Top 5 Essential WordPress Plugins in 2021
If you are new to WordPress, then this article is for you. Anyone with some kind of knowledge regarding WordPress knows how important it is to have plugins. In this article, we are going to explore the top 5 essential WordPress plugins you should have in 2021. These all plugins are available for free on WordPress.org
Before we dive into this article, here’s something important. No matter whatever plugins you choose, you should understand whether they are affecting your website’s performance and user experience. A good plugin is not supposed to slow down your website. Furthermore, do not add plugins unnecessarily to your website. You will just weigh down its performance by doing so. So, make sure you absolutely need the plugin, then consider getting it.
Finally, please note that the plugins mentioned in this article are our personal opinion. Digital Lime Green personally uses these plugins and we have found them very useful. There are many great alternatives out there, so do not forget to experiment and see what suits your website better.
All clear? Great! Now, let’s understand the top 5 essential WordPress plugins you should be using in 2021.
#1: XML Sitemaps
When you make a new website, you have to configure a file called ‘sitemap.xml’. It will help the crawlbots to properly and easily index your website, so that it can appear in search engine results. Now, you can do this manually, or, you can simply opt-in for the XML Sitemaps plugin. It is developed by Auctollo and you can download it for free for personal and commercial purposes.
This plugin will dynamically generate an effective XML sitemap for your website. This will allow the crawlbots to understand and assess web pages on the website faster and easier. A clear sitemap also improves your SEO ranking. What’s good about this plugin is that, even if you add new pages to your website, you don’t have to manually add them to the sitemap. This plugin will manage it all for you. A must-have!
#2: W3 Total Cache
Caching is a process we all are familiar with. Every browser nowadays saves some kind of cache (along with cookies) of a website you visit. This makes the website load faster next time you visit it. W3 Total Cache is similar, but instead, it does website caching on the server-side. This plugin is especially important if you are a big enterprise dealing with customers internationally.
W3 Total Cache is a plugin by BoldGrid and it is available for free on WordPress.org. It can improve your SEO by making your site faster with server-side and client-side cache optimisation, minification of CSS and JS elements, and more (Source: Imperva). Furthermore, if you use Content Delivery Network (CDN) to improve the performance and content delivery of your website, W3TC will prove really helpful to you. It can further optimise and improve your CDN practices to boost performance and scalability. This will improve the user experience, optimise website loading times, and can sustain a huge traffic
W3 Total Cache claims that it can make your web pages load up to 10 times faster if properly configured. In the following video, they have given a complete outline of their plugin. Take a look!
The only downfall to using this plugin is that it can be difficult to set up for beginners. Furthermore, if you happen to remove it, you have to do some manual labour to remove it.
#3 Yoast SEO
SEO is one of the most important parts of your website’s building blocks. If you are owning a website, you would want to know how your website is doing in terms of SEO. Only if there was a measurement tool for that…! Yes, there is! Yoast SEO is a WordPress plugin available in free and paid versions.
Yoast SEO is developed by Team Yoast. It is a widely popular plugin that is used by many websites around the world. It can help you improve technical SEOs and also the SEO related to the content. Consider Yoast SEO as a checklist that tells you what else you can and you should do to improve the overall SEO of a webpage. What’s more? We love Yoast SEO’s optimisation feature for titles, links, and meta descriptions. For example, to observe how your SEO strategy regarding an article is doing, you simply have to put the focus keyword in the box. It will give you all the necessary statistics and suggested improvements in your SEO strategy. Yoast SEO uses Schema.org integration which assists in improving your SEO and index ranking.
There’s more to Yoast SEO. We have compiled an article on how you can use Yoast SEO effectively. We believe that it will help you well in understanding this plugin. There are also a variety of plans involved in the premium version of Yoast SEO and they can be valuable to you depending on the type of website you are running. Take a look at Yoast SEO Premium Plans here.
#4: Contact Form 7
Contact Form 7 is a free, simple WordPress plugin that is designed by Takayuki Miyoshi. You would want your customers to reach you in some way other than email and phone numbers, right?. Here, Contact Form 7 provides a solution to allow your customers to reach your business quickly.
This plugin allows creating, managing, and customising multiple contact forms. If you have a mail newsletter, then Contact Form 7 will also help you in managing mail contents with simple markup, thanks to the Sendinblue integration. It comes with an AJAX-powered (Source: Tutorial’s Point) submitting feature, along with reCAPTCHA and Akismet Spam filtering.
Although this plugin may not be as advanced as other contact form plugins in the market, it is completely free and is more than enough for your website. Please make sure you read its privacy-related settings before you consider using it. It is available on their WordPress.org page, which has been linked above.
#5: Akismet Spam Protection
Did you know that spammy links or spammy comments on your website actually hurts your SEO strategy? Yes. It is important to monitor and clean up your website of such spam as they are harmful. This is where Akismet Spam Protection comes in.
Akismet Spam Protection is a free WordPress plugin that is designed by Automattic. It checks every third-party input for spam and malware links against their directory before it reaches your server. If it is indeed spam, this will block it. This works best along with the Contact Form 7 plugin mentioned above. It will check the comments and contact form messages on your website for such data and inform your server about it. Furthermore, the most harmful or worst spam content is blocked immediately.
Although this is free for personal use, you have to go premium with Akismet for commercial use. You can see their premium plans here.
If you are about to make your first WordPress website, we feel that these plugins will definitely enhance your website. Of course, however, it is important to experiment around, and there are many alternatives to the plugins mentioned above in the market. You should experiment around and see what suits your website the best. The main purpose of this article was to give an anchor point, if not advice, on the best plugins you should have on your website; or the best type of plugins. But for us, these are the top 5 essential WordPress plugins you should have in 2021.
We are aware that setting them up – especially the W3TC and Yoast SEO – can be a bit challenging. But worry not! If you ever need assistance with them, Digital Lime Green is here to help you out. Please check out our Website Design package and contact us to get a proper quote on your requirements.
We wish you all the good luck! Don’t forget to let us know if you think there are better alternatives to the plugins mentioned above.