Best Plugins to Improve a WordPress Site
Installing WordPress plugins often means searching for the best plugins to achieve your goals. However, “best” means different things to different people. Are you looking for plugins with the most features? Want the fastest loading times? Trying to get by without spending anything?
You can add functionality, improve performance, make a site easier to manage and enhance the user experience with the right WordPress plugins.
With tens of thousands of plugin choices, it’s easy to slip into the trap of thinking more is better. Remember that adding many plugins can slow site page loads (resulting in visitors bouncing away), expose you to security issues (particularly if the plugin is no longer maintained or has been coded with vulnerabilities and increase the chances that theme functionality or other plugins may not work 100% with other plugins being executed.
Best WordPress Plugin Categories
There are alternatives to Google Analytics you can consider, but looking at the cost benefit analysis, using Google Analytics on your WordPress site makes sense.
t’s perfectly fine to add the code snippet into your theme files and just login to Google to review your site reports. However, you can bring the data into your WordPress dashboard, making it a one stop shop for key information.
Look to the Google Analytics for WordPress plugin, by MonsterInsights as a best of breed solution in this space. There’s free and premium versions available, depending on your needs.
There are two basic approaches to stopping spam within WordPress – using a plugin that only deals with spam submissions or using a plugin that has multiple security features.
If you’re looking for the best mult-function anti-spam plugin for WordPress, check out Wordfence. It’s loaded with features.
For those who would prefer a specialized anti-spam plugin, then Akismet is the defacto standard thanks to ease of use by administrators and handy features like blocking and discarding clear cut spam so that your database stays lean and quick.
Although KnownHost web hosting includes a solid backup solution, it’s never a bad idea to store regular snapshots using email, FTP, Google Drive or Dropbox, to name just a few.
KnownHost offers enhanced backup and remote storage for a small fee and is highly recommended as it won’t degrade performance (it doesn’t require another plugin).
For those who host elsewhere, UpdraftPlus is a widely used free plugin that does exactly that. The paid version allows automated backup storage using other means like Azure, OneDrive and WebDAV.
Why bother with a contact form plugin? Generally, a top notch contact form plugin will allow multiple contact forms to be easily created and placed on pages, integrate with anti-spam software like Akismet and allow site owners to be contacted via email through these submitted forms.
Contact Form 7 has been around forever and continues to be popular thanks to the fact that it’s free and works well.
Drag and Drop Page Builder
You don’t have to have a page builder to create a great site, but you can generate some great looking pages with a minimal of time and effort, so why not?
Elementor is an excellent choice for site owners looking to reduce development time so that effort can be spent on other activities.
When it comes to ecommerce solutions, site owners need a shopping cart plugin that is widely used (for ease in finding help and developers), that has many themes (and they are configurable rather than fixed), can be expanded with add-ons (for special needs like payment gateways, shipping, postage and delivery services, is quick to load and dependable.
Turn to WooCommerce for the best ecommerce plugin for WordPress.
Maximizing email marketing deliverability is one reason people use email service providers (ESPs). But ESP services also are designed to make email newsletter creation painless and the distribution of content updates easily achieved as well.
MailChimp represents one of the most popular email plugins for WordPress and rightly so. It works.
Icons – Favicon
Tabs in the browser bar a big part of how users know where they are – both page titles and favicons playing a role in this. As such, having favicons that display and take advantage of the available real estate, which varies by browser, is important. It’s a big part of online branding.
Favicon by RealFaviconGenerator is a free plugin that turns one favicon image into multiple, of varying sizes, ideal for assorted plugins.
Communicating with site visitors via live chat is one way that site owners can turn prospects into customers. Answering questions immediately, overcoming objections and giving needed details are all key functions of a good live chat plugin for WordPress.
Crisp Live Chat provides site owners with an excellent communication tool for driving sales.
Maps / Google Maps
By putting Google Maps on your WordPress site, you’ll enable visitors to find your physical location, get directions on how to find your physical location and even get details on hours of operation and contact details such as website URL and telephone number.
WP Google Maps is a top choice among map plugins for WordPress, thanks to a combination of features and value for money.
Page Speed / Performance
Very few WordPress plugins represent a stunning achievement in page speed improvements. LiteSpeed Cache doesn’t try to do everything. But what it does, it does well.
For multifunction page speed improvements, Flying Pages by WP Speed Matters is one that towers above the rest. When you want to do as much as you can to make your site as fast as it can be, look no further than Flying Pages.
Resource locations change, necessitating the need to redirect links from one URL to another. Redirections need to be simple and effective, period.
The Redirection plugin is the clear choice in this category.
Content should include signposts to other content so that readers continue to stay on site, view multiple pages, engage, develop affinity, trust and ultimately become brand pundits.
Contextual Related Posts makes related content signposting easy and effective.
Reviews and Testimonials and Logo Carousel
Presenting logos via sliders and galleries is an established technique for building trust among site visitors thanks to the “brand rub” that occurs when customer logos are proudly displayed.
Logo Carousel Free displays logos in a number of different formats and without hassle.
Testimonial Free lets site owners show testimonials with ease.
Search Engine Optimization
Characterized by having a kitchen sink approach (a laundry list of features), there are several well known SEO plugins, like Yoast, that do a lot. SEO normally is a composite of many functions from schema to social and sitemaps to keyword research and usage.
SEO by Rank Math offers an outstanding mix of functions and is definitely one of the top contenders in the SEO category.
For internal linking, consider Link Whisper. Its implementation is easy to use and robust.
As mentioned in the anti-spam category above, Wordfence is a powerful, multi-function security suite that’s been proven over the years, time and time again.
Displaying media has evolved over the years and now includes multiple categories of plugins, including sliders. A great slider plugin will add interest and depth to a page, engaging viewers and presenting more information in less space.
Smart Slider is a top choice among sliders, giving a full range of features while not sacrificing functionality in the free version.
The point of social media plugins is to make social sharing easier, thus enabling content to get spread across multiple social accounts and platforms, exposing new audiences to the brand messaging and content.
AddToAny makes social sharing a cinch.
There is going to be a time where you’ll want to display tabular data on a page. While it can be done using pure HTML/CSS, it can be done light-years faster and look incredible doing it by simply using a good table plugin.
TablePress represents one of the plugins to beat when it comes to table insertion and formatting.
Having terms and conditions, acceptable use policies and privacy policies are all part of the legalese surrounding a website that site owners should put in place. It’s easy enough to generate these pages via an online generator and then tweak, or you can grab a handy plugin that’ll create the framework where you simply fill in the blanks in order to generate the required pages.
Rather than installing a multitude of plugins that accomplish individual tasks, there are times, for simplicity sake and ease of integration that you’d get more done with less effort by installing an all-in-one solution.
There are literally thousands of plugins for WordPress that can improve your site, so this list is just a sampling of some of the best. Remember to not use more plugins than you need, install them one at a time (and observe site behavior after each) to make sure everything is working as intended and make backups frequently, particularly when you’re making numerous plugin installs.