Best WordPress PluginsEssential Plugins You Need to Install Right Now To Get Most Out of Your WordPress Site
Last Updated on April 18, 2017
This is the list of the best WordPress plugins available out there. Check out this list of most popular WordPress plugins to improve your blogging experience and to get most out of your WordPress site.
Currently, there is about 50.000 different plugins in WordPress directory you can choose from when it comes to expanding the functionality of your WordPress site. Even though you don’t need each of them, there are few plugins you should definitely not miss.
In this article I’ll describe you the plugins that are worth mentioning at most and offer the best value.
All of these are either Free or Freemium plugins. A freemium plugin is a free plugin with an upgrading option to the premium version for advanced features.
List of Best WordPress Plugins
All of the plugins described below are the most essential features you should add to your WordPress. Anytime I install new WordPress site, the first thing I always do is add these plugins to it. And I recommend you the same. In my opinion these plugins are really a must have for every WordPress site out there. Let’s see what those plugins are.
1. Akismet (Freemium)
Akismet is a comment spam filtering service helping you to protect your blog from spammers. The filter works by combining information about spam captured on all participating sites, and then using those spam rules to block future spam.
Blog Spam and/or comment spam is becoming a big problem on the internet. The more popular your blog becomes, the more spam it is likely to get. And there is nothing more frustrating than going through hundreds of spam comments and getting rid of them one by one. Luckily for us, this plugin will automatically handle all this dirty work by itself.
Akismet is an official plugin by WordPress parent company – Automattic. That’s why it is one of the plugins that is installed in your WordPress by default. The only thing you need to do is to activate it. The activation process is very easy. Just activate the plugin in your Plugin Manager, follow the steps and you’ll be good to go.
2. iThemes Security (Freemium)
iThemes Security is one of the most popular and highly rated security plugins giving you over 30+ ways to secure and protect your WordPress site. Installing of security plugin is necessary. If you don’t have any security plugin implemented, you are putting yourself at risk.
On average, 30,000 new websites are hacked each day. All websites can be an easy target for attacks because of weak passwords, obsolete software and others.
WordPress is a pretty secure CMS right out of the box. It gets frequent updates to fix any bugs and plug any security holes that arise. But because it’s so popular blogging platform, it’s also one of the most targeted system by many hackers.
To keep your site secure from the hackers and other potential abusers, you will need a strong security plugin. Among all the security plugins for WordPress, iThemes Security is the most popular choice.
Here at the plugin’s dashboard page you can eliminate all of the most widespread security threats.
The plugin is easy to use so don’t worry if you barely know anything about WordPress security. With a few simple clicks, you’ll be able to significantly improve your site’s security in no time. In case you’d still need a bit more help, check out the following Getting Started With iThemes Security tutorial provided directly by iThemes team.
Link: iThemes Security
3. Yoast SEO (Freemium)
Yoast SEO (formerly known as WordPress SEO by Yoast) is one of the most ultimate WordPress SEO plugins out there. It helps you optimizing your pages content, images titles, meta descriptions and many others.
If you have never heard about SEO, let me explain it briefly first. SEO stands for Search Optimization Engine. It is a marketing discipline focused on growing visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results. In other words, it’s the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s results. The better rank (position) in search results you have, the more people will be able to find your blog. And that’s when this plugin comes really handful.
Yoast SEO plugin basically helps you to optimize your content in order to improve your rankings in search engine’s results.
Its awesome real-time analysis functionality measures the most important aspects of your website’s content as you create it. The readability analysis helps you to make your text easy to read, while the SEO analysis checks whether your text is in accordance with general SEO principles. And the Google snippet preview lets you see how all of the meta information would look like in Google search results.
4. WP Super Cache (Free)
WP Super Cache is one of the best caching plugins you can install. Generally, caching plugin helps your site to load faster.
You may be asking yourself what the caching means and how does it work. To put it simply, caching is the concept of intelligently storing commonly-used data in temporary storage location so that requesting that data will happen as fast as possible. So when users request the same information from your blog over and over again, the data will temporarily be stored in location called cache and the requested information will be retrieved much faster. It also helps reducing the bandwidth usage and overall server load.
Why does it matters? Well, site speed is one of the most important aspects of your website. Not only to users, but also to search engines such as Google. If a site is too slow, users will refuse reading and visiting it. Using the cache feature is one of the ways how you can make your site faster. It is a fundamental factor in determining a site’s overall performance.
Link: WP Super Cache
5. Autoptimize (Free)
Autoptimize is a WordPress plugin for improving your website performance. It is a great complement for the WP Super Cache plugin described above as it offers some extra functionality that’s originally missing in the WP Super Cache.
6. Broken Link Checker (Free)
Broken Link Checker automatically scans your whole site on predefined schedule and provides a broken links report.
A broken link or dead link is a link on a web page that no longer works. These can be very harmful to your site. First, they make for a bad user experience and second, they devalue your site in the means of SEO. That means it can negatively impact your site’s rankings in search engines results. To avoid these potential pitfalls, you should periodically check for broken links on your entire website.
That’s when this plugin comes in handy. It scans your site for dead links and in the case of invalid link’s occurrence it sends you an email notification.
Link: Broken Link Checker
7. TinyPNG (Freemium)
TinyPNG is a piece of software that automatically compress and optimizes images you upload to your Media Library.
Image compression can be defined as a process of minimizing the size in bytes of a graphics file without degrading the quality of the image to an unacceptable level. This means that the image compression leads to storage savings. But more importantly, it also helps to increase the overall performance of your website as it reduces the time required for your images to be sent over the Internet or downloaded from Web pages.
The plugins listed above should definitely be added to every WordPress installation. For me personally are those seven plugins really a must for every site. But there are more plugins you may want to add to your website. Even though they are not as critical as the essential plugins, they still provide high value to a website under certain circumstances.
8. TablePress (Freemium)
TablePress is a stunning feature allowing you to easily create and manage tables.
People usually want to add some tables to their posts. But by default, it’s nearly impossible to add a table to the post in WordPress without knowing how to write a web code. That’s when TablePress comes in. TablePress is very easy to use and the interface is user friendly. If you already know how to use Excel or Google Sheets, you already know how to use this plugin. Just create the table by specifying number of rows and columns, fill in the data and that’s it. And if you want change the table’s structure later, that’s not a problem.
Moreover, TablePress also lets you import data from multiple file formats such as Excel and CSV.
9. Duplicator (Freemium)
Duplicator gives you an ability to backup your entire site. It also enables you to move and transfer your blog from one location to another.
Even though you may not need the function of moving your site to other location, you still can use this plugin to manually backup your site.
You should regularly create backups to minimize the risks that can arise in the future. In case your site gets hacked or stops working from some strange reason, you will be so happy you have your site backed up. Basically this plugin zips your entire site into one file. Should face any troubles later on, you can just unzip the file on your host and restore your site.
10. Social Media and Share Icons (Free)
Social Media plugin adds sharing buttons to your blog so your visitors are able to share your content to social media just by hitting the Share button. You can add share icons for platforms like Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest and others. Another great thing is that the plugin comes with tons of customization features so you can give it the look you want.
Social sharing is a vital part of online community building. It is a common knowledge that social media is the great place for self marketing. If you want to extend your blog/brand awareness, this plugin is a must.
11. TinyMCE Advanced (Free)
The WordPress WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor is powered by TinyMCE, an Open Source application that integrates with the WordPress. While the default editor itself offers many great functions already, you may want to add even more advanced formatting options to the editor.
TinyMCE Advanced is a free plugin which makes the WordPress post and page editor even more powerful. Just by adding this plugin to your site, you can start formatting your content in a new way. For example you can change font family, font sizes, insert emoticons, create and edit tables, use letters instead of numbers for lists and others.
Link: TinyMCE Advanced
12. Contact Form 7 (Free)
Contact Form 7 is one of the leading free contact form plugins for WordPress.
With this plugin, you are able to create reliable and highly configurable contact forms giving your users the ability to contact you without publicly presenting your email address. Instead, you just provide them the contact form.
Working with a plugin is moderately easy. It may be not that easy to use for beginners, but in the end – it’s free. Just give it a go and you’ll see if it suits your needs. Should you be looking for more advanced and/or more user-friendly contact form plugin, I recommend you trying out one of the following alternatives – WPForms Lite or Ninja Forms.
Link: Contact Form 7
13. Foo Gallery (Freemium)
Foo Gallery is one of the most popular image gallery plugins in the WordPress.org directory. It’s the most solid, extensible and user-friendly gallery plugin ever made.
FooGallery supports five distinct gallery templates out-the-box, with more available by installing extensions. And if you need extra functionality, just install the desired add-ons. As the plugin itself is lightweight thanks to the modular approach, it won’t slow your down site either.
Many people tend to use NextGen Gallery plugin because it’s the most downloaded gallery plugin of all time, however, that doesn’t make it the best. Despite the high volume of downloads, feedback for the plugin remains mixed as you can see on the plugin’s page. Many users find it too much complicated. On the other hand, Foo Gallery is just simple, sophisticated, intuitive and easy-to-use.
Link: Foo Gallery
14. Insert Headers and Footers (Free)
While some themes have a built-in option for adding custom code and scripts to WordPress header or footer, there still exist themes that lack such functionality. That’s when the plugin Insert Headers and Footers becomes really useful.
Once you install and activate the plugin, you may insert any kind of code to your header and footer via WordPress dashboard. The code will then appear on every single page of your website. This is especially helpful when you want to use Google Analytics or import Google Fonts to your site for example.
15. WP PageNavi (Free)
Pagination is a common feature to a lot of WordPress blogs. As it’s one of the most important blogging features, WordPress team has implemented the ability to split lists of posts or a single post into multiple pages for “paged” navigation automatically. However, the default pagination doesn’t look that good. It looks like this: ← Older Entries | Next Entries →.
If you want more complex navigation, then all you have to do is to install the WP-PageNavi plugin. It transforms the standard “Older Entries” and “Next Entries” text links with a more intuitive interface.
16. Google XML Sitemaps (Free)
This plugin generates a special XML sitemap which will help search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask.com to better index your website. Furthermore, it notifies the search engines every time you create a new post or when you update some of your content.
Sitemaps are nothing but XML documents, that contains the URLs of a site in a formatted manner. It can be considered as a single page presenting the full structure of your website.
If you use any kind of the all-in-one SEO plugins such as Yoast SEO, please bear in mind those plugins have the same functionality already implemented within them. That’s why this plugin is useful only in the case when you don’t use any kind of ultimate SEO plugins. While majority of people usually use one of the ultimate SEO plugins, I still place the Google XML Sitemaps plugin in the list of best WordPress plugins as one can always find it useful under certain circumstances.
Link: Google XML Sitemaps
Best WordPress Plugins Summary
You have read the article where I’ve described the best WordPress plugins out there. I’ve showed you what are their benefits and why you should consider using them on your own site.
I recommend these plugins to all people I get in touch with as they are really must have. The listed plugins provide the essential functionality every blog should implement. I personally use all of them to get maximum out of my website.
Should you have any feedback to the plugins listed here or feel like I have forget some, please let me know in the comment.