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The 15 best WordPress plugins for SEO and security

WordPress plugins
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WordPress plugins are a great way to edit your website according to your individual needs. With WordPress plugins, you have a lot of freedom, but you can quickly lose track of everything.

To help you find the right plugins for you, we have compiled the best WordPress plugins compiled. Here you will find general plugins for the design, but also the WordPress SEO plugins and the WordPress GDPR plugins for your legal security.

This overview is a general list and is intended to give you some orientation. Which plugins are ultimately right for you depends on your wishes, target groups and also the reach targets you want to achieve with your website.

General information about WordPress plugins

Plugins have advantages and disadvantages. Which ones outweigh the others depends on your goals. Plugins allow you to design your site beyond the basic functions. WordPress plugins usually specialize in their own functions or subject areas, such as SEO marketing. Such WordPress SEO plugins support you in the search engine optimization of your content so that your website can be found faster on Google.

With WordPress plugins, you select the functions you need. If all plugins were automatically included in the basic function, your website would be too slow and overloaded. We therefore always advise our customers to limit their choice of plugins to the bare essentials so as not to negatively impact the pagespeed of their website.

You can now find around 60,000 plugins in the WordPress directory - and only those that are WordPress plugins can be found there. You can search for specific plugins so that you can limit your selection directly to the plugins you need.

Another advantage of WordPress plugins is that you can optimize your site even without programming knowledge. The plugins do the programming work for you, so you don't need to know how to edit the theme codes or design the page with CSS yourself. This saves you time that you can invest in your content. You'll find a wide selection of plugins for every theme in the directory, so you're sure to find what you're looking for. To make it even easier for you to choose the right plugin, you can take a look at the ratings from the WordPress community and the number of plugin users.

WordPress plugins and security

For all their advantages, WordPress plugins also offer a certain potential for danger. You should be aware of this before you start working with the plugins.

This is because not all WordPress plugins are written by professional programmers. This can mean that the plugins suddenly stop working, for example due to a lack of updates by the programmer, or contain malicious code.

Depending on the plugin, this increases the risk of being hacked. If the plugins contain security vulnerabilities, they offer an attack surface for your website. Faulty code or even targeted malicious code can be used by cyber criminals to steal or copy your data or make your website unusable. For example, if the WordPress DGUV plugin is faulty, this can lead to legal consequences.

Our 4 WordPress plugins tips for a secure website that you can implement immediately:

  • Less is more. Do without unnecessary plugins. Alternatively, you can program functions yourself or reduce them to the bare essentials. For a good SEO ranking, you don't always need an SEO plugin in WordPress, but can also optimize the site manually.
  • Only download plugins from reputable sources. Unfortunately, the plugins in the directory are not checked, but you can tell from the ratings whether they are reputable.
  • Update your plugins regularly so that they are always up to date.
  • Do not test your plugins on the live website. Create staging pages (i.e. a clone of your website on a subdomain) where you can try out the plugins at your leisure. Only install them on the official site once they have passed the test. Take a look at our tips for a good software test. 

How WordPress plugins influence page speed

One important point is the pagespeed of your website. WordPress plugins can slow down the loading time of your WordPress website under certain circumstances, which has a negative impact on your Google ranking and therefore your findability.

As most plugins access a database, they may cause a lot of hits. These accesses cost loading time and slow down your site.

As loading time is an important factor in ranking, this can cost you one or more places - and therefore perhaps page 5 instead of page 1 - on Google.

For this reason, you should test how the plugin affects your performance before using it.

If you don't want to do without certain WordPress plugins, you can prevent unnecessary database access by deactivating the functions that you don't need for your site.

Plugins that you no longer need are best deleted. Simply deactivating them will still cost you loading time, storage space and security.

Based on our many years of experience, we have tested many WordPress plugins and found them to be good, helpful and secure. Our recommendations for the best WordPress plugins can be found categorized by subject area in the following overview!

WordPress SEO plugins

SEO plugins support you in the search engine optimization of your website. SEO plugins are suitable for both SEO beginners and SEO professionals. They show you your SEO score, readability and other important properties as you write. With the plugins, you can optimize your texts while writing and know for sure that your site meets the SEO criteria.

1. yoast SEO

SEO WordPress plugin Yoast

This plugin has been on the market for a long time and is still one of the most popular WordPress SEO plugins for search engine optimization. Yoast SEO is available in free and paid versions. The Yoast SEO Premium Plugin costs €99.00 per year. Even in the free version, the WordPress plugin Yoast offers you various extras:

  • Expands XML sitemaps, making it easier for Google to understand your page structure.
  • Meta tags and titles including templates for good branding.
  • Canonical URLs and meta tags
  • Good pagespeed, as Yoast manages your data more effectively.

A good tool is SEO analysis. It analyzes your content based on your keywords. It counts your keywords in the headings and also alerts you to any overuse of keywords.

The readability analysis is very helpful in making your content reader-friendly. Google pays very close attention to good readability, which is why Yoast helps you to write fluent text with the right choice of words. Yoast supports you with many languages such as German, English, Polish, Arabic, Indonesian or Russian.

With the Google preview, you can see how your page will be displayed on Google.

There are some good ad ons for your search engine optimization.

  • Yoast Local SEO offers services for search engine optimization in your area.
  • Yoast Video SEO optimizes your ranking for videos.
  • Yoast News SEO is suitable for news websites.
  • WooCommerce SEO is suitable for online stores if you want to improve your ranking.

Yoast SEO is suitable for many themes and plugins. Especially if you

  • the WordPress block editor, formerly Gutenberg,
  • the official AMP plugin,
  • the Google plugin Web Stories
  • or the Web Builder Elementor

you benefit from Yoast SEO.

Despite all the functions and possible ad-ons, in our opinion Yoast has not been the best SEO WordPress plugin on the market for a long time. Among other things, the next - equally free - WordPress SEO plugin offers a much broader range of SEO functions that will support you efficiently and sustainably in increasing the visibility of your website.

2. rank math SEO

Rank Math WordPress SEO Plugin

Rank Math (in our opinion the best WordPress SEO plugin on the market) uses artificial intelligence for search engine optimization. This plugin is primarily intended to help users with useful tips to make their content SEO-friendly.

With these functions, Rank Math SEO promises to support you with your site:

  • Dynamic suggestions and keywords
  • Intelligent links and related keywords
  • Rank Math SEO impresses with its easy-to-understand setup wizard. It configures itself and helps you set it up with step-by-step instructions.
  • Rank Math SEO helps you to create Google Schema markup. It also contains FAQ schema.
  • With the Google Analytics integration, you will find a one-click solution for installing the Analytics script.
  • The default settings save you the time of setting up the plugin yourself.
  • Check the SEO settings of your website with 30 SEO tests.
  • You will also find many other settings, tools and tricks.

What you need:

  • WordPress version 5.6 or higher.

3. the SEO framework

SEO WordPress plugin The SEO Framework

The SEO Framework is, as the name suggests, a framework and not a plugin. It integrates itself into the editor and provides you with editable fields when editing. It is preconfigured, but you can customize it according to your needs.

You can find tips for your page using the color-coded guidelines. If you move your mouse over the guidelines, they will give you tips for the titles, for example. Another point is that it improves the ranking on Google and automatically adjusts the titles to the Google guidelines.

For placement in social networks, it automatically supports the Open Graph, Facebook and Twitter Cards protocols. This way, it highlights your posts so that they can even be shared on Pinterest, Discord and WhatsApp.

Further functions are:

  • Meta title and meta description. You use these fields to edit the texts that are displayed on Google.
  • Social title and social description. With this field, you determine what is displayed in the link previews in the social networks.
  • Social image: This is the URL that is displayed in the link preview for social networks.
  • Canonical URL. This is needed for duplicate content, as it displays the original URL.
  • Robots meta settings. With these settings, your page will be found by search engines. You can also set whether users follow the links on the page and whether a copy is created and stored for the search engine cache.

What you need:

  • WordPress version 5.5 or higher
  •  PHP version 7.2.0 or higher

4. redirection

WordPress plugin redirection for redirects

With Redirection you take care of your URL redirects and redirects. With this WordPress plugin, you can easily manage your redirects and don't need any specialist knowledge, such as Apache or Nginx knowledge.

For a good search engine ranking, there should be as few 404 errors as possible. You can find out what these are and how to prevent them here.

Redirection takes care of a good redirect when you restructure your page. It redirects your URL to the new one.

The WordPress plugin also offers additional extras:

  • Mass forwarding of any number of links. This is useful if you want to forward several URLs at the same time
  • Exceptions for URLs if you no longer want to forward them
  • Tracking of 404 errors for your overview
  • If you change the URL, the redirects are created directly

5. XML Sitemaps

XML sitemaps make it easier for website crawlers to recognize and retrieve the page structure. The plugin "XML Sitemaps" is designed to create XML sitemaps for your website. It automatically notifies search engines such as Bing and Google when you edit your site. In this way, the search engines are always kept up to date with the latest content on your website.

What you need:

  • WordPress version 3.3 or higher

Note that this function is a standard function of WordPress SEO plugins. However, if you are a complete beginner, this plugin is a good way to get started!

Pagespeed/Performance Plugins

The so-called page speed or loading speed is important for the search engine ranking. You also lose website visitors due to slow loading times of your website. Users do not wait long on the page before they leave it again.

For a good search engine ranking and a high level of user-friendliness, your website should load quickly. Images, superfluous source code or unnecessary settings slow down your site. Webshop operators who have to load a lot of images on their site are particularly familiar with this problem. One trick is lazy loading, for example.

In addition to your own website settings, the right WordPress plugins for good page speed. This is because the wrong WordPress plugins are more likely to make your loading times worse than better. As pagespeed experts, we have tested various caching and performance plugins that will make your website load even faster. These are our absolute heartfelt recommendations:

1st WP Rocket

WP Rocket Caching Plugin

WP Rocket is probably the best known and most popular caching plugin. This WordPress plugin is completely in German and offers various functions:

  • It minimizes CSS and Java and delays the execution of JavaScript
  • As it adds missing width and height information for images, it improves the layout and CLS
  • It cleans up databases
  • It generates critical CSS

Want to see the functions for yourself? Then register here now for free hosting from WPspace and contact our support via live chat.

2. perfmatters

WordPress performance plugin perfmatters

This WordPress plugin ensures that CSS and Javascript are not displayed on the entire website. Some plugins have the problem that CSS and Javascript load on the entire website. With Permatters these codes are only switched on locally or specifically for a certain URL.

Further functions are:

  • It deactivates the emoji script
  • It deactivates the embed function
  • It deactivates XML-RPC
  • It removes the jQuery Migrate

For optimal support, you can combine it with other optimization and caching plugins.

3. LiteSpeed Cache

Litespeed WordPress plugin for caching and performance

The WordPress plugin LiteSpeed Cache for WordPress offers you an exclusive cache at server level. It is compatible with popular plugins such as WooCommerce, bbPress or Yoast SEO. It is an all-in-one solution for websites that need to load quickly and easily.

The LiteSpeed Cache offers the following features, among others:

  • Lazy loading of images and iFrames
  • It minifies inline and external CSS/JS
  • It minifies CSS, JavaScript and HTML
  • It supports browser cache
  • HTTP/2 Push for CSS/JS
  • It delays JavaScript and loads CSS asynchronously

What you need:

  • WordPress version: 4.0 or higher
  • Compatible up to 5.9.3

4. smush - Lazy Load Images, Optimize & Compress Images

WordPress plugin Smush

Smush promises to reduce the size of your images without any loss of quality. Since large images in particular have a strong negative impact on the page speed of your website, this image optimization can improve your loading time considerably. Smush also offers many other features, such as lazy loading. Lazy loading means that the images only load once you have scrolled down to them. This prevents you from loading images that you don't need. Many users do not scroll to the bottom of the page, but remain at the top of the page.

This plugin therefore saves loading time and is compatible with almost all browsers.

What you need:

  • WordPress version 4.0 or higher.
  • PHP version required: 5.6 or higher

Alternatively, you can also use a caching plugin such as WP Rocket, as lazy loading is part of the function package here. And you've already learned: fewer WordPress plugins are more!

Security plugins

Security is not just about hacker attacks. Internet security also includes data security. Many internet criminals steal data in order to use it for themselves or sell it. Security plugins therefore not only protect your website from attacks, they also secure data, create backups and warn of potential dangers.

1st Jetpack

WordPress security plugin Jetpack

Jetpack is one of the best-known security WordPress plugins. It offers all-round protection for your WordPress website. Among other things, Jetpack creates Backups, determines downtimes and offers anti-spam functions.

  • With its backup tool, you can quickly back up your data with one click and protect yourself against data loss.
  • If you migrate your site to a host, it migrates all theme files to the new database, creates database backups and clones websites.
  • It scans for malware and checks pages, data and access for malware.
  • It blocks spam comments and spam form responses.

What you need:

  • WordPress version 5.9 or higher
  • PHP version 5.6 or higher

2. iThemes Security

iThemes Security WordPress Plugin

With iThemes Security protects your WordPress site from attacks. With this WordPress plugin, you can choose between the free and paid version. Even in the free version, you benefit from a number of security features.

  • iThemes Security protects against brute force attacks. The login area in particular is a major security vulnerability on websites.
  • It uses the Google reCAPTCHA integration
  • It offers strong password security
  • It checks your WordPress version and updates for malicious files.

What you need:

  • WordPress version 5.8 or higher
  • PHP version 7.0 or higher

3. borlabs cookie

WordPress plugin Borlabs Cookie

Data protection in particular is an important issue when creating a website, which is why you need a data protection-compliant cookie banner like the one from Borlabs Cookie. You can use the WordPress plugin to display this necessary cookie banner on your website. The configuration is not only easy, but also very user-friendly.

  • Opt-in solution: Borlabs Cookie offers a solution for all types of cookies such as Google Analytics, Facebook Pixels and others.
  • Content management: The plugin collects all relevant data in a legally compliant manner
  • Cookie form: Provides you with a form for user consent
  • Two-click solution: It blocks media such as YouTube, Google Maps and similar until the user has given their consent.  
  • Scan: It checks your site for services and integrated external URLs.

4. antispam bee

Security WordPress plugin Antispam Bee

This WordPress plugin blocks comment spam, but does not send any data to third parties.

  • You can only allow comments in a specific language
  • It can validate the IP address of the commentators
  • You can save known spam commentators in a database.
  • Set chip indicators to delete corresponding postings.

What you do for Antispam Bee need:

  • WordPress version 4.5 or higher
  • PHP version: 5.2 or higher

5. security ninja

Security plugin for WordPress WP Security Ninja

The plugin Security Plugin includes over 50 security tests and checks your site for security leaks, potential attacks and suspicious users.

  • It warns you of security vulnerabilities.
  • Checks whether themes need to be updated
  • Offers preventive measures
  • Prevents hacking
  • Offers many tests that find security vulnerabilities:
    • Brute force attacks
    • 0-Day-Exploits-Tests
    • Apache and PHP tests
    • WP option tests
    • Database tests

What you need:

  • WordPress version 4.7 or higher
  • PHP version 5.6 or higher

Conclusion on WordPress plugins

WordPress plugins offer you lots of functions and support. They do the work for you by automatically performing functions in the background that you would have to create or write yourself without them.

Plugins are a great help, but they can also do harm. Too many plugins slow down your site and can represent a security vulnerability. For this reason, you should only use plugins that you really need. Choose your WordPress plugins carefully and only download them from reputable sources. To test the plugins, you can create a staging site and try them out beforehand.

With these tips, WordPress plugins have a lot of potential to improve your website and make your work easier. However, you should not blindly trust WordPress plugins, but keep an eye on all the important features yourself.

Picture of Isabell Bergmann
Isabell Bergmann
As an online marketing manager at WPspace, I love to share my knowledge around online marketing, web design and hosting.

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6 Responses

    1. @Marcus: The plugin can probably be operated in compliance with GDPR if the problematic functions are deactivated. There is definitely no reference to this "risk" or an alternative plugin.

      My personal tip for security-conscious WordPress admins is the NinjaFirewall from Nintechnet.
      The plugin offers a lot of security and few bells and whistles that affect the performance of the website. For me, a must-have in terms of security.

  1. Hello everyone,
    Thank you for this good article! I really like using Wordfence as a security plugin because the scan can also remove malware at the same time, should a slight infection occur. Have you had any experience with it? Or is ithems Security better in your opinion?
    LG Noah

  2. Thanks for the great article!
    Nowadays I can recommend W3 instead of WPRocket for anyone looking for a free alternative.
    Back then, WPRocket was also free, but we switched to a paid model.

    1. Hey Arthur, thanks for your recommendation of W3 Total Cache, which we can definitely recommend to anyone who wants to get started with their website project at a reasonable price. Otherwise, we also recommend asking your host for a free integrated caching plugin. For example, we provide all our customers with Accelerate WP, which is based on WP Rocket, free of charge 🙂

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