Building a WordPress site for the first time? We’ve curated a list of the best WordPress plugins to help you create a fast, secure, and functional site.
We’ll be looking at a few different types of plugins:
- Essential plugins – are the core WordPress plugins that every site needs;
- Security and performance plugins – will keep your site safe from hackers, improve your loading speeds, and more;
- Ecommerce plugins – make it possible to sell products on your WordPress site;
- Marketing and media plugins – will simplify your marketing and monetization;
- Food, travel, lifestyle blogs plugins – will help you build a site in the food, travel, or lifestyle categories.
And, best of all, most of the plugins on this list have a free version, so you’ll be able to set up your website even on a shoestring budget.
Let’s take a look at those 🔝 plugins!
If you’re going to run a blog on your site, accept comments on pages, or let people reach out to you through a contact form, you need Akismet.
This plugin automatically checks comments and contact form submissions against a global spam database, then uses that data to filter out anything that looks like spam. The most obvious spam is discarded outright, saving you massive amounts of time and storage space. Questionable comments are put into the Spam category so you can easily sort through them and approve any comments that were accidentally caught in Akismet’s filters.
💵 Pricing: Akismet is free for personal blogs. Commercial blogs can sign up for a paid subscription starting at $8.33 per month, billed annually.
2. Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is one of the best WordPress plugins around for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Yoast automatically manages technical aspects of SEO to improve your website speed and make it easier for search engines to understand what your site is about.
Yoast also features an SEO analysis tool that automatically scans your content and gives you suggestions for how to improve its optimization. This feature uses a red light and green light system, so you can adjust your content to meet Yoast’s suggestions until you get the green light. You’ll also be able to edit your SEO title and the meta description that appears in search engines.
💵 Pricing: The core Yoast plugin is free. You can get additional features by signing up for Yoast SEO Premium at $99 per year. You can check out our in-depth Yoast review if you want to know more about all its features.
👉 If you’d rather try some Yoast alternatives, there are options out there.
3. Rank Math
Rank Math is another top SEO plugin that offers in-depth SEO analysis of not just individual pieces of content, but your entire site. This includes 30 different SEO tests, keyword rank analysis, and optimization protocols for user-generated content. You’ll even get access to an AI content creation tool that can build optimized articles near-instantly!
If you want to learn more about Rank Math and how to choose the best SEO plugin for your site, check out our comparison guide to Rank Math vs Yoast SEO.
💵 Pricing: The base Rank Math plugin is free. You can get more advanced features by purchasing Rank Math Pro for $59 per year.
4. Otter Blocks
Otter Blocks is a page builder plugin that integrates directly with the Gutenberg editor, giving you access to a variety of specialty blocks for things like reviews, maps, and countdowns.
All of the custom blocks provided by Otter Blocks come with advanced customization options, so you can choose colors and typography that enhance your site layout. You can also add animations to your Otter Blocks with a single click. You’ll even get the ability to add animations and custom CSS to default blocks and third-party blocks!
💵 Pricing: The core Otter Blocks plugin is free. For more blocks and other advanced features, you can buy Otter Pro, starting at $34.50 per year.
5. Really Simple SSL
It’s hard to imagine running a website these days that doesn’t have an SSL certificate integrated. These small green padlocks have become synonymous with our website experiences overall. However, they’re much more than just decorative badges. SSL certificates provide privacy, critical security and data integrity for both your websites’ and your users’ personal information.
This is where the Really Simple SSL plugin comes into play. It automatically configures your website to use SSL – all happening behind the curtains without much oversight needed on your part. It will take your website pages to HTTPS in just one-click and fix any “insecure content” prompts. You’ll also get extra hardening features to secure your website.
💵 Pricing: All the essential features are available for free. There’s also a pro version that gives you some advanced abilities, such as HSTS preload list, security headers, better mixed content fixer, advanced hardening features, and premium support.
👉 If you want to learn more on how to get SSL for free, read this.
6. Contact Form 7
Contact Form 7 is one of the best WordPress plugins for creating contact forms. You can use it to build multiple contact forms and control the email address that contact form submissions are sent to. All forms created with this plugin are integrated with Akismet so that you won’t have to worry about spam. You can also reduce spam by adding CAPTCHA security.
💵 Pricing: Contact Form 7 is free.
Security and performance plugins
Optimole is an image optimization plugin that automatically compresses your images to ensure faster loading speeds. The plugin will also downgrade the image quality if it senses that visitors have a slow connection to ensure that your pages still load quickly. This is essential since 1 in 2 visitors will leave your site if it doesn’t load within six seconds .
💵 Pricing: The base Optimole plugin is free for 5,000 visits (all images viewed during someone’s visit are counted in a single visit). High-traffic sites can buy the paid version of Optimole starting at $19.08 per month, billed annually.
8. WP Fastest Cache
WP Fastest Cache is a plugin designed to improve the loading speed of your website. It does this through a combination of caching, Gzip compression, and code minification. The plugin also comes with full CDN and Cloudflare support, enabling it to work with your web host’s servers to improve loading speeds even more.
9. WP Rocket
WP Rocket is a premium caching plugin designed to make your website faster through caching, Gzip compression, and file optimization. The plugin also offers database cleanup to ensure that everything is running at peak performance.
💵 Pricing: WP Rocket costs $49 per year for one site.
Wordfence is one of the best WordPress plugins for securing your website. It provides a firewall that integrates directly with WordPress for optimal performance, a malware scanner, and security alerts about issues with your site and/or the plugins you’re using.
You can also use Wordfence to check the safety of individual pieces of content and even to repair files.
For more information about this plugin, check out our guide on how to protect your WordPress site using Wordfence.
💵 Pricing: There is a free version of Wordfence. For more advanced features, you can grab Wordfence Premium for $119 per year.
UpdraftPlus makes it easy to schedule regular website backups and send your data to the cloud through Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3, and several other cloud storage solutions. It even has its own cloud storage solution, UpdraftVault.
If you ever run into issues with your site, UpdraftPlus also offers one-click restoration so you can easily get everything back.
💵 Pricing: The core UpdraftPlus plugin is free. For access to additional features, you can buy UpdraftPlus Premium for $70.
Redirection is one of the best WordPress plugins around for dealing with 301 redirections, 404 errors, and general management of your site links. You can even use it to update all of your permalinks automatically if you decide to change their structure at some point. These tools will reduce the number of errors on your site, giving visitors a smoother experience and helping your site rank well on search engines.
💵 Pricing: Redirection is 100% free.
WooCommerce is by far the most popular ecommerce plugin for WordPress, with more than 5000000 active installs and counting. You can use this plugin to create an elegant online storefront, build customized product pages and a customized shopping cart experience, and sell your products. WooCommerce is also compatible with over 100 payment gateways, including PayPal, Stripe, and Square.
There are also many different WooCommerce extensions you can use to add things like subscriptions and paid memberships to your site as your business expands.
💵 Pricing: The core WooCommerce plugin is free. If you want features that aren’t part of the core plugin you can buy WooCommerce Extensions, which vary wildly in price, with some costing as little as $29 per year and others costing as much as $250 per year.
14. Easy Digital Downloads
Easy Digital Downloads is one of the best WordPress plugins for selling digital products. The plugin integrates directly with the Gutenberg editor. It offers unique blocks for things like product listings, shopping carts, payment confirmation, and more. You’ll also get access to high-quality tools for order management and customer management.
Easy Digital Downloads is compatible with PayPal, Stripe, and Amazon Payments.
💵 Pricing: The core Easy Digital Downloads plugin is free. You can get additional features by purchasing Easy Digital Downloads premium for $99.50 per year.
Marketing and media plugins
MailPoet is an email marketing plugin that lets you do everything required for successful email marketing without ever leaving your WordPress admin area. You can use it to create signup forms, build and send email marketing campaigns, and study your analytics so you can build data-driven campaigns.
To learn more about MailPoet, check out our guide on how to create a WordPress email campaign from your dashboard.
💵 Pricing: The core MailPoet plugin is free for lists with under 1,000 subscribers as long as you send less than 5,000 emails per month. For unlimited emails and other advanced features, you can subscribe to MailPoet premium starting at $10 per month (billed annually) for lists with up to 500 subscribers.
16. Revive Old Posts
Revive Old Posts is one of the best WordPress plugins for social media marketing. You can use it to share posts automatically to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more. This isn’t just when a post is published, either; you can schedule automated social media posts promoting old content, ensuring that evergreen articles continue to be seen.
To see this plugin in action, check out our guide on how to automatically share old blog posts on social media.
💵 Pricing: The core Revive Old Posts plugin is free. You can access more advanced features by buying the premium version of Revive Old Posts for $75 per year.
ThirstyAffiliates is a plugin that makes it easy to participate in affiliate marketing programs. The plugin offers a database where you can organize affiliate links, tools for shortening/cloaking affiliate links, and click tracking so you can get a clear idea of how effective your link placement is. You’ll also be able to add images to your affiliate links.
If you spring for the paid version, ThirstyAffiliates will also give you access to Smart Linking, which automatically places relevant affiliate links in your content.
💵 Pricing: The core ThirstyAffiliates plugin is free. For more advanced features, you can buy ThirstyAffiliates Pro for a one-time payment of $79.50.
Food, travel, and lifestyle plugins
18. Envira Gallery
If you’re looking to start a travel blog, a food blog, a lifestyle blog, or a photography blog (obviously), then you’ll need an elegant way to display pictures. Envira Gallery is a drag-and-drop gallery builder for your site that allows you to create mobile-friendly, SEO-optimized image galleries in minutes. Integrations with social media and ecommerce plugins also make it easy for folks to share your galleries or even purchase images directly from them.
💵 Pricing: You can get the basic plugin for free. For unlimited galleries and other advanced features, you can buy the premium version of Envira Gallery starting at $20 per year.
19. Recipe Card Blocks
Recipe Card Blocks is one of the best WordPress plugins for creating a food blog. It gives you access to blocks for recipe cards, ingredients, nutrition details, directions, and more. There’s even a specialized recipe card widget for Elementor, making this plugin an ideal choice if you’re using the Elementor page builder.
You’ll also have access to multiple design options for each block, allowing you to build recipe blocks that fit with the unique layout of your site.
💵 Pricing: The core version of this plugin is free. For more advanced features like adjustable serving sizes, you can buy Recipe Card Blocks Pro for $59 per year.
Visualizer is one of the best WordPress plugins for creating tables, charts, and graphs. These visual data displays are fully responsive and use HTML5/SVG technology to make them compatible with all browsers. They’re also highly customizable, with options for sorting, pagination, and design changes that can make your charts fit visually with your site’s overall aesthetic.
💵 Pricing: The core Visualizer plugin is free. If you want access to more chart types and other advanced features, you can buy Visualizer Pro for $99 per year.
Final advice on the best WordPress plugins of 2023 🧐
Setting up a fast, secure WordPress site is easy when you use the plugins on this list. You can even do it without spending a dime by sticking with just the free versions (for most of them)!
We hope this list of the best WordPress plugins has been useful and will inspire you to add some awesome functionalities to your site.
Need more help setting up your site? Check these out:
- How to make a WordPress website: step-by-step guide for beginners
- How to create a website free of cost in 2023 – it’s still possible
Let us know if there are any other plugins we’ve missed that you’d consider being the best WordPress plugins on your list!