
WordPress Social Media Plugins
- Social Warfare – Social Warfare is one of the best social sharing plugins for your WordPress site.
- AddToAny – Help your website visitors and customers share your posts and pages to various social platforms with a click of a button. As one of the most popular social sharing plugins AddToAny is the right tool to go with. It allows you to add social sharing and following buttons on your website, which can be placed in different locations. The buttons are mobile and retina ready and can be customized in so many ways. The plugin also provides some analytical data about a number of shares, which can be tracked by the share counts of posts and pages.
WordPress Commenting Plugins
- Disqus – Disqus is an ultimate commenting system for your WordPress site.
- Subscribe To Comments Reloaded – Allows readers to receive notifications of new comments that are posted to an entry plus so much more. (Our Favourite Plugin)
WordPress Membership Plugins
- MemberPress – Create awesome membership sites easily using MemberPress. Read more about MemberPress Review here.
WordPress BuddyPress Plugins
- BuddyPress – BuddyPress helps site builders and WordPress developers add community features to their websites. (Only For BuddyPress sites – Community sites).
WordPress Forum Plugins
- BBPress – World’s Best WordPress Forum Plugin.
WordPress Menu Plugins
- Max Mega Menu – Menus are essential for better website navigation and better search engine rankings as well. With WordPress Mega Menu plugin you’ll be able to create widgetized menus by dragging and dropping menu items. There is a built-in theme editor available in the plugin that gives you over 100 customization options to design and style menus according to your business needs. You can create multiple menus with separate configurations for each of them. The menus are responsive, retina-ready and are compatible with all the major browsers.
WordPress Contact Form Plugins
- Formidable Pro – Our Favourite Form Maker plugin, that we are using on WPArena also.
- WPForms – Our Second top contact form plugin. Read WPForms review here.
- Form Maker – Addressing your customer’s needs and requests on time is a proven strategy to build better connections with them. The easiest way your customers can connect with you is a contact form, which is widely used across thousands of websites. WordPress Form Maker plugin will let you generate not only contact forms but also application, survey, questionnaire, registration and any other type of forms with various info fields. This WordPress form builder enables you to create simple forms with several basic info fields and multipart forms for obtaining any needed information from your customers. Generated forms are responsive, fully customizable, and come with 37 editable themes to help you to create forms spending less time and efforts.
- weForms – weForms is the fastest and easiest contact form plugin. It is a single page application with drag and drop form builder. You can easily create any kind of form with it and manage responses on the go. There are many form templates available along with many amazing features. It’s completely free to use.
WordPress Slider Plugins
- Soliloquy – The best and simple Slider Plugin. Read In-depth analysis of Soliloquy Slider Plugin.
- Layer Slider – Do you want to build the most outstanding sliders on your WordPress site? Then look no further. Layerslider is the ultimate choice for achieving great results. Read the Full LayerSlider Review here.
- Slider Revolution – Create beautiful Sliders with ease.
- SlideDeck – It’s a popular responsive WordPress slider plugin. You can create different types of eye-catchy sliders (image, video, and social media) in a matter of a few minutes which will surely attract your visitor’s attention. SlideDeck is absolutely free, you can download it from here.
- Slider WD – Slider WD will enable you to add responsive and highly configurable sliders to your website and highlight the key features of your business. Create beautiful slides with over 25 transition effects and design customizations and showcase images, video files, and posts. Still not enough? Embed media files from Instagram, Flickr, YouTube, and Vimeo and spice the slides up with hotspot layers, carousel, parallax, and filmstrip effects. You can protect your slides from illegal use by adding watermarks to them and enabling image right click protection. The slides also support social sharing layer to help you to easily get the word out about your business. The number of slides you can create is unlimited.
WordPress Email Subscription Plugins
- OptinMonster – Developed by the awesome team of WPBeginner. OptinMonster is not only a plugin to capture leads and email subscriptions but a complete set of tools to grow your email list. OptinMonster plugin can be your best partner if you want to grow your email list and ultimately convert your visitors into customers. It helps you to add highly converting pop-ups, slide-ins, sidebar forms, floating header and footer bars and other types of forms to your website and turn your visitors into subscribers and customers. The plugin comes with various form templates and lets you create and customize forms literally in minutes. While you can add forms in various locations, OptinMonster’s powerful exit-intent technology allows you to show pop-ups to your visitors based on different triggers. There are also mobile specific forms available in the plugin.
- MailOptin – MailOptin is also one of the best WordPress email capture plugins developed by a very professional team. Read MailOptin Review.
- ConvertPlug – ConvertPlug is also considered a great solution for capturing email subscribers and leads. It’s a great and cheap alternative to OptinMonster. Read the full review here.
WordPress Responsive (Mobile Theme) Plugins
With a bevy of new hardware – and a bevy of new screen sizes – hitting the market, web developers have never been more pressed to make sure their site is fully responsive. For WordPress users, that could be difficult: the responsiveness of a theme is hard-baked into the template code. However, there are some plugins that promise to give your users a much, much better web experience. What’s out there, and why should you care?
- WPTouch – You may be aware that we’re living in the era of touch-enabled devices. Users of smartphones, ultrabooks, and tablets all expect touch-optimized interfaces from websites they use regularly, but few bloggers are being particularly hasty about making the changes. Normally, coding a ‘mobile-friendly’ version of your WordPress site can take an age, but WP touch is a mobile-first theme package that you can customize out-of-the-box. It’s super easy to use and takes advantage of the latest and greatest in web technologies to provide a smooth and seamless user experience. And it’s free: obvious, really.
WordPress Utility Plugins
- Blog Designer – If you own a blog website, then Blog Designer is a must for you! It doesn’t mean it is unsuitable for other websites. It’s a unique WordPress plugin, perfect fit for any webmaster to introduce their blog page in an attractive way. Blog Designer can present your blog posts in a specific timeline or news templates. Even though it is a freemium WordPress Plugin, You can do a lot with the free version. However, if you want more timeline templates, you can upgrade to the Pro version. It has 40+ inbuilt blog templates, 200+ blog page design possibilities, and so many great features. This plugin also allows you to modify blog and single page layouts and design.
- Header and Footer – Do you want to have fully customized and functional header and footer sections on your business website? With Header and Footer plugin you can easily manage the code on the head and bottom sections of any single page on your website. You can add various scripts for Google Analytics, Google Webmaster tools, Adsense, custom tracking codes and bring those services to the header and footer parts.
The services can be added before, after or in the middle of the posts and pages and the codes can contain PHP script parts as well. So basically, you don’t need to install various plugins to get all those functionalities. With Header and Footer, you get them all and also get an organized way to manage them.
- Relevanssi – For a better search functionality on your website, you should check out Relevanssi plugin. It allows you to provide advanced searching options to your customers and better present the results as well. The search results are displayed based on the relevance to the search query and are highlighted. The plugin supports fuzzy matching and searches for phrases with quotes. It searches for results all over your website including comments section, tags, categories, custom fields.
- YARPP – YARPP is a great tool to introduce your website visitors related content, that is posts, custom post types, and pages most relevant to the things they’re looking at. It chooses the content based on its relevance to the current entry, taking into account post titles, tags, categories, and the content. You can display the results in thumbnails or list views with featured images, and choose from the available templates. YARPP is a proven way to increase engagement on your website and a great option to make some recommendations to your visitors.
Things to Keep In Mind
The plugins presented above provide functionalities that would be equally useful for websites of different purposes and niches. They are all of the high quality, compatible with the latest WordPress version and are sure to enhance your website is so many ways.
Most of these serve some type of SEO benefit. I like the Jetpack plugin that I included. This plugin’s free version has a lot of modules to enable or disable. By using this plugin, you will be able to install fewer plugins. Fewer plugins can equal faster page speed. Right now, page speed is just 1 factor in ranking well but ultimately speed helps to keep a visitor on your blog longer and continuing to come back.
Pro Tip: Make sure you only choose the best recommended WordPress Hosting as this can help in page speed. The first impression can mean a new subscriber upon first visit or profit of that one visitor. It all starts with your web host. Using certain plugins can help increase your blog’s performance. For tips, check out our guide below to optimize your blog.
- Also Read: WordPress Optimization Guide
I know there are thousands of plugins available and this list will ultimately grow and change over time. I also know everyone has their preference for favorite WordPress plugins, so what do you think I should add to the list?
Suggestions are welcomed in the comments section below. We will periodically add your suggestions to the list. If we are missing any good plugins, then let us know in the comments section below. We will try to add them in the next post update.