WordPress is a completely adaptable publishing platform that excels through the efforts of designers and developers. The free platform is unique in giving individual’s access to their code and image files. There are many theme and plugin options to create websites of any kind. The real trick is knowing which ones work best at doing what you want to achieve.
Below we have compiled the top WordPress plugins alongside our favorites. Most of the plugins are free. We have included paid options when there isn't a comparable free option or if the paid platform is popular enough it needs to be included. The paid plugins are marked with a cash icon.
Enable Media Replace
Enable replacing media files by uploading a new file in the "Edit Media" section of the WordPress Media Library.
Add responsive sliders, videos, boxes, tabs, and buttons to your website. This is an easy way to upgrade a free theme to look and function like a premium paid theme.
WP Recent Posts From Category
Getting a person to your website takes effort and marketing. Don’t lose them after one page. Keeping someone on your site can be as simple as providing them options to read more content. The WP Recent Posts From Category plugin creates a visual navigation below each post.
AMR Shortcode Any Widget
If you want to break the right sidebar design mold, consider the AMR Shortcode Any Widget plugin. It allows a widget's use anywhere on the site and not restricted to the sidebar or footer. This is useful if you find widgets you want to use in the page. For instance, you can use Mailchimp’s widget as a call to action section in your contact page. It can also be a visual break on your homepage.
WordPress Editorial Calendar
Consistency in a blog is key to keep readers. If your readers know to expect something new every Thursday, keep that promise. The first time your reader finds this not to be true will most likely be the last time they will come to find out. Use the WordPress Editorial Calendar plugin to schedule out your posts. This works best for people who sit down and write several posts at once and then want to space them out over time.
Create an all-in-one editorial calendar for your blog posts, social media, webinars, and even e-books. Includes analytics for you to see what is working and the ability to allow CoSchedule to auto publish for you at the best time. You can also set how often you want to reshare your content to get maximum exposure.
Google Captcha (reCAPTCHA) by BestWebSoft
Plugin Google Captcha intended to prove that the visitor is a human being and not a spam robot.
Take the guesswork out of WordPress security. iThemes Security offers 30+ ways to lock down WordPress in an easy-to-use WordPress security plugin.
Keep track of customer behavior and/or users on your website and during email campaigns.
Disqus Comment System
Replaces the default WordPress comment system with a more advanced system to increase reader engagement, grow audience and traffic, and monetize content.
Delete Pending Comments
A quick way to delete all pending comments. Useful for victims of spammer attack. If you don't need comments, we recommend using this plugin to help keep your website trim and light.
To keep your website running as fast as possible, keep it lean. If you blog but do not accept comments, there is no need to keep them on your server or to allow posting in the first place. You can use the Delete All Comments plugin to clean current comments and the Disable Comments plugin to stop them all together.
Smush Image Compression and Optimization
Reduce image file sizes so your pages load faster. You can set a max width and height for all of your images and compress them at once.
Images on your site also need to be lean. When you upload, keep in mind websites only need 72dpi and a 1200 pixel width to be crisp on-screen. If your theme has many different ideal image sizes, write them down for reference. A good place to keep them is in the Dashboard Sticky Notes. Also, use the WP Smush Pro plugin to reduce image size for all images in the media library.
Keep your website tidy and automatically delete duplicated meta data, unapproved and deleted comments, auto drafts, and revisions.
Revive Old Post - Auto Post to Social Media
Many blog posts are evergreen, but too many are not used to their full potential. You should share blog posts again and again. People often do not see your social media post the first time, so use your content fully! Revive Old Post allows you to set the sharing interval and number of posts to share to drive more traffic to your website. Paid version upgrades to multiple social media accounts and includes images.
Build beautiful, interactive, mobile-ready forms, surveys, and questionnaires without code.
Contact Form 7
Doesn't store responses / emails in the database, but is free and has great add-ons like PayPal.
Allow people to contact you without getting spammed by using a contact form. The most popular contact form plugin is Contact Form 7 as it adapts to your theme and design. You can create several forms and place them throughout your website with shortcodes.
Scheduling / Booking
Embed your online appointment calendar. The free scheduling / booking plugins we have tried either don't work or have a distracting design that cannot be customized. Acuity is affordable and has a clean design. Integrates with MailChimp, Quickbooks, FreshBooks, Square, PayPal, and other platforms.
Free and most comprehensive e-commerce plugin for WordPress. If a third party has an integration for e-commerce on WordPress, they most likely have a WooCommerce integration available.
Easy Digital Downloads
If you are only selling digital downloads, make it easy on yourself and use Easy Digital Downloads. There is very little to learn and figure out so you can start selling right away. It is free and capable of selling music e-books, software, photos, graphics, or any type of media.
Add good looking social media share buttons to your pages and posts. Pro version has the option to display the share count next to the share button. This social proof helps encourage viewers to share themselves.
Create forms and tracking that syncs to your Mautic account. Mautic is the most advanced open source contact and email campaign management system available. The paid upgrade account includes unlimited email marketing, contacts, and a custom domain. Mautic is comparable to ActiveCampaign and Infusionsoft, which only offer paid monthly packages.
Connect your WooCommerce customer information with your Mautic contact and email campaigns.
Easily create forms for your website visitors to subscribe to your mailing lists. MailChimp is an easy to use mailing list platform that has a free option, but you will need to upgrade to get access to analytics, drip feed campaigns, and more advanced features.
The most powerful marketing resource you can use is someone’s email address. You can reach people through many channels, but the inbox is still the most read and personal space there is. Keep this in mind during the design process of your website and integrate your email agent. Mailchimp is the most popular because it offers design templates with an easy to use interface. It also has comprehensive analytics and a robust free package. You can use Mailchimp’s native code and paste it into WordPress, but it is far easier to use their plugin.
MailChimp for WooCommerce
Sync WooCommerce store with your MailChimp account to create targeted email campaigns based on buying behavior.
The first true all-in-one SEO solution for WordPress, including on-page content analysis, XML sitemaps and much more.
The greatest SEO trick is unique content. Creating your new and personal blog posts will far surpass anything else. The Yoast SEO plugin creates a new section within the editing section of your post for keywords. It is interactive and uses color coding to let the user know how much more SEO is possible for each post.
Simple 301 Redirects
Create a list of URLs that you would like to 301 redirects to another page or site. Now with wildcard support.
Keep in mind what you are trying to achieve for your client with your WordPress blog hosting. If your client is using your website to book a spa appointment, is it easy for them to book? Once you know the precise actions you want your viewer to take, you can begin building a plugin resource. Our list above is just the beginning. If one works for you, begin looking how other websites are using it and build out your resources. Research alongside your website plan, which includes WordPress blog hosting available through many providers.
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