Running a website can be challenging, and sometimes, you will need all the help that you can get. Whether you are new and this is the first time you build a website, or you already have experience with one or more of them, you should always aim at doing better than you did before.
However, choosing the right plugins to help you out with technical parts will let you focus more on the nature and quality of your content. Luckily, WordPress has countless plugins that can let you improve pretty much every aspect of your site. And, since they are already there, you should definitely give them a chance.
Some can improve the way your site operates, while others will help you make your content better. Some can even give you valuable insight into how well your site is doing at any given time, as well as hints at what aspects need more attention.
So, without further ado, here are our top WordPress plugins that every site should have.
- The best SEO tool out there
- Lets you evaluate your SEO score for any page’s content
- Simplifies complicated topics for non-technical users
- Makes managing titles and descriptions simple
- All options are explained
- Some options that come as part of the default settings are not among the ‘best practices’
- The difference between the free and pro version is not explained to non-technical users, making it less transparent
Last, but not least, we have Yoast. Yoast is a very well-known and popular plugin that helps you optimize your content. Yoast is an SEO plugin that pretty much every website needs if it wishes to rank high on search engines. Of course, just having Yoast is no guarantee that you will, in fact, rank high, as the plugin can help you optimize your content, but its quality is still in your hands.
Yoast has a free and premium version, with the premium one, naturally, having more features to offer. It can help organize your links, and make Google understand your site better. It can also protect your RSS feed from content scrapers, and much more.
It has pretty good customer support, and the price is not that big, considering how useful it can be, and what it has to bring. Of course, there are some who believe that the entire premium version is unnecessary, and that you don’t really need it, but that is for each individual user to decide on their own.
Plugins to Improve Speed
- It is free
- It improves your site’s performance
- It can optimize page speed, images, minify heavy scripts
The first on our list is Autoptimize, which is a well-known minification plugin. Minification is a process of shortening and simplifying your site’s code. Basically, you are removing every unnecessary bit, such as white spaces, line breaks, and alike.
The end result is that your code will operate exactly as before, but you are reducing the amount of information, thus making your site go slightly faster than it used to.
It should be noted that this won’t help much, but every little bit counts, especially as your site begins to grow. Cutting out small, unnecessary bits here and there will make a difference once your site has dozens, or even hundreds of pages, which is why you should start doing it early on.
Autoptimize is a great plugin to assist you at doing this, and it is one of the best and most popular WordPress minifying plugins out there. It is completely free, and in addition to minifying your scripts, it can bundle them together, cache them, and delay their loading a bit, so that performance would come first.
Using it is very simple — just install it, activate it, and in the settings, find Autoptimize tab and you will find all the optimization options that you need. Remember, you will likely only lose a dozen or so KB per page, but in the long run, it will be worth it.
WP Rocket pros
- It is easy to use
- It can help reduce loading speed
- It does additional things, like minification, data optimization, and more
- It lets you include or exclude specific content from the cache
WP Rocket cons
- It is a premium plugin
- It can be a bit overwhelming for new users due to the number of features
Next on the list is WP Rocket, which is one of the best-known caching plugins out there. As you may know, caching plugins can also help your site’s performance by increasing the speed, although not in the same way that our previous entry did.
When someone visits your website, there is a lot of information that goes back and forth, and this slows things down, sometimes by quite a bit. However, it is in your best interest to have everything running quickly and smoothly, so that your visitor wouldn’t simply leave in frustration.
This is where caching plugins like WP Rocket come in, as they create a static version of your website and its content, and display it to the user, instead of generating the entire site each time dynamically.
WP Rocket does this pretty well, and it has been around for years now. There have been some changes to it over time, which some people liked and some did not, but overall, WP Rocket works, and it does its job pretty good. It is a premium plugin, but it is well worth the money, as it is confirmed to reduce the loading time of your site.
Lastly, it is very user-friendly, so you can start using it right away, regardless of whether you are tech-savvy or not. Just install it, activate it, and it will start caching your site to improve loading times down the road.
- Rich with features
- Easy to use
- Good customer support
- Great value for money
- No free trial or free version
Nearing the end of our list, we have Breeze — another WordPress caching plugin that can significantly speed up your website. In fact, according to some estimates, your site can be up to 38% faster if you use this plugin. It was launched by Cloudways, and it has been around for nearly three years now, which makes it relatively new, when compared to others on the list.
As we have mentioned before, plugins such as this can decrease the page load time, which will significantly improve user experience. It does this by performing caching at several different levels. In addition, it is fully compatible with Multisite and WooCommerce.
Installing it on your website is pretty easy. Simply go to the Plugins section and click Add New. Find Breeze and click Install Now, and that’s it. All that remains is to Activate it. After that, you can go to its settings and configure it so that it will do what you want/need it to do,
Performance-wise, the plugin is very effective, and it can make a difference, so if you feel like your website is too slow, this is one of the best solutions for you.
WP Super Cache
WP Super Cache pros
- Very useful plugin
- Easy to use
- Free to use
- A good number of features
- Excellent performance
WP Super Cache cons
- Limited support
WP Super Cache is another caching plugin that is very easy to set up and start using at any time. As soon as you install it and activate it, simply select the ‘Caching On’ option in the settings, and then click the update status button. That will turn the caching on, and your website’s speed should be noticeably better for your visitors and customers.
You can confirm the change of speed for yourself, by clicking the test cache button. The plugin will quickly load the site twice, and fetch the speed, comparing the timestamps for both attempts. If everything is working as it should be, the speeds will be a match, which will mean that caching is enabled.
To improve the speed even further, you can also turn on compression, which compresses the files that are sent to the user. Once the information arrives at the user’s browser, it gets extracted and displayed on their screen.
We mention this because WP Super Cache will not enable compression by default, and you need to do it manually, in the Advanced tab under plugin settings.
W3 Total Cache
W3 Total Cache pros
- Rich with advanced features
- Free to use
- Very helpful for experienced users
- User-friendly — it provides a detailed explanation for each feature
- Very efficient
W3 Total Cache cons
- The number of features can be intimidating
- Premium service is expensive
- Limited free support
In the fourth spot, we have W3 Total Cache, which is a real powerhouse, loaded with numerous features that allow it to do a lot to improve your website’s speed. Of course, the number of options and possibilities might make it intimidating to new users, but in essence, it is not difficult to use and understand, at all.
Of course, the most important part is to install it, enable it, and enable page caching. It will immediately start storing, as well as serving, all the cached pages to your site’s visitors. Once again, if you decide to run a speed test, you will likely start seeing results right away.
Like in with our previous entry, you might want to enable serving compressed pages. This can increase the speed further, and your visitors generally won’t know the difference.
Best of all, turning compression on is very simple, and you can do it with a single click. Just go to Performance, and proceed to Browser Cache, and then check the box that says Enable HTTP (gzip) compression, and you’re done.
W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache are rather similar in a lot of aspects, and they are even one another’s main competitor, so you can easily find a number of comparisons if you want to see which one is better.
But, we can assure you that both work quite well, and in the end, that’s all that matters for any website user that chooses to give them a go.
Visual Composer pros
- Completely different, modern interface
- Plenty of features
- More than 200 third-party addons
- You can save element presets
- Rows and sections can be saved as a template
- Affordable for one site
Visual Composer cons
- Too many features can be confusing
- Lacks the undo button
- Expensive if you need it for multiple sites
- A lot of its elements are unnecessary
- Lacks customization options
- No real-time editing
- Limited templates
Stepping away from caching plugins, we have Visual Composer, which is a WordPress a back end and front end page builder, with over 1.5 million installs. In fact, it was among the original page builders, back in the day. Today, it is a bit less known than it used to be, as competition managed to overtake it.
However, Visual Composer has clearly been working on improving itself and changing the user experience for the better. While those who know it from before likely do not have the fondest memories of its UI, things are quite different now, and the tool looks quite modern and easy to navigate.
However, since looks aren’t everything, we explored it further to find quite an extensive library of various elements. In fact, it is so extensive that the search bar is likely to become your favorite feature, which can be taken as a bad thing, or a good thing, depending on your preference.
With that said, there are still quite a bit of shortcoming, one of the biggest being the lack of the undo button. Not only that, but it is a decent choice if you want to use it on a single site. If you need it for two or more, it is rather expensive, which is not something that will attract users with a limited budget.
With that, we would end our list of some of the best WordPress plugins that you should have on your website in order to make it better, faster, and, with this last solution, more SEO-friendly.
Of course, you don’t need all of them, especially not when it comes to the caching plugins. However, it would likely be useful to have a few added to your site.
Test them out, see how they perform, and if you are not satisfied, you can always remove them. But, you are more likely to keep them, as they really do a pretty great job when it comes to making your site as best as it can be.
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