Top WordPress plugin recommendations

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, Ninja Forms or Formidable 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 other’s 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.
  • NitroPack – Full page caching with some really clever, cutting-edge performance optimization techniques. Tons of impressive bells and whistles, though the pricing model scales with pageviews.
  • 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.
  • 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.


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 proofreading.
  • 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!

Coming up next!

56 Responses to Top WordPress plugin recommendations

  1. Karen Callahan
    Karen Callahan  • 3 years ago

    I agree with these – and under Admin, I would add Find My Blocks – which has recently been invaluable to me (using Genesis Blocks, Get Wid, and 7 custom blocks) in 3 or 4 different environments.

    • Edwin Toonen
      Edwin Toonen  • 3 years ago

      Nice addition, thanks Karen!

  2. guyewood
    guyewood  • 3 years ago

    This is very helpful, Jono.

    Thank you so much for publishing this. I struggle sometimes trying to understand what plugins I should and should not add to WordPress, and I’ve made a few boneheaded errors along the way. Your list here has helped me see the broad categories where WordPress needs help.


    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 3 years ago

      That’s great to hear, Guy. Thank you :) Lots of luck with your site!

  3. Old Sarge
    Old Sarge  • 3 years ago

    Interesting a novice web master with little experience caching for me is a term lacking an understanding

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 3 years ago

      Hi there! Do you mean that you’re not sure what caching means? Caching is the process of storing data in a temporary storage area (a cache). This allows the browser to get those files from the cache rather than the original server when you revisit a page you’ve recently visited. This is done to save the network time and traffic when loading a page. Hope this helps :)

  4. Ikechukwu
    Ikechukwu  • 3 years ago

    Thank you so much for this list. We are actually enjoying our premium Yoast plugin. Your plugin is still the best seriously.

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 3 years ago

      That’s so nice, Ikechukwu. Glad to hear you find it helpful and keep enjoying it!

  5. Jerry Bauer
    Jerry Bauer  • 3 years ago

    Is there a plugin to stop some of the SPAM comments I received daily, I am up to 30 a day and none of them are serious. Why am I getting these?

    • Christopher Flann
      Christopher Flann  • 3 years ago

      I would agree with all of these based on my experience EXCEPT Wordfence for security. Wordfence works OK, but based on using it as paid customer too, I prefer Cerber. Cerber is much easier to configure, and it solves the contact form spam problem too. Although I am also a paid customer for Cerber, I mostly use the free version as I have never had occasion to request support. It just works.

    • Christopher Flann
      Christopher Flann  • 3 years ago

      The best solution is Cerber. Believe me, I own more than one website and have tried all the solutions for contact form spam. Under the spam option, it gives you the option to check other forms besides the registration form. That is the one you want to click. Check it out, you won’t believe the difference. Akismet is exceptionally poor in comparison.

    • Jono Alderson

      Akismet’s a good shout. If that’s not catching everything, you might need something a little more feature-rich, and/or something which uses honeypots and captchas. There’s a good list of options here:

      • Chinonso Ibeh
        Chinonso Ibeh  • 3 years ago

        He can also add blacklisted words in comment setting, that works for me most times, when we dealing with human spammers

  6. Richard
    Richard  • 3 years ago

    Good list however, we found AMP slowed the site rather than speeding up and try signing up for M$ Clarity it’s a joke. I already have a Bing account but oh no can’t log in with that…

    • Jono Alderson

      There are definitely some setups where AMP might not be the best fit. Worth keeping an eye out, though, as there are some upcoming changes which will allow sites to load the AMP runtime JS locally. That’ll speed things up considerably!

      I’m sorry you had a bad experience with setting up Clarity; did you reach out to their support/help folks? Hopefully they can help out!

  7. Csaba
    Csaba  • 3 years ago

    Thanks for the nice suggestions!

    Ik would disagree though that these are plugins that ‘every site should have’.

    Every site should have a caching/optimisation plugin, an SEO plugin (Yoast is a perfect option ;-)) and some kind of security plugin. Sites should be backed up as well. Other plugins, like analytics and admin improvements, are far from essential. They should be critically decided upon for each website. I would not encourage people to install plugins because ‘every site needs them’. It may be just the title, the recommendations are great IF you need them. :-)

    • Edwin Toonen
      Edwin Toonen  • 3 years ago

      Hi Csaba. I agree with you that the title is a bit strong. We don’t want to force anyone to use anything. These are just some of the plugins we have had good experiences with. People need to figure out for themselves what they need for their site. If something from this list fist their goals, then these are great additions. But don’t just install everything just because someone tells you to ;)

  8. Trevor Wood
    Trevor Wood  • 3 years ago

    For backup I would recommend Akeeba backup. Creates a backup of the site and moves the backup off the server to some other cloud storage like Dropbox, One Drive, Google Drive, AWS and about 20 other options.

    • Edwin Toonen
      Edwin Toonen  • 3 years ago

      Sounds great, Trevor! Thanks for the addition.

  9. Per
    Per  • 3 years ago

    I would add these as plugins ones onoe should seriously consider:

    – Akismet
    – Redirection
    – Subscribe to Comments Reloaded (or similar)

    • Edwin Toonen
      Edwin Toonen  • 3 years ago

      Cool, Per! Thanks for your list.

  10. Ritish
    Ritish  • 3 years ago

    Anyway, Yoast SEO is still the best plugin.

    But can you tell me what can be the best plugin for creating a general discussion or a debate page?

    • Jono Alderson

      That’s a great question! I don’t have any good recommendations. There are plenty of forum and community plugins out there (including the well-known BBPress and BuddyPress), as well as wiki plugins and comment plugins – but I don’t know anything which brings those all together. Perhaps there’s a gap in the plugin market for something interesting?

  11. Rob
    Rob  • 3 years ago

    Any suggestions for GDPR?

    • Jono Alderson

      That’s a tricky one. There are plenty which add consent banners, interact with cookie settings, and allow users to opt in or out of various options. But broadly speaking, GDPR isn’t a problem that a plugin can solve. I’d recommend getting legal advice based on your specific website(s), country/countries, users, data storage and processing policies and so on, then seeing if a particular plugin (or combination of plugins) solves for those problems.

  12. Tony Hisir
    Tony Hisir  • 3 years ago

    WP Fastest Cache is a great one as well. I have been using it for a long time and very happy with it.

    • Edwin Toonen
      Edwin Toonen  • 3 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your suggestion, Tony!

  13. Stefan
    Stefan  • 3 years ago

    WP Hide Login
    So many sites use the predictable wp-admin. This plugin allows you to change it to what you want.
    Combined with 2FA from whatever source it improves things a lot.

    • Edwin Toonen
      Edwin Toonen  • 3 years ago

      That’s a helpful suggestion to keep your site safe and secure. Thanks, Stefan!

  14. Ned Buratovich
    Ned Buratovich  • 3 years ago

    Does this comment thread use the wpDiscuz commenting plugin recommended in this article?

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 3 years ago

      Hi Ned, actually, we’re using our own Yoast Comment Hacks plugin:

      • Ned Buratovich
        Ned Buratovich  • 3 years ago

        Thank you, Willemien, I also use the Yoast Comment Hacks plugin on many of my sites. It seems like wpDiscuz has many more features. Is there a reason you don’t use the plugin you recommend to your readers on the site?

        • Camille Cunningham
          Camille Cunningham  • 3 years ago

          Not specifically, Ned. Our Yoast Comment Hacks plugin just offers us all the features we need when it comes to commenting :)

  15. Mark
    Mark  • 3 years ago

    Four plugins I use on just about every site I build are Use Any Font, Safe SVG, Custom CSS, and Sweep. I also like WP Forms. Of course, I always use yours and most of the ones you recommended.

    • Edwin Toonen
      Edwin Toonen  • 3 years ago

      Interesting additions! Thanks, Mark.

  16. Dominique
    Dominique  • 3 years ago

    One addition that takes care of:

    Bots content scraping.
    Email obfuscation for bots.
    Hotlink protection.
    Bad bots protection.
    Full WASAP firewall.
    Full page edge caching including HTML in more than 200 worldwide locations with APO -> Automatic Platform Optimization feature.
    Free edge certificates.
    Hides server & IP from the web by proxy.
    TLS level selection.

    Speed optimizations like:
    Image optimization including serving webp.
    Minifying HTML, CSS & JavaScript.
    Dedicated optimizations to improve loading times for mobile devices.

    Complete set of metrics & analytics including performance with core web vitals.

    Lots more…

    All that with a super light weight plugin that eliminates most of the plugins in the above list. Less plugins is better for performance.

    $20 a month. Cloudflare

    • Edwin Toonen
      Edwin Toonen  • 3 years ago

      Yep, Cloudflare is awesome!

  17. Em Collin
    Em Collin  • 3 years ago

    Will be using Relevanssi and Wordfence on my blog now!

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 3 years ago

      That’s great. Good luck, Em!

  18. John Goldshot
    John Goldshot  • 3 years ago

    Great list. I actually use several of those plugins on a regular basis. Tho I would add the Redirection plugin and I prefer WPDorms.

    • Edwin Toonen
      Edwin Toonen  • 3 years ago

      Awesome, John.

  19. Mary Watson
    Mary Watson  • 3 years ago

    I like the suite of tools offered by ithemes. Backup buddy, security tools.

    • Edwin Toonen
      Edwin Toonen  • 3 years ago

      Thanks for your suggestions, Mary!

  20. Paul Tansley
    Paul Tansley  • 3 years ago

    For Images, ShortPixel Image Optimiser is the best option out there. As a professional photographer, I need no quality loss, but small images. It does the job perfectly.

    • Edwin Toonen
      Edwin Toonen  • 3 years ago

      Thanks for the addition, Paul!

  21. Jon Hill
    Jon Hill  • 3 years ago

    I wonder why WP Cerber wasn’t on the list for security.

    • Jono Alderson

      Hi Jon, I haven’t used this one, so I’m not in a position to have an opinion on it – yet! I’ll be sure to check it out.

  22. Hossein
    Hossein  • 3 years ago

    Litespeed cache (for litespeed servers)

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 3 years ago

      Thanks for your addition, Hossein!

  23. N.A. Ferrell
    N.A. Ferrell  • 3 years ago

    Good list. I have a few additional suggestions from my own experience.

    BBQ Firewall (free basic firewall)
    Blackhole for Bad Bots (free and easy to configure)

    Koko Analytics (privacy-friendly analytics plugin that is fully GDPR compliant, good for blogs that value privacy and don’t need all the tracking included with solutions such as Google, Yandex, or Clicky) – there are a few others along the same lines that I haven’t tried

    Additional Recommendation for Speed
    OMGF – Host Google Fonts locally, I found it very easy to set up

    Admin Improvements:
    WP Post Series – Lightweight plugin by a developer for Automatic that allows for easy creation of series. Adds series taxonomy, and for each article in a series, adds a special block that expands to reveal all of the articles in the series. Lightweight and works very well. Worth a look for any site that does article series.

    For Yandex Webmasters
    RSS for Yandex Turbo – Not a universal recommendation, but since Yoast makes Yandex verification easy, worth including. This plugin creates Yandex Turbo Feeds, which help with Yandex indexing. Although the plugin is in Russian, translates cleanly with Google Translate or Mate. Very easy to configure and I confirmed that it works in my testing.

    I second Rob on EWWW – great image optimizing plugin. Just works and no upload limits in the free version.

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 3 years ago

      Thanks for all of these additions to the list!

  24. Sitis
    Sitis  • 3 years ago

    Love this tool. It´s amazing! :-)

  25. Radoslav Ivanov
    Radoslav Ivanov  • 3 years ago

    I’ve been so much into optimizing a website for speed, but not sure if the mobile optimizations really do help SEO.

    Would be glad to hear from you

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 3 years ago

      Hi there. Mobile optimization is definitely something you want to work on, especially since people are using their phones now more than ever. We have an ultimate guide on mobile SEO that can help you with that! Good luck :)

  26. Rob
    Rob  • 3 years ago

    Wordfence has 2fa built in so if you already have it installed there’s no need for a separate plugin.
    Some others I usually install on most sites:
    ewww/imsanity – Image resizing and optimisation
    Email address encoder – stop bots scraping emails
    Akeeba backup – Like the others, I just trust it more.
    ACF/CPT UI – Custom post types and fields

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 3 years ago

      Thanks for your additions, Rob!