Top 10 Premium WordPress Plugins for 2012

Let’s face it—WordPress rocks. From its humble beginnings as b2/cafelog to the CMS powerhouse it is known as today, WordPress has proven to be the choice of champions among designers, developers and pro bloggers alike. But what is it that truly makes WordPress stand apart from contending CMSs such as Drupal or Joomla?

It’s all about plugins.

The WordPress community is heavily driven by ambitious plugin developers who work day and night to extend its out-of-the-box functionality and provide users with robust features and advanced functionality. In fact, there are so many plugins available for the WordPress platform that whenever a client asks if a certain task can be performed, the answer is usually, “Yes, there’s a plugin for that.”

In the time-honored tradition of ‘top 10’ articles and ‘best of’ blog posts, I thought it would be appropriate to showcase some of the best premium (paid) WordPress plugins for 2012. Hopefully, you’ll be able to take away a few gems that will increase your site value and increase the value of WordPress related services you offer your clients—without breaking the bank!

Gravity Forms


Personally, my business wouldn’t be what it is today without Gravity Forms. From roofing companies to home theater specialists, Gravity Forms is by far the most valuable feature I offer my local business/website clients. Not only is it dreadfully easy to build web forms, and place them anywhere imaginable, Gravity Forms also acts as a CRM of sorts, organizing form entries into a list—giving administrators the ability to edit and add notes to individual submissions as well as a boat load of free add-ons, available for paid users. Pricing starts at $39 for a single site license and $199 for a developer’s license.

SEOPressor


For those of you who are in the business of SEO and name WordPress as your CMS weapon of choice, SEOPressor takes free plugins like All in One SEO Pack to the next level. Developed by Daniel Tan, SEOPressor acts as an onboard internet marketing expert, analyzing your content and providing you with a checklist of on-page items to help you rank better in search engine results. Once installed, the plugin analyzes your heading tags (h1, h2, h3), keyword density, placement, images, and links—providing you with tips and scores to improve your ranking position. Pricing starts at $47 for a single site license, and $97 for a multisite license.

White Label Branding


If you’re a designer or developer who builds WordPress-powered websites for your clients, then this plugin will ensure your installations look professional and completely customized. White Label Branding for WordPress gives you total control over the look and feel of your website’s backend—from placing your client’s logo on the sign-in screen to controlling the wp-admin color scheme, user roles, and capabilities. Though this plugin is more of an aesthetic solution, it’s definitely one that will separate you from your competitors. Pricing starts at $25 for a regular license, and $125 for an extended license.

Visual Composer


There are plenty of people, like myself, who are comfortable with basic HTML, design and image editing, but would rather focus on the business and marketing side of things. Visual Composer for WordPress transforms your standard WordPress installation into a robust drag-and-drop visual editor, allowing you to create complex page layouts with tabs, columns, sliders, galleries, social plugins, call to action boxes, and more—all with a few clicks of the mouse. Sure, you can fork out $100–$300 for similar themes like PageLines or Headway, but for a fraction of the cost ($25 for a regular license) Visual Composer is a no-brainer.

WP Video Gallery


Now I’m not trying to say that WordPress doesn’t handle video well—because it does—but the demand for high quality video experiences is increasing. So naturally, expanding your site’s video playback capabilities is the next step. WP Video Gallery performs seamlessly from desktop to tablet to smartphone, allowing site owners the ability to feed videos from their hosting account, YouTube, Vimeo, s3 Amazon, and even plain old images and audio files. Cross-browser compatibility and custom skins ensures your videos always look and play in amazing quality. Pricing starts at $15 for a regular license and $75 for an extended license.

CSS3 Web Pricing Tables


Whether you’re a developer or a DIY SEO consultant that works with local businesses, pricing tables can be a serious pain in the behind. Sure, creating them might not be hard, but making them easy to update and visually pleasing often requires outside assistance. CSS3 Web Pricing Tables Grids for WordPress is a neat little plugin that makes creating pricing tables a breeze—and your clients will love them! It boasts two table, 20 color, and 60 ribbon styles alongside CSS3 tooltips, a custom admin panel, and more. With no JavaScript involved, compatibility is never an issue. Pricing starts at $15 for a regular license, and $75 for an extended license.

5sec Google Maps


Have you ever tried to input Google Maps code into the HTML view of your WordPress post editor, only to realize that when you switched back to the visual editor view and saved, the map was gone? Well the 5sec Google Maps plugin is the perfect solution for this problem. With 12 predefined markers, customizable bubble descriptions, and the ability to have multiple maps on a single page/post, this plugin not only gives you the ability to enhance the appearance of your maps, but it’s also super easy to implement—just pop in a shortcode and you’re off to the races! Pricing starts at $8 for a regular license, and $40 for an extended license.

WordPress Newsletter Plugin


Imagine being able to offer your clients a comprehensive, lightweight email marketing system, built directly into their WordPress installation. How much value do you think this would add to their business? The WordPress Newsletter Plugin packs a lot of punch for a plugin. It allows you to gather unlimited subscribers within multiple mailing lists alongside built-in newsletter templates, custom opt-in fields, and the option to offer paid subscriptions. And because it’s built into WordPress, you can charge clients for the service and keep the profits for yourself. Pricing starts at $54.99 for a single domain, and $274.95 for unlimited sites.

A/B Theme Testing Plugin


It’s true, internet marketing is getting tougher. A successful site is no longer determined by the amount of hits it receives, but rather the amount of conversions it produces. For those of you who are new to split testing (also known as A/B testing) this plugin is a great way to get your feet wet. The put it simply, the A/B Theme Testing Plugin allows you to upload two or more similar theme layouts and split the traffic evenly between them. Combined with Google Analytics, you can see which theme converts better, and maximize your marketing efforts. It costs $9.95, plus $3 per month for support and upgrades.

Pinterest Pro


Saving the best for last? Sort of :) Pinterest is ramping up to be the next social networking phenomenon, and what better way to leverage its traffic than to have it fully integrated into your WordPress installation? Pinterest Pro for WordPress supports shortcodes and template tags for all available “pin” and “follow” buttons as well as a tinyMCE toolbar plugin and sidebar widgets to display boards on your site. With claims that Pinterest drives more referral traffic than LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube combined, the possibilities are truly endless. Pricing starts at $5 for a regular license, and $25 for an extended license.

So there you have it!

Sure, there are tons of free WordPress plugins that enable you to do amazing things with your website—but in my experience, going premium usually means better support, frequent updates, and a community of users that are glad to lend a hand!

Are there any other premium WordPress plugins you feel should have made the list? Feel free to share your recommendations in the comments below.

Free book: Jump Start HTML5 Basics

Grab a free copy of one our latest ebooks! Packed with hints and tips on HTML5's most powerful new features.

  • http://webdevstudios.com Brad Williams
    • http://www.webdesignchester.com/ Stuart

      Good point!

      For WP backup and site migration, duplication it’s king :)

    • http://ca.linkedin.com/in/elijahvieau Elijah-Blue Vieau

      BackupBuddy rocks for sure! WP-DBManager is also pretty good.

  • http://www.iamabdus.com/ WordPress Developer

    Thanks for sharing nice plugins, and I agree with you about Gravity Forms, the #1 WP premium plugin.

    • http://www.web-savvy-marketing.com Rebecca Gill

      I’m with you! Gravity Forms in on everyone of my websites. Now that I’ve found it, I can’t live without it.

      • http://ca.linkedin.com/in/elijahvieau Elijah-Blue Vieau

        Amen to that :)

  • http://www.clickclickmedia.com.au Phil

    Love the white label branding plugin, never heard of it before. Good way to value add the clients sites, I can see embedding tutorial vids directly onto the dashboard would be great.

  • http://peazyshop.co.uk/ Ross

    I really like the visual processor plugin, think i am going to have to buy that ! :)

  • http://editweaks.blogspot.com Edi Dominic

    Though I’m on Blogger but WordPress plugins are awesome and easy to apply, and these one you have talked about here are simply another great plugins that can take any blog site to the next level, Great post here

  • http://www.deathshadow.com deathshadow

    Now if it could have it’s markup dragged kicking and screaming into THIS decade before the decade is out and fill in the outright idiotic security flaws… from the endless pointless classes for NOTHING on just about everything (though menus are the worst) to nonsense like putting the sql login information into DEFINEs…

    Rocks isn’t exactly the word that comes to mind.

    • lifesunshine

      Trolls be trollin’

  • Matt

    Great Share,
    Such cheap prices considering how much you can achieve with these plugins.

  • http://www.kashyaptalkz.com Kashyap Joshi

    Hello Elijah,
    Cool plugins list. Thanks for sharing great info about premium plugins.

  • http://www.bollardshq.co.uk/ Bollards

    The Gravity forms plugin really is a worthy investment. Time saved and the way it organises contact submissions is so valuable. In terms of the plugin I’ve gained the most value from, I absolutely love the RankTracker plugin (http://ranktrackerplugin.com/). I know Google Analytics etc is essential, but this plugin is such a valuable little tool in terms of showing you where your clicks came from relative to the position in the SERPS. It allows you to spot, say, if you are driving a lot of traffic from a page that is ranking 5th, that it would be a worthwhile time investment to perform more SEO on that article and move it further up the rankings. If you find you’re getting more traffic from a 5th placed article versus a first place article, you know it will be a good strategy to spend more time on moving up the rankings with your 5th place listing. It’s also great as a report tool to send to clients. Simple, lightweight, does a great job.

  • http://a3rev.com Steve Truma

    Hey Elijah,

    As a developer of WordPress sites and Premium plugins I appreciate your list -

    We tend to use Premium plugins on our clients sites because simply – they make us money – from your top 10 list we use Gravity forms and SEOPressor.

    I’d like to give a ‘plug’ to a couple we use that are not on your list – as Brad mentioned above BackupBuddy http://pluginbuddy.com/purchase/backupbuddy/ – just could not live without it and Chris Richardson’s MapPress http://wphostreviews.com/product/mappress

    I note your comment:

    “Hopefully, you’ll be able to take away a few gems that will increase your site value and increase the value of WordPress related services you offer your clients—without breaking the bank!”

    You are right on the money when you say that using quality plugins allows you to increase site values when quoting on projects. I’ve found Up-selling the features of Gravity Forms and SEOPressor alone can add anywhere between $400 to $1,000 to a project depending on how good a job I do in explaining the features and benefits and the clients needs, desires and budget.

    You might be interested in taking a look a Premium plugin that we have developed which falls into that value adding category. WordPress Customer Reviews and Ratings http://a3rev.com/products-page/wordpress-plugins/wordpress-customer-reviews-and-ratings/ – I am able add between $200 – $500 to the value of most projects by up-selling the features of this plugin to new clients.

    Thanks again for taking the time to write this post.

    • http://www.ryandennler.com/ Ryan Dennler

      Agreed with Backupbuddy – don’t think I’ll use another backup plugin and I’ve used this one since it came out. It’s just amazing and never has failed me, seriously.

  • http://www.feedbacknews.com/ Salahprint

    Hi, every one.
    I’m tottaly agree with the the first and the second places, gravity form is wonderfull, but I didn’t find any option to integrate the form in a particular page or post, the only option that I found is the widget integrartion. For Seo Pressor I use it in my new blog and it really help me to not forget to bold, italize and underline my keywords and also the H1 H2 H3 tags and even the automated ALT “Keyword” for images of my posts. Seo Pressor realy helps me to build my blog.

    • http://www.ryandennler.com/ Ryan Dennler

      Hello Salahprint,

      This mat help you with gravity forms -> http://www.seodenver.com/gravity-forms-shortcode/

      It shows you how to create a shortcode for your form that you create to plug into pages and posts.

      http://www.gravityhelp.com/documentation/page/Gravity_Forms_Documentation

      The documentation is decent as well, I use gravity forms for all my websites and it is stellar. It has addons too to integrate paypal, freshbooks, mailchimp and tons of other services into the form as well.

      Hope this helps..

      • http://ca.linkedin.com/in/elijahvieau Elijah-Blue Vieau

        Thanks for the help Ryan!

  • http://www.david-duchemin.com David Vdi

    Hello

    I ve been using SEO Pressor for 2 years and it’s magic. I can’t do without this plugin.I’ll give white label branding a try
    thanks

    • http://ca.linkedin.com/in/elijahvieau Elijah-Blue Vieau

      I ended up buying White Label Branding, and it’s got some amazing features. You can replace EVERYTHING branded with WordPress to your own. Installed it on my own blog to test :)

  • http://www.optimizemediamarketing.com jocelyn

    Thank you for this post, great information. I’m looking for the best wp mobile plug-in and conntent safety plugin. What can you recommend?

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/elijahvieau Elijah-Blue Vieau

    Hey people – many thanks for the awesome feedback and contributions to the list! I responded earlier while logged in, but I guess the comments didn’t go through.

    @jocelyn – WPTouch – http://www.bravenewcode.com/store/plugins/wptouch-pro/ – is pretty recognized and “out of the box” but I don’t really care for the framework. I like the themes over at Theme Forest – http://themeforest.net/category/wordpress/mobile. In regards to content protection, do you mean password protection for your blog posts?

    @David @Salahprint @Steve @Bollards @Brad – Thanks for taking the time to share your experience and feedback. Much appreciated!

    @deathshadow – Appreciate the opinion. If you can find a CMS that doesn’t have flaws in the function and design, please do share. P.S. Awesome website!

    @Everyone else – You rule :)

    • http://optimizemediamarketing.com Jocelyn

      Hi Elijah,

      Thank you for your input. I tried wptouch pro but it’s not what my client like. So I have to keep looking for that. In regards to protection – I mean how can I protect a wp site from being hack. Akismet is given by default for spamming what about from being hack?

      • http://optimizemediamarketing.com Jocelyn

        It’s me again. Themeforest mobile theme is the best option. Thanks.

      • http://ca.linkedin.com/in/elijahvieau Elijah-Blue Vieau

        Hey Jocelyn,

        Having recently dealt with 3 of client’s WordPress sites being infected with Malware, I have two suggestions:

        1. BulletProof Security Plugin – This locks up your WP site like a safe. It’s super lightweight and the free version is loaded with extra security measures. This was a lifesaver for me!

        http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/bulletproof-security/

        2. Sucuri Security – If your site has already been hacked, these guys do a (decent) job at helping you clean it up. I emphasized decent because in one instance, I ended up solving the problem myself – due to their delay in response. The other two times was fast and my client’s site was back up in 24 hours.

        http://sucuri.net/

        Thanks for your comments – hope this helps!

      • http://optimizemediamarketing.com Jocelyn

        Thanks again Elijah! One of my wp-website was infected by malware and it was pretty ugly. Good thing they understand that it was not my fault but of course I took the responsibility and paid the geek squad who removed the virus from all of their company PC.

  • http://www.climaxmedia.com Elijah

    Sorry guys – I responded to your comments last night, but it looks like it’s sitting in the spam queue! Thanks for all your feedback :)

  • http://www.sickdiscount.com Sick Discount
  • http://www.parttimeandfulltime.co.uk Jason Faughnan

    I think SeoPressor is a fantastic plugin.I always though i was pretty good at seo until i got this plugin.On installing i saw most of my pages only ranked at about 70% rating but with a few simple tweeks i was able to bring all of them to above 90% in a few minutes

  • http://DigitalAccessPass.com Ravi Jayagopal

    Great list. Currently using CSS pricing table and SEOPressor with great success. That way, themeforest rocks for introducing us to so many great plugins and themes (and even video bg music from audiojungle).

    For what it’s worth, wanted to throw our plugin http://DigitalAccessPass.com (DAP) into the ring here. DAP is a membership plugin for WordPress that has powerful features like content dripping, affiliate program, email autoresponders & broadcasting, etc, built right into the plugin without the need for any add-ons.

    Do check it out E-B if you get a chance, and hopefully, it’ll get a mention in your list of recommended plugins here ;-)

    Cheers!

    - Ravi Jayagopal

    • http://ca.linkedin.com/in/elijahvieau Elijah-Blue Vieau

      Nice addition Ravi – A plugin with robust content-dripping features is always worth checking out! In what sort of application/scenario are you currently using this?

  • http://www.nichesense.com Anshul Dayal

    I own SEO pressor and it’s a great plugin however many of the same features are also available in the free Yoast WordPress SEO including the super awesome snippets preview. Checkout my post here:

    http://www.nichesense.com/wordpress-seo/

  • http://www.heylmediagroup.com Erik Heyl

    An alternative to SEO Pressor (and better) is Easy WP SEO.

  • http://www.donna-agoitia.com Donna

    I have a client with 3 offices and we want a way to post contact info and emails for all 3 offices- ideally on one page. Does anyone know if Gravity Forms can handle that?

  • http://www.donna-agoitia.com Donna

    I have a client with 3 offices and we want a way to post contact info and emails for all 3 offices- ideally on one page. Does anyone know if Gravity Forms can handle that?

    thanks!

    • http://ca.linkedin.com/in/elijahvieau Elijah-Blue Vieau

      You can most definitely set up dedicated forms with lead management features for each office, as to being able to see all 3 at once – I don’t think so.

      The good thing is, Gravity has a massive amount of free add-ons for paid users.

      http://www.gravityforms.com/add-ons/

      What about using Mailchimp or Campaign Monitor and having lead submissions get fed into a mailing list – taking advantage of their reporting features.

      Now I’m curious :)

      • http://www.donna-agoitia.com Donna

        Thanks for the feedback Elijah. I suppose I could set up three separate contact pages in a drop down menu. As it is, I think the client may only want phone numbers. It is a niche business where the phone is the dominate source of communication. But, it would be cool to be able to have several emails on a form for different departments or the like.

  • http://kopepasah.com Justin Kopepasah

    I am just curious, what data are you basing your ‘best of’ off? Is it most downloaded? Most purchased? Most used? Or simply most heavily marketed?

    Some references for your data would be nice.

    • http://ca.linkedin.com/in/elijahvieau Elijah-Blue Vieau

      Hey Justin,

      My “best of” is based on my personal “I really want to try this plugin” opinion, and in the case of Gravity Forms and a few others – my experience using them.

      Great suggestion – it would be nice to see a “top 10″ with some data to go along with it.

      Next blog post?

      • http://kopepasah.com Justin Kopepasah

        That’s cool, but (in my opinion) you should state that these plugins are based off your opinion. Otherwise, it can be misleading to readers. For example, I immediately wondered how this data was gathered. Without any information provided, I had to ask.

  • Brian

    Any “top 10 plugin list” that includes SEOPressor is a major fail.

    • http://kopepasah.com Justin Kopepasah

      I’ll have to agree with you on this.

      • http://www.climaxmedia.com Elijah

        Here’s a suggestion: rather than being a troll, why not explain why you deem SEOPressor to be garbage and provide the readers with an alternative – along with data to back it up?

  • http://re4m.net Milton MacMilan

    There’s a relative newcomer in the premium WordPress plugins category called OptinSkin which helps you turn blog visitors into email subscribers. Actually, one of our clients asked us to implement it on their web site. It was a no-brainer.. just had to name the form, tick some boxes and select a theme. They actually reported an increase in opt-in subscribers in a matter of a week after optimizing it with the help of the split-testing feature.

    You can see a preview here http://youtu.be/C5FiItigui8

  • http://www.freewebelements.com Web Elements

    Some of these plugins are very useful, thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.blogging24h.com Trung Nguyen

    I used Easy WP SEO instead of using SEOPressor however may I will try to use Pinterest Pro, thanks for share the great WP premium plugin.

  • http://www.miootive.com Martin Horvath

    Need a popup and advertisement plugin? Check LePopup for WordPress.
    Look at demo here: http://goo.gl/y6Vgs
    More info here: http://goo.gl/7NnPu

  • http://www.ukfests.co.uk Mark UK

    Nice list I have three of already so I know your choices are good.
    I run a festival website and we have free tickets to give away.
    I’m looking for a unique “competition” plugin
    Any ideas would be very welcome.

  • http://www.kabeerkhan.com Kabeer Khan

    Thanks for sharing.All are awesome…

  • http://www.wysija.com kim

    You missed us! We’re brand new, so I guess very 2012. It’s a freemium newsletter plugin for WordPress.

    Check out the 1 min demo to get an idea of our nifty visual editor:

    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wysija-newsletters/

  • http://www.premierplugins.com/ Premier Plugins | Premium Wordpress Plugins

    I really appreciate all the great additions to the list that everyone has added. The list itself is really nice as well. I’ve never heard of the White Label plugin before but I instantly saw some great value in it for some of my projects.

    That’s one of the things I love about wordpress, anything you can think of (or can’t) has probably been brought to life by some clever developer.

    Thanks again to everyone. :)