No matter how good you are at managing a platform, nothing replaces external tools that help you get much better results.
And this is more true with WordPress.
Actually, WordPress comes with dedicated areas to manage your blog, yet very limited.
But hopefully, there are plugins to overcome this problem.
In fact, WordPress plugins help to expand the functionality of a website.
That’s why in this post, I am going to share ten essential WordPress plugins you need for your blog.
Enough talk! Let’s get into it!
Plugin #1: Elementor
Let’s start with an essential step, creation.
You agree with me that a blog or website needs to be friendly and well-designed enough.
People must feel free to scroll different pages no matter the device they are using.
Therefore, a good user experience is a must.
However, a few problems arise.
First, if it’s your first time, it can seem very challenging to customize a blog, even if you already have a draft.
There is always that feeling of “I can’t” or “where is that feature.”
Another problem is you will most likely use a theme (Which is the best solution).
But most of the themes that come with a native page or theme builder are limited.
That’s usually because their builder is new and lacks some features.
Thus, some designs are just out of reach.
So, how do you solve all these issues?
By using an external page builder like Elementor.
Knowns as the most popular WordPress customization plugin, Elementor is the most advanced theme builder.
It goes beyond limits and hits where native themes’ page builders don’t.
See how it solves the issues mentioned above.
What Makes Elementor a Good WordPress Plugin?
First, there is no need to watch dozens of YouTube videos to know how to use Elementor. The plugin is very straightforward.
So, as long as you know how to use the basic features, you can create your blog.
Second, its ease of use can convince you to stop using your theme page builder.
Elementor is so powerful that can easily replace it, and you will get the same results, if not better.
I found myself in this situation when I was building Nextwpfocus.
The theme builder I was using (and I still use and love) had limited features – it is now way improved.
For example, I couldn’t find the desired motion effects or give certain margins and paddings to specific parts.
Elementor was just the right additional plugin, and it perfectly helped me meet my design goals.
The Elementor plugin comes in two versions: Free and Pro.
Some of the great features of the Free Elementor:
- Drag and Drop Editor
- Compatibility with your preferred plugins
- Create various forms like sign up, contact, etc
- Seamless integration with marketing tools like Convertkit, MailChimp, Aweber, etc
- 40+ basic widgets
- 30+ basic templates
More features with the Pro version:
- Theme builder
- Form builder
- Dozens of motion effects, parallax & mouse effects
- 50+ templates (home page, other pages, header, footer, etc.)
- Popup Builder and WooCommerce Builder
Pricing & Support
The support is excellent.
Even if there isn’t any live chat at the time of writing this post, the support team responds quickly.
The team is even ready to access your website (only if you allow it) to solve the problem for you if too technical.
Moreover, Elementor’s website has in-depth documentation ready to serve you.
Plugin #2: Wordfence
Security: it’s a topic every site owner must take seriously.
Unfortunately, WordPress does not come with an in-built security tool or feature.
The only way you can secure your blog is to create a strong password.
But, what about users’ data? How do you protect users if they can log in?
Or how can you know if someone is trying to inject malicious data into your blog?
In other words, how do you prevent hacking?
If you already use WordPress, you know that there is no way to do the above things.
That’s why you need a security plugin.
And Wordfence is definitely a great choice.
What Makes Wordfence a Good WordPress Plugin?
Wordfence will track every visitor and check if someone injected anything into your blog.
Wordfence also recognizes brute login and blocks that user in the meantime.
Now, when should you install Wordfence?
In the tips I send to subscribers, I always recommend installing Wordfence as soon as you install WordPress.
Let me tell you a little story!
When I was creating nextwpfocus, I had a “coming soon” page live.
Then, someone tried to log in to my dashboard and to force access, trying to use usernames like “admin.”
I didn’t know because I was asleep.
Actually, I always give priority to emails from Wordfence.
So when I woke up in the morning and checked my emails, I was shocked.
After 20 attempts, Wordfence finally blocked the person.
I never paid attention to the ‘attempts’ details.
But after reading that email and checked all the attempts myself, I drastically reduced the number of attempts.
And what is impressive is it happened with the free version of Wordfence.
Just take some seconds and imagine it: peace when you are asleep.
So, install at least the free version during the creation process and switch to the paid one when the blog is ready.
You never know what will happen.
But Wordfence can protect your website and show you what people are trying to do.
And if they are dangerous, it blocks them.
Here is what you get with Wordfence:
- A dashboard with real-time traffic
- Set the number of times a user can attempt to log in if they cannot remember their credentials
- 2FA protection
- A firewall: Protection from known and emerging threats
- Permanent scan: Provides the best detection
- Instant security alerts vial email
- Notifications when WordPress, a theme, or plugin needs an update
- Checks if your website IP is generating spam or spamvertised
Now, what happens if your blog is hacked?
Wordfence assures that their team will recover your site, repair the infection, and clear affected search engine results.
They also guarantee that they’ll provide you a detailed incident analysis, including how the attackers gained access, what they did once inside your systems, what was affected, what Wordfence had to clean.
Moreover, they give recommendations and procedures to secure your systems against future incidents.
Pricing & Support
The free version can be downloaded from your WordPress dashboard.
But the premium version comes at $99/year.
The support for free customers is available on the Wordfence forums page, whereas the premium version gives you access to their support engineers.
Plugin #3: WP Rocket
Every blogger tries to give the best experience to visitors.
And one aspect of that experience is speed.
Unfortunately, we encounter too many limitations.
For example, we hear that pages with many images load too slowly. It’s true.
Moreover, we say that your SEO is affected by speed.
Consequence: we limit the number of images on each post and don’t even think of adding a video.
We are also hesitant about installing many plugins because our website may become slow.
Actually, if you are a blogger (or future blogger) and feel this way, congratulations. You really care about users first.
But do you know that you can overcome these problems with WP Rocket?
WP Rocket is a caching and WordPress performance optimization plugin that improves the loading speed of WordPress websites.
Its caching creates ultra-fast load time.
What Makes WP Rocket a Good WordPress Plugin?
WP Rocket will speed up your blog and you will focus more on improving other aspects of your SEO.
About images, it comes with a cool feature called Lazyload. So, images are loaded only as your visitor scrolls down the page.
Now, you can use 6, 10, or 15 images in one post.
When a user visits the page, only the first image will load first, and so on.
Check out some key features:
- Page caching
- Sitemap Preloading
- Cache preloading
- Mobile detection
- Database Optimization
Even though it sounds technical, be assured that it’s easy to install and use — no need to hire a developer.
Install all the necessary plugins. Use many images.
Don’t prevent yourself or your visitor from getting the best experience possible while WP Rocket takes care of speed optimization.
Pricing & Support
There is no free version of the plugin.
For $49/year, you get premium support and update.
On the WP Rocket’s website, there is a whole bucket of articles (documentation).
And you can count on their 24/7 friendly support team.
Plugin #4: Smush
Since we’re talking about image optimization, let’s mention one more aspect.
Images also slow posts because of their size, not only their number.
However, since they are essential to the content, we can’t go without them.
But think about this:
If a post has ten images and each image weighs 250 KB, the post will weigh 2500 KB, so 2.5 MB. (excluding fonts, videos, and other things on the page).
And depending on other factors like hosting speed, downtime, and user internet speed, your post can take more than 6 seconds to load.
It’s not bad, you may think.
But the problem is people will hit the back button and head to a different website.
I guess you don’t want it.
So, what’s actually the solution? Smush.
In short, Smush compresses and optimizes images.
But, why is it such a good plugin?
What Makes Smush a Good WordPress Plugin?
A 250KB image might now weigh 100KB or less while keeping the same quality.
It drastically reduces the page load and ensures speed.
And the pro version, Smush pro, goes even further.
Since the format of the image also affects the load time, Smush pro automatically resizes images.
And it keeps the same quality across devices.
But what if I already published posts before using Smush?
When you install the plugin, it will analyze your media library and find all heavy images.
It will then compress the library and the images on every post.
Some key features:
- Lossless Compression
- Backup Original images
- Optimize huge photos up to 32MB
- Smush unlimited images with a click
- Automatic resize and scale
- Super Smush – 2x compression
The lossless compression means the image doesn’t lose its color when it’s compressed.
And trust me, it’s super powerful.
Pricing & Support
How much does it cost?
Of course, the free version is free, while the pro comes at $5/month if billed annually.
The Smuch Pro Only plan gives you access to a ticket support type.
However, you need higher plans to access the 24/7 Live Chat.
There is documentation and a forum to get you started.
Plugin #5: Yoast SEO
This time, let’s talk about content.
For a blogger or business site owner, being able to reach people is important.
And trust me or not, but the content you produce is one of the most accurate ways to do that.
It establishes a relationship between the writer and the reader.
And since millions of people use Google to find their answers, we also maximize our efforts to reach them.
How do we do it?
By practicing SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tips.
But when writing your posts, have you ever asked yourself these questions:
- Is my post title good enough?
- Did I use the keyword much enough?
- Is my text long or too short?
Or more important: is my content easy enough to read?
Well, guess what!
Even though it’s hard to answer these questions ourselves, it isn’t for the Yoast SEO plugin.
What Makes Yoast SEO a Good WordPress Plugin?
This WordPress plugin analyses your content and answers all the questions above.
SEO experts say we need to optimize the title of our post. Yoast SEO shows you how.
Are you a language expert and think your text is easy to read? Let the plugin check it for you.
The post is 3000 words long, and counting the number of times you used your keyword is too much work?
Yoast will count it for you.
The free version of Yoast SEO comes with the above features.
And it’s quite enough at the beginning.
But the Yoast SEO Premium has about 15 extra built-in features that are essential when your blog grows.
If I am asked why I am switching to the premium version, I will probably mention these two reasons:
Content Insights and Redirect Manager.
The two features are simply amazing.
The Yoast Seo Content Insights feature shows the five words or phrases you used the most on a page.
It then checks if they match your chosen keyword.
For example, if I write a post on how to start a blog, there are words or phrases I will likely use a lot: start a blog, create a blog, build a blog, blogger, WordPress, or WordPress blog.
I will write one of them at least once.
I will also make sure that I use “start a blog” more than all of them.
However, since I am not counting, I may write other terms like “hosting” 25 times, while “start a blog” only appears ten times.
So, the Content Insights feature is crucial because it analyses my text and checks all related keywords.
Internal Linking Suggestions
The second fantastic feature is Internal Linking Suggestions.
The time will come when you will have 20 or more posts.
And as a good writer, you will link recent posts to old ones.
But how will you remember which article to link to? And what if you have 30?
You agree that it’s hard to remember all of them.
This is where the Internal Linking feature in Yoast premium is useful.
It scans your content and suggests links to related posts — as you write.
For example, if you are writing the article “Top ten best places to visit in Tokyo,” it may suggest you link to another post on your website called “How to rent an apartment in Tokyo.”
Now you will say:
“This is cool, Piaff. But what if my blog is in a different language? Does Yoast Seo only analyze English content?”
No. Yoast SEO works in 15+ languages. Check out if yours is included.
The WordPress Plugin Yoast SEO is definitely a plugin to use if you want to build a nice SEO structure.
Finally, here are some of the Yoast SEO features:
- Keyword optimization
- Faster indexing (premium)
- No Outdated content
- Page preview (Google, Facebook, Twitter)
- Readability check
- No duplicate content
- Marks your links as no-follow or sponsored
- Internal linking suggestions
- Internal linking blocks
- Content insights
- Redirect Manager
Pricing & Support
The premium version comes at $89/yr plus 24/7 support.
There is also full access to all the Yoast Academy courses to get practical SEO training.
Yoast SEO has become an irresistible WordPress plugin.
With 5 million active installs, it’s a great content writing tool.
Using it doesn’t mean you will rank higher on Google, but it increases your chances by optimizing your content.
Having said that, let’s move on.
Plugin #6: Exactmetrics
Simply a beautiful plugin.
Imagine yourself having a blog but not being able to know who is currently on it.
Worst – you are à blogger but cannot know how many people visit your blog every day.
How will you feel?
That’s a pity, right!
You know that something is weird, something is missing.
The question you’ll ask yourself in this case is:
Why should I spend hours writing a blog post when I can’t see if people are actually reading it?
It’s a true question.
If you are new to blogging, you might think that viewing users is included in WordPress.
But guess what! You can’t see it anywhere!
Yeah, you get it. You need Exactmetrics.
What Makes Exactmetrics a Good WordPress Plugin?
Let’s say it counts visitors on your website.
But like any other plugins, it does more.
Let’s take a few minutes and discover how it can help you.
Have you already heard about Google Analytics?
It’s an online platform that checks your site users. It analyzes where users come from, what they read, the time they spend on your site or blog, and more.
Exactmetrics does the same thing but on your WordPress blog this time. Google Analytics reports are now visible in WordPress in a more beautiful way.
Here are some things you’d love to know about your blog!
Real-time stats: Now, you know that X users were online at a particular time.
Content report: shows stats on which content gets the most visits.
Individual Post & Page Report: stats for each post/page like page views, time on page, bounce rate, etc.
Audience Demographic Report: visitor’s country, interests, browser, age, gender, and more.
Don’t worry. It’s not finished.
Check out what Exactmetics has to offer again:
- Behavior report: how visitors find your blog, what did they click, etc.
- eCommerce report: view important store metrics like total revenue, top products, etc.
- Affiliate link tracking
- Outbound link tracking
- Customizable dashboard widget and 15+ more features.
Pricing & Support
Exactmetics come at $99.50 for the base model (called Plus).
Most of the above features and premium support are included, apart from the eCommerce (Pro version at $199.50).
The free version, Exactmetics Lite, has some necessary features, yet very limited.
Priority Support is given to higher plans.
But documentation is available regardless of the plan.
I guess you will agree with me that having a blog without seeing how it performs, how many people visit it, and what they do doesn’t make any sense.
Blogger is not just a title. It’s an identity that helps organize your blogging activities.
Give a change to Exactmetrics and see how it will change your experience.
Plugin #7: UpdraftPlus
Let’s talk about UpdraftPlus.
What makes it so unique?
Let me ask you a question!
Did you create your blog alone?
If you did, then you probably made mistakes when customizing it.
Maybe you didn’t like the actual design and wanted to go back to the previous one?
Or you trashed a page and regretted it later.
You found the need to recover the old data.
Congratulations if you installed a backup plugin like Updraftplus.
If you didn’t, you might have had a tough time.
But what about you?
What about you who will soon be creating a blog?
Trust me; you will need it.
What Makes UpdraftPlus a Good WordPress Plugin?
Updraftplus is actually a WordPress backup plugin.
In simple words, how does it work?
You probably have Whatsapp installed on your phone, right? And I guess you have already received a notification that requires you to backup WhatsApp.
It will save the messages, photos, and videos in your Google drive.
If you lose your phone, you can recover all the saved content on the new phone.
Updraftplus does the same thing.
It saves (backs up) your blog posts, pages, the design, library, etc.
You can backup manually or set automatic backups for every 4, 8, 12 hours, daily, weekly, etc. And you can see the backups on the plugin’s page on your blog.
To back up your blog, go to the Updrafts page and click Backup Now.
Then, if there is any severe mistake that cannot be solved quickly, go to the plugin’s page (on WordPress) and press Restore on the backup you want.
Result: the previous version of the blog is back.
Another cool feature is the automatic backup before plugins, themes, and WordPress updates run.
This is especially useful since you can set automatic updates for your plugins, theme, and WordPress.
Here are more UpdraftPlus features:
- Backs up limitless non-WordPress files and external databases.
- WP-CLI support
- Incremental backups that can be set to the hourly schedule of your choice
- Backs up files and databases on separate schedules
- Reports time of next scheduled backup
- Remote storage options like Google Drive, Dropbox, Amazon Web Services
- Database backups can be encrypted for security
- Imports and restores from backups made by other backup plugins
Now, when should you install UpdraftPlus?
As soon as you install WordPress, install UpdraftPlus.
It should even be the first plugin to install and then install Wordfence.
I personally made mistakes, trashed pages that I wanted back. Install at least the free version. It’s perfect.
There is always a difference between one that installs a backup plugin and one that doesn’t.
Pricing & Support
A free version of the plugin is available on WordPress.
It includes some of the necessary features.
The Premium version got even more and is priced at $70/year for two websites.
You also get premium support and documentation.
Plugin #8: Optinmonster
One of the reasons why you have (or want to have) a blog is to build a community.
Just publishing content doesn’t make sense; otherwise, you could publish content on social media.
These are the four steps you want:
- Visitors read and love your content
- They subscribe for more
- You build a community and send unique content to subscribers.
- You make money
The first step hugely depends on your work and effort. You need to create enough value for this.
But the second step depends more on the user’s interest.
If people feel the NEED to subscribe, they will.
But the question is: How can you increase that need and make them share their email with you?
You can create a lead magnet.
Don’t get me wrong.
I am not talking about the “subscribe to get our latest posts” thing.
I’m referring to giving SOMETHING in return for their email address.
That something is called a lead magnet.
But what’s the point with Optinmonster?
What Makes Optinmonster a Good WordPress Plugin?
Optinmonster’s main task is to help you create that lead magnet.
Its mission is to optimize user conversion.
Let me use easier words.
The WordPress plugin Optinmonster helps you create something you give to users who subscribe or join your list.
People tend to subscribe when they also get something that will bring them value.
Its built-in drag and drop builder makes designing so easy.
With the builder, you can make pop-ups.
The pop-ups, mobile-friendly, can be lightbox, full-screen, etc.
You can also create inline or sidebar forms like subscribe or course forms.
Some of the features are:
- Content locker
- Coupon wheel
- Scroll trigger
- On-site retargeting
- AdBlock detection
- And more
The plugin perfectly integrates with Email Marketing Tools like Convertkit, Mailchimp, Constant Contact, and more.
Pricing & Support
The basic plan costs $9/mo (billed annually), while the pro version is $29/mo.
You will get some of the above features based on the chosen plan.
You also get premium support and documentation.
So, who is this WordPress plugin for?
If you seriously consider your blog as a business and publishing posts is not the only purpose, Optinmonster is definitely a must-have plugin.
There will be a massive difference in your email list.
Plugin #9: Convertkit
One day, I asked some of my friends this question:
“Whenever you register on a website, you quickly get that welcome message in your email inbox. Sometimes, it will tell you to verify your registration or will thank you for subscribing. Whether you register at 8 pm or 3.am, you receive a message. How is that possible?”
They said there should be someone on the other side, on a computer.
So, when a user registers, that someone is notified and then sends us the welcome message.
I said: “Then, the person doesn’t sleep?”
After a few minutes, one of them assumed that there should be more than one person, and they rotate.
Finally, I asked them this: ” Imagine you have a blog and have to stay up all night, hoping that somebody will subscribe. And nothing happens. Would you be able to continue with your blog?”
They all agreed that they can’t.
Now, what about you reading this post?
How do users get automatic emails when they subscribe?
Actually, they receive emails because site owners use marketing tools like Convertkit.
What Makes Convertkit a Good WordPress Plugin?
Remember what we said about Optinmonster.
It helps you create and share lead magnets, and you get subscribers’ emails in return.
Well, Convertkit allows you to manage those emails.
Note: Convertkit also has a WordPress plugin. But, I will refer to its online tool/platform than the plugin itself.
Convertkit’s dashboard displays the number of your subscribers, the name they registered with, and their email address.
You can even see how collecting emails has been performing.
But the best part of Convertkit is the fact it creates a relationship between you and your audience.
How does it do that?
Well, you can set automatic emails that will be sent whenever someone joins your email list.
Its Automation feature lets you create emails in advance and set when they must be sent.
You can automate this process for example:
- When someone registers for the free pdf I offer on my blog, the pdf is immediately sent to them.
- One hour later, send them a welcome message to introduce myself and explain what’s coming next.
- Twenty-four hours later, send this email about the “top 10…..”
- Two days later, etc
- Finally, Six days later, etc.
You can decide to stop here, earlier, or continue.
Convertkit’s Email designer helps you write these emails.
This feature gives you a clean space to write and design emails.
Convertkit also shows email engagement.
It means that you can view the percentage of recipients who open your emails and click on the various links.
You can see what works and what doesn’t.
- Unlimited Create landing pages
- Commerce: sell digital products and subscriptions
- Email broadcasts
- Facebook custom audiences
- Newsletter referral system
- Subscriber scoring
Pricing & Support
The free version allows you to manage up to 1000 subscribers.
The Creator and the Creator Pro plans, respectively at 29$/mo and $59/mo, unlock more features.
Regarding Support, there are resources on the website, live chat with the support team, and access to a community.
Now It's Your Turn
There are many good plugins out there.
This article brings together the best plugins in each area.
If your blog is already live, tell me the plugins you use and why you think they are the best.
Or which plugin deserves to be in this list?
If you haven’t created your blog yet, which plugin are you going to install first?
Share your thoughts and let’s have a chat in the comment section below.