As 2015 gets underway, we’re taking a look at the top WordPress plugins for this year.
There exists a plugin for almost any purpose on the WordPress platform, be it for security, analytics, backups, forms, affiliates, RSS feeds; anything you need.
We’ve gone through those plugins that firstly, were of most help to us, and secondly, were of most help to the rest of the WordPress community – that’s you!
So here’s our list of WordPress plugins that we feel will be of most value this year (in no particular order).
WordPress SEO is the most complete WordPress SEO plugin that exists today for WordPress.org users. It incorporates everything from a snippet preview and page analysis functionality that helps you optimize everything from your pages content, images’ titles and meta descriptions to XML sitemaps, and loads of optimization options in between.
It’s got a long list of features including the ability to use the snippet preview to see a rendering of what your post or page will look like in the search results, page analysis functionality, technical WordPress search engine optimization, XML sitemaps, RSS optimization, social integration and multi-site compatibility among others.
Leadin is an easy-to-use marketing automation and lead tracking plugin for WordPress that helps you better understand your web site visitors.
When a person submits a form on your WordPress site, you want to know more about them. What pages they’ve visited, when they return, and what social networks they’re on.
This WordPress marketing automation and lead tracking plugin gives you the details you need to make your next move.
“Because business isn’t business unless it’s personal.”
WP Migrate DB exports your database as a MySQL data dump (much like phpMyAdmin), does a find and replace on URLs and file paths, then allows you to save it to your computer. It is perfect for developers who need to update their local install with fresh data from the production site, or copy their locally developed site to a staging or production server.
It even takes into account serialized data (both arrays and objects) and updates the string length values. Upgrading to the Pro version gets you a lot more features and email support. These features include the following:
- Select the tables you want to migrate
- Pull production db down and replace local db
- Push local db up and replace production/staging db
- Multisite support
- Media files migration
- More frequent bug fixes and improvements
Gravity Forms provides one of the simplest and cleanest interfaces for generating dynamic forms and managing the form data. Form creation acts as the core functionality of Gravity Forms while other features are built around the form creation to add more power.
Among these features you have drag and drop field sorting, a fully featured interface for form validation and configuration, import and export abilities, multi-step forms and more.
Gravity Forms also allows you to quickly and easily integrate with a variety of third party services such as PayPal and provides for even deeper integration with WordPress through their collection of optional Add-Ons.
Toolset is a set of WP plugins devised especially to make the non-coder’s life easier. There are multiple plugins in the entire collection, with some of the most notable ones being:
Types: Types lets you define custom post types, taxonomies and various other special fields. It is an extremely useful plugin if you wish to extend your WP site using custom post types and taxonomies, but do not really want to be bound by post types defined by a WP theme.
Views: Views lets you modify the appearance of pages, lists and widgets. All in all, if used properly, Views can help you tweak the look and feel of your entire WordPress website within minutes. The interface surely requires some level of ‘getting used to’, but once you get the hang of it, Views can make your life really simple.
CRED: CRED allows you to create and edit content for front page. Yes, we are also talking about building web apps using WordPress.
WP RSS Aggregator lets you create a feed reader/aggregator on your WordPress site. The core plugin provides simple and useful features but if you are serious about your feeds, you definitely would want to check out the add-ons.
Here’s the complete list of add-ons currently available for WP RSS Aggregator:
- Feed to Post – an advanced importer that lets you import RSS feeds into posts or custom post types. Populate a website in minutes (autoblog). This is the most popular extension.
- Keyword Filtering – filter imported feeds based on keywords, so you only get items you’re interested in.
- Excerpts & Thumbnails – display excerpts and thumbnails together with the title, date and source.
- Categories – categorise your feed sources and display items from a particular category at will within your site.
- WordAi – WordAi allows users to take an RSS feed and turn it into new content that is both completely unique and completely readable.
- Full Text RSS Feeds – connectivity to our Full Text Premium service, which gives you unlimited feed items returned per feed source.
WP All Import’s simple drag and drop interface makes it extremely easy to map the data in your XML or CSV file to the appropriate fields in WordPress.
The plugin works with any theme, any plugin, and supports images, Custom Fields, taxonomies, Custom Post Types, dates, and pretty much every other WordPress field.
WP All Import is designed to be efficient with large imports – it splits large import files into smaller chunks – making it possible to import files with hundreds of megabytes of data and hundreds of thousands of records, even on shared hosting.
AffiliateWP is one of the newer affiliate marketing plugins on the market created by Pippin Williamson, a trusted name in the WordPress world. Pippin is the guy behind EDD and is also one of the most famous WordPress developers out there.
The main aim of AffiliateWP is to help increase the traffic as well as sales on your website. It was created to incorporate support for a large variety of popular eCommerce and membership plugins including WooCommerce, iThemes Exchange, JigoShop, Gravity Forms and many others.
The overview page on the plugin lists your paid as well as your unpaid referrals together with the earnings from each one and a few other details. From here it’s a straightforward process to add new affiliates either through the admin area or the users section on your WordPress dashboard.
Upon activation you’re also set up with an Affiliates section where you can manage all your affiliates and see your top earners, affiliate reports and more.
ThirstyAffiliates is an affiliate link management plugin for WordPress that helps you organise, re-direct and cloak affiliate links. It’s an easy-to-understand plugin that even incorporates WordPress functions, making it more familiar to WordPress users.
Once you install ThirstyAffiliates you will see a new section in your dashboard sidebar with its name. From here you’ve got various options.
The Affiliate Links section lets you check out all the affiliates you’ve created in a format similar to the WordPress pages/posts setup. You can categorise and sub-categorise these affiliates as you wish, and you’re also shown how many clicks the links in question have obtained.
Optin Monster is an optin plugin created by Syed Balkhi of WP Beginner and Thomas Griffin, the creator of the Soliloquy plugin. They teamed up to build one of the most popular optin plugins currently on offer.
As the guys themselves state, “70% of visitiors that abandon your website will never return”. That is why you need an optin plugin like Optin Monster to convert those visitors into subscribers and customers. Optin Monster does this through various options, including pop up messages, lightboxes, sidebar forms, after post widgets, floating bars, and more.
It’s very easy to use with not only a built in design builder that lets you customise every option you can imagine, but also pre-made templates to set you on your way in just a few minutes.
Besides all the customisation options optinmonster offers, it also has some other nifty features. It incorporates A/B split testing for you to work out which option works best; an exit intent feature that shows your pop up just as the user is about to leave your site; support for multiple email marketing platforms and autoresponders; page level targeting; and more.
BackupBuddy is a backup and site-moving service offered by ithemes and is the most popular WordPress backup plugin out there. With BackupBuddy you’ll be able to backup your site, restore it whenever you need to, and even move it from one host to another.
When backing up your site you’re given a number of options as to where you want to safely store it, ranging from BackupBuddy Stash to Dropbox. You can even send it to your own email address. The ease with which this is set up is phenomenal. To better understand this, watch their video on how to setup BackupBuddy.
Restoring your site is just as easy. Once you upload the ImportBuddy file and the backup zip file you are walked through the process to restoring either your full site, or the bits and pieces you want back. You’re free to restore, or not restore, anything you want, from themes to widgets and everything else.
VaultPress was founded by Matt Mullenweg (the co-founder of WordPress) at Automattic. It is subscription-based, meaning there are various pricing plans available, all with different services and costs. This is perhaps one of the only negative points on VaultPress; it is a recurring expense and can add up quite a bit if you’re running it on various sites.
Nevertheless their service is impeccable and the plugin’s functionality is great. It’s a very intuitive service, so much so that you can set up your backups or restore them in just a few clicks. You have the option between daily and real-time backups as well as daily security scans to ensure that any threats are taken care ofimmediately.
Jetpack is a single plugin that gives you the most powerful WordPress.com features, hooking your self-hosted WordPress site to WordPress.com’s infrastructure to take advantage of robust stats, easy social sharing, and a whole lot more.
With Jetpack, you can:
- Install over two dozen popular plugins with one click (and update them all the same way).
- Engage millions of WordPress.com users, allowing them to interact with your site.
- Boost your site’s performance by taking the load of these features off your servers.
- Count on regular updates, enhancements, and troubleshooting from the same folks who build WordPress.com.
MailPoet lets you create newsletters, post notifications and autoresponders. You can drop your posts, images and social icons in your newsletter, change fonts and colors on the fly and manage all your subscribers. It’s a simple newsletter solution for WordPress.
Among it’s long list of features you’ll find:
- Drag & drop newsletter editor
- Send your latest posts automatically
- Autoresponders, i.e. “Send email 3 days after someone subscribes”
- Selection of over 30 themes. Photoshop files included
- Get stats for your newsletter: opens, clicks, unsubscribes
- Send emails to your WordPress users
- A beautiful statistics dashboard to compare your newsletters, and subscribers
- Detailed stats for each subscriber and newsletter
SearchWP aims to be the best WordPress search plugin you can find. It allows you to apply weights to keyword search hits based on where the keyword was found. Titles can have more weight than comments, content more weight than excerpts. Further, you can set these weights per custom post type instead of having the same weights for all post types.
Beyond that you can set separate keyword weights per taxonomy and per custom field. Users of plugins like Advanced Custom Fields, Custom Field Suite, Pods, or any other plugin that allows you to easily customize the edit screens of your post and stores data in custom fields will love SearchWP.
The feature list goes on, including keyword stemming, PDF indexing, supplemental search engines for use outside the main site search, and more!
Easy Digital Downloads is a complete e-commerce solution for selling digital products in a light, performant, and easy to use plugin. Rather that attempting to provide every feature under the sun, Easy Digital Downloads makes selling digital simple and complete by providing just the features you need. Some of these features include:
- Cart system for purchasing multiple downloads at once
- Complete promotional code system
- Many payment gateways. PayPal and Manual are included by default with Stripe, PayPal Pro, PayPal Express, and others available as add-ons
- Complete payment history
- User purchase history and ability to redownload files
- Bundled products
- Earnings and sales charts
- and many other add-ons
WooCommerce allows you to transform your WordPress website into a thoroughbred eCommerce store. It delivers enterprise-level quality and features, backed by a name you can trust.
Among its many features you’ll get strength & flexibility since WooCommerce is built using WordPress best practises both on the front and the back end, smart dashboard widgets & reports, customizable themes, several popular payment gateways and shipping methods such as PayPal Standard, Simplify Commerce, BACS, Cash on Delivery, flat rate shipping, and free shipping.
WP Rocket is a premium caching plugin. However, besides your normal page caching function, WP Rocket introduces cache preloading. Here WP Rocket use their own robot to simulate a visit to your site, preloading the cache and hence improving speed as well as the indexing of your site by search engines.
It’s so easy to configure that any novice can use it and get his/her site to perform that much better.
TablePress allows you to easily create and manage beautiful tables. You can embed the tables into posts, pages, or text widgets with a simple Shortcode. Table data can be edited in a speadsheet-like interface, so no coding is necessary.
The Google Analytics by Yoast plugin for WordPress allows you to track your blog easily and always stays up to date with the newest features in Google Analytics.
Among the features it offers are a simple installation through integration with Google Analytics API, an option to enable demographics and interest reports, outbound link & downloads tracking, configurable options to track outbound links either as pageviews or as events and a lot more.
The Premium version adds the most awesome feature to track so called custom dimensions. These custom dimensions allow the plugin to specify meta data such as the author of a post. This in turn allows you to track pageviews per author, per category or per post type, for logged in users versus not logged in users and even per date of publication. So you could compare your posts published in 2014 with those published in 2013.
Say goodbye to the endless options, confusing interfaces and bloated messes of other WordPress slider plugins. Soliloquy is different by design because it is focused on efficiency, usability and reliability. It is crafted in a way that moulds simplicity and functionality into a powerful yet usable slider engine.
It offers unrivalled performance and security, a fully responsive design, endless flexibility, scalability and performance. Soliloquy is built on a solid foundation that is able to adjust wherever and whenever you need it. With over 100+ configurable hooks and filters inside of the plugin, Soliloquy can be turned into any type of WordPress slider you can dream of.
Conductor makes it easy for you to display WordPress content without any coding. Select your layout and then drop in your Conductor widgets to make displaying your unique pages, posts, or custom post types a breeze. Place your content anywhere in your WordPress website and give it a unique look and feel.
Easily select custom layouts of pages, posts, and archive pages. See how this works with Conductor and any theme. Great for full-width homepages or magazine style blog archives. Need to display content in a list, table or grid? With a few clicks of a button you can display any of your content just the way you want it. There is absolutely no need for HTML or tricky CSS.
A Syntax Highlighter built in PHP and jQuery that supports customizable languages and themes. It can highlight from a URL, a local file or WordPress post text. Crayon makes it easy to manage Language files and define custom language elements with regular expressions.
It also supports some neat features like a Tag Editor in both Visual & HTML editors, toggled plain code & line numbers, remote request caching, Mixed Language Highlighting in a single Crayon, Inline Tags floating in sentences, crayons in comments, extensive error logging and a lot more.
Those are our selection of WordPress plugins to look out for in 2015. There’s a variety of plugins for most of the major requirements of a WordPress site.
What are your thoughts? I’m sure there are others worth a mention too, so if you have anything to add you can do so in the comments below.
Note: Some of the links above are affiliate links, but rest assured that this had no bearing on our judgement of these plugins. All plugins were included based on their performance and functionality.