The Best WordPress Plugins

On this page you will find the best Wordpress plugins, ever. These are essential installations - but remember, Wordpress runs faster with fewer plugins, so don't be tempted to install them all!

Backup and Optimize

W3 Total Cache

The ultimate swiss-army knife of caching, from the basic page caching (keeping a static copy of the page), to CSS/JS/HTML minification (making your files smaller), as well as handling uploads to a Content Delivery Network.

WP-SuperCache

If W3TC is too much for you, SuperCache is the answer. Very simply, it makes static HTML files to serve users, and much fewer settings to break.

Backup Buddy Premium ($75)

Expensive, but the only WordPress plugin that can truly handle both file and database backups easily. Only for pro-bloggers though at that price, but a license lasts a lifetime. Site migration too. ($75 for 2 site license)

Duplicator

Migrate an entire website from one domain to another, without messing around in the database, for free.

Vaultpress Premium ($15)

Another premium backup service from the guys that created WordPress, so you know it's rock solid. ($15 per month per site)

CloudFlare Caching Service

Though not really a plugin, this is a free service that works fantastically with WordPress to reduce the amount of spam requests for your page and cache certain resources in local CDNs around the world. Results in significant speed increases. Well worth it but requires you to adjust the name servers for your domain so can be a little tricky to set up.

WP-Optimize

Optimizes the database by running the optimize SQL command, removing post revisions, spam and unapproved comments. It's essential if you don't manually manage your database or run your own optimization scripts. Also includes functionality to rename users, useful for changing the default admin user.

Secure WP

From the WebSite Defender guys, this gives you a thorough security check and make a number of small adjustments to harden your Wp install, such as hiding the version number. Also available as an online service.

Redirection

Monitor your site 404 errors and create simple 301 redirects easy to keep the Google link juice flowing and your readers free from 404 pages. Find what's 404ing, redirect it, easy.

Google Analyticator

Simply log in to your Google Account via the plugin page and choose your property. The plugin allows you to ignore certain users, and adds a lovely dashboard widget for at a glance Analytics stats

Broken Link Checker

Dealing with broken links can be pain if you're waiting for readers to report them - get ahead of the game with this plugin and automatically check all the sites you've linked to before they become a problem.

BackWPup

This won't work for everyone's setup, but it's a fairly comprehensive free solution, and one of the best WordPress plugins for backups if you are lucky enough to get it working; includes email backups, Amazon S3, Dropbox; and does a full file and DB backup, not just post export.

Wordpress Backup To Dropbox

A simple solution for smaller sites; this plugin does what it says on the packet.

WordFence Security

A complete (and free) WordPress security suite - firewall, malware scanning, strong password enforcement, plugin and theme file repairs, real time traffic overview. Just, wow.

Search Engine Optimisation

Wordpress SEO by Yoast

Widely regarded as the SEO plugin for WordPress. It has an extensive feature set and rave reviews. Give it a whirl, there are alternatives though. Includes XML sitemap features.

Yoast Video SEO ($70)

Give yourself a boost in the SERPs and a higher CTR with incredible video thumbnails. If you're making videos for your content, you need this. $70/site licence.

SEO Friendly Images

Adds ALT and TITLE meta tags to your images so you can start getting valuable Google Images traffic.

Social and Commenting

Thank Me Later

Automatically sends a follow-up email to anyone who leaves a comment at your blog, thanking them for taking the time to comment and encouraging follow up visits.

OnePress Social Locker

Give visitors a reason to like or tweet your page by locking valuable content - this is a quick an easy 'pay with a like' system.

Disqus Commenting

A full replacement comment system for WordPress offering a range of login options, share buttons, and serious spam protection. Syncs with your WordPress database to ensure you don't lose any should you decide it's not for you. Restricts your ability to add other commenting functionality and plugins though, beyond what Disqus provides.

Digg Digg

Full set of social sharing buttons in a variety of styles - a vertical floating box is usually quite popular.

NextScripts Autoposter

Make your own social spam with this auto-posting utility for a variety of social networks. Warning: may cause rapid loss of friends!

Akismet

Comes with WordPress, but if you haven't activated and added an API key yet, you're missing out. It really does stop the hordes of spam comments that come every hour.

Follow me

Creates a persistent slide-on sidebar widget you can fill with links to all your social profiles. Essential if you have a lot of accounts, but for one or two, just paste them onto a regular text sidebar widget.

LiveFyre

A revolutionary real-time commenting system with added social login features, CommentLuv-like links to users latest blog posts, user profiles that encourage interaction and more. Definately worth considering to replace your standard WordPress comments!

Shareaholic (formerly SexyBookmarks)

An attractive set of social bookmarking buttons with share count (except for G+), a content recommendation widget, and analytics.

Clickdesk Live Chat

Creates a chat widget that connects through your Gtalk to enable live support; you can add more than one operator, and the free plan allows us to 30 chats per month. If live support is a thing you need, ClickDesk is your answer.

Polldaddy Polls & Ratings

Need to poll your users? This plugin enables you to easily create and embed polls driven by the Polldaddy system into your WordPress blog.

Core Functionality

Advanced Custom Fields

For developers only, this plugin allows you to add additional custom metadata entry to post edit screen - don't be limited by the standard set of custom field key-value pairs.

WP-PageNavi

Replaces the next/previous buttons with good looking paginated buttons. Customizable, and absolutely essential.

Revision Control

If you edit your post a lot, each autosave will result in a new revision stored in the database. Keep those under control by limiting them with this plugin.

No Revisions

Doesn't delete previous revisions but does prevent any future ones being made. Install with any new blog. (Note: you can also achieve the same effect by editing the wp-config.php yourself).

FD Feedburner

Redirects your main feed to the Feedburner site. This reduces the load on your server as well as adding a host of additional features.

What Would Seth Godin Do

Odd name for a plugin, but it creates a welcome box for new users visiting the site. Disappears by default after the 5th visit. Use the box to encourage signup with the newsletter, or RSS feed, or just a personal greeting.

SwiftType Search

Enhance the search box with results as the user types. Uses a third party relevancy engine, so you'll get better search results than the basic WordPress engine as well - and the option to manually override results to your liking for specific searches.

MailPoet Newsletters (Wisija)

Free for up to 2000 subscribers, MailPoet features drag and drop design for beautiful newsletters, from weekly round-up of posts to notifiying on every new post. Includes read statistics, and import from existing services.

nRelate (Related Posts Plugin)

A superbly customizable related posts plugin that doesn't stress your database, and can even earn you money displaying sponsored content. Essential; lots of cool styles to choose from.

JetPack

Loads of additional features that usually come with a WordPress.com blog - significantly, stats, gravatar hover cards, a grammar checker, and recent tweets widget.

Event Calendar Pro - Premium ($40)

A gorgeous events plugin with calendar view or event list, iCal and GCal import buttons. Perfect for club or society meet-ups. ($40 per site)

Fast Secure Contact Form

With built in Captcha functionality and no need to mess around with templates, FSCF is a simple way to add a fantastic contact form. The options page is a little uninviting, but it hides a wealth of settings to customize functionality, including a meeting scheduler.

Gravity Forms Premium ($39)

Expensive if you just need a form, but the feature set is incredible and the name deceiving. Multi-step, logic, limiting entries for competitions, even a full ordering system.

TinyMCE Advanced

An enhanced version of the built-in WYSIWYG editor that gives you a customizable array of extra features, such as being able to add HTML tables. Essential if you use the standard editor but find it a little frustrating.

Widgets Controller

Dynamically adjust which widgets appear where - Widgets Controller uses a simple interface with checkboxes (rather than the similar and previously Widget Logic, which needed an understanding on conditional coding).

Syntax Highlighter Evolved

Essential for anyone who blogs about code, programming or web development - this plugin gives you an attractive and functional highlighted code block with optional line numbers. You might prefer Google Syntax Highlighter though, so check that out too - both are good.

Members

Allows you create additional user levels, as well as crucially blocking actual post content from being viewed by users not of a certain level - so you can set up a premium area of your site for paying users and require membership. I don't recommend this tactic, but this is one of the best WordPress plugins that will handle it all for you smoothly.

WPML ($80)

Running a multilingual site with multiple translators is an incredibly difficult task; this plugin is absolutely essential if you plan on doing so in WordPress. No other multilingual plugins come close - but this comes at a price of $80 for the full version.

WP Insert

Makes adding ad-codes to posts and feeds easy; includes support for mid-post insertion that won't appear on short posts. An easy way to manage ad codes if you don't want to delve into templates.

QuForms ($25)

A premium drag'n'drop form builder, capable of building much more than your simple contact form. If you hope to gather lots of data or do surveys, this is probably the plugin you're after.

Fluid Video Embeds

Simple plugin to fix WordPress' auto-embed video sizes and keep their aspect ratio. Nothing difficult to configure here; just install and activate if videos are a big part of your blog.

SlideDeck 2

Simply beautiful sliders, with support for a huge range of content and not just images; also capable of pulling more content from external sources like your YouTube channel or Flickr. Very customisable too, and a variety of prebuilt themes (lens). The free version is a little limited, but a full single site licence can be had for $49 to unlock everything and remove the watermark.

Allow PHP in Posts and Pages

If you need to add PHP functionality to WordPress posts and pages and don't want to alter the theme templates, install this plugin.

Shortcodes Ultimate

Enables you to create a wealth of new looks and styles on your blog without touching a line of CSS. If you need columns, spoiler tags, tables or even tabs, this is the plugin to use.

Ultimate Coming Soon Page

Develop and perform changes on your live site by using this plugin to keep out the masses with an Under Construction or Coming Soon message. Looks great, and even allows you to gather email addresses, ready for launch

Contact Form 7

A very popular contact form tool, this is more basic than others but nevertheless effective, dispensing with bells and whistles for core contact form effectiveness.

Edit Flow

If you have multiple contributors on your blog, Edit Flow is the tool you need. Enables you to manage users in groups, set custom statuses for articles, get notifications via email when posts are ready to be published and even manage article budgets.

Custom Login Lite

Dispense with the WordPress branding on the login screen - use this plugin to display your website's own logo. Improves perception with commenters and contributors, producing a polished, professional look.

E-Commerce

WooCommerce

It's free, feature rich, widely supported and used by many successful shops. Additional features and plugins can be pricey, but the basic feature set should be enough for most small sites.

Shopp Premium ($55)

Payments modules and other plugin functionality cost extra; but with rock solid support and a much cleaner backend interface than the free solutions. If you're serious about eCommerce on WordPress, it should be a negligible expense for the peace of mind and support offered with a premium plugin.

Photography and Galleries

NextGen Gallery

The built-in gallery and photo management in WordPress isn't ideal - this plugin creates a whole new gallery section to manage your photos, disassociating them from posts. You can then embed albums or galleries in posts or collect all your images on a single page. An extensive plugin in and of itself, you can also download plugins for NextGen Gallery to extend functionality further.

Smush.it

Smush.it is an image optimizer service from Yahoo that can reduce the size of your images by around 10-40% without any loss in quality, and with this plugin your images will automatically be run through the service (they're still hosted on your server though). There's also a bulk option to do all your previously uploaded images too. If your site is image heavy, this is absolute must and pretty amazing stuff really. (Note: it doesn't work on images over 1 MB).

Random

Get Me Cooking

A rich-markup compatible recipe plugin; you can also submit your recipes to feature on the getmecooking.com recipe directory!

Leaflet Maps Marker

Need to add a map to your blog? Then you need this plugin. It's 100% free and give you a huge range of mapping providers and icons to choose from; even supports some augmented reality viewers. Then just add the maps to your page with shortcode. It's an immense and complicated plugin, but you should be able to figure it out.

podPress

Any blog hosting a podcast should have used the podPress plugin, which automatically produces feeds, enables you to create iTunes-compatible metadata and offers a slick, embeddable media player - it even gives detailed statistics!

Print Friendly and PDF Button

Not all blogs are ideal for printing in their basic form. This plugin strips away the columns and styling of your blog posts and offers it in a print-friendly page.