One of the great things about WordPress is the ability to create and distribute plugins that extend the core capabilities of WordPress far beyond anything that was originally imagined by the developers. With over 27,000 plugins available in the official WordPress plugin directory, it can be quite difficult to choose which ones to use or even to find one for a specific job when there are so many that claim to be better than all the others.

Here is our guide to some of the best plugins we feel should be on all WordPress based sites, along with what they can do for you.

1. WordPress SEO by Yoast

Most people who operate in the online world will have heard the term Search Engine Optimisation or SEO mentioned over and over again, but just in case you have not come across it yet, put simply it is the practise of optimising your site and content to make it easier for search engines to find and correctly index your content. If a search engine cannot correctly identify and index your content, then it will not be able to direct visitors to your site even if your content is what they wanted.

WordPress SEO is one of the most comprehensive and yet simple to use SEO plugins out there. It comes in multiple languages and can help you get your content into shape, regardless of whether you have never heard of SEO or if you are a seasoned pro. Its functionality ranges from helping you craft what would appear in search engines for an article through to social network integration.

 

2. WP Super Cache

With research showing that you can lose as much as 40% of your visitors if your site takes more than 3 seconds to load, speed can have a massive impact on how successful your site is.

WP Super Cache provides you with several methods of making your site lightning fast. From caching pages through to enabling you to use a Content Delivery Network (CDN), this plugin really will make your site fly and make sure you do not lose those visitors because of a slowly loading site.

3. WordPress Notification Bar

Notification bars are a great way to add a ‘call to action’ to your site that gets noticed. If you are looking for a no hassle way to create impact and get your visitors to take some action, or even just to notify users of something, then WordPress Notification Bar gives you a simple method that is bound to make your visitors see your message.

4. Post Expirator

You do not always want articles to stay on your website for ever, but even an elephant will not always remember to go back and remove them. Post expirator lets you specify an expiry date when you add an item so it will automatically be removed when that date comes around. A great time saver for offers and other time sensitive material.

5. WP Smush.it

With the ever growing popularity of mobile internet, it is important that your site loads fast on slower mobile data connections as well as on fast broadband networks. WP Smush.it helps you integrate the Yahoo service directly into WordPress, automatically optimising your images and ensuring that you are not sending unnecessary data to your visitors without impacting how the images look.

6. Akismet

Akismet is the one plugin that every WordPress site starts with, but it gets constantly overlooked. If you use comments on your site and have not added an external comment service like Disqus or Facebook comments, then you are probably using the default WordPress comments. With over 96,000,000,000 spam comments detected already, Akismet will automatically scan all comments that come into your site to see if they are spam, and put them into a special spam folder for you. Busy sites can easily generate thousands of spam comments in no time and using a plugin like Akismet will automatically catch nearly all of them for you. A real time saver if you allow comments.

7. Jetpack

Brought to you by the people behind the official WordPress.com site is a plugin that gives you many of the benefits that were previously only available to sites hosted on WordPress.com

Jetpack packs a heavy punch with the amount of features it contains. In fact there are so many things it can do, it is hard to know what to say without just writing a list. So if you want to know stats about your visitors, let them subscribe via email, or even send out push notifications for new posts, this is the plugin for you. These are just a few of the many things it can do, so take a minute to look at the full feature list and see how it can help your site take off.

8. Search Everything

One of the things that does let WordPress down is the inbuilt search functionality. It seems to provide wrong answers with annoying regularity, either missing things that should be found, or suggesting results that are completely irrelevant to the search term. Search Everything helps to fix that issue. It offers massive improvements over the normal search and enables you to search for results in places that were not possible before. It even lets you highlight search terms so visitors can easily find what they were looking for.

9. Contact Form 7

Nearly every website has some type of form nowadays, and especially if you use several different forms,  it can get quite problematic to setup and manage them all. No matter if it is a simple email form, or a complex support request form, Contact Form 7 allows you to easily create and add custom forms to your site. It has been translated into many different languages, so is easy to use even if English is not your first language. It can automatically send emails with the form information, or display a captcha if you want to make sure that it is a human filling in your form. Put simply, it lets you get control of the forms on your site.

10. Better WP Security

The huge popularity of WordPress as a platform has had the unfortunate side effect of making it a target for some of the seedier side of the internet. The good news is that there are many things you can do to protect your WordPress site and help the ne’er-do-wells move on to easier targets.

Better WP Security is one of the best security plugins we have found. It will guide you through securing your site and makes most security steps as simple as ticking a box or clicking a button. Right away it will show you how well your site is protected from the main threats with a simple colour code, red for unprotected, blue and orange for partially protected or green for fully protected. If you only install one plugin from the list, make sure this is the one.

There is our list of the best WordPress plugins that we believe should be on every site. With the thousands of plugins that are already out there, and hundreds more being added every week, we are sure that you use some that we have missed. We would love to hear which ones are your favorites and how you use them.

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