Ever since launching in 2003, WordPress has become the go-to publishing platform that has been downloaded well over 60 million times. But, what makes everyone from CNN to TechCrunch to TED to the NFL use this extremely popular blogging service? The most obvious answer would be because of how flexible and easy WordPress is to setup.
What makes WordPress so popular, and awesome, is that essentially anyone can use it, which is why some 409 million people view over 14 billion pages each and every month. And while that’s impressive, your WordPress experience can be enhanced through the use of plugins.
What is a WordPress Plugin?
A plugin on WordPress is simply a program, or programs, that are used to complement the core installation of WordPress. In other words, a plugin enhances a user’s experience on WordPress because it handles certain things that WordPress couldn’t, such as improve SEO, monitor comments for spam, or pretty much anything that can improve your site based on its specific needs.
It’s been said that plugins were the product of developers who wanted to get the most out of WordPress without having to completely alter the original WordPress code. This simple idea of providing users with an extra add-on quickly took off and developers went all out in coming up with useful plugins. Today, there are around 30,000 WordPress plugins, which begs the next question, – which plugins should you use?
Well, that’s entirely up to you. It all depends on what you’re looking to get out of your website. And, that’s the great thing about having so many plugins and your disposable – you’re bound to find one that’s perfect for you site.
However, we can point get you on the right path by sharing the 10 most popular WordPress plugins currently available, according to WordPress.org. As an added bonus, we’ll also discuss what makes them so popular among WordPress users.
1. Jetpack by WordPress.com
If you’re looking to give your self-hosted WordPress site a little boost, than look no further. This is an easy to install plugin that is frequently updated. More importantly, however, is that because Jetpack has so many features you may be able to reduce the number of plugins.
What features does Jetpack include? Here’s just a several of the 30 features:
- Through Notifications in the Toolbar you can Monitor and manage your site’s activity.
- There are Email subscriptions for your blog’s posts, as well as your post’s comments.
- A social networking enabled comment system.
- The CSS editor allows you to customize your site design without modifying your theme.
- A mobile theme will automatically streamline your site for visitors on all mobile devices.
- After the Deadline, which is a proofreading service that can improve your spelling, style, and grammar.
2. Contact Form 7
Contact Form 7 may claim to be “just another contact form plugin,” but clearly it’s attracting WordPress users after being downloaded over 17 million times. Perhaps the popularity of this plugin is the fact that it’s extremely flexible and can help you manage multiple sites. It can also support Ajax-powered submitting, CAPTCHA and Akismet spam filtering.
Many users of the Contact Form 7 plugin have claimed that it’s the best contact form because of its unique design, great support consistent updates and easy installation and implementation.
3. Google XML Sitemaps
As you know, getting ranked by the top searches, such as Google and Bing, is a big deal for any website. However, it can get challenging and tricky to have search engines index your blog. Thanks to this plugin, that’s no longer a concern.
The Google XML Sitemaps plugin basically crawls your entire website, which means that it can generate a sitemap making it easier for search engines to index your site. It’s fast, lightweight and an essential plugin for your SEO campaign.
4. WordPress SEO by Yoast
According to blogger extraordinaire Jeff Bullas, this is the top WordPress plugin you should be using, especially for your SEO efforts. Some of the incredible features on this popular, customer-favorite and must-have plugin include:
- Premium Support
- Page Analysis
- Automatically Optimizes and Inserts Meta Tag and Link Elements
- Advanced XML Sitemaps
- RSS Optimization
- Social Media Integration
- Compatible with Multiple Sites
- Can Improve Previous Plugins
- Available in 24 Different Languages
If you’re worried about possible spam being left in your comments, then Akismet is a plugin that you should definitely download. The plugin checks all of the comments left on your blog or website and determines if they are spam or not by running the comment through the Akismet web service. If it is spam, you will receive a notification.
So far, close to 21 million people have enjoyed the Akismet plugin and its features ranging from comment status history, highlighted links, having access to the number of approved comments and being able to view Spam and Unspam reports.
6. NextGEN Gallery
With over 10 million downloads this plugin isn’t just one of the most popular of all-time, it’s the most popular gallery plugin ever. On top of being incredibly easy to use, the NextGEN Gallery plugin features the following features:
- Powerful Engine to Upload and Manage Images
- Ability to Batch Upload
- Import Meta Data
- Ability to Edit Thumbnails
- Can Quickly Add Watermarks
- Group Galleries into Albums
- Slideshow of Thumbnail Styles
- Mobile Friendly
7. WooCommerce – excelling eCommerce
Looking to transition your website into an eCommorce store? Than here is another popular plugin that deserves your download. Why? Because it’s flexible and powerful plugin that contains the following:
- Easily View Sales, Reviews, Stock Level, & Other Vital Statistics
- Customizable Online Store Design
- Access to Popular Payment Gateways and Shipping Methods
- Wide Variety of Free and Premium Extensions
8. MailPoet Newsletters
Newsletters are a major consideration when running a blog or website. So, wouldn’t it be convenient to have just one plugin where you can create newsletters, post notifications, and setup autoresponders? We thought so, too – which is why the MailPoet Newsletters plugin is a WordPress favorite.
Are here just several of the numerous features offered by this outstanding plugin:
- Drag & Drop Newsletter Editor
- Latest Posts Sent Automatically
- 30 Different Themes to Chose From
- Stats like Opens, Click, Unsubscribes
- Newsletter Appears the Same in Gmail, iPhone, Android, Outlook, Yahoo, etc.
- Import Subscribers in Two Steps
- Available in 30 Languages
9. WordPress Importer
One rather big concern for WordPress users, or anyone who happens to have a website, is the possibility of having to migrate your site. Whatever the reasons for having to move all of you content over, it can be a stressful event that can leave you up at night by worrying how you’re going to import your posts, pages, comments, tags, custom fields and categories.
Thankfully, there’s a plugin that should put your mind to ease. The WordPress Importer has presumably saved the lives of 8 million plus WordPress users by giving them an importer that does the job, at least for most users. There may be some glitches with this plugin, but it seems to be effective enough because of its popularity.
10. Wordfence Security
Two other concerns for WordPress users are the security and speed of their site. Thanks to the Wordfence Security plugin, those issues should be revolved. This free plugin offers a number of stellar features that will keep your site in tip-top shape. They include:
- Falcon Engine, the fastest WordPress caching engine
- Blocking of Known Attackers in Real-Time
- Multi-Site Capable
- Blocks Malicious Networks
- Scans Core Files
- Encourages Strong Passwords
- Equipped with a Firewall
- Monitors DNS Security
- View Traffic in Real-Time
Have you used any of these popular WordPress Plugins? If so, what did you think of them?