The Best Plugins for WordPress – Our Recommendations

Between the Divi Space and Aspen Grove Studios team, we’ve built many, many WordPress websites, and after years in the game, seeing the changes and developments made within the world of WordPress, we’ve learned a thing or two about the tools of the trade.

WordPress’ platform can easily be expanded through the use of a plugin, but with so many plugins readily available, it can be difficult to decide which solution is the best fit for your specific need and requirement. To help you navigate through the sea of plugin choices, we wanted to share a list of our top plugins for WordPress.

These plugins all come with our stamp of approval. We’ve installed and used them plenty of times, and would refer them over and over again. It goes without saying that there are a score of plugins available, each unique in their own regard and offering different features to each other. While you may find an alternate plugin to suit your needs, keep in mind that this post has been written as our subjective opinion.

If you’re brand new to the concept of plugins, we recommend reading our guide to using WordPress plugins. In the guide, we discuss what a plugin is, how it works, the difference between free and premium plugins and how to select a free plugin from the WordPress repository. We also offer step-by-step guides that detail three different ways to install a plugin on a WordPress website.

 

Best Website Builder Plugin: Divi

Divi Builder plugin Elegant Themes
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Without a doubt, our favorite WordPress plugin of all time is Divi by Elegant Themes. One of the best WordPress builders around, the Divi Builder is easy to use and requires no knowledge of code to work. Divi makes use of an awesome drag and drop interface. Here, users are able to build a website, page by page, by simply picking and choosing various modules or web elements, and assembling them in a desired combination. Modules can easily be changed to accommodate unique content, and then finally, customized on a number of levels to fit any brand identity or style guide. As well as the Divi Builder plugin, Elegant Themes have also developed the Divi theme – a WordPress theme that includes the Divi Builder plugin already integrated into the framework.

To use the Divi Builder plugin, you’ll need to purchase an Elegant Themes membership (either an annual membership for USD 89.00 or a lifetime membership for $249.00). These memberships come with unlimited access to both the Divi theme and Divi Builder plugin, as well as every other product in the Elegant Themes portfolio.  If you’d like to read more about Divi and find out if it’s the right fit for you, read our Divi guide.

Best SEO Plugin: Yoast SEO

WordPress Plugin Yoast SEO WordPress Repository
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One of the most popular, trusted and highly recommended WordPress plugins is Yoast SEO. Perfect for blogs and businesses of all shapes and sizes, Yoast SEO allows webmasters and business owners to optimize their websites for search engines in a number of ways. As well as allowing WordPress users to enter metadata to pages and posts, Yoast SEO also ships with robust features such as helping businesses connect their website with Google Search Console and plenty more.

Yoast SEO is available as both a free plugin for download from the WordPress repository as well as a paid plugin available for purchase from the Yoast website. For most people, the free version will be perfect. Another popular, free SEO plugin is All in One SEO Pack. In the past, we’ve used All in One SEO Pack, but we find the Yoast interface a bit more engaging and we enjoy the page SEO score grading feature.

 

Best Caching Plugin: Comet Cache

WordPress Plugin Comet Cache WordPress Repository
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After experimenting with a number of caching plugins over the past couple of years, including expensive premium caching plugins, we’ve found the best, most consistent success with Comet Cache.

Free and available for download via the WordPress repository, Comet Cache is a lightweight plugin that is, unlike some of the caching plugins out, incredibly easy to setup and configure. As well as producing incredible results in terms of page load time and overall website performance, Comet Cache ships with a number of great features such as Automatic & Intelligent cache clearing technology and GZIP compression.

There is also a premium version of Comet Cache that starts at USD 39.00 for a single site, but we recommend checking out the free version before considering paying for the plugin.

 

Best Backup Plugin: UpDraftPlus

WordPress Plugin UpdraftPlus WordPress Repository
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The single most important thing about building a WordPress website is ensuring its long-term success. As well as protecting a website from threats, making sure that updates are being executed correctly and that the front end is displaying in the right fashion, the webmaster also has to ensure that the site is being backed up at regular intervals.

While backing up a website manually is always an option, it is pretty time consuming, especially when there may be multiple websites to back up. For this, we recommend using an automatic backup solution such as UpdraftPlus. Free to download and incredibly easy to use, UpdraftPlus does an amazing job of automatically backing up a WordPress website with practically no effort from the webmaster. After installing the plugin and configuring a backup plan (including setting the setting the backup interval and selecting an off-site, cloud storage backup option of choice, UpdraftPlus will begin working silently in the background creating regular backups of your website’s database and site files. We’re huge fans of UpdraftPlus. We particularly love its ease of use and reliability. If you’re keen to check out the plugin, feel free to use our setup and install guide for UpdraftPlus.

 

Best Form Builder Plugin: Caldera Forms

WordPress Plugin Caldera Forms WordPress Repository
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As we’ve mentioned, we’re big fans of using the Divi framework from Elegant Themes, but we’re not too fond of the contact form module that ships with the Divi Builder. Instead, we absolutely love using Caldera Forms by Caldera Labs. While there are a plethora of contact form plugins for WordPress, we love Caldera Forms for a vast number of reasons, including:

  • It’s free,
  • Thanks to its drag and drop interface, it’s incredibly easy to build a form in a few short steps,
  • There are plenty of features included in the free version that would typically only be offered in the premium version of a contact form plugin (such as conditional logic, autoresponders etc.),
  • Forms can be imported and exported between sites to ensure decreased development time,

… and much more.

To find out more about Caldera Forms, read our post that explains why we think Caldera Forms is the best form plugin for WordPress, or simply download the plugin for free from the WordPress repository and start using it. There is also a pro version of the plugin with even more advanced features. Beyond Caldera Forms, we love using Gravity Forms for our WordPress websites, however, Gravity Forms is a paid plugin that’s not exactly cheap. If you’re on a budget, we highly suggest checking out Caldera Forms before considering paid form plugins.  

 

Best Opt-In Form Plugin: Bloom

Bloom plugin Elegant Themes
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From weekly newsletters to campaign based communication, email marketing is one of the single most valuable strategies to include in a digital marketing mix. With this, it’s important for websites to grab the attention of their visitors and get them to sign up for their email lists. Helping webmasters make this process incredibly easy is Bloom, an email opt-in form generator plugin from Elegant Themes that is built for both WordPress and Divi.

Integrated with some of the biggest brands in the email marketing sphere, including MailChimp, AWeber, Convertkit, Mad Mimi, Infusionsoft, GetResponse and many, many more, Bloom lets its users create beautiful, responsive opt-in forms that can be set up with different opt-in types (such as automatic pop-ups, automatic fly-ins, in-line forms, below content forms, widget area forms and special permission forms that require an email address entry to unlock premium content).

Great for users that are already using Divi, the Bloom plugin is included in the Elegant Theme membership (annual membership for USD 89.00 or a lifetime membership for $249.00).

 

Best Security Plugin: iThemes Security  

WordPress Plugin iThemes Security WordPress Repository
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Safeguarding your WordPress website is of vital importance. iThemes Security helps WordPress users protect their websites against a number of vulnerabilities including protecting your site in the face of brute force attacks, locking out users that have had too many failed login attempts, sending you email alerts if a file has been tampered with and much, much more.

iThemes Security is available for free download from the WordPress repository, hower there us a premium version of the plugin (ranging from USD 80.00 to USD 197.00 depending on the number of sites for intended use) available for purchase from the iThemes website.

 

Conclusion

While there are many plugins readily available to use on WordPress websites, we’ve just covered a handful of the ones that we love, use often and recommend highly. Of course, there are plenty of alternate plugins – either free or premium – that’ll do the job.

Premium plugins will almost always come with additional features and varying forms of support, free plugins are less set in stone and will require some research, even testing, before using them on a live site.

While there is no golden rule as to how many plugins should be used on a site, try to keep the number down and opt for more multi-purpose plugins rather and ones that only satisfy one simple function. If a number of unnecessary plugins are loaded on to a site, a flurry of unnecessary scripts will run, thus increasing the number of database calls and adding to the overall page speed load. Pay close attention to the quality of the plugin by researching the rating, support queries (and answers) and so on.  

As a simple guide, when searching for and selecting a free plugin from the WordPress repository, contemplate the following:

  • Can I achieve this change (be it aesthetic or functional) in another way?
  • When was the plugin last updated?
  • Is this plugin well supported? Does the plugin developer respond to their support queries?
  • What are the plugin reviews like?
  • Does the plugin have a good, high star rating?
  • Is the plugin compatible with the latest version of WordPress?
  • If you’re using the Divi theme or the Divi Builder, is the plugin is compatible with the Divi framework?

 

We want to hear from you!

We hope you’ve enjoyed this article and that our list of recommended plugins for WordPress will help you in your web development journey. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share them below. We love receiving your feedback!

Thanks for reading!

Lisa-Robyn Keown

Lisa-Robyn is a qualified copywriter and brand strategist from Cape Town, South Africa.

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10 Comments

  1. Chris Reich

    I’m struggling with finding a popup builder that actually works. Bloom is nice but it lacks a direct contact form that I need for my type of business.

    I need a popup that looks good and sends me an email (I WISH BLOOM DID THIS!!!)

    “Would you like a free consultation? Tell me how I can help:
    Name:
    Email:
    Questions/Comments:

    Submit

    Any ideas?

    Reply
  2. Rich STern

    Appreciate your list, agree with many of the choices, but have to disagree with a couple of others.

    While Caldera is fine, if you need a full featured forms plugin with capabilities on par with Gravity, Formidable Forms Pro is a less expensive alternative and every bit as capable as Gravity. It’s well designed and extremely flexible.

    For security, iThemes Security is nowhere near the quality and breadth of WordFence.

    Reply
    • Anthony V

      agree 100% with wordfence. After 4 years as a paid ithemes customer, switched from Ithemes PAID to wordfence FREE for all new sites by default and have not looked back. Premium WF is amazing for my money sites as well.

  3. Joseph

    I like your suggestion for Divi and Yoast. I stand by that Formidable Forms is the best form tool. Cache tool I think requires Hosting knowledge first. I suggest WP-Rocket due to WP Engine. iThemes Security isn’t bad but I haven’t had an issue with security in a few versions of WordPress.

    Reply
  4. Dom

    Thank you Lisa for the great article. The list has some awesome plugins. Anyone can suggest me a affordable and reliable plugin for multi hotel booking ? All suggestions appreciated.

    Reply
  5. Britt Phillips

    Divi is without a doubt the very best theme! I use it for all of my own sites and clients sites. It’s rocks!

    Reply
  6. Luke Cavanagh

    Most WordPress caching plugins all work the exact same way.

    Reply
  7. Alex

    Nice job, I use almost those plugins, for security I think Sucuri has also a lot of interesting features.

    Reply
  8. David McCan

    Caldera Forms is an interesting choice. It has a number of features that are only found in the premium versions of the others.

    Reply

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