Essential WordPress Plugins for 2013

Written by on March 4, 2013 in Plugins 37

One of the great things about WordPress (apart from the amazing themes, of course!) is the plugin system, which allows users to “plug in” bits of pre-built functionality to their site.

Here at WPZOOM we’re often asked to recommend WordPress plugins to add various features to people’s sites, so here we’ve rounded up some of the top essential plugins for running a powerful WordPress site in 2013.

WordPress SEO

Yoast’s WordPress SEO Plugin is hands-down one of the best plugins for WordPress SEO around and is used by hundreds of thousands of bloggers.

The plugin’s main strength comes from the comprehensive options: WordPress SEO does everything you’d expect a good SEO plugin to do, and it does it very well. That’s why we recommend using it to help power your site up the rankings.

Digg Digg

Despite using the name of a social sharing site which is a shell of its former self, make no mistake: the Digg Digg plugin is not one you want to miss out on.

Using a style first pioneered by the tech blog Mashable, Digg Digg adds a set of social sharing buttons which ‘float’ alongside your content and then scroll with the page.This creates a great opportunity for promoting your content on social media and it’s devastatingly effective at doing so. Don’t miss out on free promotion!


W3 Total Cache/WP Super Cache

The two giants in WordPress caching, running one (although not both) of these plugins is essential for virtually all sites running WordPress.

A caching plugin creates a copy of your site and then displays that to visitors, rather than generating a unique copy for each visitor. This allows your site’s server to use fewer resources, resulting in the site loading faster.

It doesn’t matter which one of these two plugins you’re using, as long as you’re using one of them. It’s likely the performance of each one will differ slightly on your host, so make sure you test out both and see which works best for you.


WPTouch

Many of WPZOOM’s themes come with built in ‘responsive’ mobile support, with the theme automagically shrinking to fit your screen size on mobile or tablet. With widespread use of smartphones, especially as a way of consuming information, these mobile-friendly themes are great to have.

Not all our themes are responsive, however, and on the ones that are, sometimes something a little more lightweight is required. Here steps in the WPTouch plugin which, when activated, applies a specially-built theme to your site when viewed on mobile. The mobile theme itself is nothing exceptional, but it’s functional and it works, so for a mobile plugin, look no further.


Easy Digital Downloads

In the current difficult economic climate, many site owners are looking to diversify their income by selling items and downloads through their websites. If that’s you, then this is the plugin which is going to empower your selling.

Easy Digital Downloads, as the name suggests, provides an easy way for you to sell downloads via your WordPress-powered site. The plugin itself is free, but extra premium ‘addons’ are available which add extra functionality. If you want a simple way to monetize your site, this is the way to do it.


Jetpack

Made by Automattic, in part the same people behind the WordPress project, Jetpack brings some of the super-handy functionality enjoyed by WordPress.com users — such as caching of images on a super-fast CDN, website stats and spelling and grammar checking — to WordPress.org users (like you!).

Jetpack adds a bunch of functionality, and is a really handy plugin to have around, so make sure you check out the full list of features and get it added to your site!


Hello Bar

hellobar2

If you want people to do something when they visit your website, be that purchase your book, contact you or read a special report you’ve written, the Hello Bar is a great way of increasing your conversion rate — or in plain English: getting people to do what you want them to do.

The plugin adds a “Hello Bar” across the top of your site, which gives you a short space for your message and then has a call to action. You’ll need to sign up for a free account on HelloBar.com, but with that done, there’s nothing more to do, except sit back and watch your conversion rate fly through the roof!


WPIde

wpide

Though this is not a revolutionary plugin, it does something that misses in WordPress: the ability to edit files included in theme subfolders. WordPress Theme Editor is great, but it doesn’t allow you to edit all the files from a theme, and since many of our themes include multiple files organized in sub-folders, it becomes impossible to find those files when you want to edit them. Here WPIde plugin comes in help and let you modify anything you want, without having to leave the WordPress Dashboard.


WPThumb

crop

WPThumb is also a useful plugin which does something that we think should be included in WordPress. It allows you to choose the cropping position of the images that you upload as Featured Image. This way you can make sure that you don’t end up with badly cropped thumbnails. To enable this feature in your theme, just follow instructions from this topic.


Rock up, plug in, roll!

The WordPress community is fantastic in continuing to provide fantastic plugins which add great functionality to your site quickly and easily at no or very little cost to you.

All of these plugins install in a couple of steps, but if you run into any trouble, just remember to look for documentation and search for similar problems before asking for help on WordPress.org, only if necessary. Have fun!

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37 Comments

  • Very Good post, ideal information for any WordPress theme blogger or developer, but there is one plugin is miss that also most important http://akismet.com/

    • Akismet plugin comes together with WordPress, so there is no need to recommend it :)

      • Akismet and a security plugin like limit login attempts or Wordfence are the only plugins which are really essential.

    • Jetpack is definitely a great plugin if you want to create an engaging experience with your users. The list is overall well composed, I only feel like it misses a couple of security plugins. I have a new media technologies blog with a couple of other people that we started a couple months ago, and we are starting to see more and more attacks on our blog. We let people comment and post because the point is to create something interactive, but we now and then get link redirects, spam and malicious content inserted in our blog. Akismet has worked ok for us; we recently installed the SmartFilter, it detects “cross-site-scripting” attacks and remedies the threats. It’s worked really well for now, we’ll see how it continues in the future. Great post overall!

  • The only plugins that are really essential are Easy Digital Downloads and WPThumb. The rest really isn’t that essential for 2013. WPTouch is really old school and was hip years ago. It’s replacement is just doing yourself and make your site responsive.

  • Thanks for the post, though I’m agreeing with Marko in that WP Touch is just too dated an experience to recommend. I would also liked to have seen a responsive slider recommendation, something with font embed/customization, a gallery tool, and comment/social management.

  • I use most of the plugins recommended here. One note on Jetpack — it comes with a bunch of modules that are activated — 20+. I deactivated the ones that I don’t use so as to not use up unnecessary resources.

  • You don’t need an SEO plugin if you’re using a qaulity theme framework like Genesis which includes built in SEO..
    You don’t need a caching plugin if you use the fastest servers at WPEngine.
    And you don’t need WPTouch if your theme is fully mobile responsive.

    • Theoretically speaking, a theme should do only so much in terms of SEO.
      A theme should not really include controls on what pages to index or not to index, how to rewrite a title or to generate a XML map.
      In the end a theme should be a structure and a design, you shouldn’t mix too much functionality with design, otherwise you will end up locking yourself down.

      As for not needing a caching plugin, I cannot disagree with you more. There is absolutely no logical reason not to optimize your website and make it run faster and use less resources. Why put extra pressure on a machine when you can optimize it in just a minute?
      Avoiding waste is a good thing, not a bad thing.

  • All are awesome plugins, thanks for sharing.

  • Nice list. I’ve been using some of these and highly recommend them – WordPress SEO, W3 Total Cache and Digg Digg.

    WPTouch – Depends. If your theme is already responsive, you won’t need this.

    EDD – I’ve been following their updates for so long but haven’t got time to try it out. I heard nothing but only good things about EDD.

    WPIde and WP Thumb – Look great. Should try it out.

  • As of now I’m using Yoast SEO, W3 Total Cache on my blog.

    Looking for an alternative for Digg Digg plugin as I dont think its good to use it.

    As always EDD rocks with regular updates and great add-ons.

    I prefer Jetpack Lite rather than using fully-loaded Jetpack!

    Need to try my hands on remaining plugins mentioned here.

  • MORE THEMES NOW!!!

  • Really good list Alex. One of my favorites is Hello Bar. I see a 100% increases in page visits to the page I target with it on my site. This is huge for guiding your visitors to where you want them to go on your site. I highly recommend it.

    I know this is a list of free plugins but there are some great premium ones out there like; RoyalSlider, ManageWP and Drag and Drop Builder… just thought I would throw those out there.

    • Thanks for the comment, Michael! Interesting to hear some data on Hello Bar – I must admit I’ve not actually tried it out on a large scale. Good to hear it works though :)

  • Why “All in One SEO” plugin is not in your list ? Is it a bad plugin ?

    • No; “All in One SEO” is a good plugin, but my personal preference is WordPress SEO by Yoast :)

  • for me to use wordpress SEO is all in one seo pack, I think it is more effective

  • We did check to see what the most popular CMS was (among clients) and needless to say it was WordPress. It would be interesting to take it a step further and see the percentage of all clients who use WordPress. My guess is that it would be very close to the same percentage of overall WordPress take-up across the web.

  • Affiliate links work best for blogs,if you do not have time to add links inside every article you written You can automatically add affiliate links, along with the keywords selected from your articles where you want your links to be displayed.
    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-auto-affiliate-links/

  • Hi WP Zoom =]

    I love your plug-ins and I have a question about a new site i would love if you could combined PL from GVO and make plug-in that helps with lead generation, opt-in capture pages or overlays of some sort? I want to capture as much as possible, this is a 100% residual commission base tool!

    pure leverage review page, the alexa rating are out of this world!
    http://www.pureleverage.com/prelaunch/internal.php?id=pureleveragereview

    Thank you…
    Scott

  • Thanks a lot for your collection plugin, I need one of this…..for my new blog….you really help me for learn wordpress

  • You forgot to add Wisija, the best newsletter pluging outhere.

  • Great list of plugins! Thanks for Sharing. Hello bar looks intriguing.

  • Thanks for this list. I just used the Digg Digg plugin. Very useful.

  • Hi .. Thanks for sharing very good plugins…….

  • WPThumb is essential. another great plugin not on this list is the Sendola button.
    It lets visitors send your contact details to their phone for free. check it out.

    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/sendola/

  • For WordPress comments check our Barc, it’s in real-time, free, and comes with a TON of other cool features: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/barc-chat

  • great work..!!
    All the plugins you mentioned here are really the must have plugins…….especially wordpress by yoast……keep up!!

  • And Akismet? Is the best anti-spam plugin available for WordPress…

  • hey Alex, great article! always like to know which WordPress plugins are a must have.
    Try checking out the Barc commenting plugin – it’s a new way to add real time commenting to any site with useful features like private chat rooms, language translation and embeddable multi-media to name a few.
    Please check it out!
    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/barc-chat/

  • Hey Alex,
    Thanks for sharing Great plugins, Let me try everything.

  • This list a kind of an endless list for me to ignore online. I think having all this sets of plugins on my site we really make the success out of my blog
    Thanks you :)

  • Hi,

    Wonderful list of WordPress plugins. SEO by SEO is one of my favorite SEO plugin I use on my blogs. W3 Cache and Super Cache both are awesome plugins if you’re on shared hosting and your page load time is slow.

    Wptouch – There is no need to install this plugin if your theme is responsve, otherwise this is best mobile version theme for your blog.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Hi Alex, I notice many commenting as WPtouch to be too old fashioned. Is there any thing that can replace this plugin in these times in a better way? Would appreciate your advise.
    Thanks for sharing!