WordPress is by far the most popular CMS platform. So, no wonder lots of people and companies are actively creating themes and plugins for WordPress.
There are close to 60,000 plugins available right now for WordPress. The numbers are only expected to grow more. So, how do you decide which are the essential plugins for WordPress? How to recognize the best plugins for WordPress?
You will find lots of recommendations on the best plugins for WordPress. But does what is best for others ensure that it will be best for you too?
Certainly not. For you, the best plugins are those that perfectly fits your need. No, let’s look into some ways that will help you to decide which are the essential plugins for your WordPress site and which are not.
We certainly do not guarantee 100% success in picking the right plugin using these tips. However, it is expected to increase the chances of doing so by miles.
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How to pick the best plugins for your WordPress site
To start finding the essential plugins for WordPress site of yours, here are some steps that we think work. You can have an idea of if the plugin you are looking at is necessary or essential for your WordPress website.
List down your requirements
Before you start looking for a plugin, the first thing you should do is create a list of requirements. Create a list of all the functions that you want the plugins to do.
List down the features that are absolutely essential for your website and its goal. Do that in the order that is important to you.
Orders of importance matter because sometimes you won’t find everything in one plugin. The important factor will help make your decision easier. You might find a couple of plugins that work well together and do what you need.
In that case, install those 2 plugins. The total count of plugins doesn’t matter; the quality does. Many plugins have too many features and try to do a lot.
So by preparing a list of requirements, the search is more targeted, and it’s easier to find the best plugins for WordPress according to your needs.
Now start searching on the WordPress repository with suitable keywords for the essential plugins for WordPress that you need.
While searching for a plugin, you’ll most probably come across both free and premium options. The free plugins are usually a good place to start.
This is because they require no investment, and depending on your needs, the free version might work just as fine and you might find your essential plugins for WordPress without any cost.
For each search result, you will be able to see the Plugin name, rating, description, number of active installs (websites using the plugin), author name, and tested with WordPress version.
Check the plugin’s rating
The easiest thing to do when choosing free WordPress plugins is to check out the overall rating.
On the WordPress plugins repository, users have the option to rate the plugin, by choosing from one to five stars.
A good rule of thumb is to stay away from plugins that don’t have an average of at least four (or almost four) stars.
Anything lower than that is typically not a good sign. A plugin becomes popular because it is well maintained, works as advertised, users get responsive support, and any reported issues are always addressed on time.
Check out the changelog and compatibility
Make sure to check if the plugin is compatible with the version of WordPress you are using as well as compatible with the theme that is in use so that no clash occurs.
In addition to checking compatibility, check the changelog to make sure the security issues have been fixed for the plugin. Changelog is a good tool to know what you’re getting with a plugin.
The changelog will tell you what features are added with each update. Generally, a lot of progress in the changelog means the plugin developers are attuned to their customer’s needs and are actively trying to make the plugin better.
Go through user reviews
Here is another way to know how to pick the right plugin. What better way to determine the quality of a plugin than to hear about other users’ experiences?
User reviews are a source to know about your essential plugins for WordPress. Another thing to look for here is the total number of ratings.
Let’s say, a plugin only has one or two people that have rated it, so this is not really a significant number. Nevertheless, if those one or two people left a decent reason for their rating in the review, then this would make their rating notable for others.
Check out the support
All plugins that are on the WordPress plugin repository have a support forum located within the Support tab.
If you see regular activity within those forums, that is a good sign that the developer is responsive and is actively working to update and patch user-reported issues.
Apart from the forums support (for free plugins) if you are evaluating a premium plugin, you should definitely check the plugin’s website and see how easy it is to get support, send a test email, or perhaps ask a pre-sales question to get a good idea of how responsive the developers are.
If a plugin has lots of unresolved threads, and the author has not responded to any of them in the last couple of months, then that is an indicator that the plugin has been abandoned.
Number of active installations
A plugin that has been downloaded by thousands of users is of course different from a plugin that has been downloaded just a few times.
More number of active installation means, many people are using it and finding it useful. If there are a lot of active users, the makers of the plugin also feel incentivized to regularly update the plugin and fix issues as soon as possible when they occur.
the more people using a plugin, the more it has the chance of fulfilling your need for the essential plugins for WordPress.
Go through FAQs
Don’t forget to check FAQs, and Other Notes sections below the plugin description when you think you have found your essential plugins for WordPress(Some plugins may not have them).
These sections usually contain useful information about how to use a plugin. Sometimes users end up complaining that a plugin does not work without even reading how to use it.
If you can follow this checklist then you can surely know how to pick the right plugin for your WordPress site.
Suggestions on some essential plugins for WordPress that you might need
Now you know the way to find the best WordPress plugins for your needs, we are quite sure you will find your way to your essential plugins for WordPress. But here are some suggestions according to category that we think will help you to start with.
Best SEO plugin: Yoast SEO. It is an all-in-one solution for your WordPress SEO needs. With more than five million active installations, it’s one of the most popular WordPress plugins on the market.
Another good plugin for SEO is Rank Math SEO.
Best WordPress cache plugin: LiteSpeed Cache. LiteSpeed Cache is a very versatile cache plugin with tons of optimization to speed up your WordPress site.
It has advanced features that can meet the needs of developers with more technical experience.
Best WordPress security plugin: WordFence Security. More than four million WordPress websites are currently using the WordFence Security plugin as a security solution.
The plugin fights against malware, spam, and other threats in real time. It’s a great option for those of you who don’t have a background in IT or cybersecurity.
Lots of people nowadays are also choosing Cloudflare Turnstile over CAPTCHA or reCAPTCHA for its better and user-friendly experience. If you also want to use Cloudflare Turnstile for your login verification, you can choose Easy Cloudflare Turnstile.
To collect leads through form you can use Social Contact Form.
Best WordPress backup plugin: In the event of a crash or malicious attack on your website, a backup plugin can be useful to restore your content and minimize downtime. It will also act as a fail-safe against human error on your WordPress dashboard.
Best Google Analytics plugin: Google Analytics gives you in-depth knowledge and insights about your website traffic. By installing a plugin, you can have access to all of your Google Analytics reports without leaving your WordPress dashboard.
If you think this insight is essential for your site, try using Monsterinsights.
Now you know how to pick some of the best plugins for WordPress to satisfy your website’s needs in the best way as well as about some essential plugins for WordPress.
We have suggested some plugins that can be useful for you but still, the best way is to follow the steps and test which plugin best fits your need.
We recommend spending some time understanding and testing the plugin that you are using as a website can be a big aspect of a business.
Also, do not jam your website using too many plugins. It is the best practice to keep things minimal and use only the essential plugins for WordPress.