58,000. This figure represents the number of WordPress plugins available on the official directory.

And I’m not even talking about those on dedicatFed platforms, such as Code Canyon or independent shops.

Do you have a special need? I am convinced that there’s a plugin to satisfy it.

Frankly, this abundance is great. But when you start on WordPress, it’s so confusing. In fact, you can sometimes get lost in it, a little like a bottle in the sea.

An explosion burns a man's face
I don’t want the same thing to happen to you if you test an awkward plugin…

In this ocean of plugins, I bet you’re wondering which ones are essential when starting any type of WordPress site? Not an easy question, is it?

To avoid wasting your day on time-consuming searches, WPMarmite has gathered for you what we consider to be the top 25 “mainstream” best WordPress plugins.

That is to say, those that could appear on any type of site (blog, store, portfolio, etc.).

Thanks to this selection, we’ll address several crucial points: SEO, security, marketing, backup, performance, social networks, etc.

Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. In other words: if you buy one of the products through these links, WPMarmite will receive a commission. What do we use this income for? To provide you with quality resources to help you get the best out of WordPress!

This article has been updated in December 2020.

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Some things you should know about WordPress plugins

1. What is a plugin?

What is the definition of a WordPress plugin?

A plugin is used to add new features to a WordPress site, without the need to code.

You can access free plugins in two ways:

How to add a new plugin on the WordPress administration

Whatever option you choose, you will see the same plugins pop up.

Obviously, some plugins are more high-standard than others. In order to avoid any inconvenience (plugin conflicts, bugs, crash of your site, etc.), I advise you to follow the instructions below when making your choice:

  • Look at the number of active installations. Generally, the higher the better (i.e. the more likely they are to work properly). But be careful: it’s not always the case. You can find more confidential plugins that remain high-performing.
  • Check user reviews. When the feedback is good, it’s a positive sign. On the other hand, if a plugin faces many criticisms, think carefully before installing it.
  • Take a look at the frequency of updates. If a security plugin has not been maintained for 3 years, there is probably something wrong. Many plugins are designed by volunteers who don’t always have the time to take care of them regularly.
  • Check if the plugin you are interested in is compatible with your version of WordPress. That being said, don’t focus on this criterion. Think of it as a bonus. Even if the version displayed is not yours, there is a good chance that it will work.
  • See if users receive answers to their support questions.
  • Beware of free plugins that are not listed in the official directory.

2. What are the differences between a paid and a free plugin?

Why spend money on a plugin when there are tens of thousands available for free? Right?

Well, even if premium plugins have a financial cost, they also have advantages that their free counterparts do not have. We can mention:

  • The dedicated support (assistance), usually for 6 months or a year. If you are a beginner, it can help you setup your plugin correctly. With free software, developers are not required to do so.
  • Regular updates, which often go hand in hand with new versions of WordPress. For a free plugin, the developer is not required to make updates (he/she may have just created it in his/her free time).
  • Additional features. Many plugins are available for free on the official directory. And to get more options, you have to switch to their paid version.

At first, you may be reluctant to invest in plugins. But, when you look at the time it can save you, the choice is suddenly very easy.

And above all, going premium means supporting and encouraging a team to continue to take care of the product it develops.

3. How many plugins do you need to install on your site?

This is a question that comes up very, very often among WordPress users: how many plugins do you need to install, at most?

In fact, there is no specific number of plugins not to exceed, even if, as Alex says, “the more plugins you have, the more likely you are to have bad plugins.”

The most important thing is the quality of the plugins you use. In other words, it is better to have 40 well coded plugins, rather than 10 plugins that would cause incompatibilities and bugs.

If your site is slow, it is not necessarily because you have installed too many plugins, but rather because they are poorly coded.

Our list of the 25 best WordPress plugins

Before getting to the heart of the matter, please be aware that we have chosen the plugins below because we believe that they can/should be installed on any type of site (store, blog, portfolio, etc.).

Check out our list but, of course, don’t necessarily install all 25 plugins: if you don’t need a slider, a multilingual site or email marketing yet, keep our recommendations in mind for later. 😉

However, do not ignore the crucial ones, i.e. the plugins that concern:

  • Safety and security
  • SEO
  • Performances
  • Backups

FYI, the order of presentation of the plugins is neither strategic nor hierarchical. So read carefully until the end not to miss any information.

You will see that we will talk about free WordPress plugins as well as premium plugins.

Here is our list of the 25 best WordPress plugins:

1 – Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO plugin on the WordPress official directory

Active installations: 5+ million

Even if you’ve just dived into the world of WordPress, I’m sure you know Yoast SEO. This is the most popular SEO plugin, and one of the 10 most downloaded plugins of all time.

Famous for its red, orange and green traffic lights, Yoast allows you to optimize the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) of your site. That’s essential if you want to try to appear on the first page of Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.

The plugin allows you to define your title and meta description tags, create an XML sitemap, or even set up your content types.

Check out our dedicated post around here.

The free version of Yoast is more than enough to work on your SEO. Be aware that there is a premium version at $89, for use on 1 site.

Download the plugin Yoast SEO:

2 – Akismet

Akismet plugin to download on WordPress official repository

Active installations: 5+ million

If I say “Spiced ham” to you, what do you think of?

Well, it turns out that this famous spiced ham is said to be the origin of the word spam, which refers to unwanted email.

I’m telling you about this because Akismet allows you to filter comments that look like unwanted ones. For example, comments that have nothing to do with the content you have published.

And believe me: it saves a lot of time and energy.

The plugin is free (Akismet becomes paying as soon as you create a commercial site), and available by default on any new WordPress installation. To make it work, simply activate it by entering an API key.

Akismet statistics about cleaning up spam

Download the plugin Akismet:

3 – WP Rocket

WP Rocket caching plugin's homepage

Active installations: 1+ million

WP Rocket is a cache plugin, which means it speeds up the loading of your WordPress pages.

But that’s not all, it also has multiple options to boost the performance of your site: deferred loading of images, HTML code minification, minification and concatenation of CSS and JavaScript files, database optimization, etc.

Developed and maintained by a team led by French founders, it is only available as a paid version (starting at $49).

Speed up your website with WP Rocket

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Logo WP Rocket

Its great strength? Its ease of use. You install it, activate it and it already works without having to make any adjustments.

Check out our dedicated article if you want to know more about it.

Visite the official website of WP Rocket:

4 – Imagify

Imagify WordPress plugin to download on the official directory

Active installations: 400,000+

On average, images represent 50% of the total weight of a web page. They take the longest time to load. So you can easily imagine that, if they’re too heavy, you’ll have to optimize them and reduce their weight.

As a slimming diet, I recommend the Imagify plugin. It will automatically compress the images you add to your media library. All without losing quality. Awesome, right?

Imagify general settings

Designed by the same team as WP Rocket, Imagify is a freemium plugin: after a certain quota of images to optimize, you will have to subscribe to the paid offer (starting at $4.99/month) if you want to continue using the service.

Download the plugin Imagify:

5 – Social Warfare

WordPress plugin for Social Sharing: Social Warfare

Active installations: 60,000+

Social Warfare is a very easy to use plugin that allows your users to share your content on social networks. Warfare is a reference to one of the co-creators of this plugin, who is a US Army reservist.

Even if the usefulness of sharing buttons is controversial, they can bring traffic back to your site.

The big pluses of Social Warfare are the many customization options, its performance (your site is very little slowed down), and the possibility to upload your images in the right format according to the social network.

The visual options in the Social Warfare plugin

The free version allows you to use 5 social networks. To enjoy all of the features, you have to switch to premium (starting at $29/year).

Download the plugin Social Warfare:

6 – Redirection

Redirection plugin to download on WordPress official repository

Active installations: 1+ million

An essential that you must install immediately, if you haven’t done it already.

This plugin allows you to create 301 redirects (redirection of a user from a URL A to a URL B). Each time you modify or delete a piece of content (e.g. modification of the structure of your permalinks), you must do a 301 redirect to report it to search engines and save your SEO settings.

Free and easy to use, Redirection works without you having to touch a single line of code.

Thanks to this program, you will be able to:

  • Create different types of redirects.
  • Manage the 404 errors that occur on your site.
  • Import or export redirects.
  • Create groups to organize them.

Download the plugin Redirection:

7 – TablePress

TablePress plugin to download on WordPress official directory

Active installations: 800,000+

If you are familiar with HTML code, you know that creating a complex table takes time, and that it is easy to get lost in the midst of tags.

To do this quickly and easily on WordPress, use TablePress.

With a 5-star rating and almost no negative reviews, you can count on this plugin. Its reputation is quite justified.

Its big plus? You don’t have to hack into the code. The interface is similar to an Excel sheet and you just have to fill in the columns with your elements.

You can insert links, images and even import data from Excel to save time. Once your job is done, just insert a shortcode wherever you want.

A great plugin, even if the responsive can sometimes be ineffective.

Download the plugin TablePress:

8 – Duplicator

Duplicator, WordPress Migration Plugin on the official repository

Active installations: 1+ million

As Alex says, this plugin literally saves lives. Duplicator allows you to “migrate, copy, move or clone a site from one location to another.”

You’ll use it, for example, when you want to transfer your local site online. Or when you want to change your hosting provider.

Duplicator copies your files and database and migrates them to the location of your choice.

The plugin automates the migration process and saves you valuable time compared to manual migration.

You can even use it as a one-time backup tool. The premium version (from $69) allows you to plan and migrate large databases.

Download the plugin Duplicator:

9 – Elementor

Elementor is a WordPress website builder

Active installations: 5+ million

Used on the WPMarmite website, Elementor is one of the most famous page builders in the WordPress ecosystem.

It can even be described more broadly as a website builder, because its paid version allows you to customize the entire layout of your website, including the header and footer.

If you are new to website creation, or don’t know anything about code, I bet Elementor will help you, while saving you a lot of time.

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Elementor icon CTA

Thanks to a wide choice of modules (called widgets), you can build your pages’ sections according to your tastes (or those of your customers). Everything happens thanks to instant drag and drop. You can immediately see your work in real time.

The free version allows you to customize your content. The creative possibilities are almost unlimited in the Premium version (starting at $49 for 1 site).

You will then have access to a Theme Builder, a WooCommerce Builder, a Popup Builder. Not forgetting a much larger choice of templates and widgets.

Download the plugin/website builder Elementor:

10 – iThemes Security

iThemes Security (formerly Better WP Security) plugin on WordPress official repository

Active installations: 1+ million

On average, 30,000 new websites are hacked each day.” as written on the plugin’s page.

It’s quite a bit, and the idea here is to never be part of that list. Securing your site is an absolute necessity. To give you a hand with that, you can count on iThemes Security.

This Swiss-knife plugin offers more than thirty options to protect your WordPress installation from hackers, bots and other malware. More than half of them are already available with the free version, which allows you, for example, to:

  • Block access to the site to specific IP addresses and user agents;
  • Protect your site from brute force attacks;
  • Update the secret keys used by WordPress to increase the security of your site;
  • List permissions for key files and directories on the site.

Modify the prefix of the tables in your database.

Settings of the iThemes Security plugin

With the Pro version (starting at $80/year), you will be able to activate two-factor authentication, analyze your site daily to detect a problem very quickly, integrate a Google reCAPTCHA, or make advanced settings in your server setup.

Download the plugin iThemes Security:

11 – UpdraftPlus

UpdraftPlus: one of the best WordPress plugins you can't do without

Active installations: 3+ million

I just told you about the importance of security for your site. To do it right, you should also implement an automatic backup solution on your WordPress site.

You’ll sleep better at night and, in case of issues (hacking, bugs during an update, your server crashing, etc.), you can restore an old version of your content faster than you think.

Among the many WordPress backup solutions, UpdraftPlus is one of the most effective. Even if its interface is a little bit complex (there’s a lot of text), it allows you to back up your files and databases to the cloud on services like Google Drive, Dropbox or Amazon S3.

UpdraftPlus settings

In the premium version (from $42/year), you can manage your backups on multisite, and there is an option which allows you to migrate your sites.

Download the plugin UpdraftPlus:

12 – ManageWP Worker

ManageWP Worker to download

Active installations: 1+ million

Do you manage several sites? Are you tired of wasting a lot of time managing them, by connecting individually to each of them?

I have the solution: ManageWP Worker.

“ManageWP compiles data from all your sites on a dashboard so you can view your websites at a glance.”

You will be able to do all the updates at the same time (and in one click), clean up spam, databases, do security checks and so on.

Another very interesting feature is the backup (free once a month and starting at $2/month for a site). In case of any bug, you can even restore the old version of your site, in one click.

Believe me, it saved me from having several heart attacks. Simply essential (for heart attacks and maintenance).

Download the plugin ManageWP Worker:

13 – MonsterInsights

Google Analytics Dashboard Plugin for WordPress by MonsterInsights on WordPress official directory

Active installations: 2+ million

MonsterInsights allows you to connect your WordPress to your Google Analytics account.

Thanks to it, you’ll have access to a lot of stats about your traffic, directly on the dashboard of your site:

  • Pages visited
  • Number of visits
  • Geographical origin of the traffic
  • Which actions your visitors performed on your website, etc.

Download the plugin MonsterInsights (Google Analytics Dashboard Plugin for WordPress by MonsterInsights):

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14 – User Switching

User Switching plugin on WordPress official repository

Active installations: 100,000+

How can you log in in one click under another user account?

The magic wand is called User Switching. Right now, it may seem like a gadget of little interest to you.

However, as the developer of the plugin explains (and I agree), it’s sometimes very convenient to switch from one user to another without having to log in and out, every time.

If you have several administrator accounts and/or first create your local sites, you probably know what I mean.

Download the plugin User Switching:

15 – Gravity Forms

Gravity Forms, one of the best WordPress plugins to create forms

Do you want to create complex forms without having to pull your hair out?

The solution is called Gravity Forms. This premium plugin (from $59 for use on 1 site) is characterized by its simplicity of use, while allowing you to create very advanced forms with advanced fields (website, password, captcha, file download, etc.).

And there’s more. Gravity Forms can connect to third-party services such as Paypal, Mailchimp, Stripe or Slack.

You can also create purchase orders and sales forms, quizzes, or show and hide fields in some cases.

Download the plugin Gravity Forms:

17 – Replyable

Replyable for comments on WordPress

Active installations: 1000+

This plugin allows your visitors to be notified as soon as comments are posted on your blog.

For example, they may choose to be notified as soon as a comment appears on a specific article, or when somebody replies to their own previous comments.

Replyable also allows you to continue chatting with your visitors, by responding to notifications directly from your mailbox.

To do this, you will need to upgrade to the premium version (starting at $2.99/month).

Replyable’s developers also offer another premium plugin, called Postmatic (starting at $20/month).

It includes all the features found in Replyable, while also offering more advanced marketing options (e.g. sending newsletters, creating opt-in forms).

Download the plugin Replyable:

17 – Yoast Duplicate Post

Yoast Duplicate Post: the best WordPress plugin to save you time

Active installations: 3+ million

How to duplicate an article, a page, or any type of custom post type on WordPress?

By default, it’s impossible to do this on your favorite CMS. Fortunately, there is a very handy plugin to do this: Yoast Duplicate Post.

Although you may not have to use it on a regular basis, this feature is very useful when you need to use it.

Easy to use, Yoast Duplicate Post allows you to choose the elements of your content to copy (title, date, ID, format, comments, etc.).

Be careful, though: duplicating content is harmful in terms of SEO. Remember not to publish the same content twice on your site.

For your information, this plugin created by Enrico Battocchi was originally called Duplicate Post. It became Yoast Duplicate Post after it was bought in June 2020 by the famous SEO plugin.

Download the plugin Yoast Duplicate Post:

18 – Mailchimp for WordPress

Mailchimp for WordPress enables you to create newsletters

Active installations: 2+ million

Mailchimp is the most famous marketing tool in the world for creating an email campaign. Free for up to 2,000 subscribers, it is ideal for beginners who want to get started in marketing.

As you might expect, to tell your subscribers your best stories and make your mailing list grow, you will need to collect their email addresses.

To do this, you’ll need to install registration forms on your WordPress.

This is what this plugin enables: it will connect your site to your Mailchimp account.

Once created, your forms can be displayed in your articles, pages, widgets, etc.

Note that the free version is a little old-fashioned in terms of interface but this is (voluntarily) fixed in the premium version.

Another advantage of this plugin: its add-ons, to integrate perfectly with other plugins such as Gravity Forms, WooCommerce, Contact Form 7 or Easy Digital Downloads.

Download the plugin Mailchimp for WordPress:

19 – Coming Soon Page, Maintenance Mode & Landing Pages by SeedProd

Coming Soon Page, Maintenance Mode & Landing Pages by SeedProd is known as one of the best WordPress plugins to put your site in maintenance mode

Active installations: 1+ million

This the most popular plugin of the WordPress official repository to create a Coming Soon page (to tell people your website is under construction or maintenance).

You will use it to “hide” your WordPress site from your visitors before it is launched, to make changes on a live site, or before making important updates.

Packed with options and easy to use thanks to its drag and drop interface, it is more broadly a Swiss Army knife that allows you to create all sorts of pages for marketing purposes: coming soon and maintenance pages, landing pages, sales pages, webinar pages, email capture pages, etc.

You will enjoy all its options if you purchase the premium version of the plugin, available from $79 for use on one site.

Download the plugin Coming Soon Page, Maintenance Mode & Landing Pages by SeedProd:

20 – Admin Columns

Admin Columns plugin from the WordPress official directory

Active installations: 100,000+

The admin columns within your Posts and Pages menus, in particular, are used to display information about each piece of content.

You will find, for example, the title, the author’s name, the number of comments, or the post date.

This is not bad, except that it is not always relevant to the user.

For example, if you are the only manager of your site, you probably don’t care that the author of your publications is… you.

The good news is that it is possible to customize all this.

You can either change it through the code. Or, even simpler, use the Admin Columns plugin. It is highly praised by its users, who give it an overall rating of 5 out of 5 stars.

And frankly, it’s well deserved. Very easy to use, this plugin allows you to:

  • Add your own custom column fields (e.g. number of words, permalink, estimated reading time, etc.)
  • Change your column width
  • Use icons to make it all more visual

Not to mention the hierarchy of your columns, which can be set up with a simple drag-and-drop. Look at this:

Admin Columns plugin settings

The free version is already very extensive. But if you want to go even further, you can get Admin Columns Pro (from $89 to use on 1 site).

With the Pro version, you can search, edit, sort or filter any content.

Download the plugin Admin Columns:

21 – Regenerate Thumbnails

Regenerate Thumbnails on the directory

Active installations: 1 million+

For design and aesthetic reasons, you may need a custom image format on your site (WordPress only offers 3 image sizes by default).

If you go ahead, you will find that images already in your Media Library will not have the new size applied to them.

To update those images, use Regenerate Thumbnails. This plugin is particularly useful when changing themes. It will automatically regenerate all your thumbnail images, so you don’t have to do it one by one.

Download the plugin Regenerate Thumbnails:

22 – Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg

Gutenberg Blocks – Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg plugin on WordPress official repository

Active installations: 200,000+

Come on, it’s time to talk a little bit about your content editor (Gutenberg).

If you’re a fan, its famous block system should no longer hold any secrets for you.

Blocks are like containers (e.g. text, image, button) that help you add and format content.

WordPress offers about 60 of them by default, divided into 5 categories (Text, Media, Appearance, Widgets, Embedded Content). If you want to go much further in customization, and have blocks with more advanced features, there are dozens of dedicated plugins on the market.

The most famous is called Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg. It is developed by the Brainstorm Force team, which is also behind the Astra theme (1 million+ active installations).

Examples of blocks available in the plugin Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg

Easy to use and easy to get started with, Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg offers 26 additional blocks with advanced customization options to control spacing, margins, colors, background or typography.

Download the plugin Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg:

23 – Relevanssi

Relevanssi: the best WordPress plugin for a better WordPress search

Active installations: 100,000+

By default, WordPress has a search form. But if you have already used it, you may have noticed that it does not always display the most relevant results.

And it’s not going to get any better as you add more content…

The Relevanssi plugin is a more complete search engine that will improve your visitors’ user experience.

As explained in its description on the official repository, it will sort the search results “by relevance, not by date”, or search for “match partial words, if complete words don’t match”.

The plugin is free but a pro version (from €99 i.e. around $120 to use it on an unlimited number of sites) is also available, with more advanced features.

Download the plugin Relevanssi:

24 – WP-PageNavi

The plugin WP-PageNavi on WordPress official directory

Active installations: 700,000+

Did you know that, by default, the pagination of articles on WordPress gives you two choices:

  • Previous
  • Next

At lest, it’s there but you can see how it doesn’t make it easy for your readers to navigate, especially when you have multiple pages of content on your blog. This is also not so good from an SEO point of view.

WP-PageNavi allows you to set up a navigation with page numbers. This will help search engines and your visitors to find their way around more easily.

Settings of the plugin WP-PageNavi for the page navigation text

Download the plugin WP-PageNavi:

25 – Really Simple SSL

Really Simple SSL plugin to download

Active installations: 5+ million

Alright, here is the last one of our selection of the best WordPress plugins: Really Simple SSL.

the Google Chrome browser penalizes sites in HTTP by indicating to the Internet user that they are browsing on a page that is not secure.

Knowing that Chrome is used by 46% of people in the USA (January 2021 figures), you understand the need to switch to HTTPS.

The HTTPS is a protocol that you find at the beginning of your URLs (e.g. https://wpmarmite.com). It ensures that the data you exchange with a site is encrypted, which increases security.

To install HTTPS, you can proceed manually but the process is not easy for a beginner. Check our post about it for details.

For your peace of mind, I recommend Really Simple SSL. The plugin “automatically detects your settings and configures your website to run over https.” It’s simple, and everything is done in a single click.

Really Simple SSL is particularly useful for managing mixed content. Sometimes, when a site has switched from HTTP to HTTPS, some of its resources (images, CSS files, JavaScript, etc.) will always load into HTTP instead of HTTPS. And, by the way, the page will not be completely secure.

One last thing: for Really Simple SSL to work, you will first need to activate an SSL certificate, via your hosting provider.

Download the plugin Really Simple SSL:

To sum it all up…

Congratulations, you have reached the end of this article presenting you what we believe are the best WordPress plugins in 2021. At least, the ones that can be described as essential.

Security, performance, SEO, backups, marketing: you are equipped to turn your WordPress website into a war machine.

Throughout these lines, we have tried to be as objective as possible. However, you may also have your own favorite plugins.

If you said to yourself when you read this post: “What the heck, WPMarmite didn’t even think about this plugin?”, please share your feedback with us in the comments.

Finally, if you have enjoyed this content and think it may be useful to others, share it on social networks! 😉