WordPress is an ever-changing platform with new developers entering the community all the time. I was just reviewing some older posts here on my site where I recommend WordPress plugins and I realized that many of those are plugins I don't use anymore because something new has come along that is better, or they are no longer relevant, or no longer being developed.
So my intent moving forward will be to publish an annual article (this being the first) to highlight new plugins I've started using in the last year that are worth considering if you use WordPress. In addition, I've created a new Evergreen page where I will maintain an updated list of plugins I LOVE and strongly recommend.
The 2021 Top WordPress Plugins:
I used All In One SEO forever but have been transitioning my sites to RankMath. I think it is currently the best tool for SEO optimization. A recent update to All In One SEO caused my site to crash. My developer and I were unable to fix it and so I was forced to dump it for an alternative.
My host (also unable to fix the issue) recommended RankMath. I've been very satisfied and plan to move all my sites over to RankMath in the future. It has a very convenient migration tool to pull in all your data from Yoast or All In One SEO so you don't miss a step.
This paid plugin has been a game-changer. Video is growing in importance across all digital channels and being in control of your own video experience is important. In the firearm industry especially we have to consider that any day YouTube could shut down my channel and destroy what I've built there.
This plugin allows you to build video players and galleries on your site. You do not have to host the videos on your server. You can connect it to a YouTube or Vimeo or self-hosted video hosted elsewhere and just add it to your gallery all the same.
There are also automation options to automatically check any YouTube channel for new content and pull that content in.
I am particularly impressed with the features that allow you to connect it to the most popular ad networks in order to play VAST ads. Think pre-roll and overlay ads.
This plugin looks like it has been around for awhile but I just discovered it. Rank Math suggested I could improve my SEO score by including a Table of Contents on larger posts that have a lot of sub-headings. This plugin does it automatically.
Much easier than creating anchor links manually in the code to be sure. You can set it to automatically insert into posts based on your criteria or only manually add it to posts you indicate.
With the number of plugins I use the backend Posts and Pages lists were getting ugly and unwieldy. This plugin allows you to choose what columns you see in those backend tables. This cleans it up and makes those backend pages load faster.
This plugin has been a game-changer. On ConcealedCarry.com this year we rolled out some fun gamification features. Users can earn badges for completed courses or other activities on the website. They can rank up based on the badges earned as well.
Looking for a tool to manage this was ugly. Years ago we had tried to use Badge.os but it looked to me like it hadn't been updated in awhile and their integration with Sensei was no longer supported. So I was lucky to find GamiPress.
GamiPress is so similar to BadgeOS in fact that one ripped off the other almost certainly. GamiPress is open source but many of the addon plugins are sold.
This plugin was recommended to my by the WooFunnels plugins. It allows you to create a customized thank you page for WooCommerce.
Easy to add a coupon or other call to action and all-around provides a more professional look and experience for the customer.
This year PayPal freaked out because we dare to sell dummy ammunition. They don't allow for the sale of ammunition and no number of phone calls or emails helped them understand that dummy rounds are not live ammunition and shouldn't be against their policy.
This plugin allowed me to block PayPal as a payment option when people purchase ammunition. It has a lot of other conditions you can set and in addition to blocking a payment gateway you can also block various shipping classes.
There are a lot of Zapier plugins for WooCommerce and WordPress. Most of them are fairly limiting.
I found this one is the most versatile. You can trigger a zap based on various WooCommerce activities but also based on Sensei activity which was important to me.
I've been using Contact Form 7 for a very long time. Ever since cForms died. I don't have anything against Contact Form 7 but Forminator Pro is part of my WPMU Dev subscription and it had a few features I was in need of. So I switched one of my websites over and I've been very impressed.
In addition to forms, you can build polls, quizzes, and integrate with Strip and PayPal as a checkout tool.
I've never had any issue with the way WooCommerce generated order numbers. I know some people go batty over it because by default WooCommerce doesn't generate sequential order numbers. Just the nature of WordPress and post types and post meta.
Anyway, I found some use for this plugin because I import orders from several WooCommerce websites into a single order fulfillment and inventory system (Zenventory). That system gets super confused if multiple orders have the same order number; which is possible when they are coming from different websites.
So I use this plugin to add a 3 letter prefix to orders coming from each site to prevent that potential conflict.