The 10 Best WordPress Plugins EVERY Website Should Have

Plugins

Get ‘em, Plug ‘em & Use ‘em!

Got a fresh install of WordPress?

Not sure what to do next?

If you haven’t guessed from the title already, I’m going to suggest installing 10 of the very best WordPress plugins that your website should NEVER be without.

Don’t worry, they’re all FREE and can be found on WordPress.org.

You may already know about some of these, and you’ll probably disagree with me on certain suggestions. So, I’m going to include alternatives plugins where others in the WordPress universe might have differing opinions.

Without further adieu…

1. Akismet

What Does It Do?
Akismet automatically checks any new comments against a database to see if a similar comment has already been labeled as spam by another WordPress website. If it finds that it has, it automatically marks it as spam and puts it into your comments’ Spam folder.

Akismet WordPress Plugin

Why Do You Need It?
Once your blog starts to grow in size, you’ll have a hard enough time keeping up with the non-spam comments. This plugin will save you countless hours of trying to sift through and separate the real comments from spam.

Alternative Plugins?
As far as I know, there is no real competitor for this plugin. Akismet was developed by WordPress and is included in the WordPress install package. That’s how good it is.

2. Fast Secure Contact Form

What Does It Do?
This plugin allows you to create and manage an unlimited number of contact forms for your site. It includes an autoresponder option and URL redirection for after a form has been submitted. Fast Secure Contact Form also integrates support for CAPTCHA and Akismet for added protection from spammers.

Fast Secure Contact Form WordPress Plugin

Why Do You Need It?
Fast Secure Contact Form helps you add a Contact form to your website with only a few clicks of your mouse. As the name indicates, you can quickly create a professional-looking form, that’s customized to your needs. And most important of all, it provides a secure means of communication with your audience.

Alternative Plugins?
Contact Form 7 is the main competitor in this category. It’s been downloaded an amazing, 4,906,473 times and has over 1,270 reviews. I suspect that one of the reasons for its popularity is the fact that it supports over 50 languages.

3. Google XML Sitemaps

What Does It Do?
This very important plugin will automatically generate, and submint your XML sitemap. In addition, it will automatically notify all the major search engines, like Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask, when you make any additions or changes to the content on your site.

Google XML Sitemaps Plugin

Why Do You Need It?
A sitemap is an indispensable tool that helps search engine crawlers understand the structure and find all of the pages on your website. That, in turn, will ensure that your content ranks more consistently, since pages will be properly indexed with links recorded as well.

Alternative Plugins?
Just take a look at the numbers again and you’ll see that nothing even comes close to competing with this one. However, WP Archive-Sitemap Generator is another popular sitemap plugin that creates a non-XML sitemap page that is more for humans than search bots.

4. All in One SEO Pack

What Does It Do?
Where do I start… I guess I should just keep it simple and say that it automatically optimizes your WordPress pages and posts for search engine ranking. This is supposed to be the perfect plugin for beginners since it doesn’t require any configuration. “It works out-of-the-box. Just install. For advanced users, you can fine-tune everything.”

All In One SEO Pack WordPress Plugin

Why Do You Need It?
We all need more traffic, and this plugin will help you get some by making it easier to rank higher in the search results. It takes the pain out of SEO and lets you concentrate on doing what you would rather be doing–writing, I’m going to assume.

Alternative Plugins?
WordPress SEO by Yoast is a strong contender and is quite different in its feature list. You could probably even run them side-by-side, since WordPress SEO focuses on helping you write content that is optimized for SEO.

5. WP Super Cache

What Does It Do?
This plugin does something very simple, yet very important. It creates static HTML versions of your normally dynamic PHP pages and posts. Then it caches and serves those pages to your site visitors.

WP Super Cache WordPress Plugin

Why Do You Need It?
Using this plugin will make your visitors happy by improving your page load times. It also makes Google happy because it improves the user experience. It’s well-known that Google factors in your page load times. So, WP Super Cache may have the ability to help you improve your search engine rankings as well.

Alternative Plugins?
W3 Total Cache is a close contender and seems to be recommended and used by some big names on the net. Definitely check this one out too. It might suite your needs better.

6. WP-DB-Backup

What Does It Do?
WP-DB-Backup gives you a super simple interface for backing up your database without having to know SQL or do it with the standard, and more difficult, PHPMyAdmin database management interface.

WP-DB-Backup WordPress Plugin

Why Do You Need It?
If you lose your database, you lose your website. And believe it or not, there is ALWAYS potential for something like that to happen. If you haven’t done so already, back it up… today!

Alternative Plugins?
None that I’ve heard of. There is a paid plugin that some people like called, Backup Buddy. But I don’t have any experience with it, so I can’t make a recommendation either way. for advanced users, WP-DBManager will also allow you to backup your database, plus give you an interface for managing your installation.

7. Disqus Comment System

What Does It Do?
This plugin is quite popular for replacing the standard WordPress commenting system. Disqus offers a more robust set of features such as: Community Profiles, Social Media Integrations, Liking and Sharing, Media Embedding, Realtime Commenting, Notifications, and the list goes on.

Disqus Comment System WorPress Plugin

Why Do You Need It?
The Disqus commenting system not only looks better, it’s also much easier to use. Those things will increase user trust and create more opportunities for your visitors to interact. This added communication helps build more of a community around your website and becomes a place your readers like to hang out.

Alternative Plugins?
IntenseDebate Comments has been around for a while, but isn’t nearly as popular as Disqus. Livefyre Realtime Comments is the new kid on the block and seems to be offer many of the same features as Disqus. We’ll have to wait and see who comes out on top.

8. LinkWithin

What Does It Do?
This cool little plugin creates a list of related posts, complete with thumbnail images and post titles. You can select the number of related posts that you want it to display, and it will automatically place the list at the end of every post.

Why Do You Need It?
Linking to other related posts will draw your visitors into your content and keep them on your site longer. And more page views equates to more income, in most cases. It will also help search engine crawlers find and index your site content more efficiently, which help your rankings.

How Popular Is It?
This is one plugin that isn’t managed through WordPress.org. So I can’t say exactly how many downloads it has, or how well people like it. But I have seen a large number of well-respected bloggers using it. So I gave it a try on my site, and love it so far.

Alternative Plugins?
One very similar plugin is nrelate. It looks and acts almost the same with a few more options to configure in its settings panel.

9. Social Media Widget

What Does It Do?
This amazing little plugin give you the ability to add your social media buttons via a widget in your sidebar. It supports over 50 social media networks; gives you 3 different icons sizes, 4 different icon styles, and 4 different icon animations.

Social Media Widget WordPress Plugin

Why Do You Need It?
Connecting through social media is an effective way to communicate and build a relationship with your audience. This smart widget puts your social media links right where they’re always easy to find and does so with style. You can’t really ask for more than that!

Alternative Plugins?
There are tons of social media plugins that have widgets included, but none of them work as well as Social Media Widget, in my opinion. I’m still searching though, so let me know if you have one.

10. WordPress Popular Posts

What Does It Do?
The WordPress Popular Posts plugin allows you to place a widget in your sidebar that will display a list of the most popular posts from you blog. The plugin options allow you to select a date range, define a criteria for popularity (like views, comments), and also give you the choice to display meta data about each entry.

WordPress Popular Posts WordPress Plugin

Why Do You Need It?
Any time you have the attention of a reader on your blog, you’re going to want to highlight your best content in order to draw them in and have them read more. That’s what this plugin will do for you. It will also help robots crawl and index your site more efficiently which will help with search rankings.

Alternative Plugins?
None that I’m aware of. I’ve looked many times, and none of them seem to offer the configuration options that WordPress Popular Posts does. I’ll keep looking and update this post if I find something.

In Conclusion…

With the exceptions of LinkWithin, all of these plugins can be downloaded directly from WordPress.org/plugins or through the interface under Plugins> Add New> Search> Install> Activate.

This is by no means an authoritative list. After all, I’m only one man, and I’m sure there are others who can add to this list.

Don’t just sit there!

Let’s hear it. We want to know your vote for the most important plugin if it’s not showing up on this list.

We can all learn more if we all take join in the conversation.

Photo by: wharman

Comments:

  1. Anirudh Bahadur

    Hi Todd,
    I have thousands and thousands of spam comments on one of my blogs waiting for my approval. But there are some real comments from real people too among them. However, I do not have the time and energy to sniff through all those pages to approve the real comments.

    Any advice on how to get the job done in a “not so time consuming” way..?

    Best wishes,
    Anirudh Bahadur

    P.S. Great article. Really helpful. :)

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>