The official WordPress plugin repository is the largest plugin resource on the internet by far. It is where 99.9% of free plugins are released.
Whilst WordPress does list some featured plugins and the most downloaded plugins on the main page, the sheer volume of plugins that are listed in the directory means that many good plugins get lost in the mix.
So today I would like to show you some great WordPress plugins you may not have heard of. I hope you enjoy the list.
* Listed in no particular order.
1. Search Meter
Stats services such Google Analytics will show you important information about how people found your website. The keywords and key phrases that visitors are finding your website with will highlight how you are generating traffic. This information can be used to determine what subjects you tackle in the future.
The drawback with these types of services and applications is that it only shows you how someone found your website, it does not show you what they searched for when they were already there. Step forward Search Meter. The plugin allows you to see the search terms that people searched for within your WordPress search form.
Searches are displayed from yesterday and today, the previous 7 days, and the previous 30 days. What I love about the plugin is that it does not only show how many times a keyword or keyphrase was searched for, it also shows you how many results were provided to the user.
It also shows searches that did not provide any results. This is a fantastic tool that I will be using actively in the future as it will highlight what readers want and what is currently missing.
The last 100 searches and last 500 searches tabs show searches in the order they were performed. The page also shows the exact date and time a particular search was performed; right down to the second (though I am unsure as to why anyone would need to know the specific second a search was performed).
Search Meter is such a great plugin, it makes you wonder why the functionality is not built into the core of WordPress.
2. Lazy Load
By default, a browser will load an entire page when a user visits it: content, scripts and images. It is common for many blogs to have dozens or even hundreds of images within the one blog post, which greatly increases the time that the page takes to load.
Lazy Load addresses this issue by only loading an image when it is visible on the page. With search engines such as Google placing such an emphasis on the speed a page loads at, Lazy Load is a great plugin to use if your blog posts have many images attached.
There has been a rise in reports of virus and malware on WordPress websites over the last year, as well as websites being hacked. I am currently using Better WP Security to protect all of my WordPress websites, however there are a lot of great alternatives out there.
One such alternative is BulletProof Security. It is a security plugin which protects your website against XSS, RFI, CRLF, CSRF, Base64, Code Injection and SQL Injection hacking.
BulletProof Security has many great features such as protection for important files such as .htaccess, wp-config.php, bb-config.php, php.ini, php5.ini, install.php and readme.html. Errors are tracked and you can receive emails whenever a user’s account is locked out. There is a pro version available with many more features for $59.95, however the free version is more than able. One of the best security solutions available for WordPress.
If you are interested in sharing your favourite quotes with readers, Quotes Collection is for you. The plugin creates a new custom post type for you to add an unlimited number of quotes.
For each quote you can enter the quite, the author of the quote and the source of the quote. You can also enter related tags for the quote too.
Quotes can then be displayed in any widget ready area of your website using an Ajax powered random quote widget. You can choose whether the author and source is displayed with the quote. Quotes can also be set to refresh randomly to a new quote after a set number of seconds. There is no option to place quotes into categories, however you can filter what quotes are shown by using tags.
Quotes Collection is a great way of displaying your favourite quotes to readers. Worth checking out.
The act of creating HTML tables is not too difficult, however it can be time consuming to construct a large HTML table. This is what makes TablePress so great. Beginners who know nothing about HTML can use the plugin to add complicated tables to their content, however those who are experienced with HTML will love it too as it allows you to create big tables in seconds rather than minutes.
The plugin can be used to create an unlimited number of tables, which can be inserted into any post or page using a shortcode. Complex tables are really simple to create due to the visual nature of the plugin.
The final output looks fantastic. Users can sort tables by table headers and search within the table, making tables a practical way of displaying information to visitors. If you plan on adding tables to your website, make sure you check TablePress out. To see the plugin in action, please check out the TablePress Demo page.
Co-Authors Plus is a simple plugin that multi-author blog owners will appreciated. By default, WordPress only allows one person to be assigned to a post or page. Co-Authors Plus resolves this and allows two or more people to be assigned to an article.
This does not only mean that two or more authors will have their name on the live article. It also means that each co-author can edit posts that they are assigned to.
I can see many blogs which will benefit from using Co-Authors Plus. It is common for large posts to be developed by multiple people. For example, one person might drop images and upload them to the post, one person might write the article, and another may edit it and prepare it for publication. This plugin means that the blog owner does not need to continually re-assign a post to a different author for the next person to work on it.
Global Content Blocks is a useful plugin that allows you to create blocks of content. These can then be inserted into your content at any time through the visual editor or via a shortcode.
It can be used to insert common pieces of content such as advertisements, contact forms, registration forms, details of sponsors, and much more.
If you find yourself adding the same thing to your articles time and time again, Global Content Blocks will prove to be a big time saver for you.
The field is displayed next to the “Post Comment” button. Some of your visitors may miss the checkbox though it is a minor hoop for commenters to jump through, so I do not imagine it will reduce comments.
The fight against spammers is a constant battle. If you are finding a lot of spam comments are slipping through the net, it may be worth giving Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin a try.
9. WP Greet Box
WP Greet Box is a useful little plugin that allows you to add a customised message to visitors. The message which is shown to visitors depends on how the person reached your website.
A custom message can be shown, or removed, for any type of visitor. This allows you to dictate exactly what visitors see. For example, you could encourage people who come to your website via Twitter or Facebook to subscribe to your RSS feed. Likewise, you could encourage people who visit from Google to like one of your social media pages. The message can be shown before or after your post or page.
WP Greet Box is a great way of promoting particular aspects of your website to specific groups of people. Even if you do not want to customise a message for each type of user, you could always use the plugin to direct traffic to an important announcement or featured article.
10. Optin Revolution
Pop ups are still one of the most popular ways of encouraging visitors to sign up to your website newsletter. Unfortunately, the vast majority of them are only available for a fee. Optin Revolution is one of the few that are available for free.
It works with five of the popular email marketing services around today: Aweber, iContact, GetResponse, MailChimp and Constant Contact. You simply need to enter your form details in the settings area.
Your pop up can styled through the settings area. It is not as advanced as many other pop up plugins, but it is sufficient for ensuring it is styled in a way that matches your website design. Pop ups can be enabled or disabled for mobile visitors you have the option of always showing pop ups, once per browser session, or after a set number of days.
An enhanced version of the plugin is available for $97, however the lite version that is available for free is very capable. It is a good option for those of you who are on a budget.
I am notorious for trying out plugins on my websites. There is rarely a week that goes by that I do not install a new plugin and uninstall another. The problem with doing that is that not all plugins are coded properly. Many leave entries in your database when you uninstall them.
This is where Plugins Garbage Collector can help. The plugin will scan your database and show you entries that do not belong in your database. It shows the plugin that generated the entry and whether the plugin is activated, deactivated or deleted.
Plugins Garbage Collector is a plugin I install every few months to check the status of my database and clean it up a little. Entries can be deleted directly through the plugin, therefore you do not have to load up phpMyAdmin.
WP Content Copy Protection uses multiple methods to protect your content from being copied by others. Once installed, visitors will no longer be able to use shortcuts such as CTRL+C to copy. The user will not be able to right click on your page either, which stops them from copying images too.
Protecting my content in this fashion is not something I have ever been keen on as I know that many people will be copying my content for legitimate uses (e.g. for quotes). If you have found a lot of people to be copying your content, you may want to give this a try.
I edit themes and plugins on my websites regularly. My routine is usually the same: I will copy the code to TextPad, save the file, make the changes I need, and then add the new code on my WordPress website. It is necessary for me to do this as it is not practical to edit code directly through the admin area…..that is, unless you have Advanced Code Editor.
I recommend trying it out if you make theme and plugin edits through your admin area frequently.
Within the discussion settings area at www.yoursite.com/wp-admin/options-discussion.php, there are two options you can configure for allowing a comment to appear:
- An administrator must always approve the comment
- Comment author must have a previously approved comment
The second option is very popular on many blogs. It places a person’s first comment into the moderation queue, but once their first comment has been approved, all of their subsequent comments will be approved automatically.
Sometimes you may be unsure as to whether you should approve a comment. For example, perhaps the comment is short (Thanks!) or perhaps it is a good comment but it contains a link to their website. In situations like this, you need Comment Probation. The plugin allows you to approve a comment though their future comments will still need approval.
Comment Probation is a simple addition to WordPress though it really improves comment moderation. I recommend installing it if you moderate comments before they are published on your website.
SEO Rank Reporter is a stats plugin that allows you to track your keyword ranking on Google every three days. All you need to do is enter the keyword and URL you want to monitor.
It can be used to track your own rankings and the rankings of competitors. Google.com can be used or you can select any regional version of Google (e.g. Google UK) to track rankings. Unfortunately, you cannot change the country of Google for each particular keyword you are tracking.
There is no limit to the number of keywords you track and you can compare selected keywords on a graph for easy comparison. Visits and change in rank are tracked too. You can also configure email notifications for whenever a ranking goes up or down a defined number of positions on Google.
Rank Reporter is a great way of tracking the performance of your website and of specific articles on Google. Recommended.
WP Social SEO Booster adds a range of different options to your website such as Facebook Open Graph, Twitter Card and Google Rich Snippets. These are all used to improve your rankings on Google.
It also boasts some additional options that are designed to improve the performance of your website.
The plugin also includes a rating system for your reviews. There’s a few settings to configure for Facebook and ratings, however there is a series of videos on YouTube that walk you through the process.
Search engines are using social media more and more as a factor on how websites are ranked, therefore it is vital that you ensure your website is configured correctly for all social media websites. There are a few alternatives out there for Google etc, but I liked the fact WP Social SEO Booster handles everything within the one plugin.
17. What The File
What The File is a handy plugin to install if you are new to WordPress. The plugin will add a new option to your WordPress toolbar that shows you the templates that are used to create the page. For example, it would show single.php if you were viewing a blog post and archives.php for your archives page.
18. Video Thumbnails
Video Thumbnails is a great plugin to use if you upload videos frequently to your website. The plugin will automatically generate a thumbnail image for any post or page which has a video attached to it. It currently supports a dozen different video services such as YouTube, Facebook and DailyMotion.
The video thumbnail can be embedded into your template using the function video_thumbnail. Alternatively, you can set the video thumbnail as the featured image.
Taking screenshots of videos in order to create a thumbnail can be a real pain. Video Thumbnails automates the whole process, making it a must-have plugin for all video bloggers.
19. True Google 404
True Google 404 allows you to enhance your 404 page in a number of ways. Firstly, it provides useful statistics on what URL’s are generating 404 error pages and what websites are sending people to that incorrect URL.
If the URL is incorrect, you can use htaccess or a redirection plugin to redirect the traffic to the correct URL. If that page has since been deleted, you can show them an enhanced 404 page which will encourage the visitor to remain on your website.
Many websites add archive links and search bars to their 404 templates. True Google 404 does things a little differently by recommending articles to the visitor based on the page they could not find.
404 errors are unfortunately unavoidable. Even if you never change the permalink of any of your articles, other people may still link to your website using an incorrect URL. True Google 404 stops visitors who reach a 404 error page from bouncing off your website and going elsewhere.
20. Ninja Forms
One of the most advanced free contact form plugins available for WordPress.
Ninja Forms. It has a drag-and-drop interface that allows you to create complex forms in just a few minutes. Features include anti-spam fields, file uploads, post creation, and much more.
The plugin can be used to create complicated forms. Premium extensions are available for around $29 each. These can allow you to create things such as multi-part forms and add conditional logic to your forms.
Most of the contact forms available in the official WordPress directly are quite basic, so I was shocked when I first came across Ninja Forms. It offers functionality that is normally only available in premium WordPress plugins. Try it out for yourself to see if it does what you need.
I hope you have enjoyed this list of good WordPress plugins that are not well known. If you know of any lesser known WordPress plugins that WP Hub readers would love, please let everyone know in the comment area :)