What if we dropped a paper clip into an Olympic-sized swimming pool and told you to search for it? Overwhelmed yet?
Well, that’s what it can feel like to search for the best WordPress plugins among the nearly 24,000 currently available—and that number keeps growing. Running your business is busy enough without having to worry about ill-performing plugins or the time-consuming task of separating the good from the bad.
Suffice it to say we’ve done some of the heavy lifting for you and compiled our list of the top 5 WordPress plugins you should activate on your website.
This is not an exhaustive list, for you may need several more plugins depending on the functions of your website. But, at a minimum, these will form the foundation of a successful site because they address five areas to which you should pay attention.
Here we go…
1. Akismet - Security
Because of the nature of the web, spam comments are an inevitable byproduct regardless of how old or new your blog is. Left undetected, they can damage your reputation and affect your rankings. That is where Akismet comes in.
Akismet is one of the oldest and most used plugins simply because it is the best and will never “go out of style.”
What do we like best about Akismet? You can “set it and forget it.” It works continuously in the background flagging and categorizing spam comments, and its success rate is stellar.
Simply check your spam folder periodically to empty out the contents. It’s as simple as that. No Olympic-sized pool diving required!
2. WassUp - Tracking
Where did your website visitors come from?
What keywords did they search for to arrive there?
Where are they located?
What pages did they visit on your site?
Where did they leave?
If you want to know the answers to these questions and track your visitors’ movements on your site, WassUp is the plugin for you.
WassUp is a handy little plugin that allows you to track your website visitors’ behavior in real time. It will give you a birds-eye view of what is happening on your site. It’s the perfect accompaniment to Google Analytics when you need a fast and easy review of your site’s performance.
The plugin’s interface is flexible, easy-to-use and fully customizable. It offers statistics on referring websites, keywords, search engine spider activity, logged in users, hack attempts and more.
Other notable features: You can manage the database easily and you also have the option to allow the plugin to detect spam and unauthorized login attempts. It only offers detection though; it does not block comments or protect your site from hack attempts.
3. WordPress SEO by Yoast - SEO
This plugin is the “macdaddy” of all SEO plugins. It continues to gain more and more popularity and has a nearly perfect rating from its users. If you want to optimize your WordPress site for the search engines, this plugin is a must have.
Why is it so special?
Besides the fact that it was developed by an SEO professional, the plugin makes optimization easy and user friendly.
Here are some of its notable features:
- On-Page Analysis – It examines your posts and informs you if you left any key SEO elements out. It looks at your metadata, content and focus keywords and alerts you when an item is missing or could be improved.
- Snippet Preview – The snippet preview displays what your post looks like in the search engine results. This is a helpful tool to increase CTRs (clickthrough rates) on your website in the results pages.
- Control Visibility – Control the pages you want Google to see or not see with the click of a button.
- XML Sitemaps – Automatically creates an advanced XML sitemap that includes your images, posts and pages and customizes what you want included as well.
- RSS Optimization – Avoid content scrapers outranking your web pages by using this feature. It helps the search engines identify you as the original creator of the content.
- Social sharing options
- Easy import and export for multiple blogs and the transfer of data from one blog to another.
The plugin has more features and is quite robust. Have a look and let us know what you think!
4. Shareaholic - Social Media & Sharing
Many top social plugins exist, but Shareaholic is worth a mention. The plugin offers clean social bookmarks, share counters, built-in url shorteners and social analytics. According to the industry, it’s one of the “sexiest” design options and is customizable.
The design above is what made Shareaholic so popular. You can customize the bar without the background text image if you prefer a cleaner look.
Some other popular social sharing plugins worth mentioning include:
5. Disqus - Engagement
Disqus is a popular commenting system that promotes engagement and discussions on blogs. The plugin is useful because it makes commenting easy and enjoyable for visitors which increases the overall engagement and content on your site.
Disqus for WordPress enhances the “community” experience with features such as threaded comments, and it allows communication with the Disqus API. This commenting system has been popular for years and it doesn’t seem to be losing its momentum any time soon. It is also compatible with other platforms such as Blogger, Drupal, tumblr and HTML sites.
There you have it, five of the most popular WordPress plugins! Feel free to give them a test drive if you haven’t already and let us know how you like them.
Are there any other plugins you would add to this list?