For effective and efficient site management, there are certain plugins that are essential and others that are recommended, depending upon your needs. Remember, plugins can affect your site download performance, especially those connecting to another server or website or inefficiently coded. Try to limit the number used an always get them from a reliable, credible source.

  • Loginizer — Limits log-in attempts. Often option when installing WordPress with Softaculous or managed WP hosting. Otherwise, highly recommended. (And also one of the reasons you need two administrator-level accounts; if one fails, you have a backup account to log-in with.)
  • Askismet — If you allow comments, you need Akismet spam-control filter; comes pre-installed, but not activated, with WordPress. You will need a WordPress.com account and there may be a small fee, dependent upon your activity.
  • Wordfence — Absolutely essential WP security add-on. Offers premium level protection, but at least use the free version.
  • Yoast SEO — Allows management of your meta headers and other key SEO aspects including advice on keyword density and readability of your content. Does not focus on tactics but core SEO. Premium level allows for multiple keyword focus and other features. Includes ability to create XML sitemaps for your site. (Joost de Valk has worked closely with WordPress development since the beginning.)
  • Google XML Sitemap Generator — Creates & maintains an XML sitemap for Google and other search engines. Yoast SEO also offers to build your sitemaps but using both Google XML Sitemaps and the Yoast SEO sitemaps can be confusing to the search engines. Choose to use just one sitemap generator. Google XML Sitemaps has more features than the Yoast SEO option. If you are not as SEO-focused, just using Yoast SEO for both may be simpler and using fewer plugins improves site performance speeds.  (And donate to help support the continued development of the plugin you use.)
  • WP SuperCache — Creates a static version of your pages and posts for faster download. Automatically updates the cached content when you update a post or page (or sidebar). Necessary in this mobile-first world and improves your Google ranking.
  • A Social Media plugin — Adds social media promotion capability to your site; there are many and it depends upon whether you are using any specific tracking services such as Jetpack, AddThis, or AddToAny. For simplicity, speed, and ease in maintaining I recommend Social Media Feather. If you are are using an Elegant Themes theme, I recommend their Monarch plugin.
  • Autoptimize — If you aren’t using a theme that automatically minifies your CSS, JS & HTML, like Elegant Theme’s Divi and Extra, then you should be using this plugin to improve your mobile- and Search engine-friendliness, download speed, and Google ranking.
  • Jetpack by Automattic (WordPress.com) — This is a Swiss-Army Knife plugin by the folks who invented WordPress. You need a WordPress.com account and then you can decide which of the many features and options you choose to use.  Among other things, it gives you sites statistics, image delivery optimization, some security against malicious attacks. For $40/year you also get Akismet spam protection and daily backups.
  • BackupWordpress — one of my new Must Have plugins because it allows you to make a full backup of your WordPress site and content with a simple click, creating peace of mind. UpdraftPlus WordPress, BackWPup or Vaultpress (included with Jetpack paid account).
  • A Contact Form Plugin — If you are using an Elegant Themes theme, then Bloom works very easily and well. Otherwise, Contact Form 7 is the best supported and powerful, however, it can be a bit complicated. Contact Form by WP Forms offers a drag & drop option that works well.
  • A Visual Builder Plugin — If you prefer drag-and-drop page design (and most people do), but don’t want to use Elegant Themes Divi, there are a number of plugins that offer similar features. Visual Composer for WordPress ($34) works with most WordPress themes and has a number of third-party add-ons. WordPress Page Builder — Beaver Builder has a strong reputation along with Page Builder by Site Origin and Page Builder: Live Composer. Remember that there will be another learning curve and some limitations whichever visual page builder application you use.
  • Google Analytics Management Plugin — Allows you to easily integrate your GA Tracking code & create more detailed tracking reports. Either Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsight or Google Analytics Dashboard for WP.
  • Google Language Translator — Back by popular demand! Google has re-released this wonderful plugin that allows people to choose from a plethora of languages and then translate your site’s content into that language. Terrific if you want to reach the world. (And it makes brownie points with non-U.S. site visitors by showing you are aware of the rest of the world.)
  • AMP for WP — Something to consider if you are focused on mobile-first and integrating your content into sites like news.google.com. It automatically adds the Accelerated Mobile Pages functionality. There are some limitations and caveats on compatibility with some other plugins, so read the notices.
  • WooCommerce — Best e-commerce plugin out there and with the most support. Now owned by Automattic so the integration and features are always up-to-date.
  • Duplicator — If you need to move (migrate), transfer or simply backup your site, use this. Much easier than duplicating databases and shuffling code. Actually used by many hosting services offering “free WP site migration.”