There are almost 40,000 plugins in the WordPress plugin directory, and thousands more around the web. This guide will help you separate the wheat from the chaff and find the best plugin for the job.
Starting the Search
Don’t just check on Google. The key to finding the best wordpress plugin is to search on multiple plugin directories. Results that you find on Google may or may not be truly helpful, as many affiliate websites will spam the top results on Google for plugins that they are affiliated with.
Some of the best places to look for a plugin are listed below:
By checking on all of these sources, you’ll have a good idea of what’s available in both the free and paid marketplaces.
Once you’ve ran your search, you’ll have likely found at least two to three plugins that seem like they’ll get the job done for you. Looking into a few simple metrics can help with the decision making.
Last Updated – How long has it been since a plugin was updated? While there is no golden rule for how frequently a plugin should be updated, a plugin that hasn’t received any updates in the past year is definitely worth some extra scrutiny.
Active Installs – The WordPress Plugin directory has rolled out a new feature called “Active Installs”, which allows you to see about how many other sites are actively using that plugin. A plugin with a high download count, but very low active install count should likely be avoided. On the flip side of that, the best wordpress plugins tend to have a higher number of active installs.
Plugin Support – Find out if the plugin author offers support for the plugin. Although self-explanatory, this will be one of the biggest contributors to your experience with the plugin in the future. It’s important to choose a plugin that has a level of support commensurate with the complexity of the plugin.
Reviews – Check some of the most recent reviews for the plugin, both on the plugin’s website/download page and on third-party review sites. Some good websites that compile reviews of the best WordPress plugins are wptavern.com, poststatus.com, and managewp.org. ManageWP also has a great plugin comparison tool, which allows you to to compare two plugins and their stats at a glance.
Making the Right Decision
Once you’ve reviewed some of the factors above and found a good plugin, make sure to test thoroughly and make sure that it’s working as expected. It’s a good idea to visit some pages on your site to make sure that you’re not seeing any errors and that pages are still loading quickly.
Even if you keep up with all of the steps above and do plenty of research, you’ll still occasionally run into a plugin that doesn’t work. But at least when it does happen, you’ll have a list of other plugins to look into and will be able to make a well-informed decision.