The right combination of WordPress plugins can supercharge your website, add useful functionality, and provide a great experience for you and your visitors. But with nearly 60,000 plugins in the official plugin repository, it can be difficult to know which to choose. So to help with finding the perfect plugins for your website, we’ve put together a list of the top eleven must-have plugins on WordPress.
Eleven essential WordPress plugins every site must have
1. A backup & security plugin like Jetpack
Security and regular backups are important for every website. After all, if your site ever gets hacked, you risk losing valuable site and customer data, which could damage your reputation and be costly to fix. An important step to ensuring your website is secure is to use a top WordPress security plugin, like Jetpack Security.
Jetpack Security provides a comprehensive range of security features in one easy-to-use package. It’s part of Jetpack — a popular WordPress plugin that over five million people use for their website security, backups, performance, and growth.
Jetpack Security helps ensure your site is protected from malicious logins through brute force protection and two-factor authentication. It also provides powerful anti-spam protection for your comments and forms, alongside downtime detection and automatic malware scanning to help identify and remove malware.
Jetpack Security also includes Jetpack Backup, which automatically backs up your site every time you make a change or a customer places an order, and you can easily restore backups even if your site is down. If you only need backups, Jetpack VaultPress Backup is available from $5 per month (billed yearly).
Key features of Jetpack Security:
- Automatic downtime monitoring and alerts
- Brute force attack protection
- Web application firewall (WAF)
- Two-factor authentication
- Automatic plugin updates
- Automatic malware scanning
- Automated and on-demand backups of your files and database
- One-click restores from backups
- An activity log showing every action taken on your site
- Automated spam prevention
- A mobile app with alerts and access to backups, scan results, and the activity log
Pros of Jetpack Security:
- Jetpack Security is an entire suite of tools that help keep your site secure within a single plugin.
- Jetpack Security is made specifically for WordPress by Automattic — the people behind WordPress.com — to address the common security needs of WordPress websites.
- Downtime monitoring alerts you if your site is offline, enabling you to take actions to get it back online and minimize the impact.
- Jetpack Scan is included with Jetpack Security, helping to ensure any malware that makes it onto your site is detected as soon as possible.
- Jetpack automatically backs up your site and stores multiple copies off-site, so if your site is compromised, your backups won’t be.
- You can restore your site even if it’s completely offline.
Cons of Jetpack Security:
- A paid plan is required to access backup and advanced security features such as automatic malware scanning.
Ease of use:
Jetpack Security is straightforward to install, set up, and configure. Most security features take one click to enable and then work automatically in the background. Restoring from backups is simple, even if your site is fully down. There’s detailed documentation available, and if you need support, you can access Jetpack’s team of WordPress Happiness Engineers.
Jetpack Security is a premium plan, which includes malware scanning, backups, spam protection, and more. This is available for $20 per month (billed yearly).
You can, however, get certain features like downtime monitoring, brute force attack protection, and a limited activity log at no cost.
2. A contact form builder like WPForms
Contact forms are an essential addition to any WordPress website, as they let your visitors get in touch with you in a user-friendly way. WordPress doesn’t include built-in form functionality, so a tool like WP Forms is a must-have plugin for every WordPress site.
WPForms is a popular WordPress form builder, which allows you to add forms to your website with a drag-and-drop editor. The free version of the plugin will notify you by email when a visitor fills out a form, and CAPTCHA support provides a first line of defense against spam form submissions.
WPForms also has a premium version that unlocks many powerful features, including multi-page forms, survey support, and the ability to create user registration forms.
Key features of WPForms:
- Pre-built templates to create contact forms
- Responsive form design
- CAPTCHA support
- A visual drag-and-drop form builder
- Email notifications of form submissions
- The ability to create login and registration forms (premium only)
- Multi-page forms (premium only)
- The ability to store responses in the cloud (premium only)
- Surveys & polls functionality (premium only)
- Integration with payment providers (premium only)
- Integration with Mailchimp and other email marketing tools (premium only)
Pros of WPForms:
- The drag-and-drop interface and template library make creating a contact form easy.
- Forms made using WPForms can be added to your site using a block or shortcode.
Cons of WPForms:
- You’ll likely need to purchase a premium version of the plugin to create forms other than a basic contact form.
- The premium version has multiple tiers, meaning some features and integrations are still unavailable at the entry-level premium price point.
Ease of use:
It’s simple to create a contact form using one of the templates provided and the drag-and-drop builder. While there is documentation available, there’s little guidance within the plugin, which can sometimes make it harder to use some features. Email support is provided for premium subscribers.
WPForms Lite is available for free from the WordPress plugin repository, and the free version works well for sites that want to create a basic contact form. WPForms Pro provides advanced features in tiered subscriptions, which range from $39.99 to $299.50 per year.
3. An anti-spam plugin like Akismet
All websites are a target for bots that crawl the internet and attempt to send spam through comments and form submissions. An anti-spam tool like Akismet is an essential plugin for every WordPress site.
Akismet is used by millions of websites, making it one of the most popular WordPress plugins. It helps you keep spam out of your WordPress comment section by automatically analyzing comments and filtering out ones that look like spam.
Akismet blocks a staggering 3,500,000 pieces of spam on average per hour, and it works seamlessly alongside the WordPress comment system and a range of other tools, including Jetpack Comments. Akismet discards the most ‘spammy’ comments automatically and will flag questionable ones for you to review.
Key features of Akismet:
- Automatically checks all comments for spam
- Comment status histories for each comment
- Displays the number of approved comments for each user
- Automatically deletes the worst spam
Pros of Akismet:
- Akismet has a high level of accuracy and is trusted by millions of websites.
- Akismet is made by Automattic, the team behind WordPress.com, meaning it integrates seamlessly with WordPress.
- Akismet has a range of additional features, including displaying URLs and the number of approved comments for each user.
- Akismet works with many popular tools, including Jetpack Comments.
Cons of Akismet:
- Akismet is only free for personal sites.
Ease of use:
Akismet comes installed on every WordPress.com site, and is included with many one-click WordPress.org installations. This means that you can often start using Akismet without even having to install it! An API key is required, but this is simple to obtain and, once activated, works in the background.
Akismet is free of charge for personal sites. Plans for business sites start at $8.33 a month.
4. An SEO plugin like Yoast SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is an important way for you to attract visitors to your website. SEO can be confusing, but a plugin like Yoast SEO can help analyze your content and provide guidance on improving it in line with best practices.
Yoast SEO is one of the leading WordPress SEO plugins and provides a wide range of features to simplify the process of optimizing your pages and posts so that they can rank higher on search engines. It includes a range of templates for your all-important titles and meta descriptions and will automatically analyze your content for both readability and keyword usage, displaying actionable tips about how to improve your content.
Key features of Yoast SEO:
- Analyzes your pages and posts for SEO best practices
- Provides internal linking suggestions (premium)
- A readability check
- Updates to match any changes to Google’s algorithm
- The ability to create custom page titles and meta descriptions
- Generates XML sitemaps
- An easy setup wizard to configure sitewide SEO settings
- Open Graph support
Pros of Yoast SEO:
- Yoast SEO gives you full control over key parts of your site’s search engine optimization.
- The default settings automatically implement SEO best practices on your site.
- Yoast SEO provides on-page analysis to help you gauge optimization.
Cons of Yoast SEO:
- Some Yoast SEO users find the on-page analysis leads to them focusing on including more keywords rather than writing great content. It helps to have an overarching view of your SEO content strategy so you know when you can safely ignore its suggestions.
- The free version only allows you to analyze content for a single keyword.
Ease of use:
Yoast SEO is simple to install, and its default settings automatically implement some elements of SEO best practices. However, some of the more complex settings may confuse users who are less familiar with SEO. There’s limited support for the free version provided via the plugin’s support forums.
The basic version of Yoast SEO is available in the WordPress plugin repository for free. A premium version, which includes advanced features such as keyword suggestions and multiple keywords per page, starts at $99 a year.
5. A lead generation plugin like OptinMonster
A lead generation tool is an essential plugin for most WordPress sites as it helps you turn your website visitors into email subscribers and customers.
OptinMonster supports all your lead generation needs and allows you to create popup forms, notification bars, countdown timers, slide-in notifications, and coupon wheels using a drag-and-drop builder. You can show any information you wish to your visitors — capture email addresses for your email marketing software, encourage people to create an account, or offer coupons.
OptinMonster contains a range of templates for you to use as inspiration, and you can fully customize the look and feel of your popups to match your brand. In addition, OptinMonster lets you set a range of triggers to display prompts to your visitors. For example, you could choose to display a popup after someone has spent a certain amount of time on your website or a spin-to-win wheel when they’re about to abandon their cart.
Key features of OptinMonster:
- A wide range of styles for your campaigns, including popups, timers, welcome gates, slide-ins and coupon wheels
- The ability to set different triggers for your popups
- A/B testing, which allows you to try different content and see what works (premium only)
- Display different popups to different groups of visitors
- Responsive and mobile-friendly
- Integration with a wide range of email marketing software
- Abandoned cart and form targeting (premium only)
- On-site retargeting (premium only)
Pros of OptinMonster:
- OptinMonster’s drop and drag interface is intuitive.
- The plugin has a range of user-friendly popups.
- OptinMonster allows you to show different popups to different customers and include personalized messages.
Cons of OptinMonster:
- Due to its popularity, many websites use OptinyMonster’s default popup styles and templates, so they may seem familiar to your visitors.
- The free version of OptinMonster only supports 500 page views per month.
- Some of the most useful features in OptinMonster, including cart abandonment and on-site retargeting, are only available with a premium subscription.
Ease of use:
Creating opt-in campaigns is straightforward through the plugin’s drag-and-drop builder, and you can configure simple campaigns directly within your dashboard. However, advanced features require you to leave WordPress and use the OptinMonster interface. Limited support is available for free users, but premium users can receive support via email.
There’s a free version of OptinMonster available in the WordPress plugin repository, which allows you to create a free account that includes limited features and 500 page views per month. Various premium subscriptions are available for between $9 and $49 a month, and these unlock a range of features and more page views.
6. A WordPress CRM like Jetpack CRM
Running an online business can sometimes feel overwhelming, with a dizzying amount of information and tasks to stay on top of. A customer relationship management (CRM) plugin, like Jetpack CRM, can help you manage your key business information, customers, and tasks so you can focus on growing your business. You can see detailed information about your contacts and customers, and keep track of their touch points and actions.
Jetpack CRM enables you to turn contacts into customers through sales funnels, analyze your customer information to identify potential opportunities, and create dynamic segments. You can then send proposals, quotes, invoices, and other documents to your customers, which they access at any time from their own portal.
Jetpack CRM is built by Automattic, the team behind WordPress.com, meaning it works seamlessly with the tools you already use, including WooCommerce. You can see your business information and track your progress through the Jetpack CRM dashboard, which displays vital information, including contact overviews, sales funnel performance, and revenue snapshots. Jetpack CRM will grow with your business and, unlike other popular CRM plugins and systems, places no limits on the number of contacts you can manage or the number of team members you have.
Key features of Jetpack CRM:
- Support for quotes and invoices
- Client portals for your customers to pay invoices, complete tasks, and access their files
- Unlimited team members, along with user roles and permissions for each member
- Support for branded templates for documents and invoices
- A dashboard that shows you all your important sales information in one place
- Storage for multiple contacts for each company
- The ability to call clients and send emails directly from your dashboard
- Customer segmentation
- Integration with a wide range of tools, including WooCommerce and email and payment tools
- Tools to create and manage sales funnels
- The ability to assign tasks to contacts and set reminders
Pros of Jetpack CRM:
- You can manage everything related to clients and customers from a single dashboard, including sending invoices and quotes, creating tasks, providing documentation, sending emails, and making calls.
- Jetpack CRM is made by Automattic, so it integrates seamlessly with your WordPress site.
- It includes an unlimited number of team members, so you won’t end up paying more when your team grows.
- Jetpack CRM can seamlessly connect to various third-party tools, including popular payment gateways, contact forms, and email marketing platforms.
Cons of Jetpack CRM:
- Some features, including integration with popular email tools and online payment platforms, are only available with a premium subscription.
Ease of use:
Jetpack CRM is straightforward to use with an easy-to-navigate dashboard that presents key information in an understandable way. In addition, there’s detailed documentation and support available from Jetpack’s team of Happiness Engineers.
Jetpack CRM has a free version that includes all essential functionality, including contact management, basic invoicing, and sales funnel management. Premium plans are also available. The Freelance plan adds integration for tools including PayPal and Stripe for $11 a month, and the Entrepreneur plan unlocks the full library of more than 30 extensions and priority support for $17 a month.
7. An eCommerce plugin like WooCommerce
WooCommerce is the world’s most popular open-source eCommerce platform, and a must-have WordPress plugin for anyone wanting to sell on their website.
WooCommerce turns your site into a fully-functional online store, allowing you to sell anything, including digital files, memberships, and physical products. Installing WooCommerce automatically creates everything you need for your store, including product pages, shopping carts, and the checkout process.
WooCommerce is made by the team behind WordPress. This means WooCommerce is fully integrated into your WordPress site, so you can manage all elements of your store from within your WordPress dashboard.
WooCommerce has many options that allow you to customize your store to meet your needs. You can show reviews and ratings, set up tiered pricing, enable your visitors to find the perfect product through sorting and filtering, upload unlimited product images, and much more. You can also enhance your store functionality with hundreds of free and paid extensions from the official WooCommerce Marketplace, which have all been vetted by the WooCommerce team.
WooCommerce integrates with many payment providers, enabling you to get paid the way you want and, if you’re selling physical products, WooCommerce will help you manage your inventory and offer your customers a range of shipping options.
Key features of WooCommerce:
- The ability to sell physical products, digital downloads, dropshipping items, bookings, services, and more
- Custom shipping solutions
- Extensive payment options
- Ratings and reviews
- Product sorting and filtering
- A mobile app, so you can manage your site from anywhere
Pros of WooCommerce:
- WooCommerce allows you to set up a new store in minutes and includes all of the features you need to start, including secure payments, product pages, shipping options, and more — for free.
- It’s open-source, which means you retain full ownership of your store’s content and data.
- WooCommerce is flexible and offers many customization options alongside official and third-party extensions, enabling you to create a perfect online store experience for your customers.
- WooCommerce enables you to sell both physical and digital products.
Cons of WooCommerce:
- While WooCommerce will work with any WordPress theme, some themes work better than others. It’s a good idea to use a WooCommerce-ready theme so you can take full advantage of the features offered.
Ease of use:
WooCommerce is easy to use, and it has a large, passionate community dedicated to helping store owners succeed and a growing showcase with inspiration for your store. Detailed documentation is provided, along with a large collection of ‘how-to’ guides, and a dedicated support team.
The core WooCommerce plugin is free. There’s also a large library of both free and premium extensions to add functionality to your store.
8. A legal pages builder like WP AutoTerms
Websites have to comply with a wide array of legal and data protection requirements, like GDPR and CCPA. These requirements are often confusing, but a legal pages builder can quickly create the policies your website needs.
WP AutoTerms is a must-have WordPress plugin, as it helps you create the legal agreements for your website, including privacy policies, terms of service, and acceptable use policies. The plugin’s premium version also allows you to easily create GDPR-compliant policies and cookie consent notices.
WP Auto Terms also provides a range of ‘Compliance Kits,’ which help you meet key legal requirements, including having links visible to your legal pages and notifying users of updates.
Key features of WP AutoTerms:
- A generator for privacy policies, cookie policies, and terms & conditions agreements
- The ability to create custom pages for your policies
- User notifications when you update your policies
- Cookie consent notices (premium only)
- Disclaimers for affiliate links (premium only)
Pros of WP AutoTerms:
- You can generate the legal documents your site needs within a few clicks.
- The compliance toolkits allow you to easily meet key legal requirements, including ensuring links are visible to your legal pages.
Cons of WP AutoTerms:
- GDPR-compliant policies and cookie consent notices are only available in the premium version, meaning you would need to pay if your site is based in or serves Europe.
Ease of use:
The plugin is straightforward to use. Once you activate WP AutoTerms, you’re asked to provide key details about your website or company so that it can tailor the legal documents to your needs. You can then generate, customize, and publish those policies. In addition, the plugin provides documentation and offers limited support via its support forum.
WP AutoTerms has a free version available in the WordPress plugin repository. A premium version that includes GDPR-compliant policies and cookie consent notices is available as a one-time purchase for $39.
9. A redirect plugin like Redirection
Broken links can harm your website. Not only can they lead to your visitors experiencing a 404 error page, but they also negatively impact your search engine rankings. A redirection plugin is an essential addition to any WordPress website, as it helps you ensure that if a visitor clicks on an out-of-date link, they’re redirected to a new location where they can continue browsing.
Redirection is a popular WordPress plugin for creating and managing redirects. With the plugin, you can set up global redirects, along with ones based on certain conditions, such as the visitor’s login status or role. You can then use Redirection’s logging feature to view how often each redirect occurs on your site.
Redirection also detects when you change the permalink of a post or page, then creates a redirect from the old permalink. This ensures that your visitors don’t get met with a 404 error if they bookmarked the old address. The plugin automatically tracks any 404 errors, allowing you to identify and fix problems.
Key features of Redirection:
- Manual redirects
- Automated redirects when permalinks have changed
- Conditional redirects
- 404 error monitoring
- Redirect logging
Pros of Redirection:
- The plugin automatically creates redirects when permalinks change.
- 404 error monitoring allows you to identify and fix issues.
- The plugin provides a wide range of conditional filters, allowing you to redirect only certain user roles, browsers, or logged-out users.
Cons of Redirection:
- You aren’t able to restrict access to the plugin to certain users or user roles, meaning anyone with administrator or editor privileges can set up and manage your redirects.
Ease of use:
The plugin is straightforward and allows you to create redirects without touching any code. There is detailed documentation, and the developer provides support via the plugin’s support forum.
Redirection is available for free from the WordPress plugin repository.
10. A code inserter like WPCode
One of the great things about WordPress is that it allows you to create amazing websites without needing to understand or even see any code. However, companies such as Google and Facebook require website owners to add code to use their tracking tools. So, a code inserter such as WPCode is an essential WordPress plugin.
WPCode is the most popular WordPress plugin for code insertion and is installed on over one million websites. It allows you to add code to the headers and footers of your pages. This means you can add the code needed for Google Analytics or Facebook Pixel to every page without having to install multiple plugins or edit your themes functions.php file.
Key features of WPCode:
- The ability to add code to the header, footer, or body of your site
- The ability to enable and disable each code snippet
- A full code library of common custom functions to add features to your site
- Code generators, which allow you to generate codes for custom widgets, queries, and more
- Control over the priority in which code snippets are run
Pros of WPCode:
- You can easily add code to the headers or footer of your site without needing to edit your theme’s functions.php file.
- WPCode supports conditional loading, meaning you can add snippets to certain pages or run them only for certain user types.
Cons of WPCode:
- Errors in custom PHP functions could cause your WordPress website to become inaccessible, so you should only use the PHP snippet feature if you’re comfortable with writing PHP.
Ease of use:
The plugin makes adding code to your WordPress site straightforward and offers a ‘simple mode’ for users who only want to add analytics or other code. Some advanced features, such as custom CSS or PHP code, require some familiarity with coding to use safely and effectively. Basic documentation covering the common uses for the plugin is available, and support is provided via the plugin’s support forum.
WPCode is available free of charge from the WordPress plugin repository.
11. A performance plugin like Jetpack Boost
Website performance is important, as a slow website can negatively impact your user experience. Google also considers site speed in its ranking algorithm through its core web vitals metrics. A performance plugin like Jetpack Boost can help speed up your site and ensure it loads as quickly as possible, making it a must-have plugin for your WordPress site’s speed and core web vitals.
Jetpack Boost is a free performance plugin that allows you to speed up your WordPress website in just a few clicks. It starts by measuring your site speed and giving you an overall site performance score. You can then enable three tools that work together to boost the speed of your site:
- Optimize CSS loads the CSS styles for visible page elements first, enabling you to display content faster, especially for mobile visitors.
- Lazy Image Loading only loads each image when your visitor scrolls them into view.
Key features of Jetpack Boost:
- A quick, free site speed analysis
- CSS optimization to load essential CSS first
- Lazy image loading, so images only load when needed
Pros of Jetpack Boost:
- Jetpack Boost is made by Automattic, the team behind WordPress.com, so it’s guaranteed to work seamlessly with WordPress and other popular plugins, including WooCommerce.
- It’s simple, and lets you speed up your website without needing to write code or use multiple plugins.
- Once enabled, Jetpacks Boost’s features work in the background to help keep your website running as fast as possible.
Cons of Jetpack Boost:
- Jetpack Boost’s simplicity means that it lacks some of the features of other performance enhancement plugins, but unlike these plugins, Jetpack Boost’s core features are available for free.
Ease of use:
Jetpack Boost makes it easy to make key changes that will speed up your WordPress site. You can activate/deactivate each module in one click, and once a module is activated, it constantly works in the background to boost the speed of your site. In addition, Jetpack Boost has clear documentation, and you can contact Jetpack’s team of Happiness Engineers with any support questions.
Jetpack Boost is available for free. You can upgrade Jetpack Boost to include automatic regeneration of critical CSS when you update your site for $20 per month.
Make the most of WordPress with these must-have plugins
No two sites are the same, so you may not need every tool on this list. However, most sites can benefit from the majority of these eleven essential plugins. Keep in mind that you’ll probably need some options beyond this list to add all of the functionality and unique design elements you’re looking for.
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