A lot of people ask me what are the best WordPress plugins that I use on my sites and on the sites that I build? There are so many plugins out there no wonder you all feel so overwhelmed! It can often be a minefield, especially if you are just starting out on your WordPress journey.
So what are they and which WordPress plugins do I need?
A plugin is a little add on to your website that adds an extra bit of functionality. WordPress is just a very basic set up on which to build your website. To actually get your website to do things you need plugins. Plugins tend to be created by other companies or web developers and can be downloaded and installed on your WordPress site.
Over the past few years I have built my own little list of plugins that I use as standard on every site I build, some were recommended to me, some I heard about through blogs and forums I read, some have come through trial and error but here is the Website Wonder Woman Best WordPress Plugins list and what they do and why I think you should be using them. So in alphabetical order we have…
OK, so you want people to contact you via your website. You can give out your email address but most websites these days have a contact form, which is lovely and easy for your visitors to fill in. I also find it much easier than sending an email, as because when a website has a contact form they are prompting you to tell them what they need in order to process your enquiry. So for example, a cake maker may ask you for your contact details but then they may also have boxes for you to fill in about what you want the cake for and when you need it by. So for a contact form plugin I highly recommend Forminator. It’s also really easy to set up and comes with a few different templates or you can start from scratch.
Cookie Consent by Web Toffee
Cookie Consent is a MUST on your website for you to be able to comply with EU law. You must inform your visitors that you are using cookies on your website (you may not know what they are but you are using them!) and why. All you need to do to comply with this law is to install the UK Cookie Consent plugin, which also has the added benefit of you being able to style it to the branding on your website.
Want to know how many people are visiting your website? What pages they are visiting and where they are coming from? Then Google Analyticator does just that! All you need to do is sign up for a free Google Analytics account, install the plugin and then there will be a ‘click here’ message. You click there, select your account, copy and paste the code and ta da your analytics account is now synced with your website. You can now see essential Google Analytics data right on your dashboard, without having to visit Google Analytics.
This plugin is basically an install it and forget about it plugin, which is why it makes it on the the list of the best WordPress plugins. What it does is essentially block people from trying to get on your website. So if someone types a password in wrong three times then it blocks them for a certain amount of time. If the keep repeatedly trying to login to your website you also have the option of blocking them for life. The only downside is if you forget your password it also blocks you as well! But only for a short period of time.
Facebook Pixels are all the rage lately and are ESSENTIAL if you are running any type of Facebook ad as it syncs your website with Facebook so you can track who is clicking through to your site, who is signing up etc. Facebook usually give you some code to do this, but this plugin is the easiest way I have found to install Facebook Pixels on your site. You basically activate the plugin and press a big green button saying connect with Facebook and you are done! No copying and pasting of code needed!
Smart Slider 3
A lot of people these days use sliders on their website and I have found that Smart Slider 3 is one of the easiest to use and has the most features. I have previously used a number of slider plugins but found that this plugin does exactly what I need it to on a wide variety of sites. I only use the free version (there is a pro version) but you can create some very lovely looking sliders with images, text and buttons using this plugin.
Smush Image Compression
Our websites are full of images and we want them to look good. But high quality and large images often slow down our site speed. So Smush Image Compression helps us get that sorted by automatically compressing our images as we upload them whilst still keeping them beautiful!
If any of you are a member of my Facebook Group then you will have seen me going on and on about backing up your website. It’s no small matter – in literally seconds that website you have spent time and money on can disappear and you won’t get it back! You know all those photos and files you have stored on your computer, you most likely have them backed up in the cloud or on a memory stick or hard drive. As they are precious to you and you wouldn’t want them to be accidentally deleted or lost if your computer packs in. It’s the same with your website, but there are far more things that could go wrong. Something could break -it’s unlikely but it can. Someone could hack into your site and wipe it – far more common that you would have thought and these things are random so don’t go sitting there thinking no one would ever find my site that no one visits, your hosting or domain name could expire, ANYTHING!
So basically what you need is Updraft Plus, you sync it with your Dropbox, Google Drive or other cloud based storage, set it to back up automatically every week and hey presto you’re done. It will automatically back up your website to somewhere safe – so if the unthinkable does happen you have all your files for your website nice and safe. If this list of best WordPress plugins was in order this would be my number one!
This plugin is for those of you that want an ecommerce store on your website. So basically you want to sell things! Link it with Paypal, create a product and you can be selling on your site within minutes. Woocommerce is a basic free plugin but there are so many add ons, my advice is to start with the basic plugin and if there is a feature that it doesn’t have do some research on an add on that will help you do that – or feel free to post in the Facebook Group and we can help you.
I just spoke about your site getting hacked and Wordfence is a plugin that helps prevent that. It alerts you of any suspicious activity on your site, any malware etc. It scans your site periodically and let’s you know if there is a problem. If people are trying to get in then Wordfence let’s you know.
We have mentioned site speed and another variant on how fast your site is is caching. If you see in site speed tests that caching, gzip, minifying etc. is slowing your site down then you need Hummingbird. You don’t really need to know what they mean all you need to know is that installing and setting up this plugin will help get rid of those problems and speed your site up.
SEO – everyones fascination with websites! Get the SEO right and the traffic will just appear. Whilst that isn’t quite true and a WHOLE different blog post, choosing keywords and using them on your pages is a good start. Smart Crawl helps you do just that. For each page, post product, you name it – you can choose a keyword, enter a description and generally guide you through your on page SEO. Even if you don’t fancy wandering into the world of keywords, I would at least set your description within Yoast, as this is what appears in Google searches and also when you share your posts on Social Media. Also don’t forget to add a featured image – not done through Smart Crawl but on your page down the right hand side – whilst you are there!
Not the name of a plugin but in addition to the above I would also suggest a mail integration plugin, that is to create opt in forms on your site. I use Bloom, as I use the DIVI theme connected to Convertkit (or you can use Mailchimp, Aweber etc.), but if you don’t use DIVI but still use Mailchimp then I highly recommend Mailmunch – which connects to your Mailchimp account and allows you to create opt in forms and pop ups from within your site.
Free Vs Paid or Pro
All of the above best WordPress plugins are free although some of them do offer paid pro versions, I have never used the pro versions of any of them and am usually able to find a free plugin for just about anything. But sometimes you do have to pay for quality and if something just isn’t available anywhere else. Free plugins are usually basic and do what they say on the tin – you want more than what they offer then you are going to have to pay! But for a website just starting out the free versions are the way to go 🙂
BEST WORDPRESS PLUGINS TOP TIP
Want an easy way to install all the plugins I mention above?
Simply download the WP Favs plugin and I have created my own plugin list on there. So download and install the plugin, go to settings and in the box enter this token: GXhsBROuGfXTLzWxZr5WuWwFWKkY0F
This will download all the plugins above onto your site for you to install then activate!
For more WordPress support, how to videos and general website creation awesomeness come join me over in my DIY Website Success group 🙂