A WordPress beginner could easily get confused when working on a website due to the availability of thousands of plugins available. As someone who is familiar with WordPress for a long time, my list of essential WordPress plugins can help avoid much of that confusion.
It is a very short list. This is deliberate because you might be tempted to think that the more plugins you use, the better. Actually, that is far from the truth. Plugins have an impact on the server, so you want to avoid going on a plugin binge. Use only as many as you really need.
Essential WordPress plugins for beginners
Having explained the rationale, below is my list of essential plugins for you. I have included brief explanations detailing why you need them.
- JetPack by WordPress.com: JetPack lets you add a range of features to your WordPress blog. Such features include: social sharing, security, faster image loading, sitemaps, downtime monitoring, spelling, style, and grammar assistance, and more. You can get all these features under the free plan. Without JetPack, you would have to install several plugins to get each of these features on your website. JetPack is the king of must-have WordPress plugins.
- AMP by WordPress.com: AMP is a standard that makes website pages load really fast on mobile devices. You don’t want your mobile visitors annoyed because your site is taking minutes to load fully on their devices. AMP by WordPress.com is a plugin by the developers of WordPress. A must-have.
- Submission Forms: It is a great idea to have a submission form on your Contact page. Contact Form 7 is perhaps the best contact form plugin that I have ever used. I recommend it.
- Mailing list: If you are starting out blogging, you should add a mailing list, so people who like your content can subscribe to be notified by email whenever you publish new articles. Newsletter is my favourite, but MailPoet and MailChimp are popular too.
- Cache: A cache helps your blog serve content to readers faster. WP Super Cache is by Automattic, the team behind WordPress itself, so it is a good option. Other popular cache plugins are WP Fastest Cache, W3 Total Cache, and Autoptimize. You need only one cache plugin, so pick one. Feel free to try them out one by one to see what works for you. Once you have set it up to work, you can forget about it and never have to touch it again.
- Google Analytics: Google Analytics helps you see which of your posts are performing best, as well as where your visitors are from, what devices they use, etc. It is the most comprehensive tool for understanding what is going on on your blog. Google Analytics Dashboard for WP by ExactMetrics is my preferred option, though Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsightsis just as good.
- SEO – An SEO plugin helps you optimise your blog better for visibility in search engines. In simple terms, you can will get more traffic if you setup and use SEO tools right. Some great ones include: Yoast SEO, Rank Math SEO, SEOPress, All in One SEO Pack, and SmartCrawl SEO.
Depending on the extra functionality you need on your blog, you do not have to limit yourself to these 7 essential WordPress plugins. There is a plugin for almost anything you want to add to your WordPress site. Just remember my earlier warning not to overload your site with plugins.
How to get these must-have WordPress plugins
All of these must-have WordPress plugins can be installed right from inside your WordPress blog. Login to your WordPress admin dashboard, look in the black left column for “Plugins”, however your mouse on it, and click on the “Add New” menu to open the Add Plugins page.
On that page, type in the name of any of the above plugins in the search box and it will be presented to you to install. Click the “Install” button, then click “Activate”. For most, you still have to set the installed plugin up correctly to get the results you want.
You can also search for any other plugin you want from that page.