One of the great things about choosing to build your company’s website with WordPress is that there’s so much you can do with it. That goes for those of you who can code as well as those of you who prefer to let WordPress plugins do the heavy lifting.
That said, one of the bad things about choosing to build your business website with WordPress… is that there’s too much you can do with it.
Don’t get me wrong, WordPress plugins are incredible. Not only do they save you a bunch of time and money, but they enable even the most novice of users to add the kind of functionality and features needed to impress visitors and turn them into paying customers, readers, or users.
But there’s a dark side to plugins. Install too many of them and you might end up:
- Cluttering your design
- Slowing down your page loading times
- Exposing your site to a security breach
9 Must-Have WordPress Plugins
The list below contains the must-have WordPress plugins for business websites. In fact, this list only contains plugins that I use on my own website.
I don’t believe in the “Do as I say, not as I do” approach, so you’re only going to get recommendations on plugins that I’ve tested and used consistently for years.
Let’s dig into the list:
1. All in One WP Security & Firewall
There are other high-profile and top-ranked security plugins available in the WordPress repository that I’ve tried, but this one is by far my favorite. For a number of reasons, too.
First, it’s incredibly user-friendly:
Critical security measures are enabled the second you install the plugin. And if there are optional security upgrades you feel like making, the plugin makes it really easy to activate them.
I also love how it spells everything out. Do you want to protect your database and files? Sure! How about blocking spam from your contact forms and blog? Of course! And what about creating more secure user login rules? Absolutely.
This plugins makes easy work of securing a WordPress website.
2. Elementor Page Builder
You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve been asked to write up guides comparing page builder plugins. Needless to say, it’s a lot.
Over the years of testing page builders (for articles as well as for my own purposes), Elementor consistently takes the top spot for me.
Not only is the page builder easy to use if you’re new to WordPress, but it’s an awesome option for web designers that want to customize every detail of their sites.
Another nice thing about using Elementor is its collection of templates — full page and section. When you’re trying to launch a new business as soon as possible, the last thing you want to do is get caught up in building your website for weeks or months on end. Trust me, it sucks. But with professionally designed templates, you can reduce that website development time to hours.
I actually created a WordPress course that teaches people how to do that, if you’re interested.
One last thing to add:
Because Elementor is so popular, the WordPress repository has a ton of amazing Elementor plugins to extend the page builder’s capabilities. If you want to know which ones to use, I’ve explained which plugins are the best and why here.
3. Google Analytics Dashboard Plugin for WordPress MonsterInsights
First and foremost, every business owner should have a Google Analytics account set up for their website. Creating a GA account is easy. What isn’t so easy, however, is connecting it to a WordPress website if you’re not comfortable with editing your server files.
That’s just one of the reasons why this MonsterInsights plugin rocks.
See that “Google Authentication” box at the bottom? That’s where you enter your Google Analytics Website Profile ID. No need for coding with this plugin. Just enter the ID to start tracking visitors on your site.
I’m also a big fan of this plugin because of the quick insights it provides every day when I log in. I instantly know how many visits and pageviews there were. I know how long people spend on my website. I also know what my bounce rate (the number of people leaving the site) is.
While there’s a lot more to learn about our audiences in GA, I appreciate this quick-glance option built into WordPress.
4. Image optimization & Lazy Load by OptiMole
One of the problems with using images on a website is that the files are just so darn big. And the bigger the file, the longer it takes for your server to send that image to your visitors’ browsers (which is what causes pages to slowly load).
This is actually a fairly new plugin in my staple of must-have WordPress plugins, but I’m a huge fan of OptiMole so far.
For one thing, it makes configuring image optimization settings so easy. Secondly, once the plugin is connected and the service enabled, you never have to think about optimizing your images again.
Personally, I love that feature the most. Other image optimization plugins make you wait after uploading each file to see how much room you’ve saved. But you know what? The time the plugin took to process that information and send it to me is wasted time — just like the time I’m trying to save my visitors.
OptiMole is super mindful of its users’ time while taking care of the annoying (but much needed) task of image optimization.
5. UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin
Sadly, you never know when your site might break after an update or when a hacker decides that now is a good time to deface or tear down your site. When that happens, you could set aside a few days to a few weeks (depending on the size of your site) to rebuild… but why?
With UpdraftPlus, you can program the plugin to capture backups of your website — and automate the whole process, too.
This is another one of those tasks that we must do (and should not rely on our web hosts to do for us). Yet, it sucks having to worrying about capturing backups.
With this plugin, though, you can:
- Instantly capture a backup of your site.
- Easily restore your website to a recent copy.
- Schedule backups to happen on a regular schedule (daily or weekly for big websites, monthly for small).
- Store your website backups to a secure location like Google, Amazon, or DropBox.
In this day and age, consumers are right to be concerned about their rights and privacy — especially when interacting with businesses online. And while I’m sure your company does everything it can to keep visitor and customer data safe, they need some sort of proof of that on your site.
What’s nice about the WP AutoTerms plugin is that you don’t have to create your own legal documents (or try to figure out which ones you need).
Simply fill in your company’s details under your WordPress “Settings”. Then, when you create a new legal document here, it automatically populates the pre-written text with your personal information.
The only catch is that you have to upgrade to premium if you want to create a GDPR (cookie consent) policy for your site.
7. WP Fastest Cache
Caching is the process of storing copies of your web pages on your server. What does this do exactly?
Well, your server normally has to retrieve every single file and line of code that exists on your pages whenever someone visits them. That takes a lot of time, which is why visitors might have to wait more than a few seconds for a page to load. However, if no changes have occurred to the web page they’re on, the server doesn’t need to recreate that page. With caching, it can retrieve the stored copy and instantly send it to visitors.
As I mentioned earlier, having a website that loads quickly is incredibly important. So, in addition to using an image optimization plugin to get file sizes down, you also need the WP Fastest Cache plugin.
With this plugin, you can quickly enable speed optimizations like:
- Server and browser caching
- HTML and CSS minification
- Gzip compression
An upgrade to pro gives you even more performance optimization capabilities like image optimization (so you wouldn’t need OptiMole in that case) and a CDN.
8. Contact Form by WPForms – Drag & Drop Form Builder for WordPress
Contact forms are a critical element for every business website. Even if your main goal is to get paying customers, you still need a contact form for general questions and feedback purposes.
Although I’ve tested and used many contact form plugins over the years, I prefer WPForms.
For starters, it’s very easy to create a contact form with this plugin. As you can see above, there are pre-made templates you can start with for some of the more common contact form types.
Secondly, I love the look of the contact forms you create with WPForms. That’s one of my biggest gripes about other contact form plugins. Sure, they’re easy to use in WordPress and it might seem like you have many more options for personalizing your forms… but then when you look at it on the website, it’s ugly as all heck. That doesn’t happen with this plugin.
9. Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is the only SEO plugin I will use and recommend to other users. It’s not that other plugins are bad, it’s just that they haven’t quite been able to catch up to what Yoast has been able to do.
The above feature is one that I absolutely can’t live without as a writer. Without it, it kinda feels like shooting in the dark. Did I include my focus keyword in all the right places? Did I write an SEO title that’ll show up in full in Google search results? Does my featured image look good? And below that, Yoast provides me with additional tips and insights about the content I’ve written.
Not only has Yoast taught me a lot about being a better writer (i.e. creating content that’s easy to read), but it’s taught me a lot about what Google is looking for when ranking a website.
If you want to learn more about how to set up and use this plugin for SEO success, check out this SEO course.
I know it’s tempting to try out other plugins (especially when they’re free), but remember that it comes at a cost.
What I’d recommend is to wait to add other plugins to your site for now. The only exception to that is if you’re building an e-commerce site, in which case WooCommerce needs to be one of your must-have WordPress plugins.
Otherwise, hold tight. Give your website and this set of essential plugins some time to gain traction. Trust me, if a new plugin is needed, it’ll make itself known very soon.