Our Favorite WordPress Plugins to Optimize Your Site Performance

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WordPress has more plugin options than you will ever need, want, or use.

It’s not important to have every new plugin that comes out, but there certainly are some must-have WordPress plugins. However, trying to choose which ones are best for your business can be a lengthy trial and error process.

At Carter & Custer, we’re a full service marketing that’s purpose-built from the ground up to be the driving force behind your entrepreneurial spirit. Our specialities include building content-focused websites optimized for speed and traffic. And we know WordPress, its myriad of plugin features, and tools like the back of our hands.

We’ve trimmed the fat from the selection process and are excited to share our compiled list of the absolute best WordPress plugins that can really help take your business to the next level.

Get Started with an Impactful Plugin

There are plenty of plugins that help you achieve improved site speeds.

Some of them do it by enhancing a single site function or feature and others are a backpack loaded with premium tools to assist in a broad range of issues.

Then, there is Perfmatters. This is a feature-rich plugin with a goal of enhancing site speed. What makes it an excellent choice for your first WordPress plugin is its impressive compatibility that make it very likely to work with any theme or other plugin you want to run alongside it.

Perfmatters is provides a clean interface through its easy to use dashboard, and it’s topped off with frequent updates and top-tier customer support.

Kick-off your plugin journey with this nimble and useful tool!

Better and More Varied Webforms

Your business needs to have points of contact for your customers and prospects. Every site needs a web form because it’s the easiest and most familiar way for people to connect with you.

Without one, people will subconsciously wonder how they can get in touch with your company. And if prospects can’t connect for questions they have, it is hard to expect them to convert into customers. 

WPForms is considered the best form builder for WordPress, and it has both a paid and a free lite edition

Both the free and paid versions offer the same excellent core features. They are mobile responsive, making them easy to complete regardless of device. Both versions are also drag and drop, so you can build your forms visually and without worry that they are too big and will slow your site down. 

The full version gives you access to more than 300 form templates and also delivers email marketing integration, SEO optimization, and a wide range of form options to suit your needs now and in the future. 

Enhanced Data Optimization and Analysis

When it comes to managing your business’s website, data is more than your friend: It’s your soulmate.

You need to know what parts of your site are driving traffic so you can replicate it across your business; similarly, knowing where visitors are bouncing from your site or what path they took to through site pages to get to a sale is invaluable.

Don’t sleep on these plugins that will help you see and understand all of your site data. 

Master Your Analytics  

MonsterInsights is one of the most useful and powerful Google Analytics plugins

It gives you access to all of your site data by correctly and accurately syncing with Google analytics to understand the traffic flow of your site. 

Once installed, you can start learning how visitors are finding your site, as well as where they were before and where they jump to directly after being on your website. It’s powerful data that will help you better optimize your site for increasing traffic.

MonsterInsights has a free version, but we really recommend spending for the paid version to completely unlock its powerful toolkit.

Spend Less Time Worried About SEO

The second crucial plugin for data analytics is All In One SEO.

Three million websites use this plugin to make their SEO sing. It will help you develop meta descriptions, deploy keywords, create SEO titles, and even optimize content for social media — these are some of the core SEO functions your site needs to excel at in order to improve your search engine page rankings.

If you’re afraid that your site will fall in the rankings when search engine updates happen, there’s no need to worry with All In One SEO. The team behind All In One SEO frequently adds new features, so you know it’s staying up to date with how Google’s algorithms are crawling web pages.

You can use the free version, but be advised that the more powerful paid version includes a local SEO feature and an ability to recognize and fix annoying 404 errors.

Data tells a story, and these plugins to your site to help you understand it.

Convert More Traffic

At every stage of your business growth, you’ll meet the challenge of turning prospects into customers

The very basic element of this is capturing the attention of your site traffic. When you can hold your visitors’ attention and ensure that they stay on your pages for an extended period of time, they will be more likely to purchase your services or goods.  

Keep Site Visitors Engaged Longer

OptinMonster is perhaps the best plugin to help you grab and hold a visitor

In just a few clicks, Optinmonster can help you create gamified quizzes and spinner wheels to attract a visitors’ attention before they fully navigate your site, and you can even create a full-page welcome for new visitors.

However, it’s more than a random quiz generator — it’s a complete suite of tools built for converting traffic and scaling up your business. When you use it effectively, you can boost your email list and blog subscribers by leveraging its well-tested pre-built templates to create slide-in and pop-up forms.

Build Better Landing Pages

When it comes to targeting and converting traffic, landing pages are an excellent way to hone in your targeting.

The SeedProd plugin can eliminate your need for freelance web developers because it allows you to create customized landing pages using clear drag and drop functions that allow you to see the page in real-time as you are designing it.

Take advantage of over 150 pre-built template designs for everything from landing and registration pages to maintenance and 404 pages. If you don’t like any of the templates, you can opt to build custom pages from scratch with the same simple drag and drop approach.

It completely takes the design stress out of page building.

Give Your Site A Speed Boost

Speed kills. But for websites, it’s the lack of speed that does the damage. 

The speed of your site isn’t measured in seconds, it’s measured against the load time of the other sites your prospects visit. People mostly notice speed in relation to other sites, but doesn’t mean slow is acceptable. 

You want your site loading pages as fast as visitors scroll. And if your site isn’t doing that, you absolutely want to know why.

Automate Page Speed Fixes

WP Rocket provides best-in-class WordPress cache plugin features to decrease your load times.

It automatically turns on key WordPress features like pre-loading cache and page cache and even crawls your website, building your cache for you, which makes an instant difference in your page speed performance.

WP Rocket only offers a paid version, so if cost is a barrier for you, fear not — there are excellent free cache-building options like WP Super Cache or W3 Total Cache. They just aren’t quite as powerful as WP Rocket.

Load Only What Is Needed

Lazy Load is another plugin to help with site speed

This one optimizes images that are visible on the page and not those that are what is considered “below the fold,” or an image that  in not visible on the page yet.

By waiting to load an image or video file until the plugin indicates that content is close to being scrolled over by the user, load time decreases because not as much data is being used at once. 

Video and image content are pillars of successful websites — don’t let yours be hindered by slow load times because of it.

Protect Your Site From Disaster

The security of your website and business should be paramount

Your site doesn’t need a complex array of toggles, and you don’t need a deep understanding of IT to secure your website. 

Do Not Sleep on Security

Sucuri is the strongest security plugin for WordPress and features a web application firewall that will act as a shield between your site and all incoming site traffic. 

This plugin will detect and stop many of the popular security threats that websites experience. That includes brute force attacks, spam comment attacks, malware, and DDOS attacks.  Even though here are other options to consider for firewall protection plugins, such as WordFence, none of them come close to the complete protection Sucuri provides.

And on top of all that, Sucuri is the only one that also automatically adds a CDN layer, which goes a long way toward speeding up your site even more.

Backups Can Save You Days

The next best way to protect your site from cyberattacks and general system loss issues is to ensure you have a backup. 

Ding, ding, ding! UpdraftPlus to the rescue.

This is the most popular backup plugin for WordPress, and for a good reason. It allows you to set automatic backups and safely store them in a remote location such as Google Drive, Dropbox, and via an FTP.

The best part is that it comes to your aid at the worst time. If your site does experience some sort of major crash or hack and you simply have to restore it from a backup — UpdraftPlus makes it stress-free and remarkably easy.

While their base option is free, the paid version is more comprehensive and includes priority support from one of their trained experts. So, even if the going gets tough, you’ve got someone to call. 

Use a All-In-One Heavy Hitter

When building a defense in football, coaches look for a “Three down player.” That’s someone athletic enough to pursue the quarterback, powerful enough to take on a running back, and fast enough to track a wide receiver. As you might guess, they are hard to find

The best WordPress plugins are those that achieve multiple goals for you. NitroPack isn’t just one of the best multifunctional plugins; it’s the best at something incredibly important to your growth, overall site speed.

NitroPack is the plugin that will turbocharge your site. And it’s not just us saying that; it’s the more 123,000 websites they’ve already helped optimize for load time. 

NitroPack is your all-one solution for increasing your conversion rates and search engine page results, while boosting your growth. It doesn’t just have a device and cookie-aware caching to increase load times — it also has a world-class image optimization feature to take care of all that time-consuming compression and image sizing to ensure all your images are fully responsive.

If you’re working with a limited purchasing budget or simply don’t want a lot of plugins to deal with, NitroPack is a must-use comprehensive plugin. 

How Many Is Too Many Plugins?

It’s natural to be concerned about overdosing your website on plugins. 

Each plugin adds additional HTTP requests, which affect your site speed, so it only makes sense to wonder how many plugins will it take to have an adverse effect.

But in reality, if you are power-using WordPress — which means really taking advantage of all its features and tools — then you could be using upwards of 30 plugins.

The important aspect to remember for plugins is that you need however many it takes to run your website as fast and effective for your users as possible. What’s right for your site might not be so for another similar business. 

WordPress plugins are one of those rare instances where size doesn’t matter. Use a lot or use a few powerful ones. Just be sure the plugins you opt to install will help aid your needs and exceed your goals. 

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