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!
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.
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.
You can also use a simple but effective All In One SEO Pack which was popular before Yoast’s.
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.
Anti Spam Bee is another popular, good and free alternative.
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.
The one mentioned above is the best, still Auto Post Thumbnail is another alternative.
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.
If required, Backup to DropBox helps you backup MySQL database and WordPress files too.
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.
As an alternative try Contact Form 7, if it is working now. (Today it is February 11, 2013 and it is still not working!)
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.
I could not find any alternative even close to this.
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.
Simple Ads Manager is another good, popular alternative.
Google Analytics for WordPress is another similar looking, good alternative. It is from the developers of Yoast’s SEO mentioned previously.
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.
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.
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.
One powerful alternative is W3 Total Cache. Names closely resemble! Who copied whom?
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