These are life-saving WordPress plugins that I use on many of my clients’ and my own sites. OK, maybe “life-saving” is a slight exaggeration, but these can definitely cure some of your worst WordPress headaches. I have tested each of these (except where noted) and vouch for their quality. I hope you find them as useful as I have. Let me know what you think in the comments!
Best Accessibility Plugins
- Able Player
If you need an accessible media player on your site, check out the Able Player plugin. It features accessible controls for audio or video playback on your site.
- Contact Form 7: Accessible Defaults
If you install this plugin before creating your Contact Form 7 forms, it will help ensure that form is accessible.
- Divi Accessibility (GitHub) – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED FOR ALL DIVI SITES
This plugin fixes many of the accessibility problems with Divi, and lets you see where your site is in violation so you can fix others. For example, it has a tool that flags text that does not meet the minimum contrast requirement for readability. However, just installing this plugin won’t make your site 100% accessible! (For example, there’s a problem with keyboard accessibility of Divi Tabs). Note, due to a complaint from Elegant Themes about “Divi” in the name, this plugin has moved to GitHub. But don’t let that deter you. This is a great tool to help your site become more accessible.
- WP Accessibility
This plugin by respected web accessibility consultant Joe Dolson fixes some of the technical accessibility problems with WordPress sites. It is NOT a 100% drop in solution to make your site compliant with accessibility guidelines! Be wary of any accessibility plugin that makes such claims. Read more about WP Accessibility.
Best Admin Plugins
- Admin Columns
I hate it when plugins add columns to the “All Pages” and “All Posts” feeds in the admin, cluttering them up with useless info. Admin Columns lets you purge useless columns. You can instead display custom fields in the columns – really useful for customizing! I use this plugin on almost every site I make. The paid version is even more amazing, allowing you to do advanced filtering and even bulk custom field editing right from the list view!
- Login Page Customizer
I haven’t tested this yet, but it’s got excellent reviews; saving for a client who wants to customize their login page.
- Plugin Notes
This is something I could have used on many client sites where the client sometimes installed strange plugins. It allows you to add notes such as why a plugin was installed and who installed it.
- WP Help
Create help notes in the admin area for your clients. Document custom post types, custom fields, weird plugins, whatever you want. I use this on almost every site now, both for my clients and for myself, when I’ve forgotten how the site works six months from now.
- WPS Hide Login
I haven’t tested this yet, but could be useful for a client who wants to hide their wp-admin URL. Excellent reviews!
Best Ad Insertion Plugins
Allows you to place your own ads on a site using a shortcode. Ads can rotate through the same location on your site. Includes analytics capabilities. Great if you’re selling ad space on your website to clients.
- WP Simple Adsense Insertion
Gives you a shortcode to easily insert Google Adsense ads anywhere you want in your content. There are plugins that auto-insert ads in your content, but I believe that you should hand-insert them. For Gutenberg sites, I just use native Gutenberg Reusable Blocks for my ad inserts though.
Best Age Verification Plugin
- Age Gate
If your site is in an age-restricted category such as alcohol, tobacco, or cannibis, then you’ll need to put up a popup to ask for the visitors age. The Age Gate plugin does this well and has very configurable!
Best Anti-Spam Plugins
It comes pre-installed with most WordPress installations, and it is good if you don’t mind having to register it on WordPress.org. It is free for non-commercial applications and works well.
- Advanced noCaptcha & invisible Captcha
Use this to add a Google Captcha various types of WordPress and WooCommerce forms.
- Antispam Bee
Many say this is the best free (non-Akismet) antispam plugin for WordPress now. I installed it on one site that was getting a lot of spam, and this plugin didn’t stop it; but perhaps I was doing something wrong.
I haven’t tried this yet, but it has rave reviews. It’s free for a year, but after that, it’s $8/year.
- Contact Form 7 Honeypot
This plugin uses the “honeypot” tactic to filter out bot form submissions. You need to add a hidden field to your forms for this to work. I tried it and it did cut down on a significant amount of Contact Form 7 spam, however, I started getting spam again later. So, I would recommend using CF7’s native Google ReCAPTCHA v3 integration instead.
Best Audio Player Plugin
- WonderPlugin WordPress HTML5 Audio Player
This is a responsive HTML5 audio player that does a good job of displaying both single songs as well as albums. There are a variety of good skins to choose from. The free version has plenty of functionality. I was skeptical about this plugin at first because it’s not in the WordPress repository, but it’s been working great for me so far. I haven’t found another player that is as good at displaying albums/playlists.
Best Backup Plugin
This is my “go-to” plugin for manually backing up and moving WordPress sites. Highly recommended! The Pro version will migrate WordPress Multisite, do scheduled backups, and can save your backups offsite. The lifetime deal is worth every penny!
- All-In-One WP Migration
This is another great backup and migration plugin. Very easy to use. Paid version can migrate WP Multisite.
Note: This is a professional review site that receives compensation when you purchase through the affiliate links at no extra cost to you. I personally test or research each product before endorsing it. This site is independently owned and the opinions expressed here are my own.
Best Caching / Speed Optimization Plugins
This plugin will do things to speed up your site like minification of your CSS and JS. Also helps increase your speed scores if your client is into that. Less extreme than PhastPress below.
- WP Fastest Cache
WP Fastest Cache just works without any fuss! Don’t take my word for it; look at the ratings.
If you have a client who is obsessed with improving their website’s speed score (regardless of how many times you tell them that the only thing that really matters is the actual load time), check out PhastPress. Simply installing and activating this plugin improved my site’s Pingdom score from 75 to 98. In my case, the actual perceived load time was the same or a bit slower though. But, like I said, if you have a client that is obsessed with these scores, PhastPress will do the trick!
Best Code Insertion Plugins
- Insert Headers and Footers
Simple plugin to add code to header, body, or footer. There are a ton of these types of plugins that become abandoned over time. This one has recent updates.
- Include Me
This is for adding content in the form of PHP files to your content. I use it for adding content that is shared across of Multisite network.
- Reusable Text Blocks
After Global Content Blocks went away, I went into withdrawal until I found Reusable Content Blocks. This allows you to create chunks of content or code that you can put almost anywhere using a shortcode. Note, if you use the Gutenberg editor, I would recommend using the native Gutenberg Reusable Blocks instead.
Best Commenting Plugins
- DCO Comment Attachment
If you use WordPress’ native commenting system, this plugin allows users to upload file types of your choosing, including images, videos, and PDFs, to their comments. File size limits are selectable.
- WP Open Comment Links in New Window
I hate it when links in comments open in the current browser window. This plugin opens a new window for comment links, which is how WordPress comments should have worked in the first place.
Read my more detailed look at commenting systems here.
Best Cron Plugin
- WP Crontrol
I use this to run scripts at recurring intervals. You set up a WordPress action hook, and this executes it at your specified times. Works great!
Best Custom Post Type / Custom Field Plugins
- Advanced Custom Fields
One of the most commonly-used plugins to customize WordPress sites. Lets you add custom fields to pages and posts. Often used together with the next plugin, Custom Post Type UI. The free version is very usable but there’s a paid pro version that adds some cool features like repeater fields.
- Custom Post Type UI
Great for creating custom post types and taxonomies to use in your own theme or plugins. In the latest version, they revamped the UI which made it more cumbersome to use, but it’s still worthwhile. It even generates code that you can paste into your theme or plugin, allowing you to delete this plugin afterward, which is awesome. Works great with Advanced Custom Fields.
- Pods – Custom Content Types and Fields
This plugin combines the functionality of Advanced Custom Fields and Custom Post Type UI, allowing you to create custom post types and the fields that go with them (or with built-in post types). It can do some impressive stuff that Advanced Custom Fields can’t do.
Best Database Management Plugins
- Better Search Replace
This is an easy-to-use database search-and-replace tool. I’ve used it to swap out shortcodes in the content, as well as to update URLs in the database before launching sites. There is a pro version that will show you a preview of the changes before executing, however, it doesn’t display the actual serialized string lengths properly (but they are properly written in the database). I also had one case where the pro version wouldn’t work but the free version would, ironically, perhaps due to the overhead of logging.
- Bulk Delete
Use this if you need to delete all of your posts, pages, etc. Won’t work on images though.
- Database Browser
Let’s say you’re working on a client site with no access to PHPMyAdmin but you need to see the database. Voila! This plugin lets you do that! Just uninstall after you’re done though! You can also export the database to CSV.
- Remove Old Slugs
After you change the slug of a page or post, the old one remains in the database, preventing you from using it on a different page or post. This plugin deletes old slugs from the database so you can use them on a new page or post.
- WP Optimize
Remove old post revisions and spam comments to save space and speed up your site. Run on an old side whose database has become bloated, then uninstall.
Best Debugging / Development Plugins
- Debug This:
See exactly what query WordPress is running. Great for debugging WordPress query problems in your code.
- Theme Check:
Checks your theme for anomalies.
- P3 Plugin Profiler:
Is your site loading too slowly? Wondering how much each plugin contributes to the load time? This plugin will give you a nice pie chart of exactly how much time each plugin adds. You can uninstall it when you’re done.
- Query Monitor
Similar to Debug This, but this has more emphasis on the WP queries on your site. Very useful.
- Server IP & Memory Usage Display:
Displays how much RAM your site is using, along with PHP and WP limits. Very useful!
- What the File:
Besides having the best name for a plugin ever, it’s a great diagnostic tool. Tells you which theme files are being used by any WordPress page so you can figure out which you want to tweak. Invaluable if you are doing template development or debugging! I install this on almost every site where I’m working on a custom theme or child theme.
Best Divi Plugins
These plugins work great with the Divi Theme or Divi Builder Plugin.
- Divi Bars (part of Divi Life)
This is not a free plugin, but it’s useful for adding a thin slide-in bar along the top or bottom of your site for announcements, etc. That is requested so often by clients that I bought a lifetime license for the whole Divi Life suite which includes Divi Overlays (popups), Mega Menu, Logo Swap, and Coming Soon modules.
- Divi Blog (from Divi Gear)
Solves the problem of customizing blog feeds. The two default Divi blog feed layouts just don’t cut it most of the time. This lets you create some really awesome customized blog feed layouts!
- Divi Carousel (from Divi Gear)
Not free, but man, this could have saved me a ton of time coding custom carouses in Divi. Create different types of carousels for images, logos, etc. with tons of customization. Cost is very reasonable at $29 for a lifetime license for unlimited sites – a no-brainer. They also make a Divi Blog Carousel plugin.
- Divi Machine (from Divi Engine)
I have not used this myself but it looks like a great solution any time you need to display custom posts with filtering on a Divi site. There is an unlimited LTD for 260 UK pounds). Here’s an interview with the developer.
- Hide & Show PRO (From Divi Modules)
If you need your Divi content to show according to a regular (or irregular) schedule, check out Hide & Show PRO. You can show content for a limited-time sale, for example, or for regular church services, or special events, or a combination thereof. This is a paid plugin, $115 for a lifetime unlimited license, but there are cheaper options. I use it on a church website.
- Divi Overlays (part of Divi Life)
Wow, really elegant, flexible, and easy-to-use popup maker for Divi. Not free, but I guarantee you’ll use it for your next popup!
- Simple Divi Shortcode
This plugin allows you to instantiate any item from your Divi library using a shortcode. I use it to place Divi elements inside of other Divi elements such as accordions or tabs. Note, I found a way to instantiate Divi sections without a plugin!
Best Editor Plugins
- Disable Visual Editor WYSIWYG
- Re-Add Text Underline and Justify
The folks at WordPress inexplicably removed the underline and text-justify buttons from the editor in version 4.7. This plugin simply gets it back. It has no parameters and no fuss.
Best E-Commerce Plugins
Note, I now recommend Shopify for all of my clients who want to get into e-commerce. But, if you really want to use WordPress…
- Easy Digital Downloads
If you want a simpler solution for selling digital content from your website, this is a good solution which is more lightweight than WooCommerce. Use thier Dropbox extension (paid) to host your files on Dropbox. Works with Paypal, Amazon Pay, Stripe, and other payment gateways.
The de-facto standard WordPress e-commerce plugin. Tons of features and options through plugins. Very configurable through the use of actions and filters. Kind of a steep learning curve though, and takes a web developer to do updates. Not recommended for beginners (I recommend Shopify instead). If you do want to use Woo, I recommend the Storefront WP theme.
- Custom Product Tabs for WooCommerce
Add new tabs to your WooCommerce product pages! This is cool because you can create “global” tabs that you re-use on multiple products or tabs for specific products.
- WooCommerce PDF Invoices & Packing Slips
Does just what the title says. Has just the right number of customization options.
- WordPress Simple Paypal Shopping Cart
If you don’t want to deal with the complexity of WooCommerce, and only have a few things to sell, this is a good choice. You can set up a store in minutes. It can handle physical or digital products.
Best Email Encoder Plugin
- Email Encoder
If you’re afraid of getting a ton of spam because you’ve listed your email address on your site, use this plugin to obfuscate your address to bots. Just activate it and it works!
Best SMTP Email Plugins
Web server email is usually not reliable. So, you should use an SMTP email service to send email from your website. These are my recommended plugins to do that.
This is a new WordPress SMTP plugin that I heard about from Adam at WP Crafter. It features FREE logging and will soon (according to Adam) feature a killer feature: email failover, that is, if your primary emailer fails, it can use a backup. Wow! I haven’t tried this yet, but it looks fantastic. One thing it doesn’t have though is integration with Gmail through the API, but you can use the quick and dirty method instead.
- Post SMTP Mailer/Email Log
This is a great SMTP email plugin, and it includes logging for FREE. Highly recommended.
- WP Mail SMTP
Before Post SMTP Mailer came out, this was my default email plugin, but it does not include logging for free. Interfacing with Gmail also requires the paid version, unless you do it the quick and dirty method.
Best Events Management / Calendar Plugins
- Events Made Easy
A very powerful events management plugin with lots of customization possibilities. Takes some time to learn, but it’s worth it if you do events sites. Does not require user login for people to sign up for events – just name and email address. This is my favorite events management plugin. I’ve never had to use a different one.
Best Feature Solutions
- Accordion Shortcodes
If you need accordions on your site, this lightweight plugin provides a simple shortcode solution with no CSS styling so you can make them look like whatever you want. Accordion sections can default open or closed.
- Age Gate
I saw this being used on a cannabis website to prevent underage visitors from entering. Also useful for alcohol websites.
- Another WordPress Classifieds Plugin
Great solution if you want to set up a classified ad section on your site. Tons of features.
- Draw Attention
This is an awesome plugin ideal for creating floorplans and photos with interactive hover effects. You literally draw the hover areas which can trigger content in a sidebar. Think, shopping mall floor plan.
- Google Map Widget (with filterable locations)
This is not a WordPress plugin, but it is code that you can use in WordPress to generate an interactive Google map with multiple place markers and filtering features. Has a monthly fee, but could be very useful. See example here.
Most people either love or hate Jetpack. I have mixed feelings. It offers a painless way for people to subscribe to your blog, some nice on-site analytics, a great photo gallery, and useful widgets. Just be sure to deactivate everything you’re not using, because Jetpack can really bloat your site.
- WordPress Book List
Wow, if you need to display a set of books that you are recommending, or that you want to boast about reading, this is the plugin to do it. Simply copy the books’ ISDN numbers from Amazon, and it will import the cover image, description, author, and a whole lot of other stuff you probably don’t need. Amazing!
- WP Display Files Pro
This is the perfect plugin if you want to display a directory tree from Dropbox (or other supported service) on a WordPress page. Click on any file to download. $29.
- WP Tiles
If you want tiled images in your posts without Jetpack, check out this plugin!
Best Form Plugins
- Contact Form 7
This is a super popular clean and simple lightweight contact form plugin, but it’s for coders only. Editing requires messing with HTML and CSS in most cases. For database storage of submitted forms, I use Contact Form 7 Database Addon. Another one is Flamingo. There is built-in support for reCAPTCHA V3, but it doesn’t work in all cases for some reason. Instead, you can use the Advanced NoCaptcha ReCaptcha plugin to add reCAPTCHA V2 and it works like a charm.
- WP Fluent Forms
This is a newer form plugin but has amazing reviews on its WordPress page as well as on various Facebook Groups. Full-featured drag-and-drop form creation with tons of third-party integration (in the paid version). Will even support multi-page forms. Has full analytics and storing of submissions.
Best Forum / Question-and-Answer Plugins
- CM Answers
This Q/A plugin has good features but requires a good deal of setup and CSS to make it look good. There is a pro version which you might need to buy to get the features you need.
- WP Discourse
I discovered this while using the Gridpane forum and liked it. Five-star review except for one disgruntled user not even complaining about the plugin itself. Need to try this! See their working forum here.
Best Front-End User Upload Plugin
- User Submitted Posts
This plugin gives you a shortcode that generates a front-end form that allows people to upload posts with title, content, and featured image (among other things). Don’t worry, the post will be uploaded in a Pending status so it won’t appear immediately in the front end.
Best Google Analytics Plugins
- Google Analytics for WordPress
This is a lightweight plugin that doesn’t track outgoing clicks, but it does simply add the Google Universal Analytics code and exclude admin visits. It has just been updated to use the latest gtag code from Google.
Best Gutenberg Plugins
- Accordion Blocks
Adds the much-needed accordion block to Gutenberg. You need to style it yourself using your own style sheet, but it’s lightweight and just works.
- Lazy Blocks
This plugin allows you to easily create Gutenberg blocks with just a little bit of coding to render the output. It even supports repeaters and WYSIWYG editors! Fantastic!
Best Image Plugins
I needed a simple plugin that would prevent clients from uploading huge images. Imsanity does the job. It also can re-size large images already uploaded. This just works! It has a five star rating. Zip file size is 151kb compared to 7.64mb for EWWW, another popular image optimization plugin.
- Regenerate Thumbnails
Regenerates your image thumbnails according to the latest settings. You should do this every time you switch WP themes. In my case, I had a site which I switched to Divi. Divi couldn’t find it’s image sizes, so the full-sized images were served up. Regenerating thumbnails shaved off 2.7MB from the page size!
Best Migration Plugins
- All In One WP Migration
Install this plugin at your source, download an archive file, then import that file into your destination WordPress site with the plugin installed and it will copy everything over. A painless way to migrate WordPress sites, especially when other plugins fail due to hosting limitations! Free version works for up to 512MB sites. There’s a paid extension for Multisite, but it’s worth every penny if you need to migrate Multisite.
- Auto Upload Images
Let’s say you’ve used the WordPress Importer to move some posts to a new site. The posts are migrated, but the image URLs are still pointing to the old site, and none of the images are actually migrated. The solution is the Auto Upload Images plugin! Just install it and re-save the post. All images will be migrated and URLs adjusted in that post like magic! Just be sure to de-activate it when done!
- Blogger Importer Extended
If you need to import a Blogger blog to WordPress, look no further than Blogger Importer Extended. The “recommended” importer didn’t work for me. This one imports not only the blog text, but also images (into the Media Library), comments, and tags! Wow!
If you need to migrate data from almost any ecommerce platform to another, check out Cart2Cart. It’s more of a service than a plugin, but it’s fully automated. I used it for a tricky migration of customers and orders from an extremely old WooCommerce site to Shopify, but it supports a lot of other platforms. Other apps failed while this one worked after a fix from their customer support folks. I know the site looks a bit sketchy (i.e., not perfect English grammar), but this company is legit and their customer service via chat was great. They have really useful test migrations so you can try before you buy. Highly recommended for ecommerce migrations!
- Export All URLs
Exports all of your site’s URLs. Can limit to just Pages, Post, Products, or other types of posts. Useful when migrating a site and setting up redirects to the new site’s URLs.
- Import Export WordPress Users & WooCommerce Customers
Really great plugin for importing or exporting users. Output CSV columns can be configured to whatever your target platform requires.
- WP Migrate DB Pro
This is an invaluable tool for keeping staging, dev, and production sites in sync. It just handles the database and media files. It will automatically do a search-and-replace in the database if you need to migrate from dev to production or move to a new URL.
Best Mailchimp Form Plugin
- Mailchimp for WordPress
Create an API key in Mailchimp, enter it into this program, then start creating very usable Mailchimp signup forms in your WordPress admin. After form submission, site will redirect to a page of your choice.
Best Map Plugins
- HTML5 Maps
If you need a simple clickable map of the United States or other countries without showing roads, this plugin is awesome. There are a variety of countries to choose from, or even individual states. If you pick the U.S. map, each state is clickable. You can define what happens on hover and click, and you can have tooltips, popups (with a free third-party plugin), link, or information appearing below or to the side of the map. You can also define clickable points. If you need to define groups of states, get the premium version.
- Leaflet Map
If you need an alternative to Google maps showing pins, popups, roads, etc., look no further than Leaflet Map. Maps and pins are really easy to create using shortcodes. Use this whenever you don’t want to mess with registering with Google.
- WP Google Maps
WP Google Maps is great when you want to include a Google Map on your site showing pins or regions. The pro version allows users to get directions and has other features. This is probably the most popular Google Maps plugin, with over 400,000 downloads.
Best Menu Plugins
- Category Posts in Custom Menus
In your category menu items, this allows you to have a dropdown menu with a preset number of posts from that category, automatically populated when you add more posts! This is one of those features that I think should have been built into WordPress core. Unfortunately, it’s no longer maintained but it still works (I’m using it on this site!)
- Max Mega Menu
Look no farther than this plugin if you need a mega menu on your site! It does what you need with accessibility support (unlike the native Oxygen Builder menus).
Best Mobile Detect Plugin
- WP Mobile Detect
I use responsive design, but there are cases where you can’t avoid having to detect whether your site is being displayed on a mobile device or not. Unfortunately, this seems to be an abandoned plugin, so caution is advised.
Best Multilingual Plugin
I read a lot of reviews recommending Polylang, so I tried it out and I like its simplicity. Basically, you create copies of your existing pages and menus which you then translate. Everything just works after that. There is a free version but most folks will need at least the Pro version. It doesn’t copy your pages so use a plugin like Yoast Duplicate Post to do that. Works with Divi.
This is one of the few plugins on this page that I have not tested myself, but I have it here because so many folks on the forums have endorsed it. It’s also not free, but it’s affordable for what it does.
Another translation plugin that I see recommended online is MultilingualPress. Haven’t tried it myself though.
Best Multisite Plugins
Note, I no longer recommend WordPress Multisite except for some very specific use-cases. Read why here.
- Duplicator Pro
Only the paid version works on Multisite, but it’s amazing. Great for backing up or migrating Multisite installs. Worth every penny! For a free solution, check out BackWPUp.
- Multisite Plugin Manager:
If you go to your Network Admin -> Settings -> Network Settings and scroll to the bottom, you can turn on or off visibility of plugins to the child sites. But what if you some plugins visible to local admins and others not? Use Multisite Plugin Manager to do this.
- NS Cloner:
This is a wonderful tool to copy a Multisite network sub-site. Great for replicating sites on your Multisite network.
- Unfiltered MU:
I discovered that WordPress filters out HTML tags for Multisite regular Admins (but not Super Admins). This is annoying and prevents regular admins from adding Google Analytics code, for example, to a theme’s admin field. This plugin undoes that “feature”. This is pretty much needed on every Multisite install.
Best Oxygen Builder Plugins
Read my review of the Oxygen Builder plugin.
- Oxyninja Core
Users on the Oxygen Facebook group swear by this UI kit that provides CSS classes (reminds me of Tailwind CSS). It is compatible with Fluent Forms. It also includes and extensive design library of pre-designed call-to-actions, headers, footers, etc. Cost is $99 for a lifetime deal on unlimited sites.
Best Pagination Plugins
Most WordPress themes do not have page numbering on your archive pages by default (they usually just have “previous” and “next” links). These plugins add more fancy page numbering and navigation. But they do require template modification!
Adds pagination navigation controls to your post archive pages. Very customizable and easy to use as long as you know how to modify your template files.
Also adds page navigation. Also requires template modification. A bit simpler appearance out of the box. (Note, for custom queries, your query variable must be named $wp_query).
Best Poll / Questionaire Plugins
- WP Polls
This is a good free plugin for generating a single poll question at a time. It’s not so great if you need lots of questions though.
Best Popup Plugin
If you are using the Divi Builder, see Divi Overlays above.
- Popup Maker
Whether you need a popup that happens automatically after page load, or upon button press, this is simply the best modal popup plugin that I’ve found. You can create popup themes to customize padding, shadow, background opacity, and many other parameters. You can put any content in the popup that would normally go in a WordPress page or post. They just did this one right!
Best Post Plugins
- Add Widget After Content
- Does just what it says. Great for adding email subscription forms right after your article content.
- Page Links To
Oh man, I wish I had known about this plugin before. Basically, in any listing (archive) view, it replaces a link to the Post or Page (or custom post type) with an alternate link that you can specify. This is great for portfolio pages where you want the project images to link to an external URL, not a page on your own site! (Note that Yoast SEO has this functionality built-in).
- Post Types Order
This plugin adds a cool drag-and-drop interface to the admin to order your Posts any way you want. It also works with custom post types. This is a “must-have” on most of my sites.
- Post Type Switcher
This is a handy little plugin that switches post types, whether it is a custom post type, post, or page to anything else. One cool feature is the bulk switcher that lets you switch a whole page of posts.
- Secondary Title
It’s good practice to have a subtitle for your posts and pages. This plugin adds a new subtitle field for just that purpose.
- WP Sticky Sidebar
- Works great to make your sidebar “sticky” as the user scrolls down!
- Yoast Duplicate Post
Great if you need to make copies of pages, posts, or even custom post types (when set up to allow that). Will even copy custom fields! Another plugin that does this well is Post Duplicator. Jetpack also has this functionality built-in now.
Best Privacy (GDPR) Plugin
- Complianz – GDPR/CCPA Cookie Consent
The plugin creates a cookie popup with “Accept” button in the lower right corner of the page. Highly rated and easily configurable.
- Cookie Notice for GDPR & CCPA
There are so many bad cookie consent WordPress plugins out there. This one has a five-star rating, is updated regularly, and has over a million installs. The look is clean and sleek, right out of the box.
- Ultimate GDPR Compliance Toolkit for WordPress
This is a paid plugin, but for only $19, it’s a really comprehensive GDPR solution, especially when it comes to managing cookies. Good if you need “industrial strength” GDPR compliance.
Best Redirection Plugin
A better way to redirect URLs is to do it in your .htaccess file (even better is to do it in your hosts file, but you might not have access to that). I like Redirection because it allows me to set up my redirects, then export code which I put into my .htaccess file. I then deactivate Redirection because doing redirects in a plugin can slow down your site, and if you’re not careful the logs can bloat your database.
Best RSS Feed Plugins
- Featured Image in RSS Feed
Adds the featured image to your RSS feed. Or, if you’re comfortable adding a bit of code to your theme, use this solution.
- FEEDZY RSS Feeds Lite
This is the best way I’ve found to add a blog feed from another site to your site. Supports caching. Free version supports images too!
Best Search Plugins
- Better Search
One reviewer said this plugin should be standard for all WordPress installs. It’s a lightweight plugin that just gives better search results and control. Plus, it logs searches so you know what your users are looking for. If you think people will be doing searches on your site, you need this plugin’s functionality at a minimum.
This enhances the WP search in many ways including fuzzy matching, weighting, boolean logic, searching custom fields, and others. Many say this is the best search plugin. One nice thing is that it shows the search term highlighted in the search result excerpt. However, this is a heavy-duty plugin and there is some setup and pre-caching required.
- ACF: Better Search
I used to use Search Everything to make sure searched looked in Advanced Custom Fields, but that is no longer supported. ACF: Better Search works just as well and is supported!
Best Security Plugins
- Disable REST API
Did you know that your WordPress site’s REST API is enabled for anyone to use? That means someone can easily download all of your posts with a simple script (I know: I wrote one). I use this on all of my blogs
- Disable XML-RPC
XML-RPC is a fairly useless feature for WordPress (remote publishing anyone?) The one thing it is good at is attracting DDoS attacks on your site. This plugin disables xmlrpc.php by adding code to your .htaccess file. One of my clients has a high-traffic site which was attacked about once a month. This stopped it. Note that disabling this will prevent the Jetpack Publicize module and probably other modules from working. Note that WordFence now has this functionality built-in (but it must be turned on)
- Minimal Coming Soon & Maintenance Mode
Puts put an “under construction”, “coming soon” or any message you want as your front page while you’re working on your site. Log in to bypass it. To reduce toolbar clutter, go to the Advanced settings page and check “Disable Maintenance Mode Toolbar Menu”. Requires the paid pro version to change to custom background image.
- Rename wp-login.php
Doesn’t literally rename the file, but does some tricks to redirect. Great for preventing brute-force attacks trying to log into your site. Also lets you rename /wp-admin.
- Sucuri Security
The free version of this plugin provides scanning of your WP install for hacks. Good if you don’t want to install WordFence.
I use this on ALL of my sites to protect against hackers. Does regular scans for malware and blocks known evil IP addresses. Note, this plugin is disallowed on WP Engine hosting though, as they provide their own security.
- WordFence Login Security
This is a lighter-weight security plugin with a subset of features of WordFence: two-factor authentication (for admins only), XML-RPC protection and login page CAPTCHA. Great if you don’t want or need all of the features of regular WordFence.
- WP 2FA
If you just want two-factor and no other security features in a plugin, check out WP 2FA.
Best SEO Plugin
- Rank Math
This is a newer SEO plugin but has tremendous buzz and a solid five-star rating on the repo. It offers a lot of cool features, especially if you create a Rank Math account and connect your site.
- The SEO Framework
Although Yoast reigns king, it has a huge codebase, gets updated too frequently, and has been documented to slow down sites. I’m experimenting with The SEO Framework because it claims to be lighter weight. The SEO Framework zip file is 350KB while Yoast’s is over ten times larger at 3.91MB. I like the UI better, and it’s overall less intrusive than Yoast. It’s got a five-star rating in the WordPress repo. One thing, though, is that if you want to eliminate the category base in your URLs, you’ll have to install a separate plugin to do that. I like Remove Category URL.
- Yoast SEO:
This is the most popular SEO plugin and works well. Some have complained that Yoast SEO gets updated too often and is getting bloated with too many features that no one wants, however. Still, it’s the industry standard.
Best Session Management Plugin
One use of sessions in WordPress would be to authenticate users with a third party service or API. Here are a couple of plugins that will help by storing the session in the database instead of a file.
- WordPress Native PHP Sessions
Implements PHP’s native session handlers and stores sessions in the database. Note that I have not yet tried this plugin, but it has good reviews.
- WP Session Manager (Github)
This WordPress session management plugin is not in the WP repo, but in GitHub. It was used on a project that I worked on though.
Best Social Media Plugins
- Monarch (Elegant Themes paid plugin)
This is one of my “go-to” social media plugins. Really full-featured. Displays click counts. You can place the sharing buttons on a variety of locations, including floating on the sides.
- Scriptless Social Sharing
This is a super lightweight and simple plugin for displaying the major social network sharing buttons. It just works with no hassles! However, note that it won’t show sharing buttons on archive pages, and it doesn’t show share counts.
- Simple Social Icons
Jetpack has a social icon widget, but if you’re not using that, this is a simple plugin to display links to your social network pages.
- Smash Balloon Social Photo Feed
Wow, this is a great Instagram plugin that works really well. There are paid features but the free version is very usable. Very easy to connect to your Instagram account too.
Best SSL Plugin
- Really Simple SSL
After you get your SSL cert, install this plugin. It’s got great reviews and just works by modifying your .htaccess file.
Best Table Plugins
- Ninja Tables
I have been looking for a table plugin that generates mobile-friendly tables, and this might be it. I haven’t tried it yet, but it looks promising.
This has been my go-to table plugin, but I might switch to Ninja Tables for mobile responsiveness.
Best Tab Plugin
- Tabby Responsive Tabs
If you need a really simple tab shortcode plugin, this one does the trick. It’s easy to use and lightweight. Plus, there are cats on the info page! Great unless you need to use the same tabs in multiple places on your site, in which case you should use a tab plugin that utilizes a custom post type for the tabs.
Best Taxonomy Plugins
- Bulk Move
Moves posts from one taxonomy to another.
- Radio Buttons for Taxonomies
If you would like to limit Categories or custom taxonomies to one per post, this plugin does it by changing the checkboxes to radio buttons. Simple and just works!
- Taxonomy Switcher:
Kind of a narrow use case, but came in really handy for me on a project. Allows you to switch a bunch of taxonomy terms from one taxonomy to another.
Best Text-to-Speech Reader
If, for some reason, you want a voice to read your page content, check out the Play.ht service. The voice quality is simply amazing; at first it’s hard to tell that it’s a robot reading your text. There are lots of voices to choose from, both male and female. The catch is that this isn’t really a free plugin. You get a dismal 100 free words. You get to convert 20,000 words per month for $19/month, but there’s a discount if you pay for the full year. But, like I said, the quality will blow you away.
Best User Access Plugins
Creates a new “Roles” admin menu item under “Users” that allows you to edit the capabilities of all WordPress roles, and to create new ones with custom capabilities.
Oh man, this plugin is a lifesaver if you’ve ever been in this situation: You’ve created a new user and had the site email them their password. The problem is, they didn’t receive the email. Now you’re stuck. Their account isn’t activated so you can’t reset their password. You can’t even delete their account. You have to wait a few DAYS to try again. This plugin lets you see all unconfirmed users and manually confirm them, so you can re-send the email or create a new password for them. Invaluable!
- User Access Manager
This is a more advanced user access plugin for when you need the big guns. This allows you to put users and any post type or page in groups. Then, only people in those groups can edit that content. Can also limit visibility on the front-end as well. It’s kind of tricky to set up due to minimal documentation, but if you fiddle with the settings (a lot) it will do what it claims. I haven’t found a comparable free plugin that does this.
- User Role Editor
Pretty much required if you use Ultimate Member on Multisite and want local admins to be able to approve or edit users. Also great for creating new user roles with specific limited capabilities.
Best User / Membership Plugins
- Custom User Profile Photo
Your user photo comes from your Gravatar profile, which you may not want for all of your sites. This plugin lets you customize your user photo.
- Export Users to CSV
Exports your users to a CSV file. Note, you may have to adjust your php.ini settings to allow greater export file size.
- Import Users from CSV
This plugin works great for importing members in a CSV file. Works great with Ultimate Member.
- Ultimate Member
This is a very popular membership plugin that has tons of features. Pretty flexible with some learning curve.
Best Weather Widget
This is the best weather widget I’ve found. Unlike a lot of the others, it doesn’t require obtaining an API key to use. It is super configurable with lots of options. And it’s accurate (one other I tried wasn’t). The only slight downside is that it requires CSS styling, but that is kind of an advantage if you’re a developer (not so good if you’re not).
Well, I hope this list was useful to you. For more lists of great plugins, check out WP Site Care’s list of best plugins and WP Review’s Top 30 Best Plugins. What are your favorite WordPress plugins? Please leave a comment below! – Brian