With a 60.8% market share in the content management system (CMS) segment, WordPress is now powering nearly 15% of the leading websites across the globe. The WordPress official plugin repository now features over 55,000 plugins. Collectively, WordPress users have downloaded over 1 billion plugins so far.
So, What is a WordPress plugin exactly and how does it work? Moreover, what makes a WordPress Plugin popular among users? In this article, we will answer these questions and look at 18 of the most popular plugins.
What is a WordPress plugin?
Installing a WordPress plugin gives similar functionality to an app on your smartphone. They are easy to install and can function independently on any website. As the name suggests, a basic WordPress plugin can be “plugged in” without changing even a single line of the website code.
Why are WordPress plugins so popular among users? This is because besides improved ease of use, plugins serve multiple functions including:
- Improving the overall functionality of your WordPress site.
- Adding to the existing website functionality.
- Creating any kind of website (in just a few steps), including eCommerce sites, online job portals, business directories, photography sites, podcasts, and much more.
How do WordPress plugins work? Let’s check that out next.
How do WordPress plugins work?
Before talking about WordPress plugins, let us begin by understanding that Core WordPress is designed such that third-party developers can easily add their code (or plugin) to it. This means that any developer can now create their plugin independently and then simply integrate it with the WordPress platform.
In addition, WordPress also allows third-party developers to store their data in the WordPress database. Technically speaking, WordPress plugins use access points (or “filter and action” hooks), which are provided by the WordPress Plugin API to “hook” to the website’s source code.
Here are the steps on how to make a WordPress plugin from scratch:
- The plugin developer utilizes the WordPress Plugin API to create a PHP function that performs an action (for example, add the “Add to Cart” button for an eCommerce site).
- Next, the developer hooks this PHP function to an event using the “add_filter” or “add_action” function.
- The added functionality is executed whenever any event triggers the PHP function.
Next, let us see how to use a plugin in WordPress.
How to use a plugin in WordPress
To use a WordPress plugin, you first need to download it from the WordPress.org plugin repository or your WordPress website’s admin panel. From the WordPress admin panel, click “Plugins > Add New” to view the list of available plugins. Install the plugin that you want by using the search functionality.
If you are unable to locate your desired plugin on this page, you need to download the plugin (as a zipped file) from its developer’s website. Using an FTP tool, you can store this zipped file in the “wp-content/plugins” folder of your WordPress installation. This will install the WordPress plugin automatically on your website.
Once you have installed the plugin, you need to activate it (using the “Activate” link) before you can start using the plugin.
Next, let us look at 18 essential WordPress plugins available in the market that can work on any WordPress-powered website.
18 Essential WordPress Plugins
Here are 18 essential (or must-have) plugins for your WordPress website:
Everest Forms is a must-have plugin that can create any type of online form on your WordPress website. The plugin has a clean and user-friendly interface that can be used by both fresh and experienced WordPress users. Besides being light and fast, Everest Forms features a drag-and-drop form building tool and can create unlimited forms. Thanks to its responsive design, this plugin can be used on any mobile device.
All in One SEO (or AIOSEO)
Used by over 200,000 users, AIOSEO is a complete WordPress plugin for all SEO functions. With this plugin, WordPress business owners can unlock their SEO potential and improve their website search functionality. You can avail of the best SEO features like XML sitemaps, SEO keywords, and optimized searches with this SEO plugin.
Both free and paid versions are available for this WordPress plugin.
Currently, Yoast SEO is the leading SEO plugin for WordPress sites. This plugin can optimize your website SEO and help in attracting more organic traffic to your website. Using Yoast SEO, your WordPress site can get a higher ranking on multiple search engines, including Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
Some of the notable features of this SEO plugin include title tags, meta descriptions, breadcrumbs, canonical URLs, and schema markups.
This is another popular form builder that allows you to build contact forms and automatically sync them with HubSpot CRM. It features a drag-and-drop form building tool along with a pop-up creator, live chats, chatbot builder, and email marketing.
What makes HubSpot popular among WordPress users is its all-in-one functionality that would otherwise require you to install multiple plugins. Thus, HubSpot helps in keeping your website fast and responsive on any device.
Created by WordPress.com developer Automattic, Akismet is a popular WordPress plugin used primarily for its anti-spamming feature. Once installed and activated, the plugin checks every online user comment (posted on your website) for any spam links. Thanks to its popularity, Akismet now comes pre-installed on the latest WordPress version and is compatible with other plugins. However, you still need to manually activate the plugin.
Akismet is available with a free (for personal websites) and paid (for business and commercial websites) version.
Among the most complete WordPress security solutions in the market, Wordfence can protect your website from a variety of malware attacks. The security plugin features a malware scanner that sends out timely alerts when it detects any online threat. Additional plugin features include an in-built firewall, two-factor authentication, and real-time visibility into website traffic.
Easy to install and use, this security plugin is available in both free and paid versions. The paid version includes additional features like IP blacklisting and malware signature updates.
WP Rocket is a popular caching plugin designed for WordPress sites. This plugin can improve the loading speed and performance of a WordPress site on any device. Installed in over 100,000 websites, WP Rocket is easy to install and set up for your website. The plugin features lazy loading, where images are loaded on the user’s device only when they appear in the viewing mode.
Other features include preloading cache, gzip compression, and DNS prefetching that work to improve the website speed.
UpdraftPlus is a complete WordPress backup plugin that takes care of backups for your website and database. With this plugin, you can take backups of the core WordPress files, installed plugins/themes, and database tables. The plugin supports independent cloud-based storage locations, including Google Cloud, Dropbox, and Amazon S3.
Along with easy backups, you can also perform backup restores with a few clicks. This backup plugin has both free and premium versions. The premium version includes additional features like incremental backups and database encryption.
With over 5 million active installations, Elementor is a must-have WordPress plugin for building webpages. With its drag-and-drop functionality, you can now build an entire website from scratch. The tool comes with built-in features like the drag-and-drop page builder, ready-to-use page templates, and widgets to add images, buttons, and other UI elements to your page.
This page builder plugin is responsive and can be used to build websites for any device. It is available as free and paid versions, with the latter having additional features.
WooCommerce is easily among the popular plugins used to build an eCommerce website from scratch. Designed by Automattic, WooCommerce is easy to use for both novice and advanced users. Using this tool, you can design your product pages, shopping cart, and checkout pages with a few clicks. You can also configure various online payment options along with free shipping.
What’s more? You can use WooCommerce extensions to add more eCommerce functionalities.
Google XML Sitemaps
With over a million downloads, Google XML Sitemaps is among the popular plugins available for WordPress sites. This plugin ensures that popular search engines including Google and Bing can index your website posts faster. With this plugin, you can create special XML sitemaps that provide website information to search engine crawlers, thus resulting in effective indexing.
Google XML Sitemaps also allows you to configure specific pages (like a landing page) for high-priority indexing and passes information about new posts and pages to search engines for indexing.
User Registration is a useful WordPress plugin that can create any type of online registration form. With this plugin installed, you can create unlimited numbers of registration forms on your WordPress site. The plugin features a drag-and-drop functionality that makes it easy to design any form.
Additionally, you can create multiple column layouts on your form with a few clicks. Other plugin features include mobile responsiveness, shortcodes, and support for Google reCAPTCHA.
This is another powerful all-in-one WordPress plugin that performs multiple functions, thus offering tremendous value for your investment. Jetpack can help in generating website traffic, improve SEO, create website content, perform backups, and much more. This plugin has already been downloaded over 53 million times.
Jetpack enables you to view your website statistics and automatically share new posts on social media platforms.
If you want to analyze your WordPress site on Google Analytics, then MonsterInsights is the best plugin. With this plugin, you no longer need to hire a data analyst to configure your website for Google Analytics. With a few simple steps in the MonsterInsights dashboard, you can now do the same without doing any coding or configuring.
While the free version of this plugin provides many essential functionalities, the paid version provides insights into your most popular web pages, products, and conversions.
Smush is a popular choice among WordPress users when it comes to image optimization. With a single click, you can now easily optimize and compress any website image. Smush is an effective tool used to improve site speed and performance on any device.
The Smush tool is available in a free version. The paid (or pro) version allows you to optimize unlimited images (of up to 32MB size each).
If you are looking for a Learner Management System or LMS tool on your WordPress site, then LifterLMS is the best choice. This tool allows you to add and sell a variety of online courses. The tool supports several types of online courses ranging from administration courses to technical and documentation courses.
Apart from creating an unlimited number of online learning courses, this LMS tool can be used to generate coupons, add quizzes, and take care of student refunds and memberships.
Easy Social Sharing
Do you want to share your website content on social media platforms like Facebook, Google, and Twitter? Then you need to install the Easy Social Sharing plugin for WordPress sites. This plugin offers a total of 18 easy-to-identify social sharing buttons that can be added to any page or post.
Besides ease of sharing, the plugin also provides an updated count of social shares. This WordPress plugin features multiple button designs and customization features.
With over a million active installations, Redirection is easily the most popular plugin for redirecting website traffic to other websites. Using this plugin, you can easily create 301 redirects and track 401 errors, which can occur due to broken links. Effectively, you can manage these errors without any manual modifications.
As seen in this article, WordPress plugins can enhance the functionality of any WordPress site and help to grow your online business. With thousands of plugins available for WordPress at present, your choice for the right plugins depends on your business requirements and customer expectations.
Since its inception, Flipper Code has developed an end-to-end WordPress expertise to enable its customers meet their business goals. You can check out our range of in-house WordPress plugins for your business requirements. We also provide customized plugin development for your specific needs.
Let us know how we can help. Drop us a message today.