Whether you are building a WordPress blog or website, you need to install WordPress top 10 plugins to optimize the layout for better user experience and search engine ranking. WordPress plugins play an important role in how your blog will look and function. Installing the most essential plugins is a big step in connecting with your audience and performing well for search engines. A WordPress plugin is a software that can be considered as an “add-on” that provides additional features or functionality to your blog.
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and are at no additional cost to you. I get compensated when you buy hosting using my affiliate link, which helps make this guide free for you. Please note that I only recommend products and services that I have personally used, and found to be worth it.
What are WordPress Top 10 Plugins? A quick look before installing.
Plugins let you collect email subscribers, improve your blog SEO, monitor your website analytics, optimize your images, increase your page load speed, and more. The problem is that there are thousands of different plugins(over 52,000) and other blogging tools to choose from.
However, I have compiled WordPress top 10 plugins that you need to install to keep your site working well without compromising on your site’s loading time.
Wordfence Security is a WordPress firewall and security scanner plugin. It provides complete protection to your site from malicious hackers, malware, spam and other online threats. It searches for malware and compares code, theme, and plugin files with records in the WordPress.org repository, allowing it to verify its integrity and report any changes to you.
The plugin comes with a web application firewall (WAF) called Threat Defense Feed that helps Wordfence to identify and block malicious traffic. Plus, it makes sure you set strong passwords and prevent brute force attacks by limiting login attempts. Wordfence Firewall & Security Scanner will give you security risk alerts before your website is hacked, keeping it safe and secure.
It also comes with login security features that enable you to activate ReCAPTCHA and two-factor authentication on your website. A free version of Wordfence is available. But you’re free to purchase the premium plan to get support from professionals, as well as additional security features like real-time IP blacklists and country blocking options.
Most users do not understand the importance of a backup plan to protect their site in case something goes wrong. But I strongly advise you not to make such a mistake as it will cost you in terms of time and effort. Thousands of sites get hacked every day. WordPress sites are a common target for hackers because it is so popular and a lot of non-technical people use them.
Just hoping you won’t be next is a joke. You have to be prepared for this, which is where backup plugins come into play. There are tons of WordPress backup plugins online, but few of them are as powerful and user-friendly as UpdraftPlus. It allows you to set up automatic backups and store your files on a remote location like Google Drive, Email or Dropbox.
Restoring your website from backup is also very easy and can be done directly from the dashboard. Other features include advanced reporting, database encryption, additional storage destinations such as OneDrive, Azure, and backup scheduling. You have the option to choose a free and basic version of UpdraftPlus or buy its premium version depending on your need and budget, but I would recommend you choose the most suitable option.
The Yoast WordPress plugin helps you customize your blog post title, description, content length and other elements throughout your blog so that you can be easily found by search engines. Everyone wants their website to rank high in search engines. But SEO is extremely complicated, isn’t it? But with the Yoast SEO plugin, on-page SEO effort becomes an easy task. Users interested in keyword research and search engine optimization rely on Yoast SEO to reach their goals.
You need to select a keyword, and the tool will optimize your page around that. Not only does it help you improve SEO, but it also analyzes the readability of your content. It gives you real-time page analysis to optimize your content, images, meta descriptions, titles and keywords. In addition, Yoast checks the length of your sentences and paragraphs, and whether you’re using enough transition words or subheadings. It commands Google whether to index a page or a group of pages as well.
Using a simple traffic-light system also breaks down SEO and gives you tips on how to improve the page. In the example here, you can see that you need to add more keywords. In another tab, it breaks down the readability of your page, while also telling you how to improve it. There is also a premium version that provides additional functions and allows you to optimize your page for up to five keywords.
Although you are free to upgrade to the premium version which comes with additional functions, allowing you to optimize your content for up to five keywords, among other benefits. Plus you can configure all these features in the Settings tab. I strongly recommend that you set up the Yoast SEO plugin as soon as you write your first blog post and start optimizing it to improve your website’s ranking.
Spam is irrelevant or unwanted messages sent over the Internet for advertising, phishing or spreading malware, usually to a large number of users. No one likes them but unfortunately, we have to face them during our blogging career. As soon as your WordPress website goes live, you can expect spam comments to start appearing. What’s worse is that many of these spam comments will look genuine. Unfortunately, spam comments are an unavoidable risk to website success.
With Akismet, you’ll be able to eliminate spam comments—no matter how genuine they look. This is the official anti-spam plugin developed by Automattic, the parent company of WordPress. Some spam comments are likely to be missing plugins or not identify false positives, but you just need to notify the developer, and you’ll improve on it over time. The plugin also checks your contact form submissions against its global spam database to remove unnecessary and fake information.
You only need the Akismet.com API key to use this plug-in. Keys are free for personal blogs, but businesses and business sites should opt for a paid subscription. Nevertheless, comment spam blocks your site and ruins your reader experience and if it is not dealt with properly, you risk losing readers and potentially damaging your brand. , Thankfully, there is a reliable, effective plugin to combat these unwanted threats.
Akismet is the official anti-spam plugin created by Automattic, the parent company of WordPress. It has over 35 million downloads, making it the most popular plugin ever. I strongly recommend that you install this essential plugin to prevent spam comments and improve the user experience of your site before posting yours online. Once installed, you need to obtain an API key to start using the service. Simply click on “Get Your API Key” and follow the instructions.
Be sure to paste your API key into the box and choose where you want spam comments to appear before you finish the setup. Here you also have the option to update the premium plan for higher protection if needed. Nevertheless, the free version of Akismet is fine and fits your needs.
WP Super Cache
How would you feel if you are painfully waiting for a web page to load and your cursor is hovering over the back button when your patience runs out. I know you got the point. A slow site can frustrate visitors and in turn, hurt potential conversions. That’s why you need a plugin that can help your site load faster on the webpage and there is a name with full authority in this area- WP Super Cache Plugin.
A cache is a place that temporarily stores data. The entire web page takes time to load from the beginning. So, your browser will store the files in its cache from the web pages you have previously visited. This means it doesn’t need to get as much “fresh” information from the site, resulting in faster load times. WP Super Cache generates static pages for your site.
These pages are then rendered instead of having to process the full PHP script which reduces page-serving time resulting in faster loads. Without your page being cached, your load times will increase significantly. WP Super Cache also provides caching for visitors using a mobile device. Plus, it has tons of features that you can configure as per your requirement.
Simply turning on the cache will speed up your site. In short, it is a mandatory add-on feature that must be installed to optimize your site and prevent your visitors from getting disappointed.
Google XML Sitemaps
To effectively index your site, search engines need a sitemap. Sitemap file helps search engines to crawl and index your site properly and if you ignore it then your ranking will be affected. Thus, submitting a sitemap to search engines is essential to your SEO efforts. You can’t create a site map manually, so you’ll need a plugin that can do this well.
Here is the role of a famous WordPress plugin called ‘Google XML Sitemaps’. This plugin creates a dynamic sitemap of your WordPress blog or website, which is compatible with search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. Google XML Sitemap notifies search engines about changes made to your sitemap and when you update your site or publish new blog posts, the plugin will automatically notify search engines.
This plugin is a huge time saver and a must-have feature for every WordPress blog or website. I would recommend you install it to increase the ranking of your site on search engines.
Smush Lazy Load Images
Images are important as they play a vital role in making your site look nice and user-friendly and without them, your content can be boring. About 37% of marketers believed that visual marketing is the most important form of content for their business. But high-quality images are also large files that are slow to load. So now you will have a dilemma in front of you.
If you skimp on loading images, you run the risk of boring your visitors and if you use too many images, you risk frustrating visitors with slow pages. You can manually compress each image before uploading it to your website, but you know it takes some time. That’s why the Smush plugin comes into play. This plugin automatically compresses and optimizes your images.
With it, you can use a lot of images on your pages and posts, keeping their load times unaffected. The picture above shows you what the plugin looks like when running “Bulk Smush”. After installing the plugin, you can follow the prompts to bulk smash all your images. Make sure “Automatic Smushing is Enabled” as shown in the upper right corner of the window.
You can also see how many megabytes you have saved on the right side of the window. You also have the option of upgrading it to the Pro version if needed, which offers better compression and removes the bulk-smashing limitation. I think sooner or later you’ll have to install the Smush plugin so that you can continue to publish visual content while preserving your page-load times.
You can use WPForms to create attractive and highly effective contact forms with its drag-and-drop builder, which comes with different templates and a bunch of great features to ensure that your visitors have an excellent customer experience, which, in turn, increases their chances of submitting contact information. In addition, WPForms can integrate with all popular marketing and payment platforms. The free plan lets you easily create a secure contact form.
But if you want access to more templates and advanced features to boost your lead generation efforts, the paid version will be more suitable. Everyone wants their readers to be able to contact them easily, which I highly recommend—as it encourages others to collaborate more easily. WPForms is an easy-to-use plugin that allows you to drag and drop contact forms on the page of your choice. This plugin is incredibly user friendly and yet powerful in features.
It allows you to customize all the sections as per your requirement like adding a new section or deleting an already existing section. Once you’ve finished editing your type, you can click the Embed button at the top of the window and paste the shortcode into the page where you want it to appear. You can choose forms with different templates or styles that suit your theme and rest assured that these are responsive and mobile-friendly by default.
You can create as many forms or as many pages as you want in a single form. It has built-in automatic spam prevention, and you can deter bots by adding CAPTCHA, ReCAPTCHA, or even Google’s new invisible ReCAPTCHA so you don’t frustrate your visitors. You can also customize the confirmation messages that visitors will see when they interact with your form. To edit, simply click on the “Settings” tab and then click “Confirm” to edit them.
You can use WPForms to ensure that you have an efficient, user-friendly way of keeping in touch with visitors. With the premium version, you can unlock more powerful features like smart conditional logic, customizable email notifications, file uploads, multi-page forms, post submission, and more.
Elementor website builder
The WordPress page editor is very basic and you will need a page builder so that you can quickly create the designs you want unless you know how to code.
What is a Website Builder?
It is a plugin that allows you to easily create your blog pages with the help of different styles, sections, modules and widgets. It is a boon for users who have little or no knowledge of coding or programming language to help them create pages of their choice. There are hundreds of such plugins available, but most are either expensive or lack the features you need.
There are two types of page builders: back-end and front-end. You use the back-end editor within the WordPress editor. Every time you make a change, you’ll need to click “Preview” and refresh the live page to see how your changes look and aren’t what the user expects. But front-end editors let you edit the actual page so you can experience the change while you’re doing it.
Elementor is a simple and intuitive front-end editor packed with features to easily edit the page of your choice. This plugin gives you complete control over every editing element of your page. And the best part is that it is free to use. Creating a page from scratch can be time-consuming, but Elementor makes it easy and convenient with its bunch of templates.
You can create and save your own custom layouts and designs to use again and again to create other pages. Although Elementor has a Pro version with some additional features, the manufacturer has stated that the free version will retain all of its existing features. The Pro version has some great options for responsive settings, and they recently released mobile editing options as well. It is always recommended to use Elementor as your page builder to keep yourself free from a lot of problems.
Data tracking is vital to growing and improving your business. Without facts, you will only have assumptions that will not help you with your future campaign strategies. A tool like Google Analytics can help you improve your website, content and user experience. MonsterInsights allows you to add, customize, and manage web tracking services related to Google Analytics—all within your WordPress dashboard.
This makes it very easy to track your website with Google Analytics to improve your website, content and better user experience and provides you with important information about the performance of each webpage and which online campaigns have the most traffic and receive conversions. Formerly named Google Analytics for WordPress, MonsterInsights was originally developed by Yoast.
You can use it to view active sessions, conversion and bounce rate statistics, and keep track of your links and downloads. The basic MonsterInsights is a free version that allows you to install Google Analytics, track data, view metrics on dashboards, and run reports. There is also a premium version which is more investment but includes post and page tracking, custom tracking and reports, Adsense tracking and more.
If you opt to pay for the premium version, you’ll get additional features like e-commerce tracking via apps. Including WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads. Other details such as your total income, top products and top referral sources will also be included. With all the information readily available, you can work on creating a data-driven strategy to grow your business.
Once you have installed the app, you will need to link it to your Google account to start using its services. Simply click “Authenticate with your Google Account” and follow the instructions. Once linked, click the “Tracking” tab to see a list of all the features you can configure. That’s why I always recommend setting up MonsterInsights so you can start collecting the data you need to improve your business.
How to find the most suitable plugin for you?
I have compiled a list of some factors that you should consider narrowing your search list to determine the right fit for your blog or website. Each plugin’s page on the WordPress Plugin Repository has detailed information about the plugin, its purpose, how to use it, and more. Refer to this information to decide whether a specific plugin is a good fit for you. Search the plugin directory and choose a few options that you think will best suit your needs. When it comes to making the final selection, use the following tips:
Free vs Premium
I know free voices sound a bit tempting, but that doesn’t mean they’ll always meet your needs. WordPress plugins are no exception. Free plugins can be great if you don’t want to spend money right away, and most of them are good enough to do the basics.
However, if you are looking for more features or are highly customizable, you will need to upgrade most of the plugins to the premium version to unlock the essential features. In addition, premium plugins are designed to ensure compatibility with newer WordPress versions and provide better security.
Plus, you get a wide selection of features to customize and enhance your site as per your requirement. If money is something you’re worried about, you’ll be pleased to know that most premium plugins are quite affordable and your investment will pay off.
In the end, it’s up to you to decide. Just make sure that you have made the right choice with a detailed study.
Overall Plugin Rating
The overall rating of a WordPress plugin can tell you about its usefulness and trust among users. Past users can rate a plugin up to five stars based on their experience. Skip options that don’t average at least four stars. High-rated plugins are generally reliable and provide ample support. There is no better way to determine the quality of a plugin than directly from users. That way, you know exactly whether a plugin is successful or not.
Total number of ratings
I would also recommend looking at the total number of ratings. For example, if a plugin is rated by only five or seven people, it means that it is relatively new. If they give good reviews, the average rating will automatically be higher. It is always better to download plugins with more users and reviewers. So, you not only have to read the user reviews but also see the total number of reviews.
Every plugin has a support forum in the WordPress plugin repository.
Go to the Help tab to check the level of activity within these forums. Regular activity is essential as it indicates that the developer is responsive and wants to provide an excellent experience to its users by resolving user-reported issues.
If you are evaluating a premium plugin, their official website should be your favourite instead of the support tab. Find out how easy it is to get help and whether it has the features you need. If possible, send a test email to check how fast developers respond. If a plugin has many unresolved threads or you do not receive a reply to your test email, it may mean that the plugin has been abandoned or that the developers are not responding to user problems.
Find Update Frequency
Best plugins are updated regularly. If not, or if it’s been a long time since their last update, they may not have been properly maintained. Ideally, plugin updates should be consistent with WordPress’ core updates. This ensures optimal compatibility and a good level of active effect from the plugin developer. You can check exactly when the plugin was last updated by visiting the WordPress plugin repository.
Also, see the Active installation section. This will give you an idea of whether it is still relevant to use them.
All at a glance
Whether you need to optimize your site or need to improve the user experience for your readers, WordPress plugins play a vital role in growing your online business. If you don’t want to spend money right away, free plugins can be a great option to start with, and most of them are good enough to cover the basics. I recommend you to install Yoast SEO, UpdraftPlus, Wordfence Security, Wp-forms Lite, WP Rocket and Monsterinsights before taking any steps or creating content for your blog or website.
Later, as your blog grows, you can also add other plugins based on your needs. Elementor Website Builder is an essential plugin that you should install before creating pages for your blog or website. It will take a lot of time and energy if you do all the required work manually and it creates a huge hole in your wallet if you hire a web developer. Plugins make these complex tasks easy and with little or no cost, so you don’t have to make a choice.
These native plugins can lead the way to success if you use them exactly as they are needed. It is always recommended to start with the free basic plugins in the beginning as most of them are enough to do the basics and you will decide later whether to go with the premium-based plan or not.
For added fun, you might consider visiting my previous post “How Blogs Are Useful” – A Brief Note on Blogs vs. Websites. To enhance your knowledge before making a decision, you can take a quick look at “Work From Home Business Ideas” which will guide you through the step by step process of how you can start working online.
If you are new to blogging and haven’t created your own blog yet, don’t miss to check out my exclusive guide on “How to Earn From a Blog“. Which will walk you through the step-by-step process from starting a WordPress blog through Bluehost to making money from it.
Which plugins do you like the most and why? Please don’t forget to write in the comment box below. Thanks for visiting my blog here and I hope you get something in return. See you soon in the next tutorial. Since then – have a nice day.