WordPress plugin can help or kill your website’s speed

There are over 50,000 WordPress plugins available for download today. You can search “best-plugin” lists for days, but do you know how to choose what is best for your self-hosted WordPress site?

Why is it important to have the best WordPress plugins?

Plugins can make or break your website.

Choose wisely, and your plugins work for you to increase your site’s performance, security, speed, design, mobile compatibility, social media integration, and other features you need to surpass your competitors’ websites.

One bad plugin and the website you built can come to a screeching halt until you fix it. A bad plugin can slow down your site, make it insecure and vulnerable, and can even be discontinued – which leaves you stranded without any support services.

How can this happen?

Too many plugins?

The answer is no. A bad plugin is poorly coded. WordPress is designed to have plugins, use all the plugins you need! Be careful to do your research to avoid a bad apple.

Bad plugins can turn your website into a waking nightmare.

Imagine this: You are happy with, and quite frankly, proud of your self-hosted WordPress site.

You have picked the perfect theme that your customers seem to respond well to, your content is slowly moving up the Google search ladder, and new leads are finding your site organically (yay finally!). You even attribute some of this success to the 50 or so plugins you have had for a year now.

Then you start to see something fishy. An error appears when you log on. Your load speed went from less than one second all the way up to nine. Google your site and you are nowhere to be found. What do you do?

Well, first you pray you backed up your site.

Then you jump on Google and search around for WordPress’ community forums to see if anyone has encountered this same error.

Check out WPBeginner to get help with common WordPress errors and other advice on plugins. This source helps beginners troubleshoot common errors. Its step-by-step guide helps you fix plugin problems, which is great.

What it does not give you is a speedy way to fix the problems you have. Plan to set aside at least a day to deactivate and reactivate all 50 of your plugins to find the bad apple. Once you have found it, time to figure out the problem.

The good thing about WordPress is the community that exists to help one another troubleshoot problems.

But do you really have a whole day to troubleshoot and fix your site? Be careful and do your research before adding plugins. Or, consider another system to host your site.

Fast and Painless – Website Redesign

The Result? A beautiful, fast, SEO tuned and mobile-friendly website.

What criteria should you use to pick the best WordPress plugins?

Now that you have heard a horror story about what a bad plugin can do to your site and your sanity, you are smart to do your research before selecting new plugins.

The internet has made the plugin selection process very transparent; it is easy to avoid bad apples. First, check out the following criteria for the plugin you want (keep reading and we have done this for you with the best plugins).

Initial criteria:

  • Number of downloads
  • Plugin ratings
  • Strength of support

This information is typically provided on the download page for each plugin. See here. Your rating for each of these will differ depending on what you want the plugin to do. These metrics are your initial impression of the plugin. Your research does not stop there.

If you really want to avoid a bad plugin, read user reviews of the plugin. The WordPress community is large and helpful. Just like a friend, they will be honest.

Check out Quora or WordPress.org for in-depth user reviews. Not only will this help with the selection process, but you will also know what to expect out of that plugin and determine if it is what you really need.

If you want to go the extra mile in your plugin research, look up the credibility of the plugin’s author. Many plugin authors are professionals or are created by entire software teams. Some are freelancers, and others are just starting to create plugins.

Additionally, you should consider if your site would benefit from the premium version over the free version.

For many plugins, the free version is just what you need right now, not what you’ll need in the future. Create metrics for yourself so you know when to upgrade to the premium version. This goes along with the next section about what you want your plugins to do for you.

What do you want your plugins to do?

How are these plugins going to make your website work for you?

First, define your goals so you know what you are working towards. Ask yourself: How do people come to your website organically? Are you capturing and qualifying potential leads? Can people view your website on their mobile device? Is your website safe from hackers and spam?

You want plugins that help your WordPress site’s performance. These can include improving your SEO, load time, mobile responsiveness, and conversion rates.

Maybe your goal is to rank number one on Google for your industry, product, or knowledge. Well, Google’s algorithm favors content-rich, mobile-friendly, secure websites. Choose your plugins to match your goal.

How will you keep your site secure from hackers and spam? Know the scope of your website and the level of security you need for your site. This might be an area you want to pay the premium for the product.

If a plugin does not add value to your site, stay away from it. You will see fewer problems down the road if you vetted all your plugins at the start. They help your site for a reason. 

Sometimes you need a little extra help getting your new site setup. First Site Guide has compiled an entire library of how-to guides, articles, and techniques to learn the ins and outs of WordPress.

As your business grows, your website should grow too. Check-in with your plugins and determine if they do what you downloaded them to do.

Consider upgrading to premium if the plugin does what you need to for your website to survive. Or, look into WordPress alternatives if it has become outdated based on your company’s needs.

List of Five Best WordPress Plugins

Now for the fun part. There are over 50,000 WordPress plugins. You can imagine there are some bad apples in that basket.

These five plugins were chosen based on the criteria mentioned before, and how they will help your site meet your performance goals.

1. Yoast SEO

YoastSEO

Almost every “Best Plugins” list rewards its number one recommendation to Yoast SEO. This performance-optimizing plugin has it all. People love it because the plugin goes beyond technical optimization to increase your SEO; it helps you write better content.

Google’s search algorithm rewards insightful, optimized content. Yoast SEO assigns keywords to a content piece to optimize it so you can rank higher. With this plugin, you will not have to worry about all the little technical check-ups again.

Yoast SEO has your back for optimizing alt tags, meta descriptions, content length suggestions, descriptions, headings and subheadings, and all other on-page SEO functionality checks. Get more information here: Yoast SEO.

What does it do? SEO Performance

Number of downloads: 40 million – highest downloaded WordPress plugin

Plugin ratings: 4.8/5 stars

Strength of support: 257 out of 346 issues resolved in the past 2 months (74%)

Author credibility: Joost de Valk, Yoast’s CEO created this plugin. Joost de Valk has been working with WordPress since 2006 and is currently the CEO and Founder of Yoast. He created the original WordPress SEO plugin but renamed it Yoast SEO. 

Because Yoast SEO has become incredibly popular the development team has grown over the years to include many more authors like Anton Timmermans, Jip Moors, Omar Reiss, and Taco Verdonschot.

Website: Yoast.com

2. Sucuri

WordPress plugins

Is your website safe? How do you know? With the Sucuri plugin, you can count on constant security monitoring. The plugin tracks any changes made to your site and records them so you can easily see.

If your site’s security is bypassed, all your information will not be lost forever, it will be safe in the Sucuri Security Operations Center cloud. Sucuri maintains and hardens your site’s security with audits and Malware scans.

The premium version includes a website firewall that is up to par with those of the world’s largest companies. Get more information here: Sucuri

What does it do? Security

Number of downloads: +300,000

Plugin ratings: 4.6/5 stars

Strength of support: 41 out of 44 issues resolved in the past 2 months (93%)

Author credibility: Sucuri specializes in website security. Site owners recognize it globally as an authority on the subject. Daniel Cid is the Founder and CTO of Surcuri, Inc. He has been with WordPress since 2009.

Website: Sucuri.net

3. W3 Total Cache

SEO plugins

Speed matters on the world wide web. This plugin decreases your site’s load time and sustains your site when there is heavy traffic. No site crashes! Website developers and web hosts recommend this plugin because it has all the bases covered: speed, crash resistance, improved user experience and improved SEO.

It also integrates your site seamlessly with a Content Delivery Network (CDN) for faster loading speeds. Get more information here: w3 Total Cache

What does it do? Performance

Number of downloads: +1 million

Plugin ratings: 4.3/5 stars

Strength of support: 5 out of 103 issues resolved in the past 2 months (5%)

Author credibility: Fredrick Townes, Founder of W3 EDGE, created and updates this plugin. He has been with WordPress since 2009.

Website: w3-edge.com

4. Optinmonster

plugins  for performance

How excited are you when you gain a new lead? What if I told you this plugin can increase that feeling by 785%? Users of this plugin sit back and watch their conversion rate leap and bound upwards.

Optinmonster makes it easy to capture visitors who would otherwise leave your website. You can create all types of pop-ups and forms for your visitors to take action if they like what they see. The plugin is user-friendly as well. It is easy to A/B split test with Optinmonster so you can make data-driven decisions. Get more information here: Optinmonster.

What does it do? Lead generation

Number of downloads: 500,000+

Plugin ratings: 4.5/5 stars

Strength of support: 0 out of 1 issues resolved in the past 2 months (0%)

Author credibility: Syed Balki is a lead-generation growth-hacking guru. He founded WPBeginner (cited throughout this article) to make WordPress easier for beginners. He also co-founded Optinmonster and is now the CEO.

Thomas Griffin is not new to WordPress plugins. He develops and builds plugins to make marketers’ lives easier. He is the co-founder of Optinmonster and the company’s current CTO.

Website: Optinmonster.com

5. Akismet

Akismet

The comments section on your blog can be where you meet your biggest fans or your worst enemies. You need a comment section to interact with your readers, but spammy creatures often lurk in the shadows. Akismet is a spam-fighting power plugin.

It rids your comments section of ugly spam by checking every comment against its global database of spam. For malicious comments, it alerts you immediately on your admin’s screen and blocks the worst of the spam. This plugin also fights spam on any forms or contact pages you have, so your site will stay speedy and spam free. Get more information here: Akismet.

What does it do? Security

Number of downloads: +3 million

Plugin ratings: 4.8/5 stars

Strength of support: 9 out of 10 issues resolved in the past 2 months (90%)

Author credibility: Automattic was founded in 2005 with a mission to make the web a better place. It has since created several plugins and contributes to open-source projects and non-profit organizations. Its Founder Matt Mullenweg once joked, “We are much better at writing code than haiku.”

Website: Akismet.com

Conclusion

These plugins will take your self-hosted WordPress site to the next level. While this article is about WordPress, that does not mean Matrix Marketing Group believes WordPress is the best hosting platform out there.

As you think more about your online strategy, continue to do your research on the best hosting site for you. You are in luck because we have done the research for you: WordPress Alternatives – 51 CMS Competitors.

Are there any WordPress plugins you live by or other criteria you use to choose your plugins?

We’re listening.

Have something to say about your thoughts on WordPress plugins?  What do you use?

Share it with us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

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