10 Must-Have WordPress Plugins to Make Your Life Easier

Jessica Thiefels on Sunday, June 9, 2019

must-have wordpress plugins

Whether you’re a CMO, content writer, or a small business owner, these must-have WordPress plugins will make your life easier.

Because WordPress is one of the top CMS choices for websites—with almost 75 million sites using it—developers have created a wide range of tools that allow you to manage SEO, create new pages, and so much more. In fact, to date, there are almost fifty-five thousand plugins available, with more added daily.

As a business owner, content marketer, or website manager, WordPress plugins mean you need fewer specialized skills, like technical SEO or development, to maintain and build your blog.

While your industry and niche affect your blog needs, these ten must-have WordPress plugins are critical for anyone managing a blog.

1. Yoast

Cost: Freemium, Premium version is $89 per year with increased functionality

Yoast is the number one must-have WordPress plugin because SEO is so important for the success of your content. Even beginners with limited SEO knowledge can understand how to optimize their content with Yoast  thanks to one of its best functions: the in-content editor. This feature reviews each piece of content, whether a page or a post, and provides a score for readability and SEO.

The SEO breakdown helps you audit your keyword usage, linking, alt tags, images and more to ensure the page is fully optimized. The snippet preview shows you what your page will look like in SERPs and allows you to easily edit your meta-description and URL, optimizing every single element of the page.

Yoast also provides advanced features like duplicate content flagging and sitemap updating and generating, which makes it even more valuable. For more information, I recommend reading Moz’s in-depth guide to using Yoast.

2. WP Smush

Cost: Freemium, WP Smush Pro is $19 per month and offers advanced features

This plugin saved me. A few years back, a post I published on a client’s site went viral—in less than 24 hours we had more than one million page views, and our blog broke. As we tried to get it back up and running, there were a few factors that came into play, one of which was image size.

I  downloaded this plugin and it immediately started to compress all of my images. Now, I use it for every blog I manage, my own included, because it automatically does this so you never have to worry about it in a pinch.

This must-have WordPress plugin saves on storage space and increases page speed. Bonus: if you’re uploading a large batch of images, the plugin has a bulk smush option which can compress up to 50 images.

3. Google XML Sitemaps

Cost: Free

If you don’t use the Yoast sitemap option, you can use Google XML Sitemaps instead. You need to submit your sitemap to search engines like Google so they know which pages to crawl and can begin indexing your site faster. With Google XML Sitemaps, it’s easy to generate your sitemap—all you have to do is submit it to Google. Check out this YouTube tutorial to submit to Google.

4. Swifty Bar

Cost: Free

If you want to promote your new blog posts, you need to make it easy for your readers to share for you. I use Swifty Bar for my blog because it’s a sleek, modern, and efficient plugin. Swifty Bar not only offers social media sharing options, but I love that you can also include details like the “time to read,” author and category. What’s more, it’s a sticky bar, so as the user scrolls, the bar stays put, encouraging the reader to share from start to finish.

This must-have WordPress plugin stands out among the hundreds of other social sharing plugins available—I’ve used Social Share, Easy Social Share, AddThis and SumoMe, and like this better. I do like using SumoMe for Pinterest sharing and, luckily, it’s easy to use a blend of both.  

5. WP Forms

Cost: Freemium, The lite version is free, the premium versions allow for extended functionality for advanced form creation as well as integrations with other services

If you’re collecting visitors’ information (hint: you should be), your website needs a contact form. I use Contact Form 7 because I use content marketing tools like MailerLite as well. However, if you want a free forms tool that also allows you to customize with images, brand colors and font, this is a must-have WordPress plugin.

The best function is that you can download the data into a spreadsheet or database, making it easy to manage every submission that comes through.

6. VaultPress

Cost: Ranges from $39 to $299 per year, depending on the plan

Your blog or website is susceptible to cybersecurity risks. Beyond security issues, if your site crashes and you don’t have it backed up somewhere, you could lose all of your content and data.

If you don’t pay for backup with your hosting provider, this plugin will be your best friend. What’s more, it protects your site from potential threats, in addition to providing a backup for every page, comment, and media file, right down to the revisions.

To make it even better, the backup process is automated, so you don’t have to think about doing it.

7. Elementor

Cost: Freemiuim with paid subscription plans ranging from $36 – $149 per year

Looking at a blank page on your site, as you figure out how to design it, is intimidating. However, as your business expands, the need to add new pages will be a reality. Some themes, like the one I use (Sencillo), come with a built-in page customizer that makes the design process easier. If yours doesn’t, this must-have WordPress plugin will be critical.

You don’t have to hire a developer or go through the headache of creating landing pages. Instead, use one of their templates and drag and drop elements to create the look and feel you have in mind. The interface is simple and allows you to make live edits in real-time to see how it would look on the frontend.

Check out Winning WP’s review and comparison to learn more.

8. WP Fastest Cache

Cost:Plans range from $49 – $249 per year

If you’re looking to increase website performance, caching can help, and this WordPress plugin makes that easy for you to manage. Before installing it, however, you need to understand caching at a basic level.

Caching stores your website’s data in a computer’s cache so that it loads faster the next time it’s opened. This makes your site load faster, and optimizing site speed is critical to your overall blog SEO.

Normally, a developer will do this for you, but if you’re working with a small budget, this must-have WordPress plugin can help you navigate the world of caching yourself. WP Rocket is a user-friendly option, that takes care of everything, meaning you don’t have to struggle with multiple complex settings.

9. MonsterInsights for Google Analytics

Cost: Freemium, with paid versions starting at $99 per year for one site.

Google analytics is a powerful tool to help you understand your website traffic and performance. However, if you’ve never used the system, it can be overwhelming to find the useful data that you need.

The MonsterInsights plugin collects all of the data from Google Analytics and translates it into an easy-to-understand reporting. For those looking for only the metrics that matter with a simple interface, this plug-in is a great option.

I am also a big fan of Google Analytics Dashboard for WP, which provides a single overview, on your WordPress dashboard. Both plugins allow you to connect Google Analytics with your site, using your site code, so you don’t have to add it to the CSS on every page.

10. All In One Schema Rich Snippets

Cost: Free

When your site shows up in search engines, the snippet automatically includes your page title, URL, and meta description. You can use this plugin to create a “rich snippet,” which allows you to also feature images, reviews, author information, recipe information, ratings and more.

A rich snippet will stand out in the search results, which has a variety of benefits, explains Yoast:

“Adding structured data does not directly result in better rankings. Sometimes, you might get a rich result without having any structured data on your site. It does, however, make you more visible in the search results. Search engines understand your pages better and can, therefore, give you a better presentation. This, in turn, might lead to more focused traffic, extra sales, links and in the end; better results from your site.”

The All In One Schema Rich Snippets plugin makes it simple to implement this on your WordPress site without getting into the technical back-end structuring you’d need otherwise.

Use These Must-Have WordPress Plugins to Level Up Your Blog

Plugins are great, but choose only the ones that you need because too many active plugins can slow down your site. Use this list as a starting point to find the must-have WordPress plugins for your needs and start building an optimized, customized, shareable blog without the high cost of hiring specialists.