Update March 2019: We originally brought you this post in 2015. Since then, some plugins like Sidekick have become unavailable. And some new, amazing plugins have outperformed our original recommendations. But the first six WordPress plugins on this list have remained popular and useful throughout that time. Check out the new additions, and let us know which must-have plugins you would add to round out this list!
With almost 75 million sites depending on WordPress, it is without a doubt the most popular blogging platform that exists. Today, not only bloggers, but also eCommerce sites, businesses, schools, and governments rely on WordPress. With this many users (and growing), it is no wonder that there are a staggering number of plugins, and unless you are a WordPress professional, it can get overwhelming. Whether you are a designer, developer, business owner, or part-time blogger, today we are going to show you 8 great plugins that everyone should be using now.
Top 8 WordPress Plugins
A quick note about plugins. There are so many, and they are so useful and easy (and free), it can be easy to just add plugin after plugin to your WordPress site without thinking of the consequences. Loading your site down with unnecessary or poorly written plugins can have an effect on your site speed. Ultimately, this can negatively affect the user experience and even your SEO. Lesson: Choose quality over quantity.
1. WordPress SEO by Yoast
Developed by SEO expert Joost de Valk, this free plugin is so great that some really big sites, like Mashable, SearchEngineLand, and others use it. Whether you are an old pro or an SEO novice, this plugin should be number one on your list of downloads.
Yoast not only simplifies your on-page SEO, it helps you be a better writer, with features like the Reading Ease scale that lets you know when your sentences are too complicated for your target readers. All in one dashboard, it coaches you through optimizing your titles and meta, checks your keyword density, and manages your index, follow/nofollow, and complete link analysis. In addition, there are a huge number of technical and advanced options for those so inclined. Yoast SEO is truly the ultimate must-have plugin.
2. Google Analytics Dashboard
Absolutely a must if you are concerned with tracking your traffic and site performance, this plugin gives you all of your Analytics performance data directly from inside your WordPress dashboard, with no hassles and no navigating away from your site.
Interacting with your readers is a great way to gain a following and grow your audience. Unfortunately, not all commenters to your blog are looking to interact. If you are tired of weeding through tons of spammy, irrelevant comments on your site, then install Akismet. It is absolutely the best spam detection plugin on the market, and a must if you allow comments to your posts. Just set your custom settings, and Akismet does all of the work in the background, leaving you with more time to interact with real readers.
The latest version of Jetpack has so many useful features that you will be amazed they are all contained in one plugin. From useful yet simple customization tools (custom CSS, carousels, galleries, and more) to a lightweight mobile responsive theme, simple yet powerful content tools to enhance your on page content, and visitor engagement tools for everyone, this is an amazing download. Even with all of this, Jetpack manages to pull almost no load on your server.
5. NextGEN Gallery
If photos are your thing, the NextGEN gallery plugin is for you. With over 10 million downloads, this is one of the most popular plugins, and makes managing, uploading and displaying your images unbelievably quick and simple. Batch upload all of your photos, including metadata, then sort and display them in two great display styles: gallery and slideshow. With an endless number of easy to use effects, this should definitely be on your list.
If your goal is to grow your traffic and monetize your site or blog, this is the plugin you have been waiting for. Share buttons make it so easy for your visitors to share your posts with only one click to all major social media channels. The related content feature automatically increases page views and reader engagement by displaying related content that the visitor might have never seen. The social analytics feature gives you all of your social signals in one simple dashboard, so you know who is sharing your content and how. If growing your visitors is the plan, you need Shareaholic.
Sucuri specializes in protecting your WordPress site from malware, blacklists, DDoS, and hackers. It does this by redirecting all the site’s traffic to go through a cloud proxy firewall before reaching your hosting server. In so doing Sucuri is able to identify and eliminate any threats to your web security. Besides securing your website, Sucuri reduces server loads significantly and improves the speed of your site.
8. HubSpot All-in-One Marketing
HubSpot’s marketing plugin allows you to convert customers with tools that you would otherwise have to access through multiple plugins. And the more plugins you have, the greater potential for your site to run slowly or experience security issues. With HubSpot’s marketing plugin, you can create forms, pop-ups, and live chats. These help you collect emails for marketing campaigns and ensure your clients are satisfied with their experiences.
Do you have a favorite plugin that we did not mention here? We would love to know which plugins you think everyone should be using! If you have a favorite plugin, or a comment about one we mentioned today, please let us know by leaving a comment.