Last updated on June 24, 2020
There are few WordPress plugins that are popularly used for good reasons, and here are the WordPress plugins that is likely to be relevant and useful for any websites.
1. UpdraftPlus – Backup/Restore
This plugin by Updraftplus.com allows you to backup your WordPress contents and database with just 1 click. Best of all, it allows scheduling of auto back up to your preferred cloud storage like Google Drive or Dropbox.
The backup will take up your cloud storage space. For example, every Google Account has 15Gb space in its Google Drive, which is great to make use of. It is recommended to schedule the backup to daily if you plan to work on your website in coming days or weeks and retain minimum of 2 latest backup copies.
2. Wordfence Security by Wordfence
Secure your hardwork with this free plugin. It also has paid premium version by all means get it if you can. The basic itself has lots of features where you do not need to understand all of it, but do follow the suggested instructions nonetheless.
This is a must-have plugin to save yourself alot of cyber security issues. A simple value that I appreciate from this plugin is its email notification about any login attempts to your WordPress website by anyone in anywhere in the world. With it, you can take precaution.
3. Site Kit by Google
This official connector by Google is an all-in-one plugin that connects all essential Google Services that any webmaster should work with.
With it, you do no need multiple plugins to connect your WordPress website to multiple Google Service (yes, we used to do that :P) and you do not need to know coding, or even Google Tag Manager, for basic connection.
The following 2 plugins will likely be of your interest if you want to bring a notch higher for your website Search (SEO) and Page Loading performance.
4. Yoast SEO by Team Yoast
Primarily you will use this plugin to retrieve Yoast auto-generated sitemap for your WordPress website and then submit the sitemap to Google via Search Console, so Google understands your url structure.
Secondly, it enables author or content writers to write exactly how you want your post or page to appear on Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERP), in terms of the Title and Description. This important part IS STILL overlooked by many, many companies, no matter large or small companies (I am not kidding).
The above displays an example where the Meta Description was not deliberately written. Hence, Google automatically fetch any paragraphs (usually the first few sentences) it deems suitable.
The above example is definitely not the worst, and also notice that the description is too long and didn’t finish.
If your website is not WordPress based, you will need a tech guy (or gal) to correct it. (yes if 100 posts, 100 corrections)
With WordPress plugin like Yoast SEO, one just have to write it like normal.
Notice the orange and green bars? It guides you the recommended length to write. 🙂 Doing this will make your content snippets more comprehensible.
Last but not least, I would recommend to compile your own copy of the Titles, Descriptions, Tag, and Focus Keyword for all your web pages and post. So, if you loose these plugins along with the contents, you will still have it.
5. Smush by WPMU DEV
This plugin helps you to reduce image file sizes, improve performance and boost your SEO. The free version will reduce some size and improve a little of your speed, hassle-free.
However, if you wish to improve your Page Speed score based on Google PageSpeed Insights, the free version won’t be enough.
One of Google’s suggestion is to serve audience with Next-Gen image format, like JPEG2000, JPG-XR, and WebP. WebP possibly stands for “Web Picture” and has been said for a while now that it will be the future image format for performance and storage of more meta datas but smaller file size.
Quoting directly from Google, WebP lossless images are 26% smaller in size compared to PNGs. WebP lossy images are 25-34% smaller than comparable JPEG images at equivalent SSIM quality index.
The easiest and most practical way to do this now, as not all browsers can display WebP yet, is to use a plugin to serve original JPG or PNG files as WebP.
Smush Pro can do that along with many other features with only USD7/mth. It comes with free 7-days trial.
It also comes in a bulk bundle with other plugins which can be considered in future, but for the start, I would recommend to stick with just Smush Pro and keep number of plugins to the minimal. More plugins, slower your website
General Rule of Thumb
Similarly like WordPress themes, only keep plugins that you are using. In order words, avoid keeping inactive plugins as over time these plugins tend to be ignored without updating, and hence poses threat to your website security.