30 Essential WordPress Plugins You Should Install (2020)

While WordPress offers a ton of features and flexibility, there is still a lot of functionality missing from the core software. The best way to fill in the missing pieces, of course, is to get yourself the right plugins.

WordPress plugins offer all kinds of customization for site admins; however, with over 55,000 options to choose from in the WordPress Plugin Directory, not to mention all the premium products available, it can be difficult sorting the good from the, well, not so good.

So here’s a collection of free and premium must-haves, the WordPress plugins that can help take your site from good to great. I’ve included options for everything from caching the image optimization to security and more.

The 30 Best WordPress Plugins

  1. Hummingbird
  2. HubSpot
  3. W3 Total Cache
  4. Defender
  5. Jetpack
  6. Akismet
  7. Beehive
  8. Google XML Sitemaps
  9. iThemes Security (formerly Better WP Security)
  10. Forminator
  11. Snapshot
  12. Branda (the plugin formerly known as Ultimate Branding)
  13. SmartCrawl
  14. Yet Another Related Posts Plugin
  15. Smush Pro
  16. Contact Form 7
  17. Duplicator
  18. Relevanssi
  19. Broken Link Checker
  20. Disable Comments
  21. Regenerate Thumbnails
  22. Easy Updates Manager
  23. Redirection
  24. TablePress
  25. Advanced Custom Fields
  26. WP Mail SMTP
  27. Photo Gallery
  28. All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets
  29. Black Studio TinyMCE Widget
  30. Optimize Database

1. Hummingbird

Hummingbird is a lightweight, fast WordPress plugin that optimizes your site’s speed through caching, compressing, and more.
Lightweight and fast, Hummingbird caches, minifies, combines, defers and compresses, making optimizations in line with Google PageSpeed, and turning your site into a lean, mean, speed machine.

The average visitor to your site won’t wait even eight seconds for your site to load and Google recommends that your site loads within about two seconds.

If your site takes longer than that, then your visitors are likely going to leave before they even have a chance to check out one element on your site. Plus, Google won’t be keen on ranking you higher in search results.

Caching is one of the best ways you can speed up your site since it saves a fast-loading version that gets served up in browsers lickety-split. This is where Hummingbird swoops in for the rescue to take care of this for you. Plus, it’s easy to use.

Hummingbird scans your site, then gives you an analysis of your site. You can see the overall score for your site’s speed, then fix any issues in a couple of clicks.

This plugin also goes above and beyond the clouds because it doesn’t just do page caching. Hummingbird also minifies, compresses and merges.

This plugin is like the little birdie that tells your site how to fly as fast as a hummingbird. It’s also included in a WPMU DEV membership and you can try Hummingbird for free with a 30-day trial.

Details: Hummingbird

2. HubSpot

Screenshot of HubSpot, a free CRM that lets WordPress users manage all their contacts in one place.
HubSpot’s All-in-One Marketing plugin lets you connect your WordPress website to the free HubSpot CRM so you can organize, track, and nurture your leads and customers.

HubSpot’s WordPress plugin offers a form and pop-up builder with an intuitive drag-and-drop interface so you can capture your visitors’ information, but it does so much more than that.

HubSpot will collect submissions off any form you have on your WordPress website (even if you’ve built them with our free Forminator or Hustle plugins) and automatically add those new leads into your CRM. You can segment your contact database into lists and personalize your emails using any CRM property. And all of this for free! You can report on your email’s overall success and see how each contact interacted with your email campaigns thanks to the built-in analytics.

The plugin also includes a live chat and bot builder so you can begin engaging with visitors and generate leads. You can set up chatbots to answer simple questions that your site visitors have so you can continue engaging your visitors even when you are offline.

Once someone submits their information via a form, popup, or the live chat, you can automate a kickback email to get in touch with that lead and share your content with them.

Details: HubSpot

3. W3 Total Cache

W3 Total Cache - web performance optimization plugin for WordPress.
W3 Total Cache is a WordPress plugin that improves user experience by improving server performance.

W3 Total Cache is designed to increase the page load speed for WordPress sites, which will improve your visitors’ overall experience.

The plugin helps to increase server performance by reducing download times. By reducing page load times, overall site performance improves which helps your site’s rank in search engines.

W3 Total Cache can also help to improve web server performance during high traffic periods, which is crucial for larger websites.

We tested the top caching plugins to find out which was best at improving pagespeed.

Details: W3 Total Cache

4. Defender

Defender - WordPress security plugin
Defender – The WordPress plugin that protects your site from hackers and malicious bot attacks.

WordPress is a popular choice for creating websites and this makes it a perfect target for hackers because they can create a bot to infect millions of sites without lifting a finger. It’s not a matter of if your site may be targeted, but when.

That’s why staying on top of your security game is so important. If you can set up a good defense, you can protect your site from hackers and the Defender plugin helps you do this and more.

Defender searches your site for vulnerabilities and lets you know if any were found so you can patch them up in a single click. This means installing it can also help you clean up your site if you have been hacked. It also works to harden your site’s security to save you from future disasters in one click. Now that’s a superhero.

The best part is, you can set it and forget it when you enable scheduled scans. On second thought, the best part may actually be that this plugin is included in a WPMU DEV membership and you can also try Defender for free with a 30-day trial.

Details: Defender

5. Jetpack

Jetpack by WordPress.com - a multi-purpose WordPress plugin.
Jetpack provides security, performance, and site management for WordPress.

Jetpack offers a suite of powerful features for your WordPress site. Enhanced security, improved site performance, plenty of content tools, and visitor engagement features are all part of this plugin.

Additional features include spam-free Comments, Social Sharing, Related Posts, Post by Email, and much more.

Jetpack even offers a mobile theme option that is lightweight and responsive, designed for phones and tablets.

Details: Jetpack

6. Akismet

Akismet - a comment spam prevention plugin for WordPress.
Akismet protects your WordPress site from comment spam.

Akismet helps to filter out any comments on your blog that look like spam. The plugin automatically checks comments against the Akismet Web service.

All comments will have a history for users to view that shows which comments were flagged or cleared by Akismet. In addition, those comments that were marked as spam or unmarked by a moderator will be highlighted in the history.

Details: Akismet

7. Beehive

Beehive - Google Analytics dashboard for WordPress
Beehive lets you access powerful data insight from Google Analytics reports inside your WordPress dashboard.

Tracking how and when users visit your site is important if you want your site to gain popularity since it gives you the opportunity to see where you can make improvements to your site. Google Analytics is an excellent tool for this purpose and the Beehive plugin brings this information right to your admin dashboard.

Not only can you track visits, page views, bounce rate, average visit duration, and referrers, but you can also enable advanced settings to track your site’s demographic and interest for advertising as well as analyze shopping behaviors to boost your products’ performance.

Also, you can easily track statistics for your entire site or network with the quick setup and easy to understand display.

Details: Beehive

8. Google XML Sitemaps

Google XML Sitemaps - WordPress sitemap generator plugin.
Google XML Sitemaps automatically generates an XML sitemap for your site.

This must-have plugin will automatically generate an XML sitemap for your site. Having an XML sitemap is crucial in helping search engines better index your blog.

With a sitemap, web crawlers can see the structure of your site and retrieve the results more efficiently.

Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo will be notified every time you create a post about your new content.

Details: Google XML Sitemaps

9. iThemes Security

iThemes Security - A security plugin for WordPress.
iThemes Security provides many different security fixes for your WordPress site.

iThemes Security helps to fix common holes in your WordPress site from potential automated attacks. Many WordPress administrators generally don’t know they have these holes or vulnerabilities, but iThemes Security can help.

Because of unknown vulnerabilities from other installed plugins, your site can be an easy target for attacks. iThemes Security works to identify and protect these holes in your site.

Details: iThemes Security

10. Forminator

Forminator - Free form, polls, and quizzes plugin for WordPress.
Forminator is a free WordPress plugin that lets you create professional forms, polls, and quizzes for your site.

Forminator gives away valuable time-saving and money-making features for nothing. Nada.

  • Integrations with other apps, such as Zapier, Google Sheets and a bunch of email marketing apps.
  • Integrations with popular payment portals for a simple eCommerce solution. In fact, if you’re using Stripe, you’re really going to love how someone can make a payment without leaving the page.
  • Codeless styling so you can create the look you want without tinkering with CSS.
  • Conditional Logic so you can create dynamic forms.
  • Calculations so your forms can “do the math” for you.

You get full access to 24 advanced fields so you can get your data validation on. With Forminator’s form preview button, you can view your form as you’re building it and designing it, without having to embed it on a page first to see if it looks right.

Forminator is also the only free form plugin that allows you to create forms AND polls, submissions, quizzes, and submit blog posts from a form. And it has a powerful API that you can access for free and use to build your own custom extensions.

Something that’s really important for our European friends is advanced features to help you stay compliant with GDPR. You can adjust how long data is retained, set how long to keep an IP before it is anonymized and there’s even a field for a GDPR checkbox. You’re welcome.

Details: Forminator

11. Snapshot

Snapshot - WordPress backup plugin.
Backup and restore your WordPress sites easily with Snapshot.

Backing up your site can save you from a lot of future grief. Did your site just go down? Was your site just hacked? No problem – just restore your site from a backup and it’s as good as new.

But what if your backup was lost, compromised, corrupted or accidentally deleted? Do you have a backup of your backup? Most people don’t, but you don’t have to worry about that with Snapshot Pro.

This plugin can backup your site, but you can also save your backups to multiple locations such as Dropbox, Amazon S3, Google Drive, your computer and more. Backups can also be scheduled so you don’t have to lift a finger to help save your site the next time disaster strikes.

Try out Snapshot Pro free for 30 days.

Details: Snapshot

12. Branda

Branda - White Label WordPress Plugin
Branda lets you easily customize and brand your WordPress site with powerful white labeling features.

When you’re running a WordPress site and a business at the same time, you know looking professional is important and just as crucial as your content and products. That’s why being able to turn WordPress into a white labeling machine is a great idea.

You could replace the WordPress logo for your own, customize the admin bar and add your own company name to achieve consistent branding across your site. This plugin can do all this and more.

You can completely customize the admin bar, login page, footer, dashboard and everywhere else WordPress logos and branding appear. You can even add your branding to even more places than that. Plus, you don’t have to touch any code.

It’s easy to set up and use and it works across your entire Multisite network or your single install of WordPress.

Branda is the only branding plugin you need to turn a WordPress site into your company’s site.

Details: Branda

13. SmartCrawl

SmartCrawl - WordPress SEO plugin.
Use SmartCrawl to improve your WordPress site’s SEO.

You work hard creating phenomenal content to draw visitors to your site, but are you really drawing in all the users you could be? Good SEO practices can help, but you can go much further with SmartCrawl.

This plugin makes your site more visible to search engines by informing web crawlers when your site has important content that needs registering instead of waiting for web crawlers to find you.

On top of that, SmartCrawl can create a sitemap, customize how your titles and descriptions appear on search engines, add automated keyword linking and you can also view industry-leading reports by Moz.

On top of all that, setting up and using SmartCrawl is quick and easy with the setup wizard. If you want to check it out for yourself, you can do it for free with a 30-day trial or with a WPMU DEV membership.

Details: SmartCrawl

14. Yet Another Related Posts Plugin

Yet Another Related Posts Plugin for WordPress
YARPP improves visitor engagement and user retention by displaying related posts on your WordPress site.

The Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP) can display a list of posts or pages that relate to the current post. This feature provides a great opportunity for your readers to see other relevant content from your site.

Users have the option of displaying only content found on their site or can make extra money by displaying sponsored content.

Details: Yet Another Related Posts Plugin

15. Smush Pro

Smush - Image compression plugin for WordPress.
Smush is the award-winning plugin that reduces image file size without reducing quality.

Uploading images to use on your site and in posts is an excellent way to grab your visitors’ attention, but they do weigh down your site. They take up a lot of storage space, but most importantly, they slow down your site. Fortunately, you can compress your images to take care of that problem.

Smush Pro has been benchmarked as the best image compression and image optimization plugin. Not only that, but it works in a way that saves storage space and helps your site load faster without reducing the quality of your images.

You can compress and optimize images automatically, manually or in bulk and also Super Smush for 10 times the compression power while still not losing out on image quality. It also integrates with NextGEN and WP Retina 2x so photographers need not worry about displaying crisp, stunning images. We’ve also recently added lazy loading to Smush.

You can try the free version of WP Smush on WordPress.org or try out the premium version for free with a 30-day trial. If you’re already a WPMU DEV member, you already have access to WP Smush Pro so you can check it out and see how easy it is to use and maybe even boast that your site has superpowers.

Details: Smush Pro

16. Contact Form 7

Contact Form 7 - WordPress Contact Form Plugin
Contact Form 7 lets you easily add contact forms to your WordPress site using shortcodes.

Multiple contact forms can be created and managed through this plugin. No need for extra coding with the Contact Form 7 plugin, as the form and mail contents can be easily customized through the settings.

The Contact Form 7 also supports Ajax-powered submitting, CAPTCHA, and Akismet filtering to help with spam.

Check out our post where we compared the top form plugins to each other.

Details: Contact Form 7

17. Duplicator

Duplicator - Migrations and backups plugin for WordPress.
Need to migrate or back up your WordPress site? Then install and run the Duplicator plugin.

Have you ever needed to backup or move an entire WordPress site from one location to another? The Duplicator plugin can duplicate, backup, move, and transfer a site.

The plugin can also serve as an easy utility for those administrators looking to back up their sites.

Need to make a clone of your production site for testing purposes? Yep, the Duplicator plugin is perfect for making a backup of a WordPress site for testing and validation.

Details: Duplicator

18. Relevanssi

Relevanssi - WordPress search plugin.
Relevanssi replaces the standard WordPress search with a more configurable search feature.

Relevanssi can replace the default search option on your site where results are sorted in order of relevance, instead of by date.

The plugin is customizable so that it can be set up to do fuzzy matching on partial words. Content can be found by matching on just one search term or it can be required that all words be found.

There is a free version of Relevanssi that supports a single site, while the premium version offers multi-site support along with other features.

Details: Relevanssi

19. Broken Link Checker

Broken Link Checker - A plugin for identifying broken links on WordPress sites.
Broken Link Checker scans your website to help you fix broken links and missing images.

Broken Link Checker monitors the links found in your posts, pages, comments, blogroll, and more. The plugin identifies any broken links that no longer work, missing images, or any redirects.

Once broken links are identified on your site, links can be edited directly from the plugin page to avoid manually updating each post.

Details: Broken Link Checker

20. Disable Comments

Disable Comments - A plugin for disabling comments site-wide in WordPress.
Don’t want others commenting on your posts? Use the Disable Comments plugin to prevent site-wide comments in WordPress.

The Disable Comments plugin enables administrators to globally control comments on their site. Comments can be disabled according to post type, on pages, attachments, etc.

This plugin works well if you want to disable comments on certain post types or on your entire site. However, if you plan to selectively disable comments on individual posts, then this function is better handled directly through WordPress.

Details: Disable Comments

21. Regenerate Thumbnails

Regenerate Thumbnails - A WordPress plugin that automatically regenerate all your image thumbnails.
Automatically regenerate image thumbnails in WordPress with the Regenerate Thumbnails plugin.

The Regenerate Thumbnails plugin enables you to regenerate thumbnails for image attachments. You have the option to regenerate the thumbnails for all image uploads, individual images, or specific multiple image uploads.

This plugin is very helpful if you have altered any of your thumbnail dimensions or have changed to a new theme that features different image dimensions.

See Default WordPress Image Sizes and How to add Custom Sizes for more.

Details: Regenerate Thumbnails

22. Easy Updates Manager

Easy Updates Manager - WordPress update management plugin.
Easy Updates Manager lets you manage updates on single-site and WordPress Multisite installations.

Easy Updates Manager enables you to manage all of your WordPress updates for a single site or Multisite install. There are tons of settings included within the plugin making it highly customizable.

Features include options to automatically update WordPress major and minor releases. Site administrators can also opt to automatically update plugins, themes, and much more.

Details: Easy Updates Manager

23. Redirection

Redirection - Link redirection manager for WordPress.
Install the Redirection plugin to help reduce visitors landing on error pages and improve the ranking of your WordPress site.

Redirection can help manage 301 redirects and keep track of 404 errors without digging into .htaccess files. This plugin can be very useful if you are migrating pages from a different website and changing the directory structures of your WordPress installation.

A redirection can be set up to pass a URL through to another page, file, or website. Any URL can be redirected, not just those that no longer exist.

Details: Redirection

24. TablePress

TablePress - Table creation plugin for WordPress.
Create sortable and scrollable tables in WordPress with TablePress.

With TablePress, you can easily create tables that can be embedded into posts, pages, or text widgets by using a Shortcode. No special coding is necessary as table data can be entered directly into a spreadsheet interface.

Tables can contain any type of data, including formulas. Sorting, pagination, and filtering add additional functionality for TablePress. Tables can also be imported and/or exported from/to Excel, CSV, HTML, and JSON formats.

Details: TablePress

25. Advanced Custom Fields

Advanced Custom Fields - A powerful WordPress customization plugin.
ACF is a powerful and flexible custom fields plugin that lets WordPress users easily customize and expand the functionality of their site.

The Advanced Custom Fields plugin gives WordPress users the flexibility to visually create custom fields for their site.

Custom field input types include: text, textarea, wysiwyg, image, file, page link, post object, relationship, select, checkbox, radio buttons, date picker, true/false, repeater, flexible content, and gallery.

Details: Advanced Custom Fields

26. WP Mail SMTP

WP Mail SMTP - An SMTP and PHP Mailer plugin for WordPress.
WP Mail SMTP makes email deliverability easier for WordPress.

The WP Mail SMTP plugin reconfigures the WordPress delivered mail function to use SMTP. It offers a setup page that enables you to configure various email options. These options include specifying an SMTP host and SMTP port, specifying the from name and email address for outgoing mail, setting SMTP username and password, and more.

For more on how to use WP Mail SMTP to send emails, see our guide How to Use Gmail to Send WordPress Emails

Details: WP Mail SMTP

27. Photo Gallery

Photo Gallery - A WordPress plugin for creating beautiful and mobile-friendly galleries in minutes.
Use Photo Gallery to create beautiful and mobile-friendly galleries quickly and easily.

Gallery offers tools that will assist in adding and editing images for different views on your site that are 100% responsive. Photo galleries and albums can be easily added to posts and pages within WordPress as well as to multiple widgets.

The plugin can also make it easy to rename, upload, remove, and copy images in just a few steps. Image descriptions and tags can also be added through this tool.

Details: Photo Gallery

28. All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets

All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets - A WordPress plugin for adding search indexable rich snippets.
Create CTR-boosting rich snippets for your WordPress site with the All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets plugin.

The All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets plugin can help give search engines a useful summary of your content to display. These useful snippets of information for your content can help you stand out from your competition.

The plugin supports the following content types: review, event, people, product, recipe, software application, video, and articles.

Our ultimate guide to image SEO can tell you more about image schema.

Details: All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets

29. Black Studio TinyMCE Widget

Black Studio TinyMCE Widget - Rich Text and Media plugin for WordPress sidebars.
Black Studio TinyMCE Widget lets you add rich text and media to your sidebars without coding.

Black Studio TinyMCE Widget enables you to insert rich text and/or media objects directly into your sidebars without any HTML coding through a visual editor.

As a default, WordPress text widgets lack the editor capabilities that are offered in posts and pages. The Black Studio TinyMCE Widget overcomes these limitations by providing a clean visual interface to add media and text.

Those that prefer to switch from a visual editor to HTML (like posts and pages) also have that option.

Details: Black Studio TinyMCE Widget

30. Optimize Database

Optimize Database after Deleting Revisions - WordPress database optimization plugin.
Optimize Database after Deleting Revisions keeps your WordPress database optimized.

By default, WordPress keeps all your deleted posts, pages, comments and all your post revisions, spam comments, unused tags and the like. Until you manually flush your site from all of these excess items, they stick around, bloating and slowing down your site.

The free Optimize Database plugin purges your database from all the extra table data you don’t need including other stray data such as orphan postmeta items and expired transients. You can choose exactly what you want removed so you don’t accidentally delete items you want to keep.

Once your database is all cleaned up, it gets to work optimizing your database for an even smoother running site.

It’s Multisite compatible so you can network activate the plugin and lets you clean and optimize your database in one click each. You can even schedule your database to be automatically optimized on a regular basis so you can keep your database running like a well-oiled machine without having to worry about it.

Details: Optimize Database

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *