One of the best benefits of a self-hosted WordPress website is access to a library of over 50,000 plugins. Pretty much any feature you may need for your website, you can find a plugin for. The best WordPress plugins help you boost the speed, performance, security, and functionality of your website. But with so many to choose from, where do you even start?
In this post, I’m sharing the top nine best WordPress plugins, based on my three years of experience creating beautiful and strategic WordPress websites for small businesses. I probably won’t be the first to warn you that not all plugins are created equally. In fact, installing poorly coded or abandoned plugins could backfire and actually cause harm to your website. I don’t want that for anyone, and therefore you can rest assured that all of the plugins listed here are vetted and safe to use.
9 essential WordPress plugins
Without further ado, and in no particular order, here are my top recommended plugins for small businesses. And the best part? Most of them are free!
1. Cookie Notice & Compliance for GDPR / CCPA
Do the acronyms GDPR and CCPA have you scratching your head? Have no fear. This intuitive and free plugin makes it easier to comply with these important privacy regulations. Just ask any of its 1+ million users!
2. jQuery Pin It Button for Images
Are you repurposing your blog content on Pinterest? If so, this simple plugin is a must. All it does is add a “pin it” button to your images so that your website visitors can easily save your content. You can customize the settings so that it only applies to certain pages or content types, for instance blog posts. Hover over the image at the bottom of this page to see it in action (and pin this post for later!).
P.S. Click here to learn how to use Pinterest to grow your business.
3. Sassy Social Share
Along the same vein as the Pin It plugin, Sassy Social Share is a great plugin for making the content on your website easily shareable across all the social platforms you can think of. The plugin is free, easy to use, and just as importantly, actually looks good on your website. This is the social sharing plugin I use for my website and for most of my clients.
4. Smash Balloon Social Photo Feed
While we’re on the topic of social media, here’s another great, free plugin to consider using. If you’ve ever wondered how to add a live Instagram feed to your WordPress website, the Smash Balloon plugin is your answer. It’s easy to set up and customize and is automatically mobile responsive. You can see it in action on my Home and About pages. If you’re actively using Instagram for your business, adding an Instagram feed to your website is a great way to engage and build a deeper connection with your audience. In fact, I get clicks to my Instagram account almost every day with the help of this plugin.
5. Smush – Lazy Load Images, Optimize & Compress Images
Optimizing your images is one of the most important things you can do to speed up your website. This free and uber-popular plugin makes image compression and optimization a breeze. Even if you’re optimizing your images before uploading them to your site using a service like TinyPNG, I still recommend using Smush to optimize them even more.
P.S. Image compression is just one of many ways to optimize your website for better performance and results–click here to discover nine more.
If you’re a WordPress user, it’s essential that you have a secure and reliable way to create regular backups–preferably automated. UpdraftPlus is one of the best WordPress plugins available for backups. The free version is all you need to create and schedule backups and restore them if needed. Even if your host creates regular backups for you, it doesn’t hurt to have a backup for your backups (sorry, had to!).
There are few things worse that can happen to your website than getting hacked. So do yourself a favor and install Wordfence to add an extra layer of security to your site. Wondering if you should go for the premium version? I’ll leave that up to you, but will just note that I’ve only been using the free version and haven’t had any issues.
8. WP Rocket
WP Rocket is the only plugin on this list that I’ve paid for, and it’s 100% worth it. When it comes to your website, speed is really of the essence. This powerful plugin takes the guesswork out of optimizing and speeding up your WordPress website. I love it so much that I now install it for all my web design clients free of charge. One of my clients’ website speed score went from an F to an A within minutes of installing WP Rocket.
9. Yoast SEO
Last but certainly not least, this list of best WordPress plugins wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Yoast SEO. I’m a big advocate for SEO because it’s the best way to get targeted, organic traffic to your website. In fact, most of my website traffic comes from search engines, and Yoast SEO helps make it happen. I’ve only ever used the free version; it has everything you need to start ranking your website for targeted keywords.
P.S. Click here for an in-depth tutorial on Yoast SEO.
Looking for WordPress support?
You’re in the right place. At Steph Corrigan Design, we specialize in creating strategic brand identities and websites for small businesses. Here are a couple ways we can support you:
- Book a day rate. Have a list of tasks you need to get done for your site ASAP? Book me for a day and we’ll get it done beautifully and efficiently. Example tasks include: building new pages, updating content, refreshing the design, SEO research and implementation, and more.
- Start fresh with a new, strategic website. If your website isn’t serving your business well, it may be time for a complete overhaul. Book a free discovery call to chat about your goals and how I can support you.