I have been regularly sharing my own experiences using WordPress plugins to run this business blog to help you make your own website more social media optimized and SEO friendly. My goal in sharing is also to help you convert more of your visitors into new leads. I say “website” because WordPress is not just for blogs; as a CMS or Content Management System, it is estimated that WordPress powers 35% of all websites on the Internet.
Those of us running WordPress websites often wonder what type of plugins and tools are useful for making our jobs easier without overloading our sites themselves. After all, it’s a well-known fact that too many plugins can slow down a website. At the extreme end of the spectrum, slow websites annoy our viewers and potential customers while they wait seemingly forever to read our content. Sometimes the issues aren’t as obvious as overusing premium plugins.
In particular, we must worry that slowed websites will do poorly on Google rankings. As the old saying goes, if your website’s on page two of Google search, it’s effectively buried. That being said, some plugins are indispensable to keep a site running smoothly. Knowing the balance between too much and too little is key to having a fast-loading, attractive website that keeps customers interested.
Everyone’s particular experience with WordPress will be different, but since I’ve always run a content-heavy site, I’ve become obsessed with increasing the performance of how quickly this website runs for the average user. Speed is important for many reasons. In the words of one SEOMozer:
“In my world, if you really care about SEO, you need to care about how fast your pages load. Speed may not be the most important ranking factor, but it’s a factor nonetheless. As long as Google’s search algorithm remains a mystery, you’ll never know what type of optimization tipped your site from page 3 to page 1. For some sites, faster pages could be that tipping point.”
Speed has been a factor in Google search rankings since 2010. While some might question how important of a factor it is, there is a greater purpose for having a faster website, as detailed by Geir Ellefsen in his WordPress Performance And Speed Optimization Tips post:
There are lots of benefits of having a blazing fast site:
– Better user experience
– People spend longer time on your site if it loads fast
– Search engines can crawl your site faster
The problem, and the oxymoron of writing a blog post about WordPress plugins while seeking faster speed, is that it is commonly known that WordPress plugins can slow down your website. That’s why I’ve been trying to follow the advice of someone I have high respect for, Derek Halpern of Social Triggers, who says in his What WordPress Plugins Are Vital To The Success Of Your Blog? post:
When you use more plugins, your website loads slower.
And when your page loads slower, you’re killing your conversion rates, and your search engine rankings.
(Google recently announced that it uses page load times in their search algorithm. Additionally, countless studies have shown that if you increase your page load times by as little as 0.1 second, you can lose a huge amount of sales).
So how many WordPress plugins should you use?
The answer is FEWER.
But it’s not just WordPress plugins that slow down your site. It’s also the quality of the code in which each plugin is developed.
With all of the above in mind, below is my current list for the best WordPress plugins for business blogs. Note that where appropriate, I have also tried to provide you some popular alternatives in the plugin directory for comparison. I also explain why I DON’T use a number of WordPress plugins that you might find recommended on other blog posts to allow you to make the best decision for yourself.
1. Ad Inserter
Want to monetize your website without constantly updating the code or inserting every ad yourself? Ad Inserter is one of those advertisement tools that allows you to easily perform a variety of ad-related tasks. This plugin works with all types of ads: Google Adsense, Amazon, banner ads, media.net, and more. In fact, you can even use Ad Inserter to perform analytics functions and ensure compliance with various terms of service agreements.
Need more features? There’s a paid professional version, too. Features include the ability to set limits on the number of clicks, and protection from advertising fraud. Click detection and geolocation are premium features, too. Also, if you’re an agency, the right license will allow you to add the plugin to client websites alongside custom CSS and other plugins.
Note that because of the flexibility of Ad Inserter, you can use it to display any graphic anywhere on your website. This is the plugin that I use, for instance, to display lead magnet images that you see in the middle of blog posts.
This plugin is an absolute no brainer, as it allows free protection against spam comments. Akismet is a spam-blocking plugin. To make sure your site is not publishing spam and potentially harmful content, Akismet combs through comments and contact form submissions to make sure no red flags are raised for standard or common spam items–something that can protect against a wide range of potential attacks. Akismet will record any issues it comes across and send them to your administrator account for review. Sending any flagged items to you allows you to review your incoming comments, should you wish to publish any content that may have been mistakenly flagged.
Although Akismet is designed to limit potential spam, prior to being published, it is also made to automatically block and refuse to publish any comments or contact form submissions that are outright offensive, harmful, or clear indicators of spam, in order to save time and energy for WordPress users. Akismet is a must-have for any WordPress user who has been inundated by spam or unsolicited marketing materials.
3. Convert Pro
Convert Pro is a conversion plugin that I personally use to generate pop ups to promote my ebooks and ultimately grow my email list. It provides a simple user experience, with a simple click opt in, and is a popular plugin utilized to advertise whatever you may need–an ebook, an email list, and more–in an eye-catching but non-invasive way. I consider this a must-have WordPress plugin, because it helps quickly direct any visitors to your site to sign up for any lists, promos, or freebies you are looking to promote. If Convert Pro is not for you, OptinMonster offers a similar service.
Popular alternative: OptinMonster
Social share buttons are not necessarily considered a must-have plugin nowadays, but they can still offer something valuable for visitors for your site. Using them as direct links to your social profiles can clutter up your page and make it look outdated, but using the extra feature that showcases how many followers you have on each platform can help newcomers and existing followers determine how effectively you may function as an authority in your niche. While follower count alone cannot always be relied upon as a means of determining authority, many do consider it an important metric for value.
Elementor Pro is a plugin that I use regularly, as they provide advanced features to make your landing pages that are both visually stunning and easy to navigate, without requiring a veritable degree in design. Despite the many advanced features Elementor Pro offers, it is not difficult to navigate, and provides many different ways to create unique pages and custom post types. Pages are easy to edit and stunning to look at, making it an excellent tool for anyone looking to create single or multi-page forms and sites, in order to provide a wonderful experience to site visitors and site managers, alike.
6. Fixed Widget
Fixed Widget is an in-app offering, but that makes it no less useful; the ability of a fixed or “sticky” widget to remain in view while scrolling is a surprisingly powerful feature; these types of widgets see far greater click-through rates, and can help truly nail a point or suggestion home. It is also useful for avoiding the possible drawbacks of high loading times; when a widget is fixed, site users do not have to wait until the entire page loads to have their eye drawn to your preferred call to action, product, or suggestion. Of all of the plugins that provide additional features to a site, this one may seem minimal, but it can pack a powerful punch by encouraging higher click-through rates and subsequent sales and subscriptions.
7. Link Whisper
Of all of the WordPress plugins, this is the ninja tool that I recently discovered and love.
As our websites or blogs get bigger, it becomes more difficult to ensure we’re doing an adequate job of internal linking. Link Whisper is intended to combat this problem with an AI solution that suggests links as you write new posts. The plugin does more than just this, however. It’ll tell you if there are pages on your site that don’t have any backlinks, and gives screenshots in the dashboard that let you quickly insert a link after determining it is appropriate. There are two versions: a free one from WordPress, and a paid deluxe version you can find here.
I use Link Whisper to add internal links to previously published blog posts every month, to improve SEO scores even on already-published or backdated content.
Do those “Receive notifications?” notices at the top of websites you visit bother you? They bothered me, but I kept on reading about how they actually drove traffic. I just started using this plugin, and so far, I am honestly impressed with the number of people who have opted in. It’s all about giving people the content on the platforms and the ways in which they like to consume it! OneSignal Push Notifications allow you to send notifications to your site’s visitors, to alert them to new posts in order to drive visits and engagement. OneSignal partners with WordPress to encourage visitors to come back to your site even after they’ve gone, allowing you to support visits to your site without having to reach out to visitors and clients manually.
OneSignal is a large-scale plugin, allowing you to contact 30,000 visitors at a time. You can customize the opting-in process, select how frequently or at what pace notifications are sent to subscribers, and select what prompts a new notification, whether that be going without a visit for a few days, or having a new post published.
Popular alternative: PushEngage
This list begins with a plugin that might seem irrelevant, but considering how my people might end up on your 404 page, this one plugin might have great impact to bring people deeper into your website. 404Page is a WordPress plugin that is used to create a customized 404 page, in order to let visitors know what your site is about, rather than visiting a generic error page. 404Page is one of the most frequently used WordPress plugins. This is a boon for WordPress users, as it means that the bugs for the plugin have been worked out, and users can expect to see consistent use in creating and maintaining their sites’ custom 404 pages.
404 pages are typically considered a significant misstep in a website, but customizing the 404 page can turn an unfortunate misstep into an opportunity for additional interactions with potential clients and visitors and even provide an opportunity for humor and connection.
Although sites will automatically redirect to a 404 page, 404 pages that have been customized can more effectively grab visitors’ interest and let them know what your site is about. Having an arresting, customized 404 page can mean the difference between securing a new customer, and losing out on consistent traffic or business.
The 404Page plugin allows you to insert your own photos, links, and text, to more effectively redirect and capture your site visitors. Customizing 404 pages through 404Page means that you have more control over your page redirects and you have some recourse if a link on your site has been broken.
Spectra is a builder plugin that allows you to create a beautiful site without sacrificing search engine optimization and practical, down to earth needs. From using it primarily as an add-on to existing site-building software to using it as your primary building tool, Spectra can be an essential plugin to help you develop a visually compelling site without a great deal of knowledge in the field of site design or HTML. Spectra offers basic drag-and-drop design features, including image galleries, to help users create sites that they love with minimal difficulty. In my experience, Spectra is an excellent tool to use alongside Gutenberg blocks while building and designing your site.
Whether you are monetizing your blog or not, don’t you want to know how many people are clicking on any given URLs across your site or on social media, especially if they are strategic links? Obviously, if you are doing affiliate marketing, it becomes more critical to understand your performance.
Rather than trying to do everything the hard way, check out URL Shortener Pro. The more famous WordPress plugin of this type is called Pretty Links, but I found it lacking in analytics. I switched recently to URL Shortener Pro and haven’t looked back.
This WordPress plugin automates much of the affiliate link placement process. It even helps you make these links shareable across other social platforms and email, increasing the potential for revenue. Another plus is that use of URL Shortener Pro doesn’t depend on a third-party linking service, because the links are placed directly into your website. You’ll gain the opportunity to place redirects, and even benefit from analytics data that can really help you see what’s working and what isn’t, long before those checks arrive. This is a paid plugin, but it is priced very reasonably and should not detract from a healthy balance between revenue and cost.
Popular alternative: Pretty Links
12. WordPress Backup & Security Plugin – BlogVault
Few things are quite as terrifying for business owners as the possibility of losing months and years of hard work, making a backup and security plugin an essential tool to suit a wide range of sites and needs. From malware scanning to simple backup services, a plugin that provides peace of mind is invaluable. I use BlogVault as my primary backup plugin, and while it may not be fancy to provide a lot of visual flair, it is one of my favorite plugins because it offers peace of mind and a sense of safety should anything with my site go awry. With BlogVault, backups are stored in multiple locations and are encrypted, making it not only easy and straightforward to restore a site that has been attacked or lost, but also making it easy to trust that the database backups have not been tampered with or in any way compromised.
Popular alternative: UpdraftPlus
While not an essential performance plugin, the in-house editorial calendar can be a great way to keep track of your calendar without having to be in constant contact with your site. The plugin is also great because it allows users to drag and drop posts into the schedule, to create your own visual builder for scheduling posts and pages. It is among the least complex forms of management currently available, but can also offer some peace of mind for content editors and creators, and make sure that site managers and owners are able to see scheduled posts, upcoming published pages, and more, all in one convenient location on the site.
14. WP Rocket
Does your website load slowly? Have a bunch of impatient fans who can’t wait to read the latest content you’ve prepared? WP Rocket is one of the most comprehensive plugins out there for improving WordPress website load speeds. Features such as sitemap and cache preloading allow your audience to begin reading sooner, and makes Google happy too. Mobile browser? With WP Rocket installed, the website will immediately know and load your Mobile-friendly version. Those of you with e-commerce sites will enjoy this plugin too, because optimization and compatibility interfaces are also available. Perhaps most importantly, this plugin is easy enough for even beginners to use it. Pricing depends on how many websites you’re running, with a low annual fee for each.
There are a few speed optimization plugins available, but I have found WP Rocket works the best and fastest for my site.
15. Yoast Duplicate Post
Once you have built your library of content over time, you will need to revise your older posts in order to maintain and hopefully improve your search engine rankings. There is no better way to do this than to substantially revise your post and republish it with a new publishing date.
But how to go about doing it efficiently?
THIS is the plugin that solves this very specific problem that intermediate and advanced WordPress bloggers.
After installing this plugin a “Rewrite & Republish” option will appear when you want to edit an older post. Selecting that will show you exactly what you see in the screenshot above. Yes, this post is being republished using this plugin!
You can set a date to republish in the future just like scheduling any other post, and the plugin will ensure that when republished the publishing date changes but the URL slug remains the same to keep the backlinks your older post already received.
16. Yoast SEO Premium (the paid version)
Of all of the 16 plugins on this list, this one is the no-brainer SEO plugin that you probably already have installed and love as much as I do. Here’s why:
All that hard work you’ve done creating content will have minimal effect on your engagement and sales numbers if you don’t do SEO right. After all, everyone else in your industry is probably clawing their way to the top of Google and Bing search. If you’re not doing the same thing, then chances are you’re going to end up at the bottom. Yoast SEO Premium is a great way to ensure your content has the best chance of reaching the top of Google search by a variety of methods.
Although the Yoast SEO free version is quite good, we marketers do better with the premium version. For one thing, it allows us to track multiple keywords in the same paragraph and content piece. Redirect and broken link management help you ensure that your visitors don’t get frustrated by 404 notices, and social preview features make content marketing optimization easier. Even better: Yoast premium will remind you when to update content, so it doesn’t get stale easily. For all these features, it’s just $89 annually, including support.
12 Plugins That I No Longer Use or Have Never Used and the Reasons Why
As you learned in my introduction, I am on a mission to use WordPress plugins where necessary but also discontinue using them if there is no need for them or if there are alternatives. There are many plugins that you will find on these “best WordPress plugins” lists that don’t appear here, so let me explain my reasoning:
1. Broken Link Checker
I used to use this plugin religiously but then realized that the free Ahrefs audit tool included broken links, so I use that report instead of a dedicated plugin for this functionality.
I have found this to be a bloated piece of software that offers a lot of functionality but I prefer separate plugins to choose only the functionality I need.
I run my Digital First Membership outside of my website on Slack so I have no need for this WordPress functionality.
Popular alternative: BuddyPress
The best Google Analytics plugin but I simply go straight to Google Analytics when I need data, not my WordPress dashboard.
I don’t do giveaways on my blog, but if I did, this is the standard plugin for that.
This functionality is included in the paid version of Yoast SEO.
7. Smush WP Plugin
I use the Cloudflare CDN service, and they are able to serve smaller images in the cloud so that I don’t need to rely on separate image compression software. I have had issues with images not displaying any more after using these plugins, so I was glad to find the Cloudflare solution!
I am a Sucuri user, but don’t use their plugin, as it is not essential to use their service. One less plugin!
Popular alternatives: iThemes Security, Wordfence Security
9. Uncanny Automator
A popular Zapier-like / IFTTT-like automation plugin for WordPress that is relatively new and I look forward to trying out in the future!
10. Woo Commerce
I don’t do ecommerce on my website, so I don’t have a need for such an ecommerce plugin. That being said, it is important to note that Woo Commerce is the default ecommerce plugin for WordPress.
This is a popular forms plugin, but I use Elementor to create my forms so am not in need of a separate plugin for this purpose.
12. WP Mail SMTP
I don’t send emails from WordPress, as I prefer to do so using ConvertKit, so I have no need for this feature.
I hope you’ve found this list of WordPress plugins to be helpful. If you can think of another awesome plugin, let me know in the comments!
Further Reading: WordPress SEO: 31+ Best Practices for Improving Your Ranking
All of My Clients
Hero photo by Souvik Banerjee on Unsplash
Best WordPress Plugins
Here are some of the best plugins for WordPress:
2. Yoast SEO Premium
3. WP Rocket
4. Broken Link Checker
6. Monarch Plugin
These are some of the best free plugin for WordPress:
1. All in One SEO
2. MonsterInsights Lite
3. WPForms Lite
4. WP Mail SMTP
One of the most famous WordPress plugins is Yoast SEO. It is a plugin for search engine optimization that has a free and paid version. Currently, Yoast SEO has five million active installations. In addition, it has been downloaded in WordPress more than 350 million times,
Yes, plugins slow down your WordPress site except for some welll-built and small ones. They are sometimes manageable. The reason plugins can slow down your website is because every line code that will be added to WordPress increases your site load times.