WordPress out of the box is already superior to Blogger and, in my opinion, one of the best blogging platforms for bloggers. But to max out the WordPress Performance, you need to get all the right plugins installed and working to your advantage for optimal performance and viral traffic generation.
What is a WordPress Plugin?
A WordPress Plugin is a program, or a set of one or more functions, written in the PHP scripting language, that adds a specific set of features or services to the WordPress blog, which can be seamlessly integrated with the weblog using access points and methods provided by the WordPress Plugin Application Program Interface (API).
I know that the Internet is filled up with posts about the best WordPress plugins, but hey I can start one too right?
There are tons of WordPress plugins out there. Some of them can be really helpful, while others are just a waste of disk space and resources. Let’s take a look at some of the most useful and essential WordPress plugins categorically.
Basic WordPress Plugins You Must Install
These are the basic WordPress plugins that you can’t live without them.
- Akismet – Akismet is one of the default plugins, it checks your comments against the Akismet web service to see if they look like spam or not and lets you review the spam it catches under your blog’s “Comments” admin screen. You need a WordPress.com API key to use it.
- Contact Form 7 – Contact Form 7 is one of the most famous and free contact form builder WordPress plugin.
- Jetpack by WordPress.com – Tracks views, post/page views, referrers, and clicks. Requires a WordPress.com API key. This is a robust plugin.
- Redirection – This plugin will monitor all your 404 errors and manages 301 redirects easily. Every website should install it to prevent SEO Juice using redirects for 404 error pages.
WordPress SEO Plugins to Choose From
- WordPress SEO by Yoast – Considered as #1 WordPress SEO Plugin. Download over a million times and recommended by all WordPress gurus. We at WPArena is also using SEO by Yoast. Write better content and have a fully optimized WordPress site using the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast.
- All in One SEO Pack– Out-of-the-box SEO for your WordPress blog.
WordPress Security Plugins
- WordFence Security – No.1 WordPress Security Plugin covering almost all the hackable factors of a WordPress site.
- iThemes Security (formerly Better WP Security) – If you’re running a website of any scale – or you store data on your web server that you might consider being sensitive – you’ll need a boost to WordPress’s already impressive security features. Enter Better WP Security, a free WordPress plugin that patches “as many security holes as possible” without influencing the operation of your website. Best of all, it claims to keep your site snappy and responsive, and can even detect broken links that might lead to 404 errors.
WordPress Performance based Plugins
- W3 Total Cache – Boldly claiming to enhance your site’s speed by at least ten times (once fully configured), W3 Total Cache is a must-install free WordPress plugin. It minifies HTML, CSS, and images, and cuts the number of HTTP requests your site has to make on loading. The custom DOM render starts rendering fast, without waiting for other stuff to load. All in all, it’s a free boost to site performance across any device. And, it’ll save mobile users data – ideal, if they’re using a smartphone or 3G/4G, enabled ultrabook. The only WordPress Performance Optimization (WPO) framework; designed to improve user experience and page speed.
- WP Super Cache – While writing this post; Essential WordPress Plugins, I simply can’t ignore this simple and most awesome caching WordPress plugin. WP Super Cache is maintained by Team “Automattic”, the people behind WordPress.
WordPress Backup Plugins
- UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin – On-demand and automatic backup of your WordPress database.
- Duplicator Pro – One of the most awesome WordPress migration plugin. Duplicator is being used on WPArena. Read the full review here.
- WP-DBManager – Allows you to optimize database, repair database, backup database, restore the database, delete backup database, drop/empty tables and run selected queries. Supports automatic scheduling of backing up, optimizing and repairing of database.
WordPress eCommerce Plugins
- WooCommerce – World’s Most used eCommerce plugin for WordPress stores.
- Cart66 Cloud – Cart66 is one of the oldest eCommerce plugins existed till date with great features and uses. Read Cart66 Review in detail.
- Easy Digital Downloads – The World’s easiest way to sell digital downloads through WordPress, for free.
WordPress Image Optimization Plugins
- Smush Image Compression and Optimization – Reduce image file sizes, improve performance and boost your SEO using the WPMU DEV WordPress Smush API.
- Restore Image Title – Reverses WordPress 3.5’s behavior of stripping the title from images inserted into posts.
WordPress Page Builder Plugins
- Beaver Builder – Best page builder to start your WordPress site for non-coders. Beaver Builder is one of the most recommended WordPress plugins for designing awesome sites by WPArena. Read the complete review here.
- Visual Composer – Most used WordPress Page Builder Plugin on the planet.
WordPress Social Media Plugins
- Social Warfare – Social Warfare is one of the best social sharing plugins for your WordPress site.
WordPress Commenting Plugins
- Disqus – Disqus is an ultimate commenting system for your WordPress site.
- Subscribe To Comments Reloaded – Allows readers to receive notifications of new comments that are posted to an entry plus so much more. (Our Favourite Plugin)
WordPress Membership Plugins
- MemberPress – Create awesome membership sites easily using MemberPress. Read more about MemberPress Review here.
WordPress BuddyPress Plugins
- BuddyPress – BuddyPress helps site builders and WordPress developers add community features to their websites. (Only For BuddyPress sites – Community sites).
WordPress Forum Plugins
- BBPress – World’s Best WordPress Forum Plugin.
WordPress Contact Form Plugins
- Formidable Pro – Our Favourite Form Maker plugin, that we are using on WPArena also.
- WPForms – Our Second top contact form plugin.
WordPress Slider Plugins
- Soliloquy – The best and simple Slider Plugin.
- Layer Slider – Do you want to build most outstanding sliders on your WordPress site? Then look no further. Layerslider is the ultimate choice for achieving great results. Read the Full LayerSlider Review here.
- Slider Revolution – Create beautiful Sliders with ease.
WordPress Email Subscription Plugins
- OptinMonster – Developed by the awesome team of WPBeginner. OptinMonster is not only a plugin to capture leads and email subscriptions but a complete set of tools to grow your email list.
- ConvertPlug – ConvertPlug is also considered a great solution for capturing email subscribers and leads. It’s great and cheap alternative to OptinMonster. Read the full review here.
WordPress Responsive (Mobile Theme) Plugins
With a bevy of new hardware – and a bevy of new screen sizes – hitting the market, web developers have never been more pressed to make sure their site is fully responsive. For WordPress users, that could be difficult: the responsiveness of a theme is hard-baked into the template code. However, there are some plugins that promise to give your users a much, much better web experience. What’s out there, and why should you care?
- WPTouch – You may be aware that we’re living in the era of touch-enabled devices. Users of smartphones, ultrabooks, and tablets all expect touch-optimized interfaces from websites they use regularly, but few bloggers are being particularly hasty about making the changes. Normally, coding a ‘mobile-friendly’ version of your WordPress site can take an age, but WP touch is a mobile-first theme package that you can customize out-of-the-box. It’s super easy to use and takes advantage of the latest and greatest in web technologies to provide a smooth and seamless user experience. And it’s free: obvious, really.
Things to Keep In Mind
Most of these serve some type of SEO benefit. I like the Jetpack plugin that I included. This plugin’s free version has a lot of modules to enable or disable. By using this plugin, you will be able to install fewer plugins. Fewer plugins can equal faster page speed. Right now, page speed is just 1 factor in ranking well but ultimately speed helps to keep a visitor on your blog longer and continuing to come back.
Pro Tip: Make sure you only choose the best recommended WordPress Hosting as this can help in page speed. The first impression can mean a new subscriber upon first visit or profit off that one visitor. It all starts with your web host. Using certain plugins can help increase your blog’s performance. For tips, check out our guide below to optimize your blog.
- Also Read: WordPress Optimization Guide
I know there are thousands of plugins available and this list will ultimately grow and change over time. I also know everyone has their preference of favorite WordPress plugins, so what do you think I should add to the list?
Suggestions are welcomed in the comments section below. We will periodically add your suggestions in the list.