WordPress is a flexible, easy-to-set-up web publishing platform that has been downloaded over 60 million times since its 2003 launch. The content management system’s popularity spawned an incredibly rich plugin ecosystem that gives users the ability to improve their site’s SEO (search engine optimisation), handle comments and spam, enhance articles, and much more. In short, there are an amazing number of ways to expand your WordPress installations base functionality.
There are nearly 30,000 available WordPress plugins. The upside? There’s a ton of plugins to choose from. The downside? There’s a ton of plugins to choose from. As with smartphone app stores, the WordPress plugin catalog houses countless goodies mixed in with all too many lemons. Our goal is to guide you to the best of the best. You can, of course, visit WordPress’ Most Popular Plugin Directory to see the most downloaded plugins of the moment, but you’ll miss many great potential additions by not digging deeper. That, however, is a potential time sink, so we’ve decided to do some digging on your behalf.
We’ve tested numerous WordPress plugins — both good and bad — to compile a list of the 30 best WordPress plugins that will help your site perform like a champ. Please note: plugins can only be installed in self-hosted WordPress sites; if WordPress.com is your host, you won’t be able to add plugins.
If you’re self-hosting and you’re ready to enhance your WordPress-powered site, check out these 35 excellent plugins.
All in One SEO Pack
Widely considered a WordPress essential, Michael Torbert’s All in One SEO Pack should be one of the pillars in your search engine optimisation efforts. With it, you can give your page an SEO-friendly title (which shows up at the top of a web browser), homepage description (which appears beneath your URL when people search for it via Google or other engines), and keywords related to your topic. Warning: Be careful with your keyword density. If Google suspects that you’re stuffing keyboards or using black-hat SEO techniques, your search engine placement may be penalised.
Broken Link Checker
By Janis Elsts
Consider this an essential plug-in. Broken Link Checker scans your site and notifies you (either within the WordPress dashboard or via email) if any broken links or missing images are found. Broken Link Checker also lets you replace the broken URL with one that works.
Dagon Design Site Map Generator
By Dagon Design
Dagon Design’s useful plug-in generates a fully customisable sitemap that helps search engine spiders easily rifle through your content. Dagon’s tool manages this through multilevel categories, pages, and permalinks support. The plug-in lets you choose which links to display, their order, comment counts, and post dates. In short, this is everything you need to create a highly searchable WordPress site for both people and search engines.
Google XML Sitemaps for Videos
By Digital Inspiration
Do you want to ensure that Bing, Google, and other search engines recognise and index your videos? Digital Inspiration’s Google XML Sitemaps for Videos plug-in does just that by generating a sitemap for your YouTube clips that have been embedded within blog posts.
By John Godley
Redirection is a plugin that lets you redirect links, track 404 (“page not found”) errors, and fix other link-based issues. The plugin’s super-useful if you’re migrating pages from an old website, or are making changes to your site’s WordPress directory.
SEO Friendly Images
By Vladimir Prelovac
SEO Friendly Images, designed by Vladimir Prelovac, is a WordPress optimisation plugin that updates your uploaded images with proper ALT and TITLE attributes. The ALT attribute is considered an important part of SEO as it provides an image description to search engines, and helps create a match when someone keys in a search query. The TITLE attribute plays a lesser role; the text associated with this attribute appears when a visitor mouses over an image.
SEO Smart Links
By Vladimir Prelovac
Vladimir Prelovac’s other must-have plugin lets WordPress automatically link keywords and phrases in your posts and comments with corresponding posts, pages, categories and tags on your site. After installing the plugin, you simply open its configuration option and enter the keywords you use the most often and the links that you’d like to associate with them. So, for example, if you want to link the word “cat” to “cat.com,” the plugin can do this automatically. SEO Smart Links lets you determine how frequently a single keyword or phrase is linked within a single post so that you don’t end up with link overload.
Comments and Spam
Comment and trackback spam are an unfortunate price of website success. The more traffic you accumulate, the more likely you are to be inundated by fake comments. Automattic’s Akismet checks comments and trackbacks against the Akismet web service to see if they look like spam. If the comments and trackbacks are deemed bogus, they’re automatically shuffled over to your WordPress installation’s spam folder. Clicking Akismet Stats (located in your dashboard) shows a breakdown of your spam, missed spam, ham (Akismet’s term for real comments), and false positives (legit comments and trackbacks mistaken for spam by Akismet that you’ve since flagged as genuine).
Disqus Comment System
The Disqus (pronounced “discuss”) plugin integrates with WordPress’ native comment system to allow more interactive web talk. It features threaded comments and replies, social media mentions, the ability for moderators to approve or reject comments via email, and a load of other useful tools.
No Self Pings
By Michael Adams
WordPress automatically pings itself and adds a comment to a post whenever you link to another article on your site. Some site owners like it, others hate it. If you fall in the second camp, No Self Pings is a WordPress plugin that you should check out as it keeps your comment section free of self-ping updates. No Self Pings hasn’t been updated in two years, but it’s compatible with the latest version of WordPress (3.5.1 at the time this story was written).
Web Ninja Comment Count Fixer
By Josh Fowler
The Disqus comments plugin adds a number of cool features to your WordPress-powered blog, but it sometimes throws off the database’s comment count. The Web Ninja Comment fixes this by displaying the proper number of comments and social media reactions. This plugin can be easily configured to be set up on a timer of 1 hour, 6 hours, 12 hours, or 24 hours so you don’t have to worry about your comment counts ever getting messed up again.
Communication and Interaction
Contact Form 7
By Takayuki Miyoshi
Sometimes a site simply needs a solid contact form. You can add one to your WordPress-powered blog with this useful, customisable plugin. Contact Form 7 supports CAPTCHA and Akismet spam filtering, too, so that you don’t have to deal with bots and other shenanigans that plague the online space.
Custom Post Donations
Looking to collect donations for a good cause or to simply cover your hosting expenses? Custom Post Donations is a plugin that creates a customisable widget that you can insert into a WordPress post or page. The Pro version features international currency support and the ability to set alternate PayPlay account information for each individual widget — very handy if you want a donation widget for each site author.
Social Author Bio
By Nick Powers
Social Author Bio acts a mini online resume. It displays an article’s author bio, the total number of posts, Gravatar photo, and links to social networks such as Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter and more.
By Andy Staines and Steve Klasen
Want to add a forum to your WordPress setup? Simple Press lets you do just that. But don’t think that it’s not full-featured; you can customise the forum with skins, create sub-forums, grant user rankings based on post numbers and more.
WP Greet Box
By Thaya Kareeson
Thaya Kareeson’s plugin is all about welcoming new visitors and building loyalty. It displays a user-defined greeting to fresh readers depending on the referrer URL. For example, when a Digg user clicks through from Digg, they might see a pop-up that asks them to digg your post. For new visitors who don’t come from any matching URLs, you could set a message that suggests that they subscribe to your RSS feed.
By Antonie Potgieter
Thank Me Later
By Brendon Boshell
A little courtesy goes a long way. Thank Me Later automatically sends a customisable “thank you” email to people who have commented on your blog. The plugin lets you set the time when the email is sent, create multiple messages, and tinker with restriction settings.
Add Post Foster
This useful WordPress plugin automatically places an optional custom paragraph block (handy for affixing author bios, related links, or any number of other items) at the end of every post.
By Automatic, Daniel Bachhuber, Mohammad Jangda
Every now and then you’ll have a multi-author article, so why not credit all of the piece’s contributors? This handy plugin lets you assign multiple bylines to posts, pages, and custom post types via a search-as-you-type input box. And keep your writers happy.
Print Friendly and PDF Button
By Joost de Valk, JRF, Print Friendly
The Print Friendly and PDF button creates printer-friendly and PDF versions of your site’s pages and also gives readers the ability to remove images and paragraphs of text so that they can print exactly what they want.
Simple Pull Quote
By Llamaman/The Mighty Mo
Simple Pull Quote is the perfect addition for highlighting text of interest. You simply place text between the auto-generated tags and your blog will display the text on the front-end with enlarged text and quotation marks.
By Tim McCormack, Salvatore Vassallo, Joan Junyent, Alex Oberhauser
This plugin implements the Dublin Core metadata information standard, which outfits your site with vital data as site title, creation date, language author name and more.
By Steve Smith
This plugin redirects your original WordPress feed to your FeedBurner feed so you can track every subscriber who digests your content via RSS readers.
JetPack is an official WordPress.com plugin that gives your self-hosted WordPress blog a truckload of extra features. The plugin serves up visitor stats, social media sharing options, and After The Deadline, a grammar and spell checker.
nRelate Related Content
nRelate is designed to drive eyeballs deeper into your site by displaying related content as either thumbnail, text or both. You can also set it up to display related content from sites in your blogroll if you want to spread the traffic love.
W3 Total Cache
By W3 Edge
Protect your WordPress blog from sudden, huge traffic spikes, and pokey system performance with W3 Total Cache. This plugin works by caching browser, page, and object data, as well as compressing databases. It also speeds load times by delivering fresh blog data only as needed.
WordPress Database Backup
By Austin Matzko
Consider this the ultimate WordPress safety net for when disaster strikes. This sanity-saver backs up all of your files to either your server, desktop, or inbox once you select the frequency (hourly, twice daily, once daily, or weekly). The speed with which your file is restored depends on the amount of content that’s been backed up. You shouldn’t go without Matzko’s excellent plugin.
WPtouch automatically streamlines your WordPress blog for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Android, and other devices. Paying for the WPTouch Premium gives supports iPhone Retina Display and ad monetisation.
By Minh-Quan Tran
The default username for a WordPress administrator is “admin,” which gives potential hackers a head start, should they wish to misbehave. Using this plugin improves your blog’s security by changing the default “admin” administrator’s name to something of your choosing. Now, you can sleep a little easier at night.
Stats and Popular Posts
Ultimate Google Analytics
By Wilfred van der Deijl
WordPress.com Popular Posts
This is one of the few plugins that actually requires the use of another plugin — WordPress.com Stats. But once both are installed, Frasten’s WordPress.com Popular Posts can work its magic by displaying your site’s most popular posts and pages over the course of a user-selected number of days. You can exclude selected posts and pages, show excerpts (when applicable), and select the number of posts to be shown.
Automatic, Daniel Bachhuber, Scott Bressler, Mohammad Jangda
Edit Flow lets you collaborate with your team within WordPress by creating minimum word counts, whipping up editorial calendars, and assigning writers and editors to particular stories.
Viper’s Video Quicktags
If you’re tired of copying and pasting HTML into your site’s backend when you want to embed video, this plugin can simplify the process. After you install Viper007Bond’s plugin, icons representing your favourite online video repositories (YouTube, Vimeo, DailyMotion, and more) appear above the main content area. Clicking one of them lets you enter the video’s URL and dimensions. Clicking “Okay” inserts the video (centered) into the blog. It’s just that easy.
WordPress Editorial Calendar
By Cvernon, Justinstresslimit, Mary Vogt, Zack Grossbart
WordPress is an excellent content management system, but it doesn’t display scheduled posts in an ideal (some would say sensible) manner. WordPress Editorial Calendar fixes that by letting authors and editors view posts in a calendar view. You can drag and drop posts to rearrange their post days, too.
Source: PCMag Australia
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