While WordPress keeps upgrading, so does its best plugins, or at least we hope so. Not all our favorite plugins make the curve, allowing new and sometimes better versions of the plugin to jump on the WP community and reach a high popularity among users and developers. For 2013, we feature a set of plugins that will, very likely, remain a must-have for today's WordPress websites.
As we go through the choices, we intend to feature those that are a must-have for almost any type of website that intends to have high-volume traffic, maintain good site-flow and successfully run their WP site.
Best Plugins for Increased Page Views & Traffic
The first set of plugins we will be featuring are those that many users didn't know they needed (or cared of), but that are essential for many blogs that intend to gain a lot of traffic. The below, if used accordingly, can increase the page-views, search engine friendliness and enhance your site significantly:
Yet Another Related Posts Plugin
YARPP is probably one of the most beneficial content interlinking plugins to date. It is highly celebrated by reliable sources, such as Matt Cutts, Matt Mullenweg and even Joost De Valk. The reason for its popularity is that it uses an algorithm to identify related posts (that you can easily modify) based on keywords, that acts similar to how a search engine calculates relevant search results for a search.
If you find that the related posts that show up do not seem relevant, you can assume that your keywords are not well stated throughout your post (therefore search engine crawlers may also agree with YARPP's calculation), or if you find that it is, you can manipulate the Yarpp Plugins algorithm to show posts that you find relevant. A definitely great tool to keep readers on your site, hence increasing page views.
WordPress Popular Posts
WordPress Popular Posts is the most popular of its kind and a great way to boost your page views. What it does is quite simple: Tack and sort posts based on page views, comments and average daily views. This can then be sorted by days, weeks or by months and then easily displayed in your sidebar.
W3 Total Cache
The final choice for WP plugins for increased site-flow, is of course W3 Total Cache. The most common argument that justifies more expensive, faster hosting is that increasing a websites speed will increase the chances of users visiting other pages of a website. Website page-load has become an important factor that helped determine the conversions of many eCommerce websites for example, as shown on this infographic by Mashable.
W3 Total Cache and its competitor, WP Super Cache are becoming a must-have for WordPress sites, and unavoidable if you run on slower hosts.
WP-PageNavi is a timeless plugin that will continue to be used until WordPress decides to add it into its build. This lightweight plugin makes a subtle change to your websites navigation, in particular your blogs pagination. Why this makes a difference? Well, one reason is that it helps your users navigate to your old posts and generally find posts better. Another important reason is that the same applies to search engine bots, that can easily navigate and quickly index your posts, when landing on random pages of your archives for example.
Best SEO Plugins for WordPress
There are many great new WordPress SEO plugins that joined the selection in 2013, but there are still only a few timeless ones that take care of all SEO aspects, are light-weight, and constantly updated:
WordPress SEO by Yoast
Yoasts WordPress SEO remains the best SEO plugin for absolutely any type of WordPress site. It's free and can do anything out of the box that any other SEO plugin can do - and more - practically the only SEO plugin you will ever need. Its biggest competitor, All-in-one-SEO-Pack, is highly overrated and also to be avoided, as it attempts to sell it's premium version to unknowing users with features that are already in Yoast's SEO Plugin. If you have not yet installed or replaced your SEO plugin with WordPress SEO by Yoast, then it is the time to do so.
Every website has to deal with missing page errors, wrong incoming linking from other websites and changing or URL's and when it comes to handling these 404's errors, WP Redirection handles this best. With Redirection, you can easily track all your 404's, create 301 redirects to fix them and also see how often these are being triggered. There are many other settings that can help, such as auto creating of redirects when changing URL's of posts and posts, 404 error groups, different redirect modules and more.
SEO Smart Links
SEO Smart Links is a plugin that can automatically link words within a post to another post based on its relevance. In addition, you can assign words that appear site-wide to automatically link to another post. I would almost say this is more of an intermediate SEO plugin, because if used incorrectly, you can damage your sites status on search engines as it can become spammy (due to too many placed links being generated), but otherwise can increase your sites SEO and visitor flow significantly.
Contact, Social and Subscription Plugins
These next social subscription and contact plugins for 2013 can vary in their usability, depending on your preferences. For example, there are many ways to auto post to facebook and twitter, or add social sharing abilities to your WordPress blog without a plugin, yet we feature those as well for users that require:
Facebook Plugins for WordPress
For this category, there are arguably many decent plugins that can "socialize" your website. For Facebook, users are most commonly looking for the Facebook Widget and sharing integration, which can be done with Facebook's official WordPress plugin.
On other occasions, you may want to take the WordPress + Facebook integration to a more app-like level, which may include logging in with and commenting with Facebook or simply posting to your Facebook pages directly from your WP post editing page. For that purpose, Otto's free Simple Facebook Connect plugin remains the best social plugin for Facebook, which also includes the basic social sharing features as well.
Contact Form 7
Another popular plugin-type are contact form plugins, which until now remains Contact Form 7. Notably, this plugin can already does a handful and works well out-of-the-box and is integrated easily right out-of-the-box, but if certain 'form' features are needed, whether tracking submissions with Google Analytics, or more robust form field types, than a quick glance at its documentation often resolves this rather fast.
AutoChimp and Mailchimp Comment Opt-in
For those who decide not to use WordPress to manage their e-mail subscriptions, let-alone send newsletters, there is Mailchimp. And for those that do use Mailchimp may be very fond of the following 3 plugins AutoChimp, Analytics360 and Mailchimp Comment Opt-in.
AutoChimp is almost a must-have if using MailChimp and WordPress, in particular if allow website signups or use BuddyPress. What it does is sync every signup you have on WordPress or BuddyPress with your Mailchimp List and can even apply fields, such as first names and nicknames with fields you create in MailChimp.
Analytics360, is a Google Analytics plugin that allows you to view your Analytics Statistics directly from WordPress, but also tracks your Mailchimp Campaign traffic and displays it on the same dashboard. This helps identify traffic spikes at certain times, whenever you post a blog post or send a newsletter.
Other WordPress Plugins for 2013
The above choices should remain active as they have in the previous years and we hope that their developers maintain them. Should this list change, we'll make sure to update it here on in a newer version. And if any are missing plugins you feel deserves a space on this list, please feel free to comment your suggestions or feedback.