My Top WordPress Plugins for 2021
Boasting over 50,000 plugins the official WordPress library is rich in resources. I have narrowed down my top 8 plugins that I use regularly and what benefit they provide.
1. Yoast SEO
Currently holding a massive 5 million active installations, Yoast is the go-to plugin for SEO. The plugin allows you to easily set the SEO title and meta description for each page and post type with a preview of what this will look like in Google search results. One of the best features is focusing on key phrases and analyzing the content for improvements to optimize each page for better results. Not only this but each suggested improvement will give you a link to an article explaining why these suggestions matter. Another handy feature that comes included with the plugin is the ability to set Open Graph by being able to set the image, title, and description that will appear when the post/page is shared on social media platforms.
Smush is another popular plugin with over 1 million active installs. It is estimated that images make up 60% of the bytes on average needed to load a web page1 so making sure images are optimized correctly is a good start in making sure your website is running as fast as it can be. This plugin will automatically compress and optimize images that are uploaded via the media library improving overall page speed and helping to improve page speed metrics on tools such as Google Page Speed / Lighthouse . It also comes with lazy loading features that will load in the relevant images only when they are in view, again improving page loading times and less bandwidth.
The most popular plugin for 301 redirects. This plugin is a must for migrating websites to ensure those page ranks are maintained when URLs and URL structures are changed. It comes provided with a handy tool to monitor any 404s your visitors may land on helping you to identify any pages that might need a 301 setting up. It also allows you to import/export any redirects from a CSV, htaccess or JSON file for bulk setting.
4. Contact Form 7
Contact Form 7 is a plugin that allows for the creation of forms on your WordPress website which can be embedded on any page or post by dropping in the shortcode it creates. It also comes pre-supplied with the ability to add email notifications when a visitor fills in the form with the details they have submitted. Google’s reCAPTCHA can be installed on the forms you create to prevent unwanted spam and additional addon plugins will allow you to do things such as storing the submission into a database which can be also viewed in WordPress Admin.
5. Post Types Order
As default WordPress will list pages and posts in chronological order, with the latest page/post showing first. There will probably be a time where you’ll want the order to be changed and manipulated and this plugin will let you manually sort this easily by a drag and drop interface.
WooCommerce is an e-commerce plugin that can be used on anything and everything between small and large websites. Statistics show that in 2015 WooCommerce was being used on 30% of online stores and in 2018 active on more than 3 million websites. The market share is continuing to grow and is becoming one of the leading e-commerce platforms on the Internet2.
Simply, WooCommerce allows you to turn your WordPress website into an online store. Easily integrated into WordPress this plugin allows you to add/edit/delete products whether these are physical products, downloads, subscriptions, memberships, bookings, etc.
Not only that but it comes prebuilt with everything you would expect from an online store including the ability to log orders, send email notifications, accounts for repeating customers, coupons, and integrations with payment methods such as PayPal.
The plugin also comes with a large community of addons, so if WooCommerce doesn’t have a feature included by default there is a good chance that the 1000s of plugins and extensions will help you achieve what you are looking for.
UpdraftPlus has quickly become the go to plugin to ensure that your website gets automatically backed up regularly. An easy user interface lets you pick how often backups are made (anything from a couple of hours to a month) and separates these out into database, plugins, uploads, themes, and files allowing you to manually restore only the relevant parts rather than a full restoration. Not only will it store these files locally but the plugin comes with easy integration to remote storage services such as Amazon SE, Dropbox, Google Drive, Google Cloud and much more. UpdraftPlus is a great plugin to give you peace of mind and security that your website is being successfully backed up away from the server in case anything should happen to your live website.
8. Better Search Replace
A simple but powerful plugin which allows you to do find and replace searches on the WordPress database. Can be a great tool if you are migrating from one URL to another and you need all those references in your content and navigation to be changed/updated.
About the Author
Stephen is a web developer who has been building websites and applications for over a decade. He continues to build projects and solutions for clients and enjoys teaching others in his field.