Though WordPress offers a ton of features out of the box, you will always need more. And there is always room for more. You can extend the functionalities of WordPress multiple folds with the right plugin. Without them, WordPress would be plain and boring, and lacking in most functionalities than most other websites.
There are over 45,000+ free plugins to choose from in the WordPress Plugin Directory alone. Also, there are a lot of premium plugins as well that gives some more functionalities than the free ones. They also provide support for the plugin in case of any issues. Then there are freemium plugins – plugins that are free to install but you will have to pay in order to get extra features, support, and upgrades. These free, premium and freemium plugins give WordPress users a lot of power, flexibility, and control over their websites. Since installing these plugins are just a matter of clicks, it makes the user be able to achieve what they want without even coding or having to understand a single line of code.
Although the plugins that you should install are specific to what category your website falls in, like e-commerce, blogging site, news website, etc. But there are certain plugins that are applicable to almost all websites. There are a lot of plugins available for a specific feature. Installing the right plugin that suits the requirements can reduce a great deal of work for a WordPress user.
So here is a collection of plugins that you must have, at least some them if not all, on your WordPress website. The list includes free, premium and freemium plugins.
JetPack is a work of the team that is behind the WordPress software itself. This plugin is not for a specific feature but as the name suggests, comes packed with a group of features making it a must-have plugin for your WordPress website. You can check out Creating Your First Website Using WordPress.
Once installed the plugin will take care of your website’s protection, SEO, appearance, growth and more. The plugin provides Traffic and SEO tools, security and backup services, content creation, discussion, and community, etc.
Jetpack is a free plugin and can be downloaded from wordpress.org plugin directory. The core features including site stats, high-speed CDN for images, brute force attack protection, automatic sharing to social networks, etc. The paid plan for the plugin has more to offer. It includes automated backups, security scanning, spam filtering, video hosting, site monetization, SEO tools, and priority support.
JetPack is an all-in-one plugin that gives you many functionalities in one installation instead of searching for a whole lot of other plugins.
Akismet is one of the most downloaded plugins for WordPress also developed by the team behind the WordPress software. Akismet is one of the plugins that comes pre-installed on every WordPress installation. The basic functionality of the plugin is to check all the comments on your WordPress posts and contact form submissions and checks for spam comments.
All comments are checked automatically and the ones that look like spam are filtered out. All comments will have a status history to mark which comments were marked as spam by Akismet and which were spammed or unspammed by the moderator.
Akismet is free for personal blogs but for commercial and business sites there are paid subscriptions that offer more features like advanced security solution and gives priority support.
It is always essential to have a backup system for your WordPress website. You can not afford to lose any of your or your customer’s data if and when anything goes wrong. In case of events such as a hardware failure, or your hosting server being hacked or experiencing a crash, you could lose all your data. But you would not have to worry if you have proper backup for your website.
WordPress does not have a built-in backup so what you can do is install plugins that can create a backup of your website. BackupBuddy is a premium plugin that can help create a securing your website with a reliable backup system. BackupBuddy creates a backup for all your WordPress files, media library, themes, plugins and everything else that had your website function properly.
Google XML Sitemaps
An XML sitemap contains all the pages of a site to help search engines understand the structure of the website. An XML sitemap tells the search engines all the pages that exist on your website, which makes it easier for search engines to find and crawl these pages.
Google XML Sitemaps is a free plugin that you can download from wordpress.org. Once installed and activated, the plugin will automatically create an XML sitemap for your website making it easy to be indexed by search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. The plugin supports all kinds of WordPress generated pages as well as custom URLs. Also, it notifies all major search engines every time you create a new post.
Search Engine Optimization is a very important part of an online business. Search engine optimization or SEO in short, helps your website or blog rank higher on a search engine like Google. When looking for something in a search engine, most of the time they click on the first results. SEO helps rank your websites higher on search engines and thus drive more traffic to your website.
Yoast SEO plugin makes SEO really easy for you. It guides you through every step to create SEO friendly content on your website. The plugin gives you with snippet preview shows how your post or page will look like in search results. With Yoast, you don’t have to search for another plugin for XML sitemaps. You WordPress SEO is taken care of by Yoast. You can get XML functionalities with Yaost, set canonical URLs to avoid duplicate content, etc.
With the premium plan of the plugin, you can get all the basic features and more and priority support. Some of the premium features include the Insights tools that help you make your contents in line with keywords, automatic internal linking suggestions, social previews to manage the way your page is shared on social networks and the list goes on.
Images are an inevitable part of website content. A website without images would be plain and boring. Images in websites grab user attention and increase user engagement. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. But images in websites can have a serious negative impact on the speed of the website since media files like images take a lot of storage space and data.
Google uses a number of factors to rank a website. The speed of the website is one of them. The websites that load faster is ranked higher. Removing images from the website to make the sites load faster is not an option. So to overcome this, you can reduce the size of the image by compressing and optimizing the images.
You can either optimize images using other image optimizing software before you upload it to the WordPress media library, or you can go the easy way. WP Smush is a plugin that helps you optimize the images for your website automatically, manually or in bulk. WP Smush reduces the size of any images that you upload or have already uploaded without losing the quality of images.
WP Smush has both free and premium versions. You can download the free version from WordPress.org plugin directory. You can try out the premium version with the 30-day free trial.
This is another great plugin to help speed up the loading time of your website. Other than optimizing the images of your website, you can improve the loading time of your website by minifying and by concatenating JS and CSS files, caching certain so that the data that can time to load, can be fetched faster the next time user visits the page.
The plugin makes your page really light-weight to make it load faster. To make the sites take less time to load, Autoptimize minifies the HTML code, concatenates all scripts and styles, minifies and compresses them, adds expires headers, caches them, and moves styles to the page head, and scripts to the footer.
Autoptimize is a free plugin and can be downloaded from wordpress.org plugin directory.
BJ Lazy load
Lazy loading is another method to improve your website’s performance. It can help your websites load faster and save bandwidth. By lazy loading your website you only load the objects on the website only when needed instead of loading it all right away unnecessarily.
BJ lazy load helps your website load faster by lazy loading. It replaces the media on your website with a placeholder. The media content is only loaded when that part of the website gets closer to the browser window. BJ Lazy load works with post images, post thumbnails, gravatar images, content iframes, text widgets, and embedded videos from Youtube, Vimeo, etc.
Google Analytics +
Google Analytics allows you to analyze the web traffic that comes to your website. It will give you insights about your website users, new visitors, the source of the traffic, how long the users are using the website, what they are doing, etc. Knowing this information is a really important part since it can help you understand where you can make improvements to your site. Google Analytics for your WordPress website helps you get insights into how the website is performing. Knowing the page visits, page views, bounce rate, conversion rate are all very important in keeping your website alive and thriving.
Google Analytics + is a plugin that brings all this information right to your WordPress dashboard. You don’t have to leave your site to see how well your website is doing. The plugin can enable you to track the performance of an entire multisite network, track the progress of individual posts and page using graphs and stats making it easy to understand, and more.
Google Analytics + is a premium WordPress plugin with a free 30-day trial.
Contact Form 7
As the name of the plugin indicates, Contact Form 7 allows you to create contact forms on your website without having to code a single line. This plugin will help you create different types of contact forms easily. You can add multiple contact forms and give them names for easy management. You can also easily customize the contact forms using this plugin with simple markup. The form supports Ajax-powered submitting, CAPTCHA, Akismet spam filtering, etc. Contact Form 7 is a free plugin that you can download from WordPress.org plugin directory.
Testimonials are a great way to gain the trust of your users. For a new customer who is visiting your site for the first time testimonials a way to reassure them that there are many other people out there who are using your products and/or services. they can go through the user’s testimonials to know what your customers have to say about you.
Testimonial Widget makes it super simple to add testimonials to your WordPress website. You can do more than a simple testimonial slider using this plugin. Using this plugin you can have carousel, fade, and slide transitions, filter slideshow content by post categories, tags, or post IDs, slide image, texts and videos and more.
Testimonial Widget has a premium version as well. With the premium version, you can get free support and additional features than the free version.
These are a list of some useful plugins that can be a great addition to your WordPress website. All of the listed plugins are free and won’t cost you anything for trying them out.