WordPress is one of the most popular website CMS (Content Management Systems) in the world. The current estimate says that over a third of all websites run on WordPress, which is impressive. There’s a reason why WordPress is so popular — it’s easy to use, well-optimized, and above all — modular.
Now what this means is that WordPress gives you a ton of room to get your website running the way you work, with the modular nature allowing you to get precisely the functionality you want, with plugins.
Plugins can add a lot of additional functionality, and there are some plugins that you absolutely need to have to make a good website. With that in mind, I decided to find the best WordPress plugins for your website, among the thousands available.
Here is my list of 19 must-have WordPress plugins in 2020!
1. Best Page Builder Plugin for WordPress: Beaver Builder
While using one of the thousands of available themes without any customization is an easy way to set your website up, building one yourself is a smarter option to set your website apart.
Beaver Builder is one of the best website builders available, with a drag-and-drop interface that will help you get your website built from the ground up, in no time. Beaver builder is light and very customizable and comes with a complete framework that lets you start with a template and build all elements, including widgets and shortcodes.
It also has a ton of modules to help you populate the page, including complete media support, text editor, custom HTML, and more. Furthermore, it plays nice with the majority of WordPress plugins, so you don’t have to worry about conflicts.
Beaver Builder has a lite version that is available for free, with more features offered in the premium one-time purchase licenses that start at $99 and go up to $399. The paid offerings include features like the Beaver Builder theme, multisite support, and white labeling.
Elementor is a trendy website builder alternative for this plugin that you might want to consider.
2. Best CSS Editor Plugin for WordPress: CSS Hero
Making a website can often be simple, especially if you’re using a builder like Beaver Builder, but when it comes to the nitty-gritty of coding, you’re bound to hit a wall. If you want to customize your business website to a great degree without wanting to hire someone, then CSS Hero is your savior.
It is a plugin that lets you play around with design elements that are made with CSS and customize them, without you having to know HTML or CSS. CSS Hero offers an easy to use interface that will help you modify the code underneath your site’s visuals to your liking, and it also packs in enough functionality for the professionals to use it as well. It’s not a website builder — but it works in pairing with them, including Beaver Builder, which I recommended above.
My favorite part about using CSS Hero was the live preview editor, which shows you the changes as you make them, so you can get the results you want with some trial and error. There’s an undo feature too, in case you get anything wrong. It is compatible with a lot of themes, and there’s built-in detection for compatibility.
CSS Hero does not have a free variant available but instead starts at $19 per year for one site. The pricing isn’t bad for the level of flexibility that the plugin brings. The plans go up to a one-time payment of $199 for a lifetime license with support for installations on up to 999 sites.
SiteOrigin CSS is a free alternative to CSS Hero that does not offer the same level of user-friendliness.
Get the CSS Hero WordPress plugin on the CSS Hero Official Website (Paid Versions)
3. Best Security Plugin for WordPress: Sucuri Security
When it comes to running a website, security should be one of your biggest concerns. Sucuri Security is a WordPress plugin that packs in an entire web security suite. Made by Sucuri Inc, a reputed security software company, this is a security plugin that comes with a firewall built-in and offers one-click hardening to plug the gaps in your website’s security quickly.
Sucuri offers protection against malware, DDoS attacks, and other common types of attacks that your website is likely to face. It also extensively logs all activity on your website, which means you can easily track back to the source of the problem, in case of an issue.
Sucuri also has great monitoring systems built-in. The plugin will monitor all changes to your files, and monitor external resources like blacklist engines to ensure your site is in the clear. My favorite feature of Sucuri is the ability to customize notifications to get alerts for specific security activities, which sets Sucuri apart.
The Sucuri Security WordPress plugin is free to use, but the Website Application Firewall feature is a paid feature that needs to be bought. It has three plans. The pricing for that starts at $9.99 per month, with custom-tailored plans available as enterprise offerings.
All in One WP Security & Firewall is a great alternative for Sucuri.
4. Best Backup Plugin for WordPress: UpdraftPlus
WordPress is a pretty secure platform by itself, and using plugins like Sucuri that we just talked about, will give you an extra layer of security. However, it’s still a good idea to have a backup system in place, because you don’t want your website to be inaccessible for too long, in case of an attack.
That is precisely where UpdraftPlus comes in. It is the most popular backup plugin for WordPress, with one-click backups. UpdraftPlus offers a ton of functionality, letting you set up complete backups, including all files and databases, and scheduling automatic backups as per your preference.
My favorite UpdraftPlus feature is the ability to save your site backups to remote storage, with a ton of options — Dropbox, Microsoft Azure, Google Drive, Google Cloud, Email, and many more. You can also add more functionality with the paid version with several add-ons.
The basic plugin is available for free, and the paid version, called UpdraftPremium is priced starting at $70, with the highest tier going up to an annual subscription of $399 per year. All premium plans get all the add-ons, tokens for UpdraftClone — the website cloning feature that uses dedicated VPS, and storage with UpdateVault — the plugin’s native backup storage offering.
BackupBuddy is an alternative to UpdatePlus, but it does not offer a free version.
5. Best SEO Plugin for WordPress: Yoast SEO
Search Engine Optimization is a crucial thing for a website, as you want your site to be among the top results when people search for relevant topics. Yoast SEO is the most popular SEO plugin for WordPress, with an estimated total of over seven million websites using this plugin as of now.
Yoast SEO comes with a ton of SEO features, with automatic sitemaps which it sends to search engines, telling them exactly what your site is about, focus keywords to help your content rank higher, and all over SEO optimizations for all elements of your website’s content — text, titles, and media.
I’ve been using Yoast SEO for over seven years, and I’ve always found it to deliver results and be easy to get used to for beginners. It will be a consistent and no-nonsense addition to your WordPress website and a must-have plugin to have for any website.
Yoast has a free version, but the real value the plugin brings is with the Yoast SEO Premium, which adds all of the great features that you need to increase visibility for your business. Yoast SEO Premium starts at $89 per year for one site.
6. Best Caching Plugin for WordPress: W3 Total Cache
The problem with many websites is that they can be very unoptimized, and thus slow. W3 Total Cache is a caching plugin that speeds up your site by saving static versions of your website resources for quick access.
W3 Total Cache comes with a host of optimization features, with page caching doing most of the heavy lifting. This plugin also uses minification on underlying HTML, CSS and JS resources, removing the whitespace and other redundant data from them to make the files lighter, and easier to load. Additionally, W3 Total Cache can also cache database queries for more speed.
The feature that impressed me the most is the easy integration that this plugin has with a variety of Content Delivery Networks, a.k.a. CDNs, which is a great addition.
W3 Total Cache has a free version available, with a Pro version available for upgrade from within the plugin only. This Pro version costs $99 per year and adds features like fragment caching, exclusive integration with extensions, and full site CDN mirroring. I would recommend the free version unless you plan on having a lot of functionality on your business website, like E-Commerce.
WP Rocket is a great alternative to W3 Total Cache if you want a ton of extra functionality.
Get the W3 Total Cache WordPress plugin on the WordPress Plugin Store (Pro version available as an upgrade within the plugin only)
7. Best Image Optimization Plugin for WordPress: WP Smush
Images are among the heavier elements on your website that slow it down. While caching helps in overall load times, it’s better to have an image optimization plugin to help with reducing the amount of data that needs to be loaded when accessing your site. WP Smush is an image optimization plugin that does exactly this.
WP Smush offers a ton of features. The most important feature it offers is lossless compression of images so that while your images shed size, they still retain quality. Another image optimization that WP Smush has is Lazy Load, which greatly helps with load times. It also offers bulk optimizations of images, resizing, and auto-detection of images that are corrupted or have incorrect sizes, and are slowing down your website.
It also has automated optimization, processing your images to improve site performance on the go. You can also convert images to the WebP format, and use their fast CDN to help load times even more. All in all, I would recommend WP Smush in combination with W3 Total Cache to increase your site’s performance to the maximum.
The free version of WP Smush offers many features that should be enough for a basic WordPress website that doesn’t involve the use of too many images. However, for users with heavier image use, the premium plans start at $70 per year and go up to $290 per year with the more expensive tiers offering support for more sites and better support options.
EWWW Image Optimizer is a popular alternative to WP Smush that you might want to check out.
8. Best Analytics Plugin for WordPress: MonsterInsights
Since Google is the leading search engine, and way ahead of every other one, you need to be able to track your website’s performance on Google, in addition to having it rank well in search. Google Analytics provides this performance data, and MonsterInsights your ticket to understanding that data.
MonsterInsights was previously a part of Yoast SEO, and called Google Analytics by Yoast, but exists as a separate plugin today. It focuses on making Google Analytics better for beginners. It brings together all Analytics data tracking, including E-Commerce, ads, downloads, clicks, Google AMP, forms, Facebook Instant Articles, and more. MonsterInsights is designed for all kinds of websites, no matter how big or small.
What I like the most about MonsterInsights is how it integrates the Analytics data into WordPress, showing you the key details on the WordPress dashboard itself. This makes it easy to keep an eye on your website’s performance on Google.
MonsterInsights offers a free version with basic features. It also offers three premium tiers ranging from $99.50 per year to $399.50 per year. The premium offerings provide a lot more features, so I would recommend you choose one of these three tiers as per your requirements, rather than opting for the free plugin.
ExactMetrics is a free alternative to MonsterInsights that provides similar features.
9. Best Link Management Plugin for WordPress: Pretty Links
Link handling and tracking can be crucial for your website, especially if you handle collaborations and analytics. Pretty Links is a link management and tracking tool that lets you modify links, and gives you complete information on all of your links.
Pretty Links will let you shorten your URLs to “pretty links” and choose redirections as you wish, and even lets you insert them directly into your posts. You can also manage affiliate links and track the traffic individually. For example, say you want to give a discount on a product to a customer that refers their friends to sign up. In that case, you can give them an automatic pretty link, and track the data to reward them accordingly. The possibilities are endless.
Pretty Links is a powerful marketing tool to have for your business website, and I would recommend you to give it a shot and try using it to your advantage.
Pretty Links has a free version available, but the real powerhouse is the paid version, called Pretty Links Pro. The pricing for the Pro version starts from $49 and goes up to $149. The premium tiers come with a lot of automation available, so I would recommend you choose of the three Pro plans based on your needs.
ThirstyAffiliates is a feature-packed alternative to Pretty Links.
10. Best Form Builder Plugin for WordPress: WPForms
A website needs to provide enough ways for visitors to be able to contact the business, to ensure good user engagement. While listing the email and contact details on the site is an option, a much better way is to have forms embedded on your site. WPForms is one of the most popular WordPress form builder plugins.
WPForms comes with a lot of functionality, and an easy to use interface that makes it very beginner-friendly. The plugin has templates for common form types, and a drag-and-drop editor so that creating new forms doesn’t take too much effort. The forms even have the option to have conditional logic, which lets the upcoming form fields change according to previous answers.
You also get spam protection, so you don’t have to worry about someone filling your responses up. I like that WPForms integrates the responses into the WordPress dashboard, as well as gives you an option to get email notifications for every response.
WPForms offers a free version of the plugin with the basic functionality, which is enough if all you want is a couple of forms on your website for feedback and contact. The paid versions range from $39.50 per year to $299.50 per year and offer a ton of functionality, including the automation features and multisite support.
Contact Form 7 is a great free alternative to WPForms.
11. Best E-Commerce Plugin For WordPress: WooCommerce
If you plan on using your business website to sell products, then you need an E-commerce plugin to help you set up your online marketplace. WooCommerce is the most widely used E-commerce plugin for WordPress and comes fully equipped with all the features that you will need to start selling.
WooCommerce is built on WordPress, so you can expect seamless integration. It is insanely customizable, which means you can sell whatever you want, and make your store look however you want it to, with a ton of themes and extensions that work well thanks to the modular nature of the plugin. WooCommerce also comes with all the SEO optimizations so that your products rank better in search results.
The best feature of WooCommerce is the integrated inventory system, which makes it the only E-Commerce plugin for WordPress you will ever need.
Impressively, for all the functionality that it offers, the WooCommerce plugin is completely free. There are the regular costs associated with running a website and add-ons like themes that you might need to pay for, but that’s about it.
WP eCommerce is an alternative to WooCommerce, but it isn’t nearly as good and asks you to pay for most features.
Get the WooCommerce WordPress plugin on the WordPress Plugin Store.
12. Best Membership Plugin for WordPress: MemberPress
Many websites rely on having subscription services, and it can be tough to manage such services under E-Commerce platforms since they offer recurring benefits across several tiers. For such businesses, there is MemberPress, a WordPress plugin designed to provide membership and subscription-based services to customers.
MemberPress has a very intuitive and beginner-friendly user interface. There are a ton of customization features and management tools to restrict and grant access as per the user level per the subscription tier. It’s a well-equipped E-Commerce platform on its own, only specifically geared towards memberships. You also get coupon and affiliate functionality.
MemberPress is a plugin that is extensive in the amount of control it provides. I was surprised by the amount of forethought that has gone into some of the features — it seems as if they have thought about every feature possible, and baked it in. If you want to run a subscription-based business, I recommend you look no further.
MemberPress has no free version available. The pricing starts at $149 and goes up to $349 with pricier options getting support for more sites and add-ons. There are no subscription models here, with all offerings being one-time licenses.
Restrict Content Pro is a powerful alternative to MemberPress, but I would still recommend MemberPress over any other.
Get the MemberPress WordPress plugin on the MemberPress Official Website
13. Best CRO Plugin for WordPress: OptinMonster
A website can massively help you convert visitors into paying customers. If you want to make money from your website, it needs to be able to generate leads. However, this cannot be done by merely hosting a website and expecting leads. That’s where the OptinMonster plugin comes in.
OptinMonster is a lead generation plugin for WordPress that will get users to opt into your email marketing, like newsletters. It is geared towards increasing the number of email subscribers you have by giving users visiting your website intelligently timed and placed opt-in email subscription forms. The plugin comes with built-in form templates that can be deployed directly. If you want more customization, there’s also a drag-and-drop form editor that will let you make custom forms to your liking.
Email marketing is still one of the best means to keep in touch with your customers as well as to convert potential customers into paying customers, so I would recommend OptinMonster to boost your Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).
OptinMonster has a free version that should suffice for most users. However, if you plan on being a bit more aggressive with your email marketing, you should get one of the paid tiers, which start from $9 per month and go up to $49 per month, adding a range of features to help you scale your email marketing.
Thrive Leads is a powerful alternative to OptinMonster.
14. Best Email Marketing Plugin for WordPress: Constant Contact
As I noted above, email marketing is very important for a website if you plan on making money off of it, and thus something that needs to be integrated into your website. While OptinMonster is a lead generator that brings you subscribers, you still need an actual email marketing provider that can help you build these subscribers into lists and send them marketing emails. That’s exactly what Constant Contact does.
Constant Contact is built for small businesses and has a ton of templates built-in, which can easily be edited by you. It also has tracking and reporting so you can see how well your email campaigns do and make changes as required. Constant Contact even includes an autoresponder so you can automate replies to your clients.
Now, we know email marketing can be seen as scammy and be blacklisted, or end up in the spam box. The most impressive thing about Constant Contact, in my opinion, is its 98% deliverability, which means that you can rely on it to deliver your marketing communications.
There is no free version of this plugin, but Constant Contact starts at a low price of $5 for a month for the Lite plan, which comes with the first month free and offers up to 10,000 email sends per month. The more expensive plans. Which go up to $45 per month, come with unlimited emails and other features like automation.
Mailchimp is a popular alternative to Constant Contact.
Get the Constant Contact WordPress plugin on the Constant Contact Official Website (Paid Versions)
15. Best SMTP Mail Plugin for WordPress: WP Mail SMTP
If you’re running a monetized website, you’re likely to be heavily reliant on email for communication and marketing to bring traffic back to your website. However, there’s an issue with WordPress when it comes to email — it sends emails with PHP, by default, which can cause delivery issues. WP Mail SMTP, used by over a million websites at the moment, fixes these issues.
WP Mail SMTP ensures your emails are routed through the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), either by reconfiguration or by using an SMTP mail provider, to ensure that your emails never end up undelivered, or in the spam box. WP Mail SMTP comes with integrated support for many SMTP services, including Gmail and Microsoft, and supports nearly every SMTP service available.
Another impressive feature is that this plugin also keeps an automatic log of every email you send out.
WP Mail SMTP has a free version available that I would recommend to most users that plan on running this plugin. There are paid versions available, supporting multiple sites, and including white-glove setup, which can be convenient if you don’t want to do the installation yourself. These plans are priced between $49 per year to $399 per year.
Postman SMTP is a good alternative to this plugin although nowhere near as popular.
Social media is an essential aspect of any successful venture today, and the more airtime you can get on social media, the more successful your venture is likely to be. Shared Counts is a WordPress plugin that lets users share the content on your website to any of the popular social media platforms with a single click.
Shared Counts is a very basic but essential plugin that has a singular function — redirect visitors to social media to generate buzz about your content. You can configure the buttons to take users to your social media pages, or to make sharing the content to their social media accounts/pages convenient. It’s straightforward and lightweight but allows customization of the looks of the buttons.
You also get the share analytics, which can help you keep track of what is generating buzz and what isn’t. It is also developer-friendly, so there is more room for integration and customization.
The plugin is completely free to use, and there are no premium versions available.
AddToAny Share Buttons is a popular alternative to the Shared Counts WordPress plugin.
Get the Shared Counts WordPress plugin on the WordPress Plugin Store
17. Best Live Chat Plugin For WordPress: LiveChat
Customers often seek means of contact on websites, and having a chat option on the website can be a great way to resolve queries quickly, rather than redirecting them to email or phone. Depending on the type of website, live chat may be a crucial requirement, and the LiveChat WordPress plugin is one of the best solutions for this purpose.
LiveChat comes with all the features that you can ask from a live chat plugin. It has file sharing, automated messages, integration for ticket-based support, feedback, and more. LiveChat integrates well with WordPress and many famous plugins. It’s also incredibly customizable, so you can adjust the theming to match it to your website’s visuals.
The most impressive feature of the LiveChat plugin, in my opinion, is the backend reporting, which gives you analytics for the chat sessions on your website. Data is important for any business, and this data will let you optimize your live chat to serve customers better. I recommend you consider this plugin, especially if your business is in the E-Commerce space.
There is no free version of LiveChat, but you get a 14-day free trial to test the app out. The pricing starts at $16 per month and goes up to $50 per month. LiveChat also has enterprise offerings that they can custom tailor to meet your needs. The more expensive plans offer some great features like Apple Business Chat and SMS capabilities and more.
HelpCrunch is a decent alternative to LiveChat, but LiveChat is leagues ahead of the competition.
18. Best Giveaway Plugin for WordPress: RafflePress
User engagement is vital for any website, and in today’s era, giveaways have become a great way of increasing website traffic while rewarding users. Giveaways can boost your social media engagement quite a lot and is something you should try, especially if you have an E-Commerce or subscription selling website. RafflePress is one of the best giveaway plugins available for WordPress.
RafflePress has multiple advantages. First of all, the giveaways being email-based can help you grow your email marketing database. Secondly, the cost of promotion for the engagement received is much lower than the paid advertising campaigns. RafflePress offers an easy to use builder with templates built-in, complete with social media sharing, and invite-based giveaway models built-in.
It also offers seamless integrations and great tracking features to help you get the most out of giveaway campaigns. I would strongly recommend you to give RafflePress a try before going after paid marketing strategies.
RafflePress pricing starts at $39.20 per year and goes up to $159.20 per year for the annual paid plans, with the costlier tiers providing more features and integrations, as well as support for more sites. There’s also a lifetime license available starting $359.20 offering unlimited access and lifetime support.
Woorise is a great alternative to RafflePress that’s almost as good at RafflePress.
19. Best Plugin Update Manager Plugin for WordPress: Easy Updates Manager
When you run a lot of plugins on your WordPress website, you’re bound to need help managing all of them, and making sure they’re all up to date. This is why my last recommendation is a plugin to rule them all — Easy Updates Manager.
The best plugins tend to get very regular updates, some so often that some of my recommendations in this list have been updated as I was writing this article. As such, the built-in plugin management WordPress provides is not always enough. Easy Updates Manager lets you enable and disable automatic updates with a single click, and customize your automatic updates to your liking. You can also create exclusions to some plugin updates, in case you’re afraid about a feature breaking.
The best feature of Easy Updates Manager is that it integrates with UpdraftPlus, the backup plugin I have recommended above, so you don’t have to worry about it causing issues with website backups. You can even set up email notifications if you want.
The free version includes basic features of update control. The premium versions start at $39 and go up to $179 for lifetime licenses. These include automation and email features, multisite support, premium customer support, and more. I would recommend the Basic version at $39 unless you are a power user that requires the full set of features Easy Updates Manager offers.
There are no regularly updated and supported plugins that can be called a good alternative to Easy Updates Manager.
All these plugins offer a ton of functionality and are my recommendations for plugins you should consider using if you want to build a great WordPress website. However, I would recommend you to pick out only the necessary plugins for your use. Using too many plugins can slow a website down, so make sure you don’t install any plugin that you don’t absolutely need, or won’t use. Good luck!
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