Wordpress is an extremely versatile platform that has come a long way from just being “blogging” software. The greatest thing about it is that the user does not need to know how to write any code whatsoever. But, you probably already knew that. Which means you probably already know that simply by installing a plugin, you can increase the functionality of your website or blog. Now, here is what you may not know. The fewer the plugins, the faster your site usually runs.
I know there are tons of sites out there with “Best of” lists. Some of them are good and some of them are outdated. So I decided to put together a list of WordPress plugins that I feel are the best and the most essential. The specific kind of site or blog you have will dictate which WordPress plugins and function you need. So I have broken the list up in three sections. The first section are the plugins that I feel are absolutely essential no matter what kind of site you have. The second section are the plugins that I feel are the best, if your website needs that particular function. And the third section has some very nice plugins that you can add if you need that “extra touch” to really help create a stunning and unique website.
If you could only install one plugin, this would be the one. I cannot stress how awesome this plugin is. With the newer versions of WordPress it comes pre-installed, but still requires you to add and activate an API key, which is free by the way. You will be absolutely amazed at how much spam this little plugin will catch.
WP Super Cache Manager
One of the best ways to optimize and speed up your WordPress site is to cache it. This plugin creates static HTML files to serve up to your visitors. If you have noticed significant load times for your website and its pages, this may be the solution for you. It has a simple interface without overwhelming you with options and it does the job effectively.
WordPress SEO by Yoast
This one is considered to be the best SEO plugin. Do a search, ask someone and this is usually the answer. It has a lot of features including Sitemaps. It may be a little overwhelming. If so, All-In-One-SEO is the next best thing in my opinion.
Your database is the core of your website. You definitely don’t want to lose the data that’s in there. This plugin will back up the main tables. The only downside is that any data gathered by plugins will be lost. There are more complete backup options, but they will cost you. Unless you are a professional blogger or your website is receiving mass amounts of traffic, this freebie will work just fine.
Google XML Sitemaps
This one is simple. It creates a sitemap that you can submit to Google. Which as we all now, is the only way to indexed fast. This plugin is great because it will update your sitemap everytime you post new content or update existing content. Can’t go wrong with this one.
This is another great optimization tool. It will optimize your database for you using SQL scripts. This removes post revisions, spam and unapproved comments. You can select what gets cleaned and optimized and what doesn’t. It’s very user friendly and will keep your database in shape.
No Self Pings
It’s actually good practice not to ping your own website when you publish an article and this plugin will prevent that from happening. Not only will keep your comments section from becoming cluttered, but it will help with SEO.
Provides good security for your website. It takes care of removing certain information that someone would be able to use to exploit your website. It blocks harmful queries, hides your WordPress version for non-admin users, removes error information on the login page and much more. Definitely necessary.
Best Functional Plugins
404 page not found errors. We all hate them. What’s worse is it makes for a bad experience for your readers. This little gem will monitor your site for these errors and help you create simple 301 redirects so that everyone is happy!
Broken Link Checker
If you’re website has been up for a while, sometimes it can be hard to keep links alive. You may create a link and a few months later it may not be there anymore. There more content you have written and the larger your site, the harder it can be to manage these broken links, or even be aware of them for that matter. Sometimes your readers will leave a comment and report one, but why wait? This plugin will automatically check the validity of all your links.
This is still one of the most popular plugins for SEO. It has basic features and doesn’t slam you with too many options. It gives you all the function and flexibility that you need.
This is probably my favorite social plugin. It allows you to insert above or below a post, in the sidebar, or use a floating sidebar. It has template functions that allow you to insert share buttons pretty much any way you want. It also provides options for each post or page where you can choose which template to use for that particular post, or you can disable them for that particular post all together. The look is very clean and uncluttered.
Comment Reply Notification
When you reply to a comment it automatically notifies the commenter with an email.
I’m sure you’ve seen these before. They are the cool looking social sharing buttons that you can place at the beginning or end of an article. They have the little animated popup when you roll your mouse over them.
Thank Me Later
This plugin automatically sends a response email to people who comment on your site. You’ve seen these emails before, you’ve probably received some yourself. It basically thanks the reader for visiting the site and for commenting.
You know those buttons at the bottom of page that let you navigate to the next page? That’s what this plugin is for. It replaces the default buttons and lets you customize them as well.
Fast Secure Contact Form
This actually has a lot of options that you may not use, such as the meeting scheduler. But it sets up fast without the need for templates and includes Captcha functions to ward off comment spammers.
This one is kinda cool. It lets you insert a greeting box at the beginning or end of your posts that can be customized with messages for all the different traffic sources. For example, if your reader came from Google then you can welcome them to the site and get them to subscribe to a newsletter or RSS feed. If they came from Del.icio.us or Digg you can setup an appropriate message for them as well.
This is a paid plugin, and the last time I checked it cost about $80. But if you are going to run a multi-language site, then this is the best option that I know of.
Hope you were able to find some useful plugins for your WordPress site here! If you have some of your own, post them in the comments section!
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