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18 WordPress Plugins Beginners Can Install on New Site

In this guide to WordPress plugins for beginners, I’m going to share with you 18 essential top, best and free WordPress plugins that a beginner can install on a new site today.

What plugins should I have on my site?

The same question from beginner bloggers.

With over 60,000 + plugins to choose from, this is very confusing. 

As a beginner starting out with WordPress plugins, you have no idea what they’re for or which ones to use.

I’m going to tell you what you could, would, and should need and most importantly, why you actually need them and why you don’t need some of them.

This list of plugins is going to help you get started on what plugins to start with right now, today, when you’re actually ready to add plugins to your blog and need answers now.

So, let’s go through the list of plugins that you can install on your new site today.

But first, let’s discuss the difference between Essential and Must-Have Plugins.

The Difference between Essential and Must-Have WordPress Plugins

An essential plugin is something absolutely necessary and needed to run your blog, regardless of what your site is about, it’s important and vital.

A must-have plugin is something you want because you need it for your site to do whatever it is you want it to do.

Now a must-have plugin is not really a thing.

Because the plugins you need on your site are all essential for it to function or you wouldn’t have them at all. Right?

Everyone’s site is different and what plugins you really need is not what someone else will need.

So, whether you want to call them essential, vital, important, or must-have plugins, I’m going to give you the absolutely necessary best plugins needed as a beginner and they’re all free.

Do You Need to Pay for WordPress Plugins? 

No, you do not need to pay for plugins.

The majority of plugins in WordPress are free but most will have a premium plugin that is paid for.  

And as you get further along in blogging and growing your site, it will be up to you if you want to make that purchase for a premium plugin.

But, you do not now or later need to pay for a plugin, unless that is your choice. 

So, for now until you choose to, you can install your WordPress plugins for free.

What if I’m being asked to pay for plugins?

If you’re being asked to pay to use plugins, then you are not using the real WordPress and you are on the free .COM WordPress, where you did not pay for hosting and you created a free site.

What Should You Know About Plugins for WordPress?

To find out important information leading up to choosing and installing WordPress plugins, like how many should you install, problems they can cause and tips to fix, how to choose a plugin, and how to find out which plugin is the problem and more, that you really need to know before actually installing them, read the starter guide to WordPress plugins, first.

Once you get started with plugins, you’re going to have a lot questions and this starter guide will help you out. Trust me, you’ll need this!

And if you’re still wondering if plugins are worth it on WordPress, let’s just find out how essential they really are. 

18 Essential WordPress Plugins Beginners Should Start With Now

  1. Security

No website should be without a security plugin; this is extremely important!

Thousands of websites and blogs are hacked daily and even if your blog is only 2 days old, that wouldn’t matter, once it’s discovered on the internet, your site is fair game.

As soon as you log into WordPress, a security plugin should be your top priority.

You may have nothing now that someone wants but in the future, you might, so now is the time to focus on security.

I’ll give you 2 of the most popular.  

  • Sucuri Security: 

Sucuri is a free plugin but it also has a couple of premium paid packages to choose from.

This free plugin has what you need, except for a firewall, to get the Firewall, you would need to purchase a premium package.

What is a firewall? 

It’s a device that monitors traffic to and from your network. You set rules for it to allow or block traffic. 

Security features for the free Sucuri plugin.
  • Wordfence Security:

Wordfence Security is another top free WordPress plugin that also has a premium option. 

The free version has what you need and it comes with a firewall, but not a full firewall, you would need to upgrade for a full firewall and it also comes with brute force attack protection. 

A brute force attack is when hackers can try as many times as they want to guess your admin password. 

Wordfence Security will give you the option to set a limit on the number of login attempts allowed before it locks them out. 

And it might block their IP address or allow you to block it. 

Wordfence security plugin features.

Read the tutorials and watch the videos on how to set it up.

Now, I will give you 3 extra security plugins to help you secure your site. 

It’s your choice to use extra security but you definitely need one of the 2 essential security plugins above to start with.

  1. Extra Security to Your Security Plugin
  • Google Authenticator:

This plugin will add extra security; you will download an app to use it. 

This is a 2-step verification process and you’ll receive a code to get into your site.

  • WPS Hide Login:

WPS Hide Login will let you change the URL of your login page. 

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to add a custom URL

But you also need to know that just because you use this doesn’t mean it’s a hundred percent guaranteed it will work, nothing is, because if someone really wants to get in, they’ll get in.

So, I would suggest that if you use this plugin, add WPS Limit Login, which limits the login attempts. And these two plugins are compatible together. 

  • Login Lockdown: 

Is for brute force attacks. 

This plugin will limit the number of attempts they get and lock them out and/or block their IP address and you also have the ability to enter their IP address and block it. 

This is how and why you should limit login attempts.

Now, you may be the only one working on your site right now, but there may come a time when you might add more users, and you will want something to control what goes on in your site, especially when hiring people, you don’t know.

  1. Multiple Users:

Capability Manager Enhanced Plugin: also known as Publish Press Capabilities, allows you to control: who can edit, read, publish and delete content.

Use this Getting Started Guide, to learn what it’s for, how to use it, and how to configure the plugin. 

Capability Manager allows you to set user roles, control what they can do on your site, and what users have access to, and allows you to create your own custom roles.

To learn more about roles in WordPress, take a look at the Beginners Guide to User Roles from WPBeginner to get a better understanding of why to use it and what roles to assign. 

  • Activity Log Plugin: 

Monitors Users on your site.

Some security plugins come with activity monitoring, if it does, then you don’t need this, your security plugin is fine to use on its own because if you read “A Starter Guide to WordPress Plugins” you’ll remember that some plugins don’t play well together.

Activity Log allows you to see who did what, it has a lot of extra features, so be sure to read up on Activity Log to get information about what the plugin is for and what it does.

  • Temporary Login Without Password:

This plugin can be used if you need to give someone temporary access to your site to do some work that you’ve hired them to do and you do not want to give them your WordPress Admin login.

If you use this plugin, you will upload it, activate it, enter the email of the person that will use it, assign a length of time they will be able to access your site, then send the user the link, they will enter your site through that link without having to create a password into your site.

Once the time frame is up that you entered, that user will no longer have access.

If they need more time, just change the time limit. 

  1. Backup Plugins

Yes, an absolute necessity and you only need one. 

A backup Plugin does exactly what it says, it backs up your site.

Meaning it makes a copy.

A backup plugin is scheduled to back up automatically.

You only need one, and there are many to choose from, so go through the backup plugins and decide which one is best for you.

Whichever one you choose; it will need to be configured to work properly. 

  • Updraft Plus: 

One of the best top free WordPress plugins.

Read this post on how to back and restore with Updraft Plus.

You will find articles and tutorials about the plugin on the Updraft Plus blog, just scroll to the bottom of the page or you can Google it for videos.

I only use Updraft Plus, so I can’t speak on other ones, but with this plugin, you will configure it to backup to cloud storage and you can back it up to more than one place. 

  1. Caching

This is another essential plugin to add.

A caching plugin will help your site to load faster. 

And there’s a reason why you need a caching plugin but it’s techy stuff so I’ll explain the Liz version. 

Your website serves the same content to everyone. 

When someone visits your site, it has to make a request to a server, then it has to be processed, then it has to be sent. 

And since a server has to process that information, it takes time to deliver it.

Especially when you have a page that has a lot of stuff on it. 

And that is what a caching plugin is for, it remembers what it’s already sent so it doesn’t have to spend the time processing it again and that means better speed for your site and for the visitor of your site.

  • Wp Super Cache
  • W3 Total Cache

Caching happens automatically, but if you ever make changes and don’t see them take effect, clear your cache and reload the page.

As a matter of fact, it’s just a good idea to clear your cache anytime after you’ve made changes or updated something on your site. Doing this is not going to hurt anything.

Your caching plugin is just clearing out the old and uploading the new.

Some hosting companies have their own Cache and if yours does, you do not need to add another one.

You only need one caching plugin and if your site does have a cache and you add another caching plugin, you should be notified, there is a conflict. 

  1. SEO Plugins

SEO stands for search engine optimization.

It’s making your site better for search engines like we’re doing now with plugins.

When you add an SEO plugin to your site, it will appear under your content.

This will give you tips on how to optimize your SEO for your content and that’s all they are, tips.

So, when you can’t get those green dots consistently, it’s okay.

Plus, this is also where you’ll do other things for your post and these plugins will also create sitemaps for you so that all you’ll have to do is submit the sitemap link when you create, change, or update your content.

  • Yoast
  • All-in-One SEO
  • Rankmath

These also have premium versions available.

  1. Cookies

Your website may be using cookies, so you’ll need this plugin.

I’m sure you’ve seen a ton of sites that have banners or pop-ups at the bottom of a site asking for consent; that’s for cookies.

Also, if it is mentioned on your legal pages, you need it. I am not an attorney and this is not legal advice.

There are quite a few blogging attorneys, so you should check out their sites for more detailed information because you need this.

  • Cookie Consent
  • Cookie Notice & Compliance for GDPR/CCPA
  • GDPR Cookie Consent

Read the Cookie Law explained

  1. Google Analytics Plugin

You can use an Analytics plugin or not.

But it’s best to just get the information you need for your analytics directly from the best source, Google Analytics. 

The reason I’m about to tell you about Monster Insights is that beginner bloggers will add this plugin to their site, when they really don’t need to and they really don’t need it.

  • MonsterInsights:

If you add this plugin to your site, you will get a glance at your Google Analytics and that’s just what it is, a glance and not very accurate, if you want more, you will need to upgrade the Monster Insights plugin. 

You can have Google Analytics without the MonsterInsights plugin.

So, it’s your choice to use MonsterInsights or not.

There are other plugins for tracking Google Analytics (GA), but I have only tried MonsterInsights and I took it off and no longer use it.

It takes up a lot of resources on your site and it doesn’t give accurate information.

Just go straight to the source: Google Analytics, where your data is more accurate. 

  1. Spam

Yes, you need some type of Spam Plugin.

Spam plugins filter out spam comments and keep them from showing on your site. 

  • Akismet
  • Antispam Bee
  • Titan
  1. Forms

Someone may want to contact you for whatever reason they have and they will need a way to do it, and a contact form is for that purpose.

Unless you don’t want anyone to actually reach you.

This is the form that is put on the Contact Us page.

This is just a regular contact form, it’s not to send newsletters or offers, but for you to receive inquiries. 

Maybe someone has a question about your site, brand, or product.

  • WP Forms Lite
  • Contact Form 7
  1. Image Optimization

Need it!

Images not optimized will take up a lot of space and slow your site speed down. 

You need to add an image optimization plugin that will resize and optimize your images automatically.

If your hosting provider has their own image optimization plugin, you do not need to add another one inside of WordPress, they will conflict.

  • Short Pixel
  • WP Smush
  • WP Compress
  1. Page Builders

A page builder plugin will definitely help you to build and customize your site to how you want it. 

But it’s not essential or a must-have, but again it will help you to build your site a whole lot easier. 

It will take some time to learn how to use it, and it gives you more functions to create with.

Once you learn it, the majority of using it is drag and drop.

There are free and there are paid.

If you’re not ready to invest in a premium page builder (and you don’t need to) then use a free one.

  • Seed Pro
  • Divi
  • Elementor
  • Beaver Builder
  1.  Adding Code

You will need this plugin to place your Google Analytics code, Google Search Console code and/or any other codes into your WordPress site.

  • Insert Headers and Footers
  1. Social Sharing Buttons

I have tried quite a few social sharing plugins and the easiest one I found to use was Sassy Social Share, everyone is different with what they like, but I found this one to be the easiest to configure. 

  • Sassy Social Share
  • Smash Ballon
  • Social Warfare
  • Easy Social Share
  • These plugins will need to be configured and if you use social media platforms, you need one
  1. CDN

Yes, a very important absolutely necessary essential plugin.

CDN stands for Content Delivery Network. 

For more information, you can find out about what a CDN is from Cloudflare.

But the Liz-friendly version, its servers around the world that will hit the closest server when someone accesses your site for a faster upload time. 

And speed is very important for a site.

Not all hosting companies provide CDN, so be sure to ask your hosting provider.

  • MaxCDN – paid
  • Cloudflare – free

If you’re hosting provider does not provide one, you can sign up to Cloudflare for free.

  1. Broken Links
  • Broken Link Checker Plugin

When you link from your site to another site or from one of your pages to another one of your pages, sometimes things go wrong.

This plugin will give you a notification under your Tools tab that links are broken.

A broken links plugin can slow down your site speed.

So, keep reading to find out about an alternative.

But for now, take a look at this article on how to find and fix broken links

  • In the settings tab, you will find Tools and if you have broken links; next to Tools it will show the number of how many broken links it’s found, click on Tools.
  • If you are reading one of your posts and you see a line through a link, most likely it’s broken
  • If you have a post that is live and it contains links to a post that is in Draft, it will show the link is broken. When you publish your draft, it will fix itself, but go to the Tools tab and double-check to make sure the links are fixed and hit dismiss
  • If you do not want to add another plugin to your site, you can find the same broken links at brokenlinkcheck.com
  • There are other free checkers out there and you can find them through a search
  • If you don’t use a plugin and use a website instead, you will need to remember to go check every often for broken links
  1. Redirection Plugins

Redirection:

A visitor will receive a 404 error message when a page no longer exists; maybe the post was deleted, the URL was changed or other reasons and a 301 would help fix that.

Find out from Wpbeginner steps to creating 301 redirects and why you might need to use it.

You only need to add a redirect plugin when you need one, so if you don’t need it now, don’t add it. 

  1. HTML Minify

A Minify plugin will make your website files smaller and will help to make your site load faster.

There are a number of plugins out there for this.

I use the Minify HTML plugin. Some of these need to be configured. Choose a plugin that you like.

Conclusion for Must-Have WordPress Plugins for Beginners to Get Started with Now

As a beginner blogger, trying to figure out exactly what plugins are essential to your site when you’re starting out in WordPress can be overwhelming.

If you know what it is you need and why you need them, plugins will be a little bit easier to understand.

Some you will need, some you don’t, some you’ll use, and some you won’t, and some you’ll find a different plugin for than the ones I recommended and that’s fine but the important thing is, is that you know the type of WordPress plugins you need to start with.

And as you venture more into blogging you’ll start to understand plugins more and be able to figure out on your own what other types you’ll need specifically for your blog to function how you want.

Remember that every site is different in its needs.

Use your better judgment about what you need and if you really need it.

If you’re not sure about your plugins being compatible, ask your hosting provider. 

Any questions about WordPress plugins? leave a comment.

Ready to start or move further along in your blogging journey, checkout The Phases of Starting a Blog eBooks on my Etsy shop. Four different eBooks to help you to move forward based on where you’re at in your blogging journey.

  • Phase 1 – starting from the very beginning of blogging – click the Phase 1 link, enter code LETMEHAVEPHASE1 at checkout and get your first book free
  • Phase 2 – setting up the back end of your WordPress site
  • Phase 3 – the important pages you need on your blog
  • Phase 4 – all about content and everything that leads up to it

30 thoughts on “18 WordPress Plugins Beginners Can Install on New Site”

  1. Great post! I always question if I need a certain plugin. I just went through what I have vs. what you recommend. Very helpful!

  2. Great recommendations! I’ve been using Yoast SEO for years and love it! It has helped my blog grow over the years. I also use the cookie notice plugin and security plugins.

  3. Thanks for putting this together! I’ve been using Squarespace but have thought about switching to WordPress. This post will be a great way to get me started on the switch.

  4. I’ve tried to use plug-ins but WordPress always asks me to update my plan from premium to business. Is it normal? Or could be the type of plug-ins I’m trying to use? Thanks for this post!

    1. Hi Selene, thank you for commenting and that’s a great question. There are 2 versions of WordPress, one is .COM and it’s free but to a limit, because as you can see they want you to upgrade. Then there is WordPress.ORG which is a free software program used inside a paid hosting provider, and that’s where plugins are free. Your using the .COM version. So yes, it is normal for a free version to hold back on all the good stuff that you really need so that you will upgrade.

  5. I have just learned to spell plug ins! 🙂 Now I have a reference for many features I have not established on my blog. Thank you so much for all the information.

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