As of December 2022, over 800 million websites are using WordPress. This content management system (CMS) is open-source, easy to use and there is a plethora of plugins that you can use to improve the functionality of your site.
In this article, we’ll be discussing 30 must have WordPress plugins that will take your website from ordinary to extraordinary.
With such an extensive list of plugins available, it can be difficult to choose which ones are truly beneficial for your site.
From SEO plugins to security plugins and everything in between, this article will provide you with the ultimate selection of plugins to get your WordPress site running at optimum performance.
Get ready to maximize the potential of your website and take it to the next level.
When you install a plugin in your WordPress dashboard, you’ll be adding new features and functions to your site.
This is like installing an app on your mobile phone… It improves functionality.
For example, by adding the TablePress plugin, you’ll be able to easily create tables in your blog posts and pages without having to fret over coding and other tech issues.
Plugins allow you to do specific tasks on your site that are difficult or cumbersome to do on your own.
With plugins, your life will be easier and you won’t need to be a coder to build an advanced website.
There are over 55,000 plugins in the WordPress Plugin Directory! That’s only the directory.
There are countless more that are listed on sites like Code Canyon or sold privately by software developers.
You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to plugins. But here’s the hard truth… not all plugins are created equal.
Free Plugins VS Paid Plugins: Which is Better?
The WordPress digital landscape is littered with free and paid plugins.
To make matters more confusing, some free plugins are better than the paid ones, because they were created by more proficient developers.
So, it’s tricky to answer the question as to which is better… but here are 5 questions you should ask yourself when choosing a plugin.
- How many times has the plugin been installed?
- When was it last updated?
- Is it compatible with my site/plugins?
- Is it free, freemium, or paid?
- What do the reviews say?
Let’s look at the Pretty Links plugin to get an idea of how to ascertain the effectiveness and reliability of a plugin.
In the image above, you can see that Pretty Links has been installed in over 300,000 sites… That’s a lot of sites – so you can bet it’s good.
When it comes to determining if a plugin is reliable, the best metric to look at is social proof.
If tons of other sites are using it, it’s safe to assume that the plugin does the job well.
If you wish to be ‘extra sure,’ you can click on the reviews tab and read what others are saying about the plugin.
Furthermore, the plugin was updated just two days ago.
It’s imperative that you install plugins which are updated regularly so that they keep up with WordPress updates and other security issues.
When choosing a plugin, it may be totally free… or it may be a freemium. There’s a difference between the two.
Free VS Freemium VS Paid
A free plugin such as TablePress will have an option for you to send the developer a donation, if you love the plugin.
There may also be links for you to check out other paid products created by the same developer/company.
The free plugin is used to get leads and generate brand awareness while providing value to the masses.
A freemium plugin is free… but has limited features.
The Pretty Links plugin is an example of a freemium plugin.
You can use it free for as long as you want – and create neat affiliate links while tracking your clicks.
However, if you wish to split test your links, replace URLs, categorize your links, and get the plugin to perform advanced actions, you’ll need to pay and upgrade to Pretty Links Pro.
This is the difference between a free plugin and a freemium plugin.
On the other hand, some plugins like WP Sheet Editor can only be accessed after purchase… There is a paid plugin with no free version.
Compatibility & Support
The last point to note when choosing a plugin is that it must play well with your WordPress theme and/or other plugins.
If the plugin conflicts with the rest, your site may break (not display properly) or some plugins may not work the way they used to.
Unfortunately, the only way to know for sure if a plugin is compatible will be to test it out.
Ideally, if you’re buying a plugin, make sure it has a refund policy – just in case it’s incompatible.
Another step you can take to mitigate conflicts will be to install one plugin at a time and see if your site is functioning properly.
If anything goes wrong, you can easily deactivate the ‘culprit’ plugin and restore normalcy on your site.
If you install a bunch of plugins and activate them all at once, you won’t know which one is causing problems… A slow, calculated, and judicious approach will serve you well here.
Finally, if you have any questions, try contacting the support associated with the plugin and ask them a question or two on updates or compatibility.
If the support is responsive, that’s a good sign – and indicates that the plugin is probably reliable.
Since there are thousands of plugins to choose from, use the questions above to asses a plugin’s quality, and narrow down the selection until you find one that suits your needs almost perfectly.
How many plugins does one site need? The common understanding is, “Less is more.”
Having too many plugins can slow down your site. That said, it also depends on the coding within the plugin.
If a plugin is bloated with code, the developer may not know his job well.
A site with 10 well-coded plugins may be faster than one which has 4 poorly-coded plugins.
So it’s not just about the numbers… Plugin quality matters too.
To reduce the number of plugins on your site, you’ll want to be astute when choosing a WordPress theme.
For example, the Astra Pro Theme has a mega menu as one of its features.
When the theme has a built-in feature like this, you won’t need another plugin such as Max Mega Menu to get the job done… So that’s one less plugin clogging up your site.
Choose a WordPress theme that provides you enough features so that you won’t need too many plugins.
You do NOT need to activate all your plugins!
Just because a plugin is great doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to be activated all the time.
When a plugin is being used constantly, it not only slows down your site’s load speed, but also uses up resources on your server.
For example, the Broken Links Checker works great, but is ‘resource heavy.’
To get around this situation, just activate it for 3-5 days so it can detect all the broken links on your site.
Once you’ve fixed the links, you may deactivate it. 2 months later you can turn it on again to run another quick check.
Similarly, the All-In-One WP Migration plugin is fantastic for backing up your site and very handy if you want to export your site.
But you only need to activate it when doing a backup.
During other times, you can turn it off or even delete it. Just install the plugin when you need it. It’s that simple.
One final point to note!
Even though there are thousands of plugins online, we’ve only listed 30 of the must have plugins for bloggers.
These are the ones most frequently used/needed by website owners.
If you need a plugin for a specific task such as embedding PDFs, you can easily do a Google search or look for one in the WordPress depository… and you’d come across EmbedPress. This will do the job just fine.
The 30 plugins listed below are the best of the best when it comes to must have plugins.
In some cases, we listed a few options that’ll do the same job while giving you the flexibility to shop around and see which you like best.
For example, we’ve listed 3 SEO plugins below, but you only need to choose one – the one you like best… Let’s get started!
(The plugins below are listed in no order. They’re all outstanding.)
30 Awesome Plugins
Launching brute force attacks on your login page is one of the most common tactics that degenerate hackers use to break into your site.
Loginizer is a simple, but highly effective plugin which blocks their IP after reaching the maximum number of retries allowed.
You can choose the settings yourself or just go with the default ones.
This lightweight plugin has over 1 million installs because it’s that useful.
2. SEO plugins
Installing an SEO plugin on your site will help you to tailor your blog posts so that they’re in tune with what the search engines want.
There are many SEO factors that must be met in order to boost your site’s chances of ranking well in the SERPs.
Trying to remember all of it and get it right on your own will be a hassle.
With an SEO plugin, your content will be analyzed in minutes and you’ll be told what to do to meet the standard SEO requirement.
It’s fast, easy, and advantageous for your business.
For example, Yoast SEO will guide you on how to create optimized meta descriptions, check if your content contains the focus keyword density and much more.
It’ll generate an XML sitemap for you so that the search engine spiders will have no problems indexing your site.
Many of the reputable SEO plugins have similar features and are a huge time-saver when it comes to getting your content SEO-ready.
We’ve found 3 SEO plugins that are fantastic and equally good.
Check them out and decide for yourself which is the one you prefer.
If you enable comments on your blog posts and you don’t want your post to get smothered by Cialis or Viagra comments… or ads for Russian ladies posted by Russian bots, you absolutely need Akismet.
This plugin is the industry leader when it comes to filtering out comment spam.
With over 5 million installs, you can’t go wrong with it.
4. Smush or Imagify
Images on your site can use up a lot of resources.
Furthermore, if the file sizes of your images are large, they’ll slow down your site.
While you could use TinyPng to optimize your images, it can be a hassle to repeatedly use it and upload it and so on.
With the pro versions, you can even convert your images into Next-Gen webP format.
A caching plugin is a must-have WordPress plugin if you want to improve your SEO score.
It’ll reduce the load on your hosting server and your site’s performance will be faster and better.
A reliable caching plugin improves the user experience significantly.
There are several caching plugins on the market. These are the top 3 that we found:
These days, just about everyone wants everything fast. Instant notifications, instant messaging, instant everything.
Your site needs to be blazing fast too. Most visitors will click off your site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load… But don’t panic.
NitroPack will transform your site into a speed demon… It’s brilliant and proven to work.
Besides that, if you use NitroPack, you will NOT need Smush or Imagify or any caching plugin such as the ones mentioned above (WP Rocket, etc.)
NitroPack takes care of image optimization, caching, and many other tasks necessary to speed up your site. Instead of 3 different plugins, NitroPack is all you need.
7. Contact Form 7
If you need a simple contact form on your site, Contact Form 7 has your name written all over it.
It’s easy to use, lightweight and has over 5 million active installations. The best part – it’s free!
8. Legal Pages
Have you ever wondered where most websites get their legal pages from?
Terms of conditions pages, affiliate and medical disclaimers, privacy policies, etc. – it all looks so professional.
The good news is that you do not need to hire a lawyer and pay through your nose to get these legal pages done.
All you need is the WP Legal Pages plugin. Just choose the legal page you want and click ‘Generate.’
That’s it! Very easy to use.
9. Google XML Sitemaps
An XML sitemap makes it easier for search engines to crawl and index your site.
It’ll also notify the search engines whenever you make a new post on your site.
This will help your posts/pages rank faster in the search engines.
With over 1+ million active installations, XML sitemaps is the most popular plugin for this job.
(Do note: If you’re using SEO plugins like Yoast, you’ll not need XML sitemaps since Yoast already creates a sitemap for you.)
10. Pretty Links
One of the most useful plugins any webmaster could have is Pretty Links.
Many affiliate links are usually long, ugly URLs that are nothing more than a string of random numbers and alphabets.
With Pretty Links, you can ‘neaten up’ your URL. It’ll look more presentable on your social media accounts and places where you need to type out the full URL.
Another very important benefit of Pretty Links is that you can change the destination of your Pretty Link URL from your WordPress dashboard.
For example, if you’ve written a short weight loss PDF with your affiliate link inside pointing to a weight loss supplement, what would you do if the supplement was discontinued?
Everyone who had a copy of that PDF would encounter a broken link if they were to click on it.
Now, if you had used a Pretty Link in these PDFs, all you’d need to do is change the destination URL in your WordPress dashboard to make it point to a new supplement that’s for sale.
All the existing links in the PDF would point to this new supplement because the Pretty Link URL is the same… Only the destination has changed.
Do you see how invaluable Pretty Links is? Exactly.
Get it and use it… The free version is good… the pro version is exceptional.
So you can build sales pages, landing pages and more without interfering with the theme of your website.
Over 11 million sites use Elementor, which is proof that the plugin is phenomenal.
It’s intuitive and easy to use. The templates, blocks and widgets will give you a lot of flexibility to create pages that are exactly what you have in mind.
Want to have an ecommerce store on your website?
WooCommerce is exactly what you need. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling physical or digital products. You can use this versatile plugin.
Setting up WooCommerce is a breeze because you have the set-up wizard guiding you every step of the way. If you have doubts, there are countless tutorials on YouTube to guide you.
Since WooCommerce works with most WordPress themes, you can use it with your existing theme.
There’s no need to buy a new theme just to build a store… In fact, WooCommerce is free!
If you want more advanced features, you could upgrade, but for the most part, the free version is enough to start processing and delivering orders.
It integrates with PayPal and Stripe… not to mention many other software tools too.
Unlike Shopify, you won’t need to pay a monthly fee to use WooCommerce.
This makes it ideal for marketers on a tight budget.
This is a simple and straightforward plugin.
If you ever need to redirect any post or page on your site to another page/site… just use the Redirection plugin.
Lightweight, easy to use and has over 2+ million installs. Cannot recommend it more.
14. Broken Link Checker
As your site grows, it’ll become almost impossible to keep track of all your links and make sure they’re working.
It’s inevitable to have broken links because things online are always changing.
Websites come and go. Pages/posts that existed before may no longer be around now.
Imagine a situation on your site where you have thousands of links scattered across hundreds of blog posts… and 7 of them aren’t working?
It’ll take you ages to locate and fix the links manually. By the time you find these 7 broken links, another 9 may have broken elsewhere.
This is why the Broken Link Checker plugin is a must-have WordPress plugin for discovering all broken links on your site.
It’ll automatically send you an email with the list of links for you to fix… Then all you need to do is fix them. Easy peasy.
The internet has made the world a small place… What does that mean for your site?
It means that someone from Bulgaria (or some othe place where English is not the native language) may wish to read your site in their native tongue rather than English.
Having a plugin that automatically translates your site for you and displays it under a language subdomain will be a godsend – and that’s exactly what Weglot is.
It’ll help you to translate your site in record time.
This is the best language translation plugin around and is being used by thousands of webmasters around the globe.
There are no better alternatives out there.
16. Really Simple SSL
These days, Google will penalize your site if it’s not a ‘https’ site, by ranking it so deep in the search engines your site just might strike oil, and not in the good way.
A site (URL) that’s not SSL-secure will also throw up a warning in most browsers when it’s clicked on.
This will turn off many visitors who won’t take the risk. You’ll lose traffic if your site is not a ‘https’ site.
To rank at the top of the SERPs, your site must be SSL-enabled. The green lock must be displayed next to your URL.
By simplifying the process, the Really Simple SSL plugin will help you do this in minutes. And it is for this reason that this is a must-have WordPress plugin.
With over 5+ million installs, you can rest assured that this plugin will keep your site secure and abide by Google’s requirements.
17. Social Sharing
With everyone glued to their phones and hooked on social media, you’ll be sacrificing brand awareness and traffic if your content is not displayed on these social platforms.
With these plugins, visitors will be able to share your site on their social media accounts, etc.
This is the best way to make your content go viral.
If you’ve seen websites where there’s an option to pin an image in Pinterest (when you hover on it), chances are, the site is using the Social Warfare plugin.
Having one of these on your site is non-negotiable, if you want to leverage social media traffic.
So choose ONE of the two below and install it on your site.
Quick question: “How do you get visitors to visit your site repeatedly?
Don’t think too hard. The answer is Push Notifications.
When someone visits your site, a small dropdown box will ask them if they wish to receive notifications from you.
While not all visitors will eagerly ‘allow’ it, a fraction of them will click on the allow button.
Now, whenever you make a new post on your site, the push notification plugin will send a notification that appears on the visitor’s browser, telling them that there’s new content or offers on your site.
This will encourage them to visit your site and see what’s new.
Push notifications keep your site/s at the forefront of your customers’ minds.
Two of the best push notification plugins are OneSignal and PushEngage.
Check them both out and choose one that suits your website’s needs.
19. Link Whisper
One of the key SEO ranking metrics for a site is the number of links it has… This includes both internal and external links.
While external links require more effort and are built by doing outreach or guest posts, internal links are easier to build since you’ll only need to interlink between posts and pages on your site.
That said, internal linking is easy when the site is small. But once your site goes above 70 posts or so, it’ll be difficult to remember what topics you’ve already covered.
You may miss out on many opportunities to create internal links within your site.
Here is where Link Whisper comes in so handy.
This SEO plugin will scan the content (blog posts/pages) on your site and give you a list of places where you can add internal links.
Even while you’re writing new posts, Link Whisper will give you automatic link suggestions.
This will ensure you don’t miss out any linking opportunities in your new content.
This plugin is so good it doesn’t need hype… It’s a secret tool in many SEO marketers’ arsenals… Get it and stay ahead of the competition.
(Do note: If you’re using this plugin, you’ll not need the Broken Link Checker plugin because Link Whisper checks for broken internal and external links. It even provides reporting so that you know the health of your links at a glance.)
If you’d like to engage with visitors to your site and deliver support in real time, you’ll need a plugin like LiveChat.
This plugin is a serious player and is used by major companies such as McDonald’s, PayPal, Mercedes Benz and more.
With several useful features from chat ratings to canned responses… to analytics and integrations, LiveChat is the only live support plugin you’ll ever need.
21. Page Builders
Earlier on, we mentioned Elementor as a highly versatile page builder.
These two plugins are more ‘marketing-focused’ and the elements in these page builders are designed to help marketers improve conversions and boost sales.
You can build funnels, integrate with several popular email marketing software brands and there are hundreds of templates to choose from.
While Elementor has some more advanced features than both these plugins, when it comes to selling, OptimizePress and ThriveArchitect with their ‘sales features’ do an undeniably better job.
The devil is in the details.
If you’re planning to create sales pages, sales funnels, etc. you may want to get either one of the page builders below.
When it comes to site security, you’ll want a ‘hardcore’ plugin that works round the clock – guarding the borders of your site from the invading hordes of hacker orcs who have nothing better to do other than being a pain in your you-know-what.
Earlier on, we mentioned Loginizer, and it’s good for brute force attacks… but it’s NOT all-encompassing as far as security is concerned.
It goes without saying that WordFence is the most popular one of the lot. But we’ve provided 2 other options which are just as good. So you can choose which one you like.
Never be lackadaisical when it comes to securing your website. All too often, webmasters adopt an ‘it won’t happen to me’ attitude without realizing how often there are hacking attempts made on their sites.
All it takes is one flaw for a hacker to exploit it.
A good security plugin will block malicious traffic, set up a firewall, prevent brute force attacks, alert you to security vulnerabilities on your site and much more.
These plugins are designed and maintained by online security experts.
It’s necessary to get one and install it on your site.
(Do note: If you’re using one of the security plugins above, you’ll not need to use Loginizer.)
23. Social Proof
Nowadays, it’s very common to come across ecommerce websites or sales pages that have small notifications popping up every now and then telling you that someone from somewhere just purchased the product a few minutes ago.
Every time you see a site with social proof notifications, it’s using a plugin like Nudgify.
These little notifications are attention-grabbing but obtrusive.
The whole idea of using these plugins is to tell potential visitors that the product is popular and that others are buying it too.
Knowing that other people are currently purchasing the product/s will help assuage any fears the visitor might have about the trustworthiness or reliability of the product.
By nature, most people tend to be followers and will buy much more readily when they see that others are buying it too.
There are several different social proof plugins on the market. We’ve listed 4 of the most popular ones below.
Take a look at them and their plans before choosing one that you like… These plugins truly improve conversions.
Want to recruit affiliates to promote your products but have no idea how to set up the tech stuff?
Relax… There’s a plugin for that too and it’s called AffiliateWP.
With this plugin, you’ll be able to create an affiliate dashboard, generate links for your affiliates, provide accurate tracking and stats, detect click fraud and much more.
The plugin is customizable so you can get the interface to look exactly how you want it to so that it’s congruent with the rest of your site.
With 1-click payouts and advanced affiliate management features, this is probably the best affiliate management plugin out there.
This plugin is created by the same team that produced Astra, which is the most popular WordPress theme online.
Spectra will take your Gutenberg editor to the next level because of its additional features such as: flexbox containers, custom tables, presets, and 100 free templates.
Since Spectra is essentially a page builder that’s built on top of the Gutenberg block editor, it’ll provide you a lot more flexibility and freedom when designing your blog posts.
(Do note: If you’re using Elementor, you’ll not need Spectra.)
26. Monster Insights
This plugin has over 3 million installs and is used by some of the top online marketers who run niche sites.
Setting up Google Analytics can be complicated, and analyzing the stats may give you a headache because the interface is not user-friendly.
Monster Insights is the ‘aspirin’ that will remedy this headache.
Once you install it, setting up Google Analytics will be extremely easy and you’ll be able to use the advanced tracking features with just a few clicks.
It’s critical to know your traffic stats. Knowing which posts are getting the most visitors and where your traffic is coming from will allow you to focus on what matters.
With Monster Insights, you’ll have access to in-depth data such as: audience reports, publishers reports, behavior reports and much more.
All the data is processed and laid out in a way that makes it easy for most webmasters to understand. This is the best benefit of Monster Insights.
There are so many other features that we can’t list them all out here.
Visit the Monster Insights page and you’ll be blown away by how immensely useful and beneficial this plugin is.
“Wait, what? Another monster?”
You bet! This is a straightforward plugin.
If you wish to build your email list, you’ll need pop ups and forms on your site.
Here’s where it gets tricky… The forms need to be attractive to get attention.
They also need to get past pop-up blockers and integrate with the email marketing software you have.
One of the best pop-up plugins used by thousands of sites is OptinMonster.
You’ll be able to create beautiful lightboxes, floating bars, scroll boxes, exit intent pop ups and much more.
With 100+ templates to choose from, you’ll be able to create a pop up in under 10 minutes.
OptinMonster makes the difficult look easy, and the easy look beautiful. Use it to improve your conversions when capturing emails on your site.
Backing up your site is something you should do at intervals.
There are countless horror stories of web servers going down and site owners losing their sites overnight and not having backups.
Imagine years of your work lost just because of server failure or worse, someone hacked your site and ruined it.
This is why a backup add-on is a must-have WordPress plugin.
With a good backup plugin such as Updraft Plus, you’ll be able to schedule backups on autopilot – and these backups will be saved in Amazon S3 or Dropbox or the other storage options available (you choose which one).
You can set the schedules for backup (hourly, weekly, monthly), and with just a click or two, you can restore your site from your WordPress control panel… This plugin is a lifesaver.
Alternatives to Updraft Plus are Duplicator and All-in-One WP Migration… Check them out and choose the one you like best.
29. WP Forms
Creating forms in WordPress can be troublesome if you aren’t a proficient coder… and most of us aren’t.
This is why WPForms is a blessing for most webmasters. You can create: payment forms, registration forms, contact forms, survey forms and much more.
The process is made even simpler because WPForms provides you with over 500+ templates to choose from… You can tweak these templates and create forms in minutes!
It doesn’t get easier than this. WPForms gets our highest recommendation.
But if you’re looking for an alternative, you may want to look at Gravity Forms, which is almost as good.
(Do note: If you’re using one of these plugins, you’ll not need Contact Form 7.)
30. Membership sites
If you’ve ever wanted to run a membership site, you’ll know just how many membership plugins are out there.
We’ve looked at most of them… and MemberPress gets our highest recommendation.
It’s a little bit pricey when compared to less expensive membership plugins sold on Code Canyon, but this plugin provides a lot more features and value for money.
With unlimited members and courses (on 1 site), email automation, PayPal and Stripe integration, drip content, no transaction fees or monthly fees – what more could you ask for?
MemberPress just hits it out of the park!
There are alternatives like WishList Member or s2Member.
But we’ve found that while these plugins do the job well, they’re clunky to use and not entirely user-friendly.
You may wish to look at all 3 plugins and decide which one you’ll go with.
Where do you go from here?
After seeing all these ‘must-have’ plugins, you may feel like you want them all… Let’s temper our enthusiasm here.
‘Must-have’ plugins aren’t necessarily ‘must-get’ plugins.
A plugin is only considered a must-have if it’s something you will need.
If you’re not interested in building a membership site, you don’t need a membership plugin.
Similarly, if you don’t wish to have chat support on your site, a live chat plugin is pointless.
Get the plugins that will help improve your business while making your life easier.
Some plugins such as WordFence and Legal Pages are a must-have, regardless of what your site is about.
But for the most part, the rest of the plugins are only important if they are in alignment with your marketing needs.
Be aware of what you need for your site and get the outstanding plugins mentioned above to help you achieve your site’s goals.
These plugins will make your site look professional, improve their performance and ultimately, skyrocket your sales and conversions when deployed appropriately… Use them wisely and to your advantage.