Review of the Best WordPress Plugins

Choosing the best WordPress plugins for your needs

If you visit WordPress.org and click the Plugins link, you’ll come to a page where you can search for free WordPress plugins, the most popular of which are listed in the right sidebar of the page. As of today there are 42,730 plugins having been downloaded 1,166,099,162 times, and counting! It’s hard to choose the best WordPress plugins to use when there are so many to sort through.

The Most Popular plugins are popular for a reason — they are simply good, well-maintained plugins. However, they do have competition. For example, WordPress SEO by Yoast is giving a run for the money to All in One SEO Pack. Is one better than the other? At some points in time, yes, and others perhaps no. A little healthy competition has made both plugins very good over time.

Below is a list of the plugins I used most often or have found to be very helpful on specific websites even if I don’t use them on all websites. I’ve placed a * by the plugins I typically use on every site I create. Please read my post on how to choose WordPress plugins wisely.


Best WordPress SEO Plugins

While WordPress is search engine friendly right out of the box, SEO plugins are a must because they all you to control key “meta data” for your pages including the Title of the page and description as it displays on the Search Engine Results Page. This can help improve your search engine ranking by helping Google understand your page/post content better. It also improves click-throughs to your posts by allowing you to craft what the user sees on the search results page.

  1. Yoast SEO*http://wordpress.org/plugins/wordpress-seo/ for instructions on how to set up the plugin, see: http://yoast.com/wordpress/seo/
  2. All in One SEO Pack (AIOSP) — This is a fabulous alternative to the Yoast SEO plugin with a much simpler interface but very comparable features: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/all-in-one-seo-pack/
  3. Google Analytics for WordPress* by Yoast – This plugin has many great features such as tracking file downloads automatically without having to manual add code to your posts. http://wordpress.org/plugins/google-analytics-for-wordpress/
  4. XML Sitemap* – Both AIOSP and Yoast SEO have built-in XML Sitemaps. Activate these and submit your XML sitemap to your Google Webmaster Tools account. The Google XML Sitemaps plugin listed in the Most Popular plugins on WordPress.org tends to be resource intensive.


Best WordPress Image Plugins

WordPress Photo / Image Gallery Plugins

Out of the box, WordPress has a terrific thumbnail gallery feature. Read more about creating image galleries in WordPress here. If you want something a bit more fancy, try these plugins:

  1. NextGEN Gallery — Robust image management tool that allows you to organize, tag, and upload photos to your blog and display using thumbnails, image browser, or slideshow: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/nextgen-gallery/ All galleries can be managed in one central management area, making NextGEN one of the few true image management tools for WordPress. The paid version of the plugin allows you to sell images online.
  2. Jetpack – Jetpack has an amazing selection of options including beautiful tiled galleries and carousel lightbox: http://wordpress.org/plugins/jetpack/ for more information about galleries and carousel, see: http://jetpack.me/support/carousel/ and http://jetpack.me/support/tiled-galleries/
  3. Envira Gallery – Beautiful and easy-to-use out of the box. Galleries are created either in a central area or on a page or post. Galleries created on a page or post are not available on other parts of the site. Envira gallery is not an image management tool, and all images are uploaded to the Media Library. However it is very easy to use because it is so simple. https://wordpress.org/plugins/envira-gallery-lite/

Read my detailed comparison of the above WordPress gallery plugins here.

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WordPress Image Re-Sizing, Optimizing, and Retina Plugins

  1. Regenerate Thumbnails – If you’ve changed any of your thumbnail dimensions (via Settings -> Media) after previously uploading images or have changed to a theme with different featured post image dimensions, you will need to use this plugin to re-process your previous uploaded images to use the new sizes: https://wordpress.org/plugins/regenerate-thumbnails/
  2. Imsanity – This is a must-have plugin for anyone who works with clients who don’t optimize their images before uploading. It allows you to specify a maximum image size and actually resizes the images on upload to avoid overly large file sizes being served on posts and pages. https://wordpress.org/plugins/imsanity/
  3. EWWW Image Optimizer -This plugin optimizes images but does not resize them. It works with both lossy and losseless methods. It is integrated with TinyJPG and TinyPNG to provide the best quality compression. It works with many of the popular gallery plugins, including NextGEN Gallery, so that’s a bonus since the other plugins only work with images uploaded to the Media Library. https://wordpress.org/plugins/ewww-image-optimizer/
  4. Kraken – Like EWWW but compresses images further on tests. However, not sure if tests were done with the EWWW paid version – https://wordpress.org/plugins/kraken-image-optimizer/
  5. WP Smush – Works like EWWW to further compress images on upload. https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-smushit/ Read this review of Smush Pro versus EWWW versus Kraken: https://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/smush-kraken-ewww/ – I think you need to pick the solution that compresses your images with the best quality result if quality is important to you, such as with professional photography.
  6. WP Retina 2x – This plugin creates the image files required by the Retina (High DPI) devices and displays them to your visitors accordingly. Your website will look beautiful and crisp on every device! https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-retina-2x/


Image Management Plugins

  1. Enhanced Media Library – Allows you to create custom categories for all the images in your Media Library which typically wind up in a big, unorganized mess that is hard to wade through down the road. https://wordpress.org/plugins/enhanced-media-library/ The Pro version allows you to bulk-edit previously uploaded images to assign them to categories. A must-have plugin if you are managing a lot of images on your site.
  2. Image Teleporter -This plugin turns images that are hosted elsewhere into images that are now in your Media Library, and the code on your page is automatically updated. https://wordpress.org/plugins/image-teleporter/
  3. Add from Server – Allows you to import media & files into the WordPress uploads manager from the FTP server –  https://wordpress.org/plugins/add-from-server/


Best WordPress Contact Form Plugins

  1. Gravity Forms* – for most of the sites I’m working on. It’s not free, but it’s very easy to use. What I don’t like is the big ugly captcha that Gravity Forms uses, so sometimes, I’ll create a simple math problem in a validated field instead. Gravity forms can be integrated with Paypal and many other add-ons which allows you to use it for simple sale of products, donations, or registration. Gravity Forms can be used to create user-submitted content on the site, conditional fields, paginated forms, and much more! Click here to check out Gravity Forms – this is my affiliate link.
  2. Jetpack Contact Form – Jetpack has a great, simple contact form builder. If nothing else, use Jetpack’s contact form on your contact page. http://jetpack.me/support/contact-form/
  3. Ninja Forms – Fast outpacing all of the free forms with lots of great paid add-ons that integrate with many email newsletter services, Paypal, and more! Free version: https://wordpress.org/plugins/ninja-forms/ Paid add-ons: https://ninjaforms.com/extensions/
  4. Formidable Forms – Build WordPress forms the fast and simple way with a simple drag-and-drop interface. Several templates to choose from. https://wordpress.org/plugins/formidable/
  5. Formidable Pro – Like a contact form with super powers. This premium plugin lets you create robust applications to collect and display data on your site. It’s crazy amazing! https://formidablepro.com/
  6. Not a contact form per se, Google Forms are great for surveys and other simple forms you want to create. You can embed any Google Form on your site using this plugin: https://wordpress.org/plugins/wpgform/

Read WP Beginner’s comparison of the top contact form plugins: http://www.wpbeginner.com/plugins/5-best-contact-form-plugins-for-wordpress-compared/. I don’t like Contact Form 7 or Fast Secure Contact Form because their interfaces are challenging for beginners, and they lack the beauty and features of the above choices.


Best WordPress Social Media Plugins

Social Sharing Plugins:

  1. Jetpack Sharing* – Again, Jetpack lowers the bar for your average WordPress user to easily add social sharing icons to their pages and posts: http://jetpack.me/support/sharing/
  2. Really Simple Facebook Twitter Share Buttons – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google “+1”, Pinterest, Tumblr and other share buttons of your choice above or below your posts. I like this plugin because it has a shortcode you can use on the site to display the social sharing buttons outside the normal post/page content area: http://wordpress.org/plugins/really-simple-facebook-twitter-share-buttons/
  3. Jetpack Likes – Adds like links to your posts. http://jetpack.me/support/likes/

Social Follow Plugins:

  1. Social Media Widget  – A widget to show your social media profiles so others can follow you. http://wordpress.org/plugins/social-media-widget/

Social Feed Plugins:

  1. Twitter Widget Pro — Great Twitter widget with customizable CSS. I like this widget better than the widget that comes with Twitter Tools because of the way it looks:  http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/twitter-widget-pro/
  2. Jetpack Extra Sidebar Widgetshttp://jetpack.me/support/extra-sidebar-widgets/

Social Media Publicizing Plugins:

  1. Jetpack Publicize: http://jetpack.me/support/publicize/
  2. Twitter Tools — automatically generate tweets from your posts http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/twitter-tools/


WordPress Performance Plugins

  1. WP Super Cache*- Exponentially improve the load time of your site by installing WP Super Cache and setting up with these instructions: http://support.hostgator.com/articles/specialized-help/technical/wordpress/wp-super-cache-plugin
  2. Jetpack Photon* – Caches images on your site on a Cloud Delivery Network to expontentially improve the speed of your site. Test to be sure that it works with any other image plugins you may be using. Sometimes distorts the display of images in third-party plugin sliders. http://jetpack.me/support/photon/
  3. Optimize Database After Deleting Revisions* – Over time, your WordPress database can become bloated with old post revisions, trashed items, comment spam, and more. You should optimize your database at least once a month to keep your site running efficiently: http://wordpress.org/plugins/rvg-optimize-database/


WordPress Links, Broken Links, and Redirection Plugins

  1. Redirection – Essential for managing any redirects of old site URLs to new URLs. I almost always turn off the Monitor option to avoid infinite loop issues, and I set the logs to expire after 15 or 30 days to avoid huge log tables in the database. Also tracks 404 errors: http://wordpress.org/plugins/redirection/
  2. Velvet Blues Update URLs – A super helpful plugin that is pretty safe to use for bulk rewrite of URLs. Very helpful with site migrations. http://wordpress.org/plugins/velvet-blues-update-urls/
  3. Broken Link Checker — This plugin is recommended by many people. I dislike it for many reasons not the least of which it overwhelms caching with an inordinate amount of HTTP requests. It does checks for broken links throughout your site. http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/broken-link-checker/
  4. Broken link checking without a plugin: I prefer to use one of these services instead of Broken Link Checker above:
  5. Quick Page/Post Redirect* – Much easier to use than the Redirection plugin, so I tend to recommend this plugin more often for creating quick page and post redirects: https://wordpress.org/plugins/quick-pagepost-redirect-plugin/


Security Plugins

  1. Akismet* — While not technically a “security plugin,” allowing spam comments to get through on your site even in the form of unapproved comments can really cause performance issues and blacklisting. Akismet filters spam comments from your blog. Must have wordpress.com user account to get Akismet key: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/akismet/
  2. WordPress Simple Firewall* – Comprehensive and Easy-To-Use WordPress Security with no “premium” restrictions. Great support always!!! https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-simple-firewall/
  3. Anti-Malware Security and Brute-Force Firewall (aka GOTMLS) – This Anti-Malware scanner searches for Malware, Viruses, and other security threats and vulnerabilities on your server and it helps you fix them. https://wordpress.org/plugins/gotmls/
  4. Sucuri Security – Great post-hack features that help you quickly reinstall all your free plugins, change passwords, change authentication keys, scan the core WordPress files for hacks, and more! https://wordpress.org/plugins/sucuri-scanner/
  5. Clef Two-Factor Authentication – Modern two-factor that people love to use: strong authentication without passwords or tokens. It’s kind of magical. https://wordpress.org/plugins/wpclef/
  6. WP SpamShield Anti-Spam – An exceptionally powerful WordPress anti-spam plugin that eliminates comment spam, trackback spam, contact form spam & registration spam. Can be used instead of Akismet. https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-spamshield/


RSS Feed Plugins

  1. Feedblitz – FeedBlitz provides daily email updates to  subscribers. You can arrange and remove posts right before you send the daily email. Great stats! http://www.feedblitz.com/
  2. Jetpack Subscriptions – allows users to subscribe via email to your blog. Email is not branded, but it is clean looking. http://jetpack.me/support/subscriptions/
  3. MailChimp – Sign up for a free account and allow people to subscribe via email to your blog and have them receive a customized and branded email with your blog posts as designated intervals: Overview w/ video: http://mailchimp.com/features/rss-to-email/ Detailed Instructions: http://blog.mailchimp.com/rss-to-email-tutorial/


WordPress Post, Category, and Rich Text Widgets

  1. Category Posts — Shows posts within a certain category in the sidebar: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/category-posts/
  2. Extended Categories — great widgets for determining which categories display in the sidebar and how: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/extended-categories-widget/
  3. Custom Post Widget* – Let’s you format content using the WordPress visual editor and use in a widget area and on pages and posts. Invaluable! http://wordpress.org/plugins/custom-post-widget/
  4. Recent Posts Widget Extended – Provides flexible and advanced recent posts. Display it via shortcode or widget with thumbnails, post excerpt, taxonomy and more. https://wordpress.org/plugins/recent-posts-widget-extended/


WordPress widget visibility and CSS

  1. Widget Context – Control which widgets show on which pages or parts of the site. This plugin has a nice user interface with checkboxes and ability to select specific URLs: https://wordpress.org/plugins/widget-context/
  2. Widget Logic – Like the plugin above but uses WordPress Conditional Tags for choosing which part of the site the widget displays on:
  3. Jetpack’s Widget Visibility Module is an option to the plugin above if you are already using Jetpack. https://jetpack.me/support/widget-visibility/
  4. Widget CSS Classes* – Control styling of each widget using a CSS class: http://wordpress.org/plugins/widget-css-classes/


WordPress Backup Plugins and Services

Free WordPress Backup Plugins (with paid premium options)

  1. WP DB Backup — makes it easy to create a backup of the entire database or repair your database without having to login to your PHP MyAdmin to do so: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-db-backup/
  2. UpdraftPlus Backup and Restoration – Fast becoming the most popular backup plugin since it has a free version. Complete backups; manual or scheduled. Paid backup storage optional – https://wordpress.org/plugins/updraftplus/
  3. Duplicator – Can be used to quickly backup and migrate your site to new host. It is my go-to plugin for site migrations because of the simple interface. Scheduled backups only available in premium version. https://wordpress.org/plugins/duplicator/

Paid WordPress Backup Plugin

BackupBuddy* – Create complete backups on demand or at scheduled intervals with optional cloud storage. BackupBuddy can be used to migrate a site from one location to another as it’s importbuddy script will automatically rewrite all the URLs on the site for you.

WordPress Backup Services

These services do not provide option for a local backup. They automatically backup your site on a set schedule and store the backups on their servers. Check each to compare auto restoration features, number of backups stored, frequency of backups, and price:

  1. WorpDrive* – Very reliable backups done via FTP. I have switched many of my clients to this service using the iControlWP management software to manage multiple sites at once and run backups to WorpDrive. http://www.worpdrive.com/
  2. VaultPress – Remote backup service created by the makers of WordPress (Automattic). Lowest price plan of $5 provides 30-days worth of backups. More expensive plans allow you to do on-demand backups. Can be used for one-click restore of the site should anything go wrong. https://wordpress.org/plugins/vaultpress/


WordPress Content Management Plugins

Advanced, Developer-Level Plugins

  1. Types – Lets you customize the WordPress admin by adding content types, custom fields and taxonomy. You will be able to craft the WordPress admin and turn it into your very own content management system. http://wordpress.org/plugins/types/
  2. Easy Content Types – similar to Types above but not free. Very easy to use. Great support: http://pippinsplugins.com/easy-content-types/
  3. Advanced Custom Fields* – Very friendly interface for creating and displaying custom fields on your posts and pages: http://wordpress.org/plugins/advanced-custom-fields/
  4. LoopBuddy – let’s you customize want displays on your site without having write your own queries and code. Works great with the above three plugins: http://ithemes.com/purchase/loopbuddy/
  5. Meta Box – An alternative to the Advanced Custom Fields plugin Meta Box plugin is a powerful, professional solution to create custom meta boxes and custom fields for WordPress websites. https://wordpress.org/plugins/meta-box/

Plugins for All Levels

  1. Duplicate Post – This plugin allows to clone a post or page, or edit it as a new draft. https://wordpress.org/plugins/duplicate-post/
  2. CMS Pagetree View – Creates and easier-to-use interface for viewing all of your posts and pages in the WordPress Dashboard – https://wordpress.org/plugins/cms-tree-page-view/
  3. Admin Columns – Customize columns on the administration screens for post(types), pages, media, comments, links and users with an easy to use drag-and-drop interface. https://wordpress.org/plugins/codepress-admin-columns/


WordPress Visual Layout, Page Builder, and Formatting Plugins

  1. Visual Composer – Paid page builder plugin used by many popular themes – http://codecanyon.net/item/visual-composer-page-builder-for-wordpress/242431
  2. Page Builder – This is a free alternative to Visual Composer – https://wordpress.org/plugins/siteorigin-panels/
  3. Beaver Builder – Another free alternative to Visual Composer with paid add-on features – https://wordpress.org/plugins/beaver-builder-lite-version/
  4. Twitter Bootstrap – Let’s you take advantage of various Twitter Bootstrap components and CSS like columns and buttons without having to have a theme based on Bootstrap: https://wordpress.org/plugins/wordpress-bootstrap-css/


WordPress Visual Editor Expansion Plugins

  1. Tiny MCE Advanced Editor *— advanced toolbar for the TinyMCE editor: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/tinymce-advanced/
  2. Jetpack Spelling and Grammarhttp://en.support.wordpress.com/proofreading/


WordPress Navigation Plugins

  1. Simple Custom Post Order— very handy interface for easily ordering pages and posts: https://wordpress.org/plugins/simple-custom-post-order/
  2. Exclude Pages — so helpful for excluding certain pages from navigation (such as privacy policy and sitemap) without having to edit the template file: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/exclude-pages/
  3. Flexi Pages Widget – Allows you to create a dynamic sub-pages menu in the sidebar: http://wordpress.org/plugins/flexi-pages-widget/
  4. WP Page Navi* – Replaces the old ← Older posts | Newer posts → links with some numbered page links which is much more user friendly – https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-pagenavi/
  5. Breadcrumbs NavXT* – The best breadcrumbs plugin – https://wordpress.org/plugins/breadcrumb-navxt/
  6. User Sitemap – Quickly and easily create a human sitemap for visitors to be able to see links to all your content on one page – https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-sitemap-page/
  7. Search Everything – Improves WordPress default search functionality without modifying any of the template pages. You can configure it to search pages, excerpts, attachments, drafts, comments, tags and custom fields (metadata) https://wordpress.org/plugins/search-everything/
  8. Relevanssi – Like Search Everything but sorts on relevance, not date: https://wordpress.org/plugins/relevanssi/


WordPress Events Calendar Plugins

  1. The Events Calendar – Beautiful calendar plugin for displaying event listings on your site. Integrates (not exactly seamlessly) with EventBrite for registration: http://wordpress.org/plugins/the-events-calendar/ – go pro for repeat events.
  2. Event Espresso – More of a registration plugin than calendar plugin: http://wordpress.org/plugins/event-espresso-free/

WordPress Event Registration Plugins

Coming Soon!


WordPress E-Commerce Plugins

  1. Ecwid – Really excellent and easy way to get a shopping cart on your WordPress site with minimum hassle and maintenance: http://www.ecwid.com/
  2. WooCommerce – Maintenance costs are an issue, hence why I prefer Ecwid for performance and reliability and minimal headaches. I have mixed feelings about Woo. They have inconsistently coded themes, so I’m not sure how well they do coding e-commerce, but I have heard some good things: http://www.woothemes.com/woocommerce/


WordPress Slider Plugins

  1. Soliloquy – Sweet light slider: http://wordpress.org/plugins/soliloquy-lite/
  2. Revolution Slider – Paid slider. Really awesome: http://codecanyon.net/item/slider-revolution-responsive-wordpress-plugin/2751380
  3. Meta Sliderhttp://wordpress.org/plugins/ml-slider/
  4. Layer Slider -I prefer this slider to Revolution slider because it does a lot of great animations without as complex an interface: http://codecanyon.net/item/layerslider-responsive-wordpress-slider-plugin-/1362246


Miscellaneous Useful WordPress Plugins

  1. Blubrry PowerPress Podcasting — PowerPress offers full iTunes support, the Update iTunes Listing feature, web audio/video media players and more: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/powerpress/
  2. WPMLallows running fully multilingual websites with WordPress, making it easy to translate WordPress pages, posts, tags, categories and themes: https://wpml.org/
  3. Easy Recipe Plus – great plugin with lots of options for display of WordPress. Generates all the correct HTML schema so Google will recognize your content as a “recipe” – https://wordpress.org/plugins/easyrecipe/
  4. WP Ultimate Recipe – Different than Easy Recipe in that it works with a custom post type – https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-ultimate-recipe/


WordPress Staging Plugins

Read my post about Updating WordPress Safely for a list of great staging plugins.

WordPress Site Management Plugins

See my post about WordPress Management Plugins.


I am always adding plugins to my Favorites list at WordPress.org, so please check out what I <3 there:

View My Favorites Plugins List at WordPress.org

Angela Bowman

Front-end WordPress developer since 2007 building highly custom websites for nonprofits and small businesses. Experienced in nonprofit administration, grant writing, and technical writing. Love high altitude hiking and backyard chickens.

View all posts by Angela Bowman

64 comments on “Review of the Best WordPress Plugins

  1. Big list and quite some really useful plugins out there. Do you recommend plugins for increasing web speed? The caching plugins you mentioned are ok but are there any that deal with async javacsript loading etc?

        • I totally agree! It is such a battle and some articles are quite complicated. I have taken a bit of a lazy approach to this and have chosen to go with really good web hosts such as WP Engine who provides really good caching out of the box as well as CDN. So, I haven’t gotten deep into super optimizing my sites other than checking for obvious offenders:

          1 – Large Images
          2 – Too many http requests (so creating image sprites, etc. where needed)
          3 – Slow loading external scripts (like from social media — I delete those quite often)
          4 – Carousels and sliders (remove)
          5 – Too many fonts loading
          6 – Incorrect markup making site load slow

          I would love to get more geeky about it, but I’ve found by following some good basic practices and having a good web host with relatively fast servers and built-in caching, all the pages load in under 2 seconds.

          Let me know if you find any other good articles. I feel like image optimization has become a HUGE thing these days since web design has moved towards these very image-heavy sites.

  2. Good Post, you mentioned some great plug-ins! I used the Trustbadge reviews widget on my online shop https://www.litespot.co.uk/ to collect and show customer reviews. It’s fairly easy to use. They have many integrations in different shop systems. And it comes with 7 languages and is mobile-optimized. There’s a freemium version available at at http://www.trustbadge.com so you can try yourself if it helps 🙂

  3. Hi Angela

    Hope you are well!

    I need to manage an ever-growing number of images in the media library. Specifically, I need to put them in folders, categorise them, tag them etc so we can find them again!

    I have looked at Enhanced Media Library but there are far too many unresolved support tickets for that plug in right now to risk it.

    Do you know of any others that are being successfully used? What do the big guys with 1000s of images use?

    Thanks

    • Hi Lindsey,

      Great to hear from you! It’s been awhile. So, here’s the plugin people are really liking:

      https://wordpress.org/plugins/media-library-assistant/

      They seem to be very responsive to support. It works by taxonomies like the Enhanced Media Library, so you need to think in terms of categorizing rather than folders. Someone came in for consulting using a folder plugin for the Media Library, and it was a nightmare! Once something was in a folder, you couldn’t see ALL images, so you could put something in the wrong folder and completely “lose” it.

      When I’ve worked with artists who have a lot of photographs to manage, I usually recommend NextGEN Gallery as it is the only plugin on the market that I know of that truly manages and organizes images. It’s best for people who do have “galleries” of images, like artists and photographers.

      So you could use the Media Library Assistant for your generic website images, and then NextGEN for any bodies of work you have that really do need to be managed in a systematic way. The Plus version of NextGEN is great as it has many beautiful gallery displays.

      Let me know your thoughts! Also, if you do use the Enhanced Media Library, I would go with the Pro version.

      Angela

      • Will this plug-in also work for sorting mp3 files – for example if you were managing a large library of sound effects?

      • Hi, yes, it has been a while! Where does the time go?!

        Our problem seems to be one of enforcing consistency in naming conventions which means that folders would seem the easiest way to find images again, especially regularly used ones such as supplier logos etc. However, if we are going to put them in folders and lose them, that is even more of a problem!

        I am going to try a couple over the weekend and will let you know how it turns out!

        Have a good one!

        • Hi Lindsey, You can create the categories you want in advance. Any foldering option is going to be virtual not physical. So, it’s half a dozen one, six of the other, but the media categories do work more efficiently.

    • Thanks, Jessica. I’ll check out WPForms. Yes, I don’t understand popularity of Contact Form 7 other than it’s free. It’s such a pain to work with. So 1980s in its form set up.

  4. I really love the security plugin called Wordfence. It allow me to auto block any IP trying to hack my site, it notifies me of out-of-date plugins, and if you do get hacked it will show you which files have been changed, then show you a comparison of before and after, and easily allow you to go back to the previous version of any file. The basic model is also free with the option of a more advanced paid model. Very slick and super easy to set up and use.

    • Hi Mohd,

      I have stopped using Wordfence, because it generated a lot of errors in the error log files. I also think that permanent blocking of IP addresses is not a good approach to security, as you might as well block the whole world. I wanted to like Wordfence and used it on many sites, but some sites with Wordfence ended up getting hacked anyway. So, I started using the Shield Plugin (formerly WordPress Simple Firewall) which was forked from the Firewall2 plugin which had been very effective at blocking bad URL requests. You might want to check it out:

      https://www.icontrolwp.com/shield/

  5. Great list… I only knew 5 of them! I’ve been using them for a while… they do work just fine!
    I want to ask something about SEO plugins, please tell me can I use two SEO plugins at same time. I want to use Yoast and Easy SEO plugins.

    • Hi James,

      I am not familiar with Easy SEO plugin. Do you have a link? I couldn’t find it on the WordPress repository. You can only use one SEO plugin for rewriting Titles and Meta Descriptions. There are other plugins related to SEO, like Google Analytics plugins, but in terms of a plugin that allows you to easily rewrite the meta titles and descriptions, produce an XML sitemap, etc. you can only use one or else they will clobber each other. If the theme provides SEO support for titles and meta descriptions, you’ll need to disable that functionality. Most of them have a way to turn that off if they do.

      Also, you’ll want to only use one Google Analtyics plugin on the site and make sure your Google Analytics code is only loading once by viewing the HTML page source for the site in your browser.

      Angela

  6. Thanks for sharing nice post. I would like to suggest Blog Designer WP Plugin. With the help of Blog designer you can Revise, edit and reorganize your blog page. And also you will get many features like. Display Post Category, Display Post Tag, Display Post Author, Display Post Date, Display Post Comment Count, 15+ Different and Unique Blog Templates, More Social Share Options, Content Setting & Many more… https://wordpress.org/plugins/blog-designer/

  7. Plugins I could live without:
    – Shortcodes Ultimate – A ton of easy shortcodes & wizards for doing many complicated html tasks that look awesome!
    – Breezing Forms – This one should definitely be in the forms area. I have all sorts of customized forms (and multi-page forms) on my site. Build the form, then put a shortcode where you want it.

  8. Hi Angela – Love your blog – simple & insightful. I would recommend a new category – Community Building. One e.g. of a popular community building a using a Social Commenting engine like Disqus.

    I also like to share with you that there is a new way of promoting and building community around a blog, and that’s via “DARK SOCIAL”. We at Backroom (http://backroomapp.com) are helping bloggers build private communities (also known as dark social) via a simple messaging platform which integrates with their blogs. We have a wordpress plugin too to make the integration easy. Read more about us here – http://blog.backroomapp.com/backroom-installation/

  9. Hi Angela- It seems that you really like the Jetpack plugin, and I agree it has a lot to offer making it appealing so I can reduce the number of plugins I have to keep up with and update. My question about Jetpack is how do you handle the connection of the Jetpack plugin to a WordPress.com account? Do you register an account on WordPress.com for each client’s website you build if you want to utilize the Jetpack plugin? Or do you use your own WP account and keep connecting to it for multiple client’s sites? I’m confused as to why it even needs ‘connecting’…

    • Hi Jennifer, multiple WordPress.com users can connect to the site using Jetpack. So, no problem connecting with your account, though I recommend the owner of the site also create their own WordPress.com account and connect as another user, so they can also see stats, manage the site from Jetpack, etc.

  10. it think top 25 social icons deserve to be in this list. main advantage of using it is there are already social images. i don’t have to look for social icon images..

  11. With your eye on security I’m surprised you did not mention Wordfence which I’ve found invaluable for keeping up to date on updates to plugins and themes, and for one site ongoing malicious behavior that I’ve had to deal with

      • Hi Marc, I used to use Wordfence but have stopped doing so because I have found it to be resource intensive and also not the best strategy for security. It’s promotion of creating endless IP blacklists is not good for site performance. While they may not explicitly encourage this behavior, the way the plugin is designed encourages people to blacklist. It also tends to repeatedly fill up error logs on various accounts. Overall, I just find it to not be as effective as it should.

        Back in the day, I used the Firewall 2 plugin. It was forked by iControlWP and is now a great all-in-one security plugin called Simple Security Firewall: https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-simple-firewall/

        It does everything a security plugin should do:

        1 – Limit logins
        2 – Provide 2 Factor authentication
        3 – Do temporary blacklisting of IPs with “bad behavior”
        4 – Truly block (not just throttle) bad URL requests

        The development team at iControlWP is very thoughtful about what is good for security. It now does do some scanning of core files, and all features are optionally enabled, sort of like the Jetpack model. I usually think less is more, so I try to limit my security to the top 4 items and not try to do scanning, auditing, etc. all on top of that as other issues can result such as huge log entries in the database or performance issues.

  12. Dagon Sitemap Generator Plus doesn’t seem like it is available anymore. Do they offer another good sitemap generator for your users to easily navigate your website?

  13. Hi Angela-  I so love your two lists of plugins, particularly b/c I am so new to all this. I have been searching your two lists of plugins and the web to find an easy (read – plugin, not code) way to jump from one part of the page to another or to jump from one page within my site to another… but haven’t come across anything that seems to do this readily (and as far as I can tell, it isn’t a ready feature in WP?).  
    Do you have a good plugin suggestion for that?  Thanks so much (and THANK YOU for your help with my website!).  Seems like Tiny MCE Advanced Editor might do that — but it seems like that might be overkill (but easier editing of text, etc. in WP might be nice)
    I’d greatly appreciate any thoughts, Eva

    • Hi Eva,

      WordPress has this functionality built in. You do not need the Tiny MCE Advanced editor to hyperlink to other pages. You just highlight the text you want to hyperlink and click the Link button in the Visual Editor toolbar and choose an existing page on the site to link to. Here is a good overview of the Visual Editor functionality: http://en.support.wordpress.com/visual-editor/

      • Hi Angela-  thanks for the reply, I appreciate it (and love a clearer explanation of the text editing features). However, I may not have explained well what I am looking for: I KNOW how to link to another page either on my own website or an external site. 
        I do NOT KNOW how to insert “anchor points” that would allow the following: how to click on, say, the 3rd of the FAQs (I may have a list of 10) and then JUMP FURTHER DOWN on the SAME page to that particular FAQ (where the answer is), or how to jump from the current page I am on to A PARTICULAR SECTION on another page within my website (NOT just to the top). I thought this was referred to as jumping to specific places within a page/website and that “anchor points” are generally used for that. IF I can use the “regular link” function for that, please let me know how!  Any thoughts on this would be so greatly appreciated as several of my pages are quite long and I would love for folks to be able to “jump” to the particular section they would like!  Eva

        • Hi again — after doing more searching and re-examining the link you gave me, I am even more certain that “anchors” to jump to specific place on a page (as in the common FAQ situation), does not seem to have a ready solution (and it seems even the tinyMCE advanced editor may not be very straightforward in allowing this). If you could just let me know if there is anything “easy” to use out there that I have not found, I’d so greatly appreciate it (if there is not, I’ll just wait with all of that until some later time). I am sure I am not the only one looking to be able to do this — easily! Thanks! Eva

          • Hi Eva,

            Yes, the TinyMCE Advanced editor does allow you to create anchors on the page. Create the page anchors using the Anchor button, then to link to the that anchor for the top of the page, for example, highlight the text you want to link from and click the normal Link button in the toolbar. Remove the http:// and type #anchor where the word “anchor” is the name of the anchor you want to link to.

  14. Some of your plugins are new for me. Your list is informative. Thanks for mentioning Jetpack plugin. You have missed an important plugin that is WPtouch. It has become one of the best and popular plugin to generate the mobile traffic.  I have also used Akisme for the spam protection but I think G.A.S.P is way better than Akisme for this purpose. 

    • I’ll check out the All in One Webmasters plugin. Agreed that I should definitely include WP Pagenavi — that should be built into WordPress, but alas, since it’s not, it should be on my list. Thanks for writing!

  15. I was looking on this list to see if you have StatPress. I was using and liking it and all of a sudden I noticed that this plugin has just stopped working and the website does not exist. Saw some talk about the girl who created this having “vanished”. Any info on this plugin? Thanks!

    • Hi Judy,

      I have never used StatPress, because I use Google Analytics on all my sites. Google Analytics is really the way to go for analyzing site visits. To use Google Analytics, go to http://www.google.com/analytics/ and sign up for an analytics account. You will then be given a code to put on your website. Install the WordPress plugin called Google Analyticator mentioned in this post and insert the UA code into the plugin settings. You may need to click the link in the Google Analytics interface to be sure tracking is occurring after you do this. You’ll have great stats information in the WordPress dashboard and even deeper, drill down info on the Google Analytics site.

  16. Howdy please forgive my errors, I am using Google translate so I might understand something wrong. I found your blog on Google “25 Top WordPress Plugins You Should Know About | Free WordPress Website Help | Ask WP Girl | Boulder, Colorado” was about close to what I was looking for, but after scanning through your blog post I still was not able discover straight-forward answer to my question and this is driving me psyho. I love your website and think it is absolutely helpful but I think you could make it even better if you fine-tune your internal blog search to make it easier for searchers to locate posts within your website. You can get this done by adding wordpress plugin… As far as I can remember it is called advanced search it has a lot of valuable features like searching pages, search comments. Thank you I hope you have a productive day

    • Hi Mohammed,

      Thank you for mentioning the Search Everything plugin. That is really a great plugin, and I install it on sites where it is necessary to be able to search Tags, custom posts, custom taxonomies, and more, that the regular WordPress search does not search. Here’s the link: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/search-everything/. Thanks again for mentioning that. It really should be part of this list.

      Angela

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