In this article, I list ten of the most popular plugins available for your WordPress site. This list isn’t exhaustive by any means; hundreds of excellent WordPress plugins can, and do, provide multiple ways to extend the functionality of your blog.
If these ten plugins aren’t enough for you, you can find many more at the official WordPress Plugins page.
1. Custom Post Type UI
Custom post types enable you to create new content types separate from posts and pages, such as movie reviews or recipes. Custom taxonomies allow you to create new types of content groups separate from categories and tags, such as genres for movie reviews or seasons for recipes.
But not everyone is interested in, or comfortable with, digging into template files to add a bunch of code, which is where the Custom Post Type UI comes in. This plugin helps you create custom post types and taxonomies without dipping into the code at all.
The plugin provides a settings screen on the WordPress Dashboard that enables you to configure your custom post type and taxonomy. When you’re finished, click the Save button to save the configuration.
Jetpack isn’t one plugin; it’s a suite of plugins that connects your self-hosted website running WordPress.org with the hosted WordPress.com service, bringing you many of the features that WordPress.com users enjoy. Jetpack bundles features such as the following:
- WordPress.com Stats: Get information on your site visitors, such as how many there are, where they’re coming from, and what content they’re viewing on your site.
- Jetpack Comments: Manage comments that integrate with social media login options such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google.
- Post by Email: Publish posts to your blog directly from your email account.
- Carousel: Transform your standard image galleries into slideshows and carousels.
- Spelling and Grammar: Catch your grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors with this integrated proofreading service.
- VaultPress: Manage real-time backups and security scanning for your site.
- Contact Form: Insert an email contact form anywhere on your WordPress site with one click.
- WP.me Shortlinks: Create a short URL for easier social sharing with the WP.me service.
- Tiled Galleries: Create magazine-style image tile layouts for your photos.
- Custom CSS: Customize the appearance of your site with CSS without modifying your theme files.
- Extra Sidebar Widgets: Add widgets to your WordPress site, such as Easy Image and RSS.
- Jetpack Single Sign On: Allow users to log in to your site by using their credentials from WordPress.com.
- Enhanced Distribution: Share your content with search engines and other services in real-time.
- VideoPress: Upload and insert videos on your site.
Because Jetpack runs and is hosted on the WordPress.com cloud server, updates to this suite of plugins occur automatically.
3. Limit Login Attempts Reloaded
This plugin limits the number of times a user can attempt to log in to your WordPress site before they are locked out for a specified period of time. By default, without a plugin such as this one, WordPress allows unlimited login attempts, which means allowing unlimited password-cracking attempts as well.
The Limit Login Attempts Reloaded plugin logs all attempts so that you can keep track of IP addresses, usernames, and email addresses that attempt to log in to your site over and over. You can add any IP, email address, or username to a blacklist that disallows any attempts from those sources on the first try. This plugin is compatible with the Multisite feature in WordPress.
4. Cookie Notice for GDPR & CCPA
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a European personal-data privacy law that was fully implemented in 2018. The law addresses the organization and processing of user data for all users in the European Union. It states that all websites must inform visitors that it is collecting and storing user information through various means. That notification must be visible to all users of the website.
A similar law, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), gives consumers control of the personal information that websites collect about them. All website owners should abide by both these laws.
The Cookie Notice for GDPR & CCPA plugins enable you to set a custom message that notifies your users that you’re using cookies when they visit your website. When the user clicks the I Agree button to acknowledge their consent to the storage of their personal data, your website will set a cookie so that the browser will remember their consent.
You may be wondering why your website would need to abide by these two laws. Almost every website collects data on its users. If your website does any of the following things, you should have a GDPR and CCPA notice on your website:
- Comments: Websites that allow comments on articles are collecting, at minimum, users’ IP addresses and email addresses, as well as the content of the comments.
- User Registration: Websites that allow user registration are collecting users’ IP and email addresses.
- Contact Forms: Websites that have contact forms are collecting users’ IP and email addresses, names, and phone numbers, as well as the content of the messages they send to the sites.
- Analytics: Websites that use analytics tools are collecting user data such as IP addresses and geographical locations.
Under these laws, user consent on data collection and storage must be informed; it cannot be assumed.
5. Yoast SEO
Developer: Team Yoast
Almost everyone is concerned about search engine optimization (SEO) for their websites. Good SEO practices help the major search engines (such as Google, DuckDuckGo, and Bing) easily find and cache your blog content in their search databases so that when people search for keywords, they can find your blog in the search results.
Yoast SEO helps you fine-tune your website for SEO, automatically creating optimized titles and generating HTML keywords for your individual posts. If you’re a beginner, this plugin works for you out of the box, with no advanced configuration necessary. Woo-hoo! If you’re an advanced user, you can fine-tune the Yoast SEO settings to your liking.
Starting at $80 for personal use and $199 for the unlimited version, BackupBuddy lets you back up your entire WordPress website in minutes. With this plugin, you can also determine a schedule of automated backups of your site on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
You can store Backups from this plugin on your web hosting account; email backup files to a designated email address; transfer the backup files via SFTP to a designated SFTP server; or store the backups on Amazon’s Simple Storage Service, Dropbox, or the Rackspace Cloud, if you have those accounts.
BackupBuddy backs up not only your WordPress data (posts, pages, comments, and so on), but also any theme and customized plugins you’ve installed (including the settings for those plugins), and it saves and backs up all WordPress settings and any widgets that you’re currently using.
BackupBuddy includes an import and migration script (importbuddy.php) that allows you to transfer an existing site to a new domain or host within minutes. You simply download the backup file created by BackupBuddy from your Dashboard (choose BackupBuddy ⇒ Backups), install the script on a new domain, and follow the steps displayed on the screen.
This plugin is invaluable for designers and developers who work with clients to design WordPress websites. Using BackupBuddy, you can download a backup of the site and then use the import/migration script to transfer the completed site to your client’s site within minutes, saving all the customizations you did to the theme and the plugins you installed, including the settings and data you worked so hard on.
7. WP Super Cache
WP Super Cache creates static HTML files from your dynamic WordPress content. Why is this plugin useful? On a high-traffic site, having cached versions of your posts and pages can decrease the load time of your website considerably.
A cached version simply means that the content is converted to static HTML pages (as opposed to dynamically created content pulled from your database through a series of PHP commands) that are then stored on the server. This process eases the efforts the web server must take to display the content in your visitors’ browsers.
You can read a helpful article written by one of the plugin’s developers, Donncha O’Caoimh, at https://odd.blog/wp-super-cache.
E-commerce is the practice of selling products or services on your website. The WooCommerce plugin for WordPress comes in handy for that work. Whether you’re selling products such as T-shirts, posters, or art, or selling services such as consulting, WooCommerce allows you to set up products and accept payment transactions on your website.
Here are some of the tasks that you can perform with the WooCommerce plugin:
- Accept payments. You can accept payments from your customers from PayPal or any major credit card.
- Configure shipping. If you sell physical goods that require shipping, the WooCommerce shipping feature gives you several options, including free or flat-rate shipping.
- Manage inventory. Easily manage physical or digital goods (such as music, for example). You can also assign store managers to handle day-to-day inventory for large online shops.
- Run reports. Keep track of your sales, reviews, stock levels, and overall store performance with WooCommerce reporting tools.
- Run marketing campaigns. Run marketing campaigns with a range of discounts, coupons, use limits, and product and/or user restrictions, as well as free shipping.
- Configure taxes. Configure tax settings with classes and local tax rates.
WooCommerce has a variety of add-ons, called extensions, that allow you to extend your e-commerce platform to your tastes. Its Extension library contains items such as Event Bookings, Membership Subscriptions, Product Reviews, and Product Labels.
9. Google XML Sitemaps
This plugin lets you create a Google-compliant XML site map of your entire blog. Every time you create a new post or page, the site map is updated and submitted to several major search engines, including Google, Yahoo!, and Bing.
This plugin helps the search engines find and catalog new content from your site, so your new content appears in the search engines faster than it would if you didn’t have a site map.
10. Sucuri Security
Developer: Sucuri, Inc.
With the rise in popularity of the WordPress software, a nefarious group of anonymous hackers tried to take advantage of the vast number of users in the WordPress community by attempting to inject malicious code and malware into themes, plugins, and insecure and outdated files within the WordPress core code.
The Sucuri SiteCheck Malware Scanner plugin checks for malware, spam, blacklisting, and other security issues hidden inside code files. It’s the best defense you have against malicious hackers and very easy to implement — and for the peace of mind that it provides you, using this plugin is worth it.