Did you know that out of the 172,000,000 million live websites – more than 75,000,000 are powered using WordPress? According to W3techs, the CMS system has 58.55% of the market share, which is more than any other systems combined. In fact, some of the most successful companies such as NBC, Best Buy, NFL, and People magazine prefer using WordPress as their Content Management System.
Simply put, WordPress is popular. The ease of use, scalability, and several helpful features make it one of the most sought-after content management systems for website owners. The availability of different plugins is also an attractive aspect that enables web developers to enhance the functionality of their website, retain more visitors, and gain traffic without any hassle.
Till date, the official WordPress plugin repository has over 47,000 plugins. This means that there is a plugin available for every purpose on your website. In fact, you will find multiple plugins for the same feature – leaving you with the confusing task to choose the best one for your specific project.
In this guide, we have vetted the thousands of plugins available and narrowed it down to 15 essential WordPress plugins that will be beneficial for your professional websites. Most of these plugins are available free while others come with a nominal price tag. Nevertheless, they are extremely helpful, easy to use, and worth the investment, you make. Therefore, without further ado, here are some of the best WordPress plugins in no particular order.
Comment spam is a harsh reality that every website owner has to face. These comments are not only annoying but also harmful for the credibility of your website as they can literally overtake your site database, banning you permanently from search engine index.
Luckily, plugins like Akismet can help!
Akismet is one of the best plugin to combat spam as it typically comes with every new WordPress installation. All you have to do is activate it by registering at their website.
Developed by Automattic, the anti-spam plugin checks all comments that emerge on your blog and filters out the spammy ones. The plugin also provides a history for each comment (spam and legitimate) allowing moderators to check their status conveniently.
Akismet is available for free to use on personal websites and blogs. However, if you are running a commercial/enterprise website, the premium for Akismet starts as low as $5/per month.
- Yoast SEO
We are all aware that an SEO is an important variable when it comes to search engine ranking. With the number of internet users using search engines increasing steadily, the importance of Search Engine Optimization is more prevalent than ever.
With plugins like Yoast SEO, website owners can easily create quality content and improve their rankings on search engines.
According to the official website of Yoast SEO, the plugin has received more than 40,000 downloads while it has also been awarded a 4.9 star ranking out of five. The plugin covers everything from analysis of the content to the preview of your snippet. Furthermore, it suggests you to properly set up texts and images for better usability and visibility. The plugin even fixes your crawl errors to allow your site to rank higher in search engines.
Yoast SEO is available free with basic support. Moreover, Premium plans start from $89 for the advanced features.
- Social Icons
Undoubtedly, social media is one of the most popular medium of all time. In fact, during the past 10 years, the number of American social media users with at least one account has increased from 24% to 81%. Apart from communication with friends and family, as many as 74% internet users turn to social media to seek recommendations regarding brands, products, and services.
Today, social media is a vital part of any marketing strategy. Whether you are running a hobby blog, a business website, or a page for the services you offer – advertising on social media is considered critical for success.
As a third-party solution for anyone who is looking to share their content easily on social media, plugins such as Social Icons are helpful. Social Icons, available for free allows “easy share” of content to more than 100 social media platform. Easy to use, the Social Icons plugin supports the drag and drop feature, making the setup process quick and efficient. The customizable feature also enables website developers to resize the social media icons according to the requirements of the website.
- W3 Total Cache
Apart from irrelevant content, a slow-loading webpage irks the visitors greatly. In fact, most users are known to abandon a website that does not load within 2-3 seconds. Another survey suggests that visitors are not even willing to wait 400 milliseconds for a page to load. Additionally, a fast-loading webpage is another determining factor for search engines that means that ensuring the site loads without any interruptions is essential.
One of the best ways to minimize the load time is to make use of the caching process. The procedure automatically saves all downloaded files on a local hard drive, making retrieval easy when the visitor checks into your page again.
The W3 Total Cache is one of the most popular caching plugin to increase the loading speed of your website. Moreover, the plugin is free for download and trusted by several renowned websites including Mashable and tipsandtricks-hq.com
Google disregards redirects and considers them as an unnecessary part of websites. When a redirect is placed on a webpage, it automatically takes the visitors from one area to another, causing both – a waste of time as well as slow page load. Additionally, the page redirects often lead the visitors to broken links that can be a hassle for them and eventually cause your website to rank lower in the search engines.
The Redirection plugin shows all URL with the 404 errors and allows you to redirect content to the accurate 301 pages. The plugin is 100% free, easy to install, and one of the most powerful redirect plugin in the WP database.
- Gravity Forms
If you are running a website with the intention of generating revenue, then the Gravity Forms plugin is a perfect choice. The forms allow website owners to collect information about the visitors on their page that can later be used to provide services and offers.
The Gravity Forms offer several helpful features including multi-page forms and ability to integrate with CRM software such as Salesmate, Salesforce, and Zoho CRM. Moreover, Gravity Forms allow collaborating with several third-party apps such as Trello, Slack, and PayPal for better functionality.
Although Gravity Forms is not a free plugin, you can avail it for your website for as low as $59/per year for the basic plan. Luckily, most of the add-ons are free so you only have to pay for the primary plugin.
- Mail Chimp
Despite the rise in the popularity of social media, email marketing remains to be one of the most popular ways to retain traffic. It is also the third most influential source of information for audiences falling just behind recommendations from colleagues and industry experts.
Mail Chimp is by far one of the most popular email marketing plugin that helps website owners create attractive newsletters, manage their subscribers, send emails, and analyze the data. The plugin is easy to install and comes with several opt-in forms that can be used on the website to add more subscribers to the list.
Just like several other plugins, the basic version of Mail Chimp is free while Premium plans are also available for the advanced features.
- Google XML Sitemaps
Similar to the Yoast SEO plugin reviewed above, the Google XML Sitemaps also does a very good job of indexing your site with a special XML sitemap. The sitemap is enables the search engine bots to assess the overall structure of your website and rank you accordingly.
The best feature of the plugin is that it notifies all the major search engines every time you publish something new on your page.
The plugin is very easy to use. Simply activate the plugin, go to the settings, and copy the URL used for your sitemap. Paste the same on the Google Webmasters tool and allow prominent search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. to index your website more efficiently.
The Google XML Sitemap plugin is completely free.
- Backup Buddy
Backing up your website is an important task that most often web developers neglect. However, backing up ensures that the elements of your website are secured in case your server experiences a malfunction.
The Backup Buddy plugin allows users to back up their complete or partial website on a regular basis. You can also schedule backups ahead of time and have them stored at various locations including the Backup Buddy Stash and Dropbox.
Besides the ease of backing up, the plugin makes it extra convenient to restore the data whenever the need arises. In fact, you can restore the lost data back to your website within a matter of minutes.
The downside of Backup Buddy is that it’s a bit on the expensive side. Nevertheless, the investment pays off when you have to restore your website as a result of virus, hacks, and server breakdown. The paid plans start from $80 for two licenses, $100 for ten, and $150 for unlimited. A developers license is also available for $197.
- WP Smush
Adding images to a webpage is essential these days. Uploading images on a webpage not only makes it look attractive but also helps deliver the message many times better than simple texts. According to Steamfeed, an article with relevant images gets 94% more views than those that lack pictures.
However, images can take up a lot of space and slow down your page-loading speed. Luckily, with plugins like WP Smush, you can easily compress and optimize images without compromising on their quality.
The plugin allows auto-smushing of all your images on upload while you can also manually do the same as you add new images to your website. The unique feature of the plugin is that it enables users to bulk-smush up to 50 images at one time, saving the web developers a lot of time.
The plugin is free to install and allows optimization of image files in all formats including JPEG, PNG, and GIF.
Most of us simply log on to a website, read a few pieces of content, and leave – usually with an intent to never return. However, wouldn’t it be profitable for your business website if some of these readers became loyal customers of your product or service?
The OptinMonster WordPress plugin comes with an exclusive feature called the “exit intent” that automatically detects user’s behavior and prompts a personalized call-to-action when they are about to leave. This method has successfully converted numerous visitors into subscribers. In fact, the OptinMonster boasts of 700 thousand websites that use the plugin to eliminate website and shopping cart abandonments.
OptinMonster also features a drag and drop form builder, email integration, built-in analytics, and several customizable options that can be selected according to the requirements of your project.
The basic plan for OptinMonster starts at $9 per month while the most advanced package can be purchased for $149/month. All packages at OptinMonster starts with a 7-day risk free trial.
- Nivo Slider
Commercial websites usually prefer adding more than one image to their page. In fact, the rule of the thumb is to add as many images and videos to highlight your product to the audience as possible. With the WordPress plugin Nivo Slider, you can add post slider, slideshows, and image carousel to your website. Nivo Slider offers several pre-built slider themes along with 16 transition effects. The plugin automatically crops images according to the requirements of the page, making the whole process swift.
The Nivo Slider plugin, one of the most popular slider plugin in the WP database is user-friendly and provides an intuitive layout allowing users to easily work without any coding skills.
Downloaded over three million times since its launch, the Nivo Slider plugin is offered in both – free and premium version.
- Pure Chat
A study by Zendesk reveals that 92% of the website visitors feel more satisfied if they can use the live chat feature to discuss their queries with a representative. A survey by Forester also reveals that revenue generation also increases by 48% with the use of live chat feature.
The Pure Chat is a plugin that enables web developers to add the live chat feature to their websites with ease. Pure Chat makes it easy for website owners to communicate with their clients and customers from anywhere in the world. In case the admin is unavailable for chat, the chat plugin converts into a lead capturing form and takes in the message from the visitor. A geographical data is also available that notifies the website owners where the traffic on their website is coming from. The plugin also provides a full transcription history of the conversation along with customized answers to frequently asked questions.
Pure Chat, the plugin is available for free for up to 15 conversations per month. The paid plans start from $12 per month.
- WP Touch Mobile
Nowadays, its impossible to find a theme that is not mobile responsive. Since the number of visits to any webpage from a mobile device has grown significantly, it may not be a good decision to opt for a theme that is not responsive.
However, if you have installed a theme that is not optimized to work on mobile device – don’t worry. You don’t have to build your website from scratch. The plugin WP Touch Mobile creates a simple mobile themed website for your existing without any added cost.
Nevertheless, we would suggest that you avoid building a non-responsive website in today’s digital era but if you have done this unfortunate, then the WP Touch Mobile plugin is your savior.
The plugins is simple to use and allows users to create a mobile-responsive website with just a few clicks. The WP Touch Pro Mobile packages start from only $79 per month for one website. For pricing plans, visit their website and find out more information regarding the features they offer.
- WordPress Inspector
Just like we regularly inspect the environment of our home and office to assess everything is running up to the mark, the WordPress Inspector plugin checks your website to ensure that it is functioning optimally.
The WordPress Inspector plugin is a free tool that analyzes your website for speed, performance, security, mobile readiness, and broken plugins/themes regularly. The plugin ensures that your site is running smoothly and your visitors have a positive experience during their visit to your webpage.
Bonus plugin – Google Analytics
The Google Analytics is a tool that assist website owners monitor the traffic on their page. The plugin for the same can also be accessed through the website making it easy for web developers to assess their visitors, foresee prospects, and take notice of the buying habits of the current customers.
The Google Analytics plugin is simple and easy to use. It features a main dashboard that displays a comparison of customers, their behaviors, and locations. The plugin can also be integrated with Google AdSense allowing website owners to track the progress of their revenue.
Additional features of Google Analytics include the ability to track downloads, outbound link tracking, and universal tracking where you can track the views of the users from various platforms and devices.
Simply put, the Google Analytics plugin is a must-have for all website owners. Best of all, the plugin is free to download and use.
Plug it in!
When it comes to improving the functionality of yoru website – the plugins are the way to go. In this guide, we listed some of the top plugins that can be helpful for professional websites of any type. As stated above, these plugins provide the basic features to your website, improve SEO, speed, performance, and help you track results.
If you are using any of the above stated plugins, let us know your experience in the comments section below.
If we missed your favorite, let us know and we will be sure to update them in our list!