This post isn’t about telling you to go and install plugins such as WordPress SEO by Yoast, Jetpack, or Contact Form 7.
You probably already know about their existence, and very likely have them on your site already.
For most bloggers, they are … what’s the word … obvious.
And don’t get me wrong, as great as those plugin are, being constantly hit over the head with yet another “Top 10 WordPress Plugins” list that praises them has become rather tiring.
That’s why we’ve decided to go another route with the resource you’re reading right now. Instead of listing the top and most popular plugins in the WordPress world, we’re focusing on team non-obvious.
That being said, this isn’t just a list of some obscure creations, but rather a cool set of original WordPress plugins that can give you great benefits despite being a little lesser known out there.
So, to find out what those non-obvious WordPress plugins might be, we invited 30 experts to share their input on the matter.
Here’s the question that was asked of them:
What 3 non-obvious WordPress plugins would you advise every WordPress blogger to have?
Without further ado, here’s the leaderboard – the plugins that kept popping up the most:
The top voted non-obvious WordPress plugins that every blogger needs
Even though we’re talking about non-obvious WordPress plugins here, it’s worth pointing out that some trends have emerged when compiling this list. A number of experts shared their picks in similar plugin categories.
For instance, image optimization is a thing. With plugins such as WP-Smush or EWWW Image Optimizer, it’s clear that bloggers and webmasters care about how much bandwidth their sites consume and how important having this under control is for them.
Another trend is using what can be called helper SEO plugins or link manipulation plugins. For instance, plugins like Broken Link Checker or Pretty Link are among the most popular on the non-obvious list. If we looked a little deeper here, we could probably make an argument that the features those plugins offer are the only missing elements in the big SEO plugins like WordPress SEO by Yoast.
Moving on to the answers:
Experts talk about their top non-obvious WordPress plugins
Custom Post Type UI + CPTR. Since we don’t do only written content at 1stWebDesigner, but also podcasts and videos every week, it’s really helpful to have tailored and customized settings for every one of our different types of posts. As well as manually picking related content below our posts lets us bring back some older posts, yet still good performing ones.
Plainview Activity Monitor. This shows you failed logins to your site which also shows you the passwords used and other stuff that users do which is really useful if you have a multi author blog.
User Switching. Really needed if you have a membership site, you can log in as someone and you see the site as if you have used their details to log in. great for troubleshooting issues from support tickets.
Broken Link Checker. Helps you keep track of broken links so you can fix or get rid of them.
Robots Meta. Allows you to determine whether or not Google indexes a page or not (among other things). This is helpful for hidden pages and other parts of my site that I don’t necessarily want Google to find.
Pretty Link or ThirstyAffiliates. Two great WordPress plugins for managing link redirects through your site. Don’t worry about having to change hundreds of links when old affiliate relations die, with these plugins you can do it in one click.
LeadPages. Most people are using LeadPages templates through the main site url, however, with the Leadpages plugin you can quickly and easily host these pages through your own site while also using your domain name as the redirect or main url. This will increase conversions and look much more professional.
Captcha on Login. Brute force attacks are a regular occurrence for most sites, especially on login pages. An easy way of stopping them is by adding a captcha to the login screen with this plugin. After using this plugin, bots eventually stopped and it ultimately reduced load on my server.
CoSchedule by Todaymade. You need to manage your editorial calendar and this tool makes it easier. It’s got task management built in and makes it easy to schedule social messages. It’s not free it’s a huge time saver.
Comment Redirect. Provides an easy way to redirect first time commenters to a thank you page. Use the page however you like, encourage email sign ups, social media follows or whatever suits your site but it’s a nice touch that goes a long way to helping you stand out.
WP-Optimize. Acts like a giant broom for your WordPress database and cleans everything with the touch of a button. This is also great for client sites when they are uncomfortable with logging in to PhpMyAdmin.
Broken Link Checker. Broken links can negatively affect the reading experience because it’s frustrating to click on a link that doesn’t work. This WordPress plugin makes monitoring and fixing broken links on WordPress-powered sites easier.
EWWW Image Optimizer. I write a lot about Web image optimization because I truly believe that non-optimized images are one of the major causes of slow web pages, which in turn is terrible for the reading experience. The problem is, optimizing images manually requires a little bit more time and effort, and many site owners aren’t comfortable using image optimization tools. This plugin helps make image optimization seamless for authors.
MailPoet Newsletters. Very easy to use plugin. We use it to send out our newsletters and get our readers subscribed to our emails.
Leadin. Cool plugin for those who wants to know their visitor’s behaviour. It shows where your reader (the one who contacted you only) came from, which pages visited before and after contacting you through a contact form on your website.
Daily Blog Tips
RSS Footer. A very useful WordPress plugin to add stuff to the bottom of your RSS Feed. I use it to add advertising banners, for instance.
WPtouch. Having a mobile friendly website is a must today, so if you don’t have a mobile version yet you can use this plugin to create one on the fly.
DIY Video Guy
Pretty Link is great for two things. First, being able to have shorter redirect links to specific pages or other websites you’re linking too. Second, it tracks how many times those links are used, which is also really helpful.
Backup Buddy is a life saver. If anything happens to your WordPress site where it gets hacked or a simple line of code in a plugin screws everything up, BB will make sure you have a recent backup ready to restore to.
Writers in Charge
Hybrid Connect. This WordPress plugin also comes from the developer of WP Sharely, and it is basically a plugin for creating opt in forms; it has a lot of options including allowing users to create in-post forms, sidebar forms, pop ups and slide in forms. Hybrid Connect also allows you to collect opt ins via email or Facebook login, and it has a lot of customization ability as well as tracking to let you know where subscribers are coming from.
Gravity Forms. This is another premium WordPress plugin for creating slick contact forms; it has a built in anti-spam option, tracking for your forms, integration with several top service providers like AWeber for email list building, and a lot of other customization options.
NextScripts: Social Networks Auto-Poster. Autoposts each new entry to social networks. It gets the post out on social media as each entry is published and helps ease the load on a network/blog manager/editor/social media coordinator, especially when working with many blogs and authors. I don’t recommend using it as a standalone solution, though. Re-sharing posts manually at different times makes it optimal.
Pippity. Makes it easy for newsletter subscription; settings can be customised to make it user friendly (i.e. not in your face popups all the time); easy integration with newsletter services like aWeber.
Fanciest Author Box. We love Fanciest Authorbox for adding author bios – which is a definite must have for any multi-author blog.
Pretty Link. We use Pretty Link Lite for affiliate links because, well, affiliate links are ugly 🙂
Do It With WordPress
Public Post Preview. It’s so nice to be able to just send a draft for someone to look at without having to publish it.
Anti-spam. This has been the plugin that has been the most effective for me for stopping spam (in addition to Akismet).
Query Monitor. Query Monitor is great because it is very comprehensive. It can do a lot of stuff that other debugging plugins can’t, like auto Ajax debugging and the ability to filter results by specific plugin or theme. I use this plugin mostly for debugging database and query variables, but it also comes in handy for testing HTTP requests, WP hooks, PHP errors, and much more. Amazingly useful plugin that doesn’t receive the attention it deserves, imo.
Admin Post Navigation. Over the years, I’ve published hundreds of articles and tutorials at Perishable Press and DigWP.com. On the front-end, navigating all of these posts is a breeze, as I have full control over the theme template and can use choice template tags as desired. But not so much in the WP Admin Area, where it is sometimes necessary to navigate from one post to the next to make updates, edits, and so on. To make this post-to-post navigation possible in the Admin Area, I use a plugin called Admin Post Navigation, which does one thing and one thing well: it adds “Previous” and “Next” links to the Edit Post screen to make serial post editing much easier.
Enable Media Replace. If deleting an image and reuploading a new one with the same name never made sense to you, you need this plugin.
Regenerate Thumbnails. Changing featured image sizes on your site simply wouldn’t make sense without it.
Fluent in 3 months
Simple:Press. To build a community around your blog, simple-press is the easiest way by far to set up a forum that piggy-backs off WordPress’ system. I’ve scaled this to tens of thousands of users and it performs very well because of its non-bulky code.
VaultPress. If I had to recommend one plugin, this would be it. It’s a paid service, but it has saved my skin several times. No matter what, every single hour my entire site is backed up to VaultPress’ servers, and there is a simple one button click backup implementation. When I’ve done irreversible things to my site on my own server and it’s down, and my site admin is asleep, this plugin let’s me essentially press “undo” and go back to the most recent working snapshot. You can do it to just the theme, just the database or certain other small parts, in case your changes were fine in other parts, or you don’t want to lose conversations or blog posts unrelated to a crash.
Another awesome plugin some may of heard of it is EWWW Image Optimizer it does exactly what is says on the tin. It bulk optimizes images for your blog reducing bandwith and of course load time. A real nifty plugin and one that I use all the time.
Finally one of the best plugins for redirection (I find) is the Simple 301 Redirects plugin it’s a great way for non techies to create 301 redirects. So if you’re in your Google Webmaster settings page and discovering errors or URLS that can not be found then simply copy and paste and redirect them to a similar page or indeed a new one.
WP Daily Themes
Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin. The perfect plugin to defeat automated spambots and spam messages with a simple checkbox.
Reduce Bounce Rate. Get the real Bounce rate and page views in Google Analytics. Easy and simple to use.
Enhanced Media Library is the best for categorizing media to make it easy to reuse images or pdfs or whatever
Contextual Related Posts is the best performing Related Posts plugin there is (besides Jetpack’s)
This one is paid, but for analyzing your post performance Analytify is the easiest and most convenient way to see how visitors are finding your individual posts (I do have a referral link for that as well, but not necessary).
All Blogging Tips
SEOPressor. We already know how important SEO is. There are many SEO plugins but I found SEOPressor best. It shows keyword density of your keyword in WordPress editor. It shows over-optimization warning in case you have added extra tags, keywords, h1, h2, h3 tags. It also supports rich snippet. The best feature is LSI keyword. LSI keywords help you to find relevant keywords from your main keywords, using LSI keyword will make it easy for you to rank in Google.
MBP Ninja Affiliate. If you’re into affiliate marketing then this is a must have plugin. I’ve been using from years and very happy with it. This plugin automatically convert your keywords on your posts into affiliate links. It is a powerful plugin which helps you to manage, track, cloak and shorten unlimited number of affiliate links from one setting page. This plugin helped me alot in saving my time and managing all affiliate links from one dashboard. Ninja plugin is a must have plugin for serious affiliate marketers.
One of the primary appeals to WordPress in the first place is how much it (and its amazing community of designers/developers) have empowered the world to do great things with WordPress and its available themes and plugins. Because of this, I think some theme and plugin authors go a little “empowerment crazy” with their products because its an easy sell–“Look how much you can do with this one tool!”
The right way is not always the plug and play way and there is such a thing as too much in one package. With that in mind, here are my three picks:
Code Snippets by Shea Bunge. Sometimes less is more. One of my favorite ways of reducing unnecessary bloat is by finding useful code snippets I can substitute for whole plugins. In this way, the Code Snippets plugin has actually cut down significantly on the amount of plugins I have installed–and therefore also cut down on the amount of plugins I have to configure, update, and maintain.
Shortcodes Ultimate by Vladimir Anokhin. So many themes come with their own sets of shortcodes that are not separated out into another plugin. And some, if they are separated out, are designed to work with just that theme and not at all (or at least not well) with others. To me, aside from being against WordPress standards and best practices, is a disservice. Which is why instead I have really come to love using this massive (free) shortcode bundle by Vladimir Anokhin designed to work well with any theme.
Reviewer WordPress Plugin by evoG. Similarly, many WordPress themes come with review capabilities built in. This looks great as a selling point but many customers do not realize creating a bunch of content using theme specific custom post types such as a review lock them into that theme forever. Or signs them up for a bunch of work later on, if they ever decide to switch themes. This plugin is one that I’ve used on my site and love. It may not be the review plugin for everyone, but the point is that if you’re reviewing things on your blog – use a plugin! That way if you need to change themes down the road you don’t leave a bunch of your best content behind in the process.
As someone who is always writing about themes and plugins, there are of course more that could have made this list but didn’t necessarily fit the “non-obvious” description. So in closing I also want to take a second to thank everyone in the WordPress community working hard to design and develop the tools we’ve all come to use and love.
Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP). A good replacement for nRelate, that shows related content below each post.
Broken Link Checker. Checks content for broken links.
EWWW Image Optimizer. Gives you more image optimization options.
P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler). Good for getting a baseline on plugin performance.
Developer. Excellent if you need to take a closer look under the hood.
Stream. Great for sites that lots of people are working on.
SearchWP by Jonathan Christopher, improves the site search and adds a lot of features to the basic search. Of course there are a good number of search plugins (Here’s a list of some of the popular search options available for WordPress), but this one stands above from the rest. Cost: $29 / single license.
Shrink-O-Matic. This is a fantastic app (not a WordPress plugin), that lets you optimize images on your Windows or Mac. Very handy for optimizing images and does not cost a dime. Alternatively, you can use WP Smush.it, if you don’t want to use an offline app.
Display Widgets is a great little plugin. Basically it adds checkboxes to each widget to show or hide on site pages. This allows me to customize what I show on my pages sidebar verses my widget sidebar.
This is a great way to A/B test different CTA boxes and really hone in on your audience. You can show different widgets based on a post category or even a custom taxonomy. This can be awesome for affiliate marketing.
Let’s say you have a WordPress category and a PPC category. Now you can create separate affiliate widgets for each category and now the ads on the sidebar are directly related to the article they are reading. This will dramatically increase their CTR.
Google Tag Manager for WordPress. Many people I talk with still don’t even know what Google Tag Manager is. Basically it is a free management tool from Google that allows you to manage and deploy of your scripts from one location. Such as Google Analytics, AdRoll, Facebook Conversion Pixel, etc.
This free plugin by duracelltomi.com is running on all of my sites. It allows me to stay organized and keep my WordPress sites clean.
ZigWidgetClass. Another great little free WordPress plugin by zigpress.com. This plugin allows me to easily add custom CSS classes to my widgets. What do I use this for? I use it to deploy media queries so that I can hide certain widgets based on their resolution size.
For example, on my site I have an optin box in my sidebar and my footer. On a mobile device there is no reason for it to show twice, so I add my class which pulls my media query and hide one of them.
Snapshot. It’s like a time machine for your WordPress site that can backup and restore your entire install and even includes Dropbox & S3 integration.
Custom Sidebars Pro. You can control all aspects of every widget area on your site with this handy plugin. It has a beautiful UI, which makes it even more fun to use.
Community Experience Lead and general plugin connoisseur from the team at Slocum Themes
Disable Comments. Despite the large number of downloads (1.2 million) and the obvious title, so many of our viewers and customers want to remove their comments and have no idea that this solution exists.
The use of this WordPress plugin is simple. Install the plugin, go to your WordPress Settings > Disable Comments and check the box to disable all comments. The plugin also allows you to choose whether to display comments on a more case-specific level.
Advanced Tagline. This plugin hasn’t been updated in a while (6 years) but we have found that the solution still works for the most part and is fun.
Tapping into the WordPress “tagline” or “slogan”, you can create a number of slogans and display one of them randomly or sequentially every time a user loads the page. The application for thought bloggers, spiritual organizations, and businesses is tremendous.
Conductor. For displaying blog content, there is no greater plugin out there than Conductor. While it is the one option on my list that costs money (starting at $97), Conductor works with almost any existing WordPress theme and allows you to display a grouping of your content the way YOU want.
Want to display 8 blogs from the “Dog” category at a smaller size, and only show the featured image and the title? You can do that.
Want to make your most recent post a large featured post on your front page? Done.
Powerful stuff. I can’t rave about it enough.
Revive Old Post. Use it to re-share the best pieces of content from your blog.
WP Rocket. It takes 5 minutes to set up and speeds up your site considerably, implementing a lot of proactive best practices.
Kraken Image Optimizer. It automatically optimizes every new image that you upload to your site. No additional work needed on your part.
As you can see, I like plugins who save me time.
Here’s the complete list of plugins; each one under its more or less general category:
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