I've reviewed, used, installed, removed, hundreds of WordPress Plugins for my own sites and my client's websites. This post on the Best WP Plugins for 2013 are carefully selected based on several factors:
Ease of Use
Benefits and Features
* If you think there's a WordPress Plugin that should be mentioned here, please let me know. Please note that although I'm an affiliate of some of the WordPress Plugins here, I ONLY recommend them because I can see the benefit of using them. No plugin has been recommended here that doesn't pass my high standards of creating Optimized WordPress Blogs.
Watch This Video (8:58 mins) which provides you with a quick overview of the best plugins in 2013
The Best WordPress Plugins in 2013 For Search Engine Optimization
I've mentioned these plugins before in my previous post on how to rank your websites in the search results. These plugins are very powerful that when used properly, it can save you time, prevent duplicate issues, and even help your site's rank higher in the Search Engines.
The Plugins that I've mentioned are:
Allows Total Control of Indexing of Categories, Tags, Posts, Pages, and Media. It handle's sitemaps, and webmaster verification as well. Another great feature that I love about these plugin is it's ability to import SEO metadata from other SEO Plugins like All in One SEO.
So if you're using All in One SEO before, upgrading to this plugin will be a breeze. For people worried about their On Page SEO (How optimize is your content), then you'll love the Page Analysis feature of this plugin. And did I mention that it's Free!
2. SEO Ultimate
It has all the bells and whistles like WordPress SEO by Yoast, but without the Page Analysis. What I loved about this plugin is it's ability to give you a central interface for editing Title Tags, Keywords, and Descriptions. So if you have a site that have lots of pages without any Metadata, then you can use SEO Ultimate to add these Metadata easily.
Remember that you can only use 1 SEO plugin, because it can cause conflicts with your SEO Settings. I would recommend WordPress SEO by Yoast, if you are starting a new site and you wan't On page SEO guidance. But if you have an existing site with lots of content and you need to optimize it, then I would go with SEO ultimate.
* The next 3 Plugins are not SEO plugins per se but they play an important part in SEO. These plugins are designed to speed up your website. Speed is already a ranking factor because serving websites faster can give boost user experience. To check your website's speed, you can use Google's Pagespeed Insights to get a better insight of your site's speed
This plugin as the name implies leverages caching technology to speed up loading of your site. The way caching works is that it preloads your images, posts, pages, categories, links on the user's browser so that it would load faster when they start browsing your site. It's very easy to configure. Just install the plugin and enable caching in the settings.
2. WP Minify
JS and CSS Files needs to compressed in order to improve the loading time of your pages. Just install this plugin, activate it and you're good to go.
3. WP Smush.it
This plugin compresses your image files into smaller sizes. And since your images have smaller file sizes, it will load faster. Install this plugin, activate it, then go to Dashboard -> Media -> Bulk Smush it to compress all the images in your wordpress blog.
The Best Analytics and Tracking Plugins for WordPress
Tracking your website visitors is important, but measuring the Goals and conversions on your website are even more important.
[tweetherder]You can't improve what you don't track. via @TrafficSalad [/tweetherder]
These plugins will help you mask affiliate links, track events, setup webmaster tools, and Google Analytics in your site without messing up with your website's source code.
Another quality plugin from Yoast. I use this tool a lot because I want to easily integrate Google Analytics to my wordpress blogs.
Just install the plugin, activate it, and then sync the Google analytics profile that you would like to track.
This is one of the plugins that is always present on all of my sites. It allows me to mask URLs and make it prettier (http://www.affiliateproduct.com/29312-affiliateproduct -> to something like http://www.trafficsalad.org/go/prettylinkpro).
I can also create 301(permanent) and 302 redirects(temporary) easily using Pretty link Pro. It has a nice tracking feature which allows me to identify how many people clicked on the link and also split testing features which helps me rotate different links and see which link performs better.
The Best Commenting and Spam Fighting Plugins in WordPress
We all hate spam. It makes managing wordpress comments a daunting task. If you've been constantly bombarded with Spam Comments then you'll love this section.
I've used Akismet before to stop comment spam. The problem with Akismet is that Spam bots are getting smarter and sometimes legit comments are being caught in their spam filters.
I've noticed less spam with G.A.S.P. Just remember to deactivate Akismet, before you activate this new spambot plugin.
Disqus is an
awesome replacement for the default wordpress commenting system (I use Commentluv in all my sites right now). People who would like to leave a comment on your site can simply login using their twitter, facebook, or google plus accounts. This can drastically decrease comment spam, since spam bots don't login to these social networks when leaving a comment.
When blogger started having Google+ comments on their free hosted blogs, it was really slick. You're basically leveraging the power of the Google+ social network to your blog. You can easily share your blog post in a Google+ community and any engagement that you get from that community will also be shown to your blogs. How cool is that? That's immediate social proof. For Self Hosted WordPress users, you can install this plugin to have that same functionality on your blog.
This is what I'm USING for ALL my sites right now. What I love about it is that there's tons of benefits on using this commenting plugin. First, this helped me cut down my comment spam (and trackback spam) by as much as 98%. It literally removed bot spams on my sites. Second, this plugin entices visitors to leave comments on my site because of a potential link back to their websites. I also love the REPLYME feature which automatically emails the person who left a comment on my blog.
You Must Build Your Email List and Start Building Relationships with your Readers
The money is in the list.
I'm personally guilty of not building an email list before. And that's a big "duh" moment for me. So now, whenever I launch a new site, I make sure that my optin list, my "free download guide or offer" are ready before I even start promoting my site.
Or sometimes, I launch a site but then start building my optin form immediately including the autoresponder series and free downloads.
Here are the tools that I use to grow that list.
I've tested several ways to add an optin form on my site. The default forms from email marketing services are just not enough for what I need. For example, Optinskin allows you to split test, track conversions, and have a fade in effect (3 seconds) before it "shows" to my readers. It's the optin form that I use on this website and all my other websites.
It's free for the first 2,000 subscribers and allows you to send 12,000 emails every month. That's more than what you need especially if you are just starting out. The free option doesn't have autoresponder series, you can choose to upgrade and pay monthly or if you're going to send less emails, you might want to choose the prepaid option.
This is a relatively new plugin from the creators of Hybrid Connect. It's a useful plugin to create segmented email lists through asking questions from your readers. (See the Quiz Question below this post)
I've been using Mailchimp for quite some time, but the reason I've used Get Response is it that it has the Facebook 1 Click register option for running optin forms inside Facebook Fanpages. I'll talk more about this later on. Currently, the other email marketing service provider that has this feature is Aweber. The reason I choose Getresponse over Aweber is the pricing option. I believe that I'm getting a better deal for Getresponse.
Wysija Newsletters (Not Used) This plugin is not yet tested (by me) but there have been a lot of downloads for this plugin (400K+. It's a free autoresponder and email list. Will update post on this.
The Best Social Sharing Plugins in 2013
I love the design of this sidebar social sharing. But it's important to hide social sharing numbers if you don't have at least double digit shares. There's an option to hide them inside Flare.
Not necessarily a social sharing plugin, but it's a plugin that "bribes" your reader to Tweet your post/page in exchange of a FREE Download. Check out a sample Pay To Tweet Button below this post. I'm offering people a ZIP file of all the WordPress Plugins in this post, if they just Pay To Tweet. :)
It's a WIN - WIN Situation, they get a Free Gift (should be valuable) and I get a share on their twitter networks.
New Plugins Worth Using and Mentioning
I love this plugin. This allows me to easily find "creative commons images *free that I can use on my site. It also speeds up external linking to authority sites, as well as adding keywords to my tags. Watch Video Below on how to use it.
Not necessarily a plugin, but it's a code that you can add on your sidebar or footer. This will help you gain more followers on Google+ which is very important for Search engine optimization and social media marketing.
This plugin allows me to put Recent Posts on my sidebar and add nice images that can improve click through rates on your site.
2 Ways to Easily Install your WordPress Plugins
1. Login to your WordPress Dashboard then go to Plugins -> Add New
You Can either search for a plugin that you need or Upload an existing plugin that have. If you are going to upload Plugins, they will be usually in the .zip (ZIP format). Just Choose Upload and Browse your plugin from the folder where you saved it.
2. The other method is by using an FTP software or File Transfer Protocol Software.
The software that I use is called, Filezilla, and it's Free. You'll need to get your FTP Username, Password and Details to connect to the FTP of your site.
If you don't have an FTP account for your domain, you'll need to create one under Cpanel, and then open up Filezilla and enter your details in the Quick Connect Settings inside the software.
The Host is usually : ftp.yourdomain.com
Username: Your FTP Username
Password: Your Password
Port: 21 or 22
These are the usual settings for the FTP, save these details in a safe place. I usually save it in Google Docs or in my email.
Using FTP is just like using Explorer or any File Browser. You basically Drag and Drop one File to the Other.
Make sure that you've extracted your Plugin ZIP file first. Upload the Entire Plugin Folder and Files to your Plugin Folder, which is usually located here:
Don't Upload the Entire ZIP file to the Plugin Directory. You need to Unzip the Plugin file first then Upload the Folder and it's content to the plugins folder.
After uploading the Files, login back to your WordPress Dashboard, Go to Plugins and activate the plugin that you have just uploaded. If everything was uploaded properly, the plugin will now be ready for use.
*** These FTP method is seldom used. As you can see, there's a lot of technical stuff going on in here. But some plugins needs to be installed via an FTP upload. I would try the first method first when installing plugins, but if it's not working, I would then try the FTP upload method.
I've compiled all these FREE Plugins into 1 ZIP File that you can simply extract and upload via FTP or via the Plugin installation settings in WordPress. Just Tweet this page, share the love and get this ZIP file. It will save you at least 15-30 minutes of doing it again.
*Disclosure: Some of the links provided in this article and website are affiliate links. Which means I earn a commission when you decide to purchase their products via my links (without any extra charge on your part of course). This will help me sustain this website, pay for hosting, and keep providing great posts for my readers. Thank you very much - Ryan!
Do you think I've covered the most important and Best WordPress Plugins for 2013?
Please leave your comments below. Thanks!