22 Essential WordPress Plugins (Updated 2016)

Recent reports indicate that WordPress may be the most popular CMS on the web, with more than 16 million downloads of the current 4.2 version, and more than 20% of all sites on the web being built on the platform which is a free open source utility that can be used any number of ways.

What adds even more to the popularity is the number of plugins available to help users. There are almost 40000 plugins available, some are free, and because of the ready availability, choosing can sometimes be overwhelming.

The choice of a plugin will be based on your requirements, but there may be a few plugins, that may be essential for all WordPress users.

 

1. Akismet

Akismet WordPress Plugins

Akismet is easy to install, and automatically kills the spams that is entered into the comments on your blog. Once installed, it runs continuously deleting all of the spam comments. It helps with the managing of the content on your site, allowing website owner to concentrate on other issues, instead of having to sort through comments to determine whether they should be approved or can be published.

All that is needed is an API key which activates monitoring on your sites. The key can be used for any number of sites, but the plugin must be installed separately on each site. The service checks the comments on your site against the factors that are maintained in the webserver, using pattern detection of the algorithm, to determine whether it is spam and should be deleted. It is probably one of the best methods hands-free methods of keeping spam off of your website.

Features

  • If URLs are included in comments, they can be displayed or remain hidden.
  • See which comments were approved or disapproved
  • Spam can be discarded to save on resources.

Download

 

2. BruteProtect

BruteProtect WordPress Theme

Protect your site from Bruce Force attack where there are repeated unauthorized attempts to enter incorrect user ids and passwords. What the plugin does is send an alert to your email address, whenever the number of attempts exceed a certain threshold. Installing and activating BruteForce enable you to join a community of users that become dedicated to boosting safety on the web. All failed entry attempts are logged, and if an IP address is noticed as having too many attempts within a specific period, the addressed is blocked.

Although the system is not perfect, the results is that bots, which are normally used to perpetrate attacks such as DDOS will be blocked across the entire network, with your site being included, with minimal intervention.

BruteProtect is seen as a classic and much more efficient way to make the web a much safer place. It operates seamlessly and efficiently without input to protect your sites and others in the network from intrusion.

Features

  • offers multisite protection
  • Operates in the cloud
  • Easy installation
  • Compatible with other security protection

Download

 

3. WP-reCaptcha

WP-reCaptcha WordPress plugin

Comment spam has turn into one of the scourges of the web and there have been quite a few applications developed specifically for posting comment spam. One of the methods used to deter spammers that have become widely accepted is the CAPTCHA system.In order to deter bots, the writer, must prove to be a human by entering recognized characters. reCAPTCHA takes it a bit further by protecting registration comment and email entries.

The free service which derives its name as acronym for a Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Human Apart is very easy to install as a widget that recognizes forms for input on your pages. There are several features included with this plugin to make fighting spam much easier. For even more robust protection from spam, reCAPTCHA can also be integrated with Askimet. There may be some additional comfort in appreciating the fact that the plug-in uses the Google spam library for detecting spam as Google also owns reCaptcha.

Main Features

  • Easy installation
  • Multisite support
  • Four custom themes
  • Optional disabling

Download

 

4. W3 Total Cache

W3 Total cache WordPress plugin

W3 Total Cache offers many more features besides simple caching, but configuring them can sometimes be a bit tricky. It is currently used by many of the busier sites on the web to improve page load speeds and provide better user experiences.

It does much more than caching and provides total solutions as it is a complete framework. Many solutions for improving performance are provided as W3 Total Cache is designed for more than reducing CPU usage and bandwidth consumption.

It may be the preferred plugin because of the way that it works. With many of the other Cache plugins, there may be some compatibility problems requiring modification of the theme, and advanced features often use modification of the re-write rules of the .htaccess file. However, many of the advanced features of other plugins are readily available with W3 Cache without modification, and it works in almost all hosting environments.

Main Features

  • Multiple caching methods
  • Works in various hosting environments
  • Customizable features for specific performance

Download

Alternate Choices:

Rocket Cache (my personal favorite cache plugin)

This is the best of the best cache plugin. It will speed up your blog faster than any of the other cache plugins. It’s also very easy to use and works well with CloudFlare and MaxCDN, even at the same time. If you want the fasted cache plugin and by far, the easiest to use, Rocket Cache wins. But it’s also costly. The unlimited license is $200 for 1 year. But, if you value speed, then this is the one and it’s worth the price.

WP Super Cache

wp super cache WordPress plugin

WP Super Cache is one of the highly recommended tools for protecting and improving the performance of your blog. It is a static caching plugin that generates html files that are much easier to parse than heavy PHP scripts. You use far less resources and your site operates much faster, and may remain better functioning especially when it comes under heavy loading. If you are continually having problems coping with a large number of visitors or your site keeps crashing for no apparent reason, WP Super Cache may be one of the solutions. Visitors who have not logged in or left comments will be served static cached html pages from the WordPress directory, decreasing wait times dramatically.

WP Super Cache has turned out to be a very popular plugin with more than one million installations as it works, and faster loading sites are one of the important criteria sued by search engines.

Main Features

  • Easy installation
  • WordPress Multi User support with specific cache identification
  • Lock down button for additional protection

 

5. Wordfence Security

wordfence WordPress plugin

Imagine scanning your entire site for malware or vulnerabilities whenever you wish. Having it completed within two minutes, while you keep on working. Wordfence does all that and more as it was designed to stop attackers dead in their tracks.

Wordfence offers much more than security and it has become immensely popular in a very short time with more than 3 million installations, and it is loaded with several other very useful features.

Wordfence allows you to see in real-time who, what and from where they may be. It also displays the browsers they use, and allows to run a Who is search for further discovery. It does not stop there. There are three different options for caching, all with multiple configurations.

The plugin is highly recommended, and the paid version provides even more conveniences such a sign-in by Cellphone.

Because of all of the features available, there may be short learning required to get the best usage of WordFence, but it may be worth it if you are serious about protecting your site.

Main Features

  • IP address blocking
  • Scan scheduling
  • Country blocking
  • Traffic sourcing

Download

Alternate Choices:

  • iThemes Security
  • Bulletproof Security

6. Backup Buddy

 backupbuddy WordPress plugin

Unfortunately too many website owners pay any or too little attention to back up until it is too late. There is no justification for this, as there are several free utilities and free cloud services for back-up, and restoring your site or service after failure can be done at no cost.

One of the popular and highly efficient plugins for WordPress backup is BackupBuddy, which all WordPress users can easily install. The plugin allows user not only to backup, but restore your entire WordPress site with a single click. It has also been used to clone an entire site in a few minutes. It can be very handy when moving your site to a new server, or if there is a need to replicate a website. You can build the site without having to install WordPress as Backup buddy takes care of it all.

We feel this is the best backup plugin and one of the best backup solutions for your wordpress blog. Read our review.

The premium version Backup Buddy also come with some several interesting features such scheduling backups with cron jobs, scanning and repairing databases and malware detection.

Main Features

  • Easy website installation
  • 1GB free cloud backup (iThemes Stash).
  • Multiple Backups management options
  • Support for cloud storage such as Amazon S3 and Dropbox
  • File management Option

Download

 

7. Disqus

Discuss WordPress plugin

Disqus is much more than a resource to allow comments. It helps to buildan interactive community of users, and includes several powerful features, and although it uses the Disqus API, it is relatively easy to install.By joining the Disqus community, you also have an opportunity to earn revenue from the PPC system known as Promoted Discovery.

There is also the opportunity to purchase advertising with promoted content that is generated from the Realtime Comment System. The recirculate feature will keep readers on your site for longer periods, and with the increased engagement, they are more likely to return when there are responses posted to any of the comments they may have already made. The emphasis is not just on commenting, but on building interactive community where the comments are turned into an asset that helps in producing revenue.

For whatever reason, Disqus readers seem to be drawn in and are likely to become more engaged in discussion, which has lead Disqus to becoming the most widely used commenting platform on the web.

Main Features

  • Comment managing tools
  • Email alerts
  • Notifications from Disqus community
  • Ads exposure components
  • Increases social footprint

Download

Alternate Pick

Facebook comments for WordPress

 facebook comment WordPress plugin

We all know how prevalent Facebook has become as the biggest social network, with almost 1.5 billion users. Having a presence on FB is now an imperative. The Facebook comments for WordPress is and easy way to connect the busiest platforms on the web, as visitors to can post comments when logged in to their Facebook account.

Another big benefit of using Facebook comments is that it helps to reduce spammy anonymous comments, as users must be logged in to their Facebook accounts, where profiles are used for verification.The biggest advantage comes from the viral nature of Facebook as the comment is seen in the feed of Facebook friends. One comment has the potential for attracting up to 5000 more visitors to your site. The only downside, is that installation is not the easiest, as integration with Facebook is required, and a lot of the operation depends on the functionality of Facebook, which may be erratic or have dynamic rule changes, sometimes without warning.

Main Features

  • Replaces WordPress comments
  • Additional security
  • Tools for moderating comments included
  • Relevance factoring

Download

8. Comment Luv

 comment luv WordPress plugin

CommentLuv allows your readers to automatically post links on their posts for additional discovery, and the Pro version has even more amazing features as it combines eight different plugins in one unit. The Url of the user is required in the profile, and this plugin visits the site of the author while the comment is being typed, and the last post is retrieved with the option of including it when the post is submitted for moderation. It also includes list building capability, as readers are offered the chance to register for your site to unlock some of the more advanced link building features with do follow characteristics, and the choice of including any of their latest ten posts.

CommentLuv is designed to increase engagement, as comments and replies become reciprocal, and the added features such the popular anti-spam utility G.A.S.P improves security, while some authors may even be allowed to include keywords in their posts, which can be recognized by the search engines.

Main Features

  • Easy traffic generation from the social nets
  • Spam reduction
  • CTR analysis 

Download

 

9. Floating Social

Floating Social Bar WordPress plugin

The web ecosystem is often described as the sharing economy, as word of mouth is still the basis for the most trusted form for distribution of information. The difference is that information has been converted to digital formats, and the mouth has been replaced by devices that operate in the digital realm. Floating Social make the process much faster and easier, because the social bar follows the readers while they are scrolling your webpages, and there is no need to find social media buttons or open another tab or window in order to share your content. The Floating Social bar remains visible, at all times, and it is simply a matter of clicking on the icon of the desired social network. The more efficiently your content is shared in the sharing economy, the more efficiently visitors can be directed to our site.

Floating Social supports all of the popular social networks, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Google+. It can be customized so that characteristics such as colours and fonts can be changed to match those of your website, or if you wish to make it contrast for better visibility, you also have the option to do so.

Main Features

  • Easy installation
  • Flexible customization features
  • Wide compatibility

Download

Alternative: Easy Social Share Bar

Alternative: Monarch by Elegant Themes

10. Shortcodes Ultimate

shortcodes Ultimate WordPress plugin

Shortcodes Ultimate is a WordPress plugin that easily generation shortcodes to do almost anything on your website. It comes with more than 50 pre-developed shortcodes and the premium version contains an additional 15 codes, but the power really comes from the flexibility offered by the shortcode generator. With Shortcodes Ultimate you can easily give your site a performance boost, by creating tabs, buttons, boxes, responsive videos and different sliders, and it can all be done with a few simple clicks. With the premium version, you may have more than you need to, and the developers have made more skins available at very affordable pricing.

The range of things that you can do with your site is now almost unlimited, and messing with HTMLcode is no longer necessary. In fact the need for contracting WordPress developers may be eliminated. Adding audio, video, columns or rows, or making any changes can be done with shortcodes.

Main Features

  • Powerful Shortcode Generator
  • Extensive Theme compatibility
  • Fully responsive
  • Custom widgets and CSS editor
  • Multilingual
  • Right to left language support

Download

 

11. JMTwitter Cards

JM Twitter Cards WordPress plugin

Twitter can be used to share your content, but the posts length are limited to 140 characters. However Twitter cards are a clever way to get around that as the cards allow you to include additional content in the form of images. The content is included even when the tweets are retweeted, and JMTwitter Cards is also compatible with other social media sharing plugins.

There are seven different card formats and JMTwitter Cards includes them all. The card content   can include video, audio, text and images, and is relatively easy to install and can be configured in the WP admin dashboard. You can specify the type of card to be used in each post. Approval is needed from Twitter to enable the use of cards on your site, but it is truly effective way to include more content in your tweets to attract attention and drive more visitors back to your site.

Main Features

  • Detailed documentation.
  • Enables Twitter analytics
  • Specify images placed in Tweets.
  • Preview cards before publishing posts.
  • Twitter username and site added to posts.
  • Control image sizes.

Download

 

12. Gravity Forms

gravity forms WordPress plugin

You can quickly and easily design forms directly from your WordPress admin panel with Gravity Forms. The plugin includes some advanced features to not only customize the appearance, but make it easier to suit your preferences.

Gravity forms can also be easily be integrated with a wide range of third-party applications, including PayPal, iContact, eWeber, Mailchimp and other the email marketing services. The premium version also includes multiple add-ons for much more desirable functionality.

It is also very easy to build and place forms in widgets in any of the allowable places on your site.

Your forms can be designed to have a unique feel and appearance, and they can be used for a number of different purpose that extend beyond collecting information. The forms can be broken into multiple pages, and fields can used to display products and pricing, scheduling, and some field can also be designed for WordPress posting.

Main Features

  • Notification ability
  • Extensive customization
  • Entry management
  • Easy installation

Download

Alternatives

  • WPForms
  • Formidable

13. Contact Form 7

Contact Form 7 WordPress plugin

Contact Form 7 plugin is a simple but powerful flexible plugin that is used for managing multiple forms. You can also use it to customize the contents of your email messages, and with a few simple edits of the markup, you can have attractive and functional mail messaging system. Customization is easy, and the form also supports entries with Ajax, and is also compatible with Askimet and CAPTCHA spam filtering.

While gravity forms is better in every way and does what Contact Forms 7 does and a million other things too, it’s also expensive to buy. The free alternative, if you just want a contact form is Contact Form 7.

Contact Form 7 plugin can be used out of the box, with the basic settings as it is easy enough to be embedded with a single line of code, however, if you are familiar with CSS or Html, you have this form to be dazzling with a few simple coding tricks. This ContactForm, 7plugin is immensely popular for its simplicity and has been downloaded more than 16 million times. What has made it even more appealing is that is available in several different languages, as it has now been translated by hundreds of users.

Main Features

  • Entry validation
  • Customization
  • Attractive user interface

Download

 

14. OptinMonster

 Optinmonster WordPress plugin

Create attractive high converting optin forms with OptinMonster. The forms have shown to be one of the most efficient methods for converting your website visitors into subscribers. You may already realize that content is said to be king on the web, but what is often neglect, is that aesthetics may be as, or perhaps can be more important than content.

There is a critical need to attract visitors, and it may be impractical or very near impossible to attract visitors without an acceptable appearance. With OptinMonster, you have the ability to easily create some of the most attractive optin forms, but you have the ability to much more.

Test the forms to see which performs better, the analytics features can be used to determine how and where or why the visitors leave your site. The intent features can be used when it is detected that the visitor intends to leave. The features built-in are all designed to help build your email list, which is easily one of the most important assets.

Main Features

  • Beautiful pre-designed forms
  • A/B split testing
  • Page targeting
  • Built-in analytics

Download

 

15. WPtouch

 WPtouch WordPress plugin

Installing and activating WPtouch is an easy way to make your site mobile friendly without changing themes. The plugin includes support for many other useful and very powerful features, and it can also be customized for a unique appearance.

WPtouch has proved to be trustworthy, and is recommended by Google for conversion to mobile-friendly. I has been installed in more than seven million WordPress sites, and with the easy customization capability, your sites can be customized without knowledge of any code or programming languages.

The plugin is an efficient and seamless way to create a mobile-friendly version of your site, without having to touch the desktop version which remains intact. When a mobile browser is detected the users are automatically directed to mobile version, where special mobile friendly offers can be made.

The professional version includes many more features, such as some very stylish themes, and support for touch screens, support for e-commerce with WooCommerce, and is compatible with all of the major mobile operating systems.

Main Features

  • Support for touch screens
  • Wide browser compatibility
  • Multiple themes
  • Easy customization and configuration

Download

 

16. WooCommerce

Woocommerce WordPress plugin

Woo Commerce offers an easy way to sell products on the web without building a separate virtual storefront. The plugin activates a virtual storefront after installation, and can be customized from your WordPress admin dashboard.There are several Woo Commerce themes from which you can choose to build your storefront, or you may quickly design your own with the many widgets and shortcodes that are included.

The plugin includes all that is needed for managing your eCommerce operation, with several different payment processors such as PayPal, a MasterCard supported payment gateway known as simplify Commerce. Additional options included are Cash on Delivery as payment, and flat shipping rates that may be manually adjusted. A lot of reporting facility is included in the WooCommerce plugin that makes it easy to see inventory levels and any outstanding sales with many other detailed statistics. Woo Commerce has become widely popular, and developers continue to add new extensions to a fast growing library ofadd-ons that should make management of ecommerce stores much more effective.

Main Features

  • Fully customizable
  • Easy integration
  • Free extensions
  • Robust and intuitive operation

Download

 

17. Yoast SEO Plugin

 yoast WordPress plugin

You can produce much better optimized content with WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast. It is perhaps the pa the most comprehensive WordPress SEO plugin available, and there are even more features available in the Premium version that is available with additional support. The plugin helps to analyze your content with a function that examines your titles, and descriptions to determine that they meet the Search Engine guidelines.

There are different templates that can be used for individual pages to ensure that they are properly optimized. Use the snippet preview to see how your listing appears in Google.

The Yoast SEO Plugin for WordPress has been downloaded more than 14 million times, and is very easy to install. It includes the important features of several plugins, one of which is the ability to add some enhancements to your RSS feeds.This can be an easy way to get multiple links back to your site as your content is distributed when you place edited links in your feed.

Main Features

  • Available in multiple languages
  • Advanced editing of .htaccess and robots.txt files
  • Clean Permalinks
  • Generate breadcrumbs and sitemaps

Download

Alternative: All-in-One SEO

All in one seo WordPress plugin

All-in-one Seo comes closest to automatic optimization of your WordPress site. The plugin works out of the box, but the Pro version includes some advanced features to help even more.

You are not only able to optimize the entire site but individual posts can also be optimized for better chances of being discovered by the search bots.

All-in One SEO offers the opportunity to go as deep as you wish as there may be difference of opinions as to what is best as far as SEO is concerned, and it is very easy to test features and characteristics to observe some of the results that are obtained. Updates are issued with some regularity, and many of the new features such as Social settings, allows unique content to be published on the social media networks, and with the paid version of the plugin, users can get support or assistance from the community forum.

Main Features

  • Support for Google Analytics
  • SEO for WP eCommerce sites
  • Auto generation of meta tags
  • Develops Canonical URLs
  • Avoids duplicate content

Download

 

18. NextGen Gallery

nextgen gallery WordPress plugin

No site is complete without images. NextGEN Gallery allows you easily upload images from your desktop to your WordPress blog. It has turned to be one of the more popular plugins and has been downloaded more than 12 million times. Save time and manage your images using File Transfer Protocol, or a batch uploader that supports the transfer of zip files and with NextGEN Gallery plugin, the Meta data of your images will be automatically imported.

Managing the images, as you easily sort, rearrange delete or edit your images. Images can be sorted by categories with different galleries or albums. The premium version includes 12 different styles which can also be edited with options for display timing, size, transition modes, lightbox effects and other styling features. The ability to edit individual images, without needing additional software can turn out to be a very handy feature, and thumbnail images can also be restyle according to need requirements.

Main Features

  • Fully responsive
  • Supports social sharing
  • 12 Attractive gallery styles
  • Stunning full screen lightbox

Download

 

19. BuddyPress

buddypress WordPress plugin

Operate your own social network on your WordPress site with Buddy Press plugin. The plugin includes all of the features needed for a sophisticated social network that withstands heavy loads.It is derived from a compilation of plugins that included most of the functions in social nets, and can be installed with a few clicks. There a several add-ons that are available developers continue to come up with some creative ways to enhance the application.

After registering can create profiles, and interact with other through private conversations, and it becomes much easier to build a community of people with similar interests, and the number of extensions for Buddy Press is in the hundreds, as developer have added short code apps and different themes, or a Poke button that quick connects with others to customize or add more features your social network. Other outstanding features are the Activity Stream which displays the activity of all members across the entire site, and blog tracking which display similar activity for all blogs.

Main Features

  • Easy installation
  • Multiple languages
  • Open community for suggestions and support

Download

 

 

20. Sucuri

sucuri WordPress plugin

Hackers are constantly looking for vulnerabilities to exploit, and since WordPress is so extremely popular, there can be little doubt that they are spending a considerable amount of time on penetrating sites built on WordPress. One of the way to avoid your site becoming victim of an attack is by constant monitoring. There may be some paid services that will constantly monitor your site, but one of the plugins that we have discovered for monitoring WP sites is Sucuri.

The plugin is easy to install, and when activated will continually scan your site at three hour intervals for signs of malware and viruses Alerts are sent when suspicious or aberrations are discovered. The service also offer virus and malware removal to keep your site clean, and they also ensure that your site does not become blacklisted, to keep your reputation intact.

In addition to protection, you can harden your site to avoid attacks by making your uploads directory, which is always vulnerable in an inaccessible file. With one-click Sucuri converts the directory to disallow the execution of any php code, and the same procedure can be extended to other important php files in your installation.

Main Features

  • Continual server-side scanning
  • Malware removal
  • Real time alerts

Download

 

21. AdSanity

Adsanity WordPress plugin

The Adsanity is an easy and simple way to manage the banner ads placed on your site. Banners are ubiquitous, and with proper use, they can generate some passive income from your visitors. The key is the management of the banners and testing the performance with the Adsanity plugin.

The ads can be placed in widgets with two formations of either displaying a single ad or a rotating group of ads. You can set expiry dates for specific ads or they can live forever, and what is even more useful, is that you can observe the performance of the ads as they display in a graphical statistic presentation.

The stats can be maintained a format such as a spreadsheet where the performance of the same ad can be observed when the widget is moved to different location. An API for Adsanity is also available, where developers can express creativity with new features and addons.

Main Features

  • Easy installation
  • Multiple formats
  • Graphical statistics

Download

 

22. Quick PayPal Payments

Quick paypal payments WordPress plugin

Quick PayPal Payments may be one the quickest and easiest way to begin accepting PayPal payments on your WordPress site. It can literally be done in seconds with the shortcode for a form which is added to the page after the plugin has been installed and activated.

A nice simple and straightforward plugin that is extremely easy to use, however the forms can be customized to be aligned with the appearance and functioning of your site so they appear to be seamless.

The operation is simple enough, but the plugin also come with several features. The user fills out the form, that includes the reference, invoice or ID number, along with the payment amount. It is like an invoice that collects the details of the transaction before payment is submitted.

On setting page of the plugin, your PayPal address is entered and the currency. The shortcode is entered on the payment page and the form is generated and payment submitted when made .It could not be any simpler.

This plugin can be suitable for a host of SMEs that run WordPress sites, and also include the Paypal Instant PayPal Notification.

Main Features

  • Easy edits
  • Supports variable or Fixed payment amounts
  • Supports payment in PayPal approved currencies
  • Multiple styling options
  • Supports multiple languages

Download

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