WordPress keeps track of the most popular WordPress plugins. The popularity rank isn’t based on the number of downloads (because history would make the All in One SEO Pack more popular than Yoast’s SEO plugin for example) but on other factors which include the rating by every day WordPress users.
Below are the plugins that currently hold the top 5 positions as of this writing.
Akismet is an anti-spam plugin for comments that ships with WordPress. It’s free when used on non-commercial blogs. It used to always be free but that has changed for those that make money from their sites.
Akismet requires the use of an Akismet API key to become active. For use one one site, the key costs $5 per month, and for unlimited sites the cost is $50 per month. Of course, it’s free for personal blogs.
I use Akismet on some sites, but truthfully, using some of the built-in features in WordPress to discourage automated comments, or comments with too many links, etc., plus perhaps some CAPTCHA, does the trick for the most part.
2) Contact Form 7
Creating a form on a WordPress site to allow people to contact the site owner or employees is very important. Using a form makes it so that the email address doesn’t have to be revealed on the web site. A plain text (or linked) email address on a web site encourages automated spam to that email. Forms, as I said, keep emails hidden.
Before themes started including a contact form template, Contact Form 7 used to be the plugin that I used on my WordPress sites. In fact, it was one of the first downloads after the WordPress source files.
It’s very flexible and offers more than just the ability to display a simple contact form with boxes for subject, email address, and message. It also lets you create a drop down list for multiple people in the organization, and the email gets sent to the correct individual based on the selection. It’s even more powerful than that, and is worth checking out.
3) WordPress SEO by Yoast
Arguably, Yoast’s All in One SEO plugin is better than the previous highy popular All in One SEO Pack, but you’ll see fans on both sides.
Many premium themes attempt to provide all the SEO benefits to a WordPress blog, but I think that functionality should be left to a plugin or else things just get confusing. I noticed that WooThemes recently stopped including SEO functions and settings in their theme Framework. Good move I think.
Yoast’s plugin even takes into consideration some meta tags for social sharing. It’s a great plugin, easy to use, and fully featured.
4) Jetpack by WordPress.com
I only just started using this plugin. It helps a lot with keeping comment spam at bay as well I have found. It’s a giant collection of plugins really that affect different aspects of a WordPress blog.
It brings features to self-hosted WordPress blogs that were always part of a hosted WordPress.com blog. New add-ons are created often, most are free, some cost a little money to activate.
5) WordPress Importer
It’s interesting to see the WordPress Importer plugin (and the JetPack plugin) in the top 5. It’s indicative of people wanting to move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org (self-hosted) blogs.
The Importer will import the exported XML from WordPress.com into a self-hosted blog to pull in the posts, settings, etc.