Have you ever purchased a big ticket item like a camera, but once you realize you start working with it, you need extras to get the full experience of it? Sound familiar? Well the same applies when you download and install the WordPress platform right out-of-the-box, but you’re missing out on a lot more by not taking advantage of the thousands of available plugins (or add-ons) that take your site to the next level.

I’m going to share with you my Top 5 plugins that I believe every WordPress site needs when you first set it up. There are tons more people will swear by, but this is a very small list to get you started and you can decide later on what is best for your site. 

But first I want to caution you when you are searching for plugins, namely free, be sure they are compatible with your most recent WordPress update (5.0.3 as of date). Sometimes the plugin developers will forget to update or the plugin wasn’t managed for years or months, leaving the plugin and your site vulnerable to major security issues later on. The more recent the plugin has been updated, the better. There are even some plugins that are not compatible with other plugins. This can be hard to detect, but it can take just one plugin with a lot of issues that can make your whole site not function properly. One plugin can even break your theme installed on your site! So when you are looking at the details of a plugin (You can find this in the “More Details” link listed for each plugin in the “Add New” section of your dashboard. Shown on screenshot below)

Also, look for the active installs and reviews left for each plugin. That will also help you determine if a plugin is right for you based on how well it’s performing for another user.


Here’s my plugin list:

1 – Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO is the most popular of all the SEO tools for a WordPress site. Just having the plugin installed alone, you have a greater chance of readability, keeping visitors on your website longer. As far as SEO goes, all your major search engines have thousands and thousands of searches daily, but what can help greatly is for you to drill down and choose the strategic key words that will help you gain visibility in a browser search.

Key Features

  • Optimize your WordPress posts and pages using keywords and descriptions
  • Review how well your content is currently optimized and make improvements easily
  • Improve your content’s readability with simple tips that are offered


Yoast SEO is a free plugin, but does have a Pro version that can be found here.


2 – WordFence

WordFence is my all-time favorite plugin for site protection. It provides a strong firewall and an automatic malware scan based on how you configure the settings within the plugin. It also allows you to set limited login attempts to drive off hackers.

Key Features

  • Web Application Firewall identifies and blocks malicious traffic
  • Protects your site at the endpoint, enabling deep integration with WordPress
  • Integrated malware scanner blocks requests that include malicious code or content
  • Protection from brute force attacks by limiting login attempts, enforcing strong passwords and other login security measures


WordFence is a free plugin, but you can also upgrade to their Pro version here.


3 – TinyMCE Advanced

I have been using the TinyMCE Advanced plugin for as long as I have been using WordPress and will continue to use it for as long as it exists! If you know WP, it has a limited toolbar, especially when it came to wanting to change your font face and font size. And what if you needed the ability to set an anchor within your page? It has an icon for that too.

Key Features

  • Allows the addition of a wide range of toolbar icons that you ordinarily would not get with WordPress
  • Allows you to configure up to four rows of buttons including Font Sizes, Font Family, text and background colors, tables, etc.
  • Adds options for keeping paragraph tags in text mode and importing the CSS classes from the theme’s editor-style.css
  • Compatible with the new Block Editor feature recently released in the Gutenberg platform


TinyMCE Advanced is a free plugin, no paid version available.


4 – WP Rocket

I cannot say enough about the use of a cache plugin to “clean” your site and seriously increase your site speed when your pages load! It’s the difference between gaining a customer or losing a visitor from your site. Seriously. I actually wrote an article about the importance of your site speed. You can find it here.

Key Features

  • Cache your website’s dynamically generated pages
  • Improve user-end browser caching
  • Enable lazy loading for faster loading times


WP Rocket is a paid tool at a cost of $49 for a single site license. Other options can be found here.


5 – Compress JPG and PNG Images

This particular plugin should be installed on every WP site because every site will have images loaded up to it. The importance of having a tool that compresses images will save you ton of space in the long-run. It just makes perfect sense to add this one to your plugin toolkit.

Key Features

  • Automatically compress your images using lossy optimization
  • Optimize your JPEG and PNG images
  • Bulk optimize any old images that you have
  • Resize any images you upload to your website


This plugin is free for up to 500 images per month.

In summary, here are my Top 5 plugins at-a-glance. Install and try these on your site or blog!

  1. Yoast SEO
  2. WordFence
  3. TinyMCE Advanced
  4. WP Rocket
  5. Compress JPEG & PNG Images

If you have experience using one or all of the plugins above, let me know in the comments section below.

Aletha McManama is a “Digital Marketing Maven” who specializes in online marketing using WordPress, social media and digital marketing to assist her clients in marketing their business. She is a WordPress pro that designs websites and blogs. Plus, she trains business owners to create and maintain their own WP site and blog.

Please keep in mind that I may receive commissions when you click my links and make purchases. However, this does not impact my reviews and comparisons. I try my best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.


Aletha McManama
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