One of the best things about WordPress is the seemingly unlimited range of its plugins that you can use to add any web based features to your website or blog. It makes it so easy for even the most amateur web users, with no coding skills, to create and manage their own websites. This is the reason why WordPress is the preferred CMS for millions of webmasters across the globe.
However, you cannot install too many unnecessary plugins to your WordPress website since that can hurt your site’s performance. You need to choose simple and the right plugins that can perform multiple functions for you and save your website from any additional load.
To make this choice easier for you, here’s a list of some of the most useful WordPress plugins that cover almost all the functions that any modern day website needs.
1) All in One WP Security and Firewall
WordPress security is a widely debated topic among webmasters. Many experts argue that WordPress does not have sufficient security checks to counter the increasing online threats.
With the All in One WP Security and Firewall plugin, you can put all these arguments to rest. You don’t need to waste time with any complex technical stuff securing your website. This plugin covers every security need from the very basic to the very advanced.
It gives you a security rating showing how secure your website is and recommends different steps you should take to avoid any potential threats.
2) All in One SEO Pack
All in One SEO Pack is a WordPress SEO plugin to automatically optimize your WordPress blog for Search Engines such as Google.
You can configure your meta tags, titles, descriptions and XML sitemap with this plugin. It will also add optimization options at the end of every post/page that you can use to adjust the title, description and keywords.
I used to use Yoast SEO before but I have found that over time they keep removing some core features from their free version and make it premium. Also, Yoast SEO releases too may updates and some of them break the plugin every now and then. So I prefer to just use the all in one seo pack which is less hassle for me to use and it does the job.
3) Editorial Calendar
Every blog needs to create and publish content regularly in order to engage its readers and build its email list. But tracking the different topics that you’ve already covered, and managing your content publishing dates can be difficult, especially if you have a multi-author or high traffic blog.
The Editorial Calendar plugin solves this problem comprehensively. It gives you a high level picture of all the content you’ve published in a month and the posts that are in the pipeline.
4) AddThis Smart Layers
Social media marketing is important for any online business. To attract more social shares, not only do you need to create highly engaging content, but also make it very easy for your visitors to share it.
AddThis Smart Layers is an extremely effective plugin for this purpose. It helps you add eye catching social media sharing buttons to your website, and create page specific promotional layers that make people share your content more.
When a visitor shares your content, this plugin shows it more “Recommended Content” from your blog based on the user’s interests. This increases the “Time on Site” of your website and exposes your archive content to new visitors. There are several other features in this plugin that can be used to increase social engagement and shares.
5) Disqus Comment System
Blog comments are a major part of user engagement. They reflect the popularity of a blog and help in creating new relationships with the readers. They are also a free source of unique content and can improve your website’s search rankings.
Disqus Comment System is a great comment plugin for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s very easy to integrate with your WordPress website and makes commenting very convenient for the users. Secondly, it allows integration with all the major social networks because of which readers can comment using their Twitter, Facebook and Google+ accounts. This increases the reach of your content since all the social comments appear on the commenter’s social profile as well.
It also has some useful monetization options. You can display the content from other websites on your blog and earn when someone click on them.
6) W3 Total Cache
This is another plugin that can improve your website’s overall performance significantly. It creates a cached version of your static content and serves it to your visitors instead of loading it every time. It also manages additional traffic load very well in case you receive more than usual traffic or one of your blog posts goes viral.
7) WordPress Simple Shopping Cart
This simple shopping cart plugin is great for selling products online in one click from your WordPress site. If you just want to sell a few products from your site quickly then this plugin will likely do the job for you.
This plugin is a lightweight solution (with minimal number of lines of code and minimal options) so it doesn’t slow down your site.
I really like the simplicity of this plugin so if I have a site where I need to setup a small shop to sell a few items, I quickly set this plugin up. It is very easy to configure and use and it just works year after year. There are a few complex plugins you can use for setting up a shop but those plugins tend to break after upgrade and that can waste a lot of time trying to figure it all out.
8) Simple Download Monitor
You can easily manage downloadable files and monitor downloads of your digital files from your WordPress site using this plugin.
You can configure downloadable files from your WordPress admin dashboard via an elegant user interface. Then allow your visitors to download the files and this plugin will monitor which files get downloaded how many times.
The plugin will log the IP addresses of the users who download your digital files and documents. It will also log the date and time of each download.
9) Contact Form 7
Contact Form 7 can manage multiple contact forms, plus you can customize the form and the mail contents flexibly with simple markup. The form supports Ajax-powered submitting, CAPTCHA, Akismet spam filtering and so on.
I like the fact that you can setup a contact form for your site using this plugin within a few minutes.
WordPress has a never ending list of plugins. Your challenge is to identify the ones that are most relevant to your website and improve its user experience. The plugins I’ve listed in this post cover a lot of the necessary functions required by any modern day WordPress blog.