Best WordPress Plugins 2013 Edition

One of the most common questions I get asked from people who are new to WordPress, and others who have already been using it for a while, is the following: Can you tell me which are the best plugins for WordPress? Now any best WordPress plugins list will probably differ in that the author will have preferences based on the kind of sites he has. However there are quite a number of plugins that I tend to use on most WordPress sites I build, and those are the ones I will be listing here today.
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One of the most common questions I get asked from people who are new to WordPress, and others who have already been using it for a while, is the following:

Can you tell me which are the best plugins for WordPress?

Now any best WordPress plugins list will probably differ in that the author will have preferences based on the kind of sites he has. However there are quite a number of plugins that I tend to use on most WordPress sites I build, and those are the ones I will be listing here today.

As much as possible in this list of best WordPress plugins I will be sticking to features that everybody needs on a website, such as contact forms, backups, SEO etc.

I already featured many such plugins in my talk about WP Mayor and plugins I use at WordCamp Seville, so you can also check that out, I’m sure you’ll find it interesting.

Backups – BackupBuddy

This plugin has been the leading backup solution for WordPress for many years now, and it is backed by a company that has contributed a lot to the WordPress world. When choosing a backup plugin, you need a solid solution that gets updated as soon as there are changes to the WordPress core, and is backed by a solid company.

Although there are other backup solutions, my choice always falls on BackupBuddy, simply because I am ready to pay to put my mind at rest when it comes to keeping my sites backed up. There is no worse feeling than seeing months or years of work go up in smoke because of some hosting disaster or hacking exploit.

Get BackupBuddy and keep a copy of your site

SEO – WordPress SEO

WordPress SEO

Another essential area for all sites, not just WordPress sites. By using WordPress, you are already using a great system with regards to SEO, however to really take it to the next level in optimization, you need a plugin. And what better plugin can you get than the one created by the most recognised SEO guru in the WordPress world: Joost de Valk.

WordPress SEO has all the SEO features you can possibly think of, and is a mainstay on all my sites. WordPress SEO is a free plugin, but I also suggest getting Video SEO, a premium add-on which improves your visibility in search engine results pages. Check out our review of Video SEO to learn more about this plugin.

Get WordPress SEO and boost your site’s rankings

WordPress Site Builder – Toolset

Toolset

Toolset is a collection of WordPress plugins that let you build virtually anything without coding.

Define content types, display content, control access, and build front-end editing forms. A truly revolutionary plugin that deserves its place among the best 2013 WordPress plugins.

Get Toolset and build WordPress sites without code

Forms – Gravity Forms

gravity forms

Gravity Forms is hands down the best forms plugin for WordPress. Use it to create the most simple of contact forms up to multi-step user content submission forms on the front end of your site. It’s form builder is super easy and can create all kinds of forms imaginable. You can even create forms that enter content into custom post types.

You can also create conditional fields, and this works very nicely when you want to create order forms. Gravity forms can therefore be used to sell products from your site, and users can also customise the product and get an updated price before they purchase.

Read more about the amazing features of Gravity Forms

Multiple Site Management – ManageWP

managewp

If you own more than one WordPress site and you aren’t using ManageWP yet, you want to really take a look at this plugin/service. It will shave off hours of administration time and is one of the most important WordPress services for me.

Basically what it does is let you administer all your WordPress sites from one dashboard. It also includes stuff like automated backups, rank tracking and easy cloning of websites.

Check out the rest of ManageWP features

Multilanguage – WPML

wpml

If you are building any kind of multilingual website, the WPML plugin by ICanLocalize is essential. It is the most advanced multilanguage plugin for WordPress and will cover all your needs. It also has an in-built translation service, where you can pay to get content translated by professional translators.

Read more about all the features that WPML comes with

Mobile Experience – WP Touch Pro

wptouch

While responsive web design is all the range these days, it is not always an ideal solution. In fact, there are many sites for whom a responsive layout would not be beneficial at all, on the contrary it would likely slow things down for mobile users and not offer a great interface at all.

For those cases when a responsive solution is not ideal, I always go for WP Touch Pro, the best mobile plugin for WordPress by far.

Check out more information on when it would be ideal to use WP Touch Pro

Speed/Caching – W3 Total Cache

w3 total cache

If you want to speed up your site, using a caching solution is the quickest way to do so. For this reason, one of the first plugins I install on any site is W3 Total Cache, the most complete and advanced caching plugin for WordPress websites.

Simply install and activate, and enjoy the speed boost your site receives. If you want to dig deeper into caching you can also fine tune things to your hearts content, as this plugin has a multitude of advanced options you can play around with. But for simple usage, just enabling the main options will suffice.

Get W3 Total Cache 

Social Media Sharing – Social Networks Auto Poster

Social networks auto poster pro

Social Networks Auto Poster (SNAP) is a great plugin as it can connect to practically any social network available, and push my site’s new posts to these networks. It is unique in the fact that it also allows you to post to Google+, Linkedin and Pinterest, which is usually not possibly with other sharing plugins.

That is the main reason why I use the pro version of this plugin, and its thoroughly worth getting when you consider the advantage you’ll get over other site owners.

Get Social Networks Auto Poster

Mailing Lists and Newsletter Management – WYSIJA

wysija

Any serious marketer will preach about the importance of an email list, and keeping in touch with your followers via email. That is why I use WYSIJA newsletter plugin for WordPress to handle all my mailing list needs.

With this plugin you can quickly send out your latest posts to your readers, or also create custom emails using one of the many templates available within the plugin. You also get valuable statistics about open rates and links clicked by the email recipients.

Get WYSIJA Newsletters for WordPress

Search – Relevanssi

relevanssi

Relevanssi replaces the standard WordPress search with a better search engine, with lots of features and configurable options. You’ll get better results, and also a better presentation of results. It’s really easy to set up, basically just install the plugin, activate it and run the indexation procedure within the plugin’s settings page, and you’re good to go.

Apart from the free version of Relevanssi, there’s also Relevanssi Premium, which has added features that make the search functionality even more powerful.

I recommend this plugin for most WordPress sites, however you should note that it will probably slow down larger sites and even cause problems. Only use it if your post count is lower than 10,000 posts.

Get Relevanssi

Easy Digital Downloads

easy digital downloads

If you’re offering any kind of digital product for sale, I recommend using this excellent plugin. The core plugin is free, but you have a choice of several different premium add-ons. That way you only pay for what you need, and can get started selling your stuff absolutely free. The plugin is excellently coded with a very clean and easy user interface.

Get Easy Digital Downloads

WP RSS Aggregator

wp rss aggregator

I am biased when suggesting this plugin, as I’m the author, but I truly believe it’s a very useful plugin to have, for any kind of website.

You can see it in action on the WordPress news page here on this site.

This is a free plugin and there will also be a few premium add-ons available, which will extend its functionality further.

Get WP RSS Aggregator

UberMenu

ubermenu

This is a hugely popular plugin, and is used to create any kind of menu imaginable. It’s quite unique and also works on mobile devices. If you’re thinking of going beyond the basic dropdown menu on your WordPress website, you’d better take a look at this.

Download UberMenu

Ninja Popups

ninja popups

Ninja Popups combines a professionally designed popups to convert visitors on your site/blog into taking an action whether its subscribing into your newsletter, offering a discount/coupon for leaving customers, or locking content until they share you will increase your subscriber count and social signal of your site/blog.

Download Ninja Popups

Soliloquy Slider


soliloquy

You can read the full review we made earlier this year to discover why we love Soliloquy so much, in short it’s the best slider in a very crowded market. Excellent coding practices and a fantastic UI make it hard to beat.

Download Soliloquy

Since I’m giving recommendations in this post, I would also like to give a shout to the Genesis framework when it comes to getting a high quality framework/theme for your site, and HostNine + WP Engine for all your hosting needs.

Do you have any plugins that you always use on your sites? Let us know in the comments section below.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure to subscribe to WP Mayor’s RSS feed.

 

Jean Galea
Jean Galea
Jean Galea is a WordPress developer, entrepreneur and padel player. He is the founder of WP Mayor, the plugins WP RSS Aggregator and EDD Bookings, as well as the Mastermind.fm podcast. His personal blog can be found at jeangalea.com.

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Table of Contents

59 Responses

  1. Good list Jean. In alignment on most of them and I’m definitely going to check out SNAP (auto poster). What do you think about Disqus for comments? I have been using it a lot lately and love it compared to standard comments.

    1. Hi Jeff, I’ve seen Disqus in use and I definitely think it’s a very good plugin. The only reason it’s not on the list is that I haven’t used it myself. I’ve been meaning to look at comments plugins for quite some time but never found the time to properly dig into the options around.

  2. Awesome list Jean! I just figured I’d add that I love Disqus and use it on client sites all the time. The integration of social services and advanced syndication features can really supercharge your comments. I’d also like to mention Relevanssi for anyone who needs a quick way to improve their WordPress search results. Once you set up the index, it returns almost perfect search results.

    1. Thanks, I actually meant to include Relevanssi, as I’m also using it on WP Mayor, going to add that to the list. And we’ve got another +1 for Disqus, maybe I really need to take a closer look at that one.

    1. Hey Praj, the two lightbox plugins I use are Foobox (paid) and Easy Fancybox (free)

  3. Great list, I use most of these on my blogs. Just a shame Skreedl was not on this review, you should definitely review that plugin next as it’s a lot better than BackupBuddy in a whole heap of ways!

  4. thanks for the information.but what you think about custom google search?as it is said you can earn money with these search if you have adsense account.

  5. Great list! And I do mean it. Usually title like that means a horrible list of mediocre crap, but these are all top notch. 😉 I’ve tried all of them. Well, not 100% sure of that autopost thingy, but the other ones at least.

    Relevanssi is a good addition to the list. Disqus… I’m on the fence with that one. It does work pretty well, but I’m not a fan.

    @Praj, Easy Fancybox works for me. Lots of configuration options, but the script can be a bit heavy.

  6. Hi Jean,

    Great post – I’ll be coming back to it a bunch to check out the few plugins I wasn’t already familiar with!

    I noticed the only ‘Social’ plugin you referenced was Social Networks Auto Poster – which has the benefit of posting to multiple social networks (nice!) However, what would you recommend as the best WP plugin for integrating FB comments into your WP posts as well as syncing them up with the correlated autoposted content on your FB page?

      1. Thanks for the quick response! Just went and checked out the reviews for the Social plugin on WordPress.org almost half say its broken… I’ll have to google some more detailed reviews (and check it out for myself). Much appreciated!

  7. Oh! I almost forgot to ask if you have anything that handles comment/trackback/pingback spam better than Akismet? I find that, especially with trackbacks/pingbacks, Akismet misses SO MUCH! I used to use Spam Karma 2, but it seems like its kind of a dead plugin now. The amount of time I waste dealing with spam across all of my WP blogs is starting to drive me insane! Much TIA for your thoughts on this plaguing problem.

      1. Thanks, I’ll check those out and report back. Hopefully at least one of them will also go through existing comments to help weed out all of the spam Akismet missed over time (just yesterday got a slew of OBVIOUS comment spam yesterday that flew past Akismet and I can’t see how they weren’t flagged as spam!)

        1. Hmm, are you sure Akismet is active, licensed and working fine? It’s not that bad usually. In fact, I use Akismet exclusively on all my blogs and I never had any trouble.

          1. Yeah, it’s very weird, right? Akismet is active, licensed, and as to whether its working fine, well… From the settings tab for it it appears to be. Based on the results I’ve gotten, it’s hard to say whether it just sucks or if it’s not functioning properly.. So you don’t use anything other than Akismet to combat spam on your blog?

  8. @Emily I don’t use anything other Akismet on my blogs. I know a few people who have also claimed that Akismet didn’t work well for them though. I’m not sure what causes it to fail on some blogs but not on the majority.

      1. I dont know why DjUrban likes Formidable more but for me its a question of licensing. Cant use Gravity Forms since it does not have a lifetime updates license option. For exemple even if we choose to go with another plugin in the future or go out of bussiness our old customers should still be able to hit that update button. Its a question of caring for your customers. Having hundreds of plugin and theme licenses I cant hack the administration of relicensing either. It is not a question of money, we are prepared to pay premium for what we want, just want to pay up and be done with it. Some think we are fools for having such strict purchase policy but that is just how it is. If someone wants our money they need a lifetime option on updates.

        Even though we have and like FormidablePro we are now using Cred more and more since its well integrated with the other toolset plugins and good enough to handle most things we throw at it atm.

        1. Lifetime licenses don’t work for sustaining a business. We have around ten people on staff, and eventually, even in a community as large as WordPress, you run out of customers, and so if you want to keep paying developers to update a plugin, add new features, and new add-ons then you need money coming in. It just makes business sense.

  9. Jean, what plugin is used for the comment section on wpmayor? Doesn’t look like Disqus, also it doesn’t look like the default-theme by WordPress. Thanks!

  10. Gravity Forms is better in my opinion, I’m going on 2yrs now with it. I also think Yoast is #1 for SEO. I just developed a new handy Front-end SEO Editor that supports Yoast out of the box. You can manage your meta titles, descriptions and H1’s from the front-end quickly and easily. Have a look and test it out. Maybe you can add it to the list or write a review about it.

    *Compatible with WP 3.5+ and its light-weight.

    Front-end SEO Editor WordPress plugin
    http://www.doawebdesigns.com/front-end-wordpress-seo-plugin-for-meta-titles-descriptions/

    Plugin demo found here: http://www.doawebdesigns.com/wpdemos/front-end-seo-editor-wp-plugin/

  11. I use WP Auto Affiliate Links,this plugin gives you the ability to turn keywords into affiliate links automatically also in this plugin you have the possibility to associate a keyword to a link.
    This will help also getting listed in a search engine during a keyword search.
    This is very useful because you can automatically interlink your affiliate links with the keywords doing them more visible.
    There’s no need to go back through all of your posts by hand and add affiliate links to products related to your content.
    You get some other helpful features such as follow/nofollow settings and there’s also a link cloaking setting.
    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-auto-affiliate-links/

  12. Thanks for sharing, I’ve already use some of them. Now waiting for the realease of a new one http://www.getmotopress.com/

    It helps to simplify work with WordPress websites, adds drag and drop functionality to the site and enables to structure the content right in the visual editor.

    Hope it helps and supplement your showcase with useful data!

  13. New plugin for WordPress / BuddyPress titled Toolbar Remixed. This easy to use plugin allows users to take control of their WP Toolbar and is one of the most important plugin releases in 2013. You can control the style and layout of the Toolbar right from the Admin section of WordPress.

    Here is a link to the free version on WordPress – http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/toolbar-remixed-free/

    Here is a link to the Pro version –
    http://siteguru.biz/downloads/toolbar-remixed/

  14. They can work, you have to do it correctly and plan it out. You need to take into consideration the follow:
    – actual cost of the item
    – cost to develop/maintain the item
    – number of updates a month/year
    – how long a “lifetime” means to you and your company
    – how many users are using the item and projected use
    – how much and how often your renewal fees are
    – how many people actually renew

    You need to find the happy medium where the lifetime account will be expensive enough to maintain your product for ___ months/years, low enough that people will actually buy it, and high enough that a lot of people will NOT buy it.

  15. Thank you – what an amazing list – That SNAP plug in is a huge discovery for me and will be a huge win for one or two of my clients who have bands and want to get their word out across multiple platforms – Already using 2 or 3 and have downloaded 2 or 3 others Will bookmark this page for sure – thanks again!

  16. Thank you for the amazing list. I was looking for WordPress aggregation and AutoPoster in social networks. Those two are really amazing plugins I liked

  17. wow – just finished reading an other post from you when I saw this collection of wp jewellry.some of the plugins are know to me ie SNAP, ubermenu and Seo by yoast 8read his blogs aswell!) which I can recommend as well. Thanks!

  18. Thank you Jean for this review. Some of those plugins were new for me. Great website btw. Greetings from Poland!

  19. Hello, I thought I found a page where this plugin had a premium version, and feeds could be merged, filtered by keyword and associated to tags and categories in WP… can’t find the link now 🙁

  20. For my needs Formidable Pro is better primarily because of its ability to edit entries from the front-end (I was quiet surprised Gravity Forms could not do this as it is otherwise very sophisticated). Formidable Pro’s support is also incredible and I am surprised the Formidable Pro is not mentioned as much as Gravity Forms. Both are excellent, but front-end editing puts Formidable Pro ahead in my books (I purchased both).

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