You Decide: WordPress Plugins and Solutions You Can't Live Without - ManageWP

You Decide: WordPress Plugins and Solutions You Can’t Live Without

Cornucopia.

That’s what WordPress is – a platform overflowing with plugins and themes and new ways to do neat things with your site. Plugin developers find boring ways to do cool things, cool ways to do boring things, and, best of all, cool ways to do cool things.

Working with WordPress exposes us to all of these options, and that exposure can make these options seem like no big deal. But when you think about it, it’s clear that WordPress is unique in the vast choices it offers.

That’s why I want to know which plugins (or other WordPress-related solutions) are your favorite. What can’t you live without? What do you think other people should really know about? In this post, I’ll briefly overview a handful of good plugins and solutions. But that’s just to get you thinking: I’d love to have you join the discussion in the comments!

Anti-Spam

akismet-logoWe’ve posted about anti-spam plugins on the ManageWP blog before. The reason for that is that spam is awful, and we all want to avoid it. Like a comic book superhero, a plugin might be able to save the day.

A site bogged down in comment spam is super shady, but a world where you must moderate and approve every single comment posted to your blog is tiresome and inefficient. If you can use a plugin to eliminate most spam, you’ll be in a good spot. Here are some nice choices:

Contact Forms

ninja-formsBlogging is social, so you should have a few different ways for people to get in touch with you. Contact forms are one great way to do that.

But they don’t end there: forms can be used for so much more than simply dumping a message into your email. You can use forms to survey readers, collect information, or track registrations for an event. With a bit of creativity, I once used a form to make my own WordPress Mad Libs.

Here are a few of the more popular plugins:

SEO

wordpress-SEO-by-yoastSearch engine optimization? Yes, there’s a plugin for that. When you’re trying to rank well in search engines, using a variety of tools can be useful. Different sites will take their SEO to different levels, and tutorials abound all over the web, it’s still nice to have a plugin that can help you out.

Is one SEO plugin better than others at certain aspects of SEO? Are you using a plugin that’s up to date with how Google sorts results? These are questions to consider as you pick an SEO plugin, and they’re questions to answer in the comments section below this post. Here are three great options:

Analytics

google-analyticsAs you tinker with your site, trying to get higher rankings in Google, you’ll want to track how well you’re doing. That’s analytics. Of course, analytics is so much more: it refers to measurements of every aspect of your site, from keyword rankings to bounce rate to average visit length and so on.

A few weeks ago, I did a post examining a few WordPress analytics options.

ManageWP provides a simple way to view pageviews on your sites, as does Jetpack’s WordPress.com Stats. These tools are good for day-to-day tracking.

But not all analytics approaches will involve WordPress plugins. Google Analytics is the king of in-depth analysis. If you want to dig into every metric imaginable for your site, that’s where you go. Plugins like Google Analytics for WordPress make it easy to link your website to your Analytics account. Click and StatCounter are other contenders for in-depth analysis.

Social Media

digg-diggSocial sharing drives a lot of traffic these days. One person shares a post with their Facebook friends, who shares it with their friends, and so on—that’s how things go viral. Social media plugins make it easier for users to share your content with others, which draws traffic to you.

A lot of social media plugins enable a number of social sharing buttons by each of your posts, so that readers can share them to many different social networks. Other plugins find other ways to tap into the power of social media. Here you go:

Publishing and Writing

editorial-calendarWordPress is your own publishing platform, which is why it’s great to see plugins and solutions that help you better write and publish content. Plugins in this area range from solutions to help you manage your publishing schedule to add-ons that help you put the information you want around posts.

Let’s see:

Security

vaultpressEveryone wants to protect their site from viruses and hackers. One innovative app for that is Clef, which integrates with WordPress and creates a digital signature on your phone that then replaces the need for usernames and passwords.

Then there are more general security plugins that aim to bolster the overall safety of your site. Here are a few:

Search

relevanssi-logoWordPress’s native search, while it’s slowly been improving, is still a long ways off from being adequate. Luckily, all it takes to give your visitors an excellent search experience is a single plugin:

Site Speed

Going crazy like a small, sweet-toothed child in a very large candy store and installing too many plugins can slow your site down. It’s something to be careful of. But either way, there are plugins out there that exist solely to up your site’s speed.

Most of these involve caching content:

Conclusion – Your Turn

By now it’s pretty clear that WordPress has a lot of awesome plugins. But I know that I haven’t touched on every stellar plugin out there. There are wonderful plugins that I didn’t mention. There are even whole types of plugin that I didn’t have time to delve into: forum functionality, site backups, email list extensions, image slideshows, and links.

I don’t know them all. That’s where you come in.

Let’s start a conversation. What are your favorite plugins or solutions, WordPress extensions that you couldn’t live without? Why? Let us know in the comments below!

Creative Commons image courtesy of Heseinberg Media (edited to reduce file size)

Andrew Urevig

Andrew loves words and WordPress. He is a freelance writer for hire who has also managed WordPress sites for an online newspaper, a not-for-profit organization, and two businesses.

22 Comments

  1. awaz

    I just found your blog because I was looking for a new plugin for my site. I am amazed at how many different blogs you cover on your site, I have not heard of a lot of them. Thanks for this information!

  2. Luke Boobyer

    I personally love WP Core https://wpcore.com/

    I use it on all my projects because it’s such a massive time saver. Instead of installing plugins one at a time I just set up a collection and install them all in one go.

  3. Frank

    Hire Dedicated Part time, Full time wordpress developers for wordpress theme/template or plugin/widget development.
    Thanks for sharing this post.

  4. Stefan Misaras

    Love the list, some of these plugins I never heard of but I’ll give them a try!

    In the Social Media section I would recommend either AddThis or, what I currently use and love, ShareAholic, which comes with analytics and more customizable icons and positioning. Plus, they have a great customer service, usually responding within 6h or so if you want more stuff implemented.

    1. Andrew Urevig

      Thanks for those suggestions, Stefan! I think I’ll include those choices if I ever do a post on social media plugins.

  5. Dragan Nikolic

    Hey Andrew,

    Thanks for mentioning our Fanciest Author Box. I hope your readers find it useful.

    I also highly recommend Wordfence security plugin. It works right out of the box, has no compatibility issues with WordPress themes and plugins and gives you peace of mind.

    1. Andrew Urevig

      It’s a great plugin, Dragan. James (several comments below) also recommended Wordfence, so I might have to try it out sometime soon. Thanks for commenting!

  6. Emily Williams

    I just want to add MotoPress plugin – visual builder for WordPress http://www.getmotopress.com/.It creates and edits posts and pages quickly and without any code and tags. The keyword to describe this plugin is simplicity.

    1. Andrew Urevig

      Thanks for pointing us towards MotoPress, Emily!

  7. Curt

    Its new (May 2014) but might want to look at for Search as well as other advantages it brings
    http://wordpress.org/plugins/Affinitomics

    1. Andrew Urevig

      Thanks for the suggestion, Curt! There’s always innovation in the WordPress community, which is awesome.

  8. Wolfgang Saus

    I love zotpress, https://wordpress.org/plugins/zotpress/. The plugin uses free software (or browser plugin) Zotero to bring your bibliography onto your website. I use Zotero not only for my scientific paper an citation collection but also as my very handy link collection. I cite books, papers and furthor links on my website, and they are always up to date as zotpress synchronizes with my Zotero collection.

    1. Andrew Urevig

      This is a neat little plugin. Thanks for letting us know about it, Wolfgang!

  9. Dave McHale

    re: the first comment: I’ve had too many plugin/theme compatibility issues with Wordfence myself, but we also had plenty of issues with Better WP Security (which is now obviously iThemes Security) screwing up our .htaccess files from time to time; it would stop rewriting the file partway through its process, which would take down the entire site on our client until we went in to fix it manually.

    We’ve had a lot of good luck with ‘All in One Security & Firewall’ as our go-to security plugin of choice, though.

    1. Dave McHale

      oops, didn’t realize comments were stacked upside down. I meant re: the most recent comment by James :)

    2. Andrew Urevig

      Interesting–thanks for taking the time to share your experiences with these security plugins, Dave!

  10. James

    Here are a few more. All of them free and downloadable at wordpress.org:

    WORDFENCE has replaced iThemes as the go to security plugin on most of our client sites ever since some of them have experienced lockout issues with the latter.
    PIWIK – Open source analytics allowing you to retain control of all of your site’s traffic data instead of having to share it with Google.

    1. Andrew Urevig

      Great suggestions, James! Thanks a bunch for taking the time to read the article and comment.

  11. Football Crazy

    A few of the plugins I use all the time…
    Quickcache – Easier to set up than most caching plugins, great for newbies.
    BulletProof Security – Protection from multiple threats.
    Post Snippets – A snippet library of text, HTML or PHP code to be used in posts.

    All the above are free, I’ve also tested Swiftype search and I have been impressed.

    1. Andrew Urevig

      Thanks for the quick list of quality plugins!

  12. MAGGEW

    Marvelous write-up and worthy of a revisit to sandbox these plugins. Check out these plugins, I know you’ll find them worthy.

    When Swiftype Search was in beta, I enjoyed using that plugin.
    http://wordpress.org/plugins/swiftype-search/

    Also, you forgot Analytics360, which I think is a huge one!
    http://wordpress.org/plugins/analytics360/

    Another really awesome plugin, that should get more spotlight, is, myCRED.
    https://wordpress.org/plugins/mycred/

    If you consider paying for an SEO Plugin, this is a superior solution, tried & tested:
    http://codecanyon.net/item/premium-seo-pack-wordpress-plugin

    That’s all, thanks for your attention and keep up the good work brothaman.

    1. Andrew Urevig

      Analytics360 is a popular plugin–thanks for catching that. And Swiftype Search looks quite promising; I think that I’ll have to try it out. Thanks for your great comment!

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