Wordpress Plugins - What Should I Install?

WordPress Plugins – What Should I Install?

You’ve started off with your WordPress website and have added a good theme that you like.

Now you need to add plugins. You head over to the Plugins tab, and click on Add New. You see the 4 tabs – Featured, Popular, Recommended, Favorites. There are nearly 60,000 plugins in the WordPress repository, with more being added every day. Which tab do you click and what plugins do you install?

Wordpress Plugins - What Should I Install?

When you start off your website, aside from the capabilities that you want your website to have (for example, product sales, membership, forums, etc), there are a few things that your blog shouldn’t be without. These are –

Keeping these in mind, here are a few must-have plugins for your website:

(Type in the names in the Plugins search bar in your Dashboard, and they should show up for installation)

1) Vaultpress (Backups, Security, Spam Management)

VaultPress is a security-oriented plugin that can create optimized real-time automated backups of your website and can restore your website in a few seconds. If you have multiple websites, you can manage all of them through a single VaultPress dashboard.

VaultPress also manages your site’s security by scanning and detecting dangerous files on your installation, so that you or an administrator of your website can review and fix them. In addition, it links with the popular Akismet plugin to manage any measures of spam on your website with zero user involvement.

2) GDPR Cookie Consent (Compliance)

As of version 4.9.6, the WordPress software is compliant with the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements. But that does not mean that your site is automatically GDPR compliant even if you have the most recent version of WordPress installed. You can use the GDPR Cookie Consent plugin to add an EU cookie notice on your website.

If you’re new to this website, you can see this plugin in action at the bottom of this page.

3) WP AutoTerms (Compliance)

WP AutoTerms creates legal agreement pages for your website which you can modify and link to your website. This is a must-have for your site, especially if you are planning to sell digital products or membership access through your website.

By the way, WordPress includes a Privacy Policy template now by default, which you can modify and use according to your needs.

4) Really Simple SSL (SSL Certificate configuration)

Having an SSL certificate on a website indicates that you are browsing that website using a secure, encrypted connection. Any sensitive information that you type into that website, such as your credit card information while making a purchase, is encrypted and therefore, secure. If your website does not have an SSL certificate, Google Chrome will tag your website as “Not Secure”. Firefox will add a popup to every form text field on your website saying that it is not a secure channel.

Adding the “Really Simple SSL” plugin will NOT get you an SSL certificate along with it. You’ll need to get an SSL certificate from a third party such as Cloudflare or LetsEncrypt. The process is simple, and once you get the certificate, Really Simple SSL makes it easy for you to link your domain to the certificate and tag your website as secure.

5) JetPack (Social Sharing, Optimization, Analytics, and a lot more)

JetPack is an all-in-one solution for a bunch of essential stuff that you need for your website. While some of these goodies are paid options, the free options you get itself is worth it. JetPack provides you with multiple options such as website statistics, downtime monitoring, image speed optimization, spam protection (integrating with Akismet), etc. It also manages updates to your site by automatically updating your selected plugins and themes when new versions are available.

6) Yoast SEO (SEO)

Whatever your business is about, SEO is an important factor that will decide your website’s performance online. Search Engines like optimized and easy to read websites and this is definitely what Yoast SEO plugin is about. Yoast starts with a configuration wizard and tells you what the best SEO configurations for your websites, and beyond.

7) Contact Form 7 (Contact Form management)

Never put your e-mail address out in the open unless you want it to be picked up by e-mail harvesters and then riddled with spam. Create a contact form using Contact Form 7 and offer it to your customers. CF7 helps you create multiple contact forms with configurable fields which can be integrated easily with spam management plugins like Akismet. A little bit of HTML knowledge is preferable to create a contact form of your liking, but it provides a default form which will be enough for most websites.

An optional add-on plugin for CF7 is Flamingo, which will help you manage messages right from within your WordPress admin area.

If you do not want to use HTML, your best bet is the WP Forms plugin. This plugin features a drag and drop interface which can help you create contact forms easily. WP-Forms also provides additional paid add-ons if you want to integrate your forms with an autoresponder such as AWeber.

8) W3 Total Cache (Cache Management)

When a user loads your website, your server will pick up the page from the server, process all the dynamic parts, convert it into browser-readable HTML and sends it back to the user. A cache management plugin helps your website load faster by generating static HTML pages of your website and storing it on your server. This speeds up the loading time of your website tremendously.

W3 Total Cache is designed to optimize all practical hosting environments, and all provide the additional benefit of minifying your static content before sending it to the end users, resulting in further bandwidth savings.

9) WP-Optimize (Optimization)

Over time, your WordPress database gets filled with a lot of unnecessary data such as trashed/unapproved/spam comments, pingbacks, trackbacks, post, and page revisions, etc. that clogs up your database. WP-Optimize reduces this bloat by removing all the unnecessary data, thereby reducing the size of your database and increasing efficiency. You also have the option of scheduling and automating this process so that you can keep only what’s necessary.

10) Google Analytics (Analytics)

While JetPack takes care of site statistics, Google Analytics gives you extra data and offers additional insights into visitor behavior. If your website depends on users and wants to create better content for them, then you need this.

That’s a quick round-up of the essential plugins. This is by no means a definitive list but should work for most of the sites out there.

Feel free to let us know what you think in the comments.

Image courtesy (Featured image of this post): Woman photo created by freepik – www.freepik.com

WordPress Plugins – How Many is Too Many?

How do you know if you have too many plugins installed on your WordPress site?

To be exact – there is no exact answer to this question.

When you install a WordPress plugin, it enhances your site’s functionality in some way. But in addition, it does add a lot of bloat to your website in terms of additional script files, etc. which can affect the performance of your website. That said, the number of plugins that you use on your website is not a benchmark of your site’s performance. There are websites with a hundred plugins which loads very fast, while there are others with only a few plugins but runs at a snail’s pace.

So, how do you decide how many plugins you have to add to your WordPress website? The question that you should be asking is not “how many”. It should be “what”. Depending on what your website is about, this could vary. But here are some of the common things to consider:

Functionality of the plugin

Functionality of the plugin

A major factor in deciding which plugins you want to use is the functionality it offers. There are a some common functionalities such as SEO, social sharing, security etc. which almost every website out there will benefit from. Here’s a quick list of essential plugins for your WordPress website. If your website offers additional options for your visitors such as memberships, product purchase, etc., you might benefit from some additional plugins related to those.


Next comes the popularity of the plugin. If you search in the WordPress repository for a plugin that can do a specific function, you’ll find that there are a number of choices to pick up from. The number of downloads and the rating shown will help you choose the best from the lot. You can further drill down by choosing a few top plugins from the list, and then checking them individually for user reviews, support etc.

Support availability

Support availability

When it comes to any software, support is a major factor. When you search for plugins, look for the “Last Updated” date and the Compatibility with your current WordPress version. WordPress keeps updating the core files and adds additional bug fixes and security plugs. The best plugin developers will keep abreast of these changes and will keep their plugins updated to comply with these version changes. They also respond to support queries and provide resolutions soon. These will help you make your own judgement and choose the plugin you want to use.



Many of the plugins that you find in the WordPress repository are free, with additional functions available if you buy their upgrade. While the free version does include community level support, the paid version would usually include direct professional support. You can make a comparison between the free and paid versions and choose between the two. There are also paid plugins which are available for purchase from websites like Envato.com that offer professional support based on the license.

Do I actually need a plugin? What if I don’t find what I need?

While there are numerous plugins available for most of the common things that a website would need, you might run into a situation where you won’t find a good plugin that can satisfy your requirement. Or, you may have found a plugin which comes close, but needs a little more adjustment or fine-tuning.

In such cases, it helps if you turn to a developer to help you with creating a plugin for you, or fine-tuning an existing plugin for your requirement. You can find a lot of good plugin developers online in places like Toptal, Upwork, etc.

Still have questions? Feel free to ask in the comments section below.