The best WordPress plugins of 2020

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A tool for every job

Hmm … how to choose the best WordPress plugins? Security, SEO, site performance, functionality and usability are key concerns of every website owner, designer and developer. Fortunately, WordPress plugins are here to simplify your work, improve performance in each of these areas, and more.

The WordPress plugin repository serves as the official directory currently listing more than 54,800 free and open-source plugins that have been checked, inspected, and are available for downloading. Many also include paid upgrades or add-ons.

While plugins can be found elsewhere, repository inclusion recognizes the source as a credible developer, whose hand-crafted creation has been reviewed and approved.

Start strong with a list of essential, go-to plugins to power your WordPress blog or business site.

 

You’d think endless possibilities lead to many perfect solutions. But how to narrow down that 54,000+ WordPress plugins into a “start strong by starting here” list?

Considerations when selecting the best WordPress plugins

In creating this cream-of-the-crop list, my considerations beyond functionality included:

  • Repository inclusion: In addition to pre-screening, repository plugins also provide access to usage statistics, comments, bug reports, improvement ideas and problem documentation — giving you more insight into the plugin’s history and track record before installing.
  • Value: Free plugins are easiest on your budget, but value is more than just price. Premium plugin versions provide additional functionality otherwise requiring programming knowledge, as well as support.
  • Security: Regularly updated plugins thwart compromising situations, minimizing security risks and keeping your site safer.
  • Support: Premium plugins generally include more ongoing support for users, and the designer’s commitment to ongoing functionality and security improvements.
  • User base: Plugins with a very large user base are more likely to get support and updates, and might even have additional “community” support via discussion boards or other collaborative problem-solving spaces.

Some of the most popular WordPress plugins and capabilities — including several mentioned below — are automatically installed when you spin up a new WordPress site using GoDaddy WordPress Hosting. What could be easier?

Related: What is managed WordPress hosting

The best WordPress plugins of 2020

Read on for my must-have plugin recommendations:

    1. Wordfence.
    2. Sucuri Security.
    3. Yoast SEO.
    4. W3 Total Cache.
    5. Smush Image Compression and Optimization.
    6. Updraft Plus.
    7. Really Simple SSL.
    8. Gravity Forms.
    9. WooCommerce.
    10. Easy Digital Downloads.
    11. Akismet.
    12. NextGEN Gallery.
    13. MonsterInsights Google Analytics Dashboard.
    14. Optinmonster. 

The plugins are grouped by category below. This WordPress plugin list includes both free WordPress plugins and premium plugins.

All prices listed were current at the time of writing, but be sure to check the plugin website for most up-to-date pricing.

General WordPress plugins

These are my picks for the best WordPress plugins for just about every WordPress site.

1. Wordfence

Rest easy knowing your site is protected with Wordfence (Premium plans and pricing).

Best WordPress Plugins Wordfence

Website security is something you can’t afford to overlook — and WordFence is the most popular and comprehensive WordPress security and firewall solution available, with 3M+ active installations.

Features

  • Compares core files, themes and plugins with contents of the WordPress.org repository, checking their integrity and reporting any changes to you.
  • Integrated malware scanner blocks requests that include malicious code or content.
  • Repairs changed files by overwriting with a pristine, original version.
  • Easily deletes any files that don’t belong within the Wordfence interface.
  • Checks for known security vulnerabilities and alerts you to any issues.
  • Notifies you of potential security issues when a plugin has been closed or abandoned.
  • Checks your content safety by scanning files, posts and comments for dangerous URLs and suspicious content.
  • Premium features include real-time IP blacklisting to block the most malicious IPs, real-time malware signature updates, and checking to see if your site or IP has been blacklisted.

Related: Top website security threats and how to protect your site from attack

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2. Sucuri Security

Take security a step further with Sucuri Security – Auditing, Malware Scanner and Security Hardening.

Best WordPress Plugins Sucuri Security

The lightweight Sucuri Security plugin nicely complements your existing security posture by offering additional auditing, monitoring and scanning functionalities, as well as recommendations and notifications.

Features

  • Monitors all events potentially impacting security, including changes occurring within the environment.
  • SiteCheck, Sucuri’s free remote website scanner, remains on the lookout for any spam, blacklisting, or defacement.
  • Checks the major blacklist entities to notify you whether your site has been negatively flagged for security issues.
  • Should the worst happen, post-hack recommendations are presented to double up on safety after your site has been compromised.

GoDaddy WordPress hosting for the win: Sucuri Security is automatically installed on each new site.

Related: How to stay on top of WordPress security issues

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3. Yoast SEO

Rank higher in search engines with Yoast SEO (Premium plans and pricing).

Best WordPress Plugins Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO works for users ranging from local mom-and-pop shops to the most popular sites on the internet — from businesses to blogs, and everything in between. Since 2008 Yoast SEO has helped millions of websites worldwide improve their search results.

Features

  • Templating tools enable better branding and consistent snippets in the search results.
  • SEO analysis tool leads to SEO-friendly text with the right keywords in mind.
  • Readability analysis ensures your content is easy to digest, and engaging for both site visitors and search engines.
  • Bulk editor allows large-scale edits to titles and meta descriptions.

Related: How to do SEO keyword research to drive traffic to your website

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4. W3 Total Cache

Reduce page load time and improve user experience with W3 Total Cache (Premium plans and pricing).

Best WordPress Plugins W3 Total Cache

Search engines measure and factor in website speed as part of their ranking algorithms, making it one of the most significant success factors websites must consider.

W3 Total Cache improves both search engine result page rankings and user experience.

Features

  • Reduced page load time increases visitor time on your site, improves conversion rates and site performance ratings, and leads to improved page ranking.
  • Compatible with shared hosting, virtual or dedicated servers.
  • Requires no theme modifications or programming compromises to get started.
  • Achieve up to 80% bandwidth savings via minify and HTTP compression of HTML, CSS, JavaScript and feeds.

Note: Many managed WordPress hosting providers blacklist caching plugins due to redundancy or conflict with the hosting environment’s built-in caching capabilities, so check if your hosting allows these plugins.

GoDaddy WordPress Hosting takes care of this for you: no need to install a caching plugin, as that’s built right into the platform.

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5. Smush Image Compression and Optimization

Optimize image-loading with Smush Image Compression and Optimization (Premium version included with WPMU Dev).

Best WordPress Plugins Smush

Page loading speed is an all-too-common complaint.

Don’t slow down your website with oversized or unoptimized images.

 

More than 1 million sites use Smush to optimize performance in terms of both speed and quality, by compressing media uploads and stored images.

Features

  • Strips unused data from images, providing faster loading without compromising quality.
  • Optimize up to 50 images with a single click.
  • Optimize images up to 5M in size, with limitations removed in the Premium version.
  • Automated optimization for super-fast resizing and compression on upload.
  • Works seamlessly with the most popular media library plugins.
  • Smush servers do the heavy lifting, minimizing resource use on your server.

Related: How to optimize images for the web

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6. Updraft Plus

Backups and restore are a snap with Updraft Plus (Premium plans and pricing).

Best WordPress Plugins Updraft Plus

Your site is a big investment. Why risk catastrophe due to hacking, security flaws, server crashes, or a plugin/theme update gone wrong? Over 2 million websites trust Updraft Plus to take care of them, should the unthinkable happen.

Features

  • Scheduled backups run automatically.
  • Backups can be stored remotely in locations including Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3, Rackspace Cloud or via FTP.
  • Quickly restore from backup with a single click.
  • Premium features include incremental backups, additional storage destinations (e.g., OneDrive, Asure, SFTP), backup to multiple destinations, and database encryption.

GoDaddy Managed WordPress hosting saves the day: backup and restore functionalities are part of the package; no plugin required.

Related: How to backup a WordPress site

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7. Really Simple SSL

Streamline SSL implementation with Really Simple SSL (Premium plans and pricing).

Best WordPress Plugins Really Simple SSL

Really Simple SSL automatically detects your settings and configures your website to run over HTTPS.

Features

  • Incredibly simple to use: all you have to do is secure an SSL certificate, activate the plugin, and enable SSL with a single click.
  • Premium version includes a mixed content scan to let you know what needs attention.

GoDaddy Managed WordPress hosting makes this even simpler: acquire your SSL through GoDaddy, and connection to your site is a breeze; no plugin required.

Related: Mixed content warnings in Google Chrome

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8. Gravity Forms

Create amazing custom forms with Gravity Forms.

Best WordPress Plugins Gravity Forms

Gravity Forms does not have a free version, but it’s well worth the reasonable $59 fee for the basic version. It’s the easiest, most trusted tool available to create forms for your WordPress site.

Features

  • Easy to select the fields, configure options, and embed forms on your site.
  • Advanced field options allow for file uploads, surveys, payments, user registration and more.
  • Numerous add-ons facilitate integration with many popular web applications and online services, including PayPal, Stripe, Slack, Dropbox, Freshbooks and more.

GoDaddy Managed WordPress hosting brings you a hefty bonus: Gravity Forms is automatically installed on each new site.

Related: 10 ways contact forms can improve your WordPress site

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WordPress plugins for ecommerce

Have an ecommerce site? Here are the best WordPress plugins for WordPress sites that need ecommerce functionality.

9. WooCommerce

Get your online store up and running with WooCommerce (Free and paid extensions).

Best WordPress Plugins WooCommerce

With more than 5 million active installations, WooCommerce is by far the most popular way to create your eCommerce site. Twenty-two percent of all online stores use WooCommerce, and it runs a whopping 93% of all WordPress ecommerce sites.

Features

  • Supports selling both physical and digital products, including variations such as size, color, or complex configurations.
  • Secure payments by credit card and other options.
  • Extensive configuration options for shipping and tax calculations.
  • Easy integration with Google Analytics and Facebook.
  • An abundance of support via 900+ WooCommerce themes available in the directory, and 6,000+ plugins including “WooCommerce” in their title.

GoDaddy now offers WordPress ecommerce hosting plans powered by WooCommerce. They come bundled with premium extensions like Subscriptions and Bookings.

Related: WordPress ecommerce — Everything you need to know

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10. Easy Digital Downloads

Deliver digital products with Easy Digital Downloads (Premium plans and pricing).

Best WordPress Plugins Easy Digital Downloads

Easy Digital Downloads provides a complete ecommerce solution for selling digital products including software, documents, ebooks, graphics, music, or any other type of media file. With 60K+ active installations, it’s one of the most popular ways to deliver products.

Features

  • The free version supports PayPal Standard and Amazon Payments. Payment gateways supported through free or premium extensions include Stripe, PayPal Pro, PayPal Express, PayPal Payments Advanced, PayPal Adaptive Payments, Braintree, Authorize.net, 2Checkout and more.
  • Add-on plugins from the EDD Extensions Catalog include software licensing, recurring payments, commissions, reviews, and offering recommended products to customers.
  • EDD has been translated into more than two dozen languages.

Related: Upselling and cross-selling techniques for online stores

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WordPress plugins for blogs

For blogs, here are some popular WordPress plugins.

11. Akismet

Vanquish comment spam with Akismet (Plans and pricing).

Best WordPress Plugins Akismet

With 5M+ active installations, Akismet is hands-down the best comment spam filtering service around, catching spam comments before they land in the moderation queue.

Akismet comes pre-installed with every new WordPress instance, although activation requires setting up an API Key. The “Get a WordPress key” link gets you right to the page explaining plans and pricing.

Features

  • Akismet’s algorithm actually learns from data collected by participating websites, so over time, when more websites report similar comments as spam, Akismet learns how to identify them as such.
  • Filters out spam contact form submissions.
  • Comment status history lets you easily see which comments were caught or cleared.
  • While Akismet is free for non-business and personal sites, there are paid plans for business sites. With everything on an honor system, the cost is up to you.

Related: Managing comment spam in WordPress (video)

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12. NextGEN Gallery

Create your visually stunning gallery with NextGEN Gallery (Premium plans and pricing).

Best WordPress Plugins NextGEN Gallery

NextGEN Gallery is easy for simple photo galleries, but also powerful enough for the most demanding photographers, visual artists and imaging professionals. 900K+ active installations support recognition as the industry’s standard gallery plugin for more than a decade.

Features

  • Backend gallery management system includes options to batch upload photos, import metadata, add/delete/rearrange/sort photos, edit thumbnails, group galleries into albums or slideshows and more.
  • Wide array of options for controlling size, style, timing, transitions, controls, lightbox effects and more.
  • Many gallery extensions provide more customized formatting and presentation.

Related: Sell photos online — The ultimate guide to this lucrative side hustle

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WordPress plugins for business

Improve your business with these high-performing plugins

13. MonsterInsights Google Analytics Dashboard

Make data-driven decisions with MonsterInsights Google Analytics Dashboard (Premium plans and pricing).

Best WordPress Plugins MonsterInsights

With more than 2 million active installs, MonsterInsights is the most popular Google Analytics plugin for WordPress. Effortlessly connect your site with Google Analytics, then move to using data to improve your business by ramping up subscribers, traffic and revenue.

Features

  • Built-in dashboard lets you see all of the useful information about your visitors from inside WordPress.
  • Get right to the stats that matter most, when it comes to knowing your audience, understanding how visitors find your site, which content gets the most attention, and which forms can result in improved conversions.
  • Customized tracking for authors, post types, categories, tags, user ID, Google AdSense Ads, affiliate links and more.

Related: How to use Google Analytics to increase website traffic

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14. Optinmonster

Generate more leads and conversions with Optinmonster (Premium Plans and Pricing).

Best WordPress Plugins Optinmonster

Seventy percent of site visitors leave, never to return again. Counteract that with OptinMonster pop-ups which get more interested people on your email list, generating more leads and conversions, and boosting sales.

Features

  • 100% responsive mobile-friendly library full of professionally designed, prebuilt pop-up and opt-in templates, which can be customized down to the last detail.
  • Easy-to-use drag-and-drop builder — no programming experience required!
  • Easy integration with all major email marketing services.
  • Segment email list and group subscribers based on their interest and interaction with your website, leading to higher open rates, higher click-through rates, increased sales, greater revenue, greater customer retention, and lower unsubscribe rates.

Related: Beginner’s guide to starting an email list

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The best WordPress plugins will improve your site’s usability, safety and efficiency

Having the right set of plugins leads to improved usability, safer and more efficient management of your website, and the ability to grow your business.

While you might not need everything on this list, it’s a good bet there’s something on it to help you better manage your site. And if you’re ready to take it a step further, check into GoDaddy WordPress hosting for a solution meeting many critical site needs through a combination of provided functionality and automatically installed plugins.