In this post, you’ll learn what you need to know about WordPress plugins and you’ll get a list of the best WordPress plugins to install on your blog.
WordPress plugins are like browser extensions. You can use them to improve the look and feel of your design or to add new features or functionality. There’s a WordPress plugin for anything.
Activating a handful of essential plugins is one of the first things I do after I make a blog. Over the years, I’ve tested many plugins and this is my guide to the best WordPress plugins.
Mo plugins mo problems?
A word of warning first:
- Make sure you only use plugins that are necessary to achieve a better user experience. Don’t go overboard installing too many. It’s a bit of a jungle out there with many bloated, buggy and spammy plugins.
- Choose lightweight plugins with well-written code and that do not feature any external scripts.
- Adding too many plugins can make your blog heavy and slow to load. Keep your blog simple, light and fast. Keep an eye on your blog’s speed and performance.
- Some plugins can also add security vulnerabilities to your blog. It’s not uncommon to hear about thousands of blogs being exposed to different attacks due to a bad plugin.
- You could introduce code conflicts between plugins and any custom work you have done on your theme design. You don’t want your plugins to break your blog or the latest WordPress update to break your plugins.
- If a plugin is not what you expected or you no longer use it, just delete it.
Discover the best WordPress plugins in the official directory
There are more than 53,000 free WordPress plugins in the official plugin directory. There have been more than a billion and a half plugin downloads in total.
This is what differentiates WordPress from all of the other blogging platforms. None of them can compete with this variety of plugins.
Every WordPress plugin features a page with the plugin description, number of active installs, the user rating, and last updated date.
To learn more about a particular plugin you can also view screenshots, FAQ and the reviews. These are some of the signs to look out for to find the best WordPress plugins:
- High number of “Active Installations“.
- A recent “Last Updated” date.
- Five-star user rating.
- Click also on the “Reviews” tab and see what people say.
- Click also on the “Support” tab and see what issues users have.
- It’s a good sign if the developer is accessible and answers questions in there.
- Compatible with your WordPress blog version.
How to install a plugin on your WordPress blog
Most plugins can be implemented to your blog with little hassle. You don’t need to know how to code. Just install a plugin, activate it, and job is done. This is how you install a new plugin on your blog:
- Go to Plugins in the left-hand navigation of your dashboard and click “Add New”.
- Find a plugin that you want to try and click on the name.
- Then click on the “Install Now” button.
- When the installation is complete, click on “Activate”.
- The new plugin is now live.
If you wish to delete a particular plugin, go to the “Plugins” section, click on “Deactivate”, then click on “Delete” to completely remove it.
60+ best WordPress plugins
Here’s a list of the best WordPress plugins. They are hand-picked by me after a lot of research.
They are actively used by many bloggers, well coded, well-reviewed, regularly updated and help you solve real problems. They are versatile and can be used by personal blogs but also by brands and businesses too.
I don’t advise you to activate all of these on your blog. Review the list and see if some of these are relevant to your needs. They are all great and recommended plugins but not all of them are useful for every blog.
You may only need to add a handful of plugins from the list below and have all your needs covered. Now let’s get started with a list of the best WordPress plugins that you should explore.
The mother of all WordPress plugins: Jetpack
Jetpack is an all-in-one plugin that offers many features and is created by the folks that make WordPress.
This makes it clean coded, trustworthy and a high-quality plugin. Jetpack is one of the very few plugins I would recommend as safe to use to any blogger.
Using Jetpack can help you reduce the number of other plugins you need to run on your blog. Chances are Jetpack will cover all your plugin needs. It helps you integrate all these features:
- Akismet anti-spam filter blocks and removes spam comments.
- Two-step authentication makes your blog login more secure.
- You can get simple blogging stats and learn about your visitors and how they use your blog.
- You can add contact forms to allow people to get in touch with you anywhere on your blog.
- It allows you to automatically share your newly published posts to your social channels.
- You can also add social media icons to your sidebar so visitors can easily follow your social profiles.
- You can add social media sharing buttons to your posts so people can share your content.
- You can add links to the related posts at the end of your posts so people can explore your blog more.
- You can add the ability for users to subscribe to posts and comments and get notified when there are updates.
- You can get a responsive design to make your blog looks great on mobile devices. See more on how to design a blog.
- You can add infinite scroll to have a more engaging presentation of content.
- There’s also the advanced spell checker to help you fix typos and spelling.
- It helps you prevent brute force attacks to further secure your blog.
- You can monitor downtime and be alerted when your server is down.
- You can activate a CDN to speed up the loading time of your images.
- You can use an image gallery to beautifully display your photos.
- You have set your plugins to be updated automatically.
- You can generate an XML sitemap and help search engines discover your content.
- You have the ability to verify your blog with search engines such as Google.
Do install it and review all the different options before continuing your plugin hunt. Just remember not to activate any of the features that you don’t use in order to keep your speed as fast as possible.
Plugins to integrate social media into your blog
One of the first things bloggers want to integrate is social media. This includes everything from just having simple “follow me” buttons in the sidebar, to the ability for visitors to share your content on their profiles.
There are tons of social plugins for WordPress but most are just not good enough. One of the main problems is that they slow down your site due to the many files and scripts they load.
My main requirements for a social plugin are that it looks beautiful and that it’s light and quick to load.
Best for social media sharing buttons
Let your visitors spread the word about your content to their networks. This is a very extensive and flexible plugin that allows you to easily implement social sharing buttons on your content.
It’s lightweight too and requires no external scripts.
The best alternative is the Jetpack plugin that I introduced above. It has the “follow” icons for your sidebar, great “share” buttons and can even automatically share your new posts.
Best for Instagram
If you’re active on Instagram, this plugin is the simplest way of integrating your Instagram profile and the content you post there directly into your blog too.
Best for Pinterest
Displays a Pin It button directly over your images and helps you drive traffic from Pinterest. Perfect for blogs that feature great imagery such as fashion blogs. See these instructions on how to be a fashion blogger.
Best for getting shares for content access
Use it for PDF reports and similar. It can help increase your social media presence by making your visitors tweet or Facebook like to get access to the content.
Plugins for speeding up your blog
Keeping your blog light and quick to load can work wonders for the experience your visitors are having.
Best for reducing the image size
This plugin reduces your image files size automatically and makes your blog faster and easier to load. All this without losing any image quality.
Your visitors won’t notice the difference in images but they will get faster user experience. They do this both to your image archive but also as you’re uploading new images.
Best for speeding up your blog
Autoptimize aggregates, minifies and caches your scripts and styles. It also can remove Google fonts and other elements that may slow down your site.
Best for lazy loading your images and videos
This one is great for image and video-heavy blogs. Only load images and videos that are in the browser’s view (i.e. above the fold) and load the rest only as the visitor scrolls down the page. Learn how to vlog.
Plugins for search engine optimization
Best for SEO in general
The SEO Framework is a lightweight WordPress SEO alternative without ads and other intrusive calls-to-action.
And it still takes care of the majority of things you need.
It allows you to optimize your on-page SEO (META Title, Description and Keywords), add Open Graph social data so social network display your content properly when it’s shared and it also generates an XML sitemap for search engines to easier find and index your content.
Best for discovering broken links
When you start posting often, you will soon have so many posts and pages that it will be hard to manually check them one by one. This plugin automatically checks all your content and informs you of any broken links.
Best for redirecting different URL’s
Broken links and page not found errors are not good for user experience and Google doesn’t like them either so may penalize your site. This plugin helps you get rid of all and redirect non-existent URL’s to correct pages.
It manages 301 redirections and keeps track of 404 errors in a very simple interface without you needing access or experience with .htaccess files.
Best for mass-changing links
This one can save you a lot of time. For example, if you’ve moved the domain name and now want to change the internal links too.
You don’t need to go and edit each of your links one by one. This plugin makes it a much quicker process.
Best for schema rich snippets
This one is useful for many different purposes such as if you run a blog with food recipes.
It helps you add all the necessary microdata so that your content such as recipes show up correctly with images, rating and more in Google’s search results.
Plugins to help you monetize your blog
Best for e-commerce
Use WordPress to create your own online store to sell your products or services. Or to sell subscriptions and memberships.
This is the best WordPress e-commerce plugin. It’s created by the same people who have created WordPress.
Best for selling memberships
A user, role, and content management tool that makes WordPress a more powerful CMS. It allows you to sell memberships to your audience.
Best for accepting donations
Some bloggers monetize their blogs by accepting reader donations. This plugin helps you do just that. Add PayPal buttons in your content or the sidebar.
Best for adding a job board
Another plugin built by Automattic, the company behind WordPress.
Plugins for CTA’s and improved conversions
Best for building your email list
This plugin makes it easy to integrate your MailChimp newsletter to your blog. Easily insert subscribe forms and other calls-to-action in order to get more of your visitors to subscribe to your mailing list.
Plugins for maintaining your blog safe, backed up and secure
Best for optimizing the database
Allows you to clean up and optimize your database to make it run better. You can also remove all your post revisions automatically. I recommend you run this plugin on a regular basis such as once a month.
Best for backing up your files
On-demand backup. It can also backup in an automated schedule. It allows you to save the database backup to your computer, in the cloud or get it sent via email.
Best security plugins
A set of tools here to help you keep your blog secure. Security monitoring, malware detection, two-step authentication for your logins and more.
Plugins to help you power up your content
Best for including charts
Make your posts more shareable and social media-friendly by creating and adding a variety of interactive charts with this plugin.
Best for showing maps
Need to show maps in your posts? This is a simple and great looking solution that works with Google Maps.
Best for frequently asked questions
Do you have a frequently asked questions section of your blog? This plugin helps you display it all in a nice and easy format.
Best for podcasting
The most popular podcasting plugin for WordPress. Supports iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play and more. Covers all your podcasting needs.
Best for improving the navigation menu
Boost your navigation menu with this mega menu and fly out menu. It’s responsive, retina and touch-ready.
Best for integrating beautiful fonts
This plugin makes it easy for you to use a different font (more than 600 available) to spice up your blog.
Best for responsive sliders
A nice and simple way to create post and image sliders for your blog.
Best page builders
Page builders are a big topic on their own. They replace the way you create your content and help you create amazing, unique full-width and modern design templates.
You can present your content in very different ways from post to post and from page to page.
Lots of templates are already available for you to customize already and you can build your own too. All without the need for coding.
Take a look at my introduction to WordPress and Gutenberg for more details.
Plugins for your sidebars
Best for customizing sidebars
Create your own custom widget areas and sidebars. Allows you to pick on which posts and pages a sidebar should show and also what type of sidebar to show on which sections.
Best for sticky widgets
Allows you to put in a sticky widget in your sidebar, so it scrolls through alongside the visitor. This helps you never have any blank space in your sidebar.
Plugins for tracking visitor activity
Best for website analytics
Plausible Analytics is a simple, useful, lightweight and privacy-focused way to count website statistics. I’m the co-founder and the product is 100% open source.
Best for Google Analytics
This plugin makes it easy for you to insert your Google Analytics code and start tracking your visitors.
Best for tracking search box usage
This tracks what your visitors search for in your “search” field. You can know what your visitors are looking for and what they find. Can help you make your design more usable and give you some topic ideas to cover.
Best for GDPR compliance
This one helps you comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It informs your visitors about all the cookies you use and gives visitors a choice if they want to opt-in or out of the different types of cookies.
Plugins to keep visitors staying longer
Best for related post flyouts
This is a New York Times-style alternative to related posts. It displays a flyout in the bottom right corner of the screen with a related post.
Best for displaying related content
Displays a list of related posts at the end of your articles. Allows customization of the display – you can even show thumbnails of the posts.
Best for improving the search
This replaces the default search form. It is very much like Facebook or Google search. Upon starting to type a search query, your visitor will get a list of different options and results. Comes with detailed analytics and controls.
Best for pagination
Adds a more advanced paging navigation interface.
Best for the table of contents
Best for live chat
Tawk.to live chat plugin is a great WordPress alternative to the big players such as Intercom and Zendesk. You can use it to do customer support, answer questions, get feedback and even sell better. It’s free too.
Best for estimated reading time
This one is great if you simply want to inform your audience how long the content they are about to read is. It inserts the “estimated reading time” on top of your post.
Plugins to boost your comments section
Best to remove comment and contact form spam
This one is made by the company behind WordPress is the most effective spam fighter there is. Works on everything from comments to your contact form submissions.
It saves you a lot of time with your comment moderation. Activate it and forget it. It’s also part of the Jetpack plugin.
Plugins for teamwork and multi authors
Best for managing a content calendar
Helps you organize your content calendar and the posting schedule, and take control of your content strategy. Get everyone on the same page and make your collaboration and other activities more streamlined.
Best for dealing with image uploads
Several authors uploading images for their posts can be a nightmare in terms of consistency regarding the image quality and the dimension and the size of the images.
This plugin helps you deal with that. You decide what type of images you prefer and the plugin fixes the images to your preference as they’re being uploaded.
Best for copying content templates
When working with people who are not coders or comfortable with editing, you can allow them to copy previous posts and follow templates. This plugin does just that.
Plugins for blogs written in multiple languages
Best for multilingual content
For all you running multilingual blogs. This plugin makes the process of having multiple versions of your content in different languages very straightforward and user-friendly.
This is it. All the best WordPress plugins that you can use to improve your blog and extend its functionality. Happy blogging!