WordPress is a great Content Management System (CMS) used by many businesses, bloggers and other websites. With a staggering 74,652,825 sites using WordPress, it is definitely loved by many. One of the things that makes WordPress a great CMS is the ability to add plugins to your website or blog. Plugins help take your WordPress platform to the next level and open up functionality that you wouldn’t have with the standard WordPress installation.

To date, there are 40,791 plugins available just through the WordPress Plugin directory. With so many available plugins, it is tough to figure out the essentials. Below is a list to help get you pointed in the right direction depending on your needs.

1. Yoast SEO

Category: SEO

Free or Paid? Free

Yoast SEO is a great plugin to help improve your on-site SEO. You can easily adjust Titles and Meta descriptions, build XML sitemaps, manage canonical tags and much more. Get it here!

2. Gravity Forms

Category: Contact Forms

Free or Paid? Paid

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One of the key features that is lacking in WordPress is a form builder. Contact forms are an integral part of your website and unfortunately can require some technical skills. Plugins like Gravity Forms allow you to easily build robust contact forms on your site without any programming required. Get it here!

3. Sucuri Security

Category: Security

Free or Paid? Free

One of the drawbacks of having an opensource CMS is that you can potentially open your site to vulnerabilities with plugins. While I would recommend only using plugins from a trusted source, having proper security measures in place for your WordPress site will help keep your site secure. Sucuri Security is a plugin that will help with the following:

  • Security Activity Auditing
  • File Integrity Monitoring
  • Remote Malware Scanning
  • Blacklist Monitoring
  • Effective Security Hardening
  • Post-Hack Security Actions
  • Security Notifications
  • Website Firewall (add on)

Sucuri is also a great source if your website has malware or has been hacked. They have affordable services to help clean your site if you were injected with malware. Get it here!

3. W3 Total Cache

Category: Performance

Free or Paid? Free

Designed to improve website performance, W3 Total Cache helps optimize your website code. This allows your website to load faster which not only helps with usability, but search engine rankings as well.  Get it here!

4. Woo Commerce

Category: eCommerce

Free or Paid? Free with paid upgrades

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Looking to turn your site into an eCommerce store? WooCommerce has you covered! This plugin is quick to setup and has a robust set of features for a free plugin. If you want to really maximize your shopping cart, there are tons of paid WooCommerce extensions to integrate various features. Get it here!

5. Shareaholic

Category: Social Media

Free or Paid? Free

shareaholic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking to add social media share icons to your site? Shareaholic is a great plugin to help not only add those icons but also provides analytics, suggested content, ways to monetize your site, and other great features. Get it here!

6. Google Analytics Dashboard for WP

Category: Analytics

Free or Paid? Free

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Google Analytics is a great tool that every website should have installed. However, if you log into your WordPress Dasbhoard often, it is nice to have a quick look at your traffic and other Analytics metrics. Google Analytics Dashboard for WP adds widgets to your Dashboard so that you can have everything in one place. Get it here!

7. Simple 301 Redirects

Category: SEO

Free or Paid? Free

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is one of my favorite plugins to install. If you are familiar with SEO, 301 redirects are a vital part of every SEO strategy. Unfortunately, redirecting a page typically requires editing the .htaccess file which can bring down an entire website if you make an error. Simple 301 redirects asks you what the old page was and what the new page the 301 redirect should point to and that’s it. User friendly and easy to use. Get it here!

8. Simple Custom CSS

Category: Development

Free or Paid? Free

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Often times  you install a theme and things are working great but there are a few small customizations that the theme options won’t cover. Diving into the raw CSS of the theme can be tricky if you don’t know what you are doing. This custom CSS plugin allows you to insert custom CSS without adjusting the raw CSS of the theme.  Get it here!

9. Visual Composer

Category: Design/Development

Free or Paid? Paid

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If you are looking to make some customizations to your page and don’t have the technical ability, a Visual Composer is a great way to build your pages. You can use drag and drop functionality to organize the page elements and features to build beautiful page layouts. Additionally, there are predefined page templates that you can load to save time. Get it now!

10. Ultimate Branding

Category: Design/Development

Free or Paid? Free

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking to add a nice finished touch to your site? Add custom branding! With Ultimate branding, you can remove WordPress branding and add your own custom logo on pages like the login page. https://premium.wpmudev.org/project/ultimate-branding/

In closing…

WordPress is a very powerful tool and your website is limitless with plugins. As always, be smart when you install plugins and have backups in place. Make sure that your plugin is from a trusted source so that you aren’t opening yourself to vulnerabilities.

Have other plugins that you like that aren’t mentioned here? List them below in the comments!