Thinking of starting a new WordPress site?

There’re tons of plugins available that could help you protect your website — keeping your data safe — and grow your website traffic.

While most of the plugins listed here are free, there’re a few premium plugins that I’ve been using on all my WordPress sites and I’m extremely satisfied with the result.

So I decided to compile 15 essential WordPress plugins that are important for your website.

Here we go!

15 Must Have WordPress Plugins in 2020Click To Tweet

15 Must Have WordPress Plugins

WP Rocket

Best WordPress Caching Plugin - WP Rocket

WP Rocket is ~ hands down ~ the best caching plugin for WordPress. You can configure WP Rocket easily — unlike other popular caching plugins — without any technical knowledge required that’ll improve your website performance instantly.

Page loading time is an important factor when it comes to search engine rankings. Speed has been a ranking signal for desktop searches in 2020 and as of July 2018, it has been a ranking factor for mobile searches as well. And as Google introduced mobile-first indexing in July 2019, faster loading websites rank higher than the slow loading websites.

You could use PageSpeed Insights to check the speed for your website, along with suggestions for common optimizations to improve the speed.

Do you know that on average people would leave a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load? Websites that take longer to load tend to have a higher bounce rate that hurts their SEO ranking.

WP Rocket has the most comprehensive features on the market from minifying your CSS and Javascript files, deferring your javascript files, image/video lazy loading to optimizing your database, and more.

One of my favorite features is the ability to generate the Critical Path CSS automatically.

Critical Path CSS is the minimum set of blocking CSS required to render above the fold content of your page. These critical CSS lets browsers render and display your website faster before it finishes loading.

Before I started using WP Rocket, I always use the Critical Path CSS generator by Jonas Ohlsson Aden. It works great when paired with Autoptimize. The only downside — probably the biggest — is the process is too manual and too time-consuming. Whenever I made changes to my CSS, I need to repeat the process to get the best speed optimization. I ended up spending too much time trying to optimize my site performance.

With WP Rocket, it will crawl your website based on your sitemap and generate critical CSS for each post type. WP Rocket definitely stands above the competition.

Check out this tutorial to find out the best WP Rocket settings for your WordPress site.

Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO has been around since 2008; with over 5 million active installations, it’s probably one of the most popular WordPress plugins of all time. Yoast SEO provides comprehensive features you need to improve your on-page SEO.

With Yoast SEO, you could configure meta tags (title and description), generate a sitemap for your site, connect to Google Search console, control what gets indexed on Google, and many more. Use this tool, OpenGraph, to quickly check and display your site meta tags.

Yoast SEO helps you increase your readers’ engagement ~ increasing the average time people spent on the page by analyzing the readability of your content and calculate the Flesch Reading Ease score. It’s advisable to always try to get the highest reading score possible, find out more details on that here.

Yoast SEO Premium comes with few great key features such as internal link suggestions that suggest links to related posts as you write and redirect manager that prompts you to do 301 redirect whenever you delete a post or page preventing 404 errors that hurts your SEO rankings.

UpdraftPlus

Updraft Plus

How often do you back up your website? If you’ve never done it before, you’re risking losing your data ~ all your hard works when the worst does happen.

If you’re looking to back up your WordPress site for free, UpdraftPlus is the right choice for you. UpdraftPlus lets you back up your WordPress site files and database and restoring them easily.

Now, you could choose to backup manually or you could automate your backup on an interval basis and store it remotely on the cloud. You could send your backup files to Google Drive, Dropbox, S3, FTP, and even email.

With your backup files safely stored on the cloud, it helps to minimize downtime during maintenance or when your hosting provider failed you.

WordFence

Wordfence

WordFence is an easy-to-use security plugin that protects your websites from hackers and doesn’t scare you away, it’s the most popular WordPress security plugin with over 3 million active installations. It’s baked in with an endpoint firewall and malware scanner built specifically for WordPress.

Security is a complicated thing and WordPress hacking increases over time. According to a study by Astra, WordPress is the most exploited Content Management System (CMS) out there with recent attacks that came from plugin exploits.

With the security scanner, WordFence will check for WordPress core files, themes, and plugins for any malware, bad URLs, backdoor, SEO spam, and code injections.

With the free version, you could add a layer of protection to protect your admin panel from brute force and bad login attacks. You’ll be surprised by how many bad logins attempts you’ll receive daily.

Priced at $99/year for 1 license, WordFence Premium will provide you with real-time endpoint protections that include firewall rule and malware signature updates via its Threat Defense Feed. It’s definitely recommended for business and high-traffic websites.

ShortPixel

ShortPixel

If you’re using tons of images on your website, your website might be slow. Big and unoptimized images size are often the biggest issues that slow down websites which hurts your SEO ranking. You could easily fix this issue and instantly improve your SEO ranking with an image optimization plugin.

While there’re few great image optimization plugins for WordPress but ShortPixel is my recommended choice. ShortPixel supports both lossy and lossless optimization and reduces your image size by up to 90% without compromising image quality. Click here to run an image comparison test for free.

If you’re using Cloudflare CDN, you’re gonna love the Cloudflare integration feature. Simply key in your Cloudflare’s details and ShortPixel will make sure all your images get updated automatically in Cloudflare.

ShortPixel is a freemium plugin. Don’t forget to sign up for a free account via my referral link and get 100 images per month with no file limit PLUS additional 100 one-time credits.

MonsterInsights

MonsterInsights

Google Analytics is an important tool to grow your traffic and MonsterInsights is the best plugin for it. With MonsterInsight, it’s easy to connect Google Analytics to your website making sure you don’t lose any tracking data.

What I like about MonsterInsights is you could get an overview of your websites such as top posts/pages, page views, sessions, and bounce rate right on your WordPress dashboard.

MonsterInsights Pro version provides a lot more tracking features on your website making sure you don’t lose any important data. One feature worth highlighting is its page-level analytics where you get detailed statistics for each post and page so you could focus and optimize content that matters to your visitors.

If you’re running Woocommerce on your site, the eCommerce addon will add Google Analytics eCommerce tracking to your website.

Sucuri

Sucuri

Sucuri is a complete security and monitoring solution for WordPress. It prevents website hacking on the firewall layer with its web application firewall.

Its monitoring features help you monitor for any malware and DDOS script on your website. It even monitors any changes on your DNS and alerts you when your website is down.

RankMath

RankMath

Dubbed as the Swiss Army knife of WordPress SEO, RankMath is a new — free — SEO plugin that proves to be a good alternative for Yoast SEO.

SEO is the best and most consistent source of traffic and RankMath helps you with just that.

RankMath has a cleaner and simpler user interface that makes it easy to use even for a beginner. The step-by-step wizard makes sure you set up SEO for your WordPress site correctly.

I switched to RankMath because it gives me premium quality features for free. You could

  • Optimize your post for up to 5 keywords ~ not just 1 keyword
  • Added Rich Snippets to your post easily ~ over 14 types of Rich Snippets
  • Track your keyword ranking in Google
  • Redirection Manager
  • 404 Monitor, and many more.

All for free…

Check out over 60+ features of RankMath and find out why it’s a game-changer.

Social Warfare

Social Warfare

One of the best social sharing plugins that let you add beautiful social sharing buttons on your website that actually boost social sharing.

With Social Warfare, you could set minimum share count before displaying the counts to could avoid the negative social proof ~ where people won’t share your post when nobody else sharing.

If you pinned a lot or rely on Pinterest to grow your traffic — which you should — this is the plugin for you. Social Warfare’s advanced Pinterest feature ensures your Pinterest pins are search engine optimized — making your pin searchable.

The Social Warfare team has just released a major update, Social Warfare 4.0, that comes with some huge improvement such as multiple Pinterest images and social follow widgets. Check out all the new features here.

Redirection

Have you ever encounter a time when you need to redirect the user from a page to another page?

Often times, you’ll want to repurpose old contents and redirect the user to certain pages instead for SEO purposes but adding redirect rules on your web server directly could be confusing and hard to manage even for seasoned developers.

Redirection is the most popular redirect manager for WordPress. It makes it easy to add and manage all your redirection rules from your WordPress dashboard.

If you’re using Yoast or RankMath plugin, it comes with a built-in redirection manager but the Redirection plugin gives you much more advanced features.

With Redirection, you could create your own redirect patterns using a regular expression. You could redirect users based on certain conditions, such as login status, browser type, IP address, page type, and many more.

Akismet Anti-Spam

Akismet

Akismet Anti-Spam is one of the most downloaded WordPress plugins that gets included with WordPress installation.

Akismet checks for comment and contact form submission on your website against their global database of spam to prevent your site from publishing malicious content.

It protects your sites from people leaving spam comments that hurt your credibility. It has a free plan and it’s easy to setup. I would recommend setting it up right from the beginning.

Broken Link Checker

Broken Link Checker

If you have a high bounce rate on your website, it’s time to check for any broken links. Broken links have negative effects on your SEO, it causes users to leave your website faster and slow down search bots crawling — which hurts your search engine ranking that you tried so hard to build.

Broken link checker is the best plugin to fix the 404 errors on your site. This plugin scans for every link on your website — posts, pages, and comments — and highlights if links have changed or broken or no longer exists. You’ll get a notification via email or the admin dashboard so you could always fix it fast.

Final Thoughts

These plugins should get your WordPress site in good shape. Fewer worries on SEO, social shares, and security, so you could focus on writing your content.

Do you use any plugins you find important to have? Drop it in the comments below.

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