The best part of having a self-hosted WordPress site is the vast amount of plugins available to make running your blog easier.
WordPress offers thousands of plugins to help build, design and secure your website. There is a plugin for literally every feature you wish your website could have.
A common misconception people have is installing too many plugins will slow down your website. Yes, some plugins are coded badly and can add to your site’s load time. But the rest of them are optimized by the developer to not affect your website speed.
I have put together a list of 13 must-have WordPress plugins in 2019 to help run your website and boost traffic.
Must-Have Plugins If You Run a WordPress Website
1. Yoast SEO (Freemium)
This leading SEO plugin has over 5 million active installations. Yoast is a must-have plugin if you wish to rank high on search engines but have no idea how to do it.
Yoast does an SEO and reading analysis, creates sitemaps, manages search engines appearance, and much more.
There is a premium version which offers additional features but the free version covers the important aspects any beginner would need.
The AddtoAny plugin will add social media sharing icons to your website to help your readers share the posts easily. You can choose from more than 100 apps and social media sites and display static or floating icons.
AddtoAny can even display the number of time a post is shared. Adding share buttons helps increase your social media traffic and engagement by making sharing an easy task for your audience.
If your website takes to long to load, it can drive away visitors and affect your Google ranking as well. A caching plugin is hence essential to speed up load time and reducing CPU usage. W3 Total cache is a complete framework that reduces file sizes and improves your website speed.
Every time you hit the Save Draft or Preview button while editing a post, WordPress saves a copy of the previous version of the post. Over time, these files build up and take up space on the database. Installing the WP-Optimize plugin will clear up these unnecessary files on regular basis and free up space in your database
Images with huge file sizes take forever to load. This hurts your website speed as well as user experience(your reader won’t wait forever for your images to load).
You can either manually optimize each image or simply install the Smush Image Compression plugin to compress images without losing quality.
6. Elementor (Freemium)
Elementor is an easy, drag and drop page builder which will help you create beautiful landing pages or design interactive webpages. You can choose from over 100 templates and widgets or start designing from scratch.
Elementor also helps create responsive pages with different font-sizes and margins for mobile, tablet and desktop version of your websites. I used the free version of Elementor to design my Home Page on this website and the Instagram landing page for my beauty blog.
Anti-spam is a free alternative to the popular anti-spam plugin Akismet. It filters out all spammy comments left by internet bots without affecting comments from genuine readers.
Having a contact form on your contact page can help gather feedback or receive queries from readers. That too without publicly displaying your email address on your website(An open invitation to spammers to send you irrelevant emails).
Additionally, you can also sort and reply to them right from your WordPress dashboard.
9. Really Simple SSL (Freemium)
If a single media file/URL on your website uses Http instead Https, it will mark your website as risky. This drives the visitors away to never return to your site. Really Simple SSL fixes these issues by replacing all Http URLs to Https.
Note- If your SSL certificate is issued by Cloudfare or Siteground, you won’t need this plugin as they already have this option built-in.
The European Union in 2018 laid out the GDPR regulations making it compulsory for websites to protect the privacy of European visitors.
11. WPS Hide Login
The default login URL to all WordPress sites is /wp-admin/. This makes it easy for hackers to use brute force attempts to log into your website and steal data.
By using a custom login URL, you can make it a 1000 times difficult for hackers to break in. WPS Hide Login plugin lets you change your login URL to whatever you like.
For eg. using mysite.com/enter to login instead of mysite.com/wp-admin. After this change, if anyone tries to access mysite.com/wp-admin, they will get a ‘404: Page not found’ error.
If they don’t know where the door is, they can’t enter!
Using Captcha is necessary to prevent bots used by hackers and spammers from using forms on your website for malicious activities.
This plugin will add a Google Recaptcha to all forms on your website like login, reset password, contact form, comments etc.
13. Wordfence Security (Freemium)
Wordfence Security is a popular malware and firewall scanner that helps you secure your website from malicious activities.
It can blacklist known malicious IP addresses, limit login attempts, scan your database for threats and avoid brute force attacks.
The premium version enables real-time and country-wide IP address blocking too. Wordfence is one of the must-have WordPress plugins to protect your site in 2019.