What is a Plugin?
Plugins are add-on computing software that enhance the function of a web browser and enable additional information to be displayed without altering the browser itself. Software designers cannot predict what kind of additional functions that users may want, so installing a plugin makes it possible by integrating with a web browser or any host program.
Software developers or a plugin user can create content or any kind of collaboration with their products and other related products.
In a web browser, a plugin allows additional information to be displayed that the original browser was not designed to do so.
Examples of a plugin are Adobe Flash Player, RealPlayer, Adobe Acrobat, VRML, Shockwave, etc. These are internet browser plugins.
What is a WordPress Plugin?
A WordPress plugin is written in PHP to integrate with WordPress. This makes it easier for users to add additional features to their websites without writing in code or even having knowledge about coding. There is a plugin for everything on WordPress which is why it is the most enjoyed CMS (Content Management system).
Since most websites are built with WordPress, there are over 50,000 plugins available for digital marketers, SEO, content creators, bloggers, for security, spam filtering, to handle multiple contact forms, for e-commerce purposes, etc.
What to look for when Choosing a Plugin:
The myriad of plugin options available on WordPress makes it hard to choose the right ones for your site. Not all of them are free and choosing a wrong one can land you in trouble of crashing your website down. It can also damage the user experience.
So here is what to look for when choosing a WordPress plugin –
Page load – Some plugins may slow down your site or other plugins. Now, you don’t want that. So test your page speed and record its loading time. Then install and activate the plugin and test the speed again. If you notice any change in loading time of your page, especially if it has gotten considerably slower, then you may want to search for a better plugin.
Reviews – Anything less than 4 stars can be doubtful for use. Just head over to the WordPress plugin section and click on any plugin you need. Look for a description in the details section and you will see the ratings section on the right.
Look for user reviews as well and watch out for common complaints from the users. This should give you an idea on what exactly you don’t want in the plugin.
Updates – Go for a plugin that is recently updated and compatible with the updated WordPress version. You can check for the latest updates and changes made by the author under the changelog section. It will give you a list of every change made by the author.
Use a plugin that is compatible with your version of WordPress to avoid your website from crashing down.
Support – Under the ratings on the right-hand side, you will notice a support section which shows the number of issues resolved in the last 2 months. The higher the number of issues solved, the better. If you notice too many unresolved ones, then you may want to look again, even though the plugin might work for you, but may have too many issues.
Now that you know how to choose a plugin, here are some of the best WordPress plugins to use in 2020
1. Yoast SEO
This is the best WordPress Plugin for SEO. Ask any WordPress user or a digital marketer and they swear by this plugin. Since 2008, Yoast has helped millions of websites rank. It is great for testing readability, to do SEO, XML site map, content analysis and schema markup.
Although WordPress is great for SEO, Yoast can do so much more to increase traffic to your website using the best SEO practices. It can connect your website to Google Search Console, optimise content for social media, and help you easily create more than 300 redirects. It can detect broken links and changes in the URL as well.
Yoast shows you problems in SEO on your site if there are any. It makes setting up social cards inside your WordPress editor for social media easier.
Premium version of Yoast lets you preview your content when people share it on social media before it goes live.
2.WP Rocket – For fast loading:
Do you have a lazy site? A slow loading one? Then use this plugin to increase the loading speed. You can just install and go without having to try hard to configure. Anyone can configure in seconds with little technical knowledge.
An advanced plugin, WP Rocket fixes most of the performance grade issues quickly and optimizes your database So when it comes to the performance of your site, WP rocket is the best cache plugin. It is way better than W3 Total Cache.
If you have W3 Total cache, we suggest that you use WP rocket instead and you will notice a massive difference.
Some of the other features of WP Rocket include –
- CloudFlare compatibility
- Multisite compatibility
- Multilingual compatibility
- DNS prefetching
- Defer JS loading, and many more.
3.Elementor – For website building
Struggling to build a website going back and forth with multiple platforms? Well, worry not, for Elementor is here!
A free WordPress plugin, (paid version available at a very reasonable rate too) you can create amazing custom website designs with over 90 drag and drop widgets. Any non-coders can use this plugin to make easy WordPress web designs.
You can create any kind of pages with Elemtor, like landing pages, sales pages, promotional pages, and even custom ones. You can even add interactive motion animation like parallax. To build your first page, go to your WordPress dashboard and click pages. Then click add new. Click edit with Elementor.
You will see sections, columns and widgets on the left-hand side. You can select any widget and drag and drop it to start building a website.
4.Contact Form 7 – For creating contact forms
A free WordPress plugin written by a Japanese author, Takayuki Miyoshi, Contact Form 7 has been hailed as one of the best WordPress plugins for creating contact forms on your website. With this plugin, you can provide contact forms to your visitors for feedback and queries instead of asking them to contact you via email.
Some of the features of this plugin are –
- Simple Interface
- It can alter and mail content with simple markup
- Insert forms into any pages with a shortcode
- It can handle multiple contact forms that support Ajax-powered submitting, captcha, Akismet spam (another WordPress plugin), and more.
As it is a free plugin, it needs your support to keep providing awesome services. So consider donating if you like using the plugin. Let’s keep it alive!
5.MonsterInsights Lite – For analytics
The best thing about MonsterInsights is that you can activate all advanced Google Analytics tracking features without hiring a developer with a few clicks. It makes installing Google Analytics easier for your WordPress.
The plugin comes with Google Analytics dashboard for WordPress that shows only the stats that matter inside your WordPress dashboard. It shows you report on –
- Content – tells you which content is performing best with the most number of visits
- Ecommerce – total revenue, conversion rate, average orders, etc.
- Forms – conversion stats for contact forms
- Search Console – shows you how your website ranks in Google
- Custom dimensions
The plugin keeps up with all the updates on Google Analytics so that your website too stays updated with the latest Google Analytics features. It uses Google Analytics’ universal tracking code so that you can track your users across many platforms and devices.
6.WooCommerce – For e-commerce store
Another free plugin with a paid version available at an economical price, no other e-commerce plugins allows you to sell products without charging a dime for your profits like WooCommerce.
You can easily build an online store on your WordPress website with this plugin. You don’t need to be a developer to use it. Manage your orders and customers easily.
You can sell pretty much anything on WooCommerce. Physical products like t-shirts, crafts, accessories, music, food items, anything! You can also carry out online activities like reservations and appointments. It provides flexible payment options and shipping services as well.
Just visualise the kind of e-commerce website you would want and create it with WooCommerce.
You can build responsive photos and videos for your site within minutes with Envira. It’s a complete plugin that lets you integrate it with your WordPress site, social media, WooCommerce, and more.
Some of the features of Envira Gallery are –
- Drag and drop to add images and videos or rearrange the themes and layouts
- SEO-friendly galleries
- Advanced lightbox features
- Import from different platforms like Instagram, Dropbox, Flickr, etc
- Pre-built templates
- Developer-friendly codes with many hooks and filters
- Proofing, and many more.
Since it is optimised for maximum speed, you can add a dynamic gallery easily to your WordPress site.
8.Akismet – For spam comments
Are you getting comments that are too good to be true? Out of hundreds or thousands comments, only a handful of them could be legitimate. If only there was a way to filter out those spam comments…….
Enter Akismet. The name comes from Automattic and Kismet, Automattic being the company behind Akismet.
This anti-spam plugin looks for spam comments and pingbacks them using algorithms. When a number of websites report spam comments that look similar, Akismet identifies and catches them. As of 2020, it has caught over 500,000,000,000 spam comments and counting!
Save your time and effort put into moderating and limiting comments with Akismet. Do bear in mind that you would need API Key to set up Akismet on your website. It is free for personal and non-business sites. For businesses one, it comes with different pricing plans.
9.PushEngage – For more traffic
Customer engagement is quite important. And re-engaging them is even more so. PushEngage lets you do just that with push notifications for websites. It drops a notification to a customer whenever they abandon a shopping cart, when prices drop and it can track revenue, help reach out to customers who abandoned your browser, and many more.
You can increase your conversion rate by 10% with PushEngage. It allows you to segment your users on different parameters like e-commerce, media, blogs, based on user actions, location, etc. Segmenting them improves clicks to 2 times.
The advanced analytics that comes with the plugin lets you measure the performance of push notifications tools, CTR campaigns and more. You run drip campaigns as well.
PushEngage also supports multiple browsers, both HTTP & HTTPS types of site and supports many users in a single account. What’s nicer and more fun is that it comes with emojis and multi-language support for personalisation.
10.No Self Ping – For blogs
As the name suggests, No Self Ping plugin stops you from pinging your domain. It is quite easy to use and once installed, it requires no configuration and instantly stops your blogs from sending trackback to your domain.
Linking to high authority or relevant blogs is a good thing. It helps SEO too. But many times, when you link to your old blogs within the current one, WordPress pings your own domain and it makes no sense to show your own blog posts in trackback. Deleting it or trashing it can be a laborious task. So No Self Ping does the work for you and takes the burden off your shoulder.
11.ThirstyAffiliates – For managing affiliate links
Are you one of those who enjoy affiliate marketing? Then this WordPress plugin will come in handy to manage all your affiliate links.
It makes long, ugly and hard to remember links short and easy to remember. You can go back to the product website and copy the affiliate link once. You can also add a nofollow attributes to the link as well with the plugin. You don’t have to keep revisiting the site every time you mention a product.
- Can automatically add affiliate links to the keywords with autolinker addon
- Checks for 404 errors automatically
- Provides useful statistics
- Provides geolocation links and suggests alternate locations for international clicks
- Easy import and export of links via CSV
- Integrates with Google Analytics, and more.
12.The Events Calendar
This free WordPress plugin makes managing events, both online and offline easier on your website. It comes with extensive templates and stylesheets for complete customisation. You can sell tickets, promote events and even organise every step of event creation and management.
You can show the events in multiple formats – grids, maps, by list according to day or week. If you set a calendar view, you can choose which additional dates are available for customers to choose from.
Some of the features of The Events Calendar are –
- Responsive for all kinds of devices
- Categories and tags – you can label every event and organise easily. It makes it even easier for customers to find events of their interest
- Multiple stylesheets
- Venue and organiser information are saved, so you can easily access the details
- Import and export CSV – Users can export the events to their personal calendars individually.
13.Wordfence – For security
Protect your site from dangerous traffic and hackers with Wordfence. It builds a firewall to identify and block that malicious traffic. It also scans your site for malware, bad URLs, SEO spam and malicious redirects.
For security –
- It does not break encryption and does not leak data while protecting your site
- Protects your site from vicious attacks by limiting login attempts
- If you upgrade to premium, it blocks all requests from malicious IPs when your site is loading
- Checks your core files, themes and plugins integrated with WordPress to report any changes and malware.
- It repairs files that you may have overwritten
- Checks the safety of content and reports any suspicious URLs and content
- Checks your site for any security-related vulnerabilities, and more.
14.UpdraftPlus – For backup
Secure your files and website with backup and clones with UpdraftPlus to avoid having a bad day when the server crashes and you lose everything you created. UpdraftPlus is the best WordPress plugin for backup and has been tested on 1 million web sites.
No risks can be taken and nothing can be compromised when it comes to keeping your files safe. The plugin can keep your works safe and restores them if something goes wrong. You can set and forget and Updraft will schedule automatic backups to many Cloud options. Life gets easier with this plugin!
You can also clone your website with the plugin so that if your website crashes or has been destroyed, you can use the clone and convert to original with UpdraftClone. Clone is a temporary copy of your website stored in the plugin’s server.
With this plugin, you can add PHP code snippets to your site’s functions.php without the need for custom snippets. For most snippet-hosting websites, you need to add snippet code to active theme functions.php. This can get really long and messy. The plugin makes it easier by providing a GUI interface for adding the snippets and running them on the site.
- Graphical interface to manage and activate/deactivate the snippets
- Snippet editor
- Visual editor-enabled description
- Tags for categorising snippets
- Exporter for snippets
As a free plugin, it relies on the user to keep it going. So consider donating for the cause if you like using the plugin.
Do you have any favourite plugins you use for WordPress? Let us know in the comments! 😃
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