On August 4, 2016 in the official WordPress Plugin Directory there are already close to 46,000 plugins. Yes, yes, 46,000 plugins! 😮 Taking a look at this figure, you may think that surely there are several plugins for anything you might need. And indeed, it seems so… But the problem is that there is such a volume of plugins that’s not so easy to choose the best one for your specific needs, isn’t it?
Within the WordPress community, the order in which plugins are shown in the own directory and the information that should be displayed for every plugin has generated much debate. Just over a year ago the directory used as a “popularity criterion”, the Number of Downloads, but since early 2015 the directory uses the number of Active Installs instead.
However, the number of active installs should not be your only criterion for deciding whether to install a plugin in your site—you’d lose the opportunity to discover the great latest plugins that have been uploaded in the WordPress Plugin Directory (as, for example, Nelio Content 😉) and have not yet had time to achieve decent numbers. You should also consider other criteria such as user ratings, the updating rate (to see if the plugin is still maintained), support, its compatibility with the latest of WordPress, or the reputation of that author (by looking at other plugins of his).
And of course, it is highly recommended before installing any plugin to do a little search on Google (or your favorite search engine 😉) and read some articles about the most recommended plugins by experts. You will find lots of interesting information, such as these two posts 37 Essential WordPress Plugins You Should Know (and Install if You Haven’t Already) by Tom Ewer or Best WordPress Plugins: 40 Experts Share Their Favorite WordPress Plugins published by WPKube.
Said that, it is clear that if a plugin has over 1 million of active installs you should consider it as an alternative to install in your WordPress site. And this is what has let me to write this post about the plugins that have more than 1 million of active installs.
21 WordPress Plugins with More than 1 Million of Active Installs
The first plugin found in this list is the Hello Dolly plugin developed by Matt Mullenweg (founder of WordPress).
This is not just a plugin, it symbolizes the hope and enthusiasm of an entire generation summed up in two words sun most famously by Louis Armstrong. (Matt Mullenweg)
Downloads: more than 591.000.
The main reason for the popularity of this plugin is that it’s installed by default in your WordPress. Hence the number of active installs it has!
Regarding the other 20 plugins, to ease the reading, I show you them sorted by the following categories:
- Audience Interaction. Plugins related to generating leads, subscribers, shopping or authorship.
- Traffic & SEO. Organic position optimizers.
- Security. Tools to help better protect your WordPress.
- Optimization & Maintenance. To improve the performance and reduce loading times.
- Design and Layout. To improve the visualization of the pages and posts.
- Other Utilities. Other plugins that can be useful for developers.
Contact Form 7 can manage multiple contact forms, plus you can customize the form and the mail contents flexibly with simple markup. The form supports Ajax-powered submitting, CAPTCHA, Akismet spam filtering, and so on.
Downloads: more than 40 million.
Really Simple CAPTCHA is a module designed to be used by other plugins. It was originally created for the Contact Form 7 plugin. And as you may have guessed serves to include a CAPTCHA field on a form, which prevents spam in forms.
Downloads: more than 4.4 million.
If your site is an e-commerce, WooCommerce allows you to sell anything. But, in my opinion, the most impressive fact about WooCommerce is that it currently manages 30% of all online stores!
Downloads: more than 16 million.
2. Traffic & SEO
Jetpack is a free plugin (or rather, 24 plugins in one) to simplify the management of WordPress sites by providing visitors statistics, security services, images acceleration, and helping to get more traffic.
Downloads: more than 27 million.
This plugins automatically insert your Google Analytics tracking code to have all your site analytics of your blog.
Downloads: more than 11,7 million.
This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Ask.com to better index your blog.
Downloads: more than 18,5 million.
One of the best SEO plugins that exist and possibly the most popular one. It automates certain SEO tasks and it has a very useful tool that helps to manually optimize posts and pages. It also includes many other options such the ability to generate sitemaps.
Downloads: more than 31,2 million.
This plugin, as the previous one, optimizes your WordPress blog for SEO. It gives Google Analytics support, XML site map support, and includes a built-in API so other plugins/themes can access and extend its functionality, among other things.
Downloads: more than 29 million.
Akismet is a free anti-spam service that checks all comments and filters out the ones that look like spam. You can always check the status history of each comment, so you can easily see which comments were caught or cleared by plugin and which were spammed or unspammed by a moderator. I will recommend it for any web with certain traffic volume. This plugin is included by default in any WordPress site—that’s one of the reason of its popularity.
Downloads: more than 50 million.
Plugin to secure your website. Powered by the constantly updated Threat Defense Feed, their Web Application Firewall stops you from getting hacked. Wordfence Scan leverages the same proprietary feed, alerting you quickly in the event your site is compromised.
Downloads: more than 16,7 million.
4. Optimization & Maintenance
W3 Total Cache improves the user experience of your site by increasing server performance, reducing the download times and providing transparent content delivery network (CDN) integration. It is recommended by some hosting services but it may not be compatible with others. Check it with your hosting provider.
Downloads: more than 6 million.
This plugin is an alternative to the previous one. You should install any of the two in your site. However, first check which one is recommended by your hosting provider.
Downloads: more than 10,6 million.
5. Design & Widgets
This plugin is used to manage image galleries and photos. Although, by default, WordPress allows you to create image galleries, this functionality is quite limited. NextGEN Gallery broads possibilities for better management with the ability to batch upload, import meta data, add/delete/rearrange/sort images, edit thumbnails, and group galleries into albums.
Downloads: more than 10,6 million.
TinyMCE Advanced is a plugin that improves the WordPress editor by default, by adding more features. Summarizing, TinyMCE includes 15 independent modules so you can create and edit tables, insert lists, set fonts, and many more.
Downloads: more than 8,1 million.
Page Builder allows you to create responsive page layouts using the standard WordPress widgets using the simple drag and drop page builder. You don’t need to be an expert in WordPress, HTML, or CSS to create professional pages.
Downloads: more than 8,1 million.
6. Other Utilities
This plugin allows to clone a post or page, or edit it as a new draft. It’s quite impressive that WordPress has not yet added this feature by default and you need to install a plugin. But hey, at least there’s a plugin! 😉
Downloads: more than 2 million.
It allows you to regenerate the thumbnails for your image attachments. This is very handy if you’ve changed any of your thumbnail dimensions (via Settings » Media) after previously uploading images or have changed to a theme with different featured post image dimensions.
Download: more than 3,7 million.
Advanced Custom Fields is a plugin that helps you to easily create any kind of custom field for your posts.
Downloads: more than 5,6 million.
This plugin basically allows you to integrate a fancy pagination links to replace the ← Older posts | Newer posts → links of WordPress by default. It’s very easy to install and configure.
Downloads: more than 7,2 million.
Plugin to import the content of your WordPress site from one server to another. Although it doesn’t work properly always, they’re working on improving its reliability and making it more robuts.
Downloads: almost 14 million.
As I said at the beginning, the most important thing when selecting a plugin is to clearly identify the need we have and the way the plugin can help us to cover it. Are you using most of the plugins on the list? Did you thought that some others plugins would be here? Tell us your thoughts on the comments section below! 😊
Featured Image by Pao Duell.