15 Essential WordPress Plugins for 2015

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Believe it or not, but as of November 2014, WordPress boasted as many as 34,541 plugins that have been downloaded almost 783 million times! Impressive, isn't it? Users of WordPress simple love plugins - they allow any website to grow way beyond the platform's core installation. Truth be told - in 2014, WordPress had the largest slice of the CMS market, amounting to a smashing 61%!

If the above inspires you to consider WordPress as your next platform of choice (and I guess it should), here's a selection of what industry experts predict to be the most popular and functional WordPress plugins in 2015.

1. Akismet

Akismet

This is an anti-spam classic and probably the best plugin ever for all matters of security and spam detection. The plugin will check all comments on your website by means of the Akismet web service and quickly detect any content that might be categorized as spam. Problematic content won't be instantly deleted - all elements that were marked as spam will be available to you for review.

2. Wordfence

Wordfence

This is a security and performance plugin that helps to secure your website and make it a lot faster to load. While its free version is already valuable - the plugin performs a deep server-side scan of your code, comparing it to the WordPress repository of themes and plugins - the premium version includes even more interesting features like access to their ticketing support system.

3. W3 Total Cache

W3 Total Cache

Probably one of the most popular caching plugins around, W3 Total Cache helps to improve your user experience without any changes applied to your website's content. It offers a Web Performance Optimization (WPO) option, which can work for browsers, pages, objects, databases, and even content delivery network support. Simple and efficient.

4. All in One SEO Pack

All in One SEO Pack

This plugin will help to optimize your WordPress website. It provides an SEO integration for e-commerce sites built in WordPress, automatically optimizes titles for Google and other search engines, generates META tags and helps to avoid duplicate content - the vice of many WordPress blogs.

5. Google XML Sitemaps

Google XML Sitemaps

This is a plugin, which will help you in your SEO efforts by creating an XML sitemap for your website. Thanks to this sitemap, search engines will easily detect the complete structure of your website and retrieve it more quickly and efficiently. Google XML Sitemaps includes a smart feature - every time you add new content to your website, it will notify search engines about the change.

6. WordPressSEO by Yoast

WordPressSEO by Yoast

Even though WordPress is itself an SEO-friendly platform, this plugin will go way beyond its basic functionalities. Choose a keyword and the plugin will automatically check all your content, making sure you're using it correctly and realizing your SEO goals. It also takes care of the technical side of optimization - simple and smart!

7. Shareaholic

Shareaholic

This is an all-in-one solution that helps to make the most from social media, driving engagement and traffic to your website. It features social media buttons to help users share your content or follow your page. It also highlights related content that might pass unnoticed and gives a wealth of social media analytics insights ready to be incorporated into your marketing strategies.

8. ShareThis

ShareThis

This is basically a plugin that provides widgets for sharing your posts and other content on social media. It features more than 120 social media channels - from Facebook to Pinterest - and you can choose between large and small buttons, adding counters or simply use one of the ready-made Sharing Bars. The plugin also grants you access to some insights about your use of social media in its Social Media Analytics Dashboard section.

9. Jetpack by WordPress.Com

Jetpack by WordPress.Com

This is a classic - it's been downloaded over 11 million times! Jetpack will supercharge your WordPress site with some of the platform's most powerful features. With just a few seconds, you can install popular plugins and practical tools that offer a wide array of functionalities - from adding likes to your posts to supporting a social media enabled comment system. It also brings a heap of insightful WordPress statistics - all that without any additional load on your server.

10. Google Analyticator

Google Analyticator

The plugin is quite simple - it adds a JavaScript code to help Google Analytics log on any WordPress website. This basically means that you won't need to edit your template code to benefit from all the statistics offered by Google Analytics. It also features some widgets for displaying Analytics data both in the admin panel and on your blog.

11. Contact Form 7

Contact Form 7

This is a contact form classic. Downloaded over 6 million times, Contact Form 7 is a great plugin - it's easy to use and helps to manage a number of contact forms, all of which can be easily customized with a simple markup. The plugin includes CAPTCHA, support for AJAX-powered submission and Akismet-run spam filter. Not bad, huh?

12. Meta Slider

Meta Slider

Meta Slider is probably the most popular WordPress slider plugin. It helps to create sliders in a quick and easy way - all you need to do is choose the visuals, drag and drop them into place, set slide captions, SEO fields and links - and you're done! The plugin offers 4 different slider types, helping you to easily embed them on your blog or website.

13. Editorial Calendar

Editorial Calendar

This is a plugin perfect for all those that want to create a clear schedule of posting activities and stick to it. It basically gives you an overview of your blog, indicating which posts will be published when. Posts can be edited right in the calendar - you can then drag and drop them to set a post date. It's perfect if you're managing a multi-author blog and need to have everything in check.

14. BackWPup

BackWPup

This backup plugin can be used to save your complete installation including /wp-content/ and then push it to an external backup service like Dropbox, FTP, S3 and many others. An installation can be easily restored with one .zip file. It will also optimize, check and repair your database, as well as send all logs and logins to your e-mail.

15. VaultPress

VaultPress

This is a smart real-time backup and security service created by the WordPress giant Automattic. The plugin allows to back up and sync all kinds of data: posts, comments, revisions, dashboard settings or media files. All it takes is filling the subscription form and you can sleep soundly, knowing that your website is well-protected.

Thanks to its immense number of available plugins, WordPress is easily the most flexible platform around. Use the plugins listed above and you'll easily create a captivating and functional website with great user interface and optimal SEO.

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Isabel Wiliams is a Content Marketing Specialist at http://www.bizdb.co.uk/. She combines a deep background in Internet Science with intense expertise in New Technologies. She is a seasoned educator lecturing about leveraging the potential of the World Wide Web for professional development.

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