The 11 Best WordPress Plugins To Install (Many Free To Use)

It’s great you decided on using WordPress for your website… now what?

What makes WordPress so powerful is the use of WordPress plugins.

In many ways, plugins are a killer feature for using WordPress. They can add nearly any imaginable functionality: eCommerce, social networking to even dancing unicorns. But what are the truly must-have WordPress plugins?

There’s a balance. Since the most popular and needed features get added to core WordPress, WordPress already comes with tons of functionality out of the box.

And as a general rule of thumb with WordPress, the fewer plugins you have, the better.

Plugins add a lot of overhead and can be a drag on performance. In fact, some WordPress plugins are banned by web hosting providers.

Many aren’t coded very well, so it’s critical to be picky about which plugins to install.

Which WordPress plugins should you install then? Here are the 11 must-have WordPress plugins.

These plugins I not only recommend but use myself on a daily basis.

Backups and security is a critical part of maintaining your WordPress blog. Don’t rely on your web hosting provider to make backups of your site! Make sure you are in control and have off-server backups. BlogVault is an easy to use back and malware security monitoring service.
8.5 Out of 10
Platform Cloud, WordPress
Price $7.40 – $149 per month
Annual Discount Yes
Promotion Start Your Free Trial

As a general rule, you can never have too many backups of your website. Think of all of the hours spent creating your website: the writing, the theme customizations, and plugins installed.

Only to lose it all from a hacker deleting all your files, or your web hosting disk drive crashing. In my 20 years of web hosting, it happened more often than you can believe.

That doesn’t include problems with WordPress from your own wrongdoing. Many times I’ve installed a new WordPress plugin or theme and crashed my website. Without a backup, it’s possible your website is completely corrupt.

Even if your web host includes backups, you still should do backups on your own. No one cares more about your data than you do.

BlogVault plugin and service of choice because they backup automatically and every night. If I do need to restore, it’s a one-click website recovery. It has saved me many times from issues with my blog.

BlogVault is more than just a backup service. They include:

This is my go-to WordPress and website service to protect my business since 2015. It offers malware, DDoS, DNS, SSL, and hacking protection that has saved me from intrusions. The one time I did have to use their malware removal service, Sucuri was quick to resolve. The only negative aspect is their price though it could pay for it for itself in just one attack thwarted.
9.5 Out of 10
Platform Cloud, WordPress
Price $199.99 – $499.99+ per year
Promotion 30-Day Money Back Guarantee

According to the website BuiltWith, WordPress runs on 42% of all websites on the Internet.

With the popularity comes a big bullseye for hackers.

For the most part, if you keep WordPress and the plugins you use updated you should be secure. Unfortunately, most don’t keep their WordPress updated. Typically bloggers are busy with other things and not checking daily for updates.

A defaced blog can not only look bad in front of your audience, but in many cases, you don’t even know your website is hacked. This allows hackers to gather all sorts of information on you and your website visitors. Personal information like emails, names, and worse yet credit cards.

The hackers can install code on your website which could trigger Google deindexing your blog. Literally, overnight your search traffic can dry up to zero.

Cleaning up what a hacker has done can take hours, if not days, to fix… if you even know what to fix.

Hackers can install multiple backdoors and modify WordPress so they can come back.

Fortunately, the best method to prevent a hack in the first place.

This is where the plugin Sucuri comes in.

Sucuri monitors your blog daily for any changes in website code. They make sure your site is secure from top to bottom. They offer:

And if you do get hacked, they will clean your site for you.

Sucuri pricing starts at $199 per year. It might seem like a lot of money but I can assure you it would easily cost you much more to remove a hack later.

It’s been my go-to security plugin for WordPress since 2015.

A competing WordPress plugin to Yoast SEO, I find SEOPress is more lightweight and doesn’t include unnecessary features and functionality. There is a free version but I recommend SEOPress Pro which includes structured data types, breadcrumbs, Google Page Speed, and URL rewriting.
9.0 Out of 10
Platform WordPress
Price FREE – $39 per year

Organic search is around 80% of all website traffic. If you aren’t optimizing your blog for search, you are missing out on a huge audience.

WordPress is one of the most SEO-friendly content management systems out of the box. It does, however, have plenty of room for improvement and customization.

That’s what makes the SEOPress SEO plugin so essential. It’s the same plugin installed on this very blog.

The plugin goes beyond just easy title tag and meta descriptions to fixing a lot of technical SEO issues and integrating really cutting-edge SEO features directly into WordPress.

SEOPress has a free version and a Pro version. I recommend the Pro version because it adds this functionality:

I prefer it much more over Yoast’s SEO plugin. SEOPress doesn’t have any bloat or unnecessary features.

Get Google Analytics setup without having to worry about Javascript tags are set up correctly or if you are not accurately tracking all events for your blog. MonsterInsights makes setting up Google Analytics quick and easy.
9.0 Out of 10
Platform WordPress
Price $199 – $799 per year
Promotion Save Up To 50% Off

You can’t improve what you don’t measure.

That’s where Google Analytics comes in. Google Analytics is a free enterprise-level analytics package offered by Google for any website.

You can easily implement the Google Analytics code without a plugin. However, the Google Analytics for WordPress plugin is essential for a few reasons.

It’s the kind of WordPress plugin while easy to set up does so much in telling you what’s going on. It’s a must-have on my list to install for every blog I set up.

Website Speed

Larry’s Take

With SEO and users, page load time is important. Speed up your website by minifying your files and using a CDN with this plugin. WP Rocket is my recommend WordPress plugin to increase your blog’s speed.
9.5 Out of 10
Platform WordPress
Price $49 – 249 per year

WordPress is fairly lean and fast out of the box. However, once you start adding posts, images, plugins, themes, and everything else – website speed can quickly become an issue, regardless of the web host.

Website speed is a core metric used by Google to rank your site in organic search.

If your site is slow it can actually hurt your rankings in Google. You want your blog to load as fast as possible.

WP Rocket is one of the original and most popular caching plugins for WordPress.

Social Media

Larry’s Take

A WordPress plugin that creates social media share buttons on your blog. The must-have plugin for social media links on your website. Creates social proof with counters for the popular social media platforms.
9.0 Out of 10
Platform WordPress
Price FREE – $349

Although the creator of WordPress used to call share buttons the “mullets of the Internet”, the now ubiquitous share buttons are essential for getting traffic and visibility. WordPress does not come bundled with the functionality. Social Warfare allows your website visitors to share your content.

While it’s possible to install share buttons manually without a plugin, it’s tedious, easy to break when networks change their code and doesn’t allow you to focus on things that matter.

URL Management

Redirection is a simple, but powerful plugin that permanently redirects a URL to another URL.

It’s essential because, over time, your links within your site and to your site will change. When they change, users and search engines get a 404 Not Found page, which is no fun for anyone.

With Redirection, you can take the old URL and permanently 301 redirect it to another URL. It helps preserve user experience and search engine signals.

If you use SEOPress Pro, or Yoast Pro as your SEO plugin, Redirection is unnecessary since it includes a redirection manager built-in.

I personally use SEOPress Pro which is then one less plugin installed.

A versatile webform WordPress plugin. Allows you to collect personal info and integrate with many different email marketing services. I’ve found it to be better than the bloated Gravity Forms.
8.5 Out of 10
Platform WordPress
Price FREE – $599 per year
Promotion Save 65% Off

If you need to collect email or create a contact form WPForms is the go-to WordPress plugin.

It allows you to not only create a ‘Contact Us’ web form but can be used for a simple shopping cart, and surveys. You never want to leave your email publically and this plugin allows you to hide your email from hackers.

Larry’s Take

Pretty Links Pro is a cheap and easy-to-use WordPress plugin for tracking links. It is perfect for bloggers just starting out in affiliate marketing. You can use it for as little as $79 per year.
7.5 Out of 10
Platform WordPress
Price FREE – $129 per year

If you are going to use affiliate links you must get the Pretty Links plugin. This plugin allows you to manage all of your affiliate links so not only do they look nicer but makes it easy to swap links out.

Can not only be used for affiliate links but for easier-to-remember shareable links that could be used with social media posts.

Email Optins

Larry’s Take

If you are looking for a great service that not only works with WordPress but SaaS apps, then OptinMonster is your choice. It has many templates to use and allows you to easily create your own customized form so it matches your brand. OptinMonster supports 6 different types of campaign types that can not only be used for Email forms but can be used in conjunction with your own products.
9.5 Out of 10
Platform Cloud, WordPress
Price $14 – $80 per month
Annual Discount No
Promotion Save Up To 60% Off

I’m not a fan of pop-ups or interrupted user experience…but I am a fan of email and segmentation. OptinMonster is lead collection & call to action software made by the same folks behind Google Analytics for WordPress.

It’s not strictly a WordPress plugin, but their WordPress plugin makes the software even more powerful. I use it on this site – and many of my client’s sites. It’s as classy as you want it to be and worth the cost compared to other competitors due to versatility, scalability, and ease of use.

Compress Images

Larry’s Take

ShortPixel is a service that can keep similar image quality to your pictures, yet take up a fraction of the disk space size. This helps not only help load your pages faster but can help with SEO. Out of all of the image optimization tools, I found ShortPixel was the best option. They offer both lossy and lossless compression options.
9.5 Out of 10
Platform WordPress, Cloud
Price FREE – $29.99 per month
Annual Discount Yes – 2 months free
Promotion Free To Sign Up

Images are awesome – but they can also slow down your site. Every time someone navigates to a webpage, they have to request and download the images on the page. The smaller the file size that you can make your images, the better.

Just like WP Rocket which speeds up load time, ShortPixel makes the images on your site smaller, without any noticeable difference in the quality of the times.

This content was originally published here.