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Our top 10 favourite WordPress plugins

As proud WordPress website owners, Kayleigh Thorpe – WordPress Specialist and myself, have put a list of our top 10 favourite WordPress plugins. Kayleigh has a WordPress website showcasing her art. I have two WordPress websites, a blog and a photography site. Together we are quite well equipped when it comes to picking WordPress plugins.

Ours is a list of go-to plugins. Whilst we like to discover new plugins you can’t beat the old – and supported – classics. Some plugins in our list are an obvious choice, however we hope to introduce you to one or two at least. If you’ve heard of them before then great! If we miss any you find essential, make sure to mention it and help us out!

Tried and tested on our managed WordPress hosting, our top 10 favourite WordPress plugins are ranked in order of necessity. We give you:

 

1. Yoast SEO

Yoast is an extremely accessible SEO WordPress plugin, Kayleigh and I always install from the off. When writing an article such as this one, Yoast’s addictive traffic lights system acts a second pair of eyes.

Favourite WordPress plugin Yoast traffic lights structure

Our favourite WordPress plugin and the obvious choice; Yoast.

Yoast has helped me greatly:

Use keywords

Before Yoast I had minimal experience of keywords. I’m still a novice in that respect, however Yoast has helped me improve my performance when writing with those keywords in mind

Structure

Large blocks of text, does anyone read those? I don’t. Yoast helps you break it up, it barks at you to throw in a header or two and images.

Improve readability

This is a big one for me. I’ve always written in passive voice and thanks to Yoast I recognise that now. I’m learning the difference between active and passive voice and I feel much better. It should come across that I write with purpose. For example:

Passive – I wrote an article today about Kayleigh and I and our top 10 favourite WordPress plugins
Active – Our top 10 favourite WordPress plugins written by Kayleigh and I

Download Yoast SEO


2. Contact Form 7

Favourite WordPress plugin Contact Form 7

A simple contact form WordPress plugin that is useful and it works. What more do you want? Kayleigh uses Contact Form 7 when she isn’t using Jetpack’s in built contact form and highly recommends it. Jetpack is one of those plugins with a variety of purposes, of which Kayleigh recently spoke about at WordCamp Edinburgh. However, as a rule of thumb we tend to stick to plugins with a singular purpose, for better performance and several other reasons. I personally always install Contact Form 7 from the off.

Download Contact Form 7


3. WooCommerce

Favourite WordPress plugins Woocommerce
WooCommerce the best eCommerce WordPress plugin on the market, plus it’s easy to navigate around and looks clean. There are many tools to build eCommerce sites, however if WordPress is your bag then Woocommerce is the absolute choice. It’s certainly popular, well supported and can be set up relatively hassle free.

Download WooCommerce


4. Dashboard Notes

Favourite WordPress plugin Dashboard notes
Another – does what it says on the tin – favourite WordPress plugin of ours, Dashboard Notes. Rather than have a desk full of scrap paper or a WordPress blog with endless bullet points install WordPress answer to post-it notes. A firm favourite of ours, it works especially well if you are like me and need reminding what to do often.

Download Dashboard Notes


5. Math CAPTCHA

Math CAPTCHA – Does what it says on the tin. Decrease spam messages by asking your readers to answer a simple sum before submitting your contact form.

Download Math CAPTCHA


6. Instagram Feed

Favourite WordPress plugins Instagram Feed
Instagram Feed pulls in your feed to your website. It’s an excellent addition to your sidebar and will help you engage with clients through Instagram. It’s one of our favourite WordPress plugins. Who doesn’t want more Instagram followers?

Download Instagram Feed


7. Twitter Cards Meta

Our favourite WordPress plugins Twitter cards meta

Twitter Cards Meta is advertised as the best Twitter card plugin for WordPress and we can attest to that. When posting to Twitter you can select a specific image from your blog and information of your choice, to display to the Twitter card. This gives you an extra level of control over the tweet and can drive your Twitter following.

Download Twitter Cards Meta


8. Related Posts for WordPress

An essential plugin for bloggers!

When you have someones attention, keep it. Your article doesn’t end on the same page, direct your reader to a similar post with Related Posts for WordPress.

Download Related Posts for WordPress


9. Simple Lightbox

Favourite WordPress plugins Simple Lightbox

Simple Lightbox does what it says in the title! It’s simple and you can manipulate it. Make your images pop with a lightbox plugin. As far as they go, Simple Lightbox is perfect.

Download Simple Lightbox


10. Advanced Custom Fields

Favourite WordPress plugins Advanced Custom Fields

Advanced Custom Fields is super useful. It allows you to add fields faster and easier from anywhere. Fields that will allow to to connect relatable posts together and show you how to display content.

Download Advanced Custom Fields


Three more noteworthy favourite WordPress plugins…

There are a couple more WordPress plugins worth exploring that just missed the cut. They include Lazy Load, Broken Link Checker and Social Icons. Thank you to all those WordPress plugin developers out there, we’re extremely grateful for your workload slicing plugins!

Have we missed any of your essential WordPress plugins from the list? Please leave us a comment and impart your wisdom

-Siobhan @SiobhanLHancock

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7 Comments

Leave a Reply to Siobhan Hancock Cancel reply

  1. Most of these plugins are my favourite too, I haevnt come acroos that Dashboard Notes plugin before, seems like a handy little functionality for dashboard and Thank you. Beilve I met you once in London in WP Meetup thing. Greatt lst and article.

    • Dashboard notes is really handy! Especially if you are the forgetful sort like me 🙂
      I’ll be at WordCamp London next year too. Hope to see you there?

  2. Thanks for suggesting Yoast, I have no idea about Search Engine Optimisation – apart from those kindly people who email me to say they will guarantee I will be number one on google 😉

    Another useful suggestion is WordFence security plug in to protect your site.

    • Thanks Michael, WordFence if great. The only reason WordFence didn’t make our list is because we don’t need it on our hosting. It would only serve to duplicate the security we have built in… but otherwise it’s a no-brainer and popular plugin 😀 Everyone needs to take WordPress security seriously. Also I love Yoast! If you like Yoast you’ll like Hemingway too. That’s a browser extension

      • Dear Siobhan

        Great blog post. I have my website hosted on 34sp.com and I also have Wordfence installed.

        Last week, there were 193 attempts in 10 minutes at injecting SQL code from a Netherlands IP address. It is now obvious your systems did not stop it as it still reached the plugin.

        How do you explain this?

        • Hi Jean Luc,
          Without seeing the specifics, and please do email them to our support team for my attention this reply is very broad.

          Let’s start with a very clear statement, no system however much we would like them to be our 100% secure and from time to time different setups will detect different things as threats.

          Likewise with WAF (Web application firewalls) none of them are 100% positive be it server side or a plugin, and false positives are often reported. Its also common for attacks to be targeting known vulnerabilities which have no chance of being effective and then its a balancing act on how to handle such attack vectors.

          Unfortunately there could be lots of reasons WordFence picked something up when we did not and I’m happy to look into it, so I would encourage you to email support@34sp.com put it for attention Tim Nash and I will take a look.

  3. Thanks for this. Yes to Yoast, CF7, Woocommerce, Lightbox in particular. Thanks for Dashboard Notes and Twitter Cards recommendations.
    I’m using CF7 Honeypot instead of Captcha nowadays. It’s one fewer field for the visitor to complete, but I’m reserving judgement re whether it effectively prevents spam. Anyone else want to comment?
    PS. Yoast, you have your Passive/Active labels round the wrong way.