Below are the what I consider the Must Have Plugins for WordPress websites. Keeping your site secure, backing it up regularly, optimizing it for speed of loading, optimizing it for search engines and adding the ability to track and analyze your traffic are all important for any website. In addition adding some key functionality to make updating your website easier.
These are the Must Have Plugins for WordPress that I use, however there are other equivalent plugins others may prefer. Either way, the functionality of these Plugins is what is important. See My Other Favorite WordPress Plugins for more.
iThemes Security is a free plugin (with a Pro version option) that gives you over 30 ways to secure and protect your WordPress site. WordPress sites can be an easy target for attacks because of plugin vulnerabilities, weak passwords and obsolete software. iThemes Security works to lock down WordPress, fix common holes, stop automated attacks and strengthen user credentials.
Antispam Bee is a free anti spam plugin that blocks spam comments and trackbacks effectively, without captchas and without sending personal information to third party services. This plugin works with WordPress comments. It is free of charge, ad-free and 100% GDPR compliant.
UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin
Don’t rely on your Web Host for backing up your data. Although they may offer backup services, they typically do not guarantee the backups. Updraft Plus is free (with a Premium version available). It simplifies backups and restoration. Backup your files and database backups into the cloud and restore with a single click! Backup directly to Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3 (or compatible), UpdraftVault, Rackspace Cloud, FTP, Dream Objects, Openstack Swift, and email.
A caching plugin will make your website load faster. WP Rocket is a fee based caching plugin (we can install a free caching plugin upon request). Although fee based, it’s one of the most highly rated caching plugins.
Yoast SEO is the #1 WordPress SEO (Search Engine Optimization) plugin (free with a Pro Version available). You get a solid toolset that helps with Search Engine Optimization. It includes SML Sitemaps functionality, full control over site breadcrumbs, canonical URLs to avoid duplicate content (which Google penalizes for), Title and Meta Description templating for better branding and consistent snippets in the search results.
Insert Headers and Footers is a simple free plugin that lets you insert code like Google Analytics, custom CSS, Facebook Pixel, and more to your WordPress site header and footer, so there is no need to edit your theme files. This gives you one place to insert scripts, rather than dealing with dozens of different plugins. For example, this enables you to add Google Analytics code to any theme.
This free plugin optimizes images. Large image files may slow down your site. WP Smush uses WPMU DEV’s super serves of quickly smush your images without impacting the quality and cuts all the unnecessary data without slowing down your site. Also the faster your site loads, the more Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines will like it. Your site will load faster and rank higher.
These free plugins will let you add, remove and arrange the buttons that are shown on the Visual Editor toolbar. They enhance the option in the Text toolbar. For Elementor users, it will enhance the options in the Elementor Text Widget once installed.