17 Best WordPress Plugins

One of the top reasons for using WordPress for your blog is the number of outstanding, free plugins that are available.

The best WordPress plug-ins are easy to use and offer extensive flexibility.  This is my list of the 17 best wordpress plugins.

Top WordPress Plugins

#1 Use Google Libraries by Jason Penny

This plug-in will make your site run faster, period.

All it does is take some of the load off your own site for loading scripts and delivering them to visitors.  It does this by utilizing the Google Libraries whenever possible.

You don’t really need to understand how it works.  Just install, activate, and you’re good to go.

#2 CBNET Ping Optimizer by Chip Bennett

Did you know that WordPress sites automatically ping every time you publish a post?  That’s not the bad part…

The crazy part: WordPress automatically pings every single time you update a post too.  This means if you just change a few words and update, or make a few quick changes, they all send out another ping.

Over-pinging can lead to problems with your search engine rankings, so if you make lots of little updates on your posts you should disable this functionality.  CBNET Ping Optimizer gives you an option to ping less frequency and also the ability to completely disable this option.

#3 Commentluv Premium by Andy Bailey

Comments are a great way to build a relationship with your readers.  CommentLuv Premium takes it to the next level.

CommentLuv Premium is a plug-in that increases the incentives for commenting on your blog.  Commenters can be rewarded with a dofollow tag on their link or additional links after their comment based.

They get these extras based on settings that you choose.  For instance, you may allow someone to add a link to their latest blog post if they Tweet or share your post on Facebook.  You could make their link dofollow as well if they share the post on Google+.

#4 WordPress SEO by Joost De Valk

Every site should be optimized for the search engines.

This doesn’t mean you need to be a master SEO, in fact, with WordPress SEO by Yoast it’s basically all done for you.

I used to use another popular plug-in called All In One SEO Pack, but this plug-in is better in many ways.  It handles all of your on-page optimization with easy to customize options.  They also make things easy to understand for SEO newbies with there numerous footnotes and instructions.

Also, I would have added RSS Footer to this list, but that functionality is contained within this plug-in.

#5 Comment Redirect by Joost de Valk

When someone comments on your blog, where do they go next?

They probably end up on the same post they commented on, but is that really ideal?  With Comment Redirect, you can send visitors to another webpage on your site after they comment.

This is a good time to get them to opt-in to an email list since you’ve got their attention and they’re interacting with your site.

#6 Display Widgets by Strategy 11

Display Widgets is a plugin that will make your life much easier.  It allows you to choose exactly which widgets you want to show on each page/post of your site.

It will add a series of check-boxes to each of your widgets where you can decide where you want to display a widget or where you want to hide it.  The “hide on checked” and “show on checked” options make it easy to quickly configure your widget display to  your liking.

#7 Header and Footer by Stefano Lissa

Header and Footer is a helpful plugin for webmasters who really want to avoid code.  Often times, you’ll receive a short bit of code to add into your website’s header or footer.  For instance, a Google Analytics script.

Header and Footer allows you to add code to either without having to touch your site’s theme editor.  The plugin also has options for adding content just before or after posts/pages as well as a few other options.

#8 Opt-in Skin by Glen Allsopp

Most websites use some sort of subscription to get people to return to their site.

Many blogs for instance use “opt-in forms” to get visitors on their email list.  The problem is that creating a sharp looking web form for people to submit their emails in can be challenging and frustrating.

Opt-in Skin comes with X beautiful opt-in forms that are very customizable too.  It allows you to insert them anywhere on your site with just a few button clicks.  You can use Opt-in Skin to get visitors to subscribe to an email list or your RSS feed.

Another cool feature is the ability to split-test your forms.  This means you make two identical skins and change one part like the headline and each is randomly displayed to visitors.  After a while you can check and see which headline performed better and then use that one and test again.

#9 Search Meter by Bennett McElwee

Search Meter tells you the exact search queries that people are using on your site.  I love this plug-in because the data is gives you is so useful and relevant.

By keeping track of what people search for when on your site, you can find great ideas for new blog posts or other content.  If you find people searching a lot for content you already have on your site then you should consider making it more visible .

#10 Relevanssi by Michael Cannon & M. Saari

By default, the search results that your WordPress site returns are just awful.  Relevanssi will help tailor your site search to feed people better results.

This helps visitors find what they’re looking for and spend a longer time on your site.

#11 SEO Search Terms Tagging 2 by Poer

This plug-in tells you the exact search queries visitors are using in Google to get to your site.  It also shows you the page that they visited with that search.

You can use this information to find new long-tail keywords to target.  You will probably get a fair amount of traffic from 4 word or longer search queries you never optimized for.  If you notice some of them sending a decent amount of visitors then you can write a new post targeting that phrase specifically.

#12 Social Media Widget by Brian Freytag

Social Media Widget is the best way to add your social profiles to your sidebar.  The plug-in comes with 4 different button designs for a couple dozen social sites you can link to.

It even has the option for you to add new social sites and also upload your own button images for each of the sites.  Social Media Widget is the quickest and easiest way to add attractive links to your Facebook, Twitter, and other social accounts.

#13 Subscribe to Comments Reloaded by Due Chiacchiere

Here’s another way to get more traffic from your comments.  Subscribe to Comments Reloaded adds a checkbox below your comment form for people to subscribe to other comments.

When visitors have something to say on your site, they usually want to follow what others have to say about the subject to.  This plug-in has a huge amount of customization options so you can fine tune it to meet your needs.

#14 Thank Me Later by Brendon Boshell

Okay this is the last comment-related plug-in, I promise :)

Thank Me Later sends a “thank you” email to everyone who comments on your blog.  You can make this email say anything you want.

I have found that an effective technique for increasing repeat traffic is to give people a gift (like a free ebook) in the email instead of just saying thanks. 

#15 W3 Total Cache by Frederick Townes

W3 Total Cache is the ultimate site performance plug-in.  It will help optimize your site and make it run lightning fast.

Using it takes a little bit of technical knowledge, but of course there are tons of tutorials online.  This tutorial in particular is very good and will get your site running faster in no time.

#16 WP-DBManager  by Lester Chan

WP-DBManager will help your site run faster by optimizing and repairing your database, and it can also create backup files.  It just takes one click of the button for each and doesn’t require technical knowledge.

Another cool part of the plugin is that you can schedule these tasks to take place automatically.  This means you can schedule your database to be repaired, optimized, and backed up as frequently as you’d like.

#17 WP Table Reloaded by Tobias Bathge

A while ago I was looking for a simple way to add a table to a post.  After a lot of searching, I finally found WP Table Reloaded.

This plugin helps you create simple tables and provides you with a shortcode for each to add in your posts and pages.  Like all great plugins, this one kicks ass because it has a lot of simple options.  Moving columns and rows around couldn’t be easier and the table creation is comprehensive.

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2 Responses to 17 Best WordPress Plugins

  1. jan says:

    Another question Ben, is there any advantage to using Search Meter and SEO Search Terms Tagging 2 if you use Google Analytics? Thanks Cheers

    • Ben says:

      The only advantage of using the search terms plugin in addition to GA is that you get a second opinion on the data. Sometimes I find different keywords which is helpful. Search Meter tracks the use of your sites internal searches which I don’t think can be done with GA. But now that I think about it, another alternative would be to use a Google Custom Search bar on your site.

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