There are literally thousands of free WordPress plugins so, you can imagine that finding the best ones for your blog can turn out to be quite time consuming.
This list will include essential WordPress plugins that I use or tested plus a few others that I find to be quite useful and you might not know about them.
WordPress is already an SEO friendly blogging platform but for an extra level of optimization, you can always use some plugins to add meta titles, descriptions, keywords etc. to your posts and overall control every SEO aspect of your website.
WordPress SEO by Yoast – one of the most essential WordPress plugins I use to optimize my blog for search engines.
It’s the complete package when it comes to optimizing a site for search engines.
It offers you the ability to add custom meta titles, descriptions to your posts and taxonomies. It also offers social integration, such as Facebook Open Graph, Twitter Cards, and the possibility to add the Google+ publisher page.
Other features include:
- XML Sitemaps
- Easy RSS optimization
- The ability to edit your robots.txt file and .htaccess file
- Easily import and export settings
- And more.
WP Robots Txt – a simple way to add a robots.txt file so that you can tell search engines which parts of your website must not be indexed in their search results.
An Example of a page you don’t want to be crawled is the wp-admin page.
A robots.txt file is very useful when you want to block certain spiders from crawling your site. For more info, check out this article for an example on how to create a proper robots.txt file.
Google XML Sitemaps – for easily creating an XML sitemap for your blog so that search engines can better index your content. For that to happen, you simply have to submit the automatically created sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools.
Backup and Security
When it comes to backup and security the most essential WordPress plugins to use are a backup plugin and a security one.
You should always try to make your website secure. That’s why I advise you to do a full backup of your WordPress installation from time to time.
I use just two essential WordPress plugins to secure my blog and for backups.
For those who want extra security I recommend Wordfence Security.
I use limit login attempts and BackWPup on all my sites. The first one protects my website from hackers and blocks any IP address that tries to hack my password and the second one is just perfect for a full backup, as it only takes a minute or so to do it.
Limit Login Attempts – a must-use to protect your website from hackers.
BackWPup – a very simple and fast way to easily backup your entire WordPress installation, including the database.
Wordfence Security – for those who want an extra level of security.
It goes without saying that social media is very important these days. As a result, you should use plugins that add social media buttons to your posts so that your readers can easily share them.
Bellow are some essential WordPress plugins I use to accomplish this:
Social Share Starter by KK – I found it while trying to choose the best social media plugin for my blog. I really recommend this one as it is simple to use and has a nice design.
Click To Tweet – adds a nice elegant box to your posts so your visitors can share the article on Twitter easily.
Simple Share Buttons Adder – adds social media buttons to your website.
OnePress Social Locker– locks any type of content and asks your visitors to share it in order to unlock the content.
jQuery Pin It Button For Images – Adds a simple Pinterest button to your images. The pin it button appears when a visitors hovers the mouse over an image.
I’m sure you heard by now that Google started to use site speed as a ranking factor so it makes sens to make your website load as fast as possible.
Bellow are some essential WordPress plugins that will make your website load blazingly fast.
WP Smush.it – improves your website’s load time by optimizing images and reducing their size.
BJ Lazy Load – can make your site load faster especially if you have lots of images.
W3 Total Cache – by far the most popular and powerful cache plugin.
P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) – is great when it comes to analyzing which plugins impact load times the most, so you can replace them with ones that don’t slow down your website that much.
WP-Optimize – a very simple tool for cleaning up your WordPress database, delete pending/spam comments in bulk, clean posts revisions and optimizing database tables.
Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin – helps you stop comment spam by adding a simple check-box to your comments form that people have to check before submitting.
Comment Disable Master – easily allows you to disable comments on certain pages or disable them for the entire website.
Comment Redirect – this one is quite interesting, it redirects your visitors after they leave a comment on your site to a specified page such as a “thank you page” or “about me”
Contact Form 7 – easily create contact forms in no time.
Clean and Simple Contact Form – let’s you create a simple and elegant contact form.
Optin Forms – I started using this one recently and for one good reason: it adds amazingly looking optin forms to your posts.
A selection of essential WordPress plugins for the widgets area.
Q2W3 Fixed Widget – this one is useful if you want to make any widget sticky, such as a subscription form.
Display Widgets – a must-use if you want to display certain widgets on certain pages or posts. For example, if you want to show a certain ad only on some pages.
Widget Pack by ThematoSoup – adds a very useful pack of widgets for your website.
Google Analytics Dashboard for WP – simply shows Google Analytics stats in your WordPress dashboard.
Google Analyticator – does basically the same thing shows your analytics stats in your dashboard.
External Links – manage your external links by adding nofollow tag and even choosing to open them in new pages.
ThirstyAffiliates – if you are promoting affiliate products then this one is a must-use. It lets you control your affiliate links, add nofollow tags, and much more.
Broken Link Checker – automatically checks your website for any broken links so that you can replace them when need it.
Olevmedia Shortcodes – by far the best and most beautiful shortcodes plugin.
Shortcoder – is great for adding custom shortcodes to your blog.
Word Stats – gives you insights on your blog’s most used keywords, word count, your posts readability, and more.
Word Stats is definitively one of the most essential WordPress plugins I use on all my websites.
Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP) – easily add related posts to your website to increase page views and user engagement.
WordPress Visual Icon Fonts – another one that I recently found, allows you to add nice looking icons to your posts.
Table of Contents Plus – adds a simple table of contents to your articles.
Sexy Author Bio – adds a beautiful customizable author box to the end of your posts.
WPtouch Mobile Plugin – if you want to make your site mobile friendly WPtouch is by far the best for the job.
Any Mobile Theme Switcher – let’s you choose which theme to show to desktop visitors and which one to show to mobile visitors.
Don’t forget that the more plugins you have on your website the slower it will load thus impacting loading times. Make sure to use only essential WordPress plugins, remember less is better.
What about you? What are your favorite plugins you use on your blog?
Let me know in the comments bellow.