Last updated on December 12, 2016, 4:19 PM

  • Secret premium plugin sauces ....

    … for distinguished bloggers. [2016 edition]

These 10 WordPress Premium Plugins will rock your Blog in 2016!

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Diese 10 Premium Plugins rocken 2016 Ihre WordPress Seite

In January 2016, WordPress is powering 39% of the world's top 10.000 sites according to builtwith. One of its major strengths is the extendability via plugins: As WordPress has become insanely popular, thousands of programmers developped a vital ecosystem centered around Matt Mullenweg's CMS software. Originally launched as a blogging-tool, the open source software has turned into a fully featured web publishing tool long since.

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While many great plugins are available as freeware / open source software, some of the most elaborate and useful extensions are premium plugins. Some developpers sell their software directly via their own online stores, most turn to various marketplaces. The third group is offering a “lite” version of their software for free, thus trying to convert curious parties into paying customers by pointing out the extra-features of the premium version. But with so many premium plugins available, which are really worth their money? I've tried and tested literally hundreds of premium plugins – this guide lists the ones every pro-blogger should use in 2016.

Pre-purchase considerations

What makes a good plugin great?

Fear not, I will keep my plugin theory lecture super-short. Yes, such factors as complexity, performance, scaleability, number of features, UI, artwork and so on do come into play. But in the end only one question matters: Does this plugin make your blog stand out? Does it give you a competitive edge over your competitors in terms of SEO, social visibility, user exerience, design… Does it contribute to making your content stand out?

As Seth Godin would put it: Does your premium plugin make my blog remarkable?

Will your template jump through all the hoops?

First themes first

A great premium plugin requires a flawless theme. Since you're reading this, you are probably not the one to gladly embrace a WordPress standard theme. The ever-so crowded free repository contains a couple of gems. As millions of people have found out. So unlike all those other cheapskates, you are very willing to compensate a professional coder for his efforts.

What could possibly go wrong? Unfortunately, the vast majority of premium (and free) themes is outdated, full of bugs, not adhering to WordPress best coding practices or simply way too unflexible. (Hey, I'm all up for digging in the source code. If it is well structured and commented.) The best and most popular themes these days are rather frameworks than single-purpose templates. They feature drag-and-drop layout editors, come in all responsive flavors and make your site pass the Google speed test with ease.

If you are not sure wether your current theme is up the challenge, I suggest you go with one of these options. I tried and tested them in many of my lectures – ultimately, the decision is a question of taste. Mine is very simple like Orson Wells'.

How do you fight a white walker without a Valyrian steel weapon?

What good is a Jedi wielding a defunct light saber?

One of my clients once complained about a social media sharing plugin I had recommended on my German blog datenschmutz. “This plugin is causing lots of issues on my page,” he would tell me. A quick check of his blog quickly identified the guilty party: He was running a three-year-old, heavily and clumsily customized theme and a couple of plugins that must have been outdated when before Abe Lincoln joined his first newsgroup. All ended well, the sharing plugin was working. But apart from the content there wasn't much left of the original site.

  • Enfold - Responsive Multi-Purpose Theme

    This very blog is powered by Enfold. I personally assure you that the backend is awesome, the Avia page builder editor is just as intuitive as other modern page builder, but a lot more elegant. Support is incredibly helpful and fast. If had a chance to start all over, I'd marry Enfold again without a second thought.

  • Avada | Responsive Multi-Purpose Theme

    Avada is currently the best selling WordPress theme. Its built-in fusion editor is quite comparable with Enfold's Avia engine, looks and features are quite similar, too. On a personal note, I find Enfold�a bit more flexible.

  • X | The Theme

    It's new, it's stylish, it's very popular. X is a comprehensive software collection (like most modern themes are). The integrated cornerstone editor allows users to edit text on the front-end, while the backend allows for a lot of flexibility.

All of these themes are feature-packed software packages that take WordPress to the next level. At the same time, the decision for one of the included backend editors constitutes a serious lock-in situation. Each of them sports its own shortcodes, switching editors means *a lot* of work. Take a good look at the demos, compare all the features or simply trust me and go with Enfold.

  • Give me the plugins!

    And now, without any further ado, let�s get to some serious WordPress add-ons!

The Swiss army knife of social media integration

Easy Social Share Buttons 3 | ESSB

Integrating social media services into your blog isn't a one-way road. You want share buttons, you want counters, you want to display your social profile links in a sidebar widget? I bet you want open graph syntax, too. What about a floating vertical button bar? Easy social share buttons 3 is so powerful, that the developpers split the backend into “newbie” and “expert” mode. Beginners have their social sharing setup up and running in no time, while pros can fine-tune every single aspect imagineable.

Prize: $19 | Marketplace: Envato

The Swiss army knife of [German] SEO.

wpSEO | The original by Sergej M�ller.

Premium WordPress SEO Plugin

When it comes to WordPress SEO, I heavily rely on this one. wpSEO was on the radar long before anyone else thought about all-in-one SEO solutions for WordPress blogs. Finding a decent SEO plugin in 2016 should be easy – strangely though, it isn't. Yoast's free plugin doesn't quite do the trick, the premium is way too expensive and all other alternatives are either incomplete or maintainted an upgraded poorly.

CAVEAT: The sales pages is only available in German, the plugin itself supports multiple language, including German. The standard configurations work like a charm – give it a try, you won't regret your decision. Not a SEO pro? Just load the standard config and you're good to go.

Prize: from 19.99 (single site) to 99,99 (unlimited)

Hate Google Analytics, want realtime stats? Go for Clicky.

Clicky Web Analytics | HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

A realtime Google Analytics alternative

Clicky isn't exactly a WordPress plugin, but a premium online service which connects to your blog via a wide range of free plugins. You: “That sounds weird. Why would I need this?” Me: “Have you ever logged into Google Analytics? Clicky is the analytics tool for bloggers that works like GA was supposed to. Right before some mankind-hating coder designed the worst UI ever conceived. Also: realtime!” Try their demo. If you sport more than 1k uniques per day, you'll definitely be able to spare a couple of bucks, no matter your scenario:

  • Beginners: Clicky is way easier to grasp than its big brother GA.
  • Pros: How does exluding big G from your inner analytics circle sound? Right on, that's my kind of dark-grey hat SEO!

Recommended plugins: Clicky Analytics [free] | Clicky by Yoast [free]

Prize: Free [1 website, 3k daily pageviews] | Pro [10 sites, 30k PVs] | … | Custom

Another Swiss army knife? YES. The most complete pop-up knife it is indeed.

Layered Poups for WordPress | animated, unblockable pop-ups

Po-ups suck, right? We all hate bully bloggers who molest their focussed readers with ridiculous requests such as “Subscribe to my newsletter. NOW!” And we'd never use those dreaded unblockable pop-ups if they just didn't convert so well. Think like: “Look buddy, I'm totally different than all those other guys who are just looking to generate leads. Me, I'm all about freebies. Subscribe already, bro!” On-click, on-action, delayed, on-scroll… you name it, LP has got you covered. And AdBlockers will sing their sad song of failure, so cover those ears in time.

Prize: $19 [Can you hear the screams? “Grab me!!!”]

Tags are a vital part of any internal linking strategy.

Extended Tags Widget | WordPress Premium Plugin

WordPress premium tag management

Meta keywords have died so long ago, the stopped smelling funny in 2012. Why use tags? Because interlinking (aka your internal link structure) is a vital element of your SEO strategy. Tag research is a tedious task though and the imfamous SimpleTags plugin has stopped working long ago. Don't rely on WordPress' internal tag suggestions, because they suck badly. Don't drop tagging for this reason though, just switch to Extended Tags.

Prize: $6

Where vector icons are dancing in the street

Iconize WordPress Plugin

Iconize premium WordPress Plugin

The web is a visual media. Why restrict your eyecandy to images, when there's so many icons? Iconize lets you insert and animate a lot of vector icons into pages, posts, menu items and widget titles.

Prize: $18

Easy setup, integrated per-image sharing, 3 layouts and 8 lightboxes

Global Gallery – WordPress Responsive Gallery

Responsive image gallery

S Still holding a grudge against NextGen gallery? Time to say goodbye forever. Author LCweb built GG with a self-explaining UI, ease of setup, mobile devices and social media in mind. Beautiful, responsive grids – a great addition to the built-in WordPress galleries.

Prize: $23

Did you ever wonder how to make these rating stars turn up on your Google result pages?

Taqyeem – WordPress Review Plugin

Taqyeem - premium WordPress Review Plugin

Ratings have gained immense popularity since Google is displaying those little rich snippets (the yellow review stars) on its SERPs. Taqyeem got you covered. Reviews are contributed by authors, readers can optionally cast their vote on anything, too. Rich snippets are included, typography and colors are freely adjustable. For heightened comfort and a higher conversion rate, I suggest you also buy the two available add-ons “predefined criteria” and “buttons“.

Prize: $36 for the full bundle | Taqyeem $23 | predefined criteria add-on $7 | Buttons add-on $6

A must-have for multi author blogs and guest postings

WP Author Box

People are interested in blog authors. Make it easy to connect with the writer by displaying this stylish author box in the sidebar or below some or all postings. The light version is pretty powerful, too. But pretty powerful isn't enough for us distinguished guest bloggers, right?

Prize: $17

Is it a bird? Is it a plan? No, it's flock of slide-ins!

Easy Slide-In for WordPress

Easy slide-in for WordPress

Slide-In, if well designed and planned, can make a website stickier and incrase conversion rates immensely. This plugin covers all slide-in needs – the ones you can imagine and even the ones you can't. Slide from left to right and choose from a wide variety of triggers. Also supports shortcodes and comes in responsive flavor.

Prize: $19

Do you know an addition to this list?

If I missed a great premium plugin, please let me know!

4 + 4 = ?


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