There is a plugin for everything these days.
For the less technical readers, a plugin is a piece of software that can be added to a WordPress website to add new features or functionality. Basically, if you want your site to do something above and beyond what comes with your theme, you’ll want to find a plug-in to fill your heart’s desire.
Usually, when you are looking for the right plugin to meet your needs, you’ll have to upload it to your site to see if it works, test to make sure it doesn’t conflict with the theme or other plugins. In the WordPress repository alone there are over 48,117 plugins with 1,503,133,440 total downloads. So as you can imagine, finding the right plugins can be time-consuming if you don’t get it on the first try. With so many options, it can be hard to know which plugins are reliable so we put together a list of our favorite plugins that you can count on.
If you already have a website and haven’t looked at the plugins recently, it may be time to take a look under the hood. Just as it is important to take your car in for regular maintenance it’s a good idea to know what is going on in the back end of your site. Often we find people have more plugins than they need or may even have inactive plugins that are no longer being used. These non-essential plugins can lead to potential conflicts, vulnerabilities or site bloating which can slow down your load time. Take a peek at the plugins you are using and get rid of any plugins you don’t need- if you aren’t sure, be sure to check with your web designer or developer.
WordPress Plugins You Can Count On:
- Anti-Spam – We use this powerful, anti-spam plugin and have found it to eliminate most all comment spam, contact-form spam, registration spam, trackback spam, pingback spam, and every other type of WordPress spam. Best of all, it’s totally FREE!
- Google Analytics Dashboard for WP – Connects Google Analytics to your website and creates a robust widget in your dashboard. It shows a variety of views of your web traffic, where it came from, your bounce rate, and more. Quick, easy monitoring is yours without having to leave your site to go to your Google Analytics page.
- Yoast SEO – Allows you to see – right on your post page – what your search engine result would look like before you optimize the post. You’ll get plenty of motivation to change titles and descriptions that will rank you higher in search engine optimization, while still using readable titles for your pages or posts. When you try your hand at optimizing your content, this plugin will show you – prompted by a series of colored-light-icons – whether you have succeeded and/or how you can do better. It also creates XML sitemaps for your site automatically.
- Gravity Forms A honey of a plugin that’s well worth the money. It costs $39.00 for a single site, $99.00 for three sites, and $199.00 for a developer’s license that’s good for unlimited sites. You’ll create forms in a breeze – even the complex and interactive ones. Heavy on user-friendly, it provides add-ons for other programs, like Paypal, Freshbooks, and MailChimp.
- Collapsing Categories – I love this plugin for sites that have a lot of content. It allows you to show the categories and then expand them to show the post titles within each. Stop burying your content!
- Add to Any Share Buttons – Share buttons for your pages, including the Add To Any, universal sharing button, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, WhatsApp, and many more.
- Revision Control – Some people never even notice that WordPress has a revision control system built right in, and, that it’s visible from the bottom of your Edit Posts or Pages view. If you’re an editing fool, you may wind up with a lot of revisions in your history. This plugin allows you to avoid the bloat. Hint: Live dangerously. Set it at two.
- Easy Recipe – We use this plugin for all our clients with food blogs and E-commerce Food Sites that add recipes online. It creates a custom-post-type that allows you to easily enter the recipe and display it in a defined format while offering readers the option of an easy download.
- Simple 301 Redirects – Creates a list of URLs that you would like to 301-redirect to another page or site. If you’ve changed from an HTML site or you’ve changed the structure of your URLs, this plugin is essential for keeping your traffic and avoiding 404 errors.
- Co-Schedule – A premium plugin that allows you to plan, promote, and execute blog posts and social media posts from the WordPress Post page or the Co-Schedule dashboard. Very handy for post and social media updates.
- Updraft Plus – We recommend this tool for easy WordPress backups and site migrations. There’s an upcharge for the version with the migration features.
- Image Widget – Adds a widget to your site that allows you to easily add an image to a sidebar or other widget area, without using HTML. It’s handy for clients who want to add or change out their widget area images themselves.
- Media Grid – An inexpensive, premium widget that we use for creating portfolios. It creates a grid of items that links to a full-page view of each item. Offers plenty of other options (such as opening the item in a lightbox), which is handy for photography sites.
- Woo Commerce – Our go-to, e-commerce plugin. It now powers over 39 percent of all e-commerce sites in the world. Fully handles the commerce part of the system for products, events, memberships sites, and more.
- Abandon Carts Pro – Woo Commerce’s premium plugin captures abandoned carts by logged-in users and guest users. At $119 per year, it’s expensive, but if you’re selling products, you’ll find that reminding customers about their abandoned orders & then offering them a discount to complete the sale, makes it well worth the investment.
- Woo Commerce – Gift Cards – A free plugin that makes it easy to set up a gift-card program for your online store.
- Easy Theme and Plugin Upgrades – Makes it easier to upgrade premium themes and plugins, without having to download the new version and update them by hand. Each time before your site updates, this plugin saves a version of your old theme to a zip file, just in case there was any problem with the upgrade.
- Pop-up Ally – Our go-to plugin for creating opt-in forms of all types (not just pop-ups) to your website. Allows for easy styling so your opt-ins coordinate with your branding.
- WP-Store Locator – Lets you create a map with your store locations on it. Allows you to load multiple locations with a CSV file in a jiffy.
- Instagram Feed by Smash Balloon – Display Instagram photos from any, non-private Instagram account directly on your site, so you can look cool and increase your number of followers.
- Genesis Columns Advanced allows you to easily create columns on pages or in text boxes you’ve added to HOME page widget areas. Download for free.
- WP- Smush Image Optimizer – A free, lifesaver of a plugin for people who upload large images to their sites that can end up slowing them down and being a pain to back up. This plugin reduces image size and removes metadata, without compromising quality. You can pre-set the image width and height and it resizes them as they enter your media library. You can also run the plugin on the images already on your site.
- Uber Menu– When you have a complicated menu with dropdowns and submenus, Uber Menu comes to the rescue. You can style it such that it’s super easy for visitors to find what they’re looking for.
- PDF Viewer – When you have pdfs to upload to a website, you can use the PDF Viewer plugin to upload them as a viewable document that the visitor can flip through, right on the site. You can also create a link for downloading if desired.
- W3 Total Cache – Used by all the pros to make their sites load faster by caching every aspect of your site. It’s great for readers and is also a factor in ranking.
- Limit Login Attempts -A free plugin that adds a good security feature by blocking login attempts after a certain number of tries. Thwarts brute-force attacks and people trying to break into your site.
- Custom 404 Error Page – A free plugin that allows you to create a custom page that displays when a visitor gets a 404 error. Use it to add a bit of whimsy to your user experience.
- Securi – Security is a big concern for online business. Securi’s web application firewall is probably one of the best protections you can provide for your site. You won’t have to worry about DDoS, malware threats, brute-force attacks, and other nefarious actors since they’ll monitor your site and protect it. There’s a free version that monitors your site only, but you may want to get the premium protection, which also includes site cleaning, in case you do get hacked.
- WP Mail SMTP – Often due to the configurations of some web hosts, your WordPress emails may not be delivered. This plugin allows you to use an SMTP server (and even Gmail’s SMTP server) to send your mail, instead of PHP’s mail function, which sometimes conflicts.
- Ad Sanity – Manage ads on a website, without headaches. It’s as simple as adding a post or a page. You can display ads in sidebars, posts or pages. You can set them to display for a time-limited period or to keep running. Also tracks views and clicks.
- ManageWP – Tools such as ManageWP are an excellent solution for managing multiple WordPress installations at once. With ManageWP, you can monitor and configure as many WordPress sites as you’d like. Instead of having to worry about plugin updates and individual traffic monitoring, you can update every plugin and see all of your traffic statistics in one central place.