Did you find yourself here after searching the web for must-have WordPress plugins? You’re in luck.
In this post, we’ll discuss WordPress plugins in detail, explaining what they are, how they work, and the different types you can find. We’ll also share a list of 15 essential WordPress Plugins for your site in 2023 and beyond.
So, whether you plan to develop a new site or are looking to improve an existing one, consider our picks and unlock new features and functions without writing a single line of code.
Why WordPress Holds Worldwide Appeal in Web Development
According to W3Techs, 43% of all websites are powered by WordPress. That’s a whopping 810 million websites using the platform’s open-source content management system (CMS) to create web pages and manage different types of content – text, images, video, audio, etc.
Today, businesses and individuals use WordPress to establish, customize, and improve their digital presence by creating websites, eCommerce stores, blogs, online forums, or other platforms that drive traffic and engagement. They leverage the platform’s extensive library of WordPress plugins, visually appealing themes, and other resources to revitalize their digital visions.
One of the key differentiators separating WordPress from other CMSs is the abundance of essential and optional plugins that make it incredibly easy for non-developers to build stunning websites.
But what exactly is a WordPress Plugin? Let’s find out.
What Is a WordPress Plugin?
WordPress plugins are similar to iOS or Android apps you can download on your phone from the Apple Store or Google Play Store. They’re essentially software you can “plug” into your WordPress site to:
- Add new features or functionality
- Improve existing features or functionality
With this powerful tool, you can develop unique websites from scratch with little or no web development expertise.
How WordPress Plugins Work
Since WordPress plugins are now integral to website design, development, and management, you must understand how they work. These software components consist of access points that hook into the source code of local or third-party software using the WordPress Plugin API without altering the platform’s core codebase.
So, when you install a plugin from your WordPress dashboard, you insert its features and functionality into your CMS.
Types of WordPress Plugins
Today, you can find various types of WordPress plugins that can add value to your CMS by unlocking different features and functions. Below are the most essential types you should know about:
1. WordPress Email Plugins
A WordPress email plugin lets users send emails directly from their sites using PHP mail code. With email functionality, you can streamline and centralize communications with users, customers, and internal teams using popular email services like Gmail and Outlook or email marketing platforms like Mailchimp, OptinMonster, and Newsletter.
2. WordPress Sitemap Plugins
XML sitemaps are essential for websites. They help search engines find, crawl, and index your site, making it easier for visitors to navigate it. Hence, WordPress considers sitemap plugins critical to overall SEO performance and engagement. Therefore, you must install and keep them updated to automate creation and maintenance.
3. WordPress Security Plugins
Cybersecurity is one of the biggest issues internet users face. Since WordPress represents over 43% of websites, it’s statistically the most vulnerable CMS worldwide. Hence, it’s no surprise that hackers and cybercriminals actively seek ways to exploit infrastructure weaknesses to steal data/money or sabotage operations. Therefore, security plugins are must-have WordPress plugins in 2023 and beyond. They offer various solutions to prevent malware, SQL injections, cross-site scripting, brute force attacks, and other issues.
4. WordPress Backup Plugins
WordPress sites are susceptible to data loss via theft, server crashes, human error, and other issues. As a result, backup plugins are among the most essential WordPress plugins for modern websites. They provide backups for your cPanel and can quickly restore it to previous versions. Some plugins also allow storing backups off-site to enhance data security and integrity further.
5. WordPress Form Plugins
Many modern websites include forms where visitors, users, or customers can enter personal information. Site owners can use WordPress form plugins to collect user information, feedback, and more via surveys, CTAs, and other means quickly and securely. When customizing your form, you can use different templates and maximize convenience with drag-and-drop builders.
6. WordPress Caching Plugins
Caching is an essential site function that stores data temporarily to serve it faster on future requests. WordPress caching plugins can speed up requests at different touchpoints in the CMS. For instance, some can cache the visitor’s browser to load pages faster. Others can cache your content delivery network, server, or website.
7. WordPress SEO Plugins
No WordPress site can improve or optimize search visibility without SEO plugins. These plugins make your site easier to find on Google and other popular search engines. Today, hundreds of WordPress SEO plugins offer unique features and functionality that can improve different aspects of on-page and off-page SEO, including content analysis, image optimization, link building, and schema markup.
8. WordPress Multilingual Plugins
Multilingual plugins are among the most essential WordPress plugins you can install if you’re looking to increase your site’s global reach. These plugins automatically translate your site’s content (pages, posts, menus, etc.) or on-demand (switching). Today, millions of websites operate globally. Therefore, site translation is a smart localization technique to boost traffic and engagement by making your digital offerings more accessible to your target audiences.
Must-Have WordPress Plugins in 2023 and Beyond – Our Top 15 Picks
Now that you have an idea of the different WordPress plugin types you can find, here are our top 15 picks:
As mentioned earlier, every WordPress site should have a contact form for visitors to collect visitor contact information and simplify communications. WPForms is the friendliest form plugin you can find for WordPress. Installing it on your dashboard lets you drag and drop widgets to build and customize contacts, subscriptions, online orders, surveys, payments, and other forms.
WPForms offers pre-designed templates to simplify the creation process further. The plugin also integrates with major payment platforms like PayPal and Stripe, which explains why over six million websites use it today for their transactions and communications. You, too, can leverage this WP plugin for free and upgrade to its pro version to grow your business.
2. Gravity Forms
Gravity Forms is another powerful WordPress form plugin and a smart alternative to WPForms. You can use it to create fully customized web forms for lead capturing, payment collection, workflow automation, and query resolution.
The plugin also offers add-ons, including Hubspot, Advanced Calculations, Advanced Phone Fields, and Agile CRM, to add more functions through integration. So, whether you’re looking to add a payment gateway or enable email marketing, Gravity Forms can help.
OptinMonster is a lead generation and email plugin that converts visitors into subscribers and potential customers. It’s the most popular conversion optimization tool on WordPress today, with over a million users. OptinMonster offers 100+ visually stunning templates to create forms to capture and convert leads, including popups, digital welcome mats, announcement bards, and slide-ins.
You can also personalize your campaigns to target different audiences in varying locations or at different times. If you’re intrigued by what this plugin offers, you can opt for its free version to test its functionality and features.
4. Mailchimp for WordPress
Mailchimp is among the world’s leading email marketing automation platforms, with over 15 million active users. Many Mailchimp users use its powerful plugin to leverage the platform’s features and functionality on their WordPress sites. Once installed, you can create and manage email campaigns and newsletters seamlessly.
Mailchimp also allows you to build and grow subscriber lists through custom email signup forms and automated campaigns. Other features and functions include customer segmentation, A/B testing, eCommerce integration, and dynamic content personalization.
5. All-in-One SEO
All-in-One SEO (AIOSEO) is the most popular SEO plugin for WordPress. Today, over 3 million active users leverage it to improve their site visibility and search ranking by meeting the requirements of popular engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo! AIOSEO offers a comprehensive suite of features and functions that can simplify, accelerate, and streamline your SEO efforts.
For instance, when writing blog posts or creating web pages, you can use it to optimize SEO by adding SEO titles, meta descriptions, focus/secondary keywords, etc. You can also create XML sitemaps and accelerate crawling and indexing. AIOSEO also integrates with Google Search Console, enabling you to perform data analytics and performance evaluation on-demand.
By opting for the pro version, you can enjoy even more features, including smart schema, video sitemaps, 404 error monitoring, and advanced breadcrumbs, to name a few.
6. Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is the most popular external/third-party WordPress SEO plugin, with over 11 million active installs. It’s one of the most must-have WordPress plugins today, offering many features and functions, including SEO analysis, readability analysis, keyword optimization, automatic XML sitemap generation, and social media integration.
With organic traffic becoming the bread and butter for most startups and small businesses, there’s been a growing need for free and affordable WordPress plugins that can offer on-page and off-page SEO assistance. Yoast SEO boasts a solid, user-friendly interface that ensures seamless navigation across your WordPress dashboard. You also get access to the latest SEO trends and search engine algorithm changes to align your site with best practices better.
MonsterInsights is an SEO plugin for WordPress that enables Google Analytics on your cPanel. Since Google is the world’s most popular search engine, with over 8.5 billion daily searches, adding this functionality to learn how most online users interact with your site makes sense.
You can track dozens of performance metrics, including page views, sessions, impressions, bounce rate, conversion rate, pages per session, etc. Tracking these metrics (and more) can provide actionable insights to adjust your content, SEO, and design strategies for enhanced reach and effectiveness.
8. WordPress Multilingual Plugin (WPML)
WordPress doesn’t allow users to create sites in multiple languages by default. So, to translate your site into multiple languages for different geographic locations, you must download and install a multilingual WordPress plugin. WPML is the most popular option to translate various aspects of your site, including post and page content, navigation menus, widgets, signup forms, and more.
It allows visitors to switch between two or more languages, depending on your preferred version. Moreover, it’s among the best free WordPress plugins in 2023. As the world rapidly shifts into a digital-first economy, you must enable brand globalization by localizing your site content according to varying audiences. WPML can help do that cost-effectively. However, you should opt for its pro version to unlock its full potential.
TranslatePress is another freemium WordPress multilingual plugin to translate your site’s content. It’s a more powerful alternative to WPML, supporting automatic translations and manual switching. Hence, you can allow users to choose their preferred language or translate pages automatically based on their location or IP.
By opting for the premium plan, you can also translate meta information, URLs, and other SEO content. The plugin’s visual translation interface enables real-time editing and multilingual search engine optimization.
Duplicator is the most recommended backup plugin for WordPress sites. Installing it on your cPanel enables automatic backups and stores valuable data on physical and cloud locations, including Google Drive, Amazon, S3, Dropbox, HDD/SSD drives, USB sticks, etc.
The core purpose of Duplicator is to simplify backup restoration following a hack, server crash, or other issues. Other powerful features include multiple recovery points, a dedicated migration wizard, multisite backup, and more. Duplicator is an essential backend WordPress plugin, as it can help ensure data integrity, security, and availability.
BackupBuddy is a smart alternative to Duplicator. However, it offers far more advanced yet simplified backup and restoration solutions for WordPress sites. The plugin safeguards your site’s content, data, and files by providing multiple backups as contingencies for security risks and other issues.
You can also schedule automated backups to ensure continuous protection with little or no manual intervention. Like Duplicator, BackupBuddy offers off-site and cloud storage to enable remote restoration and cloning for migration. However, it goes further by allowing you to revert your WordPress database to a previous state and even scan for malware within your website files.
12. Sucuri Security
Sucuri Security is among the most essential WordPress plugins you should install on your site. It offers a powerful web application firewall to monitor and protect your data, content, and files from common cyber attacks, including DDoS attacks, SQL injections, ransomware, spyware, and spam comment attacks.
The security plugin also adds a protection layer to your content delivery network to improve overall performance and security.
13. All in One WP Security & Firewall
All-in-One WP Security & Firewall (AIOS) is a more cost-effective alternative to Sucuri Security, WordFence, WP Activity Log, Cloudflare, and other premium security plugins. While it doesn’t offer the same level of security as its counterparts, it’s still an excellent option, nonetheless. Its firewall can protect your site from unauthorized access and malicious attacks.
You can enjoy enhanced user account security with password enforcement, login attempt limitation, and two-factor authentication. Other attractive features include file system security, IP-based login lockdown, database encryption, and CAPTCHA integration.
14. WP Rocket
WP Rocket is the most powerful caching plugin for WordPress. Users can increase their site’s speed and performance without coding or technical expertise. The plugin automatically enables all recommended cache settings for the platform, including cache pre-loading, gzip compression, and DNS prefetching.
WP Rocket offers excellent support for content delivery networks by proactively crawling pages and posts. You can also integrate other plugins, including Sucuri, Yoast SEO, etc., to extend its functionality without downloading multiple plugins.
15. W3 Total Cache
In other words, it speeds up loading for visitors, logged-in users, and admins managing the sites. You can also further integrate different content delivery networks to improve performance by testing various configurations. Therefore, the static HTML files users will see can be tailored to your requirements. Another benefit of using W3 Total Cache is that it’s compatible with most managed hosting providers, including Zabhost.
Essential WordPress Plugins in 2023 and Beyond – Bottom Line
So, there you have it – our top 15 picks for must-have WordPress plugins in 2023 and beyond. With these options, you can improve your WordPress site’s performance in terms of SEO, security, data backup, communication, and more.
However, before installing any of the plugins above, thoroughly research their features and functionality. Just because they’re excellent options doesn’t necessarily mean they’re right for you. Learn about their alternatives to broaden your knowledge before finalizing your decision.