While we often strive to get the functionality we want from a theme alone, we are usually left with wanting just a little more.
This is where plugins come in to play.
There’s thousands of them, if not millions which can make finding the best plugins for your WordPress site difficult. Here I’ve rounded up some of my favorites and what I think are the best WordPress plugins.
Here I’ve rounded up some of my favorites and what I think are the best WordPress plugins.
Let’s jump into it.
Website Speed Plugins
A word of warning about cache plugins…
Turning on all options doesn’t necessarily mean a faster website. Think of them more as a fine tuning rather than a full on assault.
What you need to do is test each of the options they allow you to do by running site speed tests through GT Metrix and Pingdom among others. This will allow you to find the best combination of options to run to maximize your site speed.
W3 Total Cache
W3 Total Cache plugin is up there with the best of the free cache plugins for WordPress. Don’t get lured into paying for a Content Delivery Network (CDN). Just get a free one from CloudFlare and set it up yourself, it’s simple.
Depending on who your hosting provider is you’ll either need to login into CloudFlare and activate your free account there, some hosting providers offer one click solutions (like SiteGround).
Check out the article by OnlineMediaMasters which provides the most comprehensive set of instructions for configuring the plugin.
I’ve had a lot of success with Autoptomize as a supplementary plugin to W3 Total cache.
Same with Autoptomize, follow this configuration guide by Web-ID so you know what you’re doing.
WP-Rocket is the big kid on the block. He burst onto the scene as a premium plugin and according to plenty of sources online – it is making a big difference. I haven’t used it or bought it yet, but I intend to. It’s $199 for unlimited websites.
User Engagement Plugins
It’s a well-known fact among affiliate marketers that pricing tables or comparison tables increase conversions on pages, improve time on page and generally improve the user experience. They provide a quick and easy to digest format of information that many readers enjoy.
The premium version of these plugins are cheap (usually under $10) and give you the full functionality you need to make them look great. The Responsive CSS3 Pricing Tables is a great option for $8.
Table Maker is a free plugin which gets you tables good enough to get started.
Mango Buttons plugin is a simple, free and very versatile plugin that allows you to choose from a range of colors, sizes and fonts for buttons and links them to your desired URL.
Inline Related Posts Pro
I installed the Inline Related Posts Pro plugin just a week ago and will wait another month before making any judgments about its effectiveness. Right now it’s too hard to tell, but it appears to have improved the bounce rate on two of my sites by between 5-10%. I had higher expectations for this and was eager to see concrete results sooner, but I will have to wait before drawing any conclusions.
WP Viral Quiz
Buzzfeed know what they are doing. Quizzes? Punters love them. There’s a premium quiz available that lets you set up your very own quizzes.
I use the WP Viral Quiz plugin for buyer’s guides in order to help customers find the right product for them. Once they finish the quiz they are presented with their result – an image of the product that relates best to them with an affiliate link to purchase it.
The only drawback it has is that there is no data on traffic, or dwell time of people who have used it. This would be a huge improvement and allow us to do A/B split testing and improve quizzes.
MashShare is an awesome plugin because it allows you to manipulate the number of shares and likes on each of your pages. This gives the visitor a sense of social validation of our website, and social validation can be a very powerful thing. You’re saying to your customers – yes there’s traffic on this site, other people are using it, it’s all going to be okay. Little do they know the reality is far different.
It’s a no-brainer. You need some form of email collection on your website. As far as that goes MailChimp is the industry leader. You will probably want to add another plugin to get the feature you want – the MailChimp TopBar is a good option.
Depending how you like to import your affiliate links the EasyAzon plugin may be heading towards obsolete.
Amazon now offers a small section of code that will geotarget your affiliate links to US, UK and Canada stores.
Is it all of them like EasyAzon?
Do they cover the vast majority of where you make your sales?
However, EasyAzon does provide some unique options like the product card on hover of a link.
Don’t leave the house without Wordfence!
My first site was hacked and it was the most painful experience I’ve ever endured in my life!
My traffic never recovered, affiliate sales were never the same. I vowed to learn from my mistakes on that first site.
Wordfence is the first step to fighting hackers those scumbags.
Mini Orange 2-factor login authentication
One of the best 2-factor login authentications. After signing in you will be sent an email and are required to click the link in the email in order to complete the sign in process.
User activity log
If you are ever hacked, having a user activity log will provide you with all the information you need in order to find the hack and the malware files in order to remove them. Without it, you’re going to have to go through the haystack with a fine tooth comb to find that needle that keeps pricking you in the backside.
IP Geo Block
There are certain countries you just don’t want visiting your website. An IP Geo Block plugin can help you to control who you let see your website and from which country. If you are a local business then I’d be whitelisting only a few relevant countries. If you are a site that appeals to a worldwide audience then I would blacklist and add the worst offenders – this is usually Russia, Pakistan, Ukraine, India.
It’s a good start, but hackers can still circumvent the block by using VPN proxies so while it isn’t perfect it can still be useful.
XML Sitemap plugin automatically generates a sitemap and pings the major search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo) to let them know that changes have been made on your site. It’s simple and easy to set up. It gives you the link so you can upload a sitemap directly to your Google Search Console account.
There’s a couple of SEO plugin options out there, I have only dabbled in a few of the others but Yoast usually gets the job done for me. These kind of plugins are a must have so you can create unique titles and meta descriptions for Google and social networks.
Google Analytics Dashboard
Pretty straightforward this one, the Google Analytics Dashboard for WP plugin populates your dashboard with information pulled from your Google Analytics account. When you’re in your WordPress dashboard you might want to take a look at your traffic or any other metrics instead of going through Google Analytics account itself.
Some options I recommend implementing are:
- Exclude tracking for Admin. If you are tracking your page views and time spent on page it will skew your results in Google Analytics and make it hard to see exactly how your page is performing. Navigate to Tracking Code > Exclude Tracking > Select Admin and update.
- Add tracking for affiliate links and outbound links. Navigate to Tacking Code > Events Tracking > Select track affiliate links, outbound links and probably page scrolling depth too (this is great for user engagement analytics).
You don’t want to be passing on link juice through all of the links on your posts so make sure you nofollow almost all outbound links (it’s good to leave a couple dofollow, Google likes that apparently). The nofollow plugin allows you to globally enable or disable all links as nofollow, but don’t do this. Rather pick and choose the links as you see fit.
The Table of Contents Plus plugin is great because it helps Google to understand how your content is structured. It also benefits you by improving your display in Google search results. Sometimes Google will use the headings from your TOC to form the rich snippet that appears at the top of the search results. Other times it will add links under your meta description which link to your h2 headers throughout your post.
The Title Experiments plugin is perfect for A/B testing titles inside your website (not their appearance in Google). This helps by lowering bounce rate.
It is probably more important to ecommerce stores to have contact forms on a website, but generally, it’s a good idea to have one on yours. There are plenty of high-quality contact form plugins to choose from Contact Forms 7 is probably one of the most popular ones.
What do you think are the best WordPress plugins? Give us a comment below!