12 Best WordPress Plugins You Must Install in 2017
WordPress has started as blog providing platform and now enable to have a big web portal with all nuts and bells to support intricacies of the web technologies. Thus, it has captured nearly half of share of total websites or web applications running on the Internet.
Despite immense popularity, it is still simple to use and highly functional for end-users thanks to its open source nature and zeal to remain contemporary by adding the latest features and functionality to meet the expectations of modern businesses and audience alike.
The secret behind its unfathomable success lies in its extensions or plugins to grant exceptional extensibility for features, functions, and technology integrations. With plugins, WordPress developers add, delete, or modify required features and functionality without touching the core code.
Thus, the platform is remaining free to take next updates automatically and without affecting customization. Therefore, WordPress developers or power-users from the businesses are installing WordPress and customize the installation with the help of plugins without seeking the direct involvement of WordPress developers for small to medium categories of website needs.
We have given a comprehensive list of essential WordPress plugins that you must install on your WordPress websites running and aiming to gain an edge over the competition in 2017.
For the sake of better understanding, we have taken help of the types or category of WordPress plugin based on their usages or core functions that may make life easy for power users and WordPress developers alike.
1. Analytics & Statistics Related
Analytics and web statistic are vital to know to make informed decisions for marketing, crashed, bugs, design, and overall traffic picture. Without analytics services integration, webmasters are helpless to take strategic actions to boost traffic and improve the performance of the business.
In due course, WordPress webmasters have free of charge plugins available from Google and premium or paid options from other vendors. Thus, Google Analytics plugin used by the majority of WordPress website owners as free as well as paid option. The Jetpack is the premium version to get additional features and functions for advanced users.
It is highly convenient for webmasters of business WordPress site who are unable to insert Google Analytics code directly into the source code of a website in each page manually.
- It automatically inserts GA code into prescribed location of source code of each page of website
- It provides extensive dashboard features and functionality to get detailed insights and reports
- Graphical visualization of data ease comprehension without messing up into tables and numbers
- GA allows customization of interface as well as reports to ease the job of webmasters
2. Database and File Backup Plugins
Backup of databases and website resources is mandatory to deal with natural as well as human induced disasters. Taking regular and scheduled backup is daunting if carried out manually.
Therefore, WordPress has some good plugins to manage automatic backup to meet your custom needs. For instance,
- It provides facilities to store entire site along with databases and external resources
- It lets you setup schedule as per your requirements
- It offers quick and complete restore facilities for your backups
- It allows you to take backup of selected files and folders for sensitive data backup
3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Every website owner has a dream, and it is ranking on the first page of search engine results (SERPs) to gain maximum organic and quality traffic. It needs search engine optimization efforts to obtain natural and organic traffic by implementing white SEO practices by following guidelines issued by the major search engines time-to-time.
Among the best SEO practices, nearly half of all are related to technical SEO and require modifications to website source code, design, and additional technical efforts. Therefore, WordPress community has developed powerful SEO extensions or plugins, which are capable of avoiding direct edit of source code and much of technicality by providing easy and common user-friendly interfaces.
Today Yoast SEO is considering the best WordPress SEO plugin and used by the majority of webmasters.
- It has tools and suggestion engine to support SEO friendly content writing
- It provides in-depth page analysis at the latest SEO algorithms’ point of view
- It has tools and features to accomplish technical WordPress SEO tasks such as:
- Meta and link elements
- XML sitemap
- RSS optimization
- Editing .htaccess and robot.txt
- Tools for social integration & analysis
- Multiple site compatibility
- Exim functionality
4. Comment Spam Prevention
Most of the WordPress websites are containing comment sections to establish live and dynamic relationships with their audience. However, spam comments have a big share in comments on your blog or site pages if you have enabled comment section.
To prevent spam comments, we need effective and automatic filtering features in WordPress. Therefore, Akismet like WordPress plugin proves savior in this regard.
- Once you/moderator define comment types or comment makers as spam, it automatically filter it
- It provides a status history for comments
- Identify misleading & useless URLs and filter the comments
- It displays approved and filtered comments
- It discards worst spams automatically and save disk space
5. Caching Plugin
Website speed is crucial ranking and user experience factor for the success. Cache is a technical mechanism to cut the load time of the web page. WordPress has some awesome caching plugins to provide you an excellent caching mechanism. The ‘W3 Total Cache’ is one of such extensions and adopted by the majority of webmasters.
- It is hosting agnostic plugin to work with any hosting type
- It provides transparent CDN (Content Delivery Network) services
- It supports mobile-friendly and responsive websites
- AMP, SSL, and caching of minified & compressed page supports
- It has features for caching if feeds, search results pages, database objects, and memory
- It offers features for caching insights and statistic with visual reporting
6. Security Plugins
With the increased Internet traffic and user-base thanks to mobile Internet, we are reaping advantages of the web. Just like real world reality, the world of Internet has anti-social elements called hackers, thieves, and malicious elements on the web are ready to disrupt our life through a number of activities that we common people hardly imagine.
To take precautions against the security threats to your website, you must have some security arsenals, and it comes with various high quality security plugins. Among those ‘All in One WP Security & Firewall’ seems the best option to try.
It provides a different level of securities to your WordPress website such as:
- User accounts security
- User login security
- User registration security
- Database security
- File system security
- .htaccess & WP-Config.php security
- Backup and restoration features
- Firewall and blacklist functionality
- Brute force login attack prevention
- Whois look up
- Security scanner
- Comment spam security
- Front-end text copy protection
- Regular updates and additions of security features
7. Contact Forms
We build a website to establish contact and communication with our targeted audience. We provide information regarding our business through content and tempt them to buy our products or services as well as pass our thoughts to convince them to hit our website goals.
Once your visitors convince and ready to converse, you need to provide them communication channels to start conversations and contact form is first step to do so safely and reliably. WordPress has many plugins to display contact form module with desired fields and customization. Among them, contact form 7 is highly used in recent responsive and mobile-friendly website era.
- It allows you to manage multiple contact forms with a single backend
- It allows extensive customization and email the captured content with required flexibility using simple markup
- It supports AJAX powered submission, CAPTCHA, and spam filters from other plugins
8. Social Networking
Social media are rocking and enjoy special recognition in search engine algorithms as well as in the hearts of people, thanks to its transparent and sharing nature. It helps to spread words quickly and efficiently with desired reliability.
Therefore, social media optimization is an essential activity in the Internet marketing, and WordPress websites need to support it. There are a plenty of social media plugins for WordPress.
Among the all, Shareaholic is an ultimate winner thanks to its performance oriented approaches.
It is because social media integration slows down the website and intimidating the performance due to intensive processing and loading issues.
- It provides social sharing, following, and social analytics features besides some content sharing and conversion optimization functionality
- It provides share button in vector format (SVG format)
- It has official share counter for the leading social media networking sites
- It offers floating share buttons
- Its social analytics modules provide actionable metrics for deep insights
Recently, the majority of WordPress websites looking for ecommerce features to enable their business websites to act as an online shop with all required nuts-and-bolts. Therefore, they look at ecommerce plugin available for WordPress platform, instead of migrating to known ecommerce platforms like Magento.
In due course, WordPress is offering an excellent option that can almost beat Magento in features and functionality, if you want to stick with original WordPress and its CMS advantages. It is WooCommerce integration to convert your CMS into full-fledged ecommerce website.
- It is a free plugin with rich features and functionality to support ecommerce activities. For advanced features and functionality, it offers premium version too
- It lets you sell anything online and from anywhere including physical and digital goods
- It has desired shipping features to suit for any product type
- It supports multiple payment methods with support for almost all leading payment gateways including PayPal
- It also support bank transfer and cash on delivery options
- It has other features and awesome dashboard functionality to give total control of your online shop in your hand including marketing
- It has built developers in mind so extensive customization and developer tools available
According to a survey, more than 80% online shoppers need any kind of support to accomplish their purchases on an ecommerce website. With the advent of technologies, today we have natural learning and artificial intelligence based live chat called Chatbot that provides automated live chat support using AI enabled robot as well as human assistance if needed.
However, live chat plugins are many in the market, but a very few are equipped with the latest technology arsenals to beat your competitions. Among those, live chat+ 24/7 automated bot or Chatbot is providing superior user experiences with real-time and Chatbot capabilities.
- It offers remarkable technologies to offer awesome user experiences
- Provides seamless experiences and exceptional customer interactions
- It has shortcuts to help human (Live) agent for quicker responses
- Convenient interface to easily switch between automated answer bot and live (Human) agent
- Advanced features such as queue system and analytics
11. Photo Gallery
If your business and your WordPress website are relying heavily on images of any kind, photo gallery provides robust experiences and helps to obtain impressive results. However, WordPress community has released tons of photo gallery plugins to aid WordPress site owners and webmasters.
Among those hip of plugins, NEXTGEN Gallery is highly used WordPress plugin to add and manage a photo gallery for your site.
It provides tools for photo gallery management system including:
- Batch upload of photos
- Importing Meta Data
- Add, delete, rearrange, and sorting of photos/images
- Editing thumbnails
- Group galleries into albums
- It offers slideshow display style as well as thumbnail galleries
- It lets you control size, style, timing, transitions, controls, and light box effects
12. Maps Integration Plugins
Today most of WordPress users access your website using smartphones or tablets besides desktops. Mobile devices have GPS capabilities built-in and enable users to locate own location easily if they have Google Map or Apple Map like APIs integrated.
It is true that Google Maps are universal and winner in the Map niche. Therefore, Google Maps are in use heavily. Moreover, today integrating Map API on contact us page is a norm to display customized map to get real-time directions to reach your business location for your esteemed users.
In due course, WP Google Maps is the best choice.
- It is easy to use and integrate using short code
- It is perfect choice for contact us page maps, routes maps to display delivery in real-time and much more
- Allows to create infinitive map markers
- 9+ popular map themes to select
- Customization enabled for map themes
- Google maps street view supported
- Offers support for localization
- Compatibility with relevant plugins like caching, Cloudfare, and so on
- It offers professional and premium edition for advanced features and functionality
- Allows users to get directions
It true that WordPress community has developed thousands of plugins to aid WordPress websites in myriads of ways. Therefore, we have selected only currently used WordPress plugins for the 2017 year to get success in the market.
We have listed exemplary plugins for each category or type, but the real decision should make by your WordPress consultants or WordPress development team creating your website. Therefore, you can get maximum benefits out of a few selected plugins. Otherwise, a number of plugins are deteriorating performance and speed of your WordPress website.
Tarang Vyas, CTO at Perception System, a leading WordPress Development Company, founded in 2001.