Top WordPress plugins every site should have

Out of the box, WordPress is a great system for blogging and managing websites. But to truly unlock its power, you need to add plugins to tailor it to your precise needs. Adding some of our top plugin recommendations can make really turbo-charge your site!

People frequently ask us for recommendations on which WordPress plugins they should use on their site. Of course, we’ve written quite a few WordPress plugins ourselves, but the list of great WordPress plugins is much larger than that.

Key features

These plugins add entirely new areas of functionality to WordPress – from supporting multiple languages, to selling online, and beyond.

  • Yoast SEO – The best way to optimize your website for search engines. But you already knew that, right?
  • WooCommerce – Adds ecommerce capabilities, with a huge ecosystem of addons and extensions for every type of store and website.
  • Gravity Forms or Ninja Forms – Adds sophisticated form creation and management tools, with loads of integrations and addons.
  • wpDiscuz – A great, modern, fully-featured replacement to WordPress’ default comments system.
  • MultilingualPress or WPML – Translate and localize your website for different territories and languages.
  • Relevanssi – Overhauls WordPress’ search functionality to prioritize relevance over date.

Site speed

Making your website lightning fast can be a complex task. These plugins can help to speed up the process, and speed up your site.

Be careful when installing multiple caching or optimization plugins; they can get in each others way, and slow down your site!

  • WP Rocket – Very powerful, and one of the best options to make your site faster. Designed to be simple. No free option.
  • W3 Total Cache – Extremely powerful, and extremely flexible. Designed to be comprehensive. Hundreds of checkboxes and options.
  • WP Optimize – A good middle ground, with basic full page caching, and some sophisticated database + media optimization tools.
  • WP Super Cache – A basic solution which offers full page caching, but lacks other/advanced optimization techniques.
  • AMP – Automatically converts your website’s theme to be compliant with AMP HTML standards.
  • Autoptimize – Some really clever JavaScript/CSS/HTML optimization, though no full page caching (should work well with a dedicated full page caching solution)
  • Compress JPEG & PNG images or Optimole – Compress, optimize and manage your images.

Measurement

Monitoring and understanding your website’s performance is key if you want to improve those key metrics. These plugins can help you to measure how you’re doing.

  • Site Kit by Google – Connects your website to Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Search Console, and more, all in one place.
  • Monster Insights – Puts Google Analytics data right in your WordPress. Great for beginners.
  • Google Tag Manager For WordPress – Adds a whole bunch of data to your Google Tag Manager container, which you can pick up in Google Analytics and other systems.
  • Microsoft Clarity – A privacy-friendly approach to monitoring how users interact with your website, with session recordings, heatmaps and clever metrics.

Admin improvements

Managing and running a website doesn’t need to be a chore. These plugins help you to streamline the process.

  • Admin Menu Editor – Helps manage and tidy up the WordPress admin sidebar menu when you run lots of plugins or features.
  • User Role Editor – Tweak which roles and individual users have access and permissions to which features.
  • Public Post Preview – Share private links to posts which you’re still writing, drafting or proof-reading.
  • Nested Pages – Makes it much easier to organize larger sites with complex page structures and hierarchies.

Security & backups

An extra layer of defence can protect you from unwanted intruders, and, help you restore order if somebody breaks in.

  • UpdraftPlus – Take regular backups of your filesystem and database, and restore snapshots with a click.
  • Sucuri or WordFence – Lock down your site, manage access and security settings, and monitor for problems.
  • Two Factor Authentication – Add extra security to your login process.
  • WP Activity Log – Keep a record of everything that happens on your website.

Anything else?

Are we missing any critical plugins, which every site should know about? Or, do you have a suggestion for a replacement to one of our top plugin recommendations? Let us know in the comments!


25 Responses to Top WordPress plugins every site should have

  1. Freshlagu
    Freshlagu  • 4 years ago

    thanks for the tips, I’ll use a plugin to maximize the image plugins that are suggested.

  2. serveU.net
    serveU.net  • 4 years ago

    Thanks for a great list.

    We posted a comparison of image optimizing plugins a couple of weeks ago, where we had a closer look at WP Smush, Imagify and ShortPixel.

    You can find it here https://www.serveu.net/blog/image-optimizers-compared-smush-imagify-shortpixel.html

  3. Ryan Burchey
    Ryan Burchey  • 4 years ago

    Regarding “Google Analytics by Monster Insights” I am in two minds about adding it to your site.

    On the one hand, Google Analytics displays important information about your visitors etc, but on the other, it appears to slow your website down – whenever I do a page speed test it is almost the last thing to load and on average adds up to half a second to the page speed load time.

    But overall I think it is worth adding, thank you for the post.

  4. Multimeta Directory
    Multimeta Directory  • 4 years ago

    Great list!! I have used some of them and I think all are free plugins

  5. Riens
    Riens  • 4 years ago

    A great article to get business rolling!

  6. Jitendra Dabhi
    Jitendra Dabhi  • 4 years ago

    I love wordpress becuase its give me power to do my work easily and wordpress plugins help me to boost my SEO. I recently posted one post about WordPress Plugins for Blogging.

    Thanks.

  7. Stephen
    Stephen  • 4 years ago

    This article is priceless for WP users. Thanks!

  8. Roy
    Roy  • 4 years ago

    Great post.
    Regarding images, I am getting best rsults by using imagify with the ultra option turn on.

  9. Leo
    Leo  • 4 years ago

    Great article. Helps a lot.

  10. Ngan
    Ngan  • 4 years ago

    What about Akismet? Gotta control those spams comments.

  11. Gerva Sharma
    Gerva Sharma  • 4 years ago

    As always found a new thing to test.
    Thanks

  12. Max Smith
    Max Smith  • 4 years ago

    Great plugin list… Btw – I always install firstly Yoast SEO. :) I also recommend WP Super Cache and Shortcodes Ultimate.

  13. Fathi Arfaoui
    Fathi Arfaoui  • 4 years ago

    Thanks Michiel, 2 years ago, the majority of bloggers recommended Smuch, So, I wanted to give it a try, it worked, however, when I discovered Imagify, I found the difference in Image compression, so, I wanted to test it and it outranked Smush in a few minutes. It saved almost 40% of the disk space used for media. I used the premium version and I highly recommend using the aggressive mode.

    Best of all, WP Rocked is the team behind the plugin. Also, I’d like to recommend Glue for Yoast SEO & AMP, at least for now as it’s not in the default plugin core.

  14. Andrew Miller
    Andrew Miller  • 4 years ago

    I’ve used Smush and now using Imagfy. Both premium versions. The Imagfy is way better imho – compress the images faster and with much less compression artifacts!

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 4 years ago

      Thanks for that addition, Andrew!

  15. Florian
    Florian  • 4 years ago

    Hey Michiel, thanks for your plugin list. I will definitely check out blogvault! I use Imagify Premium on our Image -heavy foodblog and it works out really good. The image compression is fine, the quality stable and it saved us a lot of time and gave the website more speed. YAY! Cheers, Florian

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 4 years ago

      Np, Florian, glad you like it. And thanks for your Imagify recommendation. I’m sure it’ll help other readers wondering what to use.

  16. Max
    Max  • 4 years ago

    Thanks for provide really use full plugins. But is case of SEO, yoast is no.1 plugin. Any thing more details about WP Rocket?

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 4 years ago

      Hi Max, not sure what you mean? All the details are on their website wp-rocket.me :)

  17. Yoast Seo
    Yoast Seo  • 4 years ago

    I use Yoast SEO premium 4.3.0 and I very satisfied thank you.

  18. robert
    robert  • 4 years ago

    Thanks for this list of plugins. What do you think about Jetpack? Another musthave plug-in or not?

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 4 years ago

      Depends on what you are looking for, Robert. Jetpack is packed with features and has a dedicated team that is improving these all the time. If one of these features fulfills your website’s needs, use it. I can only recommend to test-drive it for yourself. I do think there are little people that need all its features, that’s why I did not include it.

  19. Thierry
    Thierry  • 4 years ago

    Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress plugin is one of the first I install on a new WP site. should be even part of the WP core.

    • Michiel Heijmans
      Michiel Heijmans  • 4 years ago

      Thanks for that compliment, Thierry!

      • leased line costs
        leased line costs  • 4 years ago

        Great list. WP Rocket wins for me as the ultimate plugin!