‎50+ Most Useful WordPress Plugins That I Recommend

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Brilliant WordPress plugins

One of the fastest and easiest ways to improve your WordPress blog is to activate a plugin. Plugins are modules that extend the functionality of WordPress. There are thousands of developers who build plugins that anyone can use to improve the look, feel and functionality of their sites. There’s a plugin for everything. Most are free and can be implemented with little hassle. You don’t need to code or anything like that for most of them – just install, activate and it’s done.

Over the years I have tested and used many of the best WordPress plugins. Installing essential plugins is one of the first things I do after starting a new blog. This article features the list of plugins that I find most useful. It includes some of the most downloaded plugins ever. First of all a quick guide on installing a plugin for the first time.

How to install a WordPress plugin

First thing first. Let’s have a look at how you can install a plugin. WordPress makes it very simply not only to install and test but also to delete a plugin you do not find useful.

Do explore the plugin section of your WordPress admin (just click on Plugins in the left hand sidebar). When you find a plugin that you want to try out, click on the name, “Install” and “Activate”. Most plugins will work out of the box as soon as you activate them. Some will need you to go through the “Settings” section in order to be setup.

Quality signs to look for are plugins with high number of downloads, regular and recent updates and good reviews. In order to keep your WordPress blog as safe and secure as possible it is recommended not to download plugins from other sources other than the official WordPress directory.

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide on installing a WordPress plugin:

  • In “Plugins” in left hand sidebar click on “Add New”.
  • This leads you to an overview of featured plugins. Up in the top navigation you can also select “Popular” (most downloaded plugins), “Recommended” (according to the other plugins you have installed) and “Favorites” (any plugin that you have marked as favorite).
  • Alternatively in the top right you can actually use the search box to search for the name of the plugin you want to install.
  • For each plugin there is a quick overview with plugin name, brief description, number of downloads, the user rating and last updated date. Learn more about a specific plugin by clicking on “More details”. Also make sure that the plugin has the check that it is compatible with your WordPress version.

Plugin overview

  • If you’re happy with a plugin and want to test it, install it by clicking on “Install Now” button.
  • Click on “Ok” in the popup window to finish the install process.
  • When the installation is complete, click on “Activate Plugin”.

Activate the plugin

  • This is it. The new plugin is now activated and live. If you want you can find the settings of the plugin in your navigation and customize it.
  • If you wish to delete a plugin go into the “Plugins” section again and click on “Installed Plugins” for an overview of all plugins you have installed. Click on “Deactivate” in case the plugin is activated. Then click on “Delete” to remove the plugin files. On the next page, click on “Yes, delete these files”. That’s it.

Mo plugins mo problems?

A word of warning before we proceed with the list of most useful WordPress plugins. Adding too many plugins can make your site heavy and slow to load. Make sure you only use plugins that are necessary in order to achieve a better usability and user experience. Do not go overboard. Keep it simple. Keep an eye on the speed and performance. If a plugin is not what you expected or you no longer use it, just click on “Deactivate” and “Delete” the plugin. There’s even a plugin that will help you identify plugins that slow your site down – see it further down in this list. For more ways to speed up your WordPress site take a look here.

Now let’s get started with a list of best WordPress plugins that you should check out:

Akismet

Akismet

The more popular your site is, the more spam comments you will get. This plugin will help you save a lot of time. It checks your comments to see if they look like spam or not. For more advice on spam protection see here.

Comment Redirect

Comment Redirect

Redirect your first time commenters to a page of your choice. Thank them. Ask them to subscribe to you. This can help turn a first-time visitor into a fan. Alternative to this is Thank Me Later that sends a ‘thank you’ email to your commenters.

Subscribe To Comments Reloaded

Subscribe to comments reloaded

Allows commenters to tick a box before commenting and get e-mail notification of further comments. This helps foster a community around your site by encouraging commenters to come back and stay engaged in the conversation.

CommentLuv

Comment Luv

Encourage more comments by rewarding your visitors by automatically placing a link to their last post at the end of their comment. This works especially well if your visitors are running sites themselves.

Disqus

Disqus

You can even switch from WordPress comments system to something else. Disqus arguably allows better subscription opportunities, better login integration with social media, extra moderation options and can even feature related articles and discussions. I use it on my site.

Contact Form 7

Contact Form 7

If you need a contact form on your site, this plugin is simple to setup and works great. A super simplified alternative of this is Super Simple Contact Form.

WP Greet Box

WP Greet Box

Display a different greeting message to your visitor depending on which site they are coming from.

What Would Seth Godin Do

What would Seth Godin do

Allows you to display a specific message to your new, first time visitors only.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics

This plugin makes it easy for you to insert your Google Analytics code and start tracking your visitors. Learn more about Analytics and how data helps your site here.

Jetpack

Jetpack

This plugin offers many features and is created by the Automattic team. One of them is simple and concise stats tool. They also do infinite scroll, contact forms, mobile responsive theme, antispam, social sharing, related posts and many more.

Search Meter

Search Meter

This tracks what your visitors search for in your “search” field. You can know what your visitors are looking for and what they find. Can help you make your design more usable and give you some topic ideas to cover.

W3 Total Cache

W3 Total Cache

It dramatically improves the speed by using cache as well as minify and content delivery network (CDN). It helps your server handle a higher load without crashing, which can help in case you hit front page of Reddit.com and start getting tons of traffic. I use it on my site.

WP-Optimize

WP Optimize

Allows you to clean up and optimize your database to make it run better. You can also remove all your post revisions automatically.

WP Smush.it

WP Smush

This plugin reduces your image files size automatically and makes your site faster and easier to load. EWWW Image Optimizer is an alternative to this.

P3 Profiler

P3

It measures the plugin impact on your page load. Install it to identify plugins that make your site slow to load.

BJ Lazy Load

BJ Lazy Load

For image heavy sites. Only load images that are in the browser’s view (i.e. above the fold) and load the rest only as the visitor scrolls down the page.

BackWPUp

BackWPup

On-demand backup. It can also backup in an automated schedule. It allows you to save the database backup to your computer, in the cloud or get it sent via email.

Broken Link Checker

Broken Link Checker

When you start posting frequently, you will soon have so many posts and pages that it will be hard to manually check them one by one. This plugin automatically checks all your content and informs you of any broken links.

WordPress Importer

Wordpress importer

Imports posts, pages, comments, custom fields, categories, tags and more from a WordPress.com export file into your self-hosted site. See more on this process here.

Redirection

Redirection

Manages 301 redirections and keeps track of 404 errors in a very simple interface without you needing access or experience with .htaccess files.

Members

Members

A user, role, and content management tool that makes WordPress a more powerful CMS. It is especially useful for multi-author sites.

Search and Replace

Search and replace

This one can save you a lot of time. For example if you have moved the domain name and now want to change all the internal links throughout your site. This plugin makes it a one-click process. Alternative to this is Velvet Blues Update URL’s.

Simple Social Icons

Simple social icons

A simple and nice looking font driven social icons widget that allows you to place links to your social media profiles in your sidebar.

Social Sharing By Danny

Social sharing

Sharing buttons done in simple and lightweight way without using any external scripts making them very quick to load. Includes Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Jetpack by WordPress plugin that I mentioned earlier in the post has a good alternative to this with more networks if you need that. Another good alternative is Mashshare which allows you to display total count of all shares Mashable style.

Pinterest Pin It Button For Images

Pinterest pin it

Displays a Pin It button directly over your images and helps you drive traffic from Pinterest. Perfect for sites that feature great imagery (fashion, travel, food blogs).

Social Locker

Social Locker

When used for PDF reports and similar, it can help increase your social media presence by making your visitors tweet, plus one, or Facebook like in order to get access to the content.

WordPress SEO by Yoast

Wordpress SEO

A good SEO solution. It combines what two of the most popular plugins ever used to do: helps you optimize your on-page SEO (META Title, Description and Keywords) and generates a XML sitemap for search engines to easier find and index your content. I use it on my site.

WP-PageNavi

WP Pagenavi

Adds a more advanced paging navigation interface.

Custom Sidebars

Custom sidebars

Create your own custom widgetized areas and sidebars. Allows you to pick on which pages a certain sidebar should show.

WordPress Notification Bar

Notification bar

A quick and easy notification bar and call to action for the top of your site.

Fancier Author Box

Fancier author box

Give more identity to your single or multi-author website with nice looking author box at the end of posts.

Q2W3 Fixed Widget

q2w3

Allows you to put in a sticky widget in your sidebar so it scrolls through with the visitor and you never have any empty space in your sidebar. I use it on my site.

NextGEN Gallery

Nextgen

A full integrated image gallery with dozens of options and features.

Infinite-Scroll

Infinite scroll

Instead of splitting your pages with pagination you can allow your visitors to keep scrolling continuously while your site loads more and more of your articles. You see this in action in your Facebook newsfeed, in Twitter feed and in Google image search results. Updated version of this plugin is available through Jetpack that I mentioned above.

WP-Note

WP Note

Lets you insert notes in your article to make parts of your text stand out more.

Table of Contents Plus

Contents plus

Automatically creates table of contents for your long form posts and allows you to display it in a nice and user friendly way.

Max Mega Menu

Max mega

Boost your navigation menu with this mega menu and flyout menu. It’s responsive, retina and touch ready.

Fluid Video Embeds

Fluid video

If you are a video blogger and work a lot with video embeds this plugin is a big time saver. It auto resizes your videos to full-width and keeps the original aspect ratio.

Easy Google Fonts

Google fonts

Most premium themes allow you to change fonts but if you don’t run a premium theme this plugin makes it easy for you to use a different font (more than 600 available) to spice up your site.

Swiftype Search

Swiftype

This replaces the default search form. It is very much like Facebook or Google search. Upon starting to type a search query your visitor will get a drop down of different options and results. Comes with detailed analytics and controls. Alternative is Ajax Live Search.

Yet Another Related Posts Plugin

YARPP

Displays a list of related posts at the end of your articles. Allows customization of the display – you can show thumbnails for example.

upPrev

UpPrev

This is a New York Times-style alternative to related posts from above. It displays a flyout in the bottom right corner of the screen with a related post.

Podcasting Plugin

Podcasting

Enhances the default WordPress podcast support by introducing iTunes compatible feeds.

Google Language Translator

Google translate

Allow translations with a single click between 58 languages on your site.

WP e-Commerce

WP Ecommerce

Use WordPress to create your own online store.

ZipList Recipe Plugin

Zip list

If you run a blog with food recipes this plugin adds all the necessary microdata to your recipes, so they will show up in Google’s Recipe Search.

Scroll Triggered Box

Scroll box

If you’re trying to convert more of your visitors it is worth testing pop-up boxes. This plugin offers a beautiful and simple solution.

PayPal Donations

Paypal donations

Some bloggers monetize their sites by accepting reader donations. This plugin helps you do just that. Add PayPal buttons in your content or in the sidebar.

Visualizer

Visualizer

Make your posts more shareable and social media friendly by creating and adding a variety of interactive charts with this plugin.

Leaflet Maps Marker

Map marker

Need to show maps in your posts? This is a simple and great looking solution that works with Google Maps.

WP Missed Schedule Fix

Missed schedule

If you are scheduling your posts you might experience the Missed Schedule error. This plugin fixes that issue.

SOUP – Show off Upcoming Posts

SOUP

This plugin displays your upcoming scheduled posts in a sidebar widget.

Hope you found this list useful!

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