Plugins we all love them and some REALLY love them, either way, they make the life of a website owner-run just a little easier (most of the time).
Although 75% of the time the problems you’re having are probably caused by a plugin conflict, that’s a whole other post. Today is a go-to list of essential and some not-so-essential plugins to give you and your users a good experience.
I’ve divided them up into three sections FOUNDATIONAL, FUNCTIONALITY, & FLASH and then I broke them down into even smaller categories such as BACKUP PLUGINS or SHARING PLUGINS, etc.
Most of the plugins on this list are free, but there are some Premium plugins thrown in just to keep it interesting. In those cases, I will denote that with $$$ after its name.
I’m going to give you my own personal top 5 and in some cases a link to where you can find even more.
So here it goes!
FOUNDATIONAL PLUGINS – By this, I mean plugins that you absolutely have to have to maintain a safe and pleasant experience for both you and your users. These are plugins that you should never do without and the first ones you should install.
The most important is the BACKUP PLUGINS since NOTHING should be done without first performing a backup of your website. NOTHING, NOTHING, NOTHING!
Updraft Plus – This is one I’ve used for years on both my personal and my clients’ websites and I’ve always liked it. It’s fairly easy to set up and it has a plethora of options for where that backup should go.
Backup & Restore w/ Dropbox – This is also a new favorite of mine and I use it whenever Updraft isn’t compatible with the theme I’m working on. I save all of my backups to Dropbox anyway so why not cut out the middleman.
Backup Buddy – $$$ – This is a popular premium plugin, but I’ve never used it and when searching for information I found that for one single site it runs a whopping $ 80.00. I’m not sure what else it does, but for that, I hope it’s A LOT!
Backup WordPress – This is a simple plain jane backup service. It has limited options for deciding where to store the backup, but it’s lightweight and works really well. Some of my clients prefer that I download backups straight to my computer and this one is excellent for that.
BackWPup – This is another great choice in my opinion. It’s light, easy to use and gives you exactly what you need.
WordFence – I’ve only recently become a WordFence convert and that was because I found myself on their email list and started receiving a newsletter in my inbox about once or twice a week. The thing is I found that is ACTUALLY reading them. I have found so much valuable information that I switched over after being a long time Sucuri Security User. They know their shiz!
Sucuri Security Plugin – Is still one I use quite a bit and I can say I’ve never been hacked, but with the recent removal of the malware scanner on the plugin it’s just inconvenient to go to the remote server scanner. There may have been excellent reasons for this, but I prefer my scan inside my own site.
All-N-One WP Security & Firewall – I’ve only seen this one in action once or twice, but I’ve heard good things about it. With over 500,000 active installs it seems to be doing the job!
iThemes Security (formerly known as Better WP Security) – This is one that I have seen a few times and haven’t heard any complaints. It’s also on quite a few Top (enter whatever number you’d like) Security Plugins blog posts.
WordPress Security by Clean Talk – This is a “Clean” (get it?) plugin that is really light weight. The only downside I can see is that it is so light it doesn’t even include a firewall. You have to also download WordPress Security Firewall as well. What I love about it is that it will tell you where your biggest vulnerabilities are.
WP Optimizer – This plugin is by far the most popular of the Cleaning & Optimizing Databases arena with over 600,000 active installs. It does exactly what it says. It cleans the database to make it run better. It was unclear if it actually deleted revisions.
Optimize Database After Deleting Revisions – This is the one I use and I love it. Those revisions pile up and the amount of room just one run of this plugin saves is astounding. I run it every month.
Advanced Database Cleaner – This is another all in one cleaner. It has a good reputation with 20,000 active installs. Not every cleanup plugin deletes revisions this one does.
WP Cleanup – This is an all in one that deletes A LOT, although I’m sure that you have options I saw where it could delete “moderated comments” & “Spam”. I understand the spam but why would you delete moderated comments? One of life’s great mysteries I guess.
Optimize Database & Clean Up – Another all in one. It had 7,000 active installs.
Seo by Yoast – With 3 Million active installs not only is this the most downloaded SEO plugins, it is one of the most ALL TIME HIGH downloaded plugin in WordPress history. They are the “SEO Whisper”. I have never run across a theme that it is not compatible with plus they offer a TON of free resources and they have a setup wizard that walks you step by step through the whole process.
All-N-One SEO Pack – This one is right up there with the big boys and its name says it all. This is the original SEO plugin and has been around since 2007.
Optin Forms – This is another popular choice. It’s billed to create “stunning” opt-in forms. It sounds like it would be worth a try and with 20,000 active installs and an almost 5-star rating, it’s a good option. Here’s a terrific piece on opt-ins from Authority Hacker called “Opt-In Popups The Good, The Bad & The Ugly“.
SEO Squirrely – Billed as the SEO plugin for the NON-SEO expert. It has 30,000 active installs and a five-star rating.
The SEO Framework – It has a 5-star rating with 20,000 installs. Another good choice.
Google Analytics by MonsterInsight – With a 4-star rating and also over a million + downloads this is a very popular plugin. Easily setup Google Analytics on your site without touching any code. If you can point-and-click, then you can use MonsterInsights.
Google Analytics Dashboard for WP – This plugin has a 4 ½ star rating with a million + downloads. A set of general Google Analytics stats, in-depth Page reports, and in-depth Post reports allow further segmentation of your analytics data, providing performance details for each post or page from your website.
Google Analytics for WP – This plugin has only 7,000 + installs, but a perfect 5-star rating. This plugin is open source.
Google Analytics Plugin By Analytify – With over 10,000 downloads and a five-star rating this plugin is growing by leaps and bounds. Google says, “This plugin is extremely powerful because it takes the complex nature and navigation of the Google Analytics dashboard.interface and makes it simple as simple can be. Having what this plugin provides, understandable breakdowns of your site’s traffic is powerful.”
WP Statistics – With over 400,000 active installs and a 4 ½ star rating this is another good choice. It’s a simple plugin that provides its own analytics instead of GA.
JetPack – Is the Big Daddy of stats and about another hundred other things. It covers so many different things it should be in a category by itself. Traffic is the lifeblood of any website. Jetpack includes:
Akismet spam control
Site stats and analytics
Automatic sharing on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Reddit, and WhatsApp
Brute force attack protection
Downtime and uptime monitoring
Secure logins and two-factor authentication
A high-speed CDN for your images
Carousels, slideshows, and tiled galleries
Simple embeds from YouTube, Google Documents, Spotify and more
Sidebar customization including Facebook, Twitter, and RSS feeds
Extra sidebar widgets including blog stats, calendar, and author widgets
Comment login with Facebook, Twitter, and Google
Fully-customizable contact forms
Infinite scroll for your posts
Sumome = Is probably one of the most popular opt-in plugins. It offers several options for signup forms, but they are very basic unless you go with the paid version and then they have all kinds of neat tools to work with. Including welcome mats, analytics and more.
MailChimp For WordPress – (Requires an account with MailChimp, but for followers under 2,000 it’s free). This lets you create an opt-in to capture an email address, You then set up a campaign in MailChimp with your RSS feed.
PopUp by Optin Monster – This is one of the most if not THE most popular opt-in plugin. You can create lead generation forms or just have people just sign up for your newsletter.
Caldera Forms – More than just an opt-in form. You can have your cake and eat it too with this one. You can also create contact forms, user registration forms, and more. It has 80,000 active installs.
Popups WordPress Popup – This is a basic pop form that can be styled and triggered at different times.
Shareaholic – Is another great one. You can design them to easily go with any design. They are also options where you want to place them.
Add To Any Share Buttons – This plugin offers both social follow and social sharing buttons. It’s very popular with 400,000 active installs.
Social Media Share Buttons & Social Media – This is the most diverse social media sharing plugin. It has lots of options and if you don’t what they have you are free to upload your own custom buttons.
Share Buttons by AddThis – A basic social sharing plugin. Register your account to unlock even more options.
Social Warfare – This plugin has over 30,000 active installs and a 4 ½ star rating. This is a very popular plugin. It’s billed as both lightning fast and beautifully laid out.
Contact Form 7 – It has over 5 million + active installs and a satisfactory rating of 4 ½ stars. It is obviously one of the most popular ones. It’s also open source.
Fast Secure Contact Form – This plugin has over 400,000 active installs and a five-star satisfaction rating. The contact form will let the user send emails to a site’s admin, and also send a meeting request to talk over phone or video.
Ninja Forms – This plugin has over 900,000 active installs and a 4 ½ star rating. Along with Contact Form 7 is one of the top rated and most downloaded.
Form Maker by WD – This plugin has a 4 ½ star satisfaction rating and over 90,000 active installs. Form Maker is a FREE and user-friendly plugin to create highly customizable and responsive forms in a few minutes with simple drag and drop interface.
Form – Contact Forms – Form Builder – WP Contact Form Plugin – This plugin has over 30,000 active installs and a 4 ½ star rating. Contact Bank is an ultimate WordPress plugin loaded with 200 + features and designed to create simple but powerful contact forms easily and hassle free within a few seconds
Social Follow Plugins
Social Media Follow Bar – The Social Media Follow Buttons Bar – is a bar with a set of icons of the popular social media which are linked directly to your profile on this social networks. I.e. clicking the Facebook icon will take the user to your Facebook page, clicking the Twitter icon will take them to your Twitter page. It has over 10,000 active installs and a 5-star satisfaction rating.
Social Media Feather| Social Media Sharing – WordPress Social Media Feather is a lightweight free social media WordPress plugin that allows you to quickly and painlessly add social sharing and following features to all your posts, pages, and custom post types. This plugin has over 100.000 thousand active installs with a 4 ½ star rating.
Feed Them Social – This plugin has over 50,000 active installs and a 4 ½ star rating. They have a lot of great features: It has an impressive list of features some are premium.
Simple Social Icons – This plugin has over 200,000 active installs and they have earned a 4 ½ star rating. This is what I use. It’s very light weight and there are lots of customization.
Simple Social Button – This plugin has 50,000 active installs with a 4-star rating. Simple Social Buttons adds to your posts social network buttons, such as Facebook “Like it!”, Google plus on “+1”, Twitter share and Pinterest Pin it. The plugin is fully customizable. You can decide where to put those buttons:
By default, every fresh WordPress install uses the native WordPress commenting system. This is the system you’re probably most familiar with.
Facebook Comments – Facebook comments plugin is a great tool that will allow you to show your visitors Facebook comments on your website. At the same time, this plugin is very useful for improving your website traffic from Facebook. It has 30.000 active installs and a 4 ½ star rating.
CommentLuv – This one is pretty popular comment plugin but I surprised to see it only had 20,000 + active installs and a 4 ½ star rating.
JetPack – Comments (See JetPack Above).
WordPress Social Share, Social Login, and Social Comments Plugin – Super Socializer – There are so many features on this plugin you have to read it for yourself! It’s also absolutely free. It has over 30.000 active installs and a 5-star satisfaction rating.
Photo Gallery by WD – Photo Gallery is an advanced plugin with a list of tools and options for adding and editing images for different views. This is a fully responsive gallery plugin. The product includes a plugin for adding image galleries and albums to posts and pages, as well as multiple widgets. You can add images, provide detailed gallery descriptions and tags, organize the galleries into different photo albums.
Image Gallery – Just add images and videos, write descriptions and titles for each image, choose among 7 incredible views.
NexGen gallery -It’s easy for simple photo galleries, but powerful enough for the most demanding photographers, visual artists, and imaging professionals.
Photo Gallery by Supsystic – With a great number of layouts will help you to create quality respectable portfolios and image galleries. Unlimited photo gallery options allow choosing different designs and styles, which make your photo grid gallery attractive for users.
Gallery by Envira – Envira Gallery allows you to create a beautiful responsive photo gallery and video gallery for your WordPress site in minutes, not hours!
Genesis Responsive Slider – This plugin allows you to create a simple responsive slider that displays the featured image, along with the title and excerpt from each post.
Soliloquy – Slider by Soliloquy allows you to create beautiful responsive image sliders and video sliders for your WordPress site in minutes, not hours!
Slider by WD – Create responsive, highly configurable WordPress sliders with various effects for your WordPress site.
Slide Anything – Slide Anything allows you to create a carousel/slider where the content for each slide can be anything you want – images, text, HTML, and even shortcodes.
Ultimate Responsive Image Slider – Images slider has various settings like customizable height and width, autoplay slides, slide thumbnails, navigation buttons and much more.
Testimonials Widget – Testimonials Widget lets you randomly slide or list selected portfolios, quotes, reviews, or text with images or videos on your WordPress site.
Easy Testimonials – Easy Testimonial is an easy-to-use plugin that allows users to add Testimonials to the sidebar, as a widget, or to embed testimonials into a Page or Post using the shortcode.
Genesis Testimonial Slider – The Genesis Testimonials Slider allows users to add Testimonials to a widget area or to embed theme into a page or Post using the shortcode. The testimonials are custom-posts with author name, content and image. No more loss of data when switching themes.
Testimonial Rotator – Finally a really simple way to manage testimonials on your site. This plugin creates a testimonial and a testimonial rotator custom post type, complete with WordPress admin fields for adding testimonials and assigning them to rotators for display.
Handsome Testimonials – Handsome Testimonials by Ristretto Apps lets you easily display attractive and eye catching testimonials on your site that evokes your customer’s trust, made easy with Handsome Testimonials by Ristretto Apps. Handsome Testimonials by Ristretto Apps gives you, the WordPress user, superpowers with the ability to magically create great looking testimonials right from the get-go.
Portfolio Gallery – Create as many portfolios with as many images, videos, or other items as you want. Choose from among seven, animated and Lightbox-enabled layouts that accommodate HTML and text hyperlinks, as well as custom URLs to point each portfolio to further detail elsewhere.
Genesis Portfolio Pro – Genesis Portfolio Pro will add a new “Portfolio” post type where you can add portfolio entries with images and galleries to show off your visual content.
Portfolio By BestWebSoft – Portfolio plugin is the best way to create and add past projects to your WordPress website. Create, configure and manage an unlimited number of portfolio projects.
Gallery – Flagallery Photo Portfolio – With this gallery plugin you can easily upload images, create music and video playlists, create photo gallery, group pictures in photo slideshow and add descriptions for each image, mp3 or video – Grand Flagallery is the smart choice when showing the best of your product or describing, in brief, any event.
WordPress Picture Portfolio – This free plugin can transform a humble WordPress website into a feature rich media gallery where you can proudly showcase your projects, client logos, photography, or any other pictures or videos of your choice.
WP Recipe Maker – The easy recipe plugin that everyone can use. An easy workflow allows you to add recipes to any post or page with automatic JSON-LD metadata for your recipes. This recipe metadata will improve your SEO and get you more visitors!
EasyRecipe – EasyRecipe makes recipe entry a breeze, with features like cut and paste, auto-conversion of your plain text recipe posts, live custom formatting, Google Recipe View formatting and preview button, automatic ratings, conversion from other recipe plugins like ZipList, RecipeSEO, and Recipe Card.
Yummly Rich Recipes – The Yummly Rich Recipes plugin will make your recipes SEO-friendly and more likely to appear in Google’s Recipe View search. You will no longer need to input your recipes into a specific structure, The Yummly Rich Recipes plugin will do the heavy lifting to make sure your recipes are found online, leaving you with more time to spend creating in the kitchen!
Cooked – Recipes for WordPress – The best way to create & display recipes with WordPress. SEO optimized (rich snippets), photo galleries, cooking timers, printable recipes and so much more. Check out the full list below.
Zip Recipes – Make your recipes SEO-friendly and rank higher in Google’s Recipe View search. No need to hand-code your recipes into a sophisticated recipe structure when the Zip Recipes plugin will do all the heavy lifting for you, enhancing the findability of your recipe website.
Recent Posts Widget With Thumbnails – No huge widget with hundreds of options. This plugin is based on the well-known WordPress default widget ‘Recent Posts’ and extended to display more information about the posts like e.g. thumbnails, excerpts and assigned categories.
Top 10 Popular Posts For WordPress – an easy to use, yet, a powerful WordPress plugin that will count the number of page views of your posts, pages, and any custom post types. You can then display the page view counts as well as display your most popular posts.
WordPress Popular Posts – WordPress Popular Posts is a highly customizable widget that displays the most popular posts on your blog.
Google Analytics Top Content Widget – Adds a widget that allows you to display top pages/posts in your sidebar based on google analytics data.
Category Posts Widgets – Category Posts Widget is a light widget designed to do one thing and do it well: display the most recent posts from a certain category.
Social Media Scheduling
Blog2Social – Automatically share, auto-post, re-publish, re-post and schedule blogs posts to social media: auto-post to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, XING, Reddit, Pinterest, Flickr, Medium, Tumblr, Torial, Diigo, and Bloglovin.
CoSchedule -$$$ – CoSchedule is the all in one editorial calendar for content marketing and social scheduling! It keeps you and your team insanely organized and is the first (and only) editorial calendar to integrate with WordPress.
All in ONe Auto Social Marketing – Social all in one plugin is a Smart bot to Manage and Control your social media updates based on proven records and stats in an automated way. From evaluating various stats and info available, it is proven that posting your social network updates at right time gets you more result.
WordPress to Buffer – WordPress to Buffer is a plugin for WordPress that sends updates to your Buffer (bufferapp.com) account for scheduled publishing to social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+, when you publish and/or update WordPress Pages, Posts and/or Custom Post Types.
Social Time Master – Social Time Master is a unique social auto-poster that lets you schedule hundreds of social posts with a few clicks of the mouse and preview the posts visually, using a powerful, and easy to use Timeline Interface.
WP Add Custom CSS – WP Add Custom CSS allows you to add custom CSS to the whole website and to individual posts, pages and custom post types (such as Woocommerce products).
The CSS rules applied to the whole website will override the default stylesheets of your theme and plugins, while the CSS rules applied to specific pages, posts or custom post types will override the main stylesheet too.
Simple Custom CSS & JS – Customize your WordPress site’s appearance by easily adding custom CSS and JS code without even having to modify your theme or plugin files. This is perfect for adding custom CSS tweaks to your site.
CSS Plus – The CSS Plus adds a CSS editor field when you are editing a new post. The content is compressed and inserted in the page header allowing each page to have its own CSS code.
With CSS Plus each template page has more possibilities with it’s increased editing power.
Simple CSS – Simple CSS gives you an awesome admin editor and a live preview editor in the Customizer so you can easily add your CSS. Want your CSS to only apply to a specific page or post? Simple CSS adds a meta-box which allows you to do just that.
Visual CSS Style Editor – The plugin allows you customize any page and theme without coding. Click an element and start visual customization. Adjust colors, fonts, sizes, positions and a lot more. Take control of your website with more than 50 styles properties.
Something New & Different
Audio comments for your website – So far this plugin only has 100 + active installs and a 3 ½ satisfaction rating.