WordPress websites need plugins to work properly and if you design a lot of sites there are always certain plugins that you go back to time and time again.

These plugins all have certain features that are a mainstay of every WordPress site, whatever niche you may be in.

In this post I will show you the 6 must have plugins for WordPress that I always use.  All these plugins are free but some may have paid versions with premium features.  The free versions should be fine for most users though.

Security

One of the first plugins you should consider when you create a new WordPress website is a security plugin.  There are many security plugins on the market with various benefits.

The plugin I use for my WordPress security is Wordfence.

Wordfence is a very reliable plugin and it is updated regularly, which is a key factor when choosing a plugin for your website.  It has over 1 million installs and great reviews which adds even more reasons to choose this plugin.

There are premium features on this plugin, but unless there is a premium feature that you feel you must have then you should be fine with the free version.

There are lots of different settings to customize the security of your website and you get regular updates by email regarding any security issues with your site.

For full details about the Wordfence Security plugin take a look here.

SEO

SEO is very important to get your WordPress website ranking highly with the search engines.  A good SEO plugin will make it a lot easier to optimize your site.

My go to plugin for SEO is Yoast.

Yoast is widely regarded as the number one SEO plugin available for WordPress and I have used it on every WordPress site I have built.

After you have installed Yoast it provides numerous features to help you to optimize all areas of your website.

The traffic light system used when writing a blog post is one of my favourite features.  This gives lot’s of information about the SEO of your blog post and keywords.  This is very valuable information and makes writing good optimized content much quicker and easier to create.

XML Sitemaps can be easily created from your WordPress dashboard and with Google Search Console integration you can fine tune the SEO of your site with ease.

Details of the Yoast SEO Plugin can be found here.

Image Compression

Bulky images can seriously slow down your website, losing traffic and damaging your SEO.  Smush Image Compression will resize, optimize and compress all of your images without losing quality.

This plugin is very easy to use and can make a real difference, especially if your site uses a lot of images.  It doesn’t take much time or effort to use Smush and the results can be great.

Compress images as they are uploaded or if they are already on your website you can compress up to fifty at a time.  

Smush Image Compression has individual and global settings for multisite networks and is a great free plugin to add to your WordPress projects.

With over 1 million installs this is a very popular award winning plugin to easily speed up and optimise your site.

Check out Smush Image Compression here.

Contact Form

Most websites need a contact form and there are a lot of options out there when it comes to contact form plugins.  

If you need a simple to use, fairly basic but reliable contact form plugin then Happy Forms is a great choice.

I use Happy Forms on lot’s of websites and have found it very user friendly and it is also FREE so it won’t add extra burden to your budget.

This plugin is regularly updated and has over 10000 active installs.

Some of the features included are –

  • Drag and drop form builder (Gutenberg ready).
  • Live preview forms as you create them.
  • Easily add forms anywhere to your pages, posts and widget areas.
  • Add multiple forms to the same page.
  • Completely mobile responsive forms.
  • Unlimited forms, parts, emails and messages.
  • Messages archive for all submissions.
  • Create one/two/three column layout with a single click.
  • Easily duplicate forms.
  • Required fields checkbox.
  • Confirmation message on submission.
  • Redirect to any webpage after the form is submitted.
  • Confirmation email sent to recipient.
  • One-click HoneyPot and Google ReCaptcha spam prevention.
  • Over 50 styles controls built-in.
  • GDPR and 508 compliant forms and secure forms.

Some of the options you can add to your form are –

  • Short Text — For fields like ‘First Name’ and ‘Last Name’.
  • Long Text — For longer messages and feedback.
  • Email — Validate recipients email addresses before submission.
  • Website Link — Formatted to accept URLs.
  • Multiple Choice — Check boxes for multiple selections.
  • Single Choice — Radio buttons for single selection.
  • Table — Radios and check boxes in rows and columns.
  • Dropdown — For long lists and single selection.
  • Number — For formatted numeric fields, like phone and price.
  • Phone – For formatted contact details.
  • Date & Time — Includes date dropdowns and time input spinners.
  • Address — A dropdown listing all available countries.
  • Scale — Collect opinions using a numeric slider.
  • Text Editor — For formatting text, code blocks, lists and more.
  • Title — Include personal honorific list.
  • Legal — Required fine print before form submission.
  • Rating — Collect opinions using a zero to five star range.
  • Story — For adding fill-in-the-blank style inputs to a paragraph.
  • Placeholder — For form descriptions and horizontal rules.

Download Happy Forms here.

Analytics

Analytics are very important when you have a WordPress website. You need to know how many visitors you are getting and see details of how your site is being used.  

It is always recommended to add Google Analytics tracking to your website but this can sometimes be tricky, especially for a beginner. 

That’s where my next plugin comes in.

Monster Insights makes it very simple to add the Google Analytics tracking code to your website and gives you details straight to your WordPress dashboard.

There are free and pro versions of Monster Insights.  The free version has enough information for most users though.

This is a very popular plugin with over 1 million active installs.

Some of the reports available in Monster Insights are –

  • Audience Report 
  • Behaviour Report 
  • Content Report 
  • Ecommerce Report 
  • Forms Report 
  • Search Console Report 
  • Custom Dimensions Report 

Get Monster Insights here.

Gutenberg Page Building

With the introduction of Gutenberg to WordPress the need to create extra features was required such as adding additional page building blocks.

A useful plugin I have found for this is Atomic Blocks.

This plugin allows you to easily add additional content blocks to your Gutenberg editor and help you to build pages and posts much quicker.

The additional blocks available are –

  • Post Grid Block 
  • Container Block 
  • Testimonial Block
  • Inline Notice Block 
  • Accordion Block 
  • Share Icons Block 
  • Call-To-Action Block 
  • Customizable Button Block 
  • Spacer & Divider Block 
  • Author Profile Block 
  • Drop Cap Block

These extra content blocks make the Gutenberg editor very user friendly and as this is a free plugin it is an essential addition.

Take a look at Atomic Blocks here.

So there are my 6 must have plugins for WordPress in 2019.  I hope you find them as useful as I do.

For more useful WordPress Tips and Tutorials check out the rest of the blog here.

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