The end and beginning of each year is the proper time to analyze the previous year’s activity and set resolutions for the one ahead. There aren’t enough words to emphasize how important is to have objective feedback and a plan. A lack of feedback and planning is the sure way to fail.
In this period, hit parades are also quite common, and readers appreciate them. A list of the best themes, plugins, theme creators, or Twitter accounts to follow helps people make the right decisions and save time. For instance, instead of checking the WordPress theme directory and other marketplaces, you can check our recommendations for barbershop themes. You don’t have to spend hours of searching for the best theme when we have already done the legwork for you.
This post is about the most installed plugins from the WordPress repository. It’s not a pure enumeration of the most installed plugins. We have combined the number of installations and plugin destinations. So in this list, you won’t find plugins that overlap in their functionalities. In plain English, here are ten plugins that you should have a solid grasp on if you are an average WordPress user.
The internet would look a lot more spammy if Akismet, the leading anti-spam plugin, didn’t exist. It comes pre-installed on your WordPress core, and five million people have already installed it. To use it, you need an Akismet API key, and for personal projects, you determine its price (yeah, you can use it for free or pay the maximum of $120 a year).
Akismet does the following things:
- Checks the comments and filters out spam
- Allows you to moderate each comment manually
- Shows the URLs in comments to reveal sneaky links
- Automatically deletes comments from spam folder to save disk space
No successful website isn’t optimized for search engines. It’s a no-brainer that SEO is capital, and a plugin is mandatory in this respect. Yoast SEO is the most famous plugin for search optimization. It’s jam-packed with useful features and takes care of technical SEO aspects like XML sitemaps, meta tags, and site indexing.
Besides these features, Yoast SEO does a deep analysis of your content. It helps you to deliver more digestible content to your readers. You get an SEO and readability score for each blog post, in addition to useful suggestions.
Jetpack is a plugin that does the job of five or more plugins. It’s a complex plugin broken down into modules. Jetpack shows traffic stats, protects against data loss and malware, adds two-steps authentication, helps deal with comments, and much more.
The paid version backs up and restores your site, scans its files, and optimizes it for search engines. If you activate Jetpack (especially the paid version), my advice is to check that the enabled modules to not overlap with other plugins. For example, don’t install a backup plugin if you use Jetpack for this task.
WordFence is a security plugin trusted by more than two million users. It’s a fremium plugin that significantly strengthens a site’s security. The free version, available in the WordPress repository, is enough to secure a personal project. It performs the following tasks:
- Scans your site for known viruses, modified core files, unknown files in WordPress folders, and vulnerabilities
- Creates a complex firewall and protects your site against brute force attacks
- Alerts you when a security thread is found
- Offers information about traffic and hacking attempts
WordFence does many other small tasks (hides WordPress version, offers login hints, highlights capital plugin updates, etc.) that contribute to an overall highly secure site. You shouldn’t worry about it slowing down your site; WordFence developers did a great job and made it pretty light.
Caching your site is almost mandatory these days. Long story short, a caching plugin delivers static files instead of dynamic pages. The output: a faster loading site. Perhaps configuring a caching plugin seems daunting for a less trained user, but improving loading speed deserves the effort.
Automattic released WP Super Cache, a caching plugin, for both newbies and experts. It comes with lots of options, but the default settings are satisfactory for most personal projects.
Someone said that speed optimization is the new SEO, and to some extent, it’s true. Webmasters must do everything possible to make their sites load quickly or else they will lose a big portion of their traffic. WP Smush is a discrete and powerful help in this regard.
You may use many high-quality images to delight your visitors, but their size could impact the loading speed. However, not using images isn’t a working solution. WP Smush resizes and compresses images so you can use images at a small size.
The plugin is user-friendly, and there is no learning curve. You can smush images individually or in bulk, and you have real-time information about the images smushed and the space saved.
The Google Analytics plugin doesn’t improve your site or bring you more visitors, but it offers insightful data about your traffic. You get information about your website’s visitors, acquisition channels, traffic sources, and user engagement. Instead of going to your Google Analytics page, you have data right in your WordPress dashboard. Useful and straightforward, isn’t it?
Any WordPress site needs to have a backup plugin installed. Duplicator isn’t only a backup plugin, but it also:
- Performs site migration
- Moves sites between domains and hosts
- Duplicates sites
- Creates website copies in a staging area
Duplicator is user-friendly, but it’s not targeted for non-tech-savvy users. Be careful when using this plugin because you can ruin your site if you don’t set up it properly. I recommend checking out the documentation (it covers both the free and paid versions.)
Contact Form 7 is a plugin trusted by over five million users, and it’s rated 4.5 out of five stars. Its success is because of its reliability, speed, and simplicity. This plugin creates simple and efficient contact forms. You can add a form anywhere on the site, including sidebars and widget areas.
If you need extra features, Contact Form 7 is still what you need. It allows you to add text and number fields, checkboxes, radio buttons, menus, and file-upload buttons.
The stats from the WordPress repository are enough to convince you that this plugin is fantastic: over one million active installs and a rating of 4.9 out of five stars. Marketers say that the money is in the lists, so don’t neglect to collect email addresses from your visitors. This plugin works great for collecting email addresses by using opt-in forms or integrating with other form plugins. Regardless of the plugin used, you need to have a goal-based strategy of email marketing. Otherwise, this plugin is useless.
These are ten secure, effective, and free WordPress plugins. The majority of them have a paid version with extended functionality. My suggestion is to check out the free version and decide if you truly need the paid one.
Did we feature your favorite plugin? Please let us know by leaving a comment. We are waiting for your contribution.