Category: WordPress
. 35 Comments

On WebsiteSetup.org we use 15+ pluginsWordPress plugins are to your website what cheese, sour cream, and bacon bits are to a baked potato.

… Only a crazy person would want to have a site without them.

With the right suite of plugins incorporated into your backend, you can dramatically (and instantaneously) improve the functionality, aesthetic, and efficiency of your site both for yourself and your viewers.

However, with the myriad of options available to the average webmaster, the challenge of finding the best WordPress plugins can feel all but impossible.

After all, it only takes one janky line of code or installation gone awry to transform your formerly beautiful and sleek website into a jumbled mess of nonsensical code, wonky themes, and broken functionality.

Not to worry.

We’ve done all of the heavy lifting for you, installing and reviewing countless plugins to determine once and for all which ones are worth your time and which ones aren’t.

So, without any further ado here is our list of the top 12 WordPress plugins for 2019.

1. Contact Form 7

Contact Form 7 plugin

If you need a plugin that will allow you to seamlessly create and manage multiple contact forms, use reCaptcha verification, and ensure that all spammy submissions are filtered out with Askimet (more on them in a second), then Contact Form 7 is the last WordPress plugin you’ll ever need.

This simple plugin allows you to skip all of the extra codings so that you can quickly create and publish beautiful contact forms that will have your users blowing up your inbox.

With more than 5 million active installations, 1,100 5-star reviews, and the low low price of absolutely free, we can promise you that you won’t find a better contact form plugin anywhere on the interwebs.

Get Contact From 7 from WordPress.org

Learn how to install & use Contact Form 7 on your WordPress website (step-by-step)

2. Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO plugin

When it comes to on-page search engine optimization, few plugins can shine a candle to the efficacy and functionality of Yoast SEO.

Assuming that you’ve already conducted basic keyword research, the Yoast plugin will hold you by the hand and guide you step by step through the process of optimizing your new content for the search engine gods.

From the density of your target keyword to the optimization of your title and h2 tags, to basic readability and metadata, Yoast SEO makes on-page search engine optimization so easy a caveman could do it (if he knew what SEO is, I suppose).

You can download the free version here or click here to learn more about the Yoast premium plugin.

3. Akismet Anti-Spam

Askimet anti spam plugin

Developed by the genius team behind the software of WordPress itself (the good folks of Automattic) Askimet Anti-Spam is the only plugin that you’ll need to keep the spammers at bay and maintain the long-term integrity of your site.

The plugin reviews and filters every comment that is shared on your website, providing a status history for each one so that you can determine which comments were found spammy by Askimet or the moderator.

You also have the ability to view the number of approved comments for each user, look at the URLs in the comment body, and remove any less-than-useful links you may find.

The best part? Askimet is free to download and use for all personal sites and the premium version (which comes with a slew of additional security goodies) cost pennies on the dollar, allowing you to keep your site beautiful and spam-free regardless of your budget.

Get Akismet from Akismet.com

4. WooCommerce

Woocommerce plugin

For those of you who opted to take a slightly less conventional route with your eCommerce adventures (a.k.a. not using Shopify), WooCommerce is the all-in-one open source eCommerce platform for WordPress webmasters.

With a plethora of features, extensions, and customizations built into the platform, WooCommerce makes selling on your WordPress site easier than ever before.

From their abundance of themes (all of which come with unrestricted customization), to the ability to sell physical, digital, and affiliate products, to the countless conversion optimization tools, you’ll be hard pressed to find a single plugin that can match WooCommerce in terms of usability or price (just $12.95/month for their most advanced package).

Get WooCommerce from WooCommerce.com

Learn how to install & use WooCommerce WordPress plugin (step-by-step)

5. TinyMCE Advanced

tinymce advanced plugin

If you’ve ever created content on the backend of WordPress and inexplicably found yourself unable to locate a specific button or feature on the Visual Editor toolbar, then TinyMCE Advanced is the plugin that you’ve been waiting for.

This simple free-to-use plugin allows you to add, remove, and rearrange the buttons shown in the Visual Editor toolbar, giving you the ability to configure up to four rows of buttons that include (but certainly aren’t limited to) font sizes, font family, text/background colors, tables, and much more.

With the click of a button, TinyMCE allows you to dramatically streamline and simplify your backend WordPress experience, meaning that you can focus on what you do best and leave all of that tedious “button searching” behind you.

Get TinyMCE Advanced from WordPress.org

6. WordFence Security

wordfence security wp plugin

With the proliferation of cyber attacks and website hacks in 2018, website security is more important than ever before.

Offering both free and paid version WordFence Security gives you access to an abundance of tools including:

  • WordPress core file integrity verification and repair.
  • Malware, virus, and backdoor scanning.
  • A firewall that includes rate limiting, blocking fake Google crawlers, IP whitelisting and IP blocking.
  • Real-time traffic that includes Google Crawlers, RSS feed readers and all other crawlers and bots. (Google Analytics does not include this data.)
  • Email alerts of warnings and critical problems.
  • Brute force hacking protection.
  • And a whole lot more.

If you’re concerned about the security and integrity of your website, WordFence Security will allow you to rest easy knowing that your website, much like the customers of Allstate, is in good hands.

Get WordFence Security from WordFence.com

7. Google XML Sitemaps

google xml sitemap wordpress plugin

Yet another useful SEO plugin for WordPress, Google XML Sitemaps helps search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo! (people still use that, right?) to better index your website with a special XML sitemap.

As soon as you install and activate the plugin, it will automatically create an XML sitemap that makes it easy for search engine bots to view, crawl, and index your site so that you can enjoy a boost in your rankings and some extra “SEO Juice” for years to come.

Get Google XML Plugin from WordPress.org

8. WP Super Cache

WP Super Cache plugin

In 2019, the speed of your website is everything. And with WP Super Cache, you can quickly and painlessly increase your website’s baseline speed.

This free and easy-to-use plugin generates static HTML files from your dynamic WordPress site meaning that the web server will use that file instead of processing the heavier (and slower) PHP scripts.

With its nominal price tag and ease of configuration, WP Super Cache is an essential plugin for any webmaster looking to increase their site speed and enjoy all of the benefits that come with it.

Get WP Super Cache from WordPress.org

9. Google Analytics Dashboard for WP by ExactMetrics

Google analytics dashboard for wp plugin

If you’ve ever wanted to track the real-time traffic details of your website without logging into and attempting to navigate the labyrinthine Google Analytics website, then Google Analytics Dashboard for WP by Exact Metrics (try saying that three times fast!) is the plugin you’ve been searching for.

This plugin allows you to monitor not only the real-time traffic stats and acquisition channels but also the:

  • Sessions, organic searches, page views, bounce rate analytics stats
  • Locations, pages, referrers, keywords, 404 errors analytics stats
  • Traffic channels, social networks, traffic mediums, search engines analytics stats
  • Device categories, browsers, operating systems, screen resolutions, mobile brands analytics stats

And, since it’s free to use for both personal and commercial sites, you have nothing to lose by clicking ‘download‘ and giving it a try.

Get Google Analytics WP from WordPress.org

Learn how to Install & Use Google Analytics WordPress plugin (step-by-step)

10. UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin

updraft plus wordpress plugin

Nothing is more frustrating (or terrifying) for the average webmaster than the prospect of losing all of their hard work and content due to a faulty update or accidental coding fluke.

Luckily, with UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup, the world’s highest rated (2,400+ 5-star reviews and counting) scheduled backup plugin, you can put those fears and frustrations behind you.

All you have to do is click ‘install’ and rest easy as all of your data is seamlessly backed up into the cloud.

Get UpdraftPlus from WordPress.org

11. Elementor Page Builder

elementor theme builder plugin

If the Divi Builder and BoldGrid had a brainchild that was converted into a WordPress plugin, the Elementor Page Builder would be it.

With a suite of developer tools and a seamless visual builder that allows anyone (and I do mean anyone) to design stunning web pages in a matter of minutes, Elementor Page builder is, bar none, one of the most effective and easy-to-use WordPress page builder plugins on the market today.

At only $50/year for a single website, Elementor is well worth the money and will allow you to quickly and professionally create gorgeous pages so fast that it will make your head spin.

Get Elementor from Elementor.com

12. Smush Image Compression and Optimization

smush image compression and optimization plugin

Nothing will bog down your website or slow your load times faster than oversized and unoptimized images.

Luckily, with Smush Image Compression and Optimization, you can compress, resize, and optimize all of your website’s images in less than a day.

Just click here to learn why Smush Image Compression and Optimization is considered the best free image compression plugin in the WordPress marketplace.

Get WP Smush from WordPress.org


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  1. Thanks for this, Robert.

    One thing: I’ve downloaded the Sucuri plugin but its warning and subsequent instructions are beyond me. Can you help?

    • Is there a “best” plug in for site visitors to access your site as either a guest or allow them to create a login, or is that a WordPress Standard feature?

      Also, can word press handle heavy traffic, or is that when you would want to have someone create a website from scratch for you?

      And lastly: how does ad. integration work with wordpress?

  2. What plug-ins do you recommend for a sales/catalog page and for a subscription based side to your website. Like a membership only side of the website that would have member only information? Thank you

  3. Thank you so much, I am just getting started, I hope you do not mind, I went into my web admin to download your recommended plugins?

    I am unsure how to handle product if I downloaded in your page, how to get it across to my page . I am lost mostly, I work as an affiliate, reason I do not have my own products.

  4. Thanks for the list of proven FREE plugins.

    I’m new to WordPress and have gotten the “white screen of death” a few times because a plugin has “broken” the theme.

    I need a recommendation for a proven SPEECH to TEXT plugin to install on my WordPress site. I need it to write content for Pages and Posts. The plugins that appear in the plugin search say “this plugin has not been tested or is not compatible with your theme.” They also have not been downloaded and used by many people. If the plugin is reliable, compatible, tested not to break, and updated by the developers, I’m willing to pay.

    Is it true that creating content in programs like Microsoft Word and copy and pasting them in the Pages or Post editor of WordPress is a bad idea because of the extra fonts and styling Microsoft Word adds to documents?

    • Hey Barry,

      Creating content in programs like MS Word can add some additional lines in your WordPress Editor back-end, but it shouldn’t reflect the outlook.

  5. Very interesting read. I’m new at this and being a senior and retired I’m trying to set up a web site from scratch for the first time primarily for affiliate marketing. I have been watching tutorials on YouTube for help in the development of a site for the purpose of supplementing my retirement. I’m glad I came upon your site, it has very good information. In my google search for tutorials on utube I find they are hard to follow, Why, because the wordpress tutorial’s I’m interested in are based on is 3.7 or maybe earlier. If you have any ideas to help me, like a tutorial either as a video or even a PDF document I would be very appreciative. Thank you.

    PS; I purchased Genesis Executive-Pro and Genesis 2.4.2 theme package…Framework.

  6. Thank you, Robert. I’m about launching a website and have found the articles here useful so far. Will be coming back for more guidance along the way.

  7. Before I start with my website I would like to confirm that WordPress can do what I need. Maybe you can help.

    I want to have my golf buddies sign up for our group games a few times each week. I need to have a table with a row for each day and a column for each golfer.

    I need to require that the golfers sign in somehow and can only update their column.

    I need to count the number of golfers signed up for each day, then stop signups when the maximum is attained.

    So it’s essentially a very simple spreadsheet with security.

    Can WordPress do this?

    Thanks for your help.

  8. Hi Robert
    Thank you for this website. The information for a website builder newbie like me is fantastic.
    I have a question about WordPress membership site plugins.
    The following have been recommended to me which you don’t mention in your article:
    Ultimate member
    Wishlist member
    Woo Commerce
    Mail Chimp Integration
    Facebook feed plugin
    Are these okay or are there some issues with using them?
    Thanks I appreciate any feedback

  9. Thank you for sharing this essential list. The most important reason why those plugins are so important is easiness of use and so many guides for users to use plugins properly. I just can’t imagine running a website 10 years ago without them.

  10. What plugin should i use if i want to connect some hall owners together and rent their halls to the public using my website? Halls will be rented for a few slots a day.

  11. Hello Good Day,

    How can i get a plugin for matching two people together or two to one matrix on a website i want to design and how can i go about it, i seriously need your help about this, like a the one used on MMM website for matching participants, peer to peer payment.

    Thanks.

  12. HI Robert,
    Like David Hanna I am also retiring (for the second time though) and have decided to go into business myself .
    Thanks for the interesting, clear and complete education in building a web-site I will be leaving my position at the beginning of May and will then get myself involved in developing a new business together with a new computer , e-mail etcetera and then start building a website.
    I will let you know how I get on and in the meantime thanks again and all the best to your other customers.
    Cheers
    John

  13. I am looking for a website, or plug in where someone can click on an image (say a pair of shoes, or chair) and it takes them to a page that gives all the specs, info, and maybe a price. But also, I’d like to leave the price off when its appropriate. Does WordPress have that ability? Or can you recommend a platform or builder that does?

  14. Thanks for the list, Robert, there are some quite good plugins to use. I downloaded Floating Social Bar and really like the way it works for me, so thanks 🙂 Regarding that, I wanted to mention a plugin that I’ve started using, that makes my content and sharing even better – and it’s a comment plugin, I think even better than Disqus and the rest. It’s called graph comment and it is about making comments stand out and stay on your website, not taking away all that engagement juice off to Social Media, like the rest do. The good part is that it’s free, you should check it out and tell me what you think.

  15. What is your opinion / experience with Wordfence?
    Would you recommend it over Sucuri that you listed? It seems like Wordfence has a similar set of scanning capabilities but it offers also many more options to lock down a site and increase protection level.

    • I haven’t used WordFence personally, but based on the reviews I’ve read – I think it’s a solid plugin.

  16. Can you easily tell me how to add an image or adjust the colors of a free theme I’m using? I specifically want to make changes to the “big title” so with the big title also comes an image with it. Also I’d like to change the colors on the text of my header information. WordPress seems to easily let me change a lot of items with either widgets or plugins on all pages except the very static front page of site which seems to be hidden front eligible changing from my view. I don’t know code. Any help is appreciated.

  17. Fernando Hernandez

    Hi Robert, I just saw your plugins guide. It’s excellent.
    I have a pair of questions: Do you use akismet? Do you recommend it?
    Thank you.

    • Hi Fernando,

      Sure, every website needs some kind of an anti-spam plugin and akismet is pretty good at what it does.

  18. Wow! What great tutorials! I worked with Joomla about 15 years ago and can’t remember a thing so am trying WordPress. Your tutorials are so helpful – much better than the ones that come with my package. Certainly agree about site being mobile friendly. Laptops are going the way of desktops

    Do you know if there is a plug-in where a customer can post picture and a comment?

    Ps. You should also have a donate button.

  19. Hi there,
    Thanks for your posts I find it helpful since I am a new WordPress user finding my way. I am also not a coder.
    I have seen that one needs or can use a typography plugin to customise fonts in WordPress. I was wondering if you have information for me of the best one to use.

  20. Thanks a lot for the amazing information.
    I have a question, how can I add payment functionality in my website like paying through Visa, PayPal, etc…
    Thanks