These days a large number of websites are using WordPress. Although WordPress offers a lot of features and flexibility, still the core software lacks much functionality. The way out to cover up the missing functions is to apply WordPress plugins.
There are thousands of plugins in the WordPress directory and they differ vastly in quality. Therefore, many people find it hard to select the right set of plugins for their sites. It is indeed a difficult job to sort good quality plugins from the not so good ones.
We have made the effort and prepared a list of 13 most popular, high quality, reliable and free plugins which you can use to take your site to higher levels.
List of top 13 popular WordPress plugins
1. Addtoany share buttons
Addtoany is the most popular and reliable content sharing platform. You can share your posts and pages with any sharing and social media site like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Tumblr, Reddit etc.
It provides share buttons as well as follow buttons. Sharing buttons can be put before content, after content or before and after content. Moreover, you can have vertical floating share bar and horizontal floating share bar.
Addtoany plugin also displays share counts on pages and posts. It integrates with Google Analytics automatically for analysis of sharing.
To use this plugin you do not require any account or any sign-up.
It is a must have social media plugin.
2. Akismet Anti-spam
Akismet plugin is very popular and has over 3 million active installations. This plugin refers its global database of spam to check the comments and contact form submissions and helps your site to avoid publishing malicious contents. Website admin can review the comment spam captured by Akismet on the Comments admin screen.
Moderator can see which comments were cleared and which were caught by this plugin.
You require Akisment.com API key to use this plugin. This key is free for personal blogs.
3. All in one WP security & firewall
This plugin has got 500k+ active installs. It covers nearly all aspects of website security and is equally well supported by the developers.
The security strength meter on its dashboard indicates the security level of your site on a scale of 0 to 480. It also gives you the option of scheduling backup of your database, .htaccess file, and wp-config.php file.
This plugin also provides password strength tool which displays the period it will take for modern tools to crack the password
You can configure firewall rules to make your site more secure from external threats.
The plugin checks vulnerability in your site and enforces latest security practices and techniques to make your site secure.
4. Broken link checker
This is again a very popular plugin and has over 500k active installs. Broken link checker plugin scans your posts, pages and comments for broken links and submits its findings to the website admin via email or dashboard. Moreover, it discovers missing images and redirects also.
If configured, this plugin can show broken links differently in posts and can also restrict search engines from following these links.
Broken links are not good for your site ranking. Hence, your site admin must take corrective action on the broken links report provided by the plugin.
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5. Child theme configurator
If you are running a WordPress website, you often require to tweak it. You cannot customize your theme beyond the options of the customizer. Moreover, any changes made to CSS or PHP files will be lost once you update the parent theme.
To overcome these issues, you need a child theme and this plugin is ideal for this job. Child theme configurator allows you to install a child theme in a few minutes. If required you can create as many child themes as you want.
This plugin gives you complete control of your child theme and at the same time leaves your parent theme untouched.
6. Contact Form 7
Contact Form 7 is an open source software and hugely popular having over 3 million active installs.
This plugin has the flexibility of supporting multiple contact forms. Contact Form 7 provides the ability to customize contact form and mail content with simple markup.
7. Decent Comments
This is a simple plugin for showing comments. With the help of this plugin, you can configure widgets, shortcodes and an API to show comments in a proper way, including links, author avatars, and comment excerpts.
You can place comments anywhere using a widget or a shortcode or an API call.
Some configurable options include – number of words for comment excerpts, number of comments to show, show comments for a specific post etc.
8. Google analytics dashboard for WP
This plugin is very popular and has over 1 million active installs. It enables you to track your site using latest Google Analytics tracking code.
You can view important stats of Google analytics in WordPress install. Moreover, this plugin gives you performance details of each post and page of your site.
Google analytics dashboard for WP plugin can be customized through options and hooks. You can also watch some other important stats like real time numbers of visitors and real-time source of traffic.
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9. MailChimp for WordPress
This popular plugin has over 800k active installs. It enables you to create a customized sign up form. Mailchimp.com maintains subscribers list which can be synchronized with the mailing list at your WordPress. You can create a custom email template for sending emails to your subscribers. To use this plugin, you need to create an account at mailchimp.com and then integrate it with the plugin through an API key.
This plugin is free for up to 2000 subscribers after that you need to go for the premium version of the plugin.
10. Page Builder by siteorigin
Page builder by siteorigin is a very popular page creation plugin and has over 1 million active installs. This plugin works with all WordPress themes and with standard WordPress widgets.
You can create pages with any number of columns and width ratios of these columns. This plugin has a drag and drop interface; you will not require writing any coding. It supports live editing and offers many page layouts. Many tutorial videos are available for this plugin on the siteorigin site.
This plugin is equally popular with over 600k active installs. It is mainly used to clean your website database to make it function at optimum efficiency.
WP-optimize helps make space for your database. It removes all post revisions and make the database light and fast. Moreover, it also clears comments table by removing spam and trashed comments with a single click.
You can also configure this plugin to run automatic clean-up as per schedule.
12. W3 total cache
This plugin is an open source software and a must for every WordPress website. It improves user experience and SEO by reducing the site loading time to a great extent. Google and other search engines give preference to a fast loading website while calculating the page rank of a website.
Before installing this plugin you should deactivate and uninstall any previous caching plugin.
Guest comments are also loaded at a very fast rate.
Recommended CDN providers for this plugin include MaxCDN, Amazon CloudFront, and CloudFlare.
13. Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is the best SEO plugin having over 3 million active installs. It gives you the option to edit snippet of your post. You can enter one focus keyword in the free version of Yoast SEO; for more focus keywords you need to opt for the premium version.
This plugin does content analysis and gives suggestions to improve your post SEO.
Webmaster tools in the Yoast SEO dashboard give you the option to get your website verified by Bing Webmaster tools, Google search console, and Yandex webmaster tools.
It also lets search engines know the social accounts connected with your website. This plugin also creates XML sitemap to be crawled by the search engines.
All websites don’t have the same plugin requirements; hence you should first think of what is needed for your site and then select the appropriate WordPress plugins.