My Recommended WordPress Plugins

In this post, I review plugins that I genuinely use and can absolutely vouch for. WordPress continues to be popular and with regards to SEO, I’d argue that it continues to be the best solution for ranking sites. Said simply, and I tell all of my clients this, WordPress just works.

WordPress is awesome; in fact, I’ve spoken at a WordCamp event before and several meetup groups here in Hong Kong where I live.

I wouldn’t touch any other CMS; I’ve played around with Shopify but I never understood the whole liquid code thing, and Joomla and Drupal just look dated (don’t mean any disrespects) and I’ve even messed around with Plone (…never again).

I manage anywhere between 10 and 20 websites and any given time (some come, some go) and there are certain plugins that I always install when I either launch the site or am maintaining it.

This post lists them out.

The list includes 12 WordPress plugins that I use regularly.

BTW, I am not getting any money from any referrals here (affiliate codes, etc.)

Why I am telling you this?

Because it makes the post and reviews all the more honest 🙂


My Recommended WordPress Plugins

#1 Gravity Forms Plugin

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Usage: Contact forms, polls, payment forms (using Stripe), and a lot of other functions.

Summary: Gravity Forms is very reliable and has lots of excellent and impressive add-ons. Also, I think that the price reflects its’ use. The slight negative is that it does have a bit of a learning curve and the Stripe add-on is a bit tricky.

Gravity forms is definitely pretty awesome.

I’ve tried other popular solutions like Contact Form 7 and Mail Chimp but for flexibility, I think Gravity Forms kicks ass.

Here are the reasons I like Gravity Forms and would recommend it:

  • Easy to take payments using Gravity Forms
  • Lots of Gravity Form Add-Ons
  • Logical Forms are really helpful
  • Built-in spam-trap (which works great).
  • Great support
  • Nice Gutenberg implementation

#2 PHP Snippets

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Usage: A very nice way to keep your shortcode, CSS, etc., all nicely organized.

Summary: I can’t live without it.

This one might be a little rare for most WordPress users, but I can’t live without this awesome little plugin.

If you are even a moderate WordPress tinkerer you’ll be aware that at some point or another you will have to mess about with this file:

functions.php

I consider this file to be the brains of a WordPress install (I’m a pretty average PHP developer so don’t call me out on my descriptions); anyway – the neat and awesome thing about this plugin is that it neatly adds all functions.php commands in a tidy way.

Here’s an example of how I use PHP Snippets.

I use shortcodes for several basic tasks, for example, when displaying the current year. I find that this is useful because you can write something like:

"Check out the best ABC in [short_code]".

This guarantees that the paragraph that mentions the year is always the current year. Now, rather than typing out the PHP in the functions.php file you just create a snippet like this:

function year_shortcode() {
  $year = date('Y');
  return $year;
}
add_shortcode('year', 'year_shortcode');

This just keeps all your shortcodes organized and tidy.

What do I mean by tidy?

I mean if you mess about with your functions.php yourself and upload it using an SFTP file manager like Filezilla you’ll likely pull the site down. This plugin just tells you that your PHP commands are wrong and to take a look at them – assuming that there is something wrong with it.

In summary, the reason I think that this is an excellent WordPress Plugin is because it organzies the following snippets of code for:

  • PHP
  • CSS
  • JavaScript

In a neat and organized fashion.

In fact, you can even do away with creating a child theme.

#3 All-in-One WP Migration

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Usage: Backups, site reverting and of course, migration

Summary: Excellent, but pricey.

This is another brilliant plugin.

It makes it so damn easy to move a site from a local install to a server.

It basically has two major functions that I understand.

Those are:

  • The ability to create backups
  • The ability to restore those backups

Yes sure, there are millions of backup WordPress plugins but the one that I find “just works” is this one.

Now, to be honest I have had issues with large installations that I have had to move, in fact, anything over 2 Gig might be an issue but that’s probably because I have been doing it wrong. But for small sites, quick backups, etc this plugin is fantastic.

#4 WordPress Pods

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Usage: To create custom posts, archives and taxonomy

Summary: The support is incredible. The developers are friendly and kick-ass cool folk.

Yes, many of you have heard and use ACF, or Advanced Custom Fields and I agree – that is an excellent Custom Post creator and it’s easy to use.

However, for power and an unbelievably incredibly support team it is unmatched.

In fact, I created the web’s #1 Cybersecurity Conferences directory using nothing but that plugin.

Why do I love this plugin?

  • The support is incredible! Thanks Jim! They have a dedicated Slack Channel which is ALWAYS helpful – and what’s more incredible is that the plugin is free.
  • Once you understand how it works you can create very powerful WordPress applications
  • You can create way more than “just” Custom Posts – you can extend and create Custom Taxonomies and a ton more.

#5 FacetWP Plugin

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Usage: If you need to sort data, then this is an excellent choice

Summary: Can’t fault it. Excellent support. Why not 5/5? Because it is a bit on the pricey-side…I guess?

If you ever need to be able to sort data, for example, custom posts, custom taxonomy archives, etc., indeed any form of content, then this plugin is a no-brainer.

Hit their site and you’ll see some demo’s that I think completely accurately show the use of the search functionality.

I use it a lot and have had nothing but good experience with it.

The way it works is that you create a “facet” and a “template”. The “facet” is the data that you pull (in any order you like) and the “template” is how that data is presented.

So, in summary, I’d highly recommend FacetWP if you ever have any need to sort data.

#6 Loginizer

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Usage: A security plugin that excels at Brute-Force attacks and IP management of pesky IP-ranges that continue their attacks on your admin

Summary: A simple and neat way of securing the backend of your site from hackers.

Security and WordPress Hacking is a big-issue.

In fact, we cover quite a bit of web application hacking, in the site so we know only too well how insecure WordPress can be when managed by an inexperienced webmaster.

However, with that being said, WordPress can also be very secure when managed correctly and one plugin that I use that satisfies this need is the Loginizer plugin.

There’s not a great deal to say on it aside from the fact that it tells you the IP’s that have been trying to brute-force their way into your admin, and the security settings of your mission critical WordPress files.

The ability to lockout any IP that fails the password and username access after X attempts is a neat feature.

Yes, I know that there are hundreds of other similar plugins but I can vouch for this one because it works and has done a good job for me for the last several years.

#7 Novashare Social Media Sharing

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Usage: A lightweight social media icon sharing plugin

Summary: Not much to add aside from the fact that it works great.

I’ve used a ton of social media sharing icons and WordPress plugins but I landed on this one because of one critical feature: it is light.

I used to use AddThis for many years and it was great – but – I remember it loading a ton of overhead to my site.

I was on the prowl for a long time to find a suitable solution and along came Novashare which I have been happy with ever since.

I don’t use it on every site I manage but on the ones that I have been using it its worked well.

I like the fact that it gives you two choices (actually three) which are that you can place your social icons “inline”, “floating” or none, (which would actually like I said, make it three!).

#8 OneSignal Push Notifications

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Usage: Instant messaging that gets a decent reply rate

Summary: An excellent addition to generating subscribers. Think of the YouTube subscribers bell and you’re basically there with this app and plugin.

I’ve used the OneSignal WordPress plugin for years.

It’s one of those things that you implement and forget about it.

OneSignal is pretty amazing when you think about because it’s free!

There is a paid version but I’ve never had a need for the paid version.

For those that don’t know OneSignal is the Chrome “popup” that prompts you to sign up for alerts.

The really great thing about browser alert messaging systems like OneSignal is that the subscriber gets notification regardless of what site they are on.

So, for example, if a subscriber signs up for your OneSignal messaging alert on Monday, and you push a message on Wednesday and they are on another website, they will get your message.

The tracking is excellent and what’s more you can even schedule your messaging.

When I worked as a growth marketer for a food delivery startup in Hong Kong and New York, we used to use OneSignal to push our menus to our (at the time) 4,000 subscribers, and the app worked flawlessly when messaging our customers via their mobile devices.

In summary, I’d rate this service (and WordPress plugin) highly and can’t recommend it enough.

#9 Schema Pro

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Usage: Schema organizer – and implements schema for SEO purposes.

Summary: Not much to say aside from that it works well!

Does schema help SEO? Absolutely, yes.

If you don’t know much about Schema, go check out this write-up.

In summary, the reason why Google (and all search engines) like schema is because it helps them understand, with clarity, what data it is that you are showing to your audience.

An example if your address on your site. That is a prime place to add schema because it will likely help with your local ranking (if that’s something that you want to achieve).

Schema works for all types of content: reviews, events, content, authorship and a ton more options.

If you are not using schema in 2021 then I recommend that you use it.

#10 Site Reviews

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Usage: If you need site reviews (or reviews of any kind) then this plugin would be worth taking a look at.

Summary: Coded superbly.

The Site Reviews plugin is not one that I use regularly but if you need any form of reviews on your site then this one will do it very well.

There is very little to fault on this plugin because the developer(s) are totally on it. They write excellent code and if I am not mistaken they also use blockchain technology to verify the authenticity of the reviews that you publish on your site.

The reviews plugin is highly customizable and again, highly recommended!

#11 WP All Export and WP All Import

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Usage: If you need to import or export data then these are the plugins (they are two) that you will ever need

Summary: Excellent – and – not much else to say! Try them out if you need to do what they say they do.

These two plugins are the best Import and Export plugins that you can ever use.

The reason why they are so awesome is for the following reasons:

  • You can select precisely what data you want to export
  • You can import data into your custom post types (or taxonomies) using the WordPress Pods plugin mentioned above
  • You can also create a template for export, so if you need to regularly export data (in a .csv format) then no worries, just do it once, name it, and that template will be saved.

#12 SEO Framework

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Usage: For SEO. This plugin is a light-weight solution when compared to Yoast.

Summary: Only reason I gave it 3/5 is because I don’t rely on it too much because I have mixed opinions about SEO plugins when it comes to ranking content.

The SEO Framework is my SEO WordPress plugin of choice.

To be honest I’m not a big fan of SEO Plugins because I feel that a lot of the features are a bit unecessary.

Does an SEO plugin for your site really help? Sure.

Does it help a huge amount? Probably not.

Anyways, when a client asks for an SEO plugin I revert to the SEO framework. I’ve heard some good things about SEO Rank Math but I never got my head around it.

What about Yoast? No. Not interested. I had a bad experience and the amount of advertising they used to throw all over the backend was highly irritating, plus they had that famous screw up back in 2018 that pissed off a lot of people.

Wrap Up

The plugins that I’ve mentioned above are ones that I have used many times.

Everything written above is my own hard-earned experience and goodness knows how much money I’ve wasted spent on plugins over the years only to decide on the above ones listed in this resource.

Let me know in the comments below if you agree with my roundup and please suggest any others!

Henry "HMFIC"

I'm Henry, the guy behind this site. I've been Growth Hacking since 2002, yep, that long...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Recent Content