With over 55,000 known plugins available for WordPress, it can get just a little confusing — to say the least — knowing the essential plugins for a WordPress site. There are plugins for functionality, SEO, security, and more.
While there is no end-all-be-all plugin or plugin array, certain plugins one can utilize will make your life easier — and your client’s site rock.
One thing you need to remember is that less is more with plugins. The more plugins you have, the slower the site will become and the greater chance of compatibility issues between plugins, core files, and themes exists.
It is important to remember that the plugin developers aren’t concerned about whether their code works with another plugin’s code, just that it works when the plugin is called upon.
With that said, let’s get down to the nitty gritty — the plugins. What are they? How do I get them? Will they play well in the sandbox together? Patience, Padawan, for all will be revealed.
The essential plugins
Bear in mind, this list is subject to change and will likely never be complete. But it’s a great starting point. These plugins have been shown to work well with each other, too.
WpDiscuz: AJAX real-time comment system with custom comment form and fields. Designed to supercharge WordPress native comments. Super-fast and responsive with dozens of features. This is the best alternative to Disqus and Jetpack Comments. Also adds a layer of protection against spam comments.
NextGEN Gallery: NextGEN offers a complete WordPress gallery management system with the ability to batch upload photos, import meta data, add/delete/rearrange/sort photos, edit thumbnails, group galleries into albums, and more.
Slider Revolution: This is a highly interactive image and video embedding plugin used to get rid of the normally static flow of your site’s pages and posts. This is a paid only option plugin and not available through the plugin manager in the WordPress dashboard.
404 to 301 – Redirect: Automatically redirect, log, and notify all 404-page errors to any page using 301 redirect.
Rank Math SEO: The smart automation features give you the power of an entire SEO team with just a few clicks. It gives access to the SEO tools you need to improve your SEO and attract more traffic to your website.
Blog2Social: Blog2Social automatically creates social media posts for your content and auto-posts at the best times for each network. It saves the time and pain of manually sharing and promoting your site on social media.
Akismet Spam Protection: The best anti-spam protection to block spam comments and spam in a contact form. The most trusted antispam solution for WordPress and WooCommerce.
Limit Login Attempts Reloaded: Reloaded version of the original Limit Login Attempts plugin for Login Protection. Automatically blocks users from repeated failed login attempts.
Simple Google reCAPTCHA: Simply protect your WordPress against spam comments and brute-force attacks thanks to Google reCAPTCHA v3 or v2.
Wordfence Security: Secure your website with the most comprehensive WordPress security plugin. Firewall, blocking, live traffic, login security, & more.
Sucuri Security: The Sucuri WordPress Security plugin is a security toolset for security integrity monitoring, malware detection, and security hardening. This plugin is used in conjunction with the Sucuri Website Security product.
Block Bad Bots: Stop bad bots, block SPAM bots, crawlers, and spiders also from botnets.
WPS Hide Login: Change wp-login.php to anything you want. This helps reduce unwanted login attempts.
WP Super Cache: A fast caching engine for WordPress that produces static html files.
Smush: Compress images & optimize images with lazy load, WebP conversion, and resize detection to make your site load amazingly fast.
“These all sound great! Now… how do I get them?”
How do I get these plugins?
The bulk of these plugins can all be acquired via your WordPress Dashboard, except for Slider Revolution. From the Plugins menu, select Add New.
A reminder, that Slider Revolution is a paid only plugin and not available through your WordPress dashboard.
Just enter the name of the plugin into the search field. It will automagically start a search for your requested plugin.
Once you see your requested plugin, select Install Now, and then Activate.
Once you have gathered your desired plugins, you can go into the settings pages of said plugins and customize them till your heart’s content. We won’t go over how to customize them in this article because there are numerous ways to customize them to your needs.
Once you have collected and customized your essential plugins, you will have a great starting point for a successful site. You’ll have functionality, SEO, Security, and speed going for your client’s website. This all adds well to your already brilliant design.
Bear in mind too that it is critical, when acquiring plugins, that the plugins work with your version of WordPress, have a large number of downloads, a 5-star (or close) rating, and recent updates. These things will tell you if the plugin is worth its weight in silver.