57 Best WordPress Plugins For 2016: A Sumo-Sized Guide

All of the best WordPress plugins you need to do ANYTHING with your website - categorized (plus how to use them).

44,000.

That's how many WordPress plugins have been released into the internet wilds.

With that many plugins, how do you know which are legit, and which are a waste of your resources? And more importantly, how do you know which plugins you are missing out on?

There's a plugin for everything. And we’re bringing you the most comprehensive guide on the internet to the best WordPress plugins ever made crowdsourced from some of the most successful online entrepreneurs and bloggers we know.

But first, let's define exactly what a plugin is (and how they work with a WordPress website).

If you're already in the know, you can skip down to the best plugins on the web

What is a WordPress Plugin, Anyway?

Remember those old-school iPhone commercials?

You know the ones. The commercials that started the "there's an app for that" movement.

Well, WordPress plugins are sort of like that. WordPress itself is like a blank (but functional) new iPhone.

I can practically smell the plastic.

It’s useable, but pretty basic. And if you want bells and whistles with your iPhone, what do you do? Well, you download apps. This can change your iPhone from a basic talk and text device to a cab-hailing, online-banking, Facebook-surfing, right-swiping machine.

Plugins are apps for your WordPress website. WordPress will function on it's own, but you can make it do exactly what you want it to do with plugins:

There are plugins to 10x your email subscriptions, double, triple, and quadruple check your grammar, and fight off spammers.

But like I already said, there are more than 44,000 WordPress plugins out there. And just like the apps in the App Store, there are a few that stand out from the rest.

So we've taken it upon ourselves to crowdsource, curate, and brainstorm all of the best, plugins out there - no matter what you need.

Behold, the ultimate list of WordPress plugins to help you start, run, and grow our business, blog or hobby website.

Categorized. Because ain't nobody got time for hunting.

best wordpress plugins

You'll notice that there are a handful of plugins in each category, but rest assured that they serve different purposes. We aren't going to go and list a million different plugins for each thing you want to accomplish. You don't have time to sift through all of the options.

We're just bringing you the best of the best. Taking work off your plate since 2012, yo!



GET THE 10 ESSENTIAL PLUGINS

OK, it’s go time.

WordPress Plugins for Search Engine Optimization

Let me guess...

You want more traffic.

No, I'm not a wizard. I just know that you want more traffic because no matter how much traffic you have, online entrepreneurs and bloggers always want more.

And the best, most sustainable way to get more traffic on a consistent basis is through search engine optimization. The problem is, SEO seems like a complicated topic, right?

So why not use a plugin or two to make SEO dead simple for you - even if don't know anything about SEO?

Let’s do that, shall we?

Yoast SEO

In the WordPress plugin world, there’s an elusive club. It’s called the 1Mil/1K Club.

It’s comprised of plugins that have over one million active downloads and one thousand five-star reviews.

It’s rare air you get to breathe if your plugin joins that club. In fact, there are only five in existence today.

This is one of those rare plugins.

The Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress is almost mandatory for anyone with a WordPress site. It’s the most complete WordPress SEO plugin that exists today on WordPress.

It takes all the SEO stuff you’d pay a developer thousands of dollars to implement on your site…

And gives it to you for free.

We’ve talked in-depth about SEO before, and this plugin helps hit on almost every crucial on-page aspect in that guide:

wordpress seo by yoast

Yoast shows you exactly how your page will look on search engines. It shows your page title, URL and meta description all true-to-form.

It also checks to see if you’re staying focused with your main keyword by checking your heading, title, URL, content and meta description to see if you’re using your keyword.

Plus, you never have to guess what your title, URL or meta description will look like -- you can easily edit those descriptions within the plugin.

There’s a ton of other nerdy SEO stuff that Yoast takes care of automatically, but all you need to know is this is a plugin you have to have on your site if you want more traffic.

Key Takeaway: Yoast makes it easy to have a fully SEO optimized WordPress site to help you rank at the top of Google. Click here to get the Yoast SEO plugin

Google XML Sitemaps

Ok. If for some reason you don’t download Yoast SEO because you don’t want to or you joined a cult that explicitly forbids it, you need to at least install the Google XML Sitemaps plugin.

This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask.com (if Jeeves is still your homeboy) to better index your blog.

The more your site is indexed, the better your chances are of ranking on the first page of search engines.

best wordpress plugins

That’s what a sitemap looks like. Imagine having to make one of those yourself?

Sumo’s website has over 123,000 pages on it. You better believe we don’t make our own sitemaps. That’s ludacris.

Grab the Google XML Sitemaps plugin so you don’t have to spend hours creating your own sitemap.

Key Takeaway: Google XML Sitemaps makes it easier for search engine crawlers to get information from your website so it’s easier to index your blog. Click here to get the Google XML Sitemaps plugin

WordPress Plugins for List Building

The money is in the list.

Or so "they" say - "they" being all the most profitable, successful entrepreneurs online.

We're inclined to agree. After all, if you sell a product or service, you can communicate directly to the people who will end up buying it: your email list.

If you were to collect email subscribers on your website, and they were each worth even just $1 per month, a list of 1,000 email subscribers would earn you $1,000 per month.

We help our users collect hundreds of thousands of email subscribers every month and Sumo's List Builder pop-ups alone is responsible for 23 MILLION opt-ins, so I think this one of the most important categories in this guide.

Here are the best of the best WordPress plugins for list building.

Click Triggers

As far as conversion rates go, Click Triggers (it's a feature within List Builder) is hands down the best converting app in the Sumo suite.

Many of our customers have reported seeing 30-60% conversion rates on their Click Triggers. Take a look at how Tim from Tar Productions used Click Triggers to create pop-ups that convert at 26 and 39%:

wordpress plugins results

Why do they work so well? Well, Click Triggers are a two step opt-in process. That means you can make any HTML element bring up a pop-up, including a link, an image, and a button.

A two-step opt-in process simply means that the visitor is actually asking for the pop-up by clicking the element to bring it up. See how we’ve done this in our Power Words guide?

list builder example

Because the visitor already took action on clicking the element, they are more likely to follow through with handing over their email address. Studies (namely, the foot in the door study) prove it.

Key Takeaway: Click Triggers is a feature within the List Builder App. Click Triggers are a great way to build your email list by "triggering" a pop-up when a visitor clicks on a link. Click here to install Sumo to get the Click Trigger feature

404Page

When somebody is navigating your website and ends up hitting a 404 page - meaning that they've clicked on a link or navigated to a page that no longer exists (or maybe never did!), they'll usually bounce.

And when a visitor bounces from your website? Well, chances are they aren't ever coming back.

That's why a 404 page is a great place to capture their email address and attention.

If they navigate to a 404 page accidentally, they were already engaging with your website. So why not give them exactly what they want, with a custom 404 page? Don't rely on the ugly 404 page WordPress offers.

Give your visitor the opportunity to opt-in to your email list with an opt-in offer directly on your 404 page with 404Page:

list building plugins

That way, you can continue to communicate with them even after they leave your website.

Key Takeaway: 404Page allows you to create a custom 404Page for your website so you can capture emails from those "oopsies". Click here to get the 404Page plugin.

List Builder

List Builder isn't just for Click Triggers. It also allows you to create simple and effective pop-ups to display as people browse your website.

Not only can you set your own display rules so your pop-ups appear whenever you want them to (30 seconds after they land on your website? Only on specific pages?), you can also choose Smart Mode and let Sumo display your pop-up when your visitor goes to leave your website.

That, my friends, is called an “exit intent” pop-up.

Because after all... that person is likely going to press the back button or get distracted by cat videos on YouTube and forget all about your website forever if you don’t capture their attention (and their email).

And you don't want that to happen. Get their email addresses while you have the chance.

Key Takeaway: List Builder can detect the exact moment when a visitor is about to leave so you can trigger a pop-up to collect their email. Click here to install Sumo to get the List Builder app

Welcome Mat

Let’s say your friend shares an article on Facebook and it catches your eye. Maybe it’s about eating for weight loss, and you’ve been feeling a bit sluggish lately.

Me too. Damn you, Colombian empanadas!

When you land on the website, a page scrolls down - sort of like a welcome mat - offering you a free report with the top 50 recipes for weight loss that you can make in 15 minutes or less. Oh, and you don’t have to give up chocolate.

To get the report, you just have to enter your email address. Would you do it? Probably!

After you enter your email address, you can simply scroll down to read the article you clicked on from Facebook.

This exactly why we built Welcome Mat.

Welcome Mat is Sumo's third best converting app, with a conversion rate of just over 1.75% (and that's accounting for people with poor conversion rates!). But Welcome Mat can also collect far more emails.

This is the plugin Jeff Goins, best selling author and owner of GoinsWriter.com was referring to when he gave us his favorite plugins:

welcome mat review

Check out this Welcome Mat for our step-by-step guide to Kickstarter:

welcome mat example

It convert over 20% of our visitors into email subscribers:

best self content upgrade

Welcome Mat is extra useful, because you can create a full blown landing page out of it, display a Welcome Mat only on specific pages (for example, if you're smart enough to create content upgrades!) and even create launch pages.

Welcome Mat is the best WordPress plugin available to collect emails by creating instant landing pages on your website. And it’s free.

Key Takeaway: Welcome Mat displays a full-screen call to action that shows when visitors land on your site. Click here to install Sumo to get the Welcome Mat app.

Simple Alert Boxes

This isn't your traditional list building plugin, because it's not actually specifically for list building. In fact, you can use it for a ton of different functions. But by far the most clever way to use this plugin is to build your email list.

The plugin? Simple Alert Boxes.

The function? Well, it allows you to embed an alert box in your content using a short code. If you're not aware, an alert box is a colorful box that pops.

Check out how this was done for a content upgrade on Noah Kagan's blog, OKDork.com:

list building plugins

Capture the emails of the people who are reading your content as they consume it by embedding your call to action directly in the body of the content.

Key Takeaway: Simple Alert Boxes allows you to include call to action boxes within your content to collect emails. Click here to get the Simple Alert Boxes plugin.

Scroll Box

So, I'm following your Aunt Gertie on Twitter and she shared one of your articles. Even though I'm supposed to be writing this Sumo-Sized guide, it catches my eye because who in their right mind sells cold brew to a girl with ADHD anyhow?

And I'm really diggin' your stuff. You're probably teaching me about how to hacky sac (please tell me there's a course out there for this!).

In fact, if you asked, I'd be jazzed to hand over my email address for an exclusive offer on a hacky sac course.

The further I get into your article, the more into it I am.

Too bad there's no way to trigger a non-intrusive email opt-in form to capture my interest (and my email address) right when I'm wanting to handing it over the most...

Just kidding, there is. Obviously. See, I was going somewhere with that ;)

That's where the beautiful Scroll Box comes in.

Literally. Right there:

list builder popup example

Scroll Box is a Sumo WordPress plugin that helps you capture the email addresses of the people who are already liking your content - because who else is more eager to give it up to you?

Nobody, except maybe your aunt Gertie and you're already winning in her eyes.

Key Takeaway: Scroll box is the polite way to ask your visitors for their email and triggers a non-intrusive pop-up based on how far your readers make it down the screen. Click here to install Sumo to get the Scroll Box app

Smart Bar

Have you ever become so accustomed to something that you don’t even notice it exists anymore? It’s like how you can’t smell your own perfume because you’re so used to it.

That’s what happens to your visitors, too, with certain elements on your website. This is so common in fact that marketers have coined a term for one particular version of it:

Sidebar blindness.

Sidebar blindness is a condition most internet users catch from over-exposure to sidebars. You don’t even notice them anymore.

That’s why it’s a bad idea to rely solely on your sidebar to collect emails. I’ve already given you several alternatives to your traditional sidebar opt-in form (Welcome Mat, pop-ups, Scroll Box), but there’s another:

Smart Bar.

Smart Bar is a free Sumo plugin that allows you to include a call to action at the top of your website as a non-intrusive call to action bar, rather than just the side.

Check out how IzzyStyle does uses a Smart Bar for their call to action:

izzystyle list builder example

You don’t necessarily have to use Smart Bar just to collect emails, either.

You can use it as a general call to action button to have your visitors take action on anything you want them to do - like your Facebook page, follow you on Twitter, get a discount code, or subscribe to get a content upgrade.

And, as with the rest of the Sumo apps, Smart Bar is free.

Key Takeaway: Smart Bar is a Floating Bar that can appear at the top or bottom of your website. You can encourage people to subscribe to your newsletter, go to a specific page or follow you on your social networks. Click here to install Sumo to get the Smart Bar app


KingSumo

There are a few strategies for list building that are widely accepted as uber-effective.

These include guest posting and republishing content, holding webinars, and doing giveaways.

And the latter is exactly what this plugin helps with.

KingSumo may not be your traditional list building plugin, but I’m including it under list building because it helps you grow your traffic and email list rapidly with giveaways.

KingSumo is hands down the best most comprehensive giveaway WordPress plugin available, allowing you to easily set up, schedule, and manage giveaways.

Key Takeaway: KingSumo makes it stupid easy to grow your email list with viral giveaways. Click here to get the KingSumo plugin

WordPress Plugins for Website Protection & Maintenance

It’s every website owner’s biggest nightmare:

Waking up one morning only to realize that your website has been hacked, or crashed, or is otherwise compromised.

There’s nothing more stressful than website drama. It’s all about prevention.

Luckily you’re not on your own when it comes to navigating these choppy waters. Here are the best of the best WordPress plugins to protect and maintain that asset.

BackUpWordPress

The great 20th century scholar Lil’ Jon said it best:

    • “Back, back, back it up.”

And he’s right. We always think our online content will never go away. But think of it this way: you probably upload most of your pictures to Facebook, right? I bet you don’t have a lot of physical photo albums floating around your house.

So what if Facebook was wiped and you lost everything?

You just got a sick feeling in your stomach. And that’s just for photos. Now imagine if your entire site was gone in the blink of an eye.

That feels worse.

That's why the BackupUpWordPress plugin comes in handy.

BackUpWordPress allows you to backup your website automatically on a schedule, so you don't have to think about it. You can have your backup files emailed to you, or just store them on your server.

best wordpress plugins

And if anything happens to your site? You can just restore the backup from the files BackUpWordPress generates for you.

There's no point in making backing up your site more complicated than it needs to be. Let BackUpWordPress worry about the day-to-day and give you peace of mind.

Key Takeaway: BackUpWordPress makes it easy to automatically backup your entire website. Click here to get the BackUpWordPress plugin

Rename WP Login

If your website was like your digital home, you're probably walking around with your address tattooed across your forehead.

How do I know? Well lemme guess...

Your url to login to your website is http://yoursitehere.com/wp-admin.

Ooooo, creepy huh? If somebody wanted to break into your website, they could be at your admin login in five seconds flat.

So add an extra layer of security with Rename WP Login Change by changing your login from wp-admin to something a bit more discreet.

Think about it like this: it's a lot more difficult for somebody to break into your house if they don't know what your address is. So it's far more difficult to hack into your website if they don't know what your admin login is.

It’s a small plugin, but Rename WP Login Change can help you and your site stay that much more secure.

Key Takeaway: Rename WP Login makes your website more secure by changing your login to something more discreet. Click here to get the Rename WP Login plugin

WP Limit Login Attempts

Have you ever forgotten your password for an account and tried the wrong password one too many times?

You were probably locked out until a period of time passed.

That's happened to me (far too often), and as frustrating as it is, this is an extra security measure that is actually rather handy if you have somebody trying to break into your website by guessing passwords - or, in the more likely case that it's a bunch of bots attacking your website with automated password tries.

That's where Limit Login Attempts comes in handy. It's a simple plugin that's really good at it's job - limiting login attempts.

You have full control over the settings, including how many times one IP address can attempt to login, how long it locks them out for if they surpass that, and comes equipped with Captcha verification (meaning you have yet another layer of protection against robots).

Key Takeaway: WP Limit Login Attempts protects your website from people trying to guess your account and password information. Click here to get the WP Limit Login Attempts plugin

WP Super Cache

With over 4 MILLION downloads and a rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars, WP Super Cache is one of the most popular WordPress Plugins available.

Without getting into the technical mumbo-jumbo, WP Super Cache speeds up your website. This is important, kids. When it comes to search engine rankings, your site’s load speed is a major factor.

There have been many before & after tests that show this plugin speeding up website by an entire 3 seconds! It doesn’t sound like a lot, but 3 seconds is an eternity when it comes to the internet - and it’s like 45% of your 8 second attention span.

Key Takeaway: WP Super Cache speeds up your website which improves the your visitor’s experience and also your site’s search rankings. Click here to get the WP Super Cache plugin

Redirection

Think of the last time you moved to a new city. Remember how frustrating it was to update your driver’s license, health card, mailing address and a bunch of other paperwork?

The same happens if you ever have to change the URL of your website. Think of all the times you linked to the page, you would have to go into each article manually and update the hyperlinks.

Fortunately, you don’t have to with the Redirection WordPress Plugin. That’s because in just a few clicks, this plugin will automatically redirect visitors to the correct URL. On top of that, it also keeps track of any 404 errors you have.

So the next time you migrate pages from an old website, make sure you install Redirection to ensure your site’s traffic is flowing to the right pages.

Key Takeaway: Redirection automatically redirects your visitors so they land on the right pages. Click here to get the Redirection plugin

WordPress Plugins for Stats and Analytics

There’s this brilliant quote that I seem to use constantly:

What gets measured gets managed.

It’s true, too. It’s been shown that if you measure how much time you spend on time-wasting activities, you waste less time.

Studies have also proven that if you weigh yourself every day, you lose more weight. So it makes sense that if you pay attention to your website’s stats, you’ll spend more time on the right activities to help it grow.

That’s why it’s incredibly useful to have analytics directly on your WordPress website. You don’t have to go anywhere to gather data, and using these plugins, you can easily check how you’re doing.

Sumo Google Analytics

Sure, you could go all the way to Google Analytics to find out what your stats are.

Or, you could make your life a lot simpler by using Sumo’s Google Analytics app to see your stats as you navigate through your website.

With Sumo Google Analytics, you can view a summary of your on-page analytics in the bottom right corner of the page when you’re logged in:

organic page views

Or you can get an overview of your site-wide analytics in your Sumo dashboard:

google analytics dashboard

Without having to leave your website.

Key Takeaway: Sumo Google Analytics makes it super easy to view your Google Analytics directly on your site. Click here to install Sumo to get the Google Analytics app

JetPack by WordPress

Sometimes Google Analytics can be confusing.

It's just one of those tools that has so much potential that you don't know where to start. And sometimes you want to just quickly see your stats without going anywhere. Which is where this next plugin comes in...

And the best thing about this bad boy is that it's actually built by WordPress, so you don't even have to go anywhere to install it.

The plugin is called Jetpack, and while it has a lot of functionality beyond stats, the best usage of it is to view your stats right on your WordPress dashboard.

You don't even have to go anywhere:

stats plugin

Simple, straightforward WordPress stats for a quick view.

Key Takeaway: Jetpack allows you to see your website stats right on your WordPress dashboard. Click here to get the Jetpack plugin.

Content Analytics

Imagine how effective you could make your content if you knew exactly what makes your readers tick.

  • What chases them away?
  • Where are they getting bored?
  • What type of text styling brings your readers farther down the page?

Knowing exactly where your readers are dropping off can help you drastically increase your conversions. With this information, you could make tweaks to your content to keep readers on the page longer, and place your calls to action above the average read rate.

This information is so valuable, in fact, that Sumo created a plugin for it. Behold Content Analytics.

Content Analytics tracks how far your readers get down the page, presenting the information in a visual way that allows you to diagnose issues with the content:

best wordpress plugins

What type of issues?

Well, we recently noticed that the average read on one of our guides was only 13%. This was below the average of around 25%, and we noticed that people were dropping off like flies right where we had a large pinnable image.

We bumped the image down so it didn’t interrupt the reader’s flow so early on, and instantly the average read rate increased to around 23%.

Content Analytics is free and incredibly useful.

Protip: Use Content Analytics to track read rates on all of your content. Then, trigger a Scroll Box to appear before the average rate percentage for your content upgrades. Watch the email subscribers roll in. You’re welcome!

Key Takeaway: Content Analytics gives you a visual display of exactly where people stop reading your blog posts. Click here to install Sumo to get the Content Analytics app

Heat Maps

I say this so often that I should probably just get it tattooed across my forehead, but it bears repeating in this section:

If you give people too much to do, they won’t do anything.

That means that if you throw too many links, menu options, and calls to action in front of your visitors when they land on your website, they won’t take action.

And every single square inch of your homepage is valuable website real estate. So you want to make sure that every element you’re putting in front of your visitors is pulling it’s weight.

That’s exactly what Heat Maps can help you do.

Heat Maps is a free Sumo plugin that provides you with a visual representation of the elements of your website people are clicking on.

heat map example

The buttons and links that are bright yellow? They’re well-loved by my visitors.

But anything that shows up as a darker yellow or orange means that people aren’t clicking on it. I’d be smart to remove those elements from my homepage (and any other page!) to ensure I’m not overwhelming my visitors with choices.

Then, I can direct their energy to take action on what I want them to take action on. In my case, that’s opting in to my email list.

Key Takeaway: With Heat Maps, you can visually see where your visitors are clicking (or not) so you can optimize your website to increase conversions. Click here to install Sumo to get the Heat Maps app

WordPress Plugins for A/B Testing and Marketing

As you grow your website, the little things really begin to make a difference.

Things like:

  • Button color
  • Headline copy
  • Which background image you choose for your calls to action

These things can be the difference between hundreds (or even thousands) more email subscribers and visitors to your website every month.

That’s why A/B testing is so important. Testing what your audience responds to can help you deliver what they want to see every time.

Here are a few plugins that will help you perform A/B tests and get to know your audience even better.

Sumo

So now that we’ve established that you need to A/B test, I’ve got a serious treat for you.

If you have Sumo installed, you can A/B test with your Sumo email apps. That means that Welcome Mat, Scroll Box, List Builder and Smart Bar will allow you to A/B test your calls to action.

  • Aren’t sure whether your audience responds to blue or green buttons more? Test it.
  • Can’t figure out which content upgrade will perform better? Try both and see.
  • Want to see how movement on your background image affects conversions? Sure, why not.

Setting up your Sumo A/B test only takes a few minutes (here’s how). I was able to compare two versions of a popup, one with a moving background, and the other as a static image.

ab testing example

The results? The version with a moving background had a 14% conversion, whereas the other version had a 4% conversion.

Based on the valuable insights from the A/B test, we’ve re-designed many of our popups to include a moving background which has boosted our conversion rates.

Key Takeaway: Sumo AB Testing will help you figure out which text, size, timing, colors and more will convert best on your site. Click here to install Sumo to A/B test your popups

Wufoo Shortcode Plugin

Knowing your audience is important.

In fact, knowing your audience intimately separates you from your competitors. If you don’t know your audience better than they know themselves, you’ll fall behind. And one of the best ways to get to know your audience (besides getting on the phone with them of course), is through surveys.

When I asked Chris Guillebeau what his favorite WordPress plugins were, I was pleasantly surprised when he mentioned one I hadn’t heard of before:

Wufoo Shortcode Plugin.

This plugin allows you to create a survey with Wufoo, and embed it directly onto a page on your website with a shortcode. Check out how Chris has done this with his side hustle survey:

popup survey example

You can get your audience’s feedback quickly and easily without sending them off the page to a third party survey website.

Boom!

Key Takeaway: Wufoo Shortcode makes it easy to survey your visitors so you can learn more about your target audience.Click here to get the Wufoo Shortcode plugin

WordPress Plugins for Design and User Experience

You want your visitors to have a great user experience when they land on your website, right?

You don’t want them to get frustrated and bounce.

Part of that is page load time, and part of it is having a nice, compelling design that communicates a cohesive brand.

That’s what these critical plugins are for.

P3 Plugin Performance Profiler

Alright, so you totally ignored my disclaimer at the beginning of this guide and went ahead to furiously install every.single.plugin I’ve mentioned so far.

GET THE 10 ESSENTIAL PLUGINS

And now your website is moving slower than the Sumos after a taco feast. What did you learn?!

So you’ve gotta disable those plugins that are putting the heaviest burden on your site. After all - you don’t want to disable the most useful ones if they’re not slowing down your site. So how do you know which to start with?

Of course, there’s a plugin for that.

P3 Plugin Performance Profiler will scan your website to show you which plugins are slowing it down.

best wordpress plugins

You’ll then get a fancy report, complete with a graph and a detailed breakdown of the plugins that are making your site lag the most:

runtime by plugin pie chart

You’ll notice the absence of Sumo ;)

A few of the plugins that are slowing my site down are listed in this guide, but don’t worry - I have a unique molotov cocktail of plugins that you likely don’t have, and a couple of the plugins that are having the biggest impact on my site speed also have the most important functionality.

Weigh impact on the performance of your site against the functionality of the plugin. CoSchedule and Jetpack make my life far easier as a blogger, so they’re there to stay.

Disable and delete the plugins that aren’t worth the lag.

Key Takeaway: P3 Plugin Performance Profiler shows you which WordPress plugins are slowing down your website. Click here to get the P3 Plugin Performance Profiler plugin

Ultimate Branding

Plugins can be super useful.

They can also just be flat out fun. And that’s more of the vibe of the Ultimate Branding plugin by wpmudev.

Ultimate Branding allows you to replace all of the WordPress branding on your dashboard with your own company branding.

That means that if you have freelancers, or you just want to make your WordPress dashboard a little more customized for your staff or yourself, you can do that!

For example, you can change your WordPress login from this generic one:

wordpress login

To a customized login with your own brand elements:

login page example

You can add your logo to your admin bar, replace any word or phrase that WordPress uses, and even change the color scheme on your dashboard.

This keeps your brand cohesive.

Key Takeaway: Ultimate Branding replaces the generic WordPress logos with your own brand. *Click here to get the Ultimate Branding plugin

Widgets on Pages

Alright, so you have a widget in your sidebar that you’d really like to have embedded in a blog post or on a page.

But WordPress doesn’t allow you to do that. At least not by default. Frustrating, right?

As we’ve learned throughout this entire guide, though, just because WordPress doesn’t allow it, doesn’t mean you can’t.

Widgets on Pages is a WordPress plugin that not only has the best name ever, but also allows you to...well, put a widget on a page or post. Directly from your editor:

best wordpress plugins

Sweet!

Key Takeaway: Widgets On Pages makes it easy to add widgets/sidebars to your pages. Click here to get the Widgets On Pages plugin

Add New Default Avatar

Speaking of cohesiveness, it’s not just great for internal purposes.

Brand cohesiveness can be important to portraying a professional image to your customers and visitors, too.

That’s where this plugin comes in.

You know when somebody comments on a piece of content on your website, and they show up as a generic box in your comments section? Like this:

more proof that sarah is amazing

That’s because they don’t have their Gravatar set up, so WordPress relies on the default.

But the default is boring and generic. So use your own branding with Add New Default Avatar to change how that generic avatar appears in your comments section.

Say it with me, folks: brand cohesiveness.

Key Takeaway: Add New Default Avatar automatically displays your preferred profile image in the comments section. Click here to get the Add New Default Avatar plugin

Custom Sidebars

Let’s say you created a content upgrade.

Good on you, you list building machine you!

And you really want your visitors to receive the upgrade. So you create a custom Welcome Mat and Scroll Box for the content upgrade, setting your display rules so that they only show up on the content you’re… well, upgrading.

You’re a pro marketer, so you don’t want to distract your visitors away from your call to action to subscribe for the upgrade, so you want to get rid of all the clutter in your sidebar on that specific post.

And because you’ve got goals (yo), you want to use your sidebar to get yet another call to action to get your content upgrade in front of your visitor.

Smart!

That’s why Custom Sidebars is...well, bomb diggity. It allows you to create custom sidebars (duh) for any piece of content or page, so you can make sure that your visitor is taking action only on what you want them to.

Check out how Jill and Josh from Screw the Nine to Five have done this on their sales funnel article:

list builder example

If you’re interested in creating an automated sales funnel, and you land on the article, how likely would you be to subscribe for resources related to the article?

Pretty likely!

Key Takeaway: Custom Sidebars allows you to display custom widget configurations on any page, post, category, post type, or archive page. Click here to get the Custom Sidebars plugin

Appointments+

If you offer a service and you take appointments with your clients, you know that there’s nothing worse than going back and forth trying to set an appointment during a time that works for both of you.

This leads to a ton of frustration and a full inbox.

Instead of relying on phone and email to allow your clients to make appointments - yup, you guessed it - there’s a plugin for that.

Appointments+ is a plugin by wpmudev that allows you to accept appointments directly from your WordPress website.

No more back and forth, and no more being interrupted by phone calls and emails to set appointments.

Key Takeaway: Appointments+ allows you to accept, set and manage your bookings on your site. Click here to get the Appointments+ plugin

Display Widgets

Alright, so you can have custom sidebars. That’s pretty dope.

But did you know there’s also a plugin that will allow you to control which widgets display on your website, depending on the page or content?

It’s true. It’s called Display Widgets. So if you’re writing a master guide to how to take beautiful photos for Instagram, you could disable all other widgets in your sidebar except for your Instagram feed widget.

This keeps your widgets highly relevant and allows you even more control over how you use WordPress for your business.

Key Takeaway: Display Widgets makes it simple to hide widgets on specific pages. Click here to get the Display Widgets plugin

Ultimate Category Excluder

Alright, so you’re a bit of a control freak.

I get it! So am I!

You want to control which categories show up on your homepage, what content you publish is pushed to an RSS feed, and how everything appears in your archives.

For example, maybe you want to do a tutorial for your users, but you don’t want that to show up as a blog post on your blog. Or maybe you want to post something that doesn't quite fit into your articles, and you don’t want it on your homepage.

That’s where Ultimate Category Excluder comes in.

You can create categories for tutorials, reviews, or even content upgrades and exclude them from displaying on your homepage, in feeds, in search or in archives.

ultimate category excluder options

Pro tip: If you’re creating a content upgrade and don’t want to have to create a whole new email list in your email service provider to deliver the “asset” to your new subscribers as part of your autoresponder series, post it as content to WordPress and use Ultimate Category Excluder to exclude it from the main page, feeds, archives and search.

Then, do a Success Redirect within Sumo from whichever app you’re using for the content upgrade:

welcome mat how to

Boom! You have a content upgrade.

Key Takeaway: Ultimate Category Excluder allows you to quickly and easily exclude categories from your front page, archives, feeds, and search results. Click here to get the Ultimate Category Excluder plugin

Relevanssi

I bet you use your site’s search function a lot.

I know I do. I’m always looking for something I know I wrote about on my site.

But you’ve probably noticed that the built-in WordPress site search functionality… well, it sort of sucks. Can you imagine the frustration for your users, who don’t know the exact terms to search for?

The problem with the built in WordPress search is that it tends to sort results by date, rather than relevance of the keyword you were searching for.

Well, that’s where Relevanssi comes in. Relevanssi replaces the WordPress search with a far more powerful search function, giving your users (and you!) better and more relevant results (including comments and shortcodes) while searching your site.

It’s simple, and a set-it-and-forget-it type of plugin. Just install it on your site to make your user’s experience better.

Key Takeaway: Relevanssi replaces the default WordPress search bar with a more powerful and accurate search bar. Click here to get the Relevanssi plugin

WordPress Broken Link Checker

You’re knee deep in content on a website.

It has your attention, hitting you left and right with great content you can’t help but click on. You’ve gone down the rabbit hole, so to speak.

And you happen upon a link that you just can’t help but click. Your mouse moves toward the link, eagerly anticipating the sweet reward of delicious content on the other side…

Only you’re met with a screen like this:

sarah is amazing

404’ed. You were on a road to nowhere. The link was broken.

(I’d love to say that http://sumome.com/sarah-is-amazing 404’ed because the link was broken, but my hunch is that it never really existed in the first place. Side eye).

When you 404 on a website, it interrupts your flow, and you’re more likely to bounce, leaving the website forever. You probably don’t want your visitors to leave you forever, right?

But broken links are almost inevitable as pages move, content changes and the websites you’re linking out to change things up. So use WordPress Broken Link Checker to clean up all those broken links on your website.

The plugin is free, and you can even set it up to scan your site for broken links on a schedule. Not bad, right? Plus they’ll even send you an email when they find faulty links.

Key Takeaway: Broken Link Checker will check your posts, comments and other content for broken links and missing images, and notify you if any are found. Click here to get the WordPress Broken Link Checker plugin

Pretty Link

So you land a spot on a podcast.

Or maybe you're at a networking event or a meeting, or maybe you just want to be able to refer to links like affiliate links without saying "http://yoururlhere.com/2015-02-04/best-WordPress-plugins"

Wouldn't it be far easier to just say "yoururlhere.com/plugins"?

That's the power of Pretty Link.

This is a free plugin that allows you to create custom links without changing your link structure.

This is another one of those plugins that should be mandatory on all websites.

Lewis Howes agrees:

I can make short, easy to remember URL links like http://lewishowes.com/book to redirect anywhere I want. This is super helpful to promote things like my books and podcast without the hassle of getting my developer to make special links for me.

And so does Pat Flynn:

It allows me to take long links with lots of characters and quickly create nice looking, short and trackable links that are easy to share and remember. This is handy for me, but also handy for those listening to my podcast or watching my videos who don't have access to a computer or pen and paper!

It's also incredibly handy for affiliate link management. For example, let's say you're an affiliate of Sumo. And let's say you had a website full of links to Sumo using your affiliate link. Maybe you've:

  • Written a review about Sumo
  • Referenced Sumo in 10-20 articles, content upgrades, podcasts episodes and pages
  • Mention Sumo on your "start here" and "resources" page
  • Send an email to your list about Sumo

And all of that has led to some pretty healthy commissions. But what if Sumo decided to change their affiliate link structure?

Instead of your affiliate link being what it once was, we changed it to something entirely different? Since you already put in hours of hard work to placing your affiliate link around your website and in marketing material, that means that you'd have to spend even more hours to find every single instance where you used that link and then go ahead and change it to the new link.

And this would happen every single time one of the companies you're an affiliate for decided to change their link structure!

Pretty Link helps prevent sticky situations like these.

Instead of linking out to external sources, you can create links that you use everywhere so that if anything changes, you can create a custom URL and just change it in the one spot.

Plus, this makes your links far easier to refer to and more memorable.

For example, here's my affiliate link for FreshBooks:

best wordpress plugins

See how messy it looks? But I used Pretty Link to make it far easier to refer to (and to manage):

prettylink example

The best part about Pretty Link is that the light version is 100% free.

Key Takeaway: Pretty Link enables you to shorten links using your own domain name (as opposed to using tinyurl.com, bit.ly, or any other link shrinking service). Click here to get the Pretty Link plugin

SEO Smart Links

When I asked on Twitter for the best plugins available to WordPress, I got some great suggestions, and I learned of plugins that had functionalities I didn’t even think were possible.

For example, automatically placing links.

SEO Smart Links takes a lot off of your plate as a content creator by allowing you to automatically link keywords, phrases, or even sentences in your content based on parameters that you set.

So, say you’re an affiliate for FreshBooks. Yeah, so what? I like FreshBooks, it helps me keep my life in check.

When you’re creating content, you have to remember to link your affiliate link every time you mention it. Right?

Or, you can just install SEO Smart Links, and have this bad boy automatically link to “Freshbooks” “cloud accounting”, or any other keyword you want.

best wordpress plugins

Pair this beast with Pretty Link and you’re on top of those affiliate links.

Key Takeaway: SEO Smart Links can automatically link keywords and phrases in your posts and comments with other relevant articles on your blog. Click here to get the SEO Smart Links plugin

WordPress Plugins for Social Sharing

You want your content to get plenty of social love.

After all, if your audience shares your content on Twitter, it gets in front of their followers. This drives traffic, additional shares and of course that ever-desirable boost in social proof.

Plus, there are some sources that show that social shares boost search engine visibility.

So, how do you make sure your content is uber-sharable?

Well, there are (several) plugins for that.

Sumo Share App

One of the most obvious ways to get your visitors to share your content is by allowing them to share it with the click of a button.

You can do that through a simple WordPress plugin - and lucky for you, Sumo creates the best one out there for increasing your social shares, social proof, and the visibility of your content.

We’re on so many websites for a reason. Websites like Entrepreneur.com:

social media sharing buttons

And Wait but Why:

social media sharing buttons

Not to mention hundreds of thousands of other websites. And it’s absolutely free.

With the Share App, you can:

  • Control which pages and content your share buttons show up on (Pro tip: exclude shopping cart pages and any page where your primary call to action isn’t shares)
  • View clicks and stats specific just to mobile vs. desktop (Pro tip: pay attention to which types of content does the best on each medium)
  • Decide whether you display the share count for social proof - or set a minimum amount of shares before the number displays (Pro tip: set your minimum to 50)
  • Control which social media services show up on mobile versus desktop. For example, maybe your mobile users can share via WhatsApp, but you display Facebook mainly for desktop.

list builder example

And that’s just a sneak peak.

Plus, it takes less than 30 seconds to install.

Key Takeaway: Share makes it very simple for your visitors to share your content to their friends, family, and others. Click here to install Sumo to get the Share app

Sumo Highlighter App

I've told you before and I'm sure I'll tell you again:

If you want people to do something for you, you have to make it dead simple for them to do it.

That means that if you want more social shares on your content, you need to make it a no brainer to share it by almost doing the work for them.

Sumo makes that easy with the Highlighter App.

sharing to twitter example

Your visitors can simply highlight a sentence or portion of your content, and a box will appear to allow them to share it on Twitter of Facebook.

It can’t get much easier than that!

Key Takeaway: Highlighter makes it easy for your visitors to highlight sections of your articles to share with their friends, coworkers, and more. Click here to install Sumo to get the Highlighter app

Image Share App

Sharing visual elements is a whole other ballgame for your content.

When your audience does share your images (for example, on Pinterest), it can pay off big time, but getting them to actually copy your URL, skip over to Pinterest or Instagram, and sift through all the images in your content to find the perfect one to share - well, that's almost impossible.

So instead of expecting your audience to do that - because guess what? They won't - just install a simple plugin that allows you to include a button on your images so with the click of a button, your images can be shared on the more visual platforms.

That simple plugin? Sumo Image Sharer.

social media sharing

It’s as simple as installing it, activating the services you want, and watching the image shares come rolling in.

social media sharing options

Key Takeaway: Image Sharer makes it dead simple for your readers to auto-magically share the images on your site and link back to you, driving you viral traffic! Click here to install Sumo to get the Share app

Click to Tweet

You’ve probably heard the advice to include short, quotable snippets in your content for sharing, right?

Quotable sayings are memorable, and also elicit high arousal emotion, which (according to studies) means that they encourage social sharing.

But remember what I said above about sharing. You have to make it super simple for your audience to share your content - otherwise they won’t. So CoSchedule’s plugin, Click to Tweet helps you encourage your audience to share your quotables on Twitter.

Click to Tweet includes a call to action by placing a link next to your quotable that says “Click to Tweet”, like in Noah’s guide on OkDork.com about creating content to drive traffic:

how to write great content

When the link is clicked, it brings up Twitter with a pre-populated Tweet:

twitter sharing how to

Making it super simple for your visitors to press the “Tweet” button and share with their followers.

Key Takeaway: Click To Tweet allows you to easily create tweetable content for your readers. Click here to get the Click To Tweet plugin

Yoast SEO for Social Media Cards

Here's another vote for Yoast, but this time it has nothing to do with SEO...

Actually, that's not entirely true.

It’s been said (though not definitively proven) that content with more social shares performs better in search.

In any case, have you ever published content or even put up a product page, and noticed that it shares nicely on some social channels but not others?

Maybe it looks like crap on Twitter, but looks fine on Facebook.

Well, that’s usually because your Twitter card or meta data is faulty or not set up properly. Yoast SEO allows you to control the way your content and pages display on social media.

best wordpress plugins

This also communicates with Google about your social profiles.

Because each social platform is different, and the audiences of each react to different things, this is a powerful way to control the way your content appears on social for each platform:

facebook sharing through yoast

Key Takeaway: Yoast SEO makes your content show up exactly as you want it whenever someone links to it on social media. Click here to get the Yoast SEO plugin

WordPress Plugins for Commenting and Discussion

Alright, so we know that engagement is pretty damn important when you’re creating content.

There’s no better social proof than a super active comments section - not to mention that your comments section can absolutely be one of the best places to learn everything you could ever want to know about your audience’s needs so you can create content to delight them.

So how can you make your comments section even more effective?

We’ve got your back.

Disqus

With 200,000+ downloads, Disqus is metaphorically standing on top of a hill laughing at all other comment plugins.

It’s that good, and it’s kind of the go-to plugin for anyone starting a blog. We even use them on this blog (go down there and try it out by leaving your favorite GIF in the comments).

disqus

They make it incredibly easy for bloggers and readers to interact:

  • Bloggers: One of the biggest problems bloggers face is responding to comments. With Disqus, you can subscribe to your own blog and Disqus will notify you anytime someone posts a comment.

  • Commenters: There’s an extremely low barrier to leaving a comment. Most plugins take you through a long signup process. Disqus lets you sign in via a social media profile OR an easy signup process that keeps you on the page.

comment section example

Plus, they have a slick image sharing widget so you can express your feelings through images and GIFs:

breakfast club gif

And like other social-based platforms, Disqus lets you upvote/downvote comments. You can then sort your comments based on most popular, newest or even oldest.

There’s a reason over 200,000 people use Disqus. It’s a mainstay on any blog.

Key Takeaway: Disqus replaces the default WordPress comments section with a more powerful and secure plugin. Click here to get the Disqus plugin

Akismet

Well, Disqus was laughing at everyone else except Akismet. That’s because over one million people use Akismet.

Wow.

But take into account that Akismet comes pre-installed on every WordPress installation. That’s because it was the first commenting plugin that offered advanced spam protection.

Because no one likes getting these kinds of comments:

blog post comment example


Yes, of course. Jackman’s starter mullet would make you doubt the character at first. Good point, rubbersheet.


The best way to explain Akismet is like this:

how akismet works

It’s one of the more secure ways to prevent spammers from hitting your site. However, bloggers have shifted from this default WordPress giant for two reasons:

  • Disqus Filters Spam: Disqus already filters spam and does it without filtering real comments -- something Akismet can struggle with at times.

  • Akismet Slows Performance: This report showed Akismet slows page loading times from 2-3 seconds. Each second lost hurts your SEO and decreases conversions.

With all that said, Akismet is definitely better than nothing. It comes pre-installed because it’s still a great default starting point for any blogger.

Key Takeaway: Akismet prevents any spam in your comments section. Click here to get the Akismet plugin

Livefyre 3

If your blog or business is anything like Sumo or any other online business I’ve ever come across, discussion about your content happens across a variety of different channels.

It’s not like everyone sticks only to SnapChat like you do, mkay?

So when I asked a handful of the top influencers in the online business niche what their favorite WordPress plugins were, I wasn’t surprised when Lewis Howes mentioned Livefyre 3:

Livefyre 3 builds social proof by amalgamating all of the discussion about your content from across the internet. Check out the engagement on Noah Kagan’s episode of The School of Greatness:

livefyre wordpress plugin

Livefyre 3 makes the comments section as engaging as... well, Lewis and Noah’s apparent bromance.

A small disclaimer: with commenting systems, you can’t use more than one.

That means that you can’t use both Disqus and Livefyre 3. I know I said we’d cherry pick the best of the best of the WordPress plugins for each functionality, but these are both great options with different functionality.

You just have to decide what you want the most from your commenting system.

Key Takeaway: LiveFyre replaces your comments section with real-time conversations by centralizing conversions from around the web back to your site. Click here to get the LiveFyre plugin

Postmatic

Postmatic is a newer kid on the block, and they’re attempting to change the way we interact with content.

Bold statement, but they back it up. See, everyone is using a mobile device more than any other device. And more people check their mail on mobile than other devices, too.

What Postmatic does is it sends every new post straight to a subscriber’s inbox.

But that’s not the trippy part. The real game-changer is how you can reply straight to a comment through your inbox.

best wordpress plugins

Now commenting is as easy as hitting “Reply” from your inbox thanks to Postmatic.

Key Takeaway: Postmatic sends you emails every time you get a comment so you can reply straight from your inbox. Click here to get the Postmatic plugin

ManageWP

Any of these sound like you?

  • “I’m a business owner and I have more than one website for a side project I started.”
  • “I’m a WordPress professional and I’m literally editing multiple sites per day.”
  • “I just have a bunch of WordPress sites because it makes me feel alive.”

Either way, we won’t judge. But if you’re any of those people, then ManageWP is the plugin you’ve got to download.

manage WP plugin

Think about this: no more remembering login credentials for each site. With all your data on a single dashboard, all it takes is one click to perform plugin and theme updates on multiple websites.

Got comments? Everything is on one single list.

Or maybe you want to clean spam comments, table overhead or post revisions from all of your websites? It takes a single click with ManageWP.

Key Takeaway: ManageWP let’s you manage everything (comments, traffic, SEO, backup, and much more) in one dashboard. Click here to get the ManageWP plugin

Beacon

You know how marketers (like me) are always telling you to “offer something of value to your visitors?”

“Give a discount,” I’ll proclaim. “Give them something cool like an e-book!”

That last one usually gets some shoulder shrugs because who has the time/expertise to make an e-book?

Turns you, YOU do with the Beacon plugin. Here’s there tagline:

“Automatically convert blog posts into a beautiful marketing eBook in less than 2 minutes.

Enticed? You should be.

It’s stupidly simple to create an e-book now. Give it a try with Beacon.

Key Takeaway: Beacon allows you to automatically convert blog posts into a beautiful marketing eBook in less than 2 minutes. Click here to get the Beacon plugin

Visual Composer

Maybe you’re like me. Maybe you’re just a marketer or a non-coder that has zero aspirations to learn to code. But you want to make a killer website.

That used to cost serious money in the form of hiring a developer or buying a cool theme on ThemeForest (that you don’t know how to use anyways).

Then Visual Composer came along and rocked the world.

best wordpress plugins

Visual Composer lets you truly drag and drop your way to a full website. If you want proof, just check out my website. I built it all using only Visual Composer.

All you do is select a grid layout, then drag your desired elements into that area. There are over 45 elements to choose from, meaning you’ll be able to build that site YOU always imagined with Visual Composer.

Key Takeaway: Visual Composer you design a professional looking website by just dragging and dropping elements into place. Click here to get the Visual Composer plugin

WP Markdown Editor

Raise your hand if you’re a developer or coder that has to write for your own blog? If you didn’t raise your hand, move on to the next plugin. This’ll make no sense otherwise.

For those that stayed, it sucks writing code all day then having to switch to an unfamiliar WordPress editor to write your post.

It’d be easier if you could just write your posts in code, yeah? WP Markdown Editor lets you do that.

adding a new post in wordpress

This plugin replaces the traditional WYSIWYG WordPress editor (What You See Is What You Get) with a Markdown toolbar.

Thanks to the WP Markdown Editor, now all you have to worry about is actually writing the post.

#progress

Key Takeaway: WP Markdown Editor makes it easy for you to turn your blog posts into code so it can be converted into HTML. Click here to get the WP Markdown Editor plugin

Simple Ads

So you’re finally getting some traffic to your blog (congrats!), but you’re having trouble monetizing it.

You’re thinking of including ads on your site but you’re afraid of annoying your visitors. Fortunately, Simple Ads makes it super easy for you to place the ads exactly where you want them to be.

Want to show the ads to a wider audience to make more money? Simple, just have it set on your main page on the side so it’s not intrusive.

Not completely convinced about including ads? Start with just including ads on certain pages and at the end of the article. From there, you can slowly experiment with more ads until you find the perfect balance for your website.

Key Takeaway: Simple Ads makes it super easy for you to make passive income from your blog. You have total control of which pages and where in the page the ads show up on. Click here to get the Simple Ads plugin

WooCommerce Plugin

If you’re looking to sell multiple products or you have a lot of variations of one product, then the WooCommerce plugin is your ticket to some e-commerce success.

best wordpress plugins

You can track every single item on your WordPress site and manage pricing, tax, checkouts and shipping all from this plugin.

With WooCommerce, you can sell both physical and digital goods in all shapes and sizes, offer product variations, multiple configurations, and instant downloads to shoppers, and even sell affiliate goods from online marketplaces.

With their premium extensions, you can offer bookings, memberships, and recurring subscriptions. Maye you’d wanna sell monthly subscriptions for physical goods, or offer your members a discount on digital downloads?

It’s all possible with the WooCommerce plugin.

Key Takeaway: WooCommerce makes it super easy for you to sell anything by taking care of shipping, payment options, your storefront, and much more. Click here to get the WooCommerce plugin

WordPress Plugins for Online Courses

Alright, so you’ve decided to create an online course.

Go you! Online education is a great way to monetize your website or blog. After all, you create the content once, and the work is done until you update it.

The good news is, you don’t even need to submit to Udemy, Lynda or any other existing course repository. You can create your own course with these WordPress plugins.

WP Courseware

Course, module, unit, lesson...it can all seem confusing. When you’re building out a course, it can seem like you’re creating a lesson within a lesson within a lesson.

WP Courseware makes that process 10x easier by providing a crazy easy way to structure your courses. It’s an interactive plugin that’s only limited by the scope of your glorious vision.

What you really have to love is how unlimited the plugin is. Most course-based plugins handcuff you depending on your subscription level.

Not WP Courseware. You get unlimited quizzes, courses, modules, lessons, and surveys. There’s no cap to how big you want your course to be.

And if it does get big, there’s no limit on how many students you take on, either. So if (read: WHEN) your course gets hundreds of students, you won’t have to worry about upgrading your service.

It’s all unlimited, baby.

Key Takeaway: WP Courseware lets you build and sell online courses straight from Wordpress and it’s as easy as drag and drop. Click here to get the WP Courseware plugin

Wishlist

But you’re probably not doing this for free. Courses take a ton of time and effort to produce. Unless you count that course I took in college about Mass Media and Pop Culture HEYOOOOO.

You’ll want compensation for all that time you put in. That means you’ll need to charge students to access restricted parts of your site.

Wishlist is the plugin that can easily transform your site into a full-blown membership site. You’ll be able to:

  • Create Membership Levels: You can give your students different tiers, which allow them to access more or less (depending on their level).

  • Graduate Students: Students can feel their progress as you automatically graduate them from level to level.

  • Easily Accept Payments: Wishlist seamlessly integrates with the most popular shopping cart systems, including PayPal, ClickBank, and many more.

  • Manage Your Students: View your members, their registration status, membership level, and much more.

Most people forget this membership step. They create their course and distribute the link, hoping it stays secure in the hands of their students.

Don’t make that mistake. Grab Wishlist and make sure your course is seen only by the people you choose.

Key Takeaway: Wishlist makes it easy to protect your content with a membership style website. Click here to get the Wishlist plugin

Restrict Content Pro

But why gate something when you can give them a taste of the course. I don’t buy terrible snacks on a whim -- I only buy them if the person at Sam’s Club throws a free sample my way.

That’s why Restrict Content Pro is so clutch. Instead of gating your content altogether, they give you the ability to show some of the content and gate the rest.

best wordpress plugins

If a visitor wants to see the entirety of your course, they have to signup.

But there’s much, much more to like about this plugin. They make it easy to create discount codes, pull reports, gather custom data on your members and accept payments with major integrations.

Give ‘em a taste with Restrict Content Pro. Then reel them in.

Key Takeaway: Restrict Content keeps your exclusive content locked away so only valued members can access them. Click here to get the Restrict Content plugin

Zippy Courses

How would you like to put together a four module course with four lessons in each module in under 60 seconds?

You can with Zippy Courses (check out the site for their video). Derek Halpern, the mind behind Social Triggers, created a course plugin that is, quite possibly, the easiest plugin to use. Ever.

It comes with everything you’d expect from a top course plugin: module/lesson creation, monitoring students in real time, universal passwords for all users, etc.

But it’s the content delivery that we love the most. Whether you’re selling an ebook, a small video course, or an in-depth 8 week long premium training course, you need to fine-tune how you deliver your content to your students.

calendar wordpress plugin

You can choose what days your content opens up to students by scheduling the release date ahead of time. And since students can join at different times, you can start the automation once they sign up.

No more monitoring your computer every day. You can put your course on autopilot with Zippy Courses.

Key Takeaway: Zippy Courses makes it extremely easy to create and automate your online course. Click here to get the Zippy Courses plugin.

WordPress Plugins for Publishing and Content Creation

Hands up if you publish content!

That was a trick question. I know you do. And I may be am 100% biased as a content marketer, but other than dealing with those dolla dolla bills, content creation and management is one of most difficult aspects of running a business or blog.

So anything to make your content-creation life a little easier, right?

We’re not big on hacks here at Sumo, but these plugins feel like hacks - content creation hacks from the gods.

These WordPress plugins save you time, organize your life, and save you from feeling like an idiot in front of the interwebz.

Let’s get into them.

CoSchedule

Ever feel like you don't publish enough content?

Publishing content can be the difference between rapid growth and staying stagnant, and even if you publish weekly, it still doesn't feel like enough.

But let's just take a second to acknowledge just how much you actually do publish.

Content is not just the articles you press "publish" on. It's also the social media posts you create, the YouTube videos you make, and the podcast episodes you record. It includes the emails you send and even the questions you answer on Quora.

Online business owners and bloggers are constantly creating content, and this plugin can help you organize all your content. It's not just an editorial calendar.

CoSchedule allows you to post directly to or schedule posts for Facebook (pages, groups, and profiles), Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, and Tumblr - and then organizes it into a beautiful calendar:

wordpress calendar plugin

Not only that, but CoSchedule also tracks those social media posts to report stats, including when your audience is most active on social media so you can post when they’ll actually see them.

This is truly one of the most comprehensive WordPress content management tools out there, which is why it's a favorite of online biz pros like Pat Flynn:

This tool allows me and my entire team to be on the same page when it comes to our editorial calendar. It can even help you schedule your social media posts to promote your content ahead of time.

It’s a plugin you don’t want to live without.

Key Takeaway: CoSchedule is an editorial calendar for your blog and content marketing that keeps you insanely organized while saving you tons of time. Click here to get the CoSchedule plugin

WordPress Proofreading Settings

Admittedly, this is not a plugin. It's a built in functionality with WordPress that many people don't know about - and that's a shame.

Sort of like a built in version of Hemmingway or Grammarly, you can enable settings within WordPress to edit not just your spelling like the traditional spellcheck, but also proofread for cliches, double negatives, hidden verbs and more.

adding a new post in wordpress

The catch is that this isn't automatically enabled within WordPress - but it should be required for every single blogger out there.

To enable this function, you have to do it within your user profile. So head over to Users > Your Profile in your WordPress dashboard, and scroll down to Proofreading.

best wordpress plugins

Be still, my writer’s heart.

Tick off every box you can - even the most experience writer sometimes needs an extra safety.

For a built in functionality, this is super well done.

Key Takeaway: Enable the Wordpress proofreading settings to help you catch typos, and spelling/grammar mistakes.

Yet Another Related Posts Plugin

Alright, besides the name of this plugin, Yet Another Related Posts Plugin is awesome, well… to quote Mr. Chris Guillebeau of the Art of Nonconformity fame:


“Because it works!”


Indeed, not all “related posts” plugins are worth their salt. If you’ve ever tried to find one that actually showed related posts that were engaged with by your audience, you might know what I mean. Related posts plugins can be the pits.

But this one actually works and can help increase your pageviews, engagement and the time your visitors spend on your website.

exit blog options

Keep the momentum going by giving your readers some more reading material with this bad boy.

Key Takeaway: Yet Another Related Posts Plugin displays pages, posts, and custom post types related to the current entry, introducing your readers to other relevant content on your site. Click here to get the Yet Another Related Post plugin

Publish Confirm

If you've been using WordPress for more than a nanosecond, you've surely done it (or come close)...

That moment when you're writing content, and you think to yourself "alright, let's be extra safe and save this draft".

Responsible writer you are!

But instead of pressing Save Draft, your mouse seems to have a mind of it's own, and wanders over to "Publish", pushing your rogue draft out to the world before it was ready, pushing your unpolished content out into the blogosphere completely unchecked.

Fear not! Publish Confirm has your back.

adding new unsettle post

When you press the “Publish” button, this plugin quickly asks you if you’re sure you want to make the post live.

Publish Confirm: Saving content creators from themselves.

Key Takeaway: Publish Confirm helps you avoid publishing accidentally by having a permission box popup. Click here to get the Publish Confirm plugin

User Role Editor

Let’s say you have a virtual assistant or a developer or designer that needs access to your website.

But you don’t want to give them full access. After all, your website is a huge portion of your business.

But, frustratingly, WordPress’s user roles are inflexible. You either have to provide full administrative access, or they won’t have the capability necessary to do the work.

As we’ve learned throughout this guide, you don’t need to rely on WordPress’s built in functionality. There’s a plugin to solve almost everything - including this limitation.

User Role Editor allows you to change the access levels for the users on your website for virtually every function just by checking off a few boxes.

user role editor

You can create custom capabilities for certain users and create custom roles that aren’t already in WordPress.

Key Takeaway: User Role Editor makes it easy for you to grant certain levels of access of your website to other people. Click here to get the User Role Editor plugin

Blubrry PowerPress

50,000+ active installs. A 4.9 out of 5 stars rating.

There’s a reason the Blubrry PowerPress plugin is a top choice for podcasters using WordPress.

BluBrry allows you to control your the information that is relayed to iTunes, SoundCloud and other podcasting services right from your WordPress dashboard.

You can also use Blubrry to publish your podcast episodes to your WordPress website.

Now, you could use the built in Blubrry functionality to display an audio player so your listeners can tune in directly from your site, but we recommend to use the next plugin for that.

Instead, use Blubrry PowerPress to communicate with the important players in the podcasting game.

Key Takeaway: BluBrry PowerPress makes it easy to manage your podcasts straight from your WordPress dashboard. Click here to get the Blubrry PowerPress plugin

Smart Podcast Player

Alright, so Blubrry has some decent capability to display your podcast episodes on your website.

Because after all - you do want your listeners to be able to listen from your site itself. You shouldn’t have to redirect them to iTunes every time.

And yeah, the Blubrry one is functional. It does what it needs to do:

autoplay podcast

But instead of settling (see what I did there?!) for functional, when you can have something so much better?

Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income developed the awesome Smart Podcast Player after struggling to find a podcast player that was not only functional, but also looked nice, was mobile friendly, and gave listeners freedom to listen to his episodes at the speed they wanted.

podcast popup

This is hands down the best podcast plugin online, and is a necessity if you have a podcast or any audio on your site.

Key Takeaway: Smart Podcast Player makes it easy to design and integrate your podcasts into your website. Click here to get the Smart Podcast Player plugin

Venngage Infographics

Have you ever wanted to create super fancy looking infographics? You should, because infographics are a great way to bring new life into your old content.

But I get it. You think it’s a super time consuming process and you don’t have the budget to hire a designer.

The good news is that you don’t have to! With the Venngage Infographics plugin, you can create infographics, charts, and other data visuals. You can then embed the graphics right into your blog to make it look super fancy and impress your visitors.

venngage wordpress plugin

Key Takeaway: Venngage Infographics makes it easy to create and embed infographics, charts and data visualizations into your WordPress site. Click here to get the Venngage Infographics plugin

Turn Your WordPress Website Into a Well Oiled Machine

There’s a reason why WordPress powers 26% of the entire internet. It’s incredibly versatile platform and the gigantic variety of plugins WordPress supports means that you can tailor it exactly to your needs - no matter what type of business you run.

And we just gave you over 57 of the BEST WordPress plugins available.

We literally listed and explained all of the top plugins to do pretty much anything you want to accomplish.

So you may be a little overwhelmed. Where do you start?

Fret not. We’ve got your back.

We’ve asked around and crowdsourced opinions on the essential starter pack of WordPress plugins. If you can only use 10 of the plugins in this guide, it should be these ones. Click the button below and get the starter pack.

GET THE 10 ESSENTIAL PLUGINS






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