Each of my choices is running on at least 500,000 sites according to wordpress.org. Many of these have 1 million or more active installations. In making my picks, I used what I’ve learned after racking up years of experience working with WordPress. I also looked at resources like the WordPress Plugins repository to get additional information on what people are using.
These plugins are not necessarily the best to use, but are the most widely used. For example, Contact Form 7 has been installed on 4 million sites, but many will find Ninja Forms or WP Forms easier to use.
Certainly very popular plugins, like TinyMCE Advance and Custom Field Types, were omitted intentionally as they will be greatly impacted when the new editor, Gutenberg, is released in Spring 2018. Also, one or more of these plugins may not have been updated in the past two years. My advice is to use plugins like these with caution.
As always, when installing a new plugin, make sure to have a current backup of your site. In addition, it is advised that you have a staging (development) site that is not live where you can try out a new plugin.
The descriptions below are basically lifted from the wordpress.org Plugin Repository. I don’t think they’ll mind. :-). My choices are in alpha order.
Akismet checks your comments and contact form submissions against our global database of spam to prevent your site from publishing malicious content. You can review the comment spam it catches on your blog’s “Comments” admin screen.
P.S. You’ll need an Akismet.com API key to use it. Keys are free for personal blogs; paid subscriptions are available for businesses and commercial sites.
Broken Link Checker
This plugin will monitor your blog for broken links and let you know if any are found.
Your site has thousands of links which may break over time for various reasons. This plugin sends you an email letting you know when a link is broken.
Contact Form 7
Create and manage multiple contact forms. Send custom emails to users. The form supports Ajax-powered submitting, CAPTCHA, Akismet spam filtering and more.
While this plugin is a WordPress standard, it is not WYSIWYG. A solid alternative is Ninja Forms.
Convenient way to quickly clone any page or post which is saved as a draft for further editing.
Duplicator lets you migrate, copy, move or clone a site from one location to another. It also serves as a simple backup utility.
While this plugin aids in the migration process, it is not necessary to use any WordPress plugin to move a site from one server to another.
Google Analytics Dashboard for WP
This plugin tracks user activity using the latest Google Analytics tracking code and allows you to view key Google Analytics stats in your WP Admin.
In addition to a set of general Google Analytics stats, in-depth Page and Post reports allow further segmentation of your analytics data, providing performance details for each post or page from your site.
A nice plugin that digests the blizzard of Google Analytics stats and presents them in your WP Admin.
Keep any WordPress site secure, increase traffic, and engage your readers.
The Swiss Army Knife plugin for WordPress. Most of its features are free. It requires a wordpress.com username and password.
Limit Login Attempts
Use this plugin to limit the number of login attempts possible both through normal login as well as using auth cookies.
Limit Login Attempts blocks an internet address from making further attempts after a specified limit of retries is reached, making a brute-force attack difficult or impossible.
MailChimp For WordPress
An easy way to add mail subscribers to your MailChimp account.
MailChimp for WordPress helps you add more subscribers to your MailChimp lists using various methods. You can create good looking opt-in forms or integrate with any other form on your site, like your comment, contact or checkout form.
I’ve used MailChimp to distribute my email for years but others, like Constant Contact and aWebar, also have plugins that integrate with your site.
An easy way to connect to and view your Google Analytics reports from inside your WordPress dashboard. The tracking settings and workflows make MonsterInsights the most beginner friendly google analytics plugin in the market.
This is very similar to Google Analytics Dashboard for WP.
A WP standard since 2007. It continues to receive over 1.5 million new downloads per year. It’s easy for simple photo galleries, but powerful enough for the most demanding photographers, visual artists, and imaging professionals.
NextGEN offers a complete WordPress gallery management system with the ability to batch upload photos, import meta data, add/delete/rearrange/sort photos, edit thumbnails, group galleries into albums, and more.
If you’re just looking for a lightbox effect, try Responsive Lightbox.
Redirection is the most popular redirect manager for WordPress. With it you can easily manage 301 redirections, keep track of 404 errors, and generally tidy up any loose ends your site may have. This can help reduce errors and improve your site ranking.
What do you do when you remove a page that others link to or when you need to shorten a url or many other things? You use Redirection. So useful!
This plugin lets you re-create all image sizes for one or more images that have been uploaded to your Media Library.
An absolute must if you change your theme because each theme sets image sizes differently.
UpdraftPlus simplifies backups and restoration. It is the world’s highest ranking and most popular scheduled backup plugin, with over a million currently-active installs. Backup your files and database backups into the cloud, and restore with a single click!
I’ve used BackWPup for years without any problems.
Whichever plugin you choose, make sure your backups are stored in 2 locations.
WooCommerce is a free eCommerce plugin that allows you to sell anything beautifully. Built to integrate seamlessly with WordPress, WooCommerce is the world’s favorite eCommerce solution that gives both store owners and developers complete control.
It’s not the only way to turn WP into an online store, but it seems that way. It now powers 30% of all online sites.
Wordfence Security is 100% free and open-source security software supported by a large team dedicated exclusively to WordPress security. A deep set of features makes Wordfence the most comprehensive WordPress security solution available.
The WordPress Importer will import pages, posts, custom post types, comments, and other content from a WordPress export file.
WP Maintenance Mode
Add a maintenance page to your site that lets visitors know your site is down for maintenance, or add a coming soon page for a new website. Admins get full access to the site including the front end. Includes a countdown to launch for the front page.
Flexible plugin that I have used for client sites.
Resize, optimize, optimise and compress all of your images with the incredibly powerful and 100% free WordPress image smusher, brought to you by the superteam at WPMU DEV!
WP Super Cache
This plugin generates static html files from your dynamic WordPress blog. After a html file is generated, your webserver will serve that file instead of processing the comparatively heavier and more expensive WordPress PHP scripts.
If you’re going to using a caching plugin, make sure to understand how it will work on your server and to test it before using it. Caching plugins can be tricky.
This plugin will improve your site’s search engine rankings. While Yoast SEO goes the extra mile to take care of all the technical optimization, it first and foremost helps you write better content. Yoast SEO forces you to choose a focus keyword when you’re writing your articles, and then makes sure you use that focus keyword everywhere.
WordPress out of the box is SEO friendly, but this align takes you the extra mile. The All In SEO Pack plugin is a well-known alternative.
What Do You Think?
Did I miss something? Did I list a plugin you think should not be there?
Please leave your comment below.