It's no doubt that WordPress is very powerful, flexible and feature-rich.
And it also has a large database of both free and premium plugins to boost it up even further.
With so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to sort out the good from the, well, not so good.
In this article, I'll be featuring a list of my favorite plugins that I usually use to optimize my sites for better performance. Let's dive in!
Akismet comes as a default plugin for every new WordPress installation. It checks new comments against a giant database and automatically filters out the ones that look like spam.
Although I hated it a few years back for frequently trashing out my legit comments, Akismet's spam detecting algorithm has been improving a lot since and I rarely see that problem happening these days.
You'll need a free Akismet.com API key to activate it. There are also paid plans available for heavy users or businesses.
With over 1,000,000 installs, this is one of the most popular plugins in WordPress.org
And it's also consistently rated as the #1 SEO plugin for WordPress by many experts and users.
WordPress is already very technically good for SEO, but Yoast SEO really takes it to the next level.
The plugin helps improve your site with a wide range of features like:
- Make your blog posts more SEO-friendly
- Prevent content duplication and low-quality indexation issues
- Drive more traffic from social by optimizing CTR
- Create optimized XML
This plugin simply inserts the Google Analytics tracking code into your site’s header for you if you're not the technical type.
It also helps to set up outbound links and downloads tracking in a few clicks. It enables you to view detailed reports through internal dashboards without leaving WordPress as well.
The plugin has recently been acquired by Syed Balkhi, and he rebranded it as “Google Analytics by MonsterInsights”.
This plugin improves your site speed by optimizing server performance, page load times, and provide easy CDN integration.
This is a must-have as faster sites tend to rank higher and get more organic traffic.
You can combine this with a good hosting service like Traffic Planet Hosting, and your site should be blazing fast.
Gravity Forms is the most advanced form builder for WordPress, yet it's so simple and easy to use.
You can use this plugin to create contact forms, email optin forms, order forms, surveys, etc.
It also integrates with Zapier which opens up the possibility to create hundreds of powerful automations to help you save time and increase efficiency.
Launched in 2013 by Shane Melaugh, Thrive Content Builder has rapidly got it name among online marketers because of its ability to quickly create good-looking conversion-focused articles and landing pages.
Gael from Authority hacker published a case study on how reformatting a piece of content with Thrive Visual Editor has helped grow one article’s traffic by 9275%.
This is another good product from ThriveThemes and it's one of the plugins and themes you’ll get when you sign up to be a Thrive member.
ThriveLeads can really skyrocket your list growth by making it easy to create optin forms, lightboxes, slide-ins, and more.
It also saves you money by having an internal A/B testing option which is very easy to use.
Here's an example of a test I recently ran on the previous post.
Thirsty Affiliates is an affiliate link management for WordPress that helps you organize and cloak affiliate links.
It's free, simple, fast and easy to use. There are also some premium add-ons to power it up.
SumoMe is a set of tools designed to grow your traffic. Some of my favorites are:
- Google Analytics Dashboards - Similar to Yoast, you can quickly have a glance at how your site is performing with this one
- Welcome Mat - this newly launched feature will help turn any page into an email magnet by displaying a full-screen call to action when a new visitor lands on your site.
- Image Sharer - When enabled, this will display a few sharing buttons when you hover over any image.
- Social Sharing Bar - Better than any options available, this floating bar can help you increase social sharing from visitors.
This plugin gives you the ability to migrate, copy or clone a site in just a few clicks.
There's not much to say about Duplicator. It just works!
My developer also use this to perform regular backups for my websites.
This plugin adds a layer of protection to your blog by blocking an IP from making further login attempts after a specified limit on retries is reached.
This prevents your site from all brute-force attacks.
As the name implies, this plugin automatically redirects first-time commenters to a page of your choice.
I usually send them to a welcome page with an optin form to make a good first impression and convert them into email subscribers at the same time.
This plugin shows a checkbox that allows people to get notified by emails when anyone replies to their comments.
It's simple but it helps a lot to increase return visitors to your blog.
It also has many additional options, which you can read more about in the plugin directory page.
Plugins can make WordPress even more powerful, but they can also slow down your site or create conflicts, so you should be careful when installing new ones.
Above are the 14 essential plugins that I always use and they work great together to make my sites faster, more SEO-friendly, and convert better.
What are your set of favorite WordPress plugins? Do you want to add any to this list?
Feel free to let me know in the comment section.