Today I’m going to share with you the best WordPress widgets that I would recommend for each and every WordPress blogger. I personally use a few widgets on my blog to help my visitors easily browse all of my blog posts. A nice WordPress blog would have proper utilization of widgets, plugins and footer and header bars.

When I started blogging I had lots of widgets in my blog’s sidebar and never really bothered worrying about the performance of the blog. All I wanted was to make my blog look cool. But one fine day lightning struck me and I decided to delete most of the WordPress plugins and widgets which were not necessary to my blog and were intense on bandwidth and resources. Having lot of plugins and widgets on my blog resulted in too much bandwidth consumption and made my blog sluggish, bringing down my site’s overall performance. So keep in mind, too much of something can be as detrimental as too little. A slow website or blog can equal unhappy visitors and a low score for your site’s search engine ranking. A smaller number of widgets means less content visible on your blog to the visitors, ultimately leading to a high bounce rate and/or low page views.  The solution is to find a way to balance the two.

Do not confuse yourselves with widgets and plugins though. WordPress plugins are easy to install and activate which helps you to improve your blog’s functionality. Plugins can include widgets as well. Widgets on the other hand are visible and interactive to your visitors. Usually these widgets are shown in the sidebar, but are not limited to only the sidebar. Fortunately there are many themes available now with widgetized footer and header space.

Here are my favorite WordPress widgets:

  • WordPress Popular Posts : This widget is really awesome and useful for me and for my visitors. For me, I can display my most popular posts to my visitors. For my visitors, it helps them to easily find the posts that are the most popular.
  • Related Posts: There are many related posts plugins available in WordPress Plugins directory. I prefer to use one that is simple and does not have many features allowing me to show related posts in the post footer as well as in the sidebar at the top of my website.
  • My Random Posts: I use this plugin whenever I feel like I have not posted for ages. Apart from showing popular and recent posts, I choose to display random posts on my blog as well. It helps reviving older posts which new readers may have missed. Visitors can find your posts that might be interesting for them without going to sitemap page.
  • Recent Posts: I use this widget on single page only. Widget logic gives you the ability to decide which widget to show your readers. On my website I have set up the recent post widget to only display recent posts in the sidebar when readers are viewing a single post page.
  • Search Engine Keywords Related Posts: I came across this widget recently and find it very useful. It displays related posts based upon the keyword your blog’s visitor used in the search engine. It has its own way of detecting similar posts. But combining it with Widget logic makes it a good widget to have.
  • Archives: Usually it’s a good idea to have an archive page setup instead of having a sidebar widget. But since I wanted to have a minimalist look of my blog I decided to add archives in my sidebar widget. It’s easy and available through WordPress.
  • Search widget: This widget comes as a standard feature in most WordPress themes however it’s a built in widget as well in WordPress. It’s important to have a search widget on your blog to let people search for anything if they can’t find it on your blog.
  • Ad Squares Widgets: I am really fond of images and I like to include as many images as possible on my posts. This widget is used to add 125×125 ad blocks in your sidebar. There are 2 things that I like about this widget. First, you can add as many widgets as you want in your sidebar. Secondly, you can have up to 12 125×125 blocks configured per widget. You can use image or html code in the space, so AdSense would work very well!
  • PHP-Code: I like this one because it lets me execute PHP Code as well in my sidebar apart from Text and HTML. For example, if you want to display recent posts from a specific category, you can do that with the PHP code available on the web. There are various other things you can do with the codes available.
  • Recent Comments: Recent comments widget is as useful as recent posts widget. It keeps your visitors engaged by checking on the recent discussion on your blog.
  • Text: This built-in widget allows you to add any text or HTML code in your sidebar widget. It’s useful to those small announcements you want to make every now and then with some links and text.
  • Feedburner e-mail Widget: Feedburner is the most widely used email subscription service in the world. To get your visitors subscribe to your feeds via email, you can use this widget.
  • Custom Menu: Another great addition to WordPress 3.0, the introduction of custom menus. As soon as you add a custom menu in the admin panel, you can add the menu item in the sidebar through widget called Custom Menu. The Custom Menu widget lets you add posts, links, category links and pages combined in to a single widget. Great potential combined with Widget logic. I use it to highlight my greatest posts on my blog coupled with the Widget Logic widget.
  • Latest Tweets: Twitter is big and is getting bigger day by day. Every blogger in the blogosphere is now connected with twitter. The latest Tweets widget will show your recent tweets on your blog out of the box.
  • WP-Cumulus: I don’t use this widget anymore as I am concentrating on having a minimalist blog design, however I wanted to share it here. This widget works on Flash and tends to eat up resources. In case you are okay with a slightly increased load time then its one widget that you must have. WP-Cumulus allows you to display your site’s tags, categories or both using a Flash movie that rotates them in 3D. It works just like a regular tags cloud, but is more visually exciting. Clicking the tags can be a little hard (depending on your speed setting) but does take you to the appropriate page.

Feel free to add any WordPress widgets you feel I missed in the comments below. I will do my best to update this post to reflect the best widgets provided in the comments!

This article was contributed by Kuldeep Sinha, a part time blogger from India who blogs about WordPress, Apple and Technology. You can learn more about Kuldeep here.

The above article was contributed by a member of the WPHacks community. If you are interested in participating, you can find our guidelines for contributing an article here.

  1. Phil says:

    Some good Widgets here Kuldeep! Nice post. :)

  2. Sasaw says:

    Good list of widgets and what about google ads widget

    • Kuldeep says:

      That’s a brilliant Idea Sasaw. And why limit it to google ads only. Why not plugins for ads management. I would urge you to come up with a list and send a request for author. I am sure Kyle will look into that.

  3. Woofer says:

    I’ve hit that same wall where I want things to be nice and clean (and load quickly) but still keep everything accessible, it’s a tough balance.

  4. Saleah @ says:

    these plugins are really amazing, I’m using almost all of them :)

  5. Kimi says:

    thanks very much , i try to use widget logic and it great!

  6. Carol Yates Wilkerson says:

    I am probably guilty of having too many plugins on my WP blog, and periodically I go through and weed some out that aren’t working for me. It is way TOO easy to get plugin, widget and app happy these days. Thanks for the helpful post. I had been thinking of writing a similar one gauged towards my friends who have genealogy blogs.

  7. Ratesman says:

    Nice post :) thanks

  8. Michael Blitchtein says:

    It is realty inspiring when someone puts unselfishly some useful info. Thank you. Please advise what kind of plugins would be useful in order to promote a blog on the web.

    With gratitude,


  9. Hillary Bost says:

    I use a few of those but I have had to trim down as well. I find everything loads faster and the bells and whistles aren’t always what they are cracked up to be.

  10. Bryan says:

    Definitely a solid set. I tend to err on the widget side (I go more for simplicity overall). I noticed a couple of widgets here though that I haven’t heard of that I might start using (ad squares widget in particular – sounds frickin awesome for one blog that I currently have setup that could use this).

    Thanks for the list man!

  11. Jasmine says:

    I love all of these widgets and I have most of them on my blogs, except one which is WP-cumulus. This widget is actually pretty impressive, but it slows down loading of the blog a bit, so I don’t have it on my blogs.

  12. Jhay says:

    It’s a nice collection of plugins and widgets. And I agree, I too want to have as few widgets and plugins as possible running on my blog.

    One of these days, I’d be sure to go in and do another audit to prune out the ones I no longer need.

  13. Jeb says:

    Thank you. That list really helps since there are so many different plugins and widgets available.

  14. MK says:

    I do not use any above.

  15. Eugene Indarto says:

    I was using wp-cumulus too, but since I decided to make my blog to be simple-looking, I don’t use it anymore.

  16. Sandro says:

    Another nice list of useful plugins and gadgets. I already have a couple of them and will definitely want to try the Search Engine Keywords. Thank you!

  17. Joshua says:

    Very interesting article. What plugins do you prefer for security?

  18. hillary bost says:

    Great list. I have been putting together some new sites lately and this has been a great resource.

  19. Rakesh Kumar says:

    All plugins are essentials, some i used and some i picked up from here. Thanks

  20. Vivek Parmar says:

    most of the plugins are out of date now and not compatible with new version of wordpress??

    • Kuldeep says:

      Vivek, could you please let me know what all plugins are outdated and not working. I would try and see how can I help you. I have tested and have been using most of them and all of them seem to work me so far with the latest version of WordPress.

  21. syahrilhafiz says:

    wow i like it
    thanks for this..;D

  22. Mike says:

    Here’s one for your list… the Graceful Sidebar Plugin. This plugin creates a customized sidebar widget for each post or page on your blog. Simply edit the post or page and provide a title and content for its corresponding widget. That sidebar widget will be displayed whenever the post or page is displayed.

  23. Suzie says:

    This is definitely one of the most comprehensive lists that I’ve seen on the web as of yet. Usually bloggers point out how All in One SEO Pack is the grandaddy of SEO plugins and then name a few others, but you go as far to categorize the best plugins by Comments, Twitter, Spam-fighting, Admin and so forth.

    That’s definitely the mark of a blogger who knows his plugins.

    I’ll be referencing this post on my main blog.

  24. Kristy says:

    Thanks for the great list. I have some cool plug-ins, but I haven’t added any widgets other than the ones that came with my theme. I will have to add some of these, especially the twitter one!

  25. hillary bost says:

    These most certainly are the best plugins for wordpress. Thanks for the list.

  26. Jaikee says:

    there is a ajax based tabbed widget for popular, recent posts, comments and tag cloud

  27. hillary bost says:

    Another great thing that isn’t a widget but the WP app for Iphone and the Android. It makes it super easy to manage your blog from anywhere. You can go through comments and such while waiting in line or whatever. It is really an awesome app.

    • Kuldeep says:

      Yes you are correct. iPhone app for WordPress is awesome.. I use it.. and its very intuitive. WordPress team has put a lot of effort in making this app. But I think we have a long way to go from here in terms of what this app offers to a blogger. There ain’t much features as of now.

  28. Ares says:

    This widgets are very helpfull i must install it on my blog. Thanks for information about it.

  29. tibi167 says:

    thank you for the article, I’m using the PHP-Code and WP-Cumulus, it is very good

  30. Sam says:

    Fantastic list of widgets. What is your favorite SEO plugin?

  31. SAMRAT KAFLE says:

    great kuldeep gained good knowledge on widgets thanks for your article

  32. hillary bost says:

    Where have you guys gone, I am having WPHacks withdraw :(

  33. hillary bost says:

    Where have you been, I am really missing fresh posts form you.?

  34. Andy says:

    Really like the keywords related posts one. The others are pretty standard but essential nevertheless!

  35. semmy says:

    Hi Kuldeep thank for your wigets!! I think I’ll try the seo related post.

  36. dalanmao says:

    This widgets are very helpfull i must install it on my blog. Thanks for information about it.

  37. Where have you been, I am really missing fresh posts form you.?…….

  38. DT says:

    well all very useful and many blog needs but l like related post and popular post most on my blog bec theme needs to allw you to show those plugin nicely

  39. IC says:

    I also like WP cumulus but backing off from installing it since its a flash based display. I dont know whether SE are able to scan whats inside a flash

  40. Schach says:

    Great list. Especially, I love ad squares and feedburner.

    Why dont you use a search widget?

  41. Ayush Gupta says:

    Cool. Thanks for number of widgets

  42. @i_jessica says:

    Great article and great sharing of info on widgets – coolness versus performance. :) I’ve recently uninstalled several widgets also, most recently GTranslate: That one widget was completely hosing my blog’s load time, unbelievable.

    One I’ve added that I like is from Disqus for comments and subscribing to comments – and I didn’t see that one on your list.

    Thanks again!

  43. Hillary Bost says:

    I used to use cumulus as well but stopped cause it does take up page loading time.

  44. Carol says:

    There are some really interesting plugins in your list I didn’t know yet. Here are some more plugins I use on my blogs: All In One SEO Pack, CommentLuv, KeywordLuv, Simple Sitemap, ShareThis, Database Backup

  45. James Hobson says:

    You have shared nice wordpress widgets list. I am using “Search Engine Keywords Related Posts”. This Widget collects the query string from search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing and extracts the keywords that the user used in his search. The widget then lists posts related to the search engine keywords. The other nice widget that i am using is All in One SEO. That is also good wordpress plugin.

  46. Bill says:

    Recent Comments and WP-Cumulus: are my 2 favorite WP plugins – thanks for sharing this nice list.

  47. Robuster says:

    I’ve hit that same wall where I want things to be nice and clean (and load quickly) but still keep everything accessible, it’s a tough balance.

  48. Robuster says:

    Some good Widgets here Kuldeep! Nice post.

  49. Rio says:

    Nice shared Kuldeep. It gives me some interesting-mood to enhance my blog…

  50. Jerry says:

    Thanks for the wordpress tips, I’m currently setting up feedburner and love how fast it is. WP-Cumulus is in use as well, works well and looks good.

  51. Aliza Shehpatii says:

    Nice collection of widgets, i have a problem if you can help me then thanks, i just want to know how to style each widget differently in the sidebar, mean heading color, font, and border etc different for different widgets in the sidebar, if you know any helpful source, please share with me… Regards.

  52. D. Golf says:

    Very nice list of widgets. I have found good use for several of them.

  53. Dheeraj says:

    No doubt wp-cumulus plugin is awesome for displaying tags. But it uses flash and Flash text is not readable by search engine robots.

  54. John Paul says:

    It’s a nice collection of plugins and widgets. And I agree, I too want to have as few widgets and plugins as possible running on my blog :)

  55. Moncler says:

    Nice post, I like the layout design of your page. What’s the theme you used? created by yourself?

  56. Hillary Bost says:

    Those are some really great widgets.

  57. kgoosew says:

    But it uses flash and Flash text is not readable by search engine robots.

  58. Ayush Gupta says:

    Thanks bro but now many theme include this widgets by default ;)

  59. Tricksy says:

    Thanks I have added them to my theme widgets section and its looking great

  60. Rizwan says:

    nice widgets information. i think about adding some of these on my website.

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