The Best WordPress Plugins in 2016 That You Shouldn’t Miss

My Top Picks for NEW blogs

You've just started a new blog...

Maybe even configured and installed a brand new WordPress theme...

And now it's time for you to optimize and add more features on your blog.

You've heard that you needed 'WordPress Plugins' to do this, and do that.

You searched Google, ended up in WordPress Repository, but ​realized that there's thousands of "choices" out there.

I don't want you to go spend a lot of time testing and figuring out which plugins to install. So, I've done the hard part of 'figuring' out which are the most basic and fundamental plugins that a new blog should have.​

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 2016 were carefully selected based on several factors:

  • Functionalitty
  • Usability
  • Benefits and Features
  • Practical Cost
  • Support

* 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.

The Best WordPress Plugins in 2016 

Each blog has different needs. Which is why, it's really hard to say that what's best for others would be best for your blog as well.

So instead, I'll be sharing here what's the best WordPress plugins in the general sense, but at the same time, I'll also provide the best plugins for specific needs and categories.​

The Best Plugins for SEO For Top Rankings​

1. WordPress SEO by Yoast

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

1. Quick Cache Plugin

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

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.

You can't improve what you can't track.

Click to Tweet

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.

1. Google Analytics for WordPress

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.

2. Pretty Link Pro

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 ( -> to something like

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.

1. Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin

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.

2. Disqus Commenting System

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.

3. Google+ Powered Comments

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.

4. Commentluv

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.

1. OptinSkin

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.

2. Mailchimp

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.

3. ViralQuizBuilder

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)

4. GetResponse

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.

The Best Social Sharing Plugins in 2016

1. Flare (Recommended)

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.

2. Pay to Tweet

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

1. Editorial Assistant by Zemanta

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.

2. Google+ Badge

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.

3. Special Recent Posts Free Edition

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.

The Host is usually :

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.

Go back to the top of the post

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.

Search For WordPress Plugins

*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!

Ryan Cruz

I read, implement, test, and blog about Advanced Tactics on Adwords, Facebook Ads, Landing Pages, Google Shopping, Performance Marketing, Amazon Sponsored Ads and Sales Funnels.

  • Thanx for the list. But i wanted to bring your attention towards the shortcode tags that are visible in your post. I think you have deactivated a plugin or something.
    hope u fix it soon

  • Thanks for this plugin list.. i found many best plugins from this list… . please add some plugins to increase website speed like:

    W3 Total Cache
    Lazy Load

    thanks you very much

  • Thank you so much! I’ve implemented a few if these in my blog and they are great choices. I have yet to implement an email list, but, will.

  • Max

    Awesome list! I’ve added a bunch of these to a site I am working on now. Thanks!

  • great information, thank u 🙂

  • Hey Ryan! Fancy finding I here! I was searching for WordPress plugins 2013 and found u on first page! Go u. 🙂 thanks great post too- more explanatory than some of the others. I don’t know if it matters to u but the social sidebar doesn’t really show up on my ipad here- I can only see a little sliver of each button. 🙁 it’s funny I have aweber but I don’t think I realized it integrates with fb like that- I will def. check this out thx!

    • Ryan Cruz

      Thanks for dropping by Rayzel, yes all of a sudden my organic visits for trafficsalad is exploding. Thanks for the notice on the social sidebar. I’ll check it out on mobile devices. You can definitely try the aweber option for FB and see if it converts better.

  • Liked your recommendations, however I tried out the flare app and it screwed with my site, unfortunately. Otherwise, great article and thanks for the suggestions.

    • Ryan Cruz

      Thanks for dropping by Casey, There are some issues with the Flare plugin on some themes. The other Social buttons that I’ve used was social maven plugin from the makers of pretty link. You might want to check it out, but it’s not located in the sidebar.

  • Special recent post seems like a good find here..
    Also I recommend W3TC plugin for caching…

  • Andreea Leau

    I watched your video and I totally agree with WP Super cache by “deleting” it. I had some problems with my plugins because of it. Otherwise I like your reccomandations and I found them really usefull. Althoug I would like to add Squirrly seo, if you know it..

  • Great list. Lazy Load screwed up my site but I use many of the ones listed. I’m going add some more that you mentioned. Thank you!

  • a comprehensive list of all that is important thank you.For recent post i recommend nrelate related content.

  • Great video and great list. Thanks for all your work.
    I also like to use Shortcodes Ultimate

  • Thank you for this. Looking forward to trying out some of the plugins mentioned! I think I’ll start with the basics minify and