5 of the Best Overlooked and Underrated Wordpress Plugins for 2020

Visitor Analytics
Dec 27, 2019 · 8 min read

“When you’re only №2, you try harder”. This was the slogan for Avis rent-a-car services back in the 1960s. This slogan still works today, regardless of the type of business you’re talking about. When it comes to choosing the best Wordpress plugins for your website, you should look beyond the first couple of results on the list. Regardless of the type of tool you are looking for, you may find value in less-known, often overlooked plugins. If you are an entrepreneur who has recently launched a new website using Wordpress and you’re looking for plugin guidance, you may find this article useful.

As 2020 is fast approaching, the popularity of Wordpress, both for inexperienced and for highly tech-savvy website owners and entrepreneurs, is not fading. Wordpress communities are growing in numbers and the Wordpress market share is reaching new heights. Some estimates say that over 70 million active websites are using Wordpress right now. Other sources claim that it may be even more.

A growing community has led to increased peer-to-peer support, new solutions developed by users and a variety of options for those who want to develop a website based on this CMS. This variety also includes a fast-growing number of plugins available on the platform. Exactly how many plugins are there on Wordpress at the end of 2019? Over 54,000, with the target of 55,000 not too far out of reach already. In a competitive environment such as this one, good, reliable plugins can be overlooked, neglected, lost in the background noise.

But there is value to be found in not being the best (or the most popular) in the game, because you are always striving to get to first place. In the process, you absolutely cannot afford not to offer the best of services. This is why we made a list of often-overlooked plugins on Wordpress, but that may well do the job web owners want them to do. For this list, we focused on plugins that have a lot less active installations than the №1 in their categories. But before we get to the list, let us give some general advice on installing plugins on Wordpress.

Why you shouldn’t use too many WP plugins

There is plenty to choose from and it is impossible to be familiar with all of these tools at the same time. Choices have to be made and, many times, these choices are not easy. The first important advice for choosing Wordpress plugins for your website is to limit the number of plugins you install and use. There is no ideal number and it all depends on what your website is meant for. For example, a WP site using WooCommerce to sell products may need more plugins than a simple presentation website. Some websites use 20–30 plugins, while others may have more. Whatever the purpose of the website, you should try to keep only the plugins you really need. There are a number of reasons for doing this:

  1. Adding too many plugins may slow down your website — all of these plugins come with their own code that is many times automatically added to the <head> section of your website. Also, many plugins will reference external Javascript files in this code. So does the WP theme you installed. When your website pages are being loaded, before most of the actual content can be seen by your visitors, the browser will try to download the external resources that these plugins are connected to. If there are too many such resources, it will take more time before the actual content loads, lowering user satisfaction and hurting your SEO. Advanced Wordpress users can try to limit these effects by using asynchronous Javascript, but we wouldn’t recommend it unless you are confident that you know what you are doing, as it may lead to functionality issues.
  2. Adding too many plugins may lead to conflicts — sometimes the actions of certain plugins may overlap, causing your website to “break”. These conflicts may appear between two or more plugins, or between some plugins and the Wordpress theme you have installed. To limit the odds of this happening, you should make sure not to install more than one plugin for the same type of action on your website. For example, one SEO plugin is enough, as is one for improving web speed and one for website security.
  3. Adding too many plugins may lead to more vulnerabilities — hackers often use old plugins on a website to look for security vulnerabilities and inject their malware into websites. One of the measures necessary in order to avoid this is to make sure you keep your plugins up-to-date by always upgrading to the latest versions. The more plugins you have installed, the more this can become an issue for your activity.

Without further ado, if we had to stick to 5 Wordpress plugins for 2020, they would be these ones, listed in no particular order. We decided to look beyond the most popular plugins and find value further down the list. These plugins are not the top choice in their category right now, but we think they deserve to be considered when making a choice.

Best overlooked Wordpress plugins, by category

Best overlooked SEO plugin: Squirrly SEO

Squirrly has a simple initial setup on any Wordpress website

It is unbelievable that a plugin that offers so much has only 20.000+ active installations. Squirrly SEO is far less popular than Yoast SEO. The Yoast plugin is fantastic, but it can feel like it is overwhelming sometimes. All the options for on-page SEO friendly text seem like overkill and the average user may get the feeling that he/she has simply too much to do.

On the other hand, Squirrly is easy to use and it guides you through the entire process of doing SEO quite efficiently. The first time you run the plugin, it will take you through several steps that will set up SEO on your Wordpress website.

It has options for keyword research, a live assistant that gives you pointers as you are writing the texts, a bulk SEO section where you can edit settings for all pages and posts at once, a focus pages section that promises to bring your selected pages to the first page of Google, an SEO audit section and a rankings section. There are so many SEO tools out there, but not many are as focused on results as Squirrly.

Furthermore, they are constantly trying to educate their users, sending useful newsletters and offering a program called 14 days journey to better rankings. There is not much more you could ask from an SEO Wordpress plugin.

Best overlooked security plugin: All In One WP Security & Firewall

The All in One WP Security strength meter

Maybe this plugin cannot count as overlooked. It has over 800,000 installs, but it is still far from the №1 position, held by Wordfence. Wordfence is great, but so is the All In One WP Security pack. Easy to use, it guides even the less experienced by using a security strength meter.

Safety should come first. One of the first plugins you need is one that improves your security straight away. You would not want hackers interfering with your activity. Make sure you at least take the measures to get to green on the security meter. You need one click to enable a firewall. After that, you should look into brute force prevention measures, as they are some of the most common security issues. We love the captcha option on the login page which asks you basic math questions to prove that you are human. You can also move your login page to a secure URL, block spam, set up database and file system security, etc. It also has some very good support, very quick to answer and to provide solutions to all potential problems.

Best overlooked data analytics plugin: Visitor Analytics

Visitor Analytics dashboard

If your website goes live and public quickly, another basic thing you need is to immediately have an insight into how your visitors are interacting with it. Most people turn to Google Analytics for this service, but this often involves having an expert help you manage the data and understand it. There are even jobs designed specifically for this. Not everyone can be an expert and not everyone can afford to pay one.

This is where the Visitor Analytics plugin comes in, with a nice, easy to follow design. You get the most important metrics at a glance, with green and red backgrounds to show you which stats are improving and which are going down.

Another plus is the fact that this solution offers peace of mind in terms of privacy and GDPR, as the data is not forwarded to any third party service. With other tools, this aspect is tricky, as web owners may get heavy fines for not specifically asking for consent for a third party to use the personal data of the visitors.

One other thing is that the Visitor Analytics plugin allows you to follow the exact path of any given visitor on the website. Right before Christmas, they added visitor session recordings to their plugin, which enables you to actually watch videos of your users’ interactions with the website. And, according to their website, there is more useful functionality in the pipeline, like heatmaps and form analytics. No doubt, this plugin is much more than a basic traffic stats counter you should keep an eye on. While on Wordpress it hasn’t made an impact and only has less than 100 installs, it is very popular on Wix, where almost 2,000,000 users have installed it.

Best overlooked form builder: FormCraft

A customizable form in FormCraft

There are tons of other options that show up before this one in the plugin search, with Contact Form 7 and WPForms being by far the most popular. FormCraft offers drag and drop, responsive forms with custom design. You can choose from a wide array of field types. Very easy to use and integrate using shortcodes, it also offers nice stats about the form submissions, which will easily allow you to manage them. It currently has only about 7,000 installs on Wordpress.

Best overlooked page builder: Nimble Page Builder

Nimble Page Builder integrated into the Wordpress Customizer

This is a fairly new plugin trying to compete with the big players like Elementor or SiteOrigin. The problem we have with Elementor is that it gets quite heavy on resources in the dashboard. Pages created with Elementor take too long to edit and save, although they work fine in the front-end. SiteOrigin, on the other hand, has its limits in terms of layout options and design.

Contrary to this, Nimble is fast and easy to use and integrates nicely with the Wordpress customizer, which also gives you real-time previews of the changes. It has many modules, which allow you to customize your layout and the results can be truly amazing even for less skilled website owners. Currently, it is being used by only 40,000 Wordpress websites.

Have we overlooked some valuable less known plugins as well? If you have suggestions, please reply in the comments section below.

Visitor Analytics

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Visitor Analytics aims to offer an all-in-one solution for any website in order to grow their business: website statistics, UX & behavior (heatmaps, recordings)

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