These are our favorite plugins and themes, the best for lowest impact on pagespeed, best reliability over years of use, best for available features, and best for support + compatibility.
Pagespeed & Core Web Vitals
Built with average users in mind WP Rocket is easy to setup for basic cache configurations while still having capabilities for advanced caching and optimizations.
A great free alternative to WP Rocket, Autoptimize has an easy setup and great optimization features for basic caching and advanced JS/CSS optimizations.
WP Fastest Cache
The easiest and fastest to setup for basic caching, includes Cloudflare integration, perfect for sites that don’t have complicated caching needs.
Disable Bloat For WP & Woocommerce
A must for any blog running Woocommerce, reduce the pagespeed impact of Woocommerce.
Premium image optimization, the easiest setup and plans starting at $5/mo.
Premium image optimization, advanced options and setup, plans starting at $5/mo.
Free image optimization, easy setup, great for smaller sites with budget constraints.
Regenerate Thumbnails Advanced
Any time a theme is changed, or switching some plugins that use thumbnails (recipe plugins, etc), you will want this plugin to regenerate thumbnails as-needed. It has great features to make the process go faster as well, such as the option to pick which thumbnails you specifically want regenerated, or the option to only regenerate featured images of posts.
Optimizes uploaded images to your preferred dimensions, it can automatically convert uploaded PNG to JPG too. Great tool for preserving storage usage, keeping busy sites running lean, prevent authors/VAs from uploading huge oversized images.
Security & Spam
Advanced firewall and security suite covers everything from basic brute-force login protection to malware scanning.
Limit Login Attempts Reloaded
Bare minimum security recommended, stop intrusion by the most common attack vector.
Awesome free anti-spam plugin, great results out-of-the-box with default settings.
WordPress’s premier all-in-one SEO suite, it’s bundled with too many features to list and should be the go-to SEO plugin for 99% of sites.
A great lightweight alternative to Yoast that boasts all the most popular features of a modern SEO plugin, while carrying an extremely small footprint on performance.
Enable Media Replace
Replace images in old posts without changing the file’s url structure, great for a low-impact method of updating images on valuable posts you don’t want to lose rank on.
Limit Modified Date
Prevent the modified-date on old posts from getting update when making changes, useful for reducing the impact from bulk-editing of posts or when touching a high-ranking post.
A must-have for most sites, Redirection is a FULL featured redirection plugin – includes a great 404 monitor built-in.
Great features in the free version that competitor-plugins charge for, extremely lightweight.
Free version is extremely limited, but the paid version is great, it has every feature you could want from a social share button plugin and highly recommended if you have the budget.
Simple Social Icons
The lightest social icons plugin out there, adds a configurable widget to your widgets section.
Email Forms & Popups
Works with most major newsletter service providers, few design options but extremely easy/fast setup.
Works with most major newsletter service providers, MANY design options but difficult/slow setup.
Our go-to form for quick setup, built-in antispam feature, perfect for basic contact form needs.
Contact Form 7
For more advanced forms and custom designs CF7 works great, includes many great features for antispam such as an available ReCaptcha integration.
Other Useful Plugins & Services
Great service for Push Notifications. Free account good for 10,000 subscribers, lower impact on pagespeed, lower priced premium plans.
WP Recipe Maker
If needing recipe or how-to or list schema added to your posts, this plugin is The One. Many competing alternatives out there such as Tasty/Create, but none come even close to the functionality and stability of WPRM. They have a great Facebook community as well (here).
Plugin for inserting code/scripts, great for tweaking PHP if you don’t have a child theme.
Header Footer Code Manager (HFCM)
Another great plugin for inserting code/scripts, especially for HTML/CSS/JS, for simple interface.
Full featured gallery plugin, great for photographers or other general-purpose galleries.
Affiliate link management system – easily keep track of links, set rules on links (open new tab, nofollow), track link clicks and more!
Slightly bulkier than the others, but has extensive options available in the WP Customizer that makes designing for DIYers a lot easier (some premium child themes can make designing even easier by giving you a big headstart, for example check out Restored316’s child themes here). They have a great community on Facebook available too (here).
Lightweight and extremely flexible, GeneratePress has a lot to offer and the pricing is very competitive for a full-featured theme using modern bet practices. They have a great community on Facebook available too (here).
Fast, Lightweight, and Highly Customizable WordPress Theme.