￼So which are REALLY the best WordPress plugins?
Which ones should you DEFINITELY use to achieve a higher degree of efficiency with my website?
One thing is for sure; without smart and useful WordPress plugins you can’t use your website to expand your business.
I myself have become somewhat addicted to the Plugin catalogue. This is where all of the WordPress plugins have been collected. There are thousands. THERE ARE SOME REAL GEMS AMONGST THEM!
Look at it this way; WordPress plugins are like car accessories. The radio, spoilers, navigation. They give your website extra functionalities.
A good website rises and falls with good plugins.
Without a good SEO plugin your website can’t be found easily.
There are security plugins which you can set in a way that hackers from China or Russia can’t get access to your website.
Yes, there is even a WordPress plugin which creates snowflakes on your website. Great for around christmas time.
In this article you will read all about The 60 best WordPress plugins which are in the Plugin directory. Which are the most popular ones, most downloaded, and which plugins should you beware of?
When I started this The 60 best research, I came across various plugins which I hadn’t used before. Even some I had never even heard of.
But they are oh so useful. And good. They are not in the top 60 of most downloaded plugins for nothing.
First a little something about the Plugin Directory. It used to be called the WordPress repository.
The Plugin Directory contains more than 40.000 WordPress plugins, with a recent milestone, because there have been more than 1 billion downloads this year.
The last two years there have been a lot of improvements to the Plugin Catalogus.
- Developers can now add their own WordPress plugin logo to the directory.
- You could always see how many downloads a plugin has had. Now they have added a colour bar in which you can see how many downloads each version has had.
- The design has been improved, much more clear.
- A BETA TESTING has been added; these are plugins which still need to be tested to be allowed into the Plugin Directory.
In this ultimate overview I have described the 60 best WordPress plugins. Some are great to work with. I will also tell you about plugins with ‘hidden defects’, which can slow down your website.
Do you want to know how to install a plugin? Take a look at the article Install WordPress plugin on your website.
There are other places where you can download or buy plugins. Read more about it in this article about Codecanyon WordPress plugins.
I haven’t covered all of them, like the Multibyte functionality enhancement. Which is a plugin to show Japanese signs, so not really interesting for you, but it is part of the top 60 with 1,8 million downloads.
And Hello Dolly, one of the first WordPress plugins made by Matt Mullenweg, a WordPress co-founder. You can’t do anything with it, but it comes standard within the Plugin Directory when you install WordPress. Most people remove this plugin straight away, but you should know:
“This is not just a plugin, it symbolizes the hope and enthusiasm of an entire generation summed up in two words sung most famously by Louis Armstrong: Hello, Dolly.
okay, hou je vast, we gaan van start!
Ok, hold on to your hat, here we go!
Top 60 WordPress plugins
￼The absolute number 1 of the plugin directory, Akismet. With more than 50 million downloads and downloaded more than 100.000 times each day. Try and beat that! This is the plugin with which you can block spam, so a necessary evil. This plugin needs to be installed on every website.
￼With this you can add a signup form to your website. You can add different input fields, like email address, name, but you can also have something checked. Very popular with more than 30 million downloads. And there is a Dutch translation. I use it for almost all of my websites.
￼This is a Yoast SEO competitor, and has a couple million more downloads. All in One SEO Pack is a SEO plugin which can optimize your website for search engines automatically. Personally I would rather stick with the Dutch plugin, because off course I am a little chauvinistic. But this plugin is basically as good as Joost.
4. Yoast SEO
￼This is a plugin witch which you can optimize every article on your blog or website. When you install Yoast SEO, a block appears underneath every article with all kinds of indicators. Is the keyword used often enough, is it mentioned in the header, is the article long enough? If you meet these indicators, you will get a green light. Too much orange and red lights means your article hasn’t been optimized enough. A very clear system. This makes optimization a piece of cake. I use this plugin for all of my websites, and those of my customers. Also because it’s easy to work with. Most of the time your article is SEO proof within 5 to 10 minutes.
There is also a premium version which for example makes the website even faster. But the free version already offers a lot of options for the average website owner.
￼Jetpack is so popular, because it is basically a collection of plugins. It has multiple functions like securing the website, keeping up with statistics, caching to make the site faster and much more. In total there are more than thirty functions. This is a lot more useful than installing separate plugins. At first, Jetpack was only available for WordPress.com websites, but now the plugin is also available for WordPress.org. Great!
￼This plugin creates a XML map of your website, with which search engines like Google, but also Bing and Yahoo can index your website better. It basically creates a structure of your website. This is the best reviewed plugin of the complete WordPress repository with more than 1200 5 star reviews. Still the amount of downloads has decreased lately. The reason for this is that the XML map is also built-in, in a plugin like Yoast SEO. If you already have this plugin, you really don’t need to use Google XML sitemaps anymore.
￼With more than thirteen million downloads this is the most used photo plugin of this moment. With this you can place really nice photo galleries on your website, which you can show with a slideshow or with thumbnails (small photos).
It is a great tool, but you need to look into it on how it all works.
￼This is a plugin designed by WordPress.org and you need it when you renew a website. This plugin moves all the old comments, pages, categories, etc. from the old to the new website. Instead of having to cut and paste every message on the new website, you can do this automatically. You download (export) the xml file from your old page and you upload (import) it to your new website. And tadaa, all the messages have been transferred within minutes.
This plugin should actually be standard to the core download of WordPress, because it is used a lot.
￼One of the best known plugins is WooCommerce. You can sell all kinds of things with it, and there have been more than 10 million downloads. WooCommerce was taken over in 2015 by Automattic, for roughly thirty million Euros. That says something about the potential of this plugin. In the future, Automattic will be developing the webshop module further. In the meantime many extensions have been developed, which are supplementary functions that give more options for your webshop. Not all templates are compatible with WooCommerce, so first check if this is the case.
￼This is the absolute winner amongst security plugins. Securing your website is a top priority and with this plugin you are well secured against hacks and other dangers. The premium version is worth considering if you have a large website. You could than for example also block login attempts and attacks from certain (obscure) countries. This plugin has a lot of really good reviews, an indication that this is a nice plugin to work with. WordFence Security is also easier to configure than it’s competitor iThemes Security. And for example immediately starts scanning for malware on your website. But which one is the best, that’s hard to say. I use both, also not to be dependant on one security plugin. If for example a leak occurs in your security plugin, than not all of your websites are threatened.
Another benefit: the plugin has a kind of cache function which can make your site a lot faster.
￼The Google Analytics MonsterInsights has become extremely popular in a very short time and is placed high within the Plugin Catalogue. With this plugin you can monitor your own website with Google Analytics measuring information. And these are live in your cms, so you don’t need to keep switching between your website and the Google Analytics website. There is also a premium version with extra functionalities.
12. WP Super Cache
￼Since Automattic, the owner of WordPress, has taken this plugin under her wing, the amount of downloads has really increased. Because at first, WP Super Cache was just as popular as W3 Total Cache. But Automattic is a strong party which radiates a lot of trust. And this has its effects on the amount of downloads. WP Super Cache is also less difficult to configure. You install the plugin and check the caching – and done.
BEWARE: should you decide to delete Super Cache (for another cache plugin) than deactivating and deleting alone is not enough. You need to delete a few other files through ftp. Detailed descriptions of this can be found on the internet.
13. WPtouch Mobile
￼Unbelievable, what an amount of users! And rightfully so, because this is a plugin which turns your website into a mobile friendly version. Although maybe not every website will look as good after using this plugin, it is one of the best options if you don’t have the budget to build a completely new mobile friendly website. WPtouch is also recommended by Google itself!
If you need help with this, than opt for the paid version, because it comes with good support.
14. WP Pagenavi
Often on a website, at the bottom of a blog, you see a referral to older comments. WP Pagenavi is an advanced page navigation and can show a detailed page navigation. A simple solution, but downloaded more than 6 million times.
15. Gutenberg plugin
￼This plugin is the new editor by WordPress, introduced in 2018. It gives a whole new dimension to editing your articles in WordPress. You can download Gutenberg separately, but the plugin has been added to the WordPress ‘core’ in 5.0. More about this plugin you can read in Important questions about the Gutenberg WordPress plugin.
16. W3 Total Cache
￼This is the other large caching plugin, which ensures that your website will become faster. Typical for W3 Total Cache is that it has a lot of options to set up the plugin. So if you really get into it, you can get a lot more out of this plugin. But as beginner you can also easily use the plugin. Basically you can use the standard settings and you won’t have any problems.
BEWARE: should you decide to delete W3 Total Cache (for another cache plugin) than deactivating and deleting alone is not enough. You need to delete a few other files through ftp. Detailed descriptions of this can be found on the internet.
￼With this you can create an email program newsletter within WordPress itself.
Most of the mail programs, like Mailchimp, are handled outside of your own website. For this you need to login with Mailchimp to consult statistics or to create a new newsletter. With MailPoet Newsletter, you can monitor and create all of this in your websites cms.
￼This plugin is used a lot by website builders. The WordPress cms has a steady amount of input fields, like for the header, text and the featured image. With Advanced Custom Fields you can add extra fields to your cms to add more functions to your message or page. Like extra text, an email address, a subheader, a photo gallery, page link, radio buttons, you name it. You do need to find your way around getting to know this plugin. But… there is a premium version and here you can consult all kinds of tutorials about how it works and how to add a custom field.
￼This plugin will show you your Google Analytics and real time statistics in a simple way, in the WordPress cms. You can also easily put in your own Google Analytics tracking code.
￼It is a problem which occurs over the years, links on your website that no longer work. Many websites for example cease to exist and so the link no longer works. There is a simple solution for this: the broken Link Checker. This locates ‘broken’ links and places them in a row. In the instance that a link no longer works, the plugin will notify this. You can also easily change the broken link, because you get an overview of all the pages containing broken links and you can click through to them directly to repair it.
This is not only for broken links, but – and I also had this problem with a website recently – also photos/images which are not displayed can be traced.
￼To show Google Analytics directly in your WordPress cms, Google has also developed its own plugin. Here you can look at all of the reports on your own website.
￼This is a plugin to prevent spam in your comments. There are so called active spambots, which can add automated comments to your comment form. Really Simple Captcha prevents this. Because you need to add an extra digit or letter to prove you are ‘human’. A spambot can’t see this. You need to for example calculate something or enter a few hard to see letters. It is an effective way to prevent spam on your website. But: to be completely spamfree is not possible. Perhaps this plugin can be combined with other spam preventings plugins.
￼Most website templates often have blocks with related articles underneath every article. Often with subjects related to the article. But if you want this in a different layout, then you can use YARPP, which offers more options. It is by far the most popular plugin for related articles.
The plugin also offers the option to show sponsored content.
￼The WordPress community plugin. There is a separate team which is further developing this plugin, so you may expect it complies with the latest standards. You can build a community with this plugin, where your visitors can place messages, comment on others and create a group on a specific topic. There are all kinds of add-ons, functionalities to get more out of it, like a chat function. You can read more about it in another article BuddyPress the sleeping giant awakes.
My personal preference is to buy a template which already has BuddyPress built in. Because the plugin is quite hard to build in and not all themes are compatible with BuddyPress. In this case you can install the plugin, but the look and feel of the community does not have the same layout as the website. And this could look a little clumsy.
￼With this you can create a contact form on your website. You can add multiple fields and also use shortcodes to place the contact form on a page or in a message.
￼One of the most popular backup plugins is UpdraftPlus, with which you can make backups of your website. Very important off course, because should something happen to your website (and it will happen eventually) then you need to have a good backup. This plugin is also popular because for example, if the website has crashed, it can repair the website. The plugin ensures that an older backup is re-installed so your website will re-appear.
￼Do you want to move a website to another location? This plugin will export your website with the database, media files, plugins and themes from one server to another. You don’t need any technical knowledge for this! In the free version however, you can only relocate a limited amount of files, there are many paid extensions to relocate really large websites. But it is one of the best migration plugins of this moment.
￼I use this plugin on almost every website. There are different plugins for linking through pages or messages, but this is the most downloaded plugin. You can use it when you for example change all your weblinks whilst building a new website. You enter both your old an new webadres and the plugin will automatically redirect the link to the new page. Also search engines realise quite fast that the old link is no longer working, and they will stop indexing it.
29. Meta slider
￼This is the most popular free slider within the Plugin Directory. With the Meta Slider you can create a slider with multiple photos (moving images) and place it on your website.
￼One of the most popular tools to add social media buttons to your website. It standardly shows a few, with a referral to dozens of other social media platforms. You will see AddThis on many websites, it is the most used of them all.
￼This is the most popular page builder within the WordPress repository. There are more, but these are commercial page builders for which you have to pay. Personally I find the paid plugins are better,
Many premium themes come with page builders. You can then easily build the pages on your website. You no longer have to work with codes, but you can drag a block with content to that part of the page where you want it.
￼In WordPress’s cms you can format your text with the visual editor. For example highlight the header with red, enlarge it, or change the font. A weak point with WordPress – I find – is that you can’t do this in your sidebar. You often need to locate the code yourself and paste it into your sidebar to create a nice layout. The Black Studio TinyMCE Widget offers the solution. With this you can format your text nicely, like you can with your message’s visual editor. The plugin has had a rising line in the number of downloads since January 2015.
￼Useful plugin to create a backup of your website. But note: this backup doesn’t make a backup of all of your files, only your database.
￼If you would like a forum on your website, you can instal the bbPress plugin. Forums are still a popular resource to promote interaction and to answer questions on your website. Other users can also get access to the forum and answer questions of other members.
35. Breadcrumb NavXT
￼A plugin which adds so called breadcrumbs, which is the navigation structure you often see at the top of the page, where visitors can see where they are located on your website. Google also ranks websites which use breadcrumbs higher. So it is a good idea to use breadcrumbs.
￼Regenerate Thumbnails makes it possible to edit the thumbnails, the small photos you see everywhere on your website. Aside from the selected photo of the article itself, for example a summary of blogs with a smaller photo, will appear on the page. If these are changed (through Settings -> Media) or have been changed by the theme, you get different sizes. The Regenerate Thumbnails ensures that they get the right sizes which work with the theme.
￼Nowadays websites need to be secured with a SSL certificate. This plugin ensures that all of the http links go to the secured https.
￼The Dutchman Danny Van Kooten was at the start of this popular plugin, which connects the Mailchimp mail program to your website. I use this plugin for all of the websites which have a newsletter. Mailchimp by the way, is a great mail program which can be used for free with up to 2000 subscribers and 12000 newsletters per month.
￼If you want to show events on your website, then The Events Calendar is a good option. A lot of option to show events and there is also a premium version.
40. User Role Editor
￼With just over 2 million downloads, there is the User Role Editor, with which you can easily give another role to a website user. If you for example want a user to have limited access for logging onto the cms.
WordPress also comes standard with the option to give roles to users, but User Role Editor is a little more user friendly and can for example also forbid users to use certain widgets.
￼A useful plugin to copy and paste your website from one location to another. Ideal to for example relocate your website to another hosting party. Because this is quite a task. On the one hand you need to move the database, and the files on the other. You need to change all kinds of things manually, but the Duplicator automates this.
￼Another good backup option for your website, which can make a backup of both your database and your files.
43. Disable comments
￼WordPress standard comes with the option to turn off comments. You can do this with a check within the settings. You can also determine for each message if you want to allow comments or not. This plugin ensure that all comments can be turned off, without being overruled by individual messages. So it gives a little more options to manage your comments.
￼One of the most popular free page builders of this moment is the Elementor page builder. With this you can easier shape the elements in your page and drag them from place to another. Nowadays you can’t imagine a website without a page builder.
￼BackWPup is a plugin to – the name says it – make a backup of your website, of both the database and files. A trusted plugin and belongs in the Top 5 plugins. You can also place the backups on external clouds, like Dropbox or Google Drive.
￼A good way to keep your database clean. After a while your database can get ‘polluted’ with things you can better delete, like comments that have ended up in spam, but also message revisions. If you don’t do this, the website can become slower over time.
47. WP Polls
￼With this plugin you can easily create a poll on your website. You can create it in the sidebar, but also within the blog. You create a poll and then you can place it anywhere you want with the so called shortcode.
￼With this plugin you can easily add all kinds of things to your website, like a button, tabs, a slider, coloured boxes, responsive videos, etc. You can add these extra functions to your page or message with a shortcode. There is also a premium version with extra shortcodes.
49. WP Smush
￼I use this one for practically all of my websites and those of customers. With WP Smush you can downsize the photo file automatically, without compromising the quality. The photo will become lighter and the page will load faster. Especially recently, this has become popular and is being downloaded a lot.
￼Shareaholic is a plugin with a lot of functions to promote your message. It can show a social media bar, in which you can see how often a message has been shared on Twitter or Facebook. You can also add only related messages underneath an article. There is also an option for affiliate linking, so the clicks will be registered to a link. Ultimately it is a plugin with a lot of functions, and can be used to grow your page, draw attention to your content and you can monitor how much traffic it produces.
￼If you are building a new website and you want to show a preview, you can use this plugin. It shows your website is still under construction and will be launched soon.
21. Page Links To
￼This plugin allows to send a WordPress page or message link to another link.
53. ManageWP Worker
￼Just like InfiniteWP, a dashboard to maintain all of your websites. With 1 click you can update all of your websites and plugins, and optimize the database of your websites. I also use it, specifically the paid version, because I have more than 5 websites and then there is an option for subscription. The benefit is that I can make backups of all of my websites.
54. Image Widget
￼This Image Widget easily adds photos to your sidebar. You don’t need to paste a code, the widget does this for you. And Image Widget is connected to the media library. So from there you can place the photos in your sidebar.
55. Google analytics
￼To connect your website and Google Analytics, you need to place a property ID (UA-0000000-0). You can place this ID at Settings > Google Analytics in the cms.
￼With InfiniteWP you can manage and update 1 or more websites from 1 dashboard. I myself use ManageWP, but this one is a little more popular. If you for example have ten websites running, it takes a lot of time and energy to keep these up to date. You need to update themes and plugins and it all has to be done manually. With InfiniteWP you have an overview of all of your websites. And with one click you can update all of your websites in once. With the free version you can add an unlimited amount of websites, but there are no extra functionalities such as making backups. This is possible in the premium version, where you get many extras like the backups, security scan, a security program, etc. In total you can add more than 20 functions.
57. Post Types
￼With this you can easily relocate portfolio items on your website. A little hard to explain, but the video below will clear most things up.
58. Duplicate post
￼Sometimes you want to – for whatever reason – make a copy of a message. This plugin can help you do exactly that. Still downloaded a lot.
￼Something you see a lot on websites is an overview of the most popular messages. There is off course a plugin for this: WordPress Popular Posts. You can place the popular messages in your sidebar or in your footer. Visitors are always curious about the best read articles. And you, as website owner, are probably also just as curious.
60. WP Mail SMTP
￼A little technical plugin, but you can use it to configure your incoming mail. I have used this plugin once when I had a problem with a community website. Visitors that registered were not notified and this plugin ensured that they were. A bit of a technical story, but you should Google on how it works exactly. It has something to do with the settings of your mail account.
￼Bonus WordPress plugins
Here are three bonus tips for plugins I use myself, but which were not in the overview.
￼WordPress has the option to add standard avatars (small photos which are placed next to the authors. There are different themes, like ‘monsters’ or ‘retro’, but not everyone likes that. With WP Avatar you can easily upload your own photo. And so you can decide yourself which avatar you want to use as author.
￼There is a standard Facebook feedbox, but with the Custom Facebook Feed you can add your own twist. You have a lot of options to create your own feed when it comes to layout and content. Fun!
￼Nowadays, websites need to have a privacy statement. One of the most extensive plugins to realise this is Complianz GDPR. You are guided through the menu with a roadmap and the plugin will then generate a privacy statement, disclaimer and cookie page. Very useful. The paid version registers data leaks. The plugin was developed by a Dutchman, Rogie Lankhorst and in cooperation with a legal office. A good base to get your website in order.
Without WordPress plugins your website is an empty frame, this much is obvious. Plugins add all kinds of functions to present it better.
You should actually spend like fifteen minutes a week in the WordPress plugin directory. Have new ones been added, has there been a change of guards with the most popular plugins?
NOTE: always be careful with installing WordPress plugins, because something could always go wrong. Especially with the unknown and less popular plugins.
You should actually try out the unknown plugins on a test site. Often the template builders will indicate which plugins work well with their theme.
Smaller companies or startups are also coming up with great WordPress plugins more often. But also the big boys like Google have various plugins within the plugin directory, the WordPress treasure room.
PS. Don’t forget to share this article with your friends who also work with WordPress and want to know more about WordPress plugins.