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Invaluable, Best WordPress Plugins Your Website Must Have

By Jignesh Rathod

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WordPress is world’s most popular, feature-packed and easy to use CMS tool used to create websites and blogs on the Web. And WordPress Plugins extend your WordPress website and help you do anything you wish. Many developers around the world develop plugins for WordPress for various features, and have really made WordPress even more wonderful. Here is a list of some invaluable, best WordPress plugins you must have on your WordPress website. I am personally experienced with using so many plugins and have filtered best of them with great usefulness. Hope this guide will be helpful to you, especially when you are new to WordPress. You do not have to waste your time downloading and installing crappy and useless plugins from here and there, like I already did!

WordPress Logo

Logo of WordPress. Credits: WordPress.org

I have added links from WordPress.org which I feel are more helpful to users to know everything about a plugin easily. Secondly I have also linked to developer’s website to give them credit for their hard work. In case you do not like a plugin or it doesn’t work with your website, I have also mentioned at least one good alternative plugin for each.  If you want to see live demo of these plugins, I hope I do not have to suggest you to browse this website itself.

1. WordPress SEO by Yoast

The most popular SEO solution for WordPress. With good content and this plugin, you can easily create a fully SEO optimized website yourself, without having to hire any SEO professionals. This plugin provides the most complete SEO and it incorporates everything from meta title and description optimization to XML sitemaps and more. You may visit developer’s website for more details.

Alternatives:

You can also use a simple but effective All In One SEO Pack which was popular before Yoast’s.

2. Akismet

Every WordPress site receives hundreds of spam comments and trackbacks everyday. Akismet automatically moves those comments to spam folder and you have to take care of only the real comments. This plugin will save you from headache and save your precious time too. Visit developer’s website for more details.

Alternatives:

Anti Spam Bee is another popular, good and free alternative.

3. Thumbnail For Excerpts

A very useful plugin which will automatically display thumbnails with excerpts of your all posts on your home page/index page. Your readers will start loving your homepage. The plugin will use the post’s image as the thumbnail, so you do not have to do any anything else except just to install and activate this plugin. I recommend this out of many plugins out there.

Alternatives:

The one mentioned above is the best, still Auto Post Thumbnail is another alternative.

4. WordPress Database Backup

Your data is precious and backup is very important! Using this plugin, you can automatically take backup of your WordPress MySQL database. You can either download it to your PC or directly email. You can also schedule automatic backup which will send you the backup file in an email! Visit developer’s website for more details.

Alternatives:

If required, Backup to DropBox helps you backup MySQL database and WordPress files too.

5. Custom Contact Forms

They claim to be better than other extremely popular contact form plugins (like Contact Form 7), and they actually are! I installed almost each of so called “best” contact form plugins one by one and was fed up by all of them- they did not work at all (reportedly due to an email security update on WordPress, so many complains!). Even developers of the most popular Contact Form 7 did not care to solve the problems for many days! Reputed websites were stuck! Neil Patel of QuickSprout had to mention on his contact form: “Please email me, the contact form below doesn’t work.” Can you believe this?
Whatever, Custom Contact Form really worked for me. You can fully customize it and create multiple, different types of contact forms.

Alternatives:

As an alternative try Contact Form 7, if it is working now. (Today it is February 11, 2013 and it is still not working!)

WordPress Fan Art

A beautiful illustration of logo by a WordPress fan published on WordPress official page. Credits: WordPress Fan Art

6. Slick Contact Forms

Use this if you value your readers’ comfort and ease. This plugin provides you sliding or floating “popup” contact forms. Your users will like it because they will be able to send you comments from any page of your website without having to leave the current page. This comfort will surely double the responses you get from your visitors.

Alternatives:

I could not find any alternative even close to this.

7. Advertisement Management

If you are using Google Adsense or any other scripts for advertisement, this plugin provides you easy settings to automatically display advertisement on any place on your site. You can choose from 1) page types like home page or posts, 2) locations like below post title, page content, above header, below footer, below comments and so on.

Alternatives:

Simple Ads Manager is another good, popular alternative.

8. Google Analyticator

Google Analytics is the best way to track website statistics- after all we are working hard to optimize our websites mostly for Google’s search engine itself! This plugin easily, automatically integrates your website to Google Analytics without having to copy the JavaScript on every page.  You only need to authenticate to allow this plugin use your Google Analytics account. Visit developer’s website for more details.

Alternatives:

Google Analytics for WordPress is another similar looking, good alternative. It is from the developers of Yoast’s SEO mentioned previously.

9. WordPress Related Posts

WordPress Related topics

An example of WordPress Related topics at the bottom of one of my posts.

You can effectively increase your readers’ engagement with your posts by adding Related Posts in the footer of your article. It is also great way to make your new new readers familiar with your old, previous posts. This plugin will intelligently select and show any number (you chose) of related posts along with their thumbnails! Visit developer’s website for details.
UPDATE: It is found that “related posts” type plugins use way too much memory (think about extensive database queries on each page), so it is not recommended to use such plugins. Many hosting providers suggest not to use such plugins especially 1) If you do not have your site hosted on a dedicated server (it is hosted on shared hosting) and 2) You have good number of visitors.
Your website may stop working randomly or give errors.

Alternatives:

Try Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.

10. WP-TopBar

Creates a message bar that will be shown at the top of your website. Use this to announce something important, or to attract your user to notice something, like breaking news!  This plugins is fully able to be customized and packed with features, and especially it is completely free of charge. I recommend this instead of very popular and costly Hello Bar. The problem with Hello Bar is that it is too costly (limited free clicks!) for individual bloggers and the code (JavaScript) is dependent fully on their site. With TopBar, everything is in our control, and absolutely free. Visit developer’s website for more details.

11. Digg Digg

Also called Digg Digg sharing bar, it is a simple but most popular and powerful social sharing plugin. It is proven that SEO is much about social now, and every blogger must have social sharing options on the blog. You can easily add a floating share bar to your article using this plugin.

Alternatives:

There are so many alternatives for social sharing and each one with different styles and their own pros and cons.

12. Platinum Popup

Perhaps the best and very flexible popup plugin for WordPress. The limitation with free version is that you can use only one popup per your site. It supports various features such as opt-in forms, embedded videos, fly-in ads, alert bars, tooltips, slide-in ads and so on. If you love this, do not hesitate to purchase a premium version. Visit developer’s website for details.

13. WP Super Cache

This plugin generates static html files of all dynamic pages of your entire WordPress site.  Your webserver will serve those html files instead of processing the comparatively heavier and more expensive PHP files. Imagine the increase of speed in your website. Yes, this will make your website 10 times faster magically. Especially if you are using some heavier theme or contents or you are using too many plugins, this plugin will help you to speedup your website. Nowadays Speed is very important in SEO point of view and user experience too. Visit developer’s site here.

Alternatives:

One powerful alternative is W3 Total Cache. Names closely resemble! Who copied whom?

Conclusion

By the way, let me recommend you one important thing: Do not unnecessarily use too many plugins on your website. This will slow down your site and it can damage your SEO and user experience. Before installing any plugin, ask yourself a key question- “Do I really need this plugin? Will this really add value to my site?” And this should do the trick.

Please note that I keep updating this list as per the changes and entry/exit of best plugins I use.

Last Updated: 2 April, 2013

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Category: Web
  • Fayaz Pasha :    February 12, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    Thanks for the very informative post.

  • Andreas Peter Høgfeldt Andersen :    February 13, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    Many good plugins. I already use a lot of them, but will try some of them on your list. Maybe you will check my list with best wordpress plugins out here: http://webmaster-land.com/best-wordpress-plugins-you-must-have/

    • Jignesh Rathod :    February 13, 2013 at 8:36 pm

      Glad you liked it, Andreas. Sure I will check out your article, seems interesting. Thanks for sharing!

  • Pawan :    February 15, 2013 at 11:59 am

    All plugins mentioned above are must use plugin for all WordPress users. Thanks for Sharing.

  • Kay mo :    February 16, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    Great article, I have used seo by yoast and google analyticator. They are very good.

    • Jignesh Rathod :    February 16, 2013 at 8:25 pm

      Glad to hear, Kay. Thanks for mentioning.

  • Sai Kumar :    April 3, 2013 at 12:02 am

    Hi Jignesh Rathod, Awesome list of plugins bro. I am using most of the plugins which you have listed above. Thanks for Sharing this Great list :)

  • Nizam Khan :    April 5, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    Excellent list of word press plugins. Well, all these listed plugins are indeed very useful and from this list my favorites are WordPress SEO by Yoast and WP super cache. I’m using most of them, but I will give it a try to other plugins too. Thanks for sharing and tweeted :)

    • Jignesh Rathod :    April 5, 2013 at 10:57 pm

      Thanks Nizam, happy I could help. Few people know importance of WP Super cache which amazingly speeds up performance of the website.

  • Reputation Management UK :    April 16, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    Great. All the plugins that you mention are very helpful for me. Keep it up!

  • anil :    April 17, 2013 at 11:06 am

    Best is wp Excellent list of word press plugins. Well, all these listed plugins are indeed very useful and from this list my favorites are WordPress SEO by Yoast and WP super cache. I’m using most of them, but I willgive it a try to other plugins too. Thanks for sharing and tweeted

    • Jignesh Rathod :    April 18, 2013 at 7:34 pm

      Thanks Anil. Both those plugins are favorites of most!

  • Nirmala :    April 18, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Awesome WP plugin collection Jignesh!

    Am having few plugins already and SEO by yoast is awesome.

    Will try to add more useful plugins soon.

    Thanks for writing!

    • Jignesh Rathod :    April 18, 2013 at 7:33 pm

      Hi Nirmala, glad to have you here! Many of mentioned plugins are already famous and Yoast’s SEO is very much popular, and it really deserves that. Thank you for feedback.

  • vishu :    April 19, 2013 at 8:31 am

    It help me alot thanks 2 author

  • Brian Schweitzer :    April 25, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    New plugin for WordPress / BuddyPress titled Toolbar Remixed. This easy to use plugin allows users to take control of their WP Toolbar and is one of the most important plugin releases in 2013. You can control the style and layout of the Toolbar right from the Admin section of WordPress.

    Here is a link to the free version on WordPress – http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/toolbar-remixed-free/

    Here is a link to the Pro version –
    http://siteguru.biz/downloads/toolbar-remixed/

  • Deepa Govind :    April 28, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    That is a very extensive list.
    But, I was looking for a “Download counter” kind of a plugin, wherein, I (site admin) can monitor the no. of times a file has been downloaded.

    Icing on the cake would be, to be able to show off the download figures next to the download link for the readers to see (&get impressed) ..
    :-)

  • SEO firm :    May 29, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    I’m not into using wordpress yet so I’m not fully aware of the plugins you mentioned. Although I had experience in using this platform, never had a chance to manage one. Having informed with plugin installed a website is vitally important. As mentioned, it will affect the performance of a website in search engines and rankings.

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