WordPress is amazing in itself considering how easy it is to use, but Plugins make the webmaster's job even easier. Also the plugins are the backbone to a self-hosted WordPress blog. There are plugins for various purposes including to aid caching and image optimization, SEO, anti-spam, commenting, content-sharing, bookmarking and so on.
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Here is a complied list of 49 Essential WordPress Plugins you should be using. To make things simple, the plugins in this post have been broken into different categories.
Basic Plugin Sections
- SEO Plugins
- Anti-spam / Security Plugins
- Backup Plugins
- Caching Plugins
- Comment Plugins
- Forms Plugins
- Statistics / Tracking Plugins
- Social Bookmarking Plugins
This is one of the most complete WordPress SEO plugins available so far. You can perform almost any SEO functionality for your blog with the help of this invaluable plugin by Yoast. Not to be attempted by new users though.
Scribe is a powerful SEO plugin for WordPress which helps you reveal profitable keywords, tweak your pages for ranking better in the search results and build high quality links based on particular content that you create.
This plugin enables you to add relevant robot meta tags to your pages, unfollow some links and not index unimportant pages and archives.
This all-in-one SEO plugin gives you control over title tags, noindex, meta tags, slugs, canonical, autolinks, 404 errors, rich snippets, and more.
SEO Friendly Images is a WordPress SEO plugin which automatically updates all images with proper ALT and TITLE attributes for SEO purposes. If your images do not have ALT and TITLE already set, SEO Friendly Images will add them according the options you set. Additionally this makes the post W3C/xHTML valid as well.
SEO Smart Links is a very powerful plugin which suits both beginner users (with a plug and play philosophy with optimal options pre-set) as well as those proficient in the art of SEO with numerous customizable features. SEO Smart Links - Premium Edition enhances your search engine rankings by automatically inter-linking your posts either in automatic or in user-set mode. It also helps you manage your affiliate links and much more.
This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask.com to better index your blog. With such a sitemap, it's much easier for the crawlers to see the complete structure of your site and retrieve it more efficiently. The plugin supports all kinds of WordPress generated pages as well as custom URLs. Additionally it notifies all major search engines every time you create a post about the new content.
This plugin is a great WordPress plugin that can make on-page optimization easier than ever. It will take care of almost every single on-page factors of your posts and can help your site rank higher in the search results.
Optimizes your WordPress blog for Search Engines (Search Engine Optimization). This plugin is the first choice for new and inexperienced WordPress users, who want their blogs to be fully Search Engine Optimized without digging deep into SEO. It provides you with almost every function needed in just a single page.
This is a very simple SEO plugin that can make your blog SEO friendly with the SEO Scores it geneates for every single page. It has a very simple and effective admin panel that can seamlessly integrate into your existing WordPress admin panel.
SpeedUp and Caching Plugins
This plugin generates static html files from your dynamic WordPress blog. After a html file is generated your webserver will serve that file instead of processing the comparatively heavier and more expensive WordPress PHP scripts.
This plugin reduces the file sizes of the images by using the Smush.it API from WordPress. The images are compressed almost without any loss and automatically in WordPress. It also has features to compress multiple images in bulk. Also every image you add to a page or post will be automatically run through Smush.it behind the scenes. You don’t have to do anything different.
If you care about the speed of your site, Quick Cache is one of those plugins that you absolutely MUST have installed. Quick Cache takes a real-time snapshot ( building a cache ) of every Page, Post, Category, Link, etc. These snapshots are then stored ( cached ) intuitively, so they can be referenced later, in order to save all of that processing time that has been dragging your site down and costing you money.
If your website has a number of images to load every time a visitor visits your site but it takes a lot of resources loading them up, then you should definitely consider this plugin. This plugin provides a better user experience by delaying the load of images in (especially long) web pages. Images outside of the visible portion of the page that the user is viewing wont be loaded before the user scrolls down to them.
CloudFlare is a service that makes websites load faster and protects sites from online spammers and hackers. The main purpose of this plugin is to ensure you have no change to your originating IPs when using CloudFlare. Since CloudFlare acts a reverse proxy, connecting IPs now come from CloudFlare's range. This plugin will ensure you can continue to see the originating IP. This plugin can also help to ensure your server database is running optimally.
This plugin implements object level persistent caching which caches only the data that WordPress explicitly asks it to cache, instead of the entire page. WP File Cache significantly reduces the load from your database. Please note that WP File Cache shifts the load from your database to your disk/file system and if Disk I/O is a bottleneck, file based caches will not help you.
Hyper Cache Extended is a new cache system for WordPress, specifically written for people which have their blogs on low resources hosting provider (cpu and mysql). It works even with hosting based on Microsoft IIS (just tuning the configuration). It has three invalidation method: all the cache, single post based and nothing but with control on home and archive pages invalidation.
W3 Total Cache improves the user experience of your site by improving your server performance, caching every aspect of your site, reducing the download times and providing transparent content delivery network (CDN) integration.
Disqus is a powerful commenting system that helps you to build an active community of users by effective tools and features like Realtime Comment System, Social Integration, The Community Box, etc. It's free to use and works with virtually any type of website.
Livefyre is one of the best comment platforms that aims to replace old and outdated comments systems with innovative and interactive real-time conversations. Livefyre is the easiest way to build engaged, hyper-active communities.
Subscribe to Comments is a robust plugin that enables commenters to sign up for e-mail notification of subsequent entries. The plugin includes a full-featured subscription manager that your commenters can use to unsubscribe to certain posts, block all notifications, or even change their notification e-mail address!
OpenID is an open standard that allows users to authenticate themselves on websites without creating new passwords. This plugin allows users to login to their local WordPress account using an OpenID, as well as enabling commenters to leave authenticated comments with OpenID. The plugin also includes an OpenID provider, enabling users to login to OpenID-enabled sites using their own personal WordPress account.
Adds CAPTCHA anti-spam methods to WordPress forms for comments, registration, lost password, login, or all. In order to post comments or register, users will have to type in the code shown on the image. This prevents spam from automated bots. Adds security. Works great with Akismet. Also is fully WP, WPMU, and BuddyPress compatible.
Login LockDown records the IP address and timestamp of every failed login attempt. If more than a certain number of attempts are detected within a short period of time from the same IP range, then the login function is disabled for all requests from that range. This helps to prevent brute force password discovery.
Akismet is possibly the best way to protect your website from web spam. Akismet filters comments and trackback spam, so that you can focus more on managing other important things. It runs on autopilot and provides 24-hour protection.
This plugin integrates the Facebook commenting system (new, old or both) right into your website. If a reader is logged into Facebook while viewing any comment-enabled page or post, they'll be able to leave a comment using their Facebook profile.
IntenseDebate is a feature-rich comment system for WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr and many other blogging/CMS platforms.
This plugin enables users to edit their own comments within a certain period of time. Users can also move, mark as spam, blacklist, moderate or delete a particular comment.
Comment Luv helps you to increase comments and traffic to your blog and also gives the opportunity to your blog of going viral in Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. It also reduces spam, shows stats of links being clicked, allows commentors to use their name in comments, and many more.
AntiSpam Bee is a spam protection plugin that is made up of sophisticated techniques to handle digital rubbish and protect your website from every potential threat.
Anti Spam and Security Plugins
reCAPTCHA is most probably the most popular and widely accepted CAPTCHA systems by all users. This plugin integrates reCAPTCHA anti-spam methods in WordPress as comment, registration and email protection.
Social Bookmarking Plugins
Get more traffic back to your site by installing the AddThis WordPress plugin. With AddThis, your users can promote your content by sharing to 330 of the most popular social networking and bookmarking sites (like Facebook, Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon and MySpace).
The WordPress plugin to help people share, bookmark, and email your posts and pages using any service, such as Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Google, Digg, Delicious, and well over 100 more sharing and social bookmarking sites. New: Pinterest Pin It Button in addition to the Facebook Like Button, Twitter Tweet Button, Google+ Share Button and Google +1 Button.
The Wordpress Social Bar is a professional and elegant plugin that adds the possibility of show your social profiles in a sleek and innovative way.
Sociable adds a bar of icons of different social networking and bookmarking sites that you can choose for your articles. If they see what they like, your readers can easily share the contents to many bookmarking sites. You can choose to display the sites you want for sharing from the control panel.
ShareThis plugin allows users to share your content through email and 50+ social networks including Facebook, Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon and Reddit. Now with simultaneous sharing to Facebook, Twitter, Email and more: you can broadcast your message more easily and widely than ever before.
Stats Tracking Plugins
It is a simple, clear and concise plugin that track stats for your WordPress blog with no additional load on your server. Once it's running it'll begin collecting information about your pageviews, which posts and pages are the most popular, where your traffic is coming from, and what people click on when they leave. It'll also add a link to your dashboard which allows you to see all your stats on a single page. A small chart will appear in your admin bar if you are running WordPress 3.1 or later.
Clicky is a real-time web analytics for tracking your website's visitors. It has great features like Real Time Analytics, Visitor Segmentation, Twitter Analytics, Mobile Version, Video Analytics and many more.
The first real-time plugin dedicated to the management of statistics about blog visits. It also collects information about visitors, spiders, search keywords, feeds, browsers etc.
It's never been easier to add Google analytics and event tracking to your websites. This in combination with a campaing url generator tool makes a powerfull Wordpress plugin to get the most out of Google Analytics.
Quform is an easy way of building forms in a few clicks using the drag and drop form builder. This plugin ensures that you have the best form design and functionality without having to touch a single line of code.
Contact Form 7 can manage multiple contact forms, plus you can customize the form and the mail contents flexibly with simple markup. The form supports Ajax-powered submitting, CAPTCHA, Akismet spam filtering and so on.
Gravity Forms is hands down the best contact form plugin for WordPress. It has various features like conditional logic, entry management, notifications, styles and layout, and many more that can give your forms a unique feel.
This is a jQuery based AJAX powered HTML / PHP contact form with Twitter Direct Messaging, easily integrated into WordPress via shortcodes and functions.
Backup and Database Management
WP-Optimize is a WordPress 2.9++ database cleanup and optimization tool. It doesn't require PhpMyAdmin to optimize your database tables. It allows you to remove post revisions, comments in the spam queue, un-approved comments within few clicks.
VaultPress provides realtime, continuous backup and synchronization of every post, comment, media file, revision and dashboard setting across at least two separate cloud services in addition to the Automattic grid, ensuring no loss of content.
This plugin allows you to optimize database, repair database, backup database, restore database, delete backup database , drop/empty tables and run selected queries. Supports automatic scheduling of backing up, optimizing and repairing of database.
Back up your entire WordPress installation. Widgets, themes, plugins, files and SQL database - the entire package! Just like your laptop or desktop computer, you should be doing regular backups of your website. With BackupBuddy you can schedule backups and have them sent off-site to Dropbox, Amazon S3, Rackspace Cloud, an FTP server, or your email. Or download them right to your desktop.
You are most welcome to suggest any additions to this list. You can use the comments box below to make any suggestions.