The 7 Essential Plugins For Every WordPress Website
Have you ever wondered which WordPress plugins were essential for your website? Well, in this post I will clear up that confusion.
Despite the fact that there are thousands of plugins in the WordPress directory, I’m only going to touch on 7 essential plugins for every WordPress website.
Although most of the plugins that are mentioned below offer paid versions of their products, the only one that I pay for is WP Rocket. There really is no need to pay for the other plugins since the free versions work just fine.
So, let’s jump into the nuts and bolts of these plugins; I think you will begin to see why I feel these are the 7 essential plugins for every WordPress website.
Cyber Criminals Are Everywhere
The first plugin that you will need for your website is a security plugin.
Yes, it’s true, there are people that want to hack into your website for whatever reason. We might as well face it, they’re out there… there’s nothing you can do to stop them.
You can, however, take preventative measures to protect yourself against these criminals.
Now, I’m going to share with you the plugin that I like for this. When you do a search for security plugins inside your WordPress dashboard, you are going to be presented with several options.
For the record, just because I use a particular plugin, that doesn’t mean the other ones are bad. I have tried many plugins in the past, and, from experience, these are the ones that I prefer.
For a short period of time, I used a security plugin called WordFence. But, I’ve found that it slowed down the performance of my website.
A few of its features, like “live view” made the size of my database much larger, which in turn slowed it down.
Now, the average WordPress user’s not going to realize that they have a slower website and a bigger database.
I, on the other hand, did.
I’m not sure if Wordfence has since improved its plugin. Either way, I have moved on to a better security plugin: iThemes Security.
iThemes Security Plugin
Now, here’s what I like about the iThemes Security plugin: it’s very simple to configure and very comprehensive. They have a paid version with many features, but I just use the free version.
What I like about the free version, is they give you an option to opt into a network of security. This is important because if someone is trying to hack into your website, that information on that person with their IP address gets put into a network. If they go and try to hack into someone else’s website, and if they’re using the same IP address, they’ll immediately be blocked. They won’t even be able to attempt it.
So, because of the community aspect side of the plugin, where if you’re plugged in using this plugin, and in the network, which is free when someone tries to hack into my site, they won’t be able to hack into your site.
There are really several different ways that people try to hack into a website. Usually, it’s through brute force attempts of trying to get in through the login page. This plugin will definitely prevent that from happening.
This plugin has all the settings you would need in order to have some pretty complete comprehensive security coverage on your websites.
iThemes Security plugin gets 4.7 out of 5 stars and has had over 900k active installations. It is also updated on a regular basis, which is very important to consider when choosing a plugin for your website.
You can check out iThemes Security plugin here.
WPS Hide Login Plugin
WPS Hide Login Plugin is a very light plugin that allows you to easily and safely change the URL of your login form page to anything you want. This goes back to what I was speaking about earlier, where hackers use brute force to get in through the login page of your website.
WPS hide login is a plugin that allows you to change the URL of your login page. This again is an important preventive measure to take in order to keep from getting hacked.
It is a very light plugin that allows you to easily and safely change the URL of the login form page to anything you want. It doesn’t literally rename or change files in the core of your site, nor does it add rewrite rules.
Now, you may or may not know this, but hackers use BOTS to try and brute force their way into websites. Most WordPress websites have the login page at the same location, which is: www.theirdomainname.com/wp-login.php or www.theirdomainname.com/wp-admin.
The beauty of this plugin is it allows you to change that URL, or that slug, to whatever you want it to be.
So, it’d be your domain forward slash whatever you want.
Now, by doing this, you will keep the hackers and bots guessing as to what your login URL is.
One quick word of caution. Once you have changed your login URL, make sure you have bookmarked it.
You might also want to write it down and keep it safe. The last thing you need to happen is to forget your URL login page.
WPS Hide Login Plugin gets 5 out of 5 stars and has had over 200k active installations to date. It is also updated on a weekly basis, which is very important to consider when choosing a plugin for your website.
You can check out WPS Hide Login plugin here.
Really Simple SSL Plugin
The next plugin that I think is essential for every WordPress website is Really Simple SSL.
These days, it is vital that you have an SSL certificate attached to your website.
Not having an SSL (Security Sockets Layer) certificate on your site, could be cause for Google to flag your website and show it as “not secure”.
If you have an SSL certificate already, what this plugin will do, is force the SSL to work.
It will automatically detect your settings and configure your website to run over https, redirecting all incoming requests to https.
So, just to be clear, this plugin doesn’t come with an SSL certificate.
Once you have your SSL certificate, you simply install and activate the plugin on your site, and the plugin will recognize the certificate.
Getting a free SSL certificate is fairly easy these days. Most hosting companies provide this service to its customers for free.
I was fortunate enough to get one for free through my hosting company, WPX.
If all else fails, a free certificate can be obtained through Letsencrypt.org.
I encourage everyone to have an SSL certificate installed as soon as possible. Not only will your site show as a secure site, but having an SSL Certificate in place will help you rank in Google too.
By using the Really Simple SSL plugin, I think you will find that it is the easiest way to switch your site to SSL.
This plugin gets 5 out of 5 stars and has had over one million active installations to date. It is also updated on a weekly basis.
You can check out Really Simple SSL plugin here.
UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup
Of all the plugins in the WordPress directory, UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup is by far the most important plugin that you can have installed on your website.
If you don’t have your website database backed up by a cloud hosting provider, you are simply asking for trouble.
The plugin that I’ve been using, Updraftplus WordPress Backup will do just that with a few simple clicks.
This plugin is fairly new to the WordPress directory.
Although some of the advanced features that it offers are great, I feel the free version does the job just fine.
When backing up your website, it is very important that your backup is off-site, away from your web hosting company.
Updraftplus WordPress Backup allows you to backup your website off-site to one of the cloud hosting providers like Dropbox or Google drive.
The plugin makes a full backup, every file, the database itself, everything. It makes a full backup every single time.There’s simply no two ways about it, you have to have a backup. Don’t procrastinate, don’t delay!
Updraft Plus WordPress Backup gets 5 out of 5 stars and has had over one million active installations to date. It’s updated on a monthly basis.
You can check out Updraft Plus WordPress Backup plugin here.
Now, let’s move on to SEO.
Yoast SEO Plugin
Having an SEO plugin on your website is essential if you want Google to send you traffic.
There is also certain bits of information that you need to put into your website via a Seo plugin in order for your website to be indexed on Google.
There are several SEO plugins to chose from in the WordPress directory. My favorite one, by far, is Yoast SEO. They have a free and premium (paid) version; I just use the free version.
The premium version does add a couple of nice features that are great, but for the majority of the people, the free version is going to be perfectly fine.
So, the reason I personally choose to stick with Yoast, is that I really like what they’re doing and the tools they are building.
They have full-time developers that are actively engaged in making Yoast better with each release.
I’m not saying they are the experts in SEO, but they do come across as experts in that field.
I would definitely use Yoast over its competitor All-In-One Seo pack. I’m not putting down anyone who is a fan or current user of All-In-One Seo. I’m simply saying, from experience, I would go the Yoast route.
There’s definitely more integration and support around Yoast than other SEO plugins as well.
One final, but very important, point about the Yoast SEO plugin.
I have also found that Yoast is more user-friendly with other WordPress plug-ins that I have installed on my site.
Yoast SEO plugin gets 5 out of 5 stars and has had over five million active installations to date. It’s updated on a weekly basis.
You can check out the Yoast SEO plugin here.
WP Rocket For Caching
Another essential plugin that you will need for your website is a caching plugin.
This is a must-have for your website.
Caching is going to make your website run faster, which in turn will help it rank better in the search engines.
Not only is your site going to rank higher, it’s also going to help to keep your visitors on your website.
Think about it, when you visit a website and it takes forever to load, are you really going to stay on that website?
I know I’m not. I am out of there. I don’t have the patience to wait 10 or 15 seconds for a website to load. I’ll just go to the next one. I might even get to the next website before yours even loads!
Caching solves that problem. It’s going to make your website load faster for your visitors.
It’s also going to benefit you with your SEO rankings in Google, as well as reduce your bounce rate with Google.
There are a number of different caching solutions out there. There are free ones and there are paid ones.
Right now, I’m using a paid solution called WP rocket.
WP Rocket is getting rave reviews by Internet Marketers everywhere.
After experiencing this plugin first hand, I can honestly see why. My website load speed went from a 6-second load speed before the install, to a 2-second load speed after the install.
Ideally, I want my site load speed to be under 1-second. But, for now, I’m happy with a 2-second load speed.
It’s important to note; while being extremely complete, WP Rocket is also very simple to configure, even for beginners.
So, unlike other plugins, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to configure.
If you are interested in WP Rocket, you can check it out here.
There are also excellent free options. One of the most popular free caching plugins that are getting a lot of attention these days, is a plugin called Autoptimize. This plugin gets 4 1/2 out of 5 stars and has had over 600k active installations to date. If you would like more info regarding this plugin, you can check it out here.
Now, there’s also one that you definitely want to stay away from in this category and it’s called W3 Total Cash. I have used this plugin in the past and had some problems with it.
It has also caused problems for other friends of mine as well. I would personally stay away from it.
Google Analytics Plugin By MonsterInsights
If you want to know how much traffic you’re getting on your website, you’re going to want to install Google Analytics.
The first thing you’re going to want to do is to go to Google Analytics and set up an account.
When you add your website details to their website, they will give you a little snippet of code that you paste into the footer of your website.
Unfortunately, not all themes provide a setting to put in these analytic tracking pixels that Google analytics provides.
So, that is why there are specific plugins available to make the process a little easier and also add more trigger recording events.
One of the top plugins is called Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights.
MonsterInsights allow you to easily connect your WordPress website with Google Analytics, so you can see how visitors find and use your website.
The plugin makes analytics easy. You can see your site’s performance from the Google Analytics dashboard right inside your WordPress admin. area.
This data is important to have. It will show you where your traffic is coming from, how much traffic is coming in, where in the world it’s coming from.
There are other analytics solutions out there that you can choose from, but I would caution you against some of these options.
Many tracking plugins for WordPress save all the information to your WordPress database.
By saving all this information, your WordPress database will grow larger over time, which, in turn, will slow down your website.
Google Analytics Plug-In by MonsterInsights gets 4 out of 5 stars and has had over two million active installations to date. It’s updated on a weekly basis.
You can check out the Google Analytics Plugin by MonsterInsights here.
Well, that about wraps it up.
I hope you have enjoyed the 7 Essential Plugins For Every WordPress Website.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me.