14 Powerful WordPress Plugins for Savvy Bloggers

14 Powerful WordPress Plugins for Savvy Bloggers

WordPress continues to become more and more popular with over 60 million blogs using the highly-acclaimed platform. According to W3Techs:

“WordPress powers 60% of all the websites whose content management system we know; about 29% of all sites.”

The more popular it becomes, the more plugins are developed for it. 

At the time of writing, there are over 50,000 plugins in the WordPress Plugins repository alone, and that doesn’t account for the thousands distributed elsewhere. 

As a blogger, you’ll inevitably want to add plugins. But the trick is not to be tempted to install everything that you see. 

I know. It’s easily done. We’ve all been there. But when you feel tempted, just ask yourself if you really need it. 

So, let’s assume you’re a savvy blogger. What kind of plugin might you be looking for? 

How about one that addresses one of these areas: 

  • Speed
  • Security
  • Backup
  • SEO
  • Social Sharing
  • List Building

If so, you’re in luck, because we’ve rounded up 14 powerful plugins – both free and premium – that can give you exactly what you’re looking for. 


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which means we may get a commission if you make a purchase. Our opinions are our own and we only share what we believe you’ll find helpful. You won’t pay anything extra, but it helps us support the running of this website and continue to publish helpful content. Thank you.


#1 – W3 Total Cache

W3 Total Cache Plugin

Although WordPress is the most popular CMS on the web it’s prone to slow performance:  

“WordPress serves pages dynamically, which results in using PHP code to request information from your database. It then creates a HTML page for your visitors.”

The last thing you want is a slow performing blog as your visitors will soon head off elsewhere, and Google will rank your site lower, too.

One of the best ways to combat this is to use a caching plugin like W3 Total Cache. A caching plugin stores commonly used pages in HTML format so that they don’t have to be created over and over again.

With W3 Total Cache fully installed and configured you can expect to benefit from at least 10x improvement in overall site performance.

Features:

  • Compatible with most Shared and VPS Hosting, but not some Managed Hosting, so check with your hosting provider.
  • Minifies HTML, CSS, and Javascript by stripping unnecessary information like whitespace and comments.
  • Compresses large files with Gzip (similar to how zipped files are compressed).
  • Caches Pages, Posts, CSS, JavaScript, Feeds, Search results pages, and more.

Price: FREE

Get W3 Total Cache


#2 – iThemes Security

iThemes Security Plugin

WordPress sites are a big target for hackers. Why? Well (a) because there are plenty of them to attack and (b) because many are vulnerable.

Although the WordPress core product is maintained and kept as secure as possible, the fact that you’ll install Themes and Plugins means that you have potential loopholes in your website security.

You need to keep WordPress secure; prevention is better than fixing a hacked a site.  

iThemes Security (formerly Better WP Security) gives you over 30 ways to secure and protect your WordPress site. It works to lock down WordPress, fix common holes, stop automated attacks and strengthen user credentials.

iThemes Security is available as free version with limited features and also as a premium version with enhanced features and support.

Note: Always make a backup first before making any security changes to your site.

Features:

  • Keep hackers from logging into your dashboard by changing the login URL, hiding login error messages, banning users after multiple login attempts, and enabling an “Away” mode to temporarily lock out all login attempts
  • Protect sensitive information about your site by hiding your WordPress version number and update notifications from everyone but the admin
  • Foil hacker bots by continuously scanning for suspicious activity and banning troublesome users
  • Includes tons more security features you can individually enable depending on the needs of your site, with easy-to-understand explanations for each one

Price: FREE with premium version starting at $80

Get iThemes SecurityGet iThemes Security Pro


#3 – UpdraftPlus Backup and Restoration

UpdraftPlus Plugin

Having an active backup and restore plan in place for your WordPress site is a no-brainer.

Aside from the security vulnerabilities listed above you never know when disaster might strike through server crashes, dodgy updates, and user error. Experience suggests it’s best to have your own backup in place rather than relying on your web host.

There are plenty of backup options for WordPress, but UpdraftPlus is one of the highest-ranking backup plugins on WordPress, with over a million installs. It’s the world’s highest ranking and most popular scheduled backup plugin.

UpdraftPlus creates backups in the Cloud; e.g. Amazon S3, Dropbox, Google Drive, or its own UpdraftPlus Vault, and restores with a single click, all from the WordPress dashboard.

The free version is fully functional, but the premium version offers additional features (including site cloning) and guaranteed support. Here is a quick comparison chart.

Features:

  • Easy-to-use interface that allows you to backup and restore with a single click on a schedule that suits you.
  • UpdraftPlus has been extensively tested to work on any server where WordPress runs.
  • Supports encryption at multiple levels to keep your backups safe from prying eyes (premium version only).
  • UpdraftPlus is a complete, general-purpose backup, restore, and clone solution. It even backs up non-WP files and databases (premium version only).

Price: FREE with premium version starting at $70

Get UpdraftPlus | Get UpdraftPlus Premium


#4 – All-in-One SEO Pack

All-in-One SEO Plugin

All-in-One SEO Pack optimizes your WordPress blog for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). It currently has over 3 million active installs and claims to be the most downloaded WordPress plugin – almost 30 million downloads.

WordPress itself is optimized for search engines, but most bloggers want their sites to have the best possible chance of ranking high and turn to All-in-One SEO to accomplish that.

All-in-One is suitable for both beginners and advanced users. You can install the plugin and either run through the general settings or fine tune everything to optimize your site.

Like other plugins, it comes as both a free version and premium version.

Features:

  • XML Sitemap support – submit your sitemap to Google and Bing and improve your SEO
  • Support for SEO on Custom Post Types
  • Advanced Canonical URLs
  • Automatically optimizes your titles for Google and other search engines
  • Generates META tags automatically
  • ONLY free plugin to provide SEO Integration for e-Commerce sites, including WooCommerce

Price: FREE with premium version starting at $136

Get All-in-One SEO Pack | Get All-in-One SEO Pack Pro


#5 – Sumo

Sumo Plugin

Sumo (formerly SumoMe) is more of a toolbox as it contains a collection of free tools to grow your WordPress site. This plugin will make it easy for your readers to join your email list and share your articles.

The free tools include:

  • List Builder will let you create a fancy lightbox popup to build email subscriptions (for MailChimp, Aweber, GetResponse, ActiveCampaign, Constant Contact, Mad Mimi, and many other email service providers).
  • Share makes it insanely easy for people to share all of your great content on social media.
  • Welcome Mat displays a full-screen call to action that shows when visitors land on your site.
  • Heat Maps help you see where people are clicking (or not) on your website.
  • Scroll Box is an email collection box triggered by how far your reader makes it down the screen.
  • Analytics makes it super easy to view your Google Analytics directly on your site.
  • Discover gets you free traffic.
  • Smart Bar is a Floating Bar that can appear at the top or bottom of your website. You can encourage people to subscribe to your newsletter, go to a specific page or follow you on your social networks.
  • Highlighter makes it easy to click to tweet about your article by selecting popular parts of your writing (like Kindle and Medium).
  • Image Sharer makes it easy to share your images (with a link to your post) on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter.

If you want more, then you can upgrade to the premium version where you get A/B Testing, Visitor Targeting, Analytics, VIP Support, and the Sumo branding removed.

Price: FREE with premium version starting at $29

Get Sumo | Get Sumo Pro


#6 – Thrive Leads

Thrive Leads Plugin

Thrive Leads is a powerful WordPress plugin designed to get you more email subscribers.

It’s packed with features, and what’s more, the developers – Thrive Themes – keep adding more.

It has every type of opt-in form:

  • Lightbox Overlay (Popup)
  • ThriveBox 2-Step Opt-in
  • Opt-in Widget
  • In-Content Form
  • Ribbon
  • Slide-In
  • Screen Filler
  • Content Lock
  • Multi-Step Forms

Thrive name four main benefits of using their plugin:

  • Design & Deploy – every type of opt-in form with unlimited design potential in the visual editor
  • A/B Testing – this is so easy to use but powerful to see which opt-in works best
  • Advanced Targeting – use relevant opt-in offers by post, category, or tags to target specific visitors
  • Actionable Reporting and Insights – check the analytics to see which forms convert best over a period

We’re super-impressed with Thrive Leads and have a full review here.

Features:

  • Easy to use
  • Integrates with all leading email service providers (AWeber, MailChimp, etc.)
  • Continued development and enhancement
  • Excellent support and documentation

Price: Starting at $67

Get Thrive Leads


#7 – Thrive Architect

Thrive Architect Plugin

One of the biggest drawbacks in WordPress is the native editor. You can’t visualize how your content is going to look when it’s published.

Thrive Architect changes that. This plugin is a WYSIWYG editor in the true sense of the word – you get to see everything ‘as-is’ while you create your content. And because it’s a simple drag-and-drop editor, you can quickly change things around.

It’s great for writing blog posts, but this plugin is also a Landing Page Builder. Currently, there are over 130 pre-designed templates, with more being added all the time. It’s ideal for building your homepage, sales pages, webinar pages, product launch pages and more.

And just for good measure, Thrive has also included their Lightbox feature, too, so you can build email opt-ins directly from the plugin.

Features:

  • Easy to use – no coding required
  • Lightweight design that won’t slow your site down
  • Continued development and enhancement
  • Excellent support and documentation

Price: Starting at $67

Get Thrive Architect


#8 – Social Warfare

Social Warfare Plugin

There are plenty of social sharing plugins available for WordPress – some free and some premium. But there’s one that stands out, and that’s Social Warfare.

Social Warfare was designed to be quick and to look good on your blog. These two elements are often the downfall of other social sharing plugins. They look good, but they’re bloated and slow your site down, or they’re so thin that they have no substance!

Besides good looks and speed, Social Warfare makes it easy to share your content:

  • Customizable buttons to fit in with your blog design
  • Pinterest specific images to boost shares and traffic
  • Custom Tweet messages to maximize hashtags etc.
  • Shareable Quotes to encourage more content sharing
  • Social Proof with share counts (including Twitter)

Features:

  • Easy to use – no coding required
  • Lightweight design that won’t slow your site down
  • Continued development and enhancement
  • Excellent support and documentation

Price: FREE with premium version starting at $24

Get Social Warfare | Get Social Warfare Pro  


#9 – Login No Captcha reCaptcha

Login reCaptcha Plugin

Hackers are always trying to force their way into WordPress sites, so it makes sense to put some extra security measures in place.

The Login No Captcha reCaptcha plugin introduces a Google No Captcha ReCaptcha checkbox to your WordPress login screen in addition to the standard user and password combination. It denies access to automated scripts that hackers use, while making it easy for humans to log in by checking a box. As Google says, “It’s tough on bots, easy on humans.”

It’s an excellent way to stop ‘brute force’ attacks working as a hacker cannot just try multiple user/password combinations – a further identification is needed to prove this is a human, not a robot.

Note: The Login No Captcha reCaptcha plugin will not prevent the attempt of brute force attacks, it ensures that they do not succeed. To prevent repeat attempts, consider using a plugin that limits login attempts in conjunction with this one.

Features:

  • Denies access to automated (bot) login scripts
  • Uses Google-supported methods

Price: FREE

Get Captcha On Login  


#10 – Redirection

Redirection Plugin

As your blog grows, things change, and that includes the names and links to your pages. Keeping track of these changes and putting a system in place to point visitors and search engines in the right direction can be a little tiresome and tricky.

Redirection is a WordPress plugin to manage 301 redirects and keep track of 404 errors without requiring knowledge of the web server files. Without using this plugin, you’d have to start hacking around in your ‘.htaccess’ files.

Redirection enables you to enter your old link and point it to your new link so that nothing is broken. It also keeps track of statistics in the dashboard so you can check how many times a particular link has been accessed, who tried to access the link, where they found it, and when it last happened.

Note: ensure log tracking is turned off in the settings as this can put unnecessary strain on your server.

Features:

  • Automatically add a 301 redirect when a post’s URL changes.
  • 404 error monitoring – captures a log of 404 errors and allows you to map these quickly to 301 redirects.
  • Redirection statistics telling you how many times a redirection has occurred, when it last happened, who tried to do it, and where they found your URL.
  • Redirection methods – redirect based upon login status, redirect to random pages, redirect based upon the referrer.

Price: FREE

Get Redirection  


#11 – WPForms – Form Builder

WPForms Plugin

WPForms is a drag-and-drop form builder that lets you create contact forms, subscription forms, payment forms, and other types of forms for your WordPress site.

The pre-built templates make it user-friendly so you can get your contact form working in minutes. You don’t have to start from scratch. You can use a template and then add, remove, or rearrange fields as you wish with the drag-and-drop builder.

Looking for more? Then you’ll need the premium version of the plugin – WPForms Pro. It includes extra features like email subscription forms, multi-page contact forms, file uploads, conditional logic, payment integrations, and more.

Features:

  • Powerful drag-and-drop form builder
  • Includes pre-made form templates
  • Uses smart CAPTCHA and Honeypot methods to stop spam submissions
  • Show a custom success message, or redirect users to a custom thank you page

Price: FREE with premium version starting at $39

Get WPForms | Get WPForms Pro


#12 – Edit Flow

Edit Flow Plugin

If you have a team working on your WordPress blog, then chances are you’ll need a way of working together effectively.

Edit Flow addresses that situation and empowers you to collaborate with your editorial team inside WordPress.

The starting point is the Calendar where you can get a quick overview of exactly what has been published and what status other content is at. If you need to change things around then simply drag and drop posts to new dates.

Standard WordPress offers only ‘Draft’ and ‘Pending Review’ as post statuses before publishing. Edit Flow adds more statuses – like ‘In Progress’, ‘Pitch’, or ‘Waiting for Edit’ – which you can keep, change, or delete, as well as add your own custom statuses.

Editorial Comments allows you keep all content related discussions contained within the admin dashboard. With Notifications enabled you can cut-down on external emails and increase productivity.

Features:

  • Calendar – a convenient month-by-month look at your content
  • Custom Statuses – define the key stages of your workflow
  • Editorial Comments – threaded commenting in the admin for private discussion between writers and editors
  • Notifications – receive timely updates on the content you’re following

Price: FREE

Get Edit Flow  


#13 – Akismet Anti-Spam

Akismet Plugin

Most WordPress blogs have Comments enabled as part of the ongoing discussion after posts are published. You can certainly have some lively debates and useful exchanges of information through a comment system.

Unfortunately, some less-desirable people can ruin this aspect of your blog through Spam Comments. Thankfully, there are WordPress plugins to combat their behavior.

Akismet is the anti-spam commenting solution developed by Automattic, the team behind WordPress. It checks your comments against the Akismet Web service to see if they look like spam or not, and lets you review the spam it catches under your blog’s ‘Comments’ admin screen.

Note: You’ll need an Akismet.com API key to use it. Keys are free for personal blogs; paid subscriptions are available for businesses and commercial sites.

Features:

  • Automatically checks all comments and filters out the ones that look like spam
  • URLs are shown in the comment body to reveal hidden or misleading links
  • Easily see which comments were caught or cleared by Akismet or by a moderator
  • A discard feature that outright blocks the worst spam, saving you disk space and speeding up your site

Price: FREE

Get Akismet  


#14 – Search Everything

Search Everything Plugin

Overall, WordPress is an impressive piece of software. But one area where it falls short is its search functionality.

Using the standard search in WordPress will bring back any articles containing the search term. If you want to help your visitors find specific items, then consider installing a plugin such as Search Everything.

Search Everything improves the WordPress default search functionality without modifying any of the template pages. It can be configured to search attachments, custom fields, comments, drafts, pages and much more. Password-protected content is always excluded from searches, plus you can exclude more specific posts and pages too.

The plugin has been further enhanced with the Research Everything module that lets you search for your posts and link to them while writing. Plus you can also enable Power Search to research posts from the wider web.

Features:

  • Configurable search options to suit your needs
  • Exclude categories and/or posts from search
  • Search terms highlighted with your color choice
  • Additional research module to help with writing

Price: FREE

Get Search Everything  


Wrapping Up

WordPress is great out-of-the-box, but it can be so much better once you install the right plugins to enhance it.

Weigh up what you need to improve your blog, but don’t be tempted to install everything. Sometimes there can be conflicts between plugins, so add one plugin at a time and test it to ensure it is compatible with what you have already.

Also, consider the benefits of installing a premium plugin which you know will be continually updated and supported to work alongside the latest version of WordPress.

Remember to be a savvy blogger and choose your plugins wisely.

David Hartshorne

I'm a freelance writer working with business owners and marketing teams to create in-depth, actionable content that resonates with their audience. When I'm not writing about digital marketing and technology, you’ll find me chilling with a thriller in Spain.

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