One of the best things about WordPress is that you can add virtually any feature you want by using plugins.
There are thousands of WordPress plugins out there to choose from, and installing them on your blog or website takes only a matter of minutes.
Without the use of plugins, you would have to use code to add new features to your site. Luckily, now there are plugins that exist for almost anything you can imagine. If you need a feature to be added to your site, chances are a plugin can do that for you.
Finding plugins for WordPress is easy, and you can do one of two things to get the ones you are looking for. If you want to find a plugin but don’t know and plugin names, you can simply do a search on Google. Type in the type of them you want, followed by “WordPress plugin” and chances are you will find some options.
Or even easier, you can search for plugins from right within your WordPress dashboard. Simply head over to the plugins section, click on “add new,” and you will be able to search for and quickly add plugins to your WordPress blog.
While it’s ultimately up to the user to decide what plugins he or she wants to use, there are some essential plugins that no site should be without. Here is our list of the top 25 WordPress plugins you should know about.
Not all these plugins will be for every site, but some you may find are must-haves for you.
Take a look.
Why should I use these?: The amount of images you have on your site will quickly add up.
Not only will having lots of large images take up room on your server, but they will bloat and slow down your blog. These image optimization plugins work by reducing the size of your images and speeding up your pages.
These plugins are efficient at their job and do not result in visible quality degradation. They make it so that you can have a faster site without sacrificing any quality.
The following three plugins are some of the most popular ones out there. Each one does more or less the same thing. It ultimately comes down to personal preference so test them out to see which ones you like the best.
With over 300,000+ users, EWW image optimizer allows you to reduce the size of your images. This plugin uses lossless compression by default, so you don’t loose the quality of your images. A cloud version is also available for compressing your images on a separate server, so your server doesn’t have to do the work.
WP Smush uses WPMU DEV’s servers to do the compressing for you, so you don’t have to worry about this plugin slowing down your site. Installed by over 400,000+ users, WP Smush It is a popular choice for optimizing images.
This WordPress plugin uses the popular services TinyJPG and TinyPNG to compress your images up to 80% without visible quality loss. With no file size limits, you can compress your large files and save space. The Tiny PNG plugin also uses external servers to do the compressing work.
Why should I use these?: To help you write to the best of your ability, you should try to minimize distractions and get organized.
Everyone gets writer’s block at some point. Creating a good work environment will help you get on track and focus on creating your writing.
Here are two plugins that are useful for creating blog content.
This plugin lets you see your posts in a calendar format. Simply use drag and drop to manage your blog and schedule your posts. You can aslo edit posts right from within the calendar.
Just Writing allows you to turn on a distraction free writing mode that allows you to focus on your text. Distraction free writing mode comes with all the functionality of the standard tools like spell check and changing your paragraph style, so you don’t have to do any switching between modes.
SEO (Search Enginge Optimiziation)
Why should I use these?: Search engine optimization or SEO is the process of making your site look better to search engines. The better the ranking of your site, the more chance you have of showing up in search engine results pages.
In this day and age when SEO plugins are readily available for free, there is no reason not to have good SEO.
SEO is an important way to promote your blog and drive traffic.
There is a lot to know about SEO, but you don’t have to be an expert to get it right. There are some great plugins out there that do most of the work for you and optimize your site. Here are two of the most popular ones:
With over 1+ million installs, Yoast is one of the most popular plugins out there for SEO. The plugin comes with many features built-in such as automatic sitemap creation. Yoast also comes with a built-in content analyzer that helps you write better content.
This plugin automatically optimizes your site for search engines. All in One SEO Pack is named the most downloaded plugin for WordPress with over 30 million downloads. It comes packed with features including XML sitemap support, Google analytics support, e-Commerce support for plugins like WooCommerce, and much more.
Why should I use these?: This one goes without any explanation. If you are planning on running a blog, you need to make sure it is secured to minimize the chance of a hack.
There are many things hackers can try and do to harm your site. For example, they can try to insert malware on your site, redirect your users, or steal information.
Properly securing your blog is one of the most important things you can do to protect your site and your visitors.
The description says it, “iThemes Security is the #1 WordPress Security Plugin.” iThemes Security gives you 30+ ways to secure and lock down your site. This plugin fixes the common security holes in WordPress, and will harden your blog against hackers.
The Sucuri for WordPress brings security hardening and malware scanning to WordPress. If you want to go a step further, you can get the paid version.
Comment spam can not only be annoying but also add unwanted links in the comment section of your blog. Akismet automatically scans your comments to see if they look like spam or not and filters them out. It also includes a discard feature that deletes the worst comments right away to save you disk space.
Why should I use these?: A good backup plugin will compliment your security plugin and make it easier to restore your site if you get hacked.
If your blog happens to get infected or your files get deleted, having a backup that you can restore can save your site.
The last thing that you want is to have hours worth of work and blog posts lost because you didn’t back up your site. Here is a plugin you can use to create backups.
The name of this plugin describes exactly what it does: it is an addon that helps you backup your site. BackupBuddy has over half a million downloads and is named the #1 WordPress backup plugin. This plugin helps you easily backup your site so you can rest assured knowing you can replace it if anything goes wrong.
Why should I use these?: It’s easy to understand that site speed is an important factor for your blog. In fact, one of the reasons why people leave a site is because it has a slow load time.
Not only is your site speed important for your visitors, but it also affects your search engine rankings. Your website speed is one of Google’s ranking factor. If you have a faster site, it will contribute to your chances of appearing in search engine results pages.
One of the best ways to speed up WordPress is by using a caching plugin. A caching program saves a version of your site and serves that to your visitors, reducing page load time. Caching plugins can also come with other features like minification, which increases your site speed even further.
W3 Total Cache is one of the most popular plugins out there for WordPress caching. Easily enable page, browser, object, and database caching to speed up your site. W3 Total cache also gives you the option to turn on minification and comes with built-in CDN (content delivery network) support.
With more than 1 million downloads, WP Super Cache speeds up your WordPress site by serving static files. If you want a fast caching plugin that is easy to use, try out WP Super Cache.
Why should I use these?: If you want to sell products on your blog, WordPress makes it easy to do so.
There are plugins available that let you sell by using simple PayPal buttons or even integrate a full e-commerce store. Here are two of the most popular plugins you can take a look at.
One of the most popular plugins on the market, WooCommerce is a feature-rich plugin with over 1+ million downloads. WooCommerce integrates a full e-Commerce store on to your site and allows you to beautifully sell products.
As the name implies, Easy Digital Downloads allows you to sell digital downloads on your site with little effort. The plugin comes with many useful features for selling your digital products including a cart system, payment gateway integration including support for PayPal and Stripe, promotional code system, and more. If you want to sell digital downloads, this plugin is for you.
Why should I use these?: To be able to make important decisions for your brand, you need to know how many users are coming to your site and how they use it.
One of the best ways to monitor your site is to use Google Analytics.
With Google Analytics, you can see how many people visit your site, where they came from, what your bounce rate is and more. Setting up Google Analytics will help give you insights on what is going well with your website and what needs fixing.
To set up google analytics you can either insert code manually into your site or use one of these handy plugins.
Formerly Google Analytics by Yoast, this plugin was recently acquired and renamed to MonsterInsights. With over 1+ million downloads, this is one of the most popular Google Analytics plugins you can use.
Google Analytics Dashboard allows you to easily set up your site with Google Analytics and view key reports right from your WordPress dashboard. This plugin also includes in-depth page and post reports to give you further insight into how your blog is performing.
Why should I use these?: Using social media is a valuable way to increase traffic to your blog.
In addition to promoting your blog through your own site, you can get lots of traffic when people share your content with their own following.
Attractive, well-placed social share buttons will help boost your social shares by providing a convenient way for your audience to share your content.
Add This lets you add beautiful social sharing buttons to your site. Use this plugin to allow your users to easily share to the most popular social networks including Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, Pinterest, and more.
Easy Social Share Buttons adds attractive share buttons without slowing your site down. The beauty of this plugin is its simplicity- it is compact so that it doesn’t interfere with the speed of your site.
Why should I use these?: Offering similar posts to your readers can help increase your page readership and lower your bounce rate.
Here are some handy plugins that do this for you by pulling up related post to suggest to your audience.
This plugin does exactly what the name says, it pulls up related posts and presents them to your readers. By using a unique, powerful algorithm, this plugin scans for and displays a list of related posts. You can also use this plugin to display sponsored content and make money.
Retain visitors and reduce you bounce rate by showing a list of related posts to your visitors with this handy plugin. Contextual Related Posts also comes with features including shortcodes, caching, and thumbnail support.
Why should I use these?: If you have links on your blog, which you should, it is important to present them in a proper way.
The first thing you are going to want to do is properly set up your permalink structure.
Sometimes, you may have links that are long or hard to read. With plugins, you can customize your links and make them look better.
Also, if you have affiliate links, you are going to want to make them look better. Also, you will want to make them no-follow so you don’t get penalized by search engines.
Another thing you want to make sure of is that you don’t have any broken links on your site. Broken links can lower your search engine rankings.
Here are some handy plugins that can take care of your links for you.
Pretty Link allow you to customize and change your links using your domain name using redirects. If you are using affiliate links, this plugin also lets you make your links no-follow so you can better comply with search engines.
Broken Link Checker is a useful WordPress plugin that checks your site for link errors. The plugin lets you check for broken links on posts and pages, and images that are missing, ensuring your site is error free.
Why should I use these?: Last but certainly not least, here are some other useful plugins that will help you make your site the best it can be.
This plugin adds a simple, beautiful looking contact form to your site. Simple but flexible, Contact Form 7 comes with available integration for CAPTCHA, Akismet filtering, and more.
WP Optimize lets you clean up your WordPress site. Simple but effective, this plugin scans and cleans your database, trash, comments, draft posts, and more, freeing up space on your site. For optimizing your WordPress site, this plugin is a must-have.
Now you have a list of 20 essential WordPress plugins available to you. Each individual blog will have different needs, but many of these plugins can be used by any type of blog.
For even more tools you can use to further add to your blog or website, check out this list of blogging tools.
The best part about plugins is that they are designed to be easy to use. They integrate right into WordPress, and you usually don’t have to know any coding to use them. Simply install them with a few clicks and you will have added functionality to your WordPress site.
If you need a reference for how to install a theme, take a look at this guide to creating a blog.
Take the time to compare plugins and decide which ones are best for you. With the right plugins, you will be able to not only run your WordPress site with increased ease but also create a better blog.