Top 12 Essential WordPress Plugins for your Website

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If you use WordPress to run your blog, the chances are that you use a select number of WordPress plugins to customize your website.

I mean, why wouldn’t you?

Plugins are great. They add new features to your WordPress website or even extend the functionality of your current website.

Got an idea for what features you want to add to your website?

Well, there’s probably a plugin for that. Whenever we have a vision of adding a new feature to our website, the first place we turn to are WordPress plugins.

There’s thousands of plugins to choose from so how do you know which ones are essential to the success of your blog?

The essentiality of WordPress plugins depends partly on what you hope to accomplish with your blog. However, I think we can all agree that most of the plugins listed in this post can be valuable to any website.

Below is a list of plugins you may want to consider adding to your website.

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Top 12 WordPress Plugins

There’s many amazingly free WordPress plugins to choose from. The plugins listed below are plugins that I personally use or have used to run this website.

1. Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO is the most popular plugin for Search Engine Optimization. There’s also a premium version of this plugin if you choose to buy it, which you can get on their website here.

The most useful feature of this plugin is the Yoast SEO box beneath every post that you are compiling. There are two tabs within this box. The first tab shows you how great the readability of your post is. Readability is definitely important in SEO because Google hates content that seems like a 5-year-old wrote it. The second tab shows you how SEO friendly your post is.

2. WP Fastest Cache

Another very important SEO factor is the speed of your website. Google ranks faster websites higher in their search engine. This means people will be able to find your website more easily as your website will not be buried on the tenth page of Google.

WP Fastest Cache caches every aspect of your website including browser, page, object, and database of your website. This will significantly reduce the download time of your website, which will in turn increase the speed of your website.

Site performance matters and this plugin may have a major effect on the Google search rankings of your website.

3. iThemes Security

According to iThemes Security, 30,000 new websites are hacked each and every day. Don’t let this happen to your website. Protect your website with one of the most popular WordPress security plugins.

Website security is not something you should take lightly. A website with weak security can do a ton of damage not just to your business, but to your reputation as well. iThemes Security gives you more than 30 ways to secure and protect your website.

iThemes Security also offers a premium pro version of the plugin in case you want to improve the security of your website even more. You can buy the pro version on their website here.

4. Backup & Restore WPBackItUp

Backing up your website is very important. I mean, you don’t want to lose all of the hard work you’ve done with your website, do you? Of course not.

Don’t risk losing your website when protecting its contents are as simple as installing an easy to use plugin called WPBackItUp. This plugin provides a complete backup of your WordPress website, including a backup of your websites database, plugins, themes, uploads, media files, and everything else your website may include.

A compressed file of your backup is created to save you space and stored to a folder on your server.

There’s also a premium version of this plugin, which you can purchase here. The premium version includes automated backups and the ability to restore your website right from your WordPress dashboard.

5. The Divi Builder by Elegant Themes

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The Divi Builder plugin by Elegant Themes is a drag and drop page builder that can help you build beautiful, professional looking websites without the need to code.

The Divi Builder plugin allows you to get complete control of your website. Building responsive websites is faster than ever before with the Divi Builder plugin.

You don’t have to use the Divi theme for this plugin to work. This plugin is compatible with any theme and the layout possibilities are endless. There is almost nothing you can’t create with the most advanced page builder on the market.

The Divi Builder plugin is only available if you are a member of the Elegant Themes community. To be a member, you must select either the developer package or the lifetime package of Elegant Themes when making your purchase. Trust me when I say that this plugin will be worth the price you pay. As a member, you’ll have access to 5 other plugins as well as 81 themes.

6. Monarch Social Media Sharing

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Monarch Social Media Sharing is another plugin by Elegant Themes that comes with being a member of the Elegant Themes community. Monarch comes with over 35 social networks to choose from.

This plugin allows you to display the sharing buttons in 7 different locations. You can display the buttons as a floating sidebar, above content, below content, on images, on video, as an automatic pop-up, and as an automatic flyin.

You can also schedule how you want the automatic pop-ups and automatic flyins to be triggered. There are 6 ways to trigger automatic popups and flyins: after a time delay, after the reader reaches bottom of post, after commenting, upon % scroll, after purchasing, or after inactivity.   

Monarch also lets you choose button shapes, colors, and hover effects. Monarch also allows you to display network names and social counts.

In my opinion, Monarch is the best social sharing plugin on the market. Monarch has it all. I mean, what better way to spread the word about your website than having your readers share it for you?

7. CSS Hero

If you don’t know much CSS or don’t have the time to learn it all, CSS Hero is for you. CSS Hero allows you to change the fonts, colours, sizing, paddings, and margins of your WordPress theme. CSS Hero uses an easy and intuitive point and click interface to edit any element of your WordPress theme. This plugin isn’t compatible with every theme, but it is compatible with many of the major themes. You can check the compatibility of your theme on the CSS Hero website.

8. Q2W3 Fixed Widget (Sticky Widget)

The Q2W3 Fixed Widget plugin is useful if you want your widget to be in a fixed position upon scrolling. This widget is also very simple to use. Once you have this plugin installed, you’ll get the option to set a widget to fixed under Appearance > Widgets area of your dashboard. You’ll also get the option to change the margins of the fixed widget under Appearance > Fixed Widget Options. With this plugin, you won’t have to worry about how ugly that big block of white space in the sidebar looks upon scrolling.

9. Contact Form 7

If you don’t want to give your personal email address to the users of your website, Contact Form 7 is a must have. This form allows you to embed a contact form into your website.

Contact Form 7 is perfect for taking questions or comments from the readers of your website.

Contact form 7 is also useful If you take guest post requests. An embedded contact form is the best way for people interested in guest posting to easily get in touch with you.

10. Custom Skins Contact Form 7

Ok, so perhaps this isn’t exactly an essential WordPress plugin, but I hope I’m not the only one who wants their contact form to look pretty. If you’ve ever wanted to customize the CSS of your contact form, you can do so with the Custom Skins Contact Form 7 plugin. This plugin only works with the Contact Form 7 plugin. It allows you to edit the header section, footer section, form style, button style, textbox style, drop-down list style, and the text area style of your Contact Form.

11. SyntaxHighlighter Evolved

If you want to add code snippets to your website, this SyntaxHighlighter Evolved is for you. Most widely used languages are supported with this plugin. This plugin may be essential based on your niche. SyntaxHighlighter Evolved is especially useful if you want to teach people how to code on your website. I use this plugin to add CSS snippets and php snippets into my blog post, such as the one on this page here.

12. Essential Grid

Essential Grid is the best grid building solution I’ve found for WordPress. This plugin allows you to display various content formats in the form of a grid. This plugin is particularly useful for portfolios, galleries, WooCommerce shops, and anything else that you can imagine needing a grid for.

Final thoughts

The plugins listed above are some of the best plugins in my opinion. We all have our difference of opinions so they may not be the best for every person. You may not need all of the plugins for every situation either but it wouldn’t hurt to take a look at them.

I hope you found this list to be useful. This plugin list may be updated regularly to keep the list up to date. I’m sure I missed some very essential plugins in the list above. If I missed any of your favorite plugins, I would love to hear about them in the comments below.

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