I recommend WordPress to nearly everyone that asks me what platform they should be running their website on because it seamlessly integrates with so many important tools for starting and growing a business. WordPress is so flexible, but regardless of the type of site being built, there are a few plugins that should always be installed in order to accomplish specific goals– fast loading times, security from hackers, strong lead generation and so on.
Here’s my list of WordPress plugins that I use and recommend for every single WordPress site–
WordPress Plugins To Make Your Website Faster
The speed and page load time of your website can be the difference between success and failure. Since a lot of web traffic is now done through mobile devices, people demand smaller, faster sites in order to conserve their data. It’s already been shown that the faster an ecommerce site loads, the higher the conversion rate will be– Amazon found that every 1-second decrease in page load time led to an additional $1.6B in revenue annually. Here are some plugins to improve your page load speed–
Images carry a lot of metadata, and they can add significant weight to an image file without adding any useful benefits. EWWW Image Optimizer makes it insanely easy to reduce the size of your images, literally with the click of a button. It even has a bulk optimizer so you can optimize all the images in your library at once. For the best results, this plugin should always be used in conjunction with proper web image protocol, including making your image dimensions as small as possible and at an appropriate quality.
The one drawback with WordPress is that because it’s so versatile, the code tends to be clunky. WP Sweep makes it easy to clean up and optimize your database files and other legacy files that you probably don’t need. And it does it in a more efficient way that all other similar plugins.
Web caching (pronounced “cashing”) is temporary storing web content from a previous visit locally on your computer to be pulled later instead of requesting it from the server again the next time you visit the site. This plugin makes optimizing your caching settings ridiculously easy, plus it comes with a ton of other features such as being able to easily implement MaxCDN, the content delivery system I recommend the most because it’s one of the most affordable at only a few bucks a month as well as one of the most trusted and best-performing.
Having YouTube videos embedded on a website improves user engagement, but they also slow down the web page tremendously. With this plugin, you can automatically “lazy load” YouTube videos so that they have no effect on your initial page load time. With this plugin, a video will look like an image and will only load once the user clicks the image to try and play the video. And it’s easy to use! Simply add the URL of a Youtube or Vimeo video into your post and the plugin does the rest.
For more tips on improving the speed of your WordPress site, see our post, 7 Ways To Boost WordPress Page Speed & Reduce Load Time.
WordPress Plugins To Make Your Website More Secure
Securing your website is something you usually only think about after something bad happens– obviously by that time, it’s too late. No website is 100% safe. But with these plugins and our tips on how to secure your WordPress site, you can take some huge steps in securing your WordPress website to make it much less vulnerable to hackers–
Nothing is more annoying than spam comments, and Akismet is the best solution to prevent them. It’s automatically installed on most WordPress sites, so all you need to do is sign up for their free (or paid) service and connect it to your site.
This is probably the most useful, most important plugin on this list. If you’re going to take anything from this list of plugins, take this recommendation– install and configure Wordfence. I can’t even begin to count how many times my websites have been under attack and how many times Wordfence not only prevented the attacks but notified me that they were happening in the first place where I would otherwise would not have known. As mentioned before, no website is completely secure, but Wordfence makes sure your website is not low-hanging fruit for hackers. Typically when hackers see any sort of security they will simply move on to the next site rather than spend time trying to break into one specific website.
WordPress Plugins To Make Your Website A Marketing Machine
Regardless of the type of website you’re running, you probably have marketing goals. Whether that’s to increase your social media following, to increase your email subscribers or to highlight key information for your readers, these plugins can make your life a lot easier in trying to reach those marketing goals–
Whether you’re a solo blogger who needs to add the credibility of an author box, or a media powerhouse that needs to credit each writer’s work in a customizable fashion, the Starbox plugin has you covered. It’s easy to customize, provides a ton of functionality and has great support with frequent updates.
SEO is important for all websites. AIO SEO adds a ton of customizability to individual posts and pages, allowing you to make sure your website’s SEO efforts are up to speed. It also has great add-on features, including the ability to easily implement XML Sitemaps and social meta tags.
SumoMe quickly became one of my favorite marketing add-ons, and I even pay for a few of the premium features. It’s a whole suite of tools– welcome mats, exit intent forms, top bars, social sharing icons and many more lead generation tools. I used to use many of these tools separately through various vendors, but in an effort to lean out my code in order to maximize page speed, I consolidated everything to SumoMe and haven’t been happier.
For most websites, an email list is one of the most valuable assets you can have, so anything that builds that list is important. Adding opt-in forms to your content can be lucrative, especially if you can incentivize a sign-up. Many people have to splurge on expensive software such as Infusionsoft in order to get this functionality– and while Infusionsoft is amazing, it is overkill for 99% of websites, especially new ones. Optin Forms is free, beautiful and highly customizable.
Contact forms typically get overlooked, but having a bad one can cause problems. A great one can also be used to create interesting funnels and lead generation tools. With a bad form, spam will get through, taking up your time and focus. Contact Form 7 solves this easily with two native integrations– an Akismet integration and a Google reCaptcha integration. Both take a few clicks to integrate and you’re done. Contact Form 7 also allows you to track submissions in Google Analytics by either using the Contact Form 7 Redirect Plugin and using Goal URLs, or by following these instructions for Google Analytics Event Tracking. It also has a native integration with the Mailchimp Plugin, allowing you to include a checkbox on your forms to have people opt-in to your mailing list at the same time.
Mailchimp for WordPress (if you use Mailchimp)
There are plenty of Mailchimp plugins, but this one has the most functionality, is the least buggy and is frequently updated and improved. The best features of this plugin are that it integrates with a bunch of other plugins so you can integrate mailchimp lead generation tactics into things like your contact form, your comments form and your Woocommerce checkout process with the click of a button.
Yet Another Related Post Plugin (if your theme doesn’t do this)
One of the easiest ways to increase pageviews is to increase the number of pages each visitor views per session. By adding a related post section to the bottom of an article, you increase the chance of a visitor viewing another page, which gives you another opportunity to capture contact information, get a social share or achieve any number of desirable outcomes.
WordPress Popular Posts (if your theme doesn’t do this)
Two key metrics to manage for any website are bounce rate and pageviews per session– the longer you can keep someone engaging with your site gives you more opportunities to achieve your final goal, whether that’s obtaining an email address, a sale or a click on an advertisement. A great way to make sure people continue to browse your site is to include links to your most popular posts. This plugin is by far the most visually appealing, the most flexible and the easiest to set up.
There you have it, a complete list of WordPress plugins in order to make your website faster, more secure and more profitable. Did I miss any? Leave them in the comments below!