This is a list of the tools that I frequently use on multiple websites and believe to be some of the best for WordPress users.
Each plugin or service is one that I have extensively used. I do not recommend anything that I don’t personally use and trust.
Web Hosting: SiteGround
SiteGround has excellent support, lots of tools to help you manage your site and a super easy WordPress installation. They offer support via live chat or over the phone and have always been able to help me out if I wanted to change certain things on my site or when I just had questions.
For the price you will be hard pressed to find a faster, more user friendly WordPress host. After switching from my previous host, I’m pleased with SiteGround and recommend them to everyone.
Email Automation: MailChimp
MailChimp is great for setting up automated email lists. You can email subscribers about new posts on your site, product promotions, create email courses and much more.
- Suggested post: Email new WordPress posts with MailChimp
Backups: Updraft Plus
Always backup your site! The last thing you need is to lose all the changes or content on your site. Maybe you edited certain WordPress files, and you broke your website or a plugin you installed somehow deleted your posts or photos. You’ll wish you had a backup to restore.
You can even roll your site back to a time before you made certain changes, whatever it is you need to have backups of your site. Updraft Plus has a free version that is very easy up. It is one of the first three plugins I install on every new site.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization): Yoast
SEO can be very confusing for newcomers to WordPress because there are so many terms and guidelines to follow. This can make it difficult to know what you are doing correctly or incorrectly with your posts or site in general.
Yoast is the go-to plugin for SEO on your WordPress site. It gives you suggestions for your posts, pages, and overall site to make sure you are doing everything right in terms of Search Engine Optimization so that users find your content.
Caching: WP Super Cache
When your site starts getting a lot of traffic, it can slow down or even become unavailable if you aren’t using a caching plugin. If your site is not available or too slow, you will lose visitors.
If you sign up for SiteGround and choose their GrowBig plan, you get their in-house caching solution, SuperCacher. This is an excellent alternative to WP Super Cache since SiteGround handles the configuration for you.
Spam Blocking: Google Invisible reCaptcha (reCaptcha v3)
Spam can come to your site through comments and contact forms. Google’s newest reCaptcha allows you to eliminate spam from your site without requiring visitors to check a box confirming they are not a robot. It works in the background to detect bots and only requires a user to prove themselves after reCaptcha has already unsuccessfully tried to do so. Overall, This allows for a more user friendly website.
- Suggested post: Eliminate WordPress spam with reCAPTCHA v3
CDN (Content Delivery Network): Cloudflare
A CDN is a distributed network of servers that deliver your website to visitors. Having your website distributed over multiple servers prevents it from slowing down or getting knocked offline when large amounts of traffic come all at once or if your server with your hosting company goes down. It solves similar problems that a caching plugin does.
Cloudflare has a great feature called “I’m under attack mode” that protects your website if it is the victim of a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack. If you believe your site is under attack you can enable this mode and Cloudflare will make sure the traffic accessing your website is from legitimate users and not bots attempting to disable your website.
Contact forms: Contact Form 7
Adding contact forms and adding them to WordPress is incredibly quick and easy with Contact Form 7. You can also customize success or failure messages when a form is submitted, customize the email template you receive when a form is submitted and it even integrates with Google Invisible reCaptcha mentioned above.
Ad Management: Advanced Ads
If you need to manage ads, want to sell ads directly from your website, place ads in posts, check ad statistics or want to display ads based on certain conditions Advanced Ads is perfect for the job. Even the free version comes with an incredible number of features so you can create, group and place ads anywhere on your WordPress site. I have tried several other ad management plugins and this one is definitely the most feature packed free one I have found. For certain additional features, they also offer a paid version.
More Control over Widgets: Widget Options
Sometimes you need a specific widget to only show up on certain pages, posts or categories or maybe even add ID’s and classes so you can style them with CSS. That’s where the Widget Options plugin comes in.
Magazine/News Theme: Colormag
Colormag is a great theme if are looking to give your website a magazine or news site design. I have used the free version on two news websites and it works very well. It’s perfect if you have several categories of posts that you want to showcase on your front page.