One of my favorite websites to interact with is Rooster Teeth. For those unfamiliar, Rooster Teeth is a media company that creates a wide range of content based around video games and other pieces of geek culture. They are likely best known as the creators behind the classic machinima, Red Vs. Blue; the animated series, RWBY; and the video game “let’s play” group, Achievement Hunter. But if their content was the only thing I liked, I could find the vast majority of it on YouTube. It is how their site operates that attracts me to actually visit the website.
There are several reasons why the Rooster Teeth website sticks out to me. They stream live content daily. This stream has an active chat window so users can interact with each other and with Rooster Teeth staff and talent. Each of their literally thousands of videos has native comments organized in an attractive and easy to navigate thread style. Plus, my account on their site is set up to receive notifications tailored to the content I am interested in. These are just a few of the reasons that keep me coming back. Features like these help users interact. Even the fact that the website is straightforward to navigate, fast to load, and easy to find on search engines helps its appeal. And the one thing all of these features and qualities have in common is that they are mostly made possible thanks to website plugins.
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What are Plugins in WordPress?
Any site that is more than just blank text will likely need web site plugins. This is true for WordPress sites as well. The best plugins can help your site by giving it new functionality or features it could not have normally. However, especially with WordPress, there are tons of options for plugins. So, in a sea of seemingly similar plugins, what are the best plugins for WordPress?
Before we can touch on figuring out some of the best plugins for your website, we need to learn about what plugins are. The name really gives it away. Plugins are features or extensions designed for you to plug it in your website. To be added to your website, there is no need to make large changes to the website or rewrite coding to activate the features. They are made to be modular, so the same plugin is expected to be toggled on and off for multiple different websites without needing any customization to make it fit.
Plugins are usually configured to work with certain content management systems (CMS). This makes sense, because a plugin needs to be able to play nice with the rest of the content on the website. So when you are looking for plugins for your WordPress site, you will be looking for WordPress plugins.
What are the Best WordPress Plugins?
The best plugins are split between different categories. It is ridiculous to try and compare a great SEO plugin with an intuitive eCommerce plugin to determine which one is better. Each possible use or feature is a potential category that can have a best choice. With the endless possibilities of different websites, it is impossible to account for every conceivable category. However, there are much more common ones that you will likely need to consider. Cache plugins and eCommerce plugins are two common categories. And when it comes to WP plugins, a great SEO WordPress plugin is a must.
SEO WordPress plugin
An SEO WordPress plugin works behind the scenes. You will be able to access the features of the plugin while creating new content for your website. Depending on the one you choose, it will give you certain advice on how to optimize your content for search engines. When you want your WordPress site to be found, you need an SEO plugin.
Yoast is arguably the most popular SEO plugin and one of the best plugins for WordPress. In this case, it is popular for a reason. It checks a wide range of different factors that search engines take into consideration. It will flag you for anything from low keyword density to poor readability and even accidental duplication.
WordPress cache plugins
SEO is a little self explanatory, but why do sites need cache plugins? To be honest, website traffic can get a little stuffy. This gets worse when you have a lot of content on your website. Adding a cache plugin does a lot of work toward smoothing that out. They are tasked with making sites perform better and optimizing load times.
W3 Total Cache is another one of the best plugins for WordPress with thousands of 5-star reviews. It is known to be versatile and reliable in helping sites achieve better rankings in search engines. That is because performance and load times are a huge factor in determining what sites will be shown sooner on search results.
WordPress eCommerce plugins
If you want economic transactions on your website, you have to look into WordPress eCommerce plugins. WordPress sites do not have eCommerce functionality built in. Part of the reason is that to participate in eCommerce, you need to have SSL certification. If your site does not need it, then there is no reason to go through the hassle. But when you are collecting money for products or services through your website, you need a plugin for eCommerce.
WooCommerce is one of the hottest eCommerce plugins for WordPress. While there are quite a few others that offer more control, WooCommerce has grown in popularity to the point of outshining Shopify. It is easy to set up and manage, and it does not sacrifice reliability to do so. Anything that gets your eCommerce live faster is worth looking at.
WordPress SSL plugins
When running any kind of website, it is a good idea to at least consider ways to keep users secure. And when dealing with eCommerce, it is required in most scenarios. Establishing secure connections involves setting up an SSL certificate. Even after getting SSL for your website, it still needs to be associated with your site and activated. This seemingly simple step can cause some hangups. Your website still needs to be configured to use the certificate. Luckily, some of the best plugins that can help take care of that step for you.
Really Simple SSL is a great example of a plugin that works really well. It has a simple purpose, set up your SSL certificate with your WordPress site. It has the most simple instructions: activate the plugin. And it simply works. There is a reason why it is one of the handful of plugins with thousands of reviews that still has a full 5-star rating.
WordPress image management plugins
A common pitfall with newer websites is the use of poorly optimized images. Large, high resolution images can cause longer load times. Longer load times can lead to a poor user experience and cause website to perform poorly with SEO. This is also true for images that do not play nice with mobile browsing. Typically, proper image use requires a consistent effort to resize every image and be mindful about how users will interact with them. In other words, it takes time and is easy to forget. That is why there are several plugins to take that burden for you.
The plugin appropriately called Smush helps manage the images you use on your website. It works to compress images for better load times. It optimizes how they load and helps them operate well on different platforms and devices. It even implements the concept of “lazy loading.” This just means that images on a web page will not all load simultaneously when a user accesses the page. Instead, images that are further down the page that require scrolling to see (known as being “beneath the fold”) do not load until the user scrolls down to them. It is way easier for a web page to load only a handful of images when visited. And loading in each image only when needed is very quick and seamless. Depending on the quality of the image, lazy loading might not even be noticed. These qualities all help Smush reach the status as one of the best plugins for WordPress.
The Right Host to Support the Best WordPress Plugins
When you are using cache plugins, eCommerce plugins, or even an SEO plugin, you want to have a host that can handle it all. That includes more than just having a server capable of housing it. WordPress is constantly updating. To stay relevant, your host needs to stay on top of that. And, when WordPress updates, it might cause a conflict with one or more of your plugins. Unless your host is monitoring your plugins, it may go unnoticed for quite some time.
It is not unusual to want to migrate your WordPress site and transfer WordPress website plugins to new host options. This is especially true if you are using some of the best plugins for WordPress. The chance of starting over with your WP plugins can be intimidating. It could be a reason you might stay with a bad host for longer than you should. In this case, you need a new host that offers quick and easy migration to keep your web site plugins intact.
Some hosts, like Flywheel, have a list of plugins they will not allow on sites they host. Even if you have no use for one of those plugins right now, you might need to in the future. And without planning ahead, you could find yourself stuck. Luckily, not only does WP Super Host have all of the qualities above, but we also do not ban any plugins for sites we host for you. We will not get in your way of using the best plugins. So when it comes to your website, you need to look at our hosting packages.
There are too many plugins to go through all of them. However, finding the best plugins for WordPress does not require you parse through them all one-by-one. WordPress is a huge community, and part of that community is in reviews and ratings. Reading about the experiences of other website owners is a great way to learn more about the plugins you need.