The Best WordPress Plugins of 2015 – 30 Pros Reveal Theirs - Mad Lemmings

The Best WordPress Plugins of 2015 – 30 Pros Reveal Theirs

Figuring out which are the best WordPress plugins to use is tough.

Each year loads of new plugins are released, and many die an ugly plugin death because they are not maintained by the developer.

Not only that, but having enough time and experience to try them all out, understand what they do and if they are at all useful…is insanely difficult.

Today is your lucky day.

That is why I have asked 30 WordPress blogging pros which plugins they recommend right now, in 2015. I asked them to choose:

  • one Free plugin
  • one Premium/Paid plugin

and tell us why it is rocking their world right now.

Easy To Digest WordPress Plugin Goodness

To help you get the most out of this information, I am presenting it in some easy to digest formats.

1. To your right, you will see a table of contents, which you can click to get to the section that interests you.

2. Further down is an amazing infographic representation, proudly brought to you by Cos Sales.They have been kind enough to work with me on this project, and have done an awesome job.

3. You will also find most of the information shown below in a nicely laid out and categorised fashion so you can find the kind of plugin that you are interested in very quickly (and sorted by number of votes). 

Each Plugin is also a direct link to where you can get it (and more information on it).

Grab My FREE Best Plugins Checklist & Guide: Find out what plugins will get you going fast, and then take your website to the next level.

The Best Plugins - By Plugin Type


The Best Plugins - By Category


Email List Building Plugins

Social Media Plugins

Landing Pages &

Page Builder Plugins

Backup, Security &

Optimization Plugins

SEO & Link Plugins

Also check out if Yoast or All in One is best for you.

Other Plugins

What The Pros Said - Which Plugins Rocked Their World in 2015?


For beginners, I'm a fan of Launch Effect. It creates a nice looking coming soon page, plus gives you some nifty features for building your email list.

I've recently become a fan of Beaver Builder. It's a landing page builder that allows you to do pretty much anything you can think of, and it's relatively bug free, unlike a lot of the others out there.

Jon Morrow
BoostBlogTraffic.com
@JonMorrow

I'm a big fan of WordPress SEO by Yoast. The free version has features that other developers charge money for and the great thing is it's easy to use, as well as having everything you need in an SEO plugin.

I spend a lot of money on plugins and there's a good reason - support is usually easier to get. Although some free plugins do have great support, I'd never expect anyone to offer support on a plugin for free. One of my favourite's at the moment is Thrive Content Builder - I love that I can create custom page layouts with complete flexibility. Whether I want a landing page or to create a custom layout that fits within my existing theme, it's easy. The landing page templates that are included are awesome too!

Adam Connell 
UKLinkology.co.uk
@AdamJayC

SumoMe - It has all the tools you'll need for growing your email list, get way more social shares and improve your conversion rate.

P3 Plugin Profiler is super helpful to see what's bogging down your site.

Noah Kagan 
SumoMe.com
@NoahKagan

iThemes Security (formally Better WP Security): Although I sometimes use the pro version of this plugin, the free version offers so many features- all of which enhance the security of my WordPress websites. I love the way I can change the login url of my website, instantly block potential hackers who try and login with a username of "admin" and block other attacks to my websites.

Social Warfare I've tried so many sharing plugins, and Social Warfare is definitely the best (in my opinion). Not only is it lightweight, well implemented and beautifully designed it is packed with powerful features. You can set a different image for sharing via Pinterest as well as different text for each social network. It's boosted the number of shares each of my recent posts have received.

 Ian Anderson Gray 
iag.me
@iagDotMe

WP RSS Aggregator  is an essential plugin for anyone who writes content for blogs other than their own. You can use this plugin with the author RSS feeds for sites you write for and create a page that compiles your latest posts from across the web onto one page. You can see an example of this plugin in action on my portfolio page (http://kikolani.com/portfolio). Plus, you can use the RSS feed this plugin creates to share your posts from multiple sites elsewhere.

If you aren't using a web host like WP Engine, Synthesis, or others that provide daily backups and constant security scanning, then VaultPress  is a must have for any WordPress website owner. This plugin will backup your database, theme files, and uploads on a daily basis so you can restore your website in one click if things go wrong for $9 per month. For $29 per month, you can get real-time backups, access to your complete backup archives, and constant security scanning. It's peace of mind that you can't live without if your WordPress website is important to you.

Fancier Author Box: I like this because it allows you to create an up to date and professional looking author box beneath each of your posts, plus show off your favorite posts with extra tabs that don't clutter up the space. It's also a great way to show off your social profiles as well. There is a paid version of this which isn't too much...I plan on buying the premium version because of some extra's that I can't pass up.

WP Subscribers: For a one off payment of $47, this is a steal. This connects my Aweber account to my blog and allows me to create all kinds of opt in boxes on the site. Sidebar opt ins, below the post/in the post opt ins, and pop ups and sliders. There's a lot of options with this plugin and it allows me to build on one of the most important things in blogging. The email list!

Wade Harman 
WadeHarman.com
@WadeHarman

WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast is a huge time saver, which helps webmasters to confirm with search engine optimization best practices.

Thrive Leads provides powerful lead generation solutions for WordPress websites, with an easy to use interface and great looking forms.

Ron Sela 
RonSela.com
@RonSela

I've recently discovered Yoast's new Comment Hacks - a plugin that gives you five simple features to make WP comments easier. This plugin currently has 5 modules, all of which were previously separate plugins: - Minimum comment length - Email commenters - Comment redirect - Comment parent edit - Minimum comment length I am all for figuring out ways to do what we are already doing more efficiently and effectively, and this plugin does just that.

Yet another one of my recent favorites: Social Warfare social sharing plugin. There was nothing wrong with my previous sharing buttons at Traffic Generation Café - or so I thought until I decided to give Social Warfare a shot and watched my social media traffic go up 35% in just one month. Don't get me wrong: simply installing the plugin won't give you spectacular results. However, Social Warefare has a few handy functions built in, like fully customizable Click to Tweet function or the ability to attach different image sizes perfect to share on specific social media platforms. That's where this plugin trumps all others.

Ana Hoffman
TrafficGenerationCafe.com
@AnaTrafficCafe

Ninja Forms. It's powerful, has a boat-load of add-ons and integrations and the backend customization of forms is incredibly simple to use.

Social Warfare is by far my favorite plugin. Not just because I co-created it, but because it solves many of the headaches I face as a blogger (which is why we created it in the first place). It allows me to get my content shared in a way I know will convert into more shares and more traffic.

Dustin W. Stout 
Dustn.tv
@DustinWStout

SumoMe - This isn't one plugin, but a suite of plugins, and they add a ton of functionality to your site. You can upgrade to premium, but the free tools will help you build your list and improve conversions.

TweetDis - Since using TweetDis, social shares have increased, and it has a lot of options for styling your click to tweets so they look great in your article.

Kathryn Aragon 
KathryAragon.com
@KathrynAragon

I think most people know about Yoast SEO, which takes care of pretty much all of the SEO features that you would need all in one plugin. But asides from that, I've been experimenting with some plugins and I have to say that Icegram is interesting. Icegram is a free plugin that is designed to help you get more email subscribers from your existing traffic, including features like slide ins, pop-ups, header / footer bars (similar to Hellobar), analytics and more. Even if you purchase the premium add-ons like interstitials and split testing, it is still less expensive than other paid alternatives.

A little known plugin that I've been playing around with is Layered Popups, which can be purchased for $18 on Code Canyon. It allows you to easily create animated pop-up windows to capture email addresses and can trigger upon exit intent, time delay, scroll and other popular triggers. I like it because with the animation and a few unique designs, it is different from the other plugins that everyone else is using which can draw attention to your email opt-in. It also has a split test feature so you can test different popups against each other.

Brian Lang 
SmallBusinessIdeasBlog.com
@sbizideasblog

PopUpAlly - This plugins allows your to design 2 different opt-in forms for your website, each of which can be set to appear on pages and/or posts as well as on pop-up or exit.

Social Warfare - I swear by Social Warfare because it's the only social sharing plugin that can be completely customized to seamlessly blend with your branding, not to mention all the bells and whistles it comes equipped wit

Andrea Beltrami
theBrandedSolopreneur.com
@DreBeltrami

WordPress SEO - it's the all-in-one SEO solution that anyone can use. When the button is green, I know I'm ready to go... it's that simple.

Revive Old Post - great for keeping legacy content shared out on Twitter, as well as Facebook. I can set it, and forget it.

Brandon Schaefer
90DayEntrepreneur.com
@90DayPro

The JM Twitter Cards plugin has helped me increase my Twitter following to just over 11K. When you have Twitter Cards enabled, your main blog post image will be on each tweet about that blog post. Tweets with images convert better than tweets without, so this is an easy method to higher conversions on Twitter.

CommentLuv Premium is my favorite because my readers are more engaged when they know they will get a do-follow link from commenting on Successful Blogging. I average 48 comments a post because of CommentLuv Premium and I highly recommend it.

Sue Anne Dunievie
SuccessfulBlogging.com
@SueAnneDunievie

I love this plugin - Internal Link Building. It lets me easily interlink my blog articles and furthermore it will create in-text links that actually are better for click-through than a bulk of ""Related articles"" at the end of the article. It's very flexible and you can play with interlinking criteria to make it actually useful to the reader!"

I have just started playing with Social Warfare and I actually love it! It took all my blog content social media sharing under control and it looks nice too!

Ann Smarty
MyBlogU.com
@SEOSmarty

Hands-down one of my all time favorite plugins for WP is Edit Flow. It gives editors and writers a solid, but simple, work flow and offers excellent custom statuses, calendars, editorial comments, and more. It makes team collaboration a breeze.

My favorite premium plugin is Co-schedule. It allows for effortless scheduling, and power scheduling, into the future. It also boasts team messaging and super easy to read share counts across platforms for each post, making it easy to identify which posts perform so you can see what's hot and what's not. It's well worth the modest $10.00 per month.

Kelly Hungerford
KellyHungerford.com
@KDHungerford

Pretty Links - Nice looking "pretty" links helps your site look more reputable and is great for SO many purposes (not just create affiliate link redirects).

LeadPages - We use the Lead Pages WordPress plugin to increase opt ins on blog posts, special pages, and more. Its a great way to build your email list...quicker.

Yoast SEO - Even if you're fairly proficient in SEO, the rules change all the time. Yoast adapt quickly to both Google updates and social network changes.

Social Warfare - Includes a nice suite of features including an option to optimize your chances of getting better reach by including an option to include a specific Pinterest friendly "featured image".

Ray Hiltz
RayHiltz.com
@RayHiltz

There are a number of free plugins that are essential to the design and functionality of my website, but my most favorite free plugin would be Shortcodes Ultimate. From creating attractive call to action buttons, to adding tables, to expanding accordion lists, to embedding notes and media, this plugin does it all. (And as the name suggests, every function is no more complicated to use than adding a shortcode to a post or page) It can take the simplest of themes and add flexibility and control to the feel and functionality to the entire thing.

I use a few premium plugins, but if I had to choose my most favorite, it would be Social Warfare. The reasons are countless, and that is because it goes so much farther than simply offering social share buttons. I can designate an image for Pinterest, create custom tweets, add click to tweets, include a popular posts widget, add Open Graph data, and make it load where I want it to. Plus, it's ""sticky"" and follows the user as he or she scrolls through my content. There are, of course, several more great features. But on top of all that, it loads quickly and it's very aesthetically pleasing.

Brent Jones
BrentJonesOnline.com
@BrentJOnline

UpdraftPlus Backup and Restoration has been my favorite for the last year or so. Why? It serves the most basic of needs - backups - in a simple and easy-to-use way. A distinct lack of jargon and need for technical server knowledge is a big plus with this plugin. Features that allow for remote and automatically scheduled storage of backup files at popular services like Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3, DreamObjects and more, are fantastic. This one-stop backup solution for backing up the website files AND database also has a push-button restore feature. I install it on every single WordPress project I am responsible for and I use it on all my own websites. It is also an essential component of our monthly maintenance clients; the UpdraftPlus plugin is a real time saver for doing backups prior to software updates. Easy to use. Thorough and reliable. Free.

Gravity Forms is my favorite utility for making forms. Simple ones or complex ones, the forms I can build with Gravity Forms meet every need I have encountered. I buy the developer's license so that the plugin can be used on multiple websites for multiple clients. Biggest benefits I have experienced with Gravity Forms: easy to use, creates complex & conditional forms, has integration with PayPal, MailChimp and a score of other 3rd party services. It's a great, great tool for being able to help people and organizations improve their websites.

Scott Kindred
SafeHouseWeb.com
@SafeHouseWeb

I'm a little boring when it comes to plugins - I keep them pretty simple. My one automatic plugin to every site I build/use is WordPress SEO (SEO by Yoast). It makes it very simple for a writer to optimize web copy for a particular keyword or phrase. However, as WordPress SEO is so well known, another of my favorites is Simple Social Icons. It allows your ""Connect with me"" social icons to be customized - round or square, different sizes, custom colors - and is very simple to set up.

I don't use very many premium plugins, but do you Woocommerce ecommerce program for WordPress. Although the "woocommerce" plugin is free, the Woocommerce Subscriptions plugin is a premium add on. It makes it very easy to set up subscription payments for on-going products or services.

Brent Carnduff
BrentCarnduff.com
@BrentCarnduff

Yoast SEO - Fabulous SEO reminders and great integrations which include the simplest way ever to verify your Pinterest account, breadcrumbs in any theme, etc.

Social Warfare. Images are super important to marketing and a particular focus of mine. I love that I can craft custom social updates with images sized for the platforms. Genius. Also, it has a sniply buster which I love.

Alisa Meredith
AlisaMeredith.com
@AlisaMMeredith

SEO by Yoast. The reason I love this plugin is because I tried a lot of other types and it just didn't work for me. It wasn't as if they were difficult, but it was just as clean as Yoast. Also, I like pretty link. It allows me the ability to hide my affiliate link and replace it with a url that's not messy. Great plugin. 

I love two premium plugins. 1. Thrive Leads plugin. I wanted to find a great plugin that could allow the the ability to do a 2 step process for collecting emails, but it's surpassed my expectations. It's probably the best investment I've made for my blog thus far. 2. Social Warfare. Love everything about that plugin. 

Andrew M. Warner
ShadeOfInfo.com
@CopyWarner

PopUpAlly - I have recently discovered this free pop up plugin and I like it better than my paid lead generation tool. You can create 2 different pop-ups, with visuals, completely for free. The features include: time delayed pop-up, exit intent pop-up and embedded sign up. You can decide whether you want it shown on all pages and posts, or just specific ones. You can see it in action on my blog ;-)

I don't use many paid plugins, but am glad I paid for Backup Buddy. It's saved my life already at least 3 times and I'm grateful for the peace of mind. As the name suggests, it creates a backup of your site, at a regular basis, to the place you decide (Dropbox, Amazon S3 etc). Highly recommend that every website owner has some kind of backup solution!

Sarah Santacroce
SimplicitySmallBiz.com
@SarahSantacroce

WP Optimize - Unless you've been blogging a long time you don't realize the importance of clearing your database on a regular basis. This plugin will do it for you quickly and easily.

CommentLuv Premium - This plugin lets me have total control over my comments. I haven't had spam in years, I can moderate specific people, I can blacklist them, I can whitelist them, I can email them directly from the comment, I can give them a dofollow link, a nofollow link or no link at all. It's amazing.

Adrienne Smith
AdrienneSmith.net
@AdrienneSmith40

SEO for WordPress is without a doubt the best free plugin available. With it's extensive support for a variety of Meta Tags, it helps guide and ensure bloggers their best possible search engine optimization.

While I'm biased toward a plugin that SiteSell is soon releasing, I have to say the best paid plugin that I've personally used is Social Warfare. It's an incredible combination of beautiful social sharing icons and back-end support to optimal social media posts. I've been using it for a few months on a test site, and will be implementing it soon on the official SiteSell Blog.

Mike Allton
SiteSell.com
@Mike_Allton

WordPress SEO by Yoast - It`s dead simple to use and it automatically checks how the SEO of your page or post performs according to certain parameters. If there are some areas you need to improve, it tells you. It can help anyone to go from clueless to average regarding SEO on your blog. 

Plugmatter Feature Box Pro It`s quick and easy to set up and the customer support is awesome. Your most important piece of land on your blog is the top area right under your header. That is why should place a Feature opt-in box there, like Jon Morrow has done on www.BoostBlogTraffic.com. The feature box which was invented by Derek Halpern at www.SocialTriggers.com, and it converts about 5-10% compared to your top sidebar opt-in, which only converts about 0,5 %. 

Tor Refsland
TimeManagementChef.com
@TorRefsland

Yoast SEO You need to have some on page SEO and I think the Yoast SEO plugin just makes the job so much easier. Once you've setup a few general settings its just a case of working the fine points for each post/page you produce. There is something quite satisfying about getting the Yoast SEO 'green button' once you have incorporated your keyword phrase in the applicable places.

Thrive Content Builder - No matter what content you are going to create - blog post, about page, sales page, landing page - then Thrive Content Builder (TCB) has you covered. I don't think I could really go back to the native WordPress editor now. I just look at it and think, ""Oh heck, good job I have the TCB!"" Its the first plugin I install on any of my new sites, and having a visual editor for the front end of WordPress is really helpful.

David Hartshorne
ByteOfData.com
@DavidHartshorne

Yoast SEO WordPress SEO by Yoast I've been using it for years because of the ease of use, especially with social.

Social Warfare - I love Social Warfare for a couple of reasons: They have incredible support and have always responded quickly to questions or features that I'd like. They are the only WordPress plugin that I know of that allows me to pre-populate a Pinterest specific image and description. Since most of my traffic comes from Pinterest, this is HUGE for me.

Jeff Sieh
ManlyPinterestTips.com
@JeffSieh

Updraft Plus - because keeping your website backed up and secure is far more crucial than most realise. And this plugin does is easily and offsite.

Thrive Leads -Thrive Leads is one of the most feature rich and powerful list building plugins I have ever used. It gives you all the options (and they are always improving) of any similar plugin, with testing and statistics. And all at a one time price..

Ashley Faulkes
MadLemmings.com
@madlemmingz

So Which Plugins Are Really The Best?

Of course, there is no “best” plugins unless they satisfy your specific needs.
That is truly the key to it all.
Here are some of the factors I would watch out for in a plugin

  • all the features thoroughly, especially how they relate to your needs
  • make sure the plugins are kept up to date (latest WordPress version)
  • plugins with more reviews and high reviews are better (when they are free, in the WordPress directory)

And be aware, some of the best features and support comes when you pay.
Sure, WordPress is awesome, free and community supported, but ultimately we all work in order to be paid. And expecting everything for free is insanity.
If the developer works for free, chances are they are only doing it as a hobby and the response time will be slower, help will be lacking, forums will go unanswered. So keep that in mind if your business relies on it.
 

Grab My FREE Best Plugins Checklist & Guide: Find out what plugins will get you going fast, and then take your website to the next level.

About the Author Ashley Faulkes

I am an Aussie WordPress Web Designer living in Switzerland. My goal is to make your WordPress website awesome, and get you more customers via SEO and amazing content. I am also a huge fan of the outdoors, so I am often in the mountains doing crazy stuff. I discovered blogging and online marketing while recovering from a shattered leg I got while skiing, and I have not stopped learning since! Join me in reaching for the top!

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