10 Must-Have WordPress Plugins for Speed and Functionality
With over 58,000 free plugins available, it can be challenging for WordPress site owners to find the best Wordpress plugins to improve their websites. That’s why we put together our top 10 best Wordpress plugins.
I don’t know where to start because there is so much good stuff here. I build all my websites in Wordpress and use Avada because it’s easy for my clients to make their own website changes, edits, and updates. However, for that bit of convenience, the website loads a lot of extra code and is a little slower than a completely bootstrapped website.
Lite Speed Cache & other caching plugins – no thanks.
My old hosting provider used a plugin called Lite Speed Cache and a few other “optimization” plugins that were crappy, buggy, and constantly broke my sites and galleries. It would take me hours to fix these errors. Even worse, they didn’t speed up my websites that much. So I began a search on my own to find the unicorn.
Introducing Perfmatters. When I found their website, it promised to improve my Core Web Vitals and speed up my websites. So I dove in and bought it. As I started optimizing my website, I saw a HUGE improvement in my Core Web Vitals and page speed score. However, there were a few things that weren’t loading correctly, and I started to have a little panic attack from dealing with previous plugins. Fortunately, that didn’t last long.
I use Kinsta Hosting and Perfmatters – no other caching or optimization plugins. Perfmatters is all I need, and it’s simply the best of Wordpress plugins.
2. Rank Math
Yoast is out; Rank Math is in. Why? They both offer the same things in their free version (I don’t use the paid version), but Rank Math is much less bloated so that it won’t slow your website down as much. That’s it.
You can use Rank Math to:
- Generate your XML sitemap and automatically submit it to Google.
- Control your site breadcrumbs.
- Create customized titles and meta descriptions for branding and placement.
- Get tips and advice on your content and SEO analysis – invaluable tools to write SEO-friendly texts
- Preview snippets to see how your post or pay will look in desktop and mobile search results
- Use an Instant Indexing API to automatically submit new and updated URLs to Google Search Console for quicker indexing. These days, I can get new or updated content ranking higher on Google within a few hours or a couple of days.
And so much more! It’s the best plugin to keep in your back pocket. And it’s not technical at all – no jargon or coding. It tells you precisely what you must do to improve overall site SEO, page/post readability, and SEO in clear English. And that’s what makes it one of the best Wordpress plugins.
3. Tidio Live Chat
Tidio Live Chat is the bee’s knees. I love it. Most of my clients pay about $39/per month. I create automated “live” chat, meaning the conversation allows them to click buttons and answers but not type anything in, so you aren’t on the hook for answering people immediately. Tidio doesn’t slow my websites down, which is why I love it. A few functionalities include:
- Customize the live chat to match your brand
- Learn who browses your website and reach out
- Chat live and answer questions to increase sales
- Monitor results and automate chats with AI
- Check where your visitors are coming from
You can use Facebook messenger and many other Live Chat options, but Tidio is strapped and excellent at what it does. I have created tons of automation on my client’s websites to increase leads. Here’s an example of a website with Tidio in place.
Because of its functionality, fast-loading code, and integration, Tidio Live Chat is one of the best Wordpress plugins.
4. Bulk Auto Image Alt Text (Alt tag, Alt attribute) optimization (image SEO)
It would be best to have alt text for SEO, but I don’t want to add it to each image manually. I get it, trust me. So why not add a plugin that does that for you? It will automatically add alt text based on your image name, so make sure it’s not a name like 09*[email protected]_700x1200.jpg or f***-this-s****.jpg. It’s best to name images by describing the image and then adding your business name. And you don’t want some A.D.A. lawyer creeping up on you and trying to sue you for your website because you gave your images poor alt text. Trust us; they’re watching and looking for websites that fail to meet requirements.
So you want to customize the look of a page, but your clunky website builder won’t allow it. Allow us to introduce you to Microthemer, a visual CSS editor that lets you customize the look and feel of your website.
Microthemer is so freakin’ cool. And better yet, it does not slow down your website. There is a bit of a learning curve to using Microthemer, but once you get it, you will want to continue customizing things within your website. I recommend giving it a trial run before you buy but don’t be discouraged if it takes you a few hours to get the hang of it. That makes it one of the best Wordpress plugins for visually editing CSS.
6. Short Pixel
Resize, optimize and compress your images with an incredibly powerful plugin, Short Pixel. Maybe a photographer shared photos with you that are all massively oversized. Perhaps it’s your photos (aspiring photographer? We support it). Whatever your case, you need to shrink those photos for your website to keep your site speedy and Google happy.
As a hosting provider, I install ShortPixel on all my websites and have a paid subscription. This helps keep my hosting costs down (looking at you, 25 M.B. single photo uploader!) and maintains your website lightning fast.
I also use Bulk Resize Photos and Squoosh, which are not plugins.
7. Gravity Forms
The only plugin on this blog that stood the test of time. Used and respected by many of the biggest brands in the industry, Gravity Forms has long been considered the most powerful forms plugin for WordPress. The good news is that these features and options don’t come at the expense of usability — Gravity Forms is easy to use.
The drag-and-drop form builder makes creating forms straightforward while settings and options are intuitively presented. The Gravity Forms builder and ecosystem of third-party add-ons and extensions is other positive aspect of this WordPress forms plugin. Lost access to your email? Doh! Not to worry – unlike many different forms, Gravity Forms backs up all form entries to your website. You can export the data and then reply to form submitters. Done and done!
Simply put, UpdraftPlus backs up your website. You can back it up locally to Google Drive, DropBox, and other valuable options even your email. Backing up your website can save your a**. Accidentally click a button you shouldn’t have or ran a better search replace on your email? Click one button in UpdraftPlus to return your website to it’s last version before your mistake. We all make mistakes, but when you have that “OH S***” moment, it’s nice to have the option to go back in time, erase it, and pretend like it never happened.
I no longer use UpdraftPlus because I take daily backups through my hosting plan, but this is an excellent solution if you don’t host with me.
9. Kinsta Cache
Guess what? I don’t use WORDPRESS caching plugins at all. So this isn’t technically a plugin.
That’s right! If you host your site with Kinsta + Snowmad, you don’t need to download any complicated and confusing caching plugins. You can finally stop looking for the “best caching plugins of 2023” and focus on other things. I love Kinsta because if there is ever a security issue or plugin corruption, I get an email immediately after their developers discover it.
10. Duplicate Post
The last plugin on our list could be more exciting, but it is noteworthy and saves time. Simply put, Duplicate posts allows you to clone posts, pages, and other things in your W.P. database to save you time from recreating or re-customizing options. It ain’t much, but it’s honest work.
Looking for more plugins? We recommend using 7-10 plugins for your site but understand this isn’t possible for D.I.Y. small business owners.
Wordpress is the most widely-used CMS.
Websites (% of total)
So it’s no wonder developers have made so many plugins for WordPress!
Depending on your business, you may only need to use some of the WordPress plugins and tools mentioned in our list. However, it is common for our readers to end up using at least 15-18 solutions that we have mentioned. Keep reading if you want to see more plugins!
The HubSpot WordPress plugin provides many powerful features that make it easier to grow your business. It is designed to be easy to use and requires no coding, making it accessible to all users. The plugin synchronizes with HubSpot’s CRM and email system, which allows tracking leads, customer data, and other important information. Additionally, the plugin provides an easy-to-use form builder and customizable live chat and chatbot options, helping to improve customer engagement.
- HubSpot recorded total revenue of $1.30 billion, up 47% compared to 2020. That alone lets you know how powerful and successful they are.
Woocommerce is the best eCommerce plugin for WordPress websites, boasting unparalleled customization and a range of powerful features for managing products, accepting payments, sending customer emails, and more.
- Over 5,106,506 live websites are using WooCommerce.
With WooCommerce, you can extend the core plugin with thousands of free and paid plugins to fit your needs. It’s trusted by millions of websites to run an online e-commerce store, and its high level of customization makes it an excellent choice for turnkey solutions and advanced setups.
- 23% of the market share goes to WooCommerce, 2nd behind Squarespace. *Source: BuiltWith.com
All in One SEO
All in One SEO (AIOSEO) is an all-in-one WordPress SEO plugin that optimizes your website for better search engine rankings. It allows website owners to easily audit their SEO from the dashboard, as well as customize different on-page SEO elements:
- Meta descriptions
- Tich snippets
- Headline tools
Additionally, it has features for local SEO, eCommerce SEO, and technical SEO like XML sitemaps, robots.txt, and canonical tags. This plugin is incredibly beginner-friendly, making it easy for anyone to improve their site’s SEO.
- 4,109,806 websites use All-In-One SEO worldwide. *Source: BuiltWith.com
I prefer Rank Math, but this is a good alternative.
Elementor – Page Builder
Elementor is a top page builder for the WordPress C.M.S. that allows users to craft beautiful and complex designs using a simple drag-and-drop interface and a live visual preview.
- WordPress is used by 43.2% of all websites. Elementor is used by 8.1% of all websites.
Elementor Pro – the paid version – allows users to create an entire WordPress theme with the same drag-and-drop interface.
Elementor is a powerful WordPress plugin that provides users with intuitive tools to quickly and easily create stunning and functional websites. With over 5 million active installations, Elementor has become one of the most popular page builders ever created for WordPress. The free version of Elementor is packed with design and layout options to give users complete control over their designs. The Pro version adds features like an entire theme building, a popup builder, and a WooCommerce builder.
Easy-to-Use Templates and Web Pages
With Elementor, users can be something other than web development specialists to make all kinds of cool effects like background overlays, hover effects, and animations. Additionally, Elementor is:
- Compatible with the Gutenberg editor and other WordPress plugins
- Comes with more than 100 pre-made page templates to speed up the design process.
Avada or Elementor Templates?
I prefer Avada because it’s easier to use and more customizable. My clients find it easy to edit their websites. I do not use the pre-made templates, though. I’ve had clients text and email me begging not to use Elementor.
W3 Total Cache vs. W.P. Rocket
W3 Total Cache is a one of the best WordPress plugins, plus it’s free. It helps to speed up your website and improve its performance. By storing website content in the user’s browser, W3 Total Cache reduces load times, increasing search engine rankings, user experience, and potential conversions. It also serves compressed and cached files that reduce the load on your server and improve overall site speed.
- 3,938,662 websites use W3 Total Cache across the world. *Source: BuiltWith.com
W.P. Rocket is one of the best Wordpress plugins but is premium. This WordPress caching and performance plugin helps you quickly implement many WordPress performance optimization best practices. It does this through the following:
- Enabling caching and preloaded content
- Lazy-loading images
- GZIP compression.
These features combined make it much easier to ensure your site loads quickly and efficiently.
- WP Rocket has been shown to reduce page load times by 63%. It may not be free, but the results are worth it, especially if conversions are on the line.
Although WP Rocket is a paid plugin and is more potent than W3 Total Cache, if you are looking for a free caching plugin to improve your website performance, W3 Total Cache is an excellent choice. It is easy to use and has many features, such as page caching, browser caching, and eCommerce optimization, which can help speed up your website and keep visitors coming back.
P.S. – I don’t use any caching plugins on my hosting plan – it’s all server-side caching which saves you time and headache.
WP-Optimize – Oh, yet another optimization plugin.
WP-Optimize is one of the best Wordpress plugins for optimization. This essential plugin is for any WordPress site that wants to optimize its database for speed and functionality. It helps clean up extraneous database contents like auto drafts and spam comments, compresses images to speed up page load times, and enables caching to improve site speeds. With just the click of a button, this plugin drastically improves your website’s performance and page load times, especially on mobile devices and over weak internet connections. WP-Optimize is also 100% mobile-friendly and can be translated into multiple languages, making it an excellent choice for international websites.
Smush Image Optimizer
Smush is one of the best Wordpress plugins for image optimization. This powerful WordPress plugin is designed to optimize, resize, and compress images for your blog. It does this automatically every time you upload a new photo to the WordPress Media Library without sacrificing image quality.
This helps to speed up your site’s loading times, which is crucial for keeping visitors engaged. With Smush, you can compress up to 50 images with one click, enable lazy loading for offscreen photos, and get detailed analytics on your image optimization progress. Plus, it’s free to use, making it an excellent choice for site owners looking to improve their website performance without breaking the bank.
I don’t love that you must wait for 50 images to optimize before clicking again, which is why I use Short Pixel.
Akismet Spam Protection – Spam Comments Annihilator
Akismet is one of the best Wordpress plugins for spam protection. This essential plugin can be used for any WordPress website for functionality, as it helps to keep spam out of your comment section.
- According to Aksimet, they have kept 541,398,982,614 pieces of spam off the web, averaging about 7,500,000 per hour. Woah!
Developed by Automattic, the team behind WordPress.com, it works seamlessly with the WordPress comment system, analyzing comments and filtering out spam. It has a high accuracy rating and provides a range of additional features, such as displaying URLs and the number of approved comments for each user.
Are there any security plugins available for WordPress?
Yes, there are several security plugins available for WordPress. The best Wordpress plugins for security are iThemes Security, which provides over 30 ways to protect your website from malicious access, including password expiration, two-factor authentication, reCAPTCHA, and malware scanning. Sucuri and Wordfence are other popular solutions offering comprehensive security features such as firewalls, malware scanning, and website hardening.
iThemes Security is a comprehensive WordPress plugin that offers over 30 ways to protect your site and its users from cyberattacks. It provides:
- Strong password enforcement
- Brute force protection
- File change monitoring
- Security key management
- Database backups
- The Pro version also offers a website firewall and proactive monitoring.
This makes iThemes Security an ideal tool for WordPress users, ensuring their sites are safe against malicious activity. Furthermore, it allows users to customize security settings to their site type: a blog, an eCommerce store, or an online portfolio.
OptinMonster is a powerful lead generation & conversion optimization plugin for WordPress that helps businesses convert abandoning blog visitors into subscribers. OptinMonster offers:
- Drag-and-drop opt-in builder
- Multiple campaign types
- Exit-Intent technology
- Seamless integrations with popular services
- Detailed insights to improve your campaigns
OptinMonster is widely used and trusted, with 82+ million downloads, and has award-winning support. It is user-friendly and full of powerful features, so it’s ideal for businesses of all sizes. OptinMonster is fantastic if you want to grow your email list, work on customization for your campaigns, and have more functionality.