Best WordPress Plugins 2021 for Bloggers

My favorite WordPress plugins to use on your Blog. All these plugins are clean-coded, super-fast, and best in class. I’ve also included thoughts on others that I don’t like…so you know WHY not to use them.

Optimization – Caching

  • WP Rocket is the Fastest full-featured cache plugin out there. Period! Easy to use.
  • WP Fastest Cache – it’s a nice free cache plugin, easy to use, features don’t compare to WP Rocket though.
  • W3TC – I hate it. Way too bloated and technical. Incompatible with many plugins and not the fastest even when it does work!
  • WP Super Cache or WPMU Hummingbird – absolute garbage. Bloated and slow.
  • PerfMatters – Gets that last 10% performance boost after you’ve already setup Caching, CDN, optimized images – allows you to selectively load scripts on a page/post level.

Optimization – Content

  • Classic Editor – OLD Default WP Editor. Replace with the new Gutenberg and GenerateBlocks library to future-proof your site.
  • Divi Builder – BLOATED & SLOW – replace with Gutenberg and GenerateBlocks
  • Elementor – BLOATED & SLOW – replace with Gutenberg and GenerateBlocks
  • GenerateBlocks PRO – from the makers of GeneratePress
  • Gutenberg – Default WP Editor. Fast but incomplete in design capability by itself

GenerateBlocks PRO is like the Gutenberg version of a page builder, but better because it’s lightweight in code and delivers high-speed performance. It’s theme agnostic, so you can use it with any WordPress theme. This is the FASTEST Gutenberg blocks library made.

Optimization – Image Compression

  • ShortPixel (free/paid) – SP has the best compression. Supports .webp images too!
  • Imagify by WP Rocket – is 2nd place for me (in terms of quality). $$$ Too pricey.
  • TinyPNG/JPG – can be good sometimes but ShortPixel is definitely better!
  • WP Smush/EWWW – horrible compression quality/file-size ratio.

Optimization – Redirection

  • Safe Redirect Manager – the best for DIY! High quality code, super fast redirects with the least speed impact.
  • Redirection – Just say NO! Seriously slows your site down by 1-3 seconds.
  • Yoast’s SEO redirect function – Don’t do it. There’s faster/better ways.

Optimization – SEO / Search Engine Optimization

  • Rank Math – DIY-friendly and feature-rich SEO plugin. Guides you with required SEO information on every page and post of your site. Easy to use modular interface.
  • Yoast SEO – only half the features of Rank Math, and honestly Yoast is rather bloated code-wise and slows down your backend Admin area. They’re working on this issue, but why wait, use Rank Math which is better in so many ways.

Forms

  • Fluent Forms – my #1 favorite form plugin for both FREE and PAID. Easier to use than others and nicer design and extra features.
  • Contact Form 7 – Just say NO! Slows your site. I hate how it loads on every page.

Image, Gallery, Slideshow

  • WP Featherlight – simple plugin to display images in a lightbox. I use this with default Gutenberg for building image galleries.
  • Meow Gallery – if you want a full-featured gallery.
  • NextGEN, FooGallery, Envira – bloated super slow poorly coded.
  • Metaslider (free/paid) – tied for the best. It’s good for super simple minimal sliders.
  • Smart Slider 3 (free/paid) – tied for the best. Can do fancier things like showing different sliders on mobile, also more features (embedding video, changing button images, etc).
  • Slider Revolution (REV Slider) – avoid it like the plague! Super bloated and slow.

Security & Backups

  • Updraft Plus – Backup/Restore – (free/paid) Paid version is the bees-knees! Also, you can easily migrate sites to a new hosting or dev server.
  • BackWPup – awesome free plugin that does FULL backups
  • BackupBuddy – Pricey $$$ – Updraft is better and easier to use.
  • Login Lockdown – Helps stop hacker’s brute-force attacks on your WordPress Admin login.

Social Media for Bloggers