WordPress is a powerful tool that can be used to create almost any type of website. By installing a few must have WordPress plugins, you can greatly enhance your website in many different ways.
But with so many plugins to choose from, including multiple options that appear to serve the same purpose, which ones should you install? This guide to the must have WordPress plugins of 2017 will help you add some essential features and functionality to your website. Whether your website is new or old, it’s well worth checking this guide to see how your site could be improved in just a few clicks.
Must Have WordPress Plugins of 2017
Although these are all great tools that come highly recommended, don’t just blindly install each of them on your website. Be sure to read our descriptions to see if you really need them. There’s a chance you might be using a similar plugin that serves the same purpose. A few others might not be necessary at all depending on your requirements.
Backup Buddy – Website Backup Plugin (Premium)
It’s almost impossible to overstate how important it is to backup your website. If you’re not convinced, ask yourself how you’d feel if your site and all its content disappeared without warning.
Thankfully, if you choose the right tool, backing up your WordPress website is very straightforward. With a plugin like BackupBuddy, you can easily implement a robust automated backup schedule that will ensure your website and its content can be instantly restored should something go wrong.
Although BackupBuddy isn’t a free plugin, if you don’t want to take any chances, it’s a good investment. For those on a budget, the free UpdraftPlus plugin is a reliable alternative.
Yoast SEO – Search Engine Optimization Plugin (Freemium)
Ensuring your website is search engine optimized (SEO) will help as many people as possible to find it. The core component of your SEO strategy should be installing the best WordPress SEO tool. When it comes to this type of plugin, Yoast SEO is the most popular option out there.
The free version of Yoast SEO will help you ensure your site and each piece of content is as search engine friendly as possible. If you want to improve your chances of being found in the search engines even further, the premium upgrade is on hand to help. Yoast SEO isn’t the only plugin that can help you rank better in the search engines. Therefore, be sure to check out our review of WP Meta SEO before making a final decision.
WordFence Security – Website Protection Plugin (Freemium)
It’s fair to say that WordPress is a secure platform. However, due to its popularity and widespread use, it makes sense for website hackers to target the WordPress software. After all, if you can find a way into one WordPress website, there’s a good chance you can do the same on at least some of the millions of other sites powered by WordPress.
Despite WordPress being relatively robust, there’s still a lot you can do to make your website even more secure. Installing and activating a free plugin like Wordfence Security will immediately make your website less attractive to hackers and harder to break into. For more features there is also a premium upgrade available.
WP-Optimize – Database Management Plugin (Free)
A plugin that optimizes the WordPress database might not sound that exciting. However, if something happens to the database that stores all of your WordPress website content, you’ll quickly regret not installing WP-Optimize.
This free plugin can reduce the risk of your WordPress website database being corrupted. Not only that, but WP-Optimize can also help your site load faster. The result of this often increase visibility in the search engines, leading to more visitors. Other benefits of a fast loading website include improved goal conversion rates, and generally being a more enjoyable site to visit. It’s all very easy to use. Simply install, click a few buttons, and your database will be optimized on an ongoing basis.
WP Smush – Image Optimization Plugin (Freemium)
WP-Optimize and its ability to manage your database is just one way to increase the performance of your website. Another step you can take to improve performance is optimizing the images on your site. Doing so can help you reap more of the rewards of faster loading times.
Compressing any images before you upload them with software like Photoshop is a good start. However, if you want to squeeze every last drop of performance out of your website, installing the WP Smush plugin will ensure your images are compressed and optimized as much as possible. As well as optimizing each image you upload, WP Smush can compress all existing images on your site in one go. Like many of the other must have WordPress plugins, there’s a premium upgrade available to give your site that extra advantage over your competitors.
WP Rocket – Website Caching Plugin (Premium)
Caching is another effective way to speed up your WordPress website. When it comes to implementing caching, it doesn’t get much easier than installing the WP Rocket plugin. Not only that, but WP Rocket consistently comes out top in caching plugin comparison tests.
Combine that with how easy this plugin is to setup, and installing WP Rocket is probably the best return on your investment you’ll get when it comes to increasing the performance of your WordPress website. Unfortunately, WP Rocket isn’t a free plugin. However, you really do get your money’s worth with this tool.
Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights (Freemium)
If you don’t know how your visitors are finding your website and what they do once they arrive, it’s going to be very difficult to improve its performance. Whether you want to grow your audience, increase your goal conversion rates, or simply provide a better user experience, you need to be tracking what your visitors are doing on your site.
Google Analytics is a powerful tool that can help you monitor, measure, and optimize the effectiveness of your website. When it comes to connecting Google Analytics with your WordPress website, the Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights is the obvious choice. To make viewing your Google Analytics data more convenient, this plugin will display the information inside your WordPress dashboard, giving you one less website to log into.
The free version of this must have WordPress plugin should be powerful enough for most users. However, if your needs change, it’s nice to know that you have the option of upgrading to the Plus and Pro versions.
Elementor – Drag-and-Drop Page Builder Plugin (Freemium)
If you want to publish uniquely presented content that has the ability to impress and connect with your target audience, the default WordPress Editor just won’t cut it. Instead, why not install a page builder plugin and upgrade the WordPress Editor into something much more powerful. If you choose the right plugin, this will give you the ability to create professional looking content like never before.
One option that comes highly recommended is Elementor, a popular drag-and-drop page builder plugin for WordPress. For most projects, it’s a must have addition for your WordPress website. You can get the full low down on this plugin in our hands-on Elementor page builder review.
With a lite version you can use for free as well as a premium upgrade that makes this tool even more powerful, Elementor is one of the best drag-and-drop WordPress page builder plugins available today.
NextGen Gallery – Image Gallery Plugin (Freemium)
WordPress does have a built-in image gallery feature. But if you want your photographs and other images to really pop, you should definitely consider installing a plugin like the free NextGEN Gallery. With impressive features such as a thumbnail gallery mode, a slideshow builder tool, and an intuitive user interface, NextGEN Gallery will help you take your content presentation skills to the next level.
For even more features and functionality, you can upgrade to the premium Plus and Pro versions of NextGEN Gallery.
Soliloquy – Slideshow Builder Plugin (Freemium)
NextGEN Gallery does have a basic slideshow mode. However, if you really want to harness the power of sliders, Soliloquy comes highly recommended. Giving you the ability to create stylish and mobile responsive sliders, Soliloquy can help you promote your best content, encourage your visitors to check out more of your website, and display products from your WooCommerce store for more sales.
Those with greater needs might appreciate the premium versions that offer much more power and features.
WPForms – Form Builder Plugin (Freemium)
Almost every type of website needs a contact form. Thanks to the WPForms plugin, adding one to your site has never been easier. With a good selection of pre-built forms, useful form fields, an intuitive drag-and-drop form builder, and a mobile-friendly design, WPForms comes highly recommended. The free version can help you create contact forms and other basic forms. On submission, form contents are delivered straight to your inbox. More advanced forms can be built with the premium versions of WPForms.
Weglot – Multilingual Plugin (Freemium)
To increase the reach of your website, it might be time to start publishing your content in multiple languages. If that sounds appealing, the Weglot plugin can make your WordPress website go multilingual.
Weglot’s ease of use and wealth of features have earned a place in this collection of must-have WordPress plugins. If you want to translate your website and its content into multiple languages, Weglot is hard to beat. However, there are other equally capable multilingual plugins for WordPress.
Translating a small amount of content with Weglot is free, but after that, you’ll need to upgrade to the premium version to unlock the full potential of this plugin.
Monarch – Social Sharing Plugin (Premium)
If you want to grow your audience, then making it easy to share your content on social media is vital. Thankfully, with a plugin like Monarch, you can add social share buttons to your WordPress website in many different ways.
A floating social share bar, in-content buttons, image sharing features, and social share pop-ups and fly-ins. Monarch gives you total control over how you choose to use this must have plugin. Regardless of your social media goals, Monarch from Elegant Themes can help. From increasing your followers to helping your visitors share your content with their followers, Monarch does it all.
The fact that the best-selling Divi WordPress theme is included in the package helps make Monarch a great investment for your online business.
Broken Link Checker – Link Monitoring Plugin (Free)
Broken links on your website really frustrate your visitors. Not only that, but broken links in your sales funnel could be losing you money. To overcome these potential problems, install a free plugin like Broken Link Checker. Running in the background, this tool will let you know as soon as a dead link is detected. You also get a quick way to edit and fix broken links without having to open each page individually.
These free and premium must have plugins are sure to improve your WordPress website. Depending on your needs, some of these plugins are more essential than others. For example, not every website will benefit from being translated into multiple languages with a plugin like Weglot. However, all websites should be backed up on a regular basis with a tool like BackupBuddy.
What are your must have WordPress plugin? Please let us know in the comments below.