WordPress is one of the best content management platforms on the planet. It’s easy to setup, somewhat easy to manage, and it has tons of themes and plugins available to extend it’s functionality.
But hidden within this easy modification is a problem (deep ominous music begins to play). Because of the open nature of WordPress just about anybody (like us) can create a plugin or theme. While this allows for tons of great additions it also injects a little bit of a challenge.
We’ve experienced this first hand. Recently a few plugins we had installed on a some of our sites caused huge memory issues. These memory issues increasingly caused our sites to fail. Since then we’ve been extra careful about the plugins we let into our server environment.
So while WordPress is full of goodness it’s increasingly becoming important that you watch each and every plugin you install. That’s when we thought, hey let’s create a post of the Top WordPress plugins we use.
Through the last few years we’ve used some WordPress plugins that range from the good, the bad, and the down right shameless. The list that follows are plugins we’ve pronounced (trumpets) as officially rock.
Added note: A general rule to follow with WordPress is only install the plugins you need and use. Usually this number is around 10 – 25 plugins, depending on your site and needs.
Also note that that this is a mix of free and paid plugins. There’s a reason for that. We’ve found that when a plugin is free it’s often neglected or isn’t made with the same care and attention as a paid version. So more times than not we tend to go with the paid version of plugins, especially if we are going to use it on multiple sites. If we chose not to mention a plugin you think should be on the list please mention it below. Finally, we will update this list as we remember, find, and use more plugins that rock.
Curation Suite is one of the most robust and complete content curation plugins you can find for WordPress. Curate from a single source in a matter of seconds or build multi-source curated post featuring images, quotes, videos, social updates and more with ease… (Also, 100% Mobile and Tablet Friendly).
With this curation plugin you can save links from around the internet. It even has a screenshot feature allowing you to automatically select a screenshot of the content your curating. It’s one of the few curation tools that allows for both single source and mutli-source curation. In addition it has what’s called visual curation, that means you get to see exactly what you are curating.
There’s a few more features worth mentioning. The content layout flexibility allows you to choose on a curation by curation basis how your content is added to your post. There’s also tag suggestions, image credit options, and a social media sharing module.
Here’s we go again… another plug. Want to increase your engagement, your social shares, and your traffic? That’s why we developed Social Quote Traffic, an easy way to create socially enabled eye-catching, share inducing pull quotes.
You can see this plugin in action above. Create quotes in your content and prompt your reader to share individual quotes. Share on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn. Currently Social Quote Traffic is in alpha so there is a special introductory price. Learn more about creating socially connected pull quotes.
Checks spelling, detects misused words, checks style, checks grammar, and explains errors. It does all t his in real time and works much better than the out the box spell check that comes with WordPress.
This plugin goes above and beyond in checking your spelling but it also ensures your writing is grammatically correct. A huge bonus!
It allows you to easily create popups and connects with just about every major email provider out there. In addition it also connects to Linkedin, Google+, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and much more. One of the best popup type plugins on the market.
The w2 Ajax Contact Form for WordPress is a complete solution to create ajax contact form in WordPress. Designed to be a flexible plugin, this item offer classics and originals features fully configurables via Admin Plugin Interface. You can easily create your own forms HTML templates (add or remove fields) and your own themes CSS.
This is a good fallback to not using Gravity Forms also listed on this post.
So if that shortcode is used in any post or pages, then the code stored in the shortcode get executed in that place. Create “custom shortcodes” easily and use them within WordPress. Use any kind of HTML as Shortcode content.
We use shortcoder on most of our websites, especially sales sites where we might want to show a pricing table on each and every page but want the flexibility to easily change things site wide.
W3 Total Cache improves the user experience of your site by increasing server performance, reducing the download times and providing transparent content delivery network (CDN) integration. They call it WordPress Performance Optimization (WPO) framework; designed to improve user experience and page speed.
This plugin is written from the ground up by WordPress SEO consultant and WordPress developer Joost de Valk to improve your site’s SEO on all needed aspects. While this WordPress SEO plugin goes the extra mile to take care of all the technical optimization, more on that below, it first and foremost helps you write better content. WordPress SEO forces you to choose a focus keyword when you’re writing your articles, and then makes sure you use that focus keyword everywhere.
Using the snippet preview you can see a rendering of what your post or page will look like in the search results, whether your title is too long or too short and your meta description makes sense in the context of a search result.
The plugin also allows you to write meta titles and descriptions for all your category, tag and custom taxonomy archives, giving you the option to further optimize those pages.
Combined, this plugin makes sure that your content is the type of content search engines will love!
This plugin creates a profile of your WordPress site’s plugins’ performance by measuring their impact on your site’s load time. Often times, WordPress sites load slowly because of poorly configured plugins or because there are so many of them.
By using the P3 plugin, you can narrow down anything causing slowness on your site. In many ways the P3 plugin points you in the right direction or at the very least ensures your using trusted and memory efficient plugins.
Built in Social Icons: AIM, Digg, eMail, Facebook, Google+, iCompositions, ICQ, LinkedIn, MSN, MySpace, Pinterest, Reverbnation, Skype, Soundcloud, Technorati, Twitter, Yahoo, YouTube. Also, Admin can create up to 5 custom social icons.
Official shameless plug. We created a content curation plugin called Curation Traffic. It allows you to bring the power of content curation to any WordPress based blog or website.
With a click of a button you can easily find thumbnails, auto-summarize content, easily summarize list posts, and also auto includes attribution. Our plugin is designed to make content curation a snap.
In addition it finds Twitter users allowing you to find engagement opportunities and shortcuts to easily share your curated content connecting to services such as Hootsuite, Buffer, Pinterest, and Sharethis.
This plugin (and site) is our preferred method for creating high impact and dynamic lists. You can view a few of our lists here:
- Top Marketing Books
- Top Storytelling Books
- Top Sales Books
- Top Books That Could Change Your Life
- Top Business and Entrepreneurial Podcasts
- Best History Books
- Top Copywriting Books
WPtouch automatically transforms your WordPress website for mobile devices, complete with ajax loading articles and smooth effects when viewed from popular mobile web browsing devices like the iPhone, iPod touch, Android mobile phones, BlackBerry OS6+ mobile devices, and more!
The admin panel allows you to customize many aspects of its appearance, and deliver a fast, user-friendly and stylish version of your site to touch mobile visitors, without modifying a single bit of code (or affecting) your regular desktop theme.
In-Content Opt-In Forms. Easily add an opt-in form to the bottom of your blog posts, or anywhere in your content! You can easily add any opt-in form to your blog sidebar or any other widget area on your website.
It also makes it drop dead simple to add lightbox/popup forms allowing you to create unblockable popup forms to grab your visitor’s attention and get record opt-in rates. You can also create attention-grabbing forms that slide in from the bottom, side or top of the page or post.
A huge bonus to this plugin is that you can also create squeeze pages. It allows you to create high-converting squeeze pages, as easily as creating any of the other opt-in types!
Comment List Building – Add an option for your readers to easily opt-in with one click, when they leave a comment. Also built in is split testing where you can create multiple variations of any opt-in form and test them against each other, easy as pie.
A few bonus features that makes this plugin a cut above is the Facebook Connect so you can Use Facebook Connect signups and get verified, valuable email addresses from your visitors! Finally they have GoToWebinar Integration allowing you to sign your visitors up to a GoToWebinar event and any mailing list at the same time.
This plugin has quickly become one of our favorite list building plugins.
In addition to creating clean links, Pretty Link tracks each hit on your URL and provides a full, detailed report of where the hit came from, the browser, os and host.
Pretty Link is a killer plugin for people who want to clean up their affiliate links, track clicks from emails, their links on Twitter to come from their own domain, or generally increase the reach of their website by spreading these links on forums or comments on other blogs.
Blubrry PowerPress brings the essential features for podcasting to WordPress including full iTunes support, web audio/video media players and more. We’ve been doing audio content and podcasting for a few years and this is the plugin we’ve used since day one.
It provides not only easy set up but if you need to get in there and create some custom settings it most likely has it. You can see it in action in the Content Curation Show.
A quick note that iTunes can make up between 50 and 95 percent of a podcaster’s audience. PowerPress comes with the following iTunes specific features:
- Tunes compliant podcast feeds: The appropriate tags are added to your feeds so your iTunes listing looks great.
- Optimized iTunes Summary: Converts your blog post content to a format suited for viewing in iTunes
- Upload iTunes Artwork: Upload and change your iTunes artwork directly from within PowerPress settings.
- iTunes podcasting specifications fully supported.
If you’re doing any type of podcasting or audio we suggest you check out PowerPress.
This plugin was one we didn’t think would have a long shelf life. We thought we would test it out and after a few weeks we would un-install it. Well going on close to a year now it’s still standing strong.
What does this plugin do? If you look down below you’ll see a message from us about Curation Traffic. That’s what the plugin does, it allows you to place an attention grabbing conversation box on your site. This little box continually surprises us in it’s ability to convert.
The style you see below is the Facebook look but you have other options, such as AIM, ICQ, MSN, Chat Bar, Yahoo, plus complete customization.
We suggest you test it on your site and see if it can capture attention and ultimately convert.
Better Links Pro is a must have plugin if you do any affiliate marketing. This plugin allows you to easily create affiliate links with keywords. While that’s the main feature that really does make it worthwhile it’s just touching the surface.
Here’s a few things this plugin does: Automatic keyword affiliate link creation for your content, A/B Testing of Affiliate Offers, Country Specific Targeting, Post by Post Link Click Breakdown, Google Analytic integration
If you do any affiliate marketing (if don’t you should) then this really is a must have this keyword affiliate link plugin.
Easy Theme and Plugin Upgrades was created to make the life of WordPress users easier.
Without this plugin, the only upgrade path you have for download zip plugins and themes is to deactivate the theme/plugin, delete it, upload, and reactivate. With this plugin, upgrading is as simple as selecting the zip file to upload, selecting “Yes” from a drop-down, and clicking “Install Now”.
This plugin makes managing WordPress themes and plugins that much easier.
Livefyre’s real-time apps get your audience talking and turn your site into the hub for your community. Bloggers, brands and the largest publishers in the world use Livefyre to engage their users and curate live content from around the social web.
Easy to install and free for bloggers. Our advanced commenting platform features Livefyre Comments 3, real-time admin dashboard, and user profiles. Allows users to tag friends in various social networks and bring them into the conversation
Redirect Pages/Posts to another page/post or external URL. Has edit box as well as global options. Specify the redirect Location and type. Works with new WordPress menus. Works with new WordPress Custom Post Types (set option on settings page). Disabled in 5.0.3: [jQuery integration for more enhanced re-writes (set option on settings page)]. You can set a redirect page or menu link to open in a new window (will not work on permalinks). You can redirect without needing to create a Page or Post. This is very useful for sites that were converted to WordPress and have old links that create 404 errors (see FAQs for more information). This option does not allow for open in a new window or nofollow functions.
Social Metrics Pro Tracks Tweets, Likes, Pins, +1s and more right from your WordPress Dashboard! Powerful Dashboard to centrally monitor social activity across leading social media networks like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Digg and LinkedIn.
You choose which networks you wish to track. Sort your data to identify which posts are performing best on which social networks. Perform keyword searches to study posts related to certain topics. Filter by post type, category, publishing date or by post authors. Social Metrics Pro sports Excel-like conditional formatting. Posts with highest number of shares show up green. Posts with low social media activity show up amber and red. Turn reds to greens and you are on your way to social media success.
Special Recent Posts PRO is a very powerful plugin/widget for WordPress which displays your recent posts with thumbnails. It’s the perfect solution for online magazines or simple blogs and it comes with more than 30+ customization options available.
You can dynamically re-size thumbnails to any desired dimension, drag multiple widget instances and configure each one with its specific settings.
You should also check out Special Recent Posts Pro.
You can also scan your site at SiteCheck.Sucuri.net. Sucuri SiteCheck detects various types of malware, SPAM injections, website errors, disabled sites, database connection issues and code anomalies that require special attention to include…
The recent Timthumb.php vulnerability (discussed here) has left scores of unsuspecting bloggers hacked. It’s the perfect combination of not so easy to fix for the technically disinclined, and easy to find and exploit for the malicious – resulting in a disastrous number of compromised sites.
The Timthumb Vulnerability Scanner plugin will scan your entire wp-content directory for instances of any outdated and insecure version of the timthumb script, and give you the option to automatically upgrade them with a single click. Doing so will protect you from hackers looking to exploit this particular vulnerability.
OSE Firewall™ – A WordPress Firewall created by Open Source Excellence. It protects your WordPress-powered blog against attacks and hacking. The built-in scanner can scan your websites for malicious codes.
The newly added Anti-Spam function utilizes the IP pools in stopforumspam.com to keep your website spam free! Detailed description can be found in our main website here.
Did you remember to write a post for next Tuesday? What about the Tuesday after that? WordPress doesn’t make it easy to see when your posts are scheduled. The editorial calendar gives you an overview of your blog and when each post will be published.
You can drag and drop to move posts, edit posts right in the calendar, and manage your entire blog. This plugin makes managing your editorial calendar a breeze.
You can set up Automatic removal of “Known Threats”. It also downloads definitions of new threat as they are discovered.
Automatically upgrade vulnerable versions of timthumb to patch security holes. Customize Scan Setting. Run a Quick Scan from the admin menu or a Complete Scan from the Settings Page.
It allows you to easily create powerful sliders with animated text using HTML standard tags, making the slider very easy to setup and maintain.
The All in cone Banner Rotator is a plugin we constantly go back to when we need sliders and other related content elements.
This premium author bio plugin is very easy to use and customize. Right after installation the author bio is, by default, enabled on all your posts, pages and custom post types. You can also implement it as a widget in your sidebars, as a template tag or manually using a shortcode. It’s translation ready and users color pickers which allow you to set your own color scheme.
Social widgets are a nice asset that let you present yourself in a more personal manner and enable people to connect with you easily.
The w2 Ajax Contact Form for WordPress is a complete solution to create ajax contact form in WordPress. Designed to be a flexible plugin, this item offer classics and originals features fully configurables via Admin Plugin Interface.
You can easily create your own forms HTML templates (add or remove fields) and your own themes CSS. The drag’n’drop No Spam Control is an user friendly alternative to the traditionnal Captcha. It is not a simple drag’n’drop feature to display the send Button. It is a complete solution for anti spam.
It supports several social networks and displays the current numbers of Facebook Page Likes, Twitter, Dribbble, Forrst and Digg Followers and YouTube and Vimeo Channel Subscriptions. You can enter default values which will be shown as a fallback if the related API is not reachable.
This CSS Responsive Pricing Tables plugin is packed with 10 Easy Customizable Predefined Themes. It’s a perfect addition to a site where you might want to test pricing or roll out a minimal viable product.
It has Languages Support, Cross Browser Support, Multi calendars in a page or post, Upcoming Events Widget, Simple to Customize, and it’s Well Documented.
Dynamic Step Process Panels for WordPress is a lightweight plugin for WordPress. It allows that any content can be represented in any number of tabs / steps. Can be used to do Presentation of bulleted content, Multisteps forms, Provide a description of products, Viewing photos, Loading content from files via AJAX, Anything that comes to your mind.
Embed videos in posts, pages and widget areas. With just one-click, VidEmbed adds video content from various sources including self-hosted video files, YouTube or Vimeo. Customize video embeds and video player styles (like theme and frame colors) for a consistent look site-wide.
VidEmbed Shortcode Button — Adds a button to the WYSIWYG editor for quick and easy video embeds to posts, pages or widget content. Supports Multiple Video Sources — Add stand-alone videos (flv, mp4 and mov formats), Amazon S3 hosted videos or videos from YouTube and Vimeo.
Also included is an Open Source Video Player — In addition to the YouTube and Vimeo Players, VidEmbed includes an open source video player for self-hosted videos. Customizable Player Settings — Specify player theme, color options, fonts, frame color and more.
Responsive, localized and fully featured. This fast plugin allows you to create a video gallery.
It comes with two skins + skin generator – choose from Complete or Light skin for every gallery you setup. It’s alo iPhone/iPad compatible by generateing html5 videos players.
It’s alos full of choices you can set up the gallery just by imputing your YouTube user/playlist in the ‘feed’ tag of the xml file. All descriptions/titles/thumbs/videos will be feeded directly from YouTube so you won’t need to write anything other then that.
This plugin is great for creating a custom playlist of videos on your blog.
With WPSubscribers, you can create unlimited number of subscribe forms include popup forms, footer bar forms, custom forms, exit popups… and each of them can has its own content and can be used separated at the same time.
WPSubscribers can be used with any email service such as Aweber, Mailchimp, iContact, GetResponse, Prosender, Emailaces, Turbo Autoresponders, Google FeedBurner… or your own service. WPSubscribers is designed to work with all major web browsers.
Create maps of a continent or a sub-continent. (Africa, Europe, Americas, Asia, Oceania and all their sub-continents).
Create a map of a country. (virtually all the countries in the world are included, featuring the most requested: USA, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Brazil, India, Australia…). or a map of a country divided by its regions. Even a state in the United States.
If your in need of a map (and especially an interactive one) this is the plugin you should check out.
It has a One-time fee. You can create your own operators and it includes chat logs. Not only that more than one operator can reply the same user’s question. Also, visitors can fill out contact form when all operators are offline.
If your looking for a lightweight and easy to use chat plugin this is the one to check out.
Vector Icons for WordPress is a new way to include icons to your site. No more need to customize image or psd files, now all is done in your WordPress editor.
This is made possible by combining awesome iconic vector fonts with 900+ icons and beautiful icon panel. Icons are retina and high definition ready and will look crisp in any definition. Icons can be any color and any size, with predefined or custom effects and are great for any purpose.
Gravity Forms is hands down the best contact form plugin for WordPress. Build and publish your WordPress forms in just minutes. No drudgery, just quick and easy form-building. Select your fields, configure your options and easily embed forms on your WordPress powered site using the built-in tools.
Building simple and complex forms alike is a piece of cake with the easy to use form editor. Make long forms easier to use by breaking them up into multiple pages, complete with progress bar. Gravity Forms makes it easy to create order forms with product, option, shipping and total calculations. Configure your form to show or hide fields, sections, pages or even the submit button based on user selections.
Gravity Forms allows you to quickly and easily integrate with a variety of third party services such as PayPal and provides for even deeper integration with WordPress through our collection of optional Add-Ons. Hot stuff!
With this plugin you can easily display custom text, Twitter posts and Feeds RSS. Also, the huge list of features lets you fully customize the notifications look. AttentionGrabber is a simple but effective solution to market your products and share contents through your website.
Updates Will Be Listed Here
- June 17th – Added Better Links Pro.