A smiling building block

Awesome Essential Plugins: Start Your New WordPress Site With These!

What you can do with a WordPress site is almost limitless.

Want to build an online store? Check! Maybe a podcast or portfolio site? Check!

But whatever your vision is, there are a number of essential plugins that should always be a part of your initial WordPress install and setup.

WordPress Plugins: Why You Need Them

WordPress installs with a few default plugins out of the box. These include Akismet, Jetpack, and more. This is to add some necessary—maybe—functionality to your site. But depending on what you want to achieve with your site, there’s a good chance you’ll need to build upon the core files.

Think of WordPress as the foundation and the plugins as building blocks. And you get to choose which blocks are necessary. However, there are some plugins that go beyond choice and enter into the realm of essentials.

As an example, Akismet, which is mentioned above. Now, it’s an Automattic—the creators of WordPress—product, so it’s not surprising that they add it. But it does carry out a very necessary function. It helps to protect your site from spam.

So now that you understand why you need plugins, which ones should you install along with every new WordPress site you build?

Essential Plugins

It makes sense that the first type of plugin you add should be one that adds security to your site. Don’t build upon and perfect a site with your virtual door wide open.

The good news is, there’s no shortage of excellent security options, both free and premium. Plugins that keep your site locked down, and even a few that offer a way to monitor those who you’ve let in.

Select a Security Plugin

WordPress is the most popular CMS (Content Management System) in the world. That means it’s also the most attractive to hackers, and that a good portion of the estimated 30,000 websites that are hacked every day will be WordPress sites.

Ultimately, which plugin you choose will depend on the features you’re looking for. Another thing to think about is complexity. Some plugins essentially activate and go while others may require more setup—and the knowledge to know what you’re doing as you do so.

But here are a few good choices.

Sucuri Website Security

Sucuri (logo)

Free or
Basic: $199.99/year

Available in both free and premium versions, Sucuri has gained a name as being one of the best WordPress security plugins available.

The free version offers the following:

  • Activity auditing
  • File monitoring
  • Malware scanning
  • Security hardening
  • Post-hack security actions

Check out the full feature list and pricing.

iThemes Security

iThemes Security (logo)

Free or
Basic: $99.00/1 Site

Not to be outdone, iThemes Security is another great choice as a first line of defense for your site.

Within minutes of activating the plugin, you’re protected. And you can base your setup on a template that best suits your site. For example, e-commerce, portfolio, or blog. These features are included in the free version.

  • Login security
  • User level security
  • Block bad bots and user agents
  • Monitor site security
  • Enforce SSL
  • Advanced security rules

Check out the full feature list and pricing.

But security doesn’t stop at keeping the bad guys out!

Chose an Activity Logging & Audit Plugin

Sometimes you need to monitor what’s happening with trusted users too. Because things can go wrong, and mistakes can be made.

Installing a plugin that will log your site’s events means you can keep a handle on all activities. And if something does go wrong, it makes problems much easier to find and fix.

WP Admin Audit

Essential plugin: WP Admin Audit

Free or
Startup: € 99.00/Year

Use this essential plugin to keep track of all important events on your site.

  • Monitor all security-relevant activities
  • Maintain an event log from 30 days to indefinitely depending on the version
  • Search & filter events
  • Audit administrators and users

Check out the complete feature list and pricing.

The Importance of Caching Plugins

Did you know that an important part of SEO is how fast your site runs and how good your overall performance is?

Google has been using website speed as a ranking factor for over a decade.

Using a caching plugin helps with both by reducing your site’s load on the server. But before you install a plugin, find out if your server uses LiteSpeed. If so, there’s a good chance they have the LiteSpeed Caching plugin running by default. If so, don’t add another plugin.

If not…

WP Rocket

WP Rocket (logo)

Startup: $59.00/Year

This plugin will do more than simply cache your site. Using it can increase your site’s load time, improve your Google PageSpeed score, and help improve your Core Web Vitals metrics.

WP Rocket doesn’t have a free version, but it does have an impressive list of features including:

  • Page caching
  • Cache preloading
  • Browser caching
  • GZIP compression
  • eCommerce optimization

Check out the full feature list and pricing.

SEO Plugins to Help People Find You

Do you know the saying “If you build it, they will come”?
Well, you can build a website and have no one ever find you. So you need an SEO plugin to push you up in the SERPs (search engine results pages).


Yoast (logo)

Free or
Premium: $99.00/Year

With about 15 years under their belts, the team at Yoast knows what they’re doing. And that’s making SEO accessible to everyone. Even their free version has all you need to set your site up to be seen. A truly essential plugin.

Features include:

  • Canonical URLs & meta tags
  • Advanced XML sitemaps
  • Templates for meta and description tags
  • Schema.org integration
  • Breadcrumbs

Check out the full feature list and pricing.

Don’t Forget Your Essential WordPress Plugins

The above essential plugins are by no means an exhaustive list. Depending on what you want or need, you could decide you needed things like analytics and more. But starting your new WordPress site with basic plugins like the ones mentioned above will be a huge benefit—whatever kind of site you’re building.

From here, the sky is the limit!