Essential WordPress Plugins

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Introduction to WordPress Plugins

How many plugins is too many?

The consensus across the world of WordPress is to try to keep the number of plugins you use to less than 20. I try to use the least amount of plugins as possible and like to think in terms of page builder (elementor pro, divi), security (wordfence, hide login), website speed (cache, image compression), forms (contact form 7, WP Forms), SEO (Rank Math, Yoast), and Website Backups (Duplicator, Updraft).

How to choose the right plugin

Choosing the right WordPress plugins can be a difficult task with over 60,000 plugins available to choose from. Aside from the main categories discussed above, some other important factors for choosing a plugin are:

  • Size of the plugin – The larger the plugin, the more code that is being run behind the scenes slowing your website down.
  • Popularity – The more popular the WordPress plugin, the more likely it will continue to be updated. It is always important that code is updated on all files when it comes to the internet. Someone out there is always looking for a way to exploit a vulnerability and ruin your website and steal information.
  • Updates – As mentioned in the previous update, look for plugins that are updated frequently. These are usually enhancements as well as preventing coding errors that someone can exploit.

WordPress Backup / Migration Plugins

We like two backup and migration WordPress plugins, there are several out there and maybe you like a different one.

  1. Duplicator – My favorite backup and migration plugin is the duplicator plugin. It allows me to make a simple backup and creates an installation file that I can upload two files to the new server and install just as easily as installing WordPress for the first time. I use this plugin to create initial installations for my customers so the important plugins I like to use are included with the installation.
  2. Updraft WordPress Backup Plugin – This is another great backup and migration plugin. It also allows you to do backups in the cloud through Dropbox, Amazon, Google, etc…. Whenever the duplicator plugin doesn’t work for me on some servers, I go to Updraft and can usually take care of my clients backup and migration requirements.

Speed up WordPress

A fast website is a ranking factor when it comes to mobile searches. It is also known that for a website that takes longer than 3 seconds to load, people will move along to a different website, first impressions are important in this case. 

  1. W3 Total Cache – This WordPress plugin uses a caching system to help speed up your website. It also has CDN capabilities as well as a minify option that can reduce your code file sizes.
  2. WP Super Cache – This is also a caching plugin that can also create static HTML files which load faster versus the PHP files your WordPress website would normally serve to visitors.
  3. WP Fastest Cache – This is a simple cache plugin that can speed up your WordPress website. It’s not as complicated as the other plugins mentioned, but can improve your website speed.

WordPress Contact Forms

There are three WordPress contact forms I like, but there are many out there with many functions you may need for your forms not covered by the three listed below.

  1. Contact Form 7 – I tend to use this form the most, however, I will say the WP Forms plugin is much easier to use. I like Contact Form 7 because of the 3rd party addons out there as well as the ability to freely code the look and feel of your forms.
  2. WP Forms – As mentioned earlier, this is one of the easiest forms to use for beginners. They offer simple drag-and-drop form fields.
  3. Formidable Forms – This is a great drag-and-drop form that also offers payment forms, calculators, and other cool functions you may require for your website.

Security WordPress Plugins

Security is important for any website, luckily there are some nice plugins to help with website security.

  1. Wordfence Security – This is one of my favorite security plugins, it acts as a firewall and lets me know immediately if anything is wrong with my WordPress installation.
  2. WPS Hide Login – Change your login URL from the standard WordPress login to a unique login URL that you select.
  3. Custom Login Page Customizer – Another login plugin that allows you to customize the look of your admin login instead of using the standard WordPress login design.

SEO WordPress Plugins

It is hard for someone with little knowledge of search engine optimization (SEO) and also on a budget to properly update their website to have a chance to rank high in the search engines. An SEO plugin can help you with this task and save you some money.

  1. Rank Math – This is our current favorite SEO WordPress plugins, it is lightweight and provides a scoring system when you complete all of the required SEO tasks provided. It is simple to set up.
  2. Yoast SEO – This used to be our favorite SEO plugin, but we find it a little bit bloated compared to Rank Math, and on occasion, the updates have been known to crash our website. It is still a great SEO plugin and we highly recommend it as one of the options you choose.