My Top 10 WordPress Plugins 29


WordPress is my site building tool of choice.  Once you learn how to use it, you find that you can create highly professional looking websites, quickly, easily and without the help of an expensive designer.  What makes WordPress even better is the plug & play system of plugins.  Plugins extend the basic functions of WordPress (not that WordPress on it’s own is basic Winking smile) allowing you to add all manner of features.  In this article, I want to highlight my favourite WordPress plugins.

OK, first confession.  I cannot narrow my list down to a top 10.  

BTW; if there are any plugins that you think deserve to be on this list, please leave a comment at the end with your suggestions.

In no particular order, here are the must-have WordPress plugins.

1. WordPress SEO by Yoast

I like this plugin for a number of reasons:

  • It doesn’t do anything crazy “out of the box”.
  • Can handle all of the on-site SEO that I need.
  • Will create XML sitemaps and give you fine control over what is included on the sitemap (although I personally still use Google XML Sitemaps by Arne Brachhold).

2. Contact Form 7

This is a fully featured, yet simple contact form solution.

3. GrowMap Anti-Spambot Plugin

This helps prevent spam.  It doesn’t eliminate all spam, but at least it ensures a human is there submitting the comment and not some software program.

4. Pretty Link

This plugin allows you to create nicer looking links that can be tracked for clicks.  For example, if you have a long unwieldy affiliate link, you can create a much nicer, easier to remember “pretty link”.

5. W3 Total Cache

This caching plugin does a pretty good job out of the box, which is good as it’s quite complicated to setup manually.  To see how well this works, go over to GTMetrix to test your site speed.  Now install the plugin and select the defaults. Open your homepage in a browser (so it is cached by the plugin), and then go back to GTMetrix and re-measure your speed.  If you want instructions on further boosting the speed of your blog, Shane Melaugh has created an excellent tutorial on speeding up WordPress.

6. Widget Logic Visual

This is a really useful plugin as it allows you to create custom sidebars for different pages, posts, categories etc of your site.  Want an advert for blue widgets to only appear on posts in your blue widgets category?  No problem.  Want a sidebar widget to only display on the homepage?  Easy.  This plugin allows non-techies to control what is in their sidebars using a graphical interface.  For those requiring a little more control, there is a code editor as well that is easy to use if you know a little PHP.

7. WP-DBManager

Automatic backups of the WordPress database emailed to me on my schedule.  Enough said.

8. Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP)

A great plugin for adding a related posts section at the end of posts.  Configurable, so that you really do get “related” posts, and not just a random sample.

9. Ad Injection

One of the better tools for adding ads into your web pages.  I love the fact that you can specify when to start or stop ads.  If I want to add an advert right before the final paragraph on the page, but only if the page is more than 1000 words, no problem.  Highly configurable.

10. SEO Facebook Comment

Removes the built in comment form from your site and replaces it with a more socially interactive Facebook comment system.

11. Google XML Sitemap

Despite mentioning earlier that Yoast’s fabulous WordPress SEO can handle the sitemaps, I still use Arne’s plugin.  I love the high level of control over each element of the sitemap.  On my next new site, I’ll be trying out the sitemap feature of Yoast’s plugin, so this plugin may not be here when I create my next top 10 WordPress plugin list Winking smile.

12. WP-Secure (commercial)

This plugin helps protect your site from hackers by protecting important sections of your WordPress install. 

13. WP-Twin (commercial)

This plugin is not cheap, but if you own a lot of sites it could save your bacon.  You can take entire backups of your site that can be used to recreate the site with a point and click interface if it were ever damaged beyond repair by hackers or web hosts that fry your site.  It’s also great for moving a website to a new domain entirely.  You can read my full review of this tool in my newsletter under the section “How to Make Your Site Hacker Proof”.

Are there any plugins that you use on all of your sites? 

Maybe there is a plugin that you prefer to one listed above for a particular feature?

I’d love to hear your feedback and your top 10s.  Please leave them in the comments section at the end of this post.


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29 thoughts on “My Top 10 WordPress Plugins

  • Rob Wilson

    Great list. I would have to add Word Fence for security. It cross checks wordpress, themes and plugin files against a known database on their server to check for changes, It has some great restrictions to prevent brute force attacks plus a ton of other features to make it more difficult to hack your site.

  • Marshall

    Thanks for the great list of plugins. I use about half of them now. I also use bulletproof security modified for some additional filters that has worked well. The pro version is $49 I think for all the sites you own. You can see it here. http://www.ait-pro.com (not an affiliate link)

  • Alex Newell

    I love lists of plugins and I’ve found a couple I don’t know here Andy and I had yet another bash at W3 Total Cache.

    Along with Yoast’s plugin this is one of the most techie plugins so I cannot do any tweaking at all. I used GTmetrix as you advised and found that W3 straight out the box with no choosing or changing from me slowed my blog down and it got faster when removed.

    Going to try the Widget Logic next!

    🙂

    Alex

  • Peter Sundstrom

    Hi Andy.

    Instead of WP Twin, I’d recommend Duplicator. Duplicator is great for taking backups or cloning/moving your site (just like WP Twin), but it’s free.

    Cheers

    Peter

  • chris

    anyone using Yoast, DOUBLE CHECK YOUR TITLE TAGS, some WP themes may not work well and you will have to use the force rewrite titles in the titles and metas section.

    some other plugins i use and like..

    seo smart links. you can customize links here
    WP Touch, does make site mobile friendly. check your stats on how many mobile users you are gettings. i was SHOCKED when i saw over 30% on a pure content site.

    header and footer if your theme doesnt haev those options. makes it easy to add scripts to those sections.

    i use wp super cache just bc i had issues with W3 a year or so ago but i know some others who perfer W3 so im thinking its a preference and how your site interacts with it.

    popular posts. use in the sidebar

    WP Customer Reviews and i use that in conjuction with a paid version of review stars.

    i also use paid versions for social media and authorship but i know there are good free ones too

    and big thank you, Andy, for the Ad injection, ive use WP insert and like it but looking for a new one to play with!!

  • Vlad

    Thanks for this very useful list Andy! I’ve heard others recommend the Yoast SEO plugin but have always found it difficult to figure out what the “best practices” settings should be. Do you know if there is a cheat-sheet or recommended settings available somewhere to get the most out of this plugin? I know the developer has a very extensive help file that comes with the plugin, but I still found it a challenge to figure out some of the settings.

    Regards,
    Vlad

    • Andy Williams

      I may do a tutorial on Yoast’s plugin then as it is very easy once you know how to use it. Though I must state up front, I do not use it to help me optimize my posts!

      • Vlad

        Oh, yes please! That would be great help for sure. When you say that you don’t use it to optimise your posts, do you use any plugin for that or just do that part manually on each post?

  • Alex Newell

    That would be super Andy. Like Vlad, above, I have tried to use Yoast’s plugin and delved into his notes on his blog, but gone back to All In One SEO.

    Thanks for the link to Shane’s W3 tutorial

    🙂

  • Marshall Estes

    I have been testing Ultimaqte SEO. This is an extensive plugin for SEO comparable to Yoast for Seo.

    • Andy Williams

      Just make sure it doesn’t do anything out of the box that you are not aware of (and may hurt your rankings). I like WordPress SEO because it’s default settings are safe.

  • Carole

    I just downloaded WordPress and was asked to download Jetpack – what’s this… where’s the dashboard?

    I had no idea what it was so googled Jetpack and found this…

    ‘WordPress Jetpack is showing up on many WordPress installs now. In fact, if you use BlueHost for your hosting and install WordPress with SimpleScripts, Jetpack is installed automatically for you. At first glance, it looks like a bundle of plugins. But it’s really much more than that’.
    http://www.expand2web.com/blog/what-is-wordpress-jetpack/

    Do you use these plugins?
    Carole

  • Deniel

    All plugins are very good. But this list is too big, if all installed , the website may not afford the heavy load. you’re not supposed to install ALL of them. Many offer duplicate functionality anyway. The point is to use this list to find the best plugins suitable to your site.

  • Marshall

    re: widget controller plugin. Might be worth taking a look at the widget controller plugin good to WP 3.4.2 and seems to do what the widget logic visual does.

    • Carole

      chris says:
      25/9/2012 at 22:40

      anyone using Yoast, DOUBLE CHECK YOUR TITLE TAGS, some WP themes may not work well and you will have to use the force rewrite titles in the titles and metas section.

      Yes Chris, I just dowloaded twenty twelve and have SEO by Yoast and now have 2 titles on my homepage so deleted one of them which must be wrong so will have to check the ‘force rewrite titlels in the titles and metas section’ .

      Andy you recommend using GASP by Andy Bailey – what do you think of his recent plugin CommentLuv ?

      This is what he says about it…

      A fantastically powerful new plugin that combines 8 premium plugins in to 1. It has advanced heuristics for anti spam (like this plugin but even more powerful!). It can help your posts go viral, allow dofollow, keywordname, twitterlink and much much more! Click here to see the video
      TwitterLink Comments
      Add an extra field to your comment form to allow your visitors to leave their twitter username and have it displayed along with their comment. All without having to edit your theme.