WordPress is a vast and complex tool that can be used to create beautiful websites of almost any sort. The open-source nature of WordPress made it possible for developers to build thousands of plugins that can help you do almost anything you want with your website.
If you are someone who just built your WordPress site or someone who is thinking about building your own website, there are some essential features that need to be added to your site. Things like SEO, caching, user traffic and security need to be setup for any website you are trying to build. WordPress plugins make it easy for you to add all these features with no additional cost.
While there are many plugins that can achieve the same functionality, there are only a select few that are reliable with good ratings & reviews.
A good practice to keep in mind when installing any plugin is to consider the user ratings, number of installations, compatibility to your current version of WordPress and update frequency. These four factors can determine whether that plugin is reliable enough to be used on your site.
Here is a list of some of the must have WordPress plugins for your new WordPress site.
Disclaimer The plugin recommendations are based on my experience of using them along with some considerations based on recommendations from other WordPress experts. Although all these plugins have good ratings, it doesn't necessarily mean you can completely trust them or that they can provide you with the specific feature you are looking for. It's always a good practice to consider multiple opinions when adding any new feature to your website.
Must Have WordPress Plugins 2022
1. LuckyWP Table of Contents
If you are writing blogs and publishing them on your site, having a table of contents for the blog can help enhance the user experience and increase your chances of visibility on Google search.
Users can click on the content they specifically want to read in the table of contents section and avoid everything else. Google sometimes also displays various sections of your content on the search results page depending on the user’s search intent.
An example of table of contents links being shown for a search result. When the particular link is clicked, for example ‘West India’, user will be taken directly to that section of the page.
LuckyWP Table of Contents is a free WordPress plugin that can add ‘Table of Contents’ section to any of your blogs in just a few clicks.
You can also customize the plugin to exclude some headings and change the font & background color of the section.
Here is some additional information for you on the benefits of adding a ‘Table of Contents‘ to your website by wptechs.net.
2. Social Snap
Social Snap adds social media sharing buttons to any page of the website you want to add them to. In the free version, Social Snap Lite, you can add up-to 5 social media networks from the options available and in the paid version, you can add more than 30 networks.
An example of how Social Snap plugin Social Sharing buttons look like.
What separates this plugin from the others is the easy-to-use interface it has and also the elegant styling options for the sharing menus.
Alternatives: As an alternative you can also try AddToAny Share Buttons plugin, which gives more options in the free version. But the setup interface looks a bit cluttered compared to the Social Snap plugin.
3. Reading Progress Bar
Reading Progress Bar is one of the smallest plugins you can add to your WordPress site and enhance your user experience by a great extent.
As the name implies, the plugin adds a bar on top of the page that progresses as the user scrolls through the blog post. The progress bar shows the user what percentage of the blog is read and gives a sense of closure as the user reaches the end of the page.
An example of Reading Progress Bar on a blog post.
4. Google Site Kit
Google Site Kit is a resourceful plugin developed by Google to help you connect your site to Google Analytics, Search Console, Ad Sense, Tag Manager and Page Speed Insights accounts.
It’s easy to use and setup. All you need to do is login to your google account and choose the right settings to connect to the services. It was honestly a huge time saver for me as I didn’t need to install multiple plugins to setup different services. You don’t even need to install any additional code, it’s simple and straightforward.
Note: A few users reported that this plugin crashed their websites upon installing or updating it. Please read info about latest releases before installing this.
Alternatives: There are some alternatives to the features this plugin provides. Google Analytics by MonsterInsights is another recommended plugin to setup Google Analytics for your site. Google Tag Manager for WordPress by Thomas Geiger is an alternative plugin to setup tag manager for your site.
5. Email Octopus
As you attract more visitors to your site with your content, it’s important to keep them in loop of what’s to come next. Having an email list of your most frequent visitors who like your content can help you keep them informed about your new blog posts and site updates.
Email Octopus is one of the best email marketing platforms for beginner WordPress sites. They don’t charge any fee for up-to 2500 subscribers and even after that their plans are relatively inexpensive compared to other similar platforms.
Email Octopus has a simple WordPress plugin that lets you collect visitors email addresses using a email field column that can be added anywhere on your site.
Alternatives: OptinMonster, Bloom
6. RankMath SEO
Having a trusted SEO plugin is one of the crucial aspects of your WordPress site. SEO or Search Engine Optimization can help you attract more people to visit your website by appearing on google search results.
A good SEO plugin makes it easier to setup your site’s SEO and gives tips regarding the best practices to follow. One such plugin is RankMath SEO.
RankMath SEO gives you suggestions regarding how your content reads on the page, how you should setup your title, focus key phrase and description. It also has features such as tracking keyword rankings directly in the plugin, setting up google analytics and it supports various page Schema Markup options.
RankMath SEO suggestions column on WordPress.
Alternatives: All in One SEO, Yoast SEO
WP Optimize is one of the best optimization and performance enhancement plugins for WordPress.
It helps you clean & maintain your database, optimize site speed by compressing your images and caching your site.
It has additional features like removing spam comments, draft posts, post revisions, GZIP compression, and you can also set-it up to automatically carryout some queries.
The free version itself is feature rich enough to support various functions of your site.
This is one of the must have plugins to safe guard your site from spam attacks and unrecognized login attempts. If you are using any contact forms on your website, WP Optimize has a spam bot detection feature that checks the form input and keep the spam bots away from your site.
WP-Cerber can also restrict failed login attempts, block suspicious URLs, block access to sensitive core WordPress files and logs all the traffic coming to the site.
A demo view of WP Cerber dashboard & features.
This might not be the overall security solution you are looking for, but it’s definitely a good resource to have.
This is one of the most popular WordPress plugins that lets your create contact forms to get details of your site visitors.
The paid version of the plugin lets you do much more such as collecting payments, allowing users to upload files, and build long and complex forms to get more information from the user.
The plugin has a large community online where you can find answers for almost any question you might have.
This is another resourceful tool to add to your WordPress site.
Broken websites can be a pain. Being the complex platform that it is, a lot can go wrong on WordPress. From a simple plugin update to getting hacked by someone, there is a chance you might lose all the data on your site.
UpdraftPlus is a free WordPress plugin that lets you back-up your site’s data automatically. In the pro version, you can use the backups to restore the site entirely as it was. You can setup backup intervals and sync the backups to various cloud storage services like Google Drive, One Drive, etc.
Adding elements like tables & charts makes your content much more interesting to look at on your site.
TablePress is a WordPress plugin that lets you create custom tables that you can embed directly into your pages and posts. You can create tables with numbers, text, images, links & even math formulas. All you need to do to embed a table is insert a short-code in your html block.
You can also import data directly from your Excel or Google Sheets and add options like sorting and searching for your tables.
For a list of more plugins and suggestions, you can take a look at the recommendations from ThemeGrill : 50+ Best WordPress Plugins 2020
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WordPress plugins are the best way to add custom functionality to your website. The best way to find out which plugins you need to install is by making a list of features you want on your site and understanding how you want to your audience to interact with your site. Based on your requirements, you can choose the most trusted plugins available on the WordPress plugin repository.