This post is the always up to date list of the WordPress plugins I use and recommend. Check the categories below for the best plugins of each type. If there is some functionality you need but I haven’t covered here just ask for a recommendation.
With plugins less can be more. Only install plugins to add the functionality you need on your site. Do not install every plugin on this list.
Best WordPress Anti-Spam Plugin
If you have comment enabled on your WordPress blog, you will get spam. It is sad to say but it is today’s reality. If you do not need comment enabled turn them off to save some headache. If however, you want to have comment enabled on your site you should use an anti-spam plugin.
The one I use on all of my sites is Anti-Spam by Creative Motion. It is free and available in the WordPress plugin directory. It also works with reviews on a WooCommerce store as they use the comment system behind the scenes. It has got rid of 99% of the spam I’ve received and doesn’t have a monthly fee like Automattic’s Akismet.
Best WordPress Backup Plugin
I really like Updraft Plus. It has both free and paid versions. The free version will safely backup your site just as good as the paid. The paid version gives you automation options to have your site backed up automatically on schedules or before updates are ran on your site. Updraft has saved me when a theme update totally broke my site. Having backups is a must and Updraft won’t let you down.
Best WordPress Caching Plugin
The absolute best WordPress caching plugin I have used so far is WP Rocket. It is the fastest in almost every scenario and it is really easy to setup and get the fastest speeds. There are other cache plugins that can match the speed both free and paid but many of them are not easy to configure for the best results.
The best free WordPress caching plugin is WP Fastest Cache. It has a paid version but it is not needed. If you are going to pay for one I’d suggest WP Rocket. You can usually get similar results to WP Rocket without the expense and it is easy to configure as well.
If your site is running on Siteground hosting, their SG Optimizer is the best free plugin. It performs almost as well as WP Rocket but is totally free for Siteground customers. The plugin only works on Siteground hosted WordPress sites though.
Another acceptable free WordPress caching plugin is W3 Total Cache. It can be just as fast as WP Rocket but it has tons of settings that are not easy to configure well leaving many sites not as fast. If you are willing to put in the time to research how to configure it properly for your needs it is the one to use. If you don’t want to learn the ins and outs to configure it then WP Fastest Cache is your best free option and WP Rocket is the best paid.
Best WordPress E-Commerce Plugin
WooCommerce is the best E-Commerce plugin for WordPress. It works well, has the most 3rd party integrations and it is free. Automattic bought it a few years ago so it is definitely not going anywhere either.
The third party integrations is huge. When looking for a credit card processor, you don’t have to worry if they support your platform. WooCommerce is big enough now that every payment processor will integrate. Same with shipping, inventory, marketing, automation and logistics.
If you are only selling digital products and are use one of the common payment processors like Stripe you may take a look at Easy Digital Downloads as it is lighter weight (less of a speed bottleneck) than WooCommerce.
Best Image Optimization Plugin for WordPress
The best image optimization plugin for WordPress is ShortPixel. It has great compression to make your site load fast without sacrificing image quality. Out of all of the image optimization plugins I have used, ShortPixel has got the image sizes the smallest.
They have a free plan that lets you use it on 100 images per month. If you need more than 100 per month they are pretty inexpensive. 10,000 images for $9 and even cheaper per image if you buy more than 10,000 at a time. It has great compression to make your site load fast without sacrificing image quality.
Best Page Builder for WordPress
People seem to either love page building plugins or hate them. I personally think they are great. They allow people without coding expertise to create the exact design they want in a drag and drop manner.
In the past page builders would make a mess of code that would easily break and load slowly so people recommended against them. I feel that has changed and there are some really great options. That being said some still load really slow and have other issues but none of the ones found here.
If you are wanting to just do some basic styling and layout. The new Gutenberg editor that is now built into WordPress is pretty good. I don’t think it is as easy to master as the others below but it is free and built in not slowing down your site.
If you want to get advanced and really design every piece of your site, Elementor is the best. It does add a little overhead to your site but not much at all as long as you do not get crazy with adding too many extras. It has both free and paid versions. The free version will let you do most things but to unlock every feature like assigning templates to post types you will need Elementor Pro.
If you like the Divi theme, then the included Divi builder is for you. The Divi builder is very easy to use and like Elementor you can build anything. It does not have a free version although they have a free demo on their site that allows you to play with the builder and see how it works. Their licensing model is great though. You pay either yearly or they have a lifetime option. The thing is, once you buy it, you can use it on as many websites as you want. If you want to start building websites for people, you can use Divi. I have a lifetime license I bought years ago and have used it to create many clients’ sites.
Best SEO Plugin for WordPress
The overall best SEO Plugin for WordPress is Yoast SEO Premium Plugin. It includes functionality to accomplish anything SEO related for your site. This is not the free Yoast SEO plugin. If you are going to use a free plugin, I suggest The SEO Framework.
The SEO Framework does have paid add-ons but if you don’t need any of those functions, their free option is better than Yoast’s free SEO plugin. If you need more than one of the add-ons it is probably best to get Yoast’s premium SEO plugin as it is all inclusive instead of having to figure out which licensing level you need with The SEO framework.
This is the full list of my recommended best WordPress plugins. They have all been tested, not just a random list put together based off what some other blog said. If you need to add a function to your website that isn’t covered by the categories above or you would like my opinion on a plugin not listed, reach out on my contact page.