I think I did one of these articles in 2019 so its time to update the Best WordPress Plugins list for 2021. As an SEO minded person these will tend to lean towards that end of the spectrum but as we continue to see speed and mobile optimization has brought some highly technical requirements into the SEO realm. That expansion of SEO lends itself to an expansion of SEO plugins.
2021 Top WordPress Plugins
- Asset Cleanup: Page Speed Booster – The most damning thing to your site’s speed performance is typically the number of requests it makes to render your page. All those plugins you use likely come with js and css files each, many come with more than one set. So if you have 20 or 40 plugins you easily will have over a hundred files required to load a page and its mostly just needless bloat. For instance, if you have Contact 7 for forms …. you don’t need that plugins support files loading on pages that dont have a form on them. But … they are there and wasting your SEO time. This plugin allows you to offload what isn’t needed and then combine what is .. into fewer requests. Fewer requests mean fewer seconds getting your content loaded. The gains can be tremendous in a world where 2 to 3 seconds is the goal in SEO load times.
- All In One Migration – This has just been a life saver. Sites get hacked, updates go wonky and sometimes plugins conflict but you can always recover if you have this plugin in place. It also makes moving from one server to another a breeze which is critical when you are trying to stay up to date on everything from MySQL to PHP version. It also makes a test site an easy spin up and this agility plays well in experimenting. I recommend the size extension, its a one time expense and you can use it on multiple sites. I’ve also dealt with their support once and they were super helpful and didn’t just blame stuff on another plugin.
- Yoast – The obvious choice on this list, there isn’t anything else that approaches this plugin in its class.
- WP Cerber – Security is SEO. A hacked site will be flagged in Google Search Console and it will tank your keyword ranking. The darling plugin for WordPress is Wordfence but I think if I were a hacker I’d train to beat the number one plugin on the most number of sites. For that reason I find Wordfence sites still get hacked. WP Cerber is a close second and few folks train to beat the second most used security plugin. When a site is maintained and properly configured I’ve never had a WP Cerber site hacked.
- Cloudflare – Its bigger than a plugin and serves as your cache, more security and CDN all for free. The plugin allows Cloudflare to update its cache as you update your site and brings those important controls in to the dashboard requiring you to log into one less site.
- CC Child Pages – Page depth and breadcrumbs are important but this plugin allows you to make intelligent breadcrumbs. I like using it because it allows page aware navigation and enhances internal linking, it dynamically updates across pages as you build out your content..
- Redirection – Things change, with this plugin it automatically gets updated for urls and search traffic. 301 redirects and the SEO juice associated are a breeze with this plugin and you can easily monitor the 404 errors you get.
- 404 to Homepage – Why do you just dump folks on a page that says you don’t have something? Wouldn’t it be better to have them go to an index of your site or a search page with keywords and help to find relevant content? Google spiders are better served seeing links to pages than a 404 error. This plugin does that.
- Business Directory Plugin – I like this plugin as a way to build external links and give follks a place to spam without spamming my articles.
- Smush – Gotta control those images and the size they lay on your visitors.
- Smush No Limit – This plugin just makes Smush worth it more by removing limits that needless require your input to keep going,
- Really Simple SSL – Mixed content is just as bad as not having a security certificate at all. http vs https …. Fix those errors with this plugin to ensure your site loads without browser warnings.
- WPA SEO Auto Linker* – Was a great plugin but hasnt been updated in 2 years. Likely worthless but no other plugin has stepped up. With that said this plugin is more of an honorable mention and not recommended as is.