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The Essential Guide to WordPress Plugins

  You probably can't do much on WordPress without installing plugins. Every website owner needs WordPress plugins as they expand the functionality of the site with useful features. Therefore, if you want to improve the user experience of your site, it's crucial to install some plugins. And your visitors are not the only ones who will benefit from the added functionality of the WordPress plugins as some of the add-ons will also make your life easier. However, with over 50,000 plugins in the official WordPress directory, it's super easy to get confused, especially if you are new to the Content Management System (CMS). So, in this article, we've listed the most essential WordPress plugins you need to operate an SEO-friendly website that offers a great user experience to visitors. Important: Having too many WordPress plugins can slow down your website, so it is crucial to install only the most important ones. Therefore, to provide the best user experience to your visitors, we recommend experimenting with the plugins in this article and keeping only the ones that you need.  

The Most Crucial WordPress Plugins Every Website Should Have

 

Yoast SEO

  Yoast is one of the most popular Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plugins for WordPress. And for a very good reason as the WordPress plugin helps you to optimize your website to get better rankings in search engines, increase the engagement of your readers, as well as attract more visitors to your site from social media platforms. If you are running a news magazine or have a blog on your site, you'll find this plugin especially useful as Yoast can also check the readability of the articles as well as provide you an SEO score based on the use of keywords and phrases in your content. Yoast is available for WordPress users for free. However, if you are looking to add more SEO features to your site, you can also purchase the premium plan of the plugin.  

Jetpack

  WordPress.com's Jetpack is a comprehensive plugin that offers a wide variety of features to website owners. The key features of the WordPress plugin are the following:
  • Security: Real-time website backup with one-click restore as well as protection against a variety of cyberattacks.
  • Performance: Features you can use to improve your website performance, page load times, as well as optimize your images and static files.
  • Customization: Jetpack includes code-free options to customize your website. Optionally, you can choose from the plugin's theme collection to set up a pre-made design for your site.
  • Marketing: Various ways to market your website, including social media scheduling, automatic links to related content, as well as stats and notifications monitoring.
Like Yoast, Jetpack also offers both free and paid plans. While the free plan of the plugin has limited functionality, premium subscriptions provide a comprehensive list of features for WordPress users.  

Google XML Sitemaps

  Before going into the details of this plugin, it's important to discuss sitemaps at first. A sitemap features a list of your website's pages, which is organized in a way so that the crawlers of search engines can navigate your site and understand its content easily. With over 2 million installs, Google XML Sitemaps is a free plugin that helps search engines (including Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Ask.com) to better index your website. Furthermore, every time you create a post about new content, the WordPress plugin will notify all of the major search engines.  

Contact Form 7

  It is essentials for website owners to set up a dedicated page where visitors can contact them. A great way is to use a contact form that users can fill out with their details and use it to communicate with you. Contact Form 7 is a popular plugin that allows you to create and manage multiple, highly customizable contact forms on your website. The best about the plugin is that it's free for everyone to install.  

Easy Google Fonts

  Typography plays a crucial role in web design as it gives a specific message about your business to your visitors. Therefore, it's crucial to select a decent font and use it consistently on your website. Easy Google Fonts is a free plugin you can use to add over 600 different fonts to your WordPress theme without any coding. The plugin is compatible with all WordPress themes and allows you to take full control of your site's typography with additional features, including real-time font change previews, as well as to create your own font rules and controls.  

Shortcodes Ultimate

  Using shortcodes is an excellent way to add more functionality to your WordPress website without the need to directly write the code. Shortcodes Ultimate features a wide variety of shortcodes, which you can use to create elements, such as tabs, buttons, carousels, boxes, sliders, and more. The free plugin allows you to do the above-mentioned without the need to worry about coding the features, so it is suitable for website owners who don't possess advanced programming skills.  

Wordfence

  While WordPress does its best to protect its users from cyberattacks, it's important to maximize website security on your end too. Wordfence is a freemium plugin with a 4.8 score and over 3 million active installations that help your website to protect against cyber threats via an endpoint firewall and a malware scanner. While you can use the free version of the plugin to enhance the security of your website, the premium plan will provide you additional features, such as real-time IP blacklists, firewall rule updates, and malware signature updates.  

Autoptimize

  As mentioned before, having too many plugins can decrease the performance of your website. And performance is crucial as slow page load times and a sluggish site can lead to decreased sales and conversion rates. On the other hand, if you achieve great performance for your site, you'll provide a better user experience for visitors, resulting in better conversion rates and customer impressions. Autoptimize is a free plugin that utilizes the technique of minification. By removing unnecessary characters from the source code of your site and optimizing different assets (such as images, CSS, HTML, and JavaScript files), you can ensure a better performance for your website. By installing the plugin and selecting the code you want to minify, your site will not only be faster, but Autoptimize will also make it easier to read.  

W3 Total Cache

  By featuring over 1 million active installations, W3 Total Cache is among the most popular WordPress plugins. To optimize your site's performance and ensure quicker page load times, the plugin leverages features, such as Content Delivery Network (CDN) integration, compatibility with various web hosting solutions, as well as mobile and Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) support. If configured properly, the free plugin could help your website achieve better search engine rankings, up to 10x improved site performance, and enhanced conversion rates (among other benefits). While the plugin could be a bit complex at first, you can find plenty of tutorials on the internet that will help you master W3 Total Cache.  

Broken Link Checker

  Do you hate the feeling when you click a link, but you can't access the website because the link is broken? If you can't stand the above-mentioned, you can be sure that your visitors neither as broken links decrease your site's user experience. To identify and fix broken links, you can use the handy (and free) WordPress plugin Broken Link Checker. The plugin will monitor your website and notify you after finding broken links as well as missing images and redirects so you can fix them ASAP. Optionally, you can also use the plugin to prevent search engines from following broken links on your website (until you fix them).  

MonsterInsights

  When you are running a website, it's crucial to gather as much data as you can about your visitors. MonsterInsights has created a Google Analytics Dashboard plugin that you can use on your website for free along with the 2+ million users who have already installed the add-on. The plugin allows you to connect your Google Analytics account to your website and enable advanced tracking features to learn everything about your visitors. While the free option only allows you to use a "lite" version of the plugin, paid plans offer you additional premium analytics features (such as real-time stats and page-level analytics).  

Redirection

  With broken links, the 404 error (page not found) is among the most frustrating things users can encounter on the internet. And you can be sure that many users will leave your site instantly after they see a page on your website displaying error 404. Therefore, it's crucial to use a handy tool that will help you to eliminate this issue. In addition to helping you cope with 404 errors, Redirection offers a free solution to manage all your 301 redirections. By using the WordPress plugin, you can easily tidy up any loose ends your site has. And, as a result of reducing your website's errors, the proper use of the plugin will get better rankings for you.  

Akismet Anti-Spam

  While you want to keep user engagement on your website at a maximum, it's also important to deal with spam. And, if you are not careful enough, dubious companies and persons will take advantage of your website to spam you with unwanted and malicious content via emails and comments. Fortunately, the Akismet Anti-Spam can help you to cope with spam content by screening the comments and contact form submissions of your site. After the plugin is done with the screening, it will compare your site's content with a global database of spam to prevent you from publishing malicious content. By eliminating spam – in addition to protecting your website from cyber threats –, you can also improve the performance of your site. While you are free to use the plugin for personal websites, you have to subscribe to a paid plan to use the anti-spam add-on for commercial sites. If you use the premium version of the plugin, you'll also benefit from additional features, such as priority support and advanced statistics.  

WP-Live Chat by 3CX

  Customer support is one of the most important departments of businesses as it provides a platform for users to ask questions, help in solving their problems, and communicating with organizations. Live chats take customer support to the next level by offering website visitors a simple, convenient, and near-instant way to answer their queries. WP-Live Chat by 3CX is a free plugin that you can install on your WordPress site to provide a full-fledged live chat service to your visitors. The plugin's most important features include unlimited support agents, visitor-agent and agent to agent live chats, as well as a customizable and easy to use interface.  

Use Plugins to Improve the Functionality of Your WordPress Site

Installing WordPress plugins is a great way to add new features and functionalities to your website. In the previous sections of this article, we've covered the top plugins that you can use to enhance user experience as well as make your life as a website owner a little easier. However, as we've mentioned before, be careful not to overdo things as having too many WordPress plugins on your site can decrease its performance. Therefore, we recommend only keeping the necessary ones that you regularly use on your site. We also recommend using an excellent web hosting service to boost the performance of your website. With a decent web hosting solution, you can maintain a (near) 100% uptime, avoid any speed-related issues, and provide a flawless user-experience to your visitors.