There are over 55,000 WordPress plugins listed in the official WordPress Plugin Directory.
With that many plugins, how do you know which are legit? And more importantly, how do you know which plugins you are missing out on in 2021?
Today we’re bringing you the most comprehensive list of the MUST-HAVE WordPress plugins, crowdsourced from some of the most successful online entrepreneurs and bloggers we know.
No gimmick. No fluff. No unnecessary plugins you don’t need.
These are WordPress plugins to help you start, run, and grow your business, blog or ecommerce website — categorized into:
But first, let’s define exactly what a plugin is (and how they work with a WordPress website).
What is a WordPress plugin, anyway?
A WordPress plugin is an app or a piece of software you can add to your WordPress site. It extends the functionality or adds a new feature to your existing website.
WordPress will function on its own, but you can make it do exactly what you want it to do with plugins:
- Want to sell digital products on your blog? There’s a plugin for that.
- Want to make sure you never publish anything by accident again? There’s a plugin for that.
- Want to turn your shell of a WordPress theme into a thriving eCommerce store? There’s a plugin for that.
But like I said, there are more than 55,000 WordPress plugins out there. And just like the apps in the Apple App Store (or Shopify apps in the Shopify App Store), there are a few that stand out from the rest.
Free WordPress plugins are good enough for most beginners… But what if you’re not a beginner? And you want more than the regular features and functionalities from a free plugin?
Premium WordPress plugins come with additional features, better support, and regular updates. The only catch: they are NOT free.
They increase your costs of running a WordPress website faster than you think.
AppSumo partners with WordPress plugin developers to bring you the BEST premium plugins at a fraction of the cost.
Grow your website today with the best WordPress plugins without breaking the bank.
WordPress plugins for security and backup
It doesn’t seem important until your website is compromised or down. Trust me, it’s not fun. Here are some of the best WordPress plugins that protect your website.
The HubSpot WordPress plugin is an all-in-one CRM, Sales, and Marketing tool that adds some serious value to your WordPress website. What exactly can you do with the plugin?
You can set up your existing forms (like those created with Sumo) to automatically sync with the free HubSpot CRM, so you can easily start collecting and organizing your contact records. This entire CRM is available within WordPress — so you don’t even have to navigate out of your WordPress dashboard.
Once a contact is in your CRM, you can start segmenting your contacts into lists, track each contact’s interactions with your website, add contacts to lists, automate emails, and more!
The plugin also includes a powerful live chat tool that easily enables you to have real-time interactions with your site visitors as well as analytics tools that give you a holistic overview of all of your marketing activities.
And the best part? All of this functionality is free and available from one plugin. Look no further than HubSpot’s WordPress plugin to jumpstart marketing on your WordPress site!
2. Akismet anti-spam
Akismet is the must-have WordPress plugin to protect you from spam comments. In fact, it comes with WordPress CMS as you install WordPress into your hosting server.
You know you’re on a safe hand with Akismet because it’s built by Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com. And it’s used by millions of websites filtering and blocking an average of 75 million spam comments per hour.
How does Akismet work?
Every time a visitor posts a comment, Akismet checks it against its database (collected from all participating websites since 2005). If it’s spam, it’s deleted automatically. If spam gets through and the user marks it as spam, it gets added to the database so Akismet can filter similar spam in the future.
It’s a piece of WordPress plugin that only gets smarter and better over time.
The BEST part? Akismet is free.
Wordfence protects your WordPress website from online hackers and attackers. It does this with an endpoint firewall that examines and blocks malicious traffic.
On top of that, the Wordfence security scanner acts as a powerful sidekick of the firewall. It looks for malware and compares core, theme, and plugin files with what is in the WordPress.org repository, checking their integrity and reporting any changes to you.
With Wordfence firewall and security scanner, your WordPress website is safe and you get alerts for security risks (like software vulnerabilities) so you can address them before your website gets attacked.
It also comes with login security features that allow you to enable two-factor authentication and reCAPTCHA on your website.
Backing up a WordPress website is the last thing that comes to most people’s minds… Until they need a backup to restore their compromised websites.
And trust me, it’s a P.I.T.A process if you’re not prepared.
UpdraftPlus simplifies backup and restoration. With UpdraftPlus, you can back up your files and database into the cloud folder of your choice (Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3, and more), and restore them with a single click.
It’s free to use but you can upgrade to a premium plan for more features like:
- Incremental backups.
- Duplicate and migrate your WordPress website easily.
- More storage destinations (OneDrive, BackBlaze, Azure, SFTP).
- Database encryption.
- Advanced reporting, and more.
Alternative: BackUpWordPress is an excellent solution for backup and it’s free too.
Add /wp-admin/ to any domain name and you can see if the website uses WordPress CMS. #Lifehack
Unfortunately, the standard login URL makes your website vulnerable if you’re using WordPress. Any person — and bot — can get to your login page and try to access your website.
LoginPress secures and rebrands the login pages of your WordPress websites. With LoginPress, you can customize the login page URL so only visitors with the correct URL can access your login page.
Want more? Here you go:
- Customize your login page to fit your brand.
- Let visitors register and log in using their social media accounts.
- Limit login attempts to prevent brute force attacks.
- Generate unique login URLs for users to bypass the login process.
- Enable Google reCAPTCHA to protect your website from spam.
Alternative: Rename WP Login is a free, light-weight solution to edit the login URL without other security and design features.
WordPress plugins for design and performance
Now let’s look at some top plugins that turn the barebone WordPress CMS (content management system) into a beautiful, high-performance site.
6. Elementor Pro
With 3+ million active installs and 4.9 out of 5 stars rating, Elementor Page Builder is one of the most popular drag-and-drop WordPress page builders available.
- Best-in-class page editor
- 300+ designer-made templates and 90+ widgets
- Responsive editing, and more.
Simply put: you can build an entire WordPress website (that is beautiful, professional, and high-converting) visually and without writing a single line of code.
Its Pro plan is even more powerful — comes with more pro templates and widgets, Theme Builder (create global designs for header, footer, post type, etc.), WooCommerce Builder, and more.
Pro Tip: Amplify Elementor’s capabilities with WidgetKit, an advanced addons kit with unique elements, layouts, and widgets. Get WidgetKit on AppSumo.com.
7. WP Super Cache
Caching stores temporary web documents such as HTML pages, CSS files, and images of your website on the web browser of your recent visitors.
It helps improve the user experience of the returned visitors by increasing server load speed. As site speed and user experience improved, so do your website SEO and conversions.
WP Super Cache is a WordPress plugin that does just that. It generates static HTML files for your WordPress website and serves them to 99% of your website visitors.
It has 2+ million active installs thanks to its easy-to-use settings (and it’s free).
8. Insert Headers and Footers
As a marketer, online entrepreneur, and blogger, it’s not uncommon to add a piece of code or scripts to the header or footer of your website.
Be it Google website verification, Facebook Pixel, or custom scripts from your email service provider…
The truth is, there’s never an easy way to do that on WordPress CMS.
Insert Headers and Footers is a simple plugin that helps you easily do that. Insert code like Google Analytics, custom CSS, Facebook Pixel, or more to the header or footer — without the need of messing with the WordPress theme.
A simple, straightforward solution to a BIG problem…
9. ShortPixel image optimizer
Slow websites are a big NO-NO in today’s world of internet. And one of the key contributors to a slow website is unoptimized images.
ShortPixel is a lightweight, set-it-and-forget-it image optimization plugin for your WordPress website. It improves your website performance (and SEO) by reducing image sizes — up to 85% — without losing the image quality.
With a few simple settings, ShortPixel can compress all your past images and PDF documents with a single click. Then, it optimizes your images automatically as you upload them, in the background.
You can use ShortPixel to optimize 100 images per month for free. If you need to compress more images, ShortPixel has paid monthly and one-time plans with additional bonuses.
WordPress plugins for marketing and SEO
Marketing and SEO are vital to your business. These WordPress plugins will help you grow your email list, optimize your website for search engines, and improve the engagement with your audience.
Imagine logging into your Google Analytics account and looking at a bunch of numbers and charts. What do they even mean?
Want someone who organizes the data for you? And presents it on the WordPress dashboard? Instead of you logging into multiple websites and tools.
MonsterInsights is the plugin you need.
Now imagine logging into your WordPress dashboard… with all the data you need to know how your website performs (and only those you need):
- Website visitors categorized based on age, gender, countries, interests, devices, and more.
- Top referral websites, search terms, and landing pages (with metrics like visits and bounce rate).
- Ecommerce data such as top products, conversion rates, average order value, and more.
MonsterInsights also comes with multiple add-ons that allow you to do things like forms integration, advanced ecommerce tracking, and EU compliance improvement.
11. Rank Math SEO
Optimize your website for search engine OR die… If you have a website and create content, repeat this every day before you do anything else.
Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t come with any SEO functionalities. This is where Rank Math SEO comes into play.
Rank Math lets you customize the search settings (focus keywords, post title, meta descriptions) of each blog post and helps you score every blog post with an SEO checklist. You can then preview how your pages and posts will look like in the SERPs, in rich snippets, and even when shared on social media.
Rank Math also comes with modular frameworks such as 404 monitor, redirections, AMP, sitemap, Google search console integration that you can toggle on and off.
It’s hands down the best SEO WordPress plugin you can find in 2021. And it’s FREE.
Alternative: You can use Yoast SEO as an alternative but most premium features in Yoast SEO are free with Rank Math.
Running a WordPress blog as an aspiring author (p.s. Check out this podcast episode where the Chief Sumo interviews Ryan Holiday)? Growing a SaaS startup? Starting a new ecommerce store?
You need an email list. And Sumo is the email capture tool to go.
With the Sumo WordPress plugin, you can integrate the email capture tool with your website seamlessly.
Sumo lets you build high-converting email opt-in forms and display them as a popup, inline form, click trigger, welcome mat, scroll box, and smart bar. The visibility rule also lets you target specific visitors based on the referring URL, landing page, location, and more.
You can get started with Sumo for free, and get the Pro plan later when you need extra features such as A/B testing, advanced email integrations, and advanced analytics.
Alternative: KingSumo is NOT a WordPress plugin but it’s an easy-to-use viral giveaway tool you can use to grow your email list.
13. Gravity Forms
Gravity Forms is a user-friendly WordPress plugin that lets you create everything from basic contact forms to complex multi-page forms with conditional logic, file uploads, and payment integrations.
You can create a contact form using its drag-and-drop form creator with a wide range of standard to advanced field options.
Gravity Forms also comes with add-ons that extend its functionality by integrating with email marketing tools, CRM software, and online payment platforms.
Alternative: Contact Form 7 is a free alternative to create and manage multiple contact forms on WordPress.
WordPress plugins for ecommerce and online course
Whether selling physical or digital products, these WordPress plugins turn your website into a revenue-generating machine.
Shopify is great for ecommerce. But what if you want more customization? Want to run your store on WordPress? And don’t want to pay a monthly fee to do so?
WooCommerce is an open-source, completely customizable ecommerce solution for you. It turns your WordPress website into an ecommerce store with everything you need:
- Physical and digital product listing.
- Customer account and guest checkout.
- Inventory and order management.
When you’re ready to go beyond basic, WooCommerce offers premium ecommerce themes and extensions that help you further customize and level-up your store.
15. Easy Digital Downloads
Like WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads helps you sell online with a WordPress website.
But it focuses on digital products like an ebook, a piece of software, a PDF file, and anything digital that — like its name — a customer can download to use or consume.
Easy Digital Downloads turns your WordPress website into a complete digital store with shopping cart, customer account, and discount code. It also has a built-in reporting feature for easily viewing your stats and tracking your store’s download activity.
16. Restrict Content Pro
Restrict Content Pro is a complete solution that helps you create a membership site or online course on WordPress CMS.
It does this by giving you the ability to show some of the content and gate the rest. If a visitor wants to join your membership site OR see the entirety of your course, they have to sign up.
But there’s much, much more to like about this plugin.
They make it easy to create discount codes, pull reports, gather custom data on your members and accept payments with major integrations.
Ask any online course creator the biggest challenge of teaching online… And you’ll get this: low course engagement and completion.
WPComplete is a lightweight, easy-to-use plugin, built to solve this problem for WordPress users.
With WPComplete, you can make your online course fully interactive in a few clicks.
It adds a complete button in all of your course lessons so your students can mark lessons as complete as they go through them. You can then add a progress bar/chart on the student dashboard to help them track their progress.
You can customize WPComplete to match with the style of your website, and integrate it with the membership or course plugin you use (for example, Restrict Content Pro).
WordPress plugins for content management
WordPress is built as a CMS. Here are some of the best plugins to take the content management functionalities to the next level.
18. Classic Editor
Everyone raves about the new WordPress block editor (Gutenberg) when it first rolls out… but NOT me.
It wants to be Medium but it’s not. It adds more weights to the website (additional lines of codes). And it replaces the classic editor we have all used to and loved.
If you’re like me, Classic Editor is for you.
It disables the WordPress block editor and restores the classic editor when you create or edit a post. Period.
I have nothing against WordPress block editor… When it’s ready (has fewer bugs and doesn’t compromise website performance), I’ll give it a try again.
19. WP Scheduled Posts
WP Scheduled Posts streamlines your content strategy and productivity with an editorial calendar.
Managing a content calendar is challenging enough… Imagine working with multiple authors, making sure all the posts are up on time, and updating changes on moment’s notice.
WP Scheduled Posts comes with a schedule calendar that lets you:
- Add posts in queue to publish them automatically.
- Organize your content calendar with the drag-and-drop feature.
- Manage multiple posts and authors in one place.
It also integrates with Facebook and Twitter to share your latest post once it goes live.
WP Scheduled Posts is now on AppSumo with an exclusive lifetime deal (get it before it closes).
20. Custom Post Type UI
Have you ever wanted more than pages and posts on WordPress? What if you want to create a new post type for your portfolio? Or for reading notes like this?
Custom Post Type UI provides an easy solution for registering and managing new post types and taxonomies in the WordPress CMS.
While Custom Post Type UI helps you register a new post type, the free WordPress plugin doesn’t have the feature to display the new post type. This is where Custom Post Type UI Extended, a premium plugin by the same developer, comes in.
Use them to add and display any post types you like from your portfolio to your customers’ success stories.
21. Smart Podcast Player
Raise your hand if you run a podcast… I see you.
Smart Podcast Player makes it easy to design and integrate your podcasts into your WordPress website.
Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income developed the awesome Smart Podcast Player after struggling to find a podcast player that was not only functional but also looked nice, was mobile-friendly and gave listeners the freedom to listen to his episodes at the speed they wanted.
The media player also comes with a custom call-to-action (CTA) button where you can use to grow your email subscribers.
Turn your WordPress website into a well-oiled machine in 2021
There’s a reason why WordPress powers 35.4% of the entire internet.[*]
It’s an incredibly versatile platform and the gigantic variety of plugins WordPress supports means that you can tailor it exactly to your needs — no matter what type of business you run.
You know the extra-edgy edge you can get from premium WordPress plugins. The only catch: They are NOT free.
But what if you can get them at a fraction of the cost?
AppSumo partners with WordPress plugin developers to bring you the BEST premium plugins — to grow your website — at a fraction of the cost.