We are here today to talk about our favorite plugins. We’re going to do a top-10, essential, must-have, “go get it right now”, WordPress plugin list.
We’ll see who has the ultimate essential list, if you only had to pick five. There are so many to choose from!
Michael’s Top 5 WP Plugins
Not because it’s the most superior drag-and-drop builder, but because of how easy it is to control all aspects for rapid deployment of landing pages. Focused on page search in the e-commerce space, it makes it very easy to build landing pages and edit them very quickly without the need of a developer. All the elements can be changed without any coding, without much CSS knowledge.
Again, it’s not the best drag-and-drop builder, it’s by far one of the most popular. But for me, Elementor is an essential plugin for someone looking to put landing pages together very quickly. If you want to learn more about landing pages, click here.
Elementor VS. WP Bakery
Essentially they do the same thing. For overall building of a website, perhaps WPBakery is the same. it’s a matter of picking and choosing. It’s Ford versus Chevy, Mercedes versus BMW. A lot of it is personal preference.
WPBakery has been around for a lot longer, merged with another builder that was very popular. Elementor has been a little bit newer over last… Certainly over the last two years it’s really taken off, but it’s been around for about five years, so the market share is much smaller. But those who use it really seem to like it, and they have so many plugins and attachments to it. You can really create any functionality you want from it.
A lot of people like Contact Form 7. It really is a personal preference. WPForms is very easy to work with. You can take payments, you can do the multi-step forms. Just very easy to use, versatile, priced reasonably well, and overall a solid plugin. There are also many integrations to get the form into whatever email platform you’re using or into a CRM.
Alex is a Contact Form 7 guy. Contact Form 7 is great, it’s been around forever, very powerful. Except you need significant CSS and adjustment knowledge to get the forms to render correctly.
We do like Gravity Forms a lot, too, for a couple of different reasons. It is certainly well-built.
Notifications work really well, routing of emails is simple. Gravity Forms is a solid plugin. It gets a little expensive when you get the add-ons and all the additional features. But overall any of the three, you can’t really go wrong.
Google Tag Manager for WordPress
Previously known by Duracell Tomi’s Google Tag Manager. It is so important to be able to have all of your scripts and tags (or as many of them as possible) to load from Tag Manager, because it will offset the loading, where your page will load and then it’ll fire the tags as needed.
WP Mail SMTP by WPForms
The WP Mail SMTP plugin is a standalone plugin, not reliant on the WPForms plugin previously mentioned, created by the same developers. What we like about this plugin is it changes the way you send email from your website. When someone submits a contact form, by default it’s going to be sent via PHP.
Oftentimes PHP will either not make it into other servers because of security settings, or it gets caught in spam traps. What this plugin does is it changes the way email is sent. Think of it as sending it over a more secured line, usually done through an API connection, very simple to set up either using something like SendGrid, or sent over Gmail if you aren’t sending a lot of emails.
You will go from not receiving contact forms or you’re not receiving uploads from your website, to lightning-fast delivery when you make the switch. Whenever someone complains that they’re not receiving their contact forms, the first thing we typically look at is how are the messages being sent? Because often if you are just using the default setting, that is the culprit.
Email either is going to not be delivered at all, or there could be some waiting periods, sometimes it comes 10, 15, 20 minutes to receive the email. You just cannot have that. You are not spending money in order to direct traffic to a website and then not receiving that instantly.
Michael feels that Rank Math it is superior… better than Yoast premium, for free. If you look feature-for-feature, you get more features out of Rank Math that essentially do the exact same thing. It is important to understand the purpose of Rank Math and Yoast, and what they actually do. For the most part, both of them just provide guidance as far as SEO best practices.
It will look at your title and say, “Your title is too short,” or, “You don’t use enough keywords.” It doesn’t necessarily fix a lot of the problems, although both of these plugins will fix some aspects of SEO. As far as what they do and the integration and how you can use it on a regular basis, Rank Math is on point.
Check out our blog post about how to improve your SEO for more about this topic.
Alex’s Top 5 WP Plugins
There is so much nonsense happening on the web today. Hacking attempts are continuing to rise more and more and more. Without superior security functionality on your website, you are leaving yourself wide-open to problems.
We see it far too often. We monitor more than a hundred websites currently, most of which are using Wordfence. You would be amazed to see how many attempts from all over the world are happening, whether it be bots, whether it be hackers. Without having proper security, you’re leaving yourself open to big issues.
Our favorite features are the ability to lock out login forms only to US, block IP’s. The automatic site scanning, Wordfence Central, and much more. It is a really well-built, fantastic tool.
Another great feature is the brute force section, where you can lock out any invalid usernames. Unless you have “Admin” as your own username (Which, a separate conversation on why you should not have that may be in order), if anyone tries to use a username that’s incorrect, it’ll automatically block them. If you want to learn more about WordPress Security and protecting against WordPress security vulnerabilities, please read this post.
Upon loading the WP Rocket plugin onto the website with little optimization, you will already see a significant increase in loading speeds. There is nothing more irritating than going to a website and it takes five seconds, six seconds, eight seconds, to load. Really, really bad. With some additional customization it can really make a significant impact on page loading of your website for a number of reasons.
WP Rocket makes it possible for you to have a lot of control over all of the elements, and we think WP Rocket is probably the best caching plugin you can get.
Your page loading is a major function of good web hosting, but this paired together with proper hosting and a few other things, you can have a very fast website.
Imagify is an image compression tool, it works extremely well via API, and is inexpensive. And it really works well to significantly compress large image sizes on your website, which in turn will make sure that they load faster.
We have situations that happen all of the time where clients will say, “Well, I’m uploading a 1500 pixel image. Isn’t that okay?” And we say, “Well, no, if it’s 3 megabytes, it’s not okay. And there’s a difference between uploading of a certain pixel size and making sure that the overall file size is not overwhelming.”
It is a matter of good housekeeping,
- A: compress images on my own through another service prior to ever uploading on a site.
- B: connecting Imagify to ensure that the thing is optimized and compressed as best as possible, obviously without losing the quality of that image.
When it comes to image compression, certainly years ago, the bigger the image, the higher the DPI or the resolution, the better it was because it needed to be able to handle what would be lost when things were printed. Now, realistically, 72 DPI would be more than enough. You don’t need these massive file sizes. And most images have extra data embedded within them, like what camera took it, what date the picture was taken. All of these little bytes of data are stored on the image, making it physically bigger.
Most of those data points aren’t really needed if you’re not doing some sort of photography or editing. So using these compression services will remove that extra data, making the file size physically smaller without having any impact to the actual images. This decreases your website’s loading time and makes the page load faster, which is obviously always a good thing.
We love All-in-One Migration. All-in-One Migration is an amazing tool when you are migrating a website from point A to point B. It has two million-plus downloads on WordPress, and great customer service. 95% of the time it’ll just do what it needs to do, no matter the size of the site, whether it be a few hundred megabytes or even into the five, six, ten gigs that we’ve seen. Great for backups as well. Most URLs across the board will be updated even on pages and posts as well, which is nice.
We like Drift a lot. Drift definitely has automation options that cost a significant amount, but out of the box it is free. It has a lot of options available. We can’t tell you how many conversations are started because of that little widget that pops up on the bottom right saying, “Hi, How can I help you?”
Chat is very important. Often, people might have a quick question and they want to get a little more information. You can do a lot with their free version. Anything to provide more value to the customer is certainly a win.
It is also less intrusive in a way. You don’t have to put in an email address, you don’t have to put in anything if you don’t want to. You just have to ask a question. If you hear something you like, maybe you’ll continue the conversation. If not, you can move on and you don’t have to make that step of submitting a form or picking up the phone and talking to somebody. It’s very customer-friendly.
So that’s it folks! Our Top 10 Must Have WordPress Plugins that we think everybody should go out and get right away.
Any questions, comments, get in touch with us. We would love to help 🙂