When you install a theme on WordPress, the next step is to install as I call it must-have plugins. The website will be faster and secure. You should do it before installing other additional plugins.
Plugins are little applications for more functionalities and every WordPress website needs them.
But you don’t have to have many plugins. They may slow your website. Just install what you really need.
But there are some must-have plugins that every WordPress website needs.
I made a list of my favorite plugins and I install all of them on my websites. And all of them are free.
1. Security Plugin
Every website needs to be secured from spam, malware, or hacker attacks. A website must be secured to function properly. You may lose content or break the website if it’s not secured.
There are some great security plugins, but my favorite is Defender. It is a great security plugin with many functions. It protects from malware, scans WordPress core. You can ban some suspicious IPs and also, mask your login.
You can do all this with a free version and for more options like WAF and Audit Logging, you can buy a Pro version.
2. Caching Plugin
Number two the most important plugin for a website is a caching plugin. It helps to speed up your website load time and everybody knows that slow websites lose visitors. The cache is definitely in the must-have plugins list.
My favorite caching plugin is Hummingbird because it has a lot of options in it. You can scan a website and see what is not working properly and tweak it. It has browser and page caching abilities, Gzip compression, asset optimization, and more.
With a pro version you get uptime monitor, minify files with CDN, and much more.
3. Backup Plugin
You must back up your website as frequently as you can. Because you don’t know what happens tomorrow and you don’t want to lose your work. Backup plugins solve that problem.
I recommend UpdraftPlus for website backups. You can backup locally or save files on remote storage like Google Drive, Dropbox, etc. And it happens automatically. Read my post where I show you how to backup your website.
Backup should always be in must-have plugins list. No matter how big your website is.
4. SEO Plugin
Talking about must-have plugins? If you want search engines to easily find your website, then you need to install an SEO plugin. Every kind of website must have it but it is crucial for blogs. SEO plugins help you to make posts SEO friendly.
There are some great plugins like Yoast, RankMath but I personally use SmartCrawl. It gives you every option you need. Scan your whole website and find SEO problems, enable OpenGraph, edit titles, meta, and more.
For more options, you can buy a pro version but for start, the free version is enough.
Every website needs to have some kind of form – contact, newsletter, or something else. If someone wants to contact you, he/she can do it right from your website.
The best plugin for that is Forminator. It has a great interface, many options and it is very easy to create a form. Other than the contact form, you can build polls and quizzes. You can add fields like payment, calculator, reCaptcha, etc.
Actually, my contact form is made with Forminator. Works perfectly.
Other must-have plugins for your website is analytics. You need to know who visits your website, what pages and posts are popular, etc. Based on that data you can improve your website and business.
A great plugin that connects your website to Google Analytics is ExactMetrics. Its features include real-time stats, E-commerce tracking, ad tracking, reports, and more in a great UI.
Also, you can check Google Site Kit which connects to Google products like Analytics, Search Console, AdSense.
7. Image optimization
Another feature that helps website load speed is to have optimized images. If you don’t, it can slow down your website and you will lose visitors. So you want high-quality images with a small size.
The plugin that does that is Smush. It can reduce picture size without losing quality. It also has a lazy load option but it is not necessary anymore because WordPress 5.5 comes with this option.
However, you can do it without plugins. You can optimize images with TinyPNG. It is a website that does the same thing as Smush.
8. Social Share
Every blog needs to have a share option for social media. It makes your website popular and you get more visitors. So you need to have a share feature on your website.
And you can do it with Grow. With this plugin, you can share on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and also has print abilities. You can have share buttons above or below your content or you can have floating icons.
If you are interested, learn how to customize Grow plugin.
9. Broken Link Checker
On your blog, you will have many internal, external, or affiliate links. And if any of that link doesn’t work it will be a problem for visitors. So, you need to install a plugin that checks links problems.
Broken Link Checker is a great plugin and it’s very easy to use. It will check your website for broken or problematic links and allows you to correct them very easily. You won’t have a problem anymore.
I have it installed on my website and it works just fine. I will never have a broken link. It definitely needs to be on the must-have plugins list.
So, these are my recommendations for must-have plugins. They will help your website to be secure, fast, and optimized. You can try these plugins and see their power for yourself.
However, you can do without analytics and image optimization. You can just use Google Analytcs and TinyPNG.