WordPress powers about 40% of the websites worldwide. It is an insanely popular CMS, and albeit, a very powerful one. The core WordPress CMS is extremely powerful, but its true potential comes into picture when you use plugins.
The assortment of plugins available in the WordPress plugins repository unlocks the doors to virtually limitless possibilities. Cherry on top – there are thousands of premium and free themes that come with their unique set of designs and functions, which further enhance the capabilities of WordPress.
You can build just about anything you want using WordPress. What can you build?
A blog? Done!
E-commerce store? Done!
An agency portfolio? Done!
A photography website? Done!
A Q&A forum? Done!
A social network? Done!
A video and audio streaming site? Done!
A news portal? Done!
Think of whatever you want! WordPress can do it for you. To be honest, you will need plugins and appropriate themes. The problem here is that finding the best plugins is not so easy. There are thousands of them, and all of them claim to be the best.
So, which one should you use?
I will try to make your life easy by listing some of the best WordPress plugins available today. But I must clarify that the list you find here might not resonate with you. You may disagree. This list of best WordPress plugins is based on my opinion. It doesn’t claim to be the voice of everyone.
So, without further ado, let’s begin…
The Best WordPress Plugins Across Different Categories
The plugins available in WordPress plugins repository can be categorized. Some fall under caching, some under forms, some in SEO, and so on. The list of categories can become so insanely long that listing all of them here doesn’t make any sense.
So, I will settle for the best picks from the hundreds of plugins that I have personally tested over the years. Here is what I think:
#1. Best Caching Plugin – LiteSpeed Cache
Of course, the list begins with a caching plugin because speed matters. There are dozens of caching plugins out there. All of them claim to be the best. Not possible! I have tried many including some popular names like W3TC, W3 Super Cache, WP Fastest Cache, WP Rocket, and more.
However, none of them manage to beat LiteSpeed Cache. It is by far the best caching plugin you can get if you combine it with LiteSpeed or OpenLiteSpeed web server. It can work with both Apache and Nginx as well, but that will require QUIC.cloud CDN.
The LiteSpeed Cache plugin can increase the speed of your website with its default settings. You can further tune it to match your requirements. What’s best is that the developers have thrown in some excellent add-on features like image optimization, image conversion into WebP format, DNS prefetch, one-click DB optimization, and more.
Yes, the basics like CSS, JS, and HTML minification, combining CSS files and JS files, asynchronous loading of CSS, Google fonts, etc., are also available.
#2. Best Google Analytics Plugin – MonsterInsights Lite
Personally, I am not a big fan of Google Analytics integration through a plugin. However, not everyone can put it directly into the code. If you are one of them, you will need a plugin and MonsterInsights is the best in business.
Not only can it give real-time stats right into your WordPress dashboard, but also offers accurate data using universal data tracking. If you want more features, you can always buy the pro version that will tell you about eCommerce stats, advertisement efforts, traffic sources, and more.
In short, this plugin eliminates the need for visiting your Google Analytics dashboard frequently.
#3. Best SEO Plugin – Yoast SEO
There are dozens of SEO plugins available. Some say Yoast is the best (and I am one of them), while others say that options like All-in-One-SEO, RankMath, etc., are the best. It is a personal choice. However, my experience with alternative options tell that they aren’t that easy to use.
For instance, All-in-One-SEO can leave your confused with a too many options. Similarly, RankMath has introduced dozens of options that remove the necessity of adding a few extra plugins like redirection. However, my experience with RankMath wasn’t particularly good. Here are a few reasons:
- RankMath is yet to reach maturity where it can consistently deliver great results. During its initial days, it managed to increase my traffic, but what followed was a disastrous drop in traffic.
- The plugin is very heavy, and can potentially slowdown your site.
- It adds too many autorun entries in the database that will not go away when you uninstall the plugin.
Yoast SEO, on the other hand, is a time-tested plugin. Yes, it is heavy, but still, it is easy to use and offers a lot of choices and fine controls without confusing people with too many options. It maintains a balance.
The free version is powerful enough and gives you the options of text analysis, adding a primary keyword, adding meta description. It also analysis the overall SEO performance.
The free version is also capable of adding XML sitemap, schema data, and even allows WooCommerce SEO.
If you want, you can always opt for a premium version that will give you the ability to add multiple keywords and much more features.
#4. Best Form Builder – WP Forms Lite
I don’t advice people to use any embedded form on their websites. The reason is simple! Adding a form adds more weight to your website. In addition, you need to install additional SMTP plugin to ensure that the mails are delivered properly.
Instead of using any embedded forms, you should consider using Google forms. Google forms give you immense flexibility. There is no limit to how many forms you can create and even create conditional forms.
However, if you want to use an embedded form, consider using WP Forms. There is a Lite version and a Pro version. While the Lite version does have a lot of limitations, it can still create stunning forms using the drag-and-drop builder.
If you don’t want to build a form from scratch, you can always go ahead and use the pre-built forms. What else? The forms are 100% mobile-friendly, and hence, you shouldn’t be worried about forms floating out of the viewport on mobile devises.
WP Forms is the fastest contact form plugin available today. You can even integrate it with different email marketing services to send newsletters. The Pro version will allow you to collect payments, add conditional logic to forms, create surveys, and more.
#5. Best SMTP Plugin – WP Mail SMTP
If you are using a contact form plugin and building your email list, you will definitely need a mechanism to send emails. WordPress has its very own mailing mechanism, but it cannot always be trusted. Most importantly, it puts a lot of load on the server.
WordPress often fails to send emails properly and hence, you will need a plugin that can properly configure wp_mail() PHP function so that it can use the proper SMTP server. As of today, WP Mail SMTP is the best option you can get. It will ensure that the email end ups in the recipient’s inbox.
Yes, configuring it may be slightly tricky, but not impossible! It properly reconfigures WordPress so that it can use the right SMTP provider. It gives access to different SMTP providers from the single platform, thereby ensuring that you don’t have to keep using different plugins.
If you are going for the premium version that they call the Elite version, their crew will configure everything for you.
I will still not recommend using this because of one simple reason – keep your website lightweight and offload the mailing task to a third-party provider like Google Workspace. It is much better and declutters your WordPress site, making it faster. I highly recommend using services like Hostinger email, Google Workspace, etc.
#6. Best Backup Plugin – UpdraftPlus
As before, I will never recommend using a third-party plugin to do this for you. You should learn how to backup your WordPress site manually if you don’t have the backup option provided for free by your hosting company. A backup plugin always adds more weight to your site.
A manual backup may sound like a Herculean task, but trust me it is not!
If you are on a shared hosting platform, you will most likely have cPanel where you can take backups and restore them with a few clicks. If you are a managed WordPress hosting, you will most likely have automatic backup already available. In case of cloud hosting, you can add automatic backups for as little as $2 a month.
Assuming that you don’t have free backup included and you need to pay a hefty price for backups, you should go for manual backups and restoration.
If that is not a possibility, you should look at UpdraftPlus. This plugin will allow you to configure the backup location. If you want, UpdraftPlus will store backups in Dropbox, or Google Drive, or Amazon S3. It will automatically create backups for your WordPress files and database.
UpdraftPlus also has a one-click restore option. So, you can quickly restore a backup if anything goes downhill. UpdraftPlus is free to use, but if you want, you can get their premium version as well.
#7. Best Code Snippets Plugin – Code Snippets
Sometimes, you just need to add code snippets to your WordPress site to extend its capabilities. However, that usually requires fiddling around with the functions.php file. If anything goes wrong with the file, your WordPress site can break.
This is where the Code Snippets plugin comes in. It can help you add such snippets without the need for messing with the functions.php file. You can add as many snippets as you want and the very moment you add a snippet, it is added to your site.
The best part of the Code Snippets plugin is that if you change your theme, the codes you add will remain and will work with the next theme. If you want to change the server, you can import all the snippets and then add them to your site on the new server.
You can give each code snippet an identifier name in case you are using too many of them. Code Snippets is total free.
However, I will like to divert your attention to the GeneratePress Premium theme that comes with custom hooks that allow you to add such codes. You don’t even have to use a plugin.
#8. Best Membership Plugin – MemberPress
If you are building a membership site, you can use any of the many plugins you get. However, the best of the lot, according to me, is MemberPress that you can rely on. MemberPress allows to restrict certain areas of your site and give access only and only to the paid members. This will ensure that you get to earn a recurring payment.
Once you set it up, you don’t have to bother about anything else. Everything is automated and the payments will keep rolling.
MemberPress will allow you to integrate payment gateways like PayPal, Stripe, and Authorize.Net. It is extremely simple to use. Install it, configure the payment gateway, add a product, and voila! You are done! You now need to invite people to become paid members.
MemberPress can integrate with a lot of third-party services like MailChimp, CovertKit, Drip, Constant Contact, Aweber, GetResponse, Blubrry, Amazon Web Services, etc. It can even integrate with BuddyPress so that you can encourage your members to engage in forums and help out each other.
MemberPress will also allow you to roll out an affiliate program for your brand where in the members of your website can spread the word and get rewarded for bringing in new customers.
MemberPress isn’t free. You have to pay a price of 149 USD per year.
#9. Best Image Optimization Plugin – Optimole
Did you know that images make up 21% of the total weight of a page? It is necessary that you optimize your images properly to ensure that your website loads quickly. Of course, you need to optimize your images to certain extent before uploading them to your website, but there’s more you can do.
Using an image optimization plugin can not only optimize your images, but also serve scaled images, produce WebP version of the images. My favorite plugin for this is always Optimole.
Optimole is more than just a plugin. It is a full-fledged image CDN. It can compress your images, convert them into WebP, serves scaled images, and delivers your images from a CDN (Amazon CloudFront to be specific). The only problem, if you click on an image, it will not show a nice URL.
Optimole has a free version available, but that is not sufficient even for medium-sized websites. The premium plans are pretty expensive.
Optimole will never put load on your server. In fact, every image you upload will reach Optimole server (copied from your server), and optimized there. The optimized files are then served through CDN. Yes, Optimole can help you improve your site speed significantly.
#10. Best Minification Plugin – Autoptimize
If you are not using LiteSpeed Cache, I will suggest that you use Autoptimize with your existing caching solution. This plugin is designed to optimize your CSS, HTML, and JS files and minify them by removing unnecessary characters from the files.
Don’t worry, removing the unnecessary characters are not going to impact the functioning of those files. The only thing that will happen is that the files will look too cluttered to any human eye. Machines and bot can still read them and figure out what’s in there.
Minification helps to improve page speed by reducing the page load times.
Autoptimize can also combine various files into one unified file. However, use this feature with caution as that can cause design issues.
I will like to warn you that Autoptimize is quite aggressive and it can lead to FOUC (flash of unstyled content) issue by sending render-blocking CSS and JS files to the footer. FOUC brings bad user experience, and in case you are using an aggressive caching plugin, users can permanently experience FOUC. So, test your website thoroughly after installing, activating, and configuring Autoptimize.
#11. Best Database Optimization Plugin – WP-Optimize
Optimizing your database from time to time is necessary. Over time, your database collects a lot of junk that include auto-drafts, spam comments, trashed comments and posts, transients, and more. They eat up a lot of storage and eventually make the database performance sluggish.
So, it is necessary that you clean up the database often. Unfortunately, trying to delete those things directly from the database can be a risky affair. Thus, it is always better to get a helping hand. If you are already using LiteSpeed Cache, you get a database cleanup service integrated in it.
In case you are not using LiteSpeed Cache, you may want to use a different plugin that can do that for you. WP-Optimize is the best option you can get. This plugin can clean up everything from pingbacks, trackbacks and any other stale data.
You can schedule cleanup and even decide what to remove and what to keep. In case you are using UpdraftPlus, WP-Optimize can also trigger a full site backup. The plugin is mobile-friendly, but that doesn’t make much of a difference. You are not going to use it on the frontend. Oh, it is also available in different languages (just in case you need it in a different language).
#12. Best Plugin for Redirection – Redirection
Sometimes, you need to redirect certain pages on your website to a different page. This happens especially if you are removing some content or moving them to a different location. Redirecting your users to the new location improves user experience.
The best plugin that you can lay your hands on for redirecting URLs for deleted pages or moved pages to a new URL is called Redirection. Usually, you should be using 301 redirects as that transfers anywhere between 95% to 99% of your existing page equity to the new destination.
The redirection plugin has some unique features that include:
- Easy 301 redirect controls.
- Easy tracking of 404 errors.
- Create redirects based on IP address, cookie settings, browser referrer, login status, etc.
- It can audit your pages and show you which pages are not loading correctly so that you can create redirects.
- It allows managing redirects from the backend and shows you how many redirects are happening at any given time.
Well, while the Redirection plugin is quite a powerful one, it also adds a lot of database entries. Don’t forget that too many redirects can also pile up quickly and mess around with the user experience. So, use the plugin with caution.
#13. Best Plugin for Social Sharing – Grow.me
Many people may disagree with this. However, I use it on my site and it is incredible. It not only allows users to save a particular post or the entire site, but also allows a site-wide search, ability to create an account with Grow.me and find all the saved items in a single place.
It is incredibly customizable and lightweight. Grow.me is currently owned by Mediavine – an ad network known for using lazy loading of ads that doesn’t impact the site speed. Mediavine ensures that even Grow.me doesn’t dampen the site speed.
You also get the options of adding recommended posts at the end of each post, and if you want, you can even add a header carousel for your website’s header.
It is designed to keep readers engaged in multiple ways! What else? If you are using Grow.me, you can see ‘events’ data in Google Analytics as well!
What I noted from analytics data is that people (readers) interacting with Grow.me on my site have an average session duration of 5 minutes and 29 seconds, which is much higher the average of the remaining readers.
As a matter of fact, Grow.me is the best option I have seen so far after using multiple social sharing plugins. Grow.me is free to use, but if you want more options like adding more social sharing buttons, show social share counts, etc. you need to purchase the Grow Social Pro from Mediavine Marketplace that will cost you $34 per year per site.
In case you didn’t know, Grow was formerly known by the name Social Pug. Mediavine acquired it and made it a much better plugin.
#14. Best Product Review Plugin – WP Review
If you are running an affiliate site or an eCommerce site, you must add product reviews. There are various options available for this, but none of them make an impression as much as WP Review from My Theme Shop and WP Product Review from Themeisle.
The reasons why I prefer WP Review from My Theme Shop are that you also get a free version (albeit with limitations), extreme customization options (with pro version), and the ability to add affiliate links, pros and cons, user reviews, description, etc.
What’s best is that you can even add review schema for better performance in search engines! The pro version is highly advanced. The whole plugin is a lightweight plugin, and it is not going to add dead weight to your site.
The option from Themeisle is quite similar, but you don’t get a free version of it. It is also quite expensive compared to WP Review Pro.
#15. Best Media Replacement Plugin – Enable Media Replace
I will never suggest using this plugin. If you want to replace a media file, delete it from your server (use WordPress media library) and then upload a new one. It might take a minute extra, but using a plugin to do this job for you doesn’t make any sense.
However, if you are on the lazy side of the spectrum, you must check out the plugin called Enable Media Replace. It can help you quickly replace the old file with a new one without the need for deleting the old file from your server manually.
The plugin is lightweight, but that doesn’t mean it is not going to impact your website speed. If you are already using too many plugins, adding a lightweight plugin can also make a lot of difference.
#16. Best Security Plugin – Sucuri
You need to keep your website protected from hackers, malware injections and various other online threats. One easy way to do that is to install a security plugin. There is no shortage of such plugins. You must have come across names like WordFence, iThemes Security Pro, Bulletproof Security, etc.
They are all good in their own way. However, if you are looking for a lightweight solution, Sucuri is the one you should settle for. What I like about this plugin is that it works with the cloud and doesn’t put unnecessary pressure on your server.
The WordPress plugin goes by the name Sucuri Security, but if you want to get a web application firewall as well, you will need to upgrade to Sucuri Firewall.
In case you are settling for their Sucuri Platform, you get all features and including protection from DDoS attacks, intrusion monitoring, blacklist monitoring, remote malware scanning, XSS attacks, brute force attacks, and more.
However, if you have already applied Cloudflare protection, using only the Sucuri Security is enough. Also, using Cloudflare actually negates the need of a security plugin anyway.
#17. Best Gallery Plugin – Envira Gallery
For websites that use a lot of images, gallery displays make a lot of sense. Of course, you can use a plugin to get this option. The best that you find without paying a dime is the Envira Gallery that is not only powerful, but is also extremely easy to use.
Enivra Gallery will allow you to create responsive galleries using both images and videos. Yes, you read it right – responsive galleries! It simply means that your galleries will scale nicely to fit on any viewport size (mobile devices).
The plugin is lightweight, and it is optimized for speed, and even SEO. You can add deeplinks, metadata, and pagination. It will even allow you to share photos on social media platforms with easy social sharing integrations.
If you need more features, you can always opt for their premium version. However, in most of the cases, the free option is powerful enough to get the job done!
#18. Best LMS Plugin – LearnDash
Unless you want to sell online courses, an LMS plugin is quite useless, to say the least. However, if you do need one, LearnDash is not only easy to use, but is also one of the best options you can get in WordPress plugins repository.
The plugin has some incredible features like a multi-level course builder that uses a drag-and-drop interface. You can add quizzes, assignments, and lessons quickly. You can use the plugin to award certificates to the students.
If you don’t want people to skip lessons, you can use its timer facility. Moreover, you can use LearnDash to create recurring memberships or one-time payments or course bundles.
On the downside, however, you do not get a free version or even a free demo. You have to purchase a license that will cost you a minimum of $199 (discount may be available). You will, however, get a 30-day money-back guarantee. In case you don’t like the plugin, you can ask for a full refund.
#19. Best Table of Contents Plugin – Ultimate Blocks
Okay, Ultimate Blocks is not a true table of contents plugin. It is a plugin that offers a set of extra blocks for Gutenberg editor – the new default editor of WordPress. It is a lightweight plugin that also throws in a simple yet functional table of contents block.
This plugin adds many functions including:
- Click to Tweet.
- Post Grid
Previously, you would have installed separate plugins for all these, but with Ultimate Blocks, all these options come in a single place, thereby eliminating the need for adding dozens of plugins. What’s best is that all the options perform out of the box.
In fact, you don’t even need to add a review plugin. With the integrated review block, you can add a review segment with some highly advanced options like adding review schema, etc.
Coming to the table of contents segment, it creates a table of content using the headings that you use. You can enable navigation depth up to H6 and even get simple customization options like two-column or three-column layout, text color, etc.
In case you are looking for a standalone plugin for table of contents, consider looking at Joli Table of Contents. It is a lightweight and yet, highly customizable!
#20. Best Data Visualization Plugin – Visualizer
If you deal with a lot of data on your website and want a way to create great charts and tables, Visualizer is the best option you will have on your side. It can create responsive charts and tables that look great on mobile devices as well.
There are multiple chart types to work with. You will get bar charts, line charts, pie charts, and more. It is also capable of creating powerful and interactive charts. The charts and tables you create are highly customizable. You can control every aspect including color, behavior, design, etc.
There is a feature of instant edit which allow you to see the changes you are making in real-time. It even allows importing data from Google sheets and CSV files.
The only downside is that Visualizer isn’t free if you want the advanced options. If you can settle for limited options, there is a free version available on WordPress plugins repository. You need to purchase it at a cost of $59 a year or you can purchase a lifetime license that will cost you $236.
#21. Best Live Chat Plugin – LiveChat
If conversational marketing is your thing, you need to get a tool that allows you to interact with your customers through live interaction. LiveChat gives you all the power you need. It is not free and you need to shell out $16 a month (annual billing) per user.
It will add a beautifully designed live chat app to your site and give you the ability to send evaluating surveys before you start the chat or after you end the chat. It can even integrate with email marketing solutions or other marketing automation software.
Not only is LiveChat responsive, allowing you to work from anywhere and any device, but is also lightening fast, thereby improving the user experience.
#22. Best Plugin for Push Notification – PushEngage
Push notification might be pesky and intrusive, but they do work! I, for example, do not allow push notifications to bother me. But there are people who prefer to get push notifications.
Of late, many websites are adding browser push notifications to increase their sales. If you are thinking of adding a similar functionality to your website, you can use PushEngage. It is powerful, and it will allow you to personalize the notifications that you send to the users.
The users will get the notification even if they are currently browsing some other website. It is not necessary that the user has to be on your site.
There is a free version of the plugin, but you can also opt for their paid version that will cost you $25 a month.
Some of the cool features of the plugin include:
- Auto-trigger notification on cart abandonment.
- Trigger notifications based on the actions taken by customers.
- Create drip campaigns and notification series.
- Goal tracking and push campaign performance analysis using analytics.
#23. Best Plugin for Lead Generation – OptinMonster
If you really want to succeed in online business, you need to grow your audience and customers. One best way to do that is go lead generation for email marketing. Capturing user information including their email ID is not an easy task to do.
With OptinMonster, you can do that like a pro. It will allow you to turn your site visitors into email subscribers whenever they try to abandon your site. This is called exit-intention technology, when a optin form kicks in when a visitor tries to close the browser tab for your website. It can convert any image or a link into an opt-in form using MonsterLinksTM 2-Step Optins. It has been proven to boost your conversion rates by a whopping 785%.
You can send personalized campaigns to your visitors using their location, too! What else? It has a drag-and-drop builder that allows you to create stunning forms with only a few clicks.
#24. Best Social Proof and FOMO Plugin – TrustPulse
Ever heard of FOMO? It is called “fear of missing out.” People suffer from this. It happens because we are social animals and we live in herds. Usually, people will not want to miss out on something that others in a herd are using or buying. However, they often need some social proof. Actions and feedback from others help people to make a purchase decision.
TrustPulse plugin uses FOMO and social proof to drive up sales. It lets you build FOMO popups that offer social proof. These popups have excellent conversion rates. You can customize the popups to match your overall website design.
It also shows a live stream of all recent activities likes registrations, email signups, purchases, etc. You can also use their ‘on-fire’ campaign that shows how many people took action during a specified time frame.
Did you know TrustPulse is free to use?
#25. Best Landing Page Plugin – SeedProd
Landing pages are a great way to boost conversion. In case you are looking for a WordPress plugin that can help you build stunning landing pages, SeedProd fits in quite nicely. There are many landing page templates that you can use. If you are not happy with the templates, you can use the visual builder to create one that suites your taste or your website’s design language.
You can even build a coming soon page or an under-maintenance page and rank on Google! What else? It has multiple integrations available with third-party WordPress plugins that can help you boost your conversion rates.
Unfortunately, SeedProd is free, but if you need advanced functions, need to pay $39.50 a year to use it. That’s the basic price you need to pay for using SeedProd on a single site. If you want it for more sites, there are other plans available.