The Top 100 Active WordPress Themes and Plugins on GoDaddy’s Hosting Network

It was a warm, sunny afternoon in Tempe, AZ as I walked with a group of GoDaddy employees on our way to lunch during Pressnomics 3 earlier this year. It’s the first time I met Mendel Kurland, Christopher Carfi, and Kurt Payne in person. During lunch, we discussed a number of topics from the efforts made to change the company’s image, to ideas that help the WordPress community.

I suggested to the team that GoDaddy create a billboard chart that shows the most popular themes and plugins used across its network. Not only would the information be beneficial to the company, it would also give the WordPress community valuable insight into what plugins and themes are used on a webhosting network with millions of customers.

Nine months after our discussion, GoDaddy turned the idea into reality with the Hot 100.

Top 100 Plugins and Themes of The Week
Top 100 Plugins and Themes of The Week

GoDaddy tracks which themes and plugins are activated across the millions of sites it hosts and puts the 100 most popular of each into a list. The list is generated each week and places the previous week of results into an archive allowing you to monitor trends.

Similar to the Billboard Hot 100, you can see the current rank of a plugin or theme, whether it’s moved up or down, and what its rank was the previous week. With an influential list like the Hot 100, it would be easy to accept paid listings. Carfi, confirms it’s not possible to purchase placement.

How the Lists Are Generated

The Hot 100 is determined by ranking the net change in the number of active installs of WordPress plugins and themes in aggregate across GoDaddy’s hosting network. It looks at plugins and themes that are active at the time of the analysis and does not include plugins or themes that are deactivated.

Instead of using the total number of active installs, the Hot 100 looks at the week-over-week change in active installs. This enables the list to determine which plugins and themes are hot or part of a rising trend. It also prevents bias towards plugins that already have a large install base such as Jetpack.

Interestingly, themes on the list that are non-GPL are specifically noted and link to the Hot 100 instead of their corresponding theme page. In a post published to the Advanced WordPress Facebook group, Jeff King, Senior Vice President of Hosting at GoDaddy explains why.

One great recommendation and valuable bit of feedback we received is that, since the community embraces GPL, we should reflect that ethos in the Hot 100 list. While some non-GPL themes or plugins may occasionally show up in the list due to the fact that some non-GPL items still exist in the ecosystem, we don’t necessarily need to link to them. As of next week, we’ll be removing links to non-GPL themes and plugins.

The Hot 100 Is a Valuable Resource

Although WordPress.org provides stats for plugin and theme authors, you can’t determine where they’re being used. The GoDaddy Hot 100 gives the public and developers of popular plugins and themes an opportunity to see how well they’re doing on one of the largest webhosts in the industry. While Jetpack and Akismet are the two most active plugins and seven default themes make up the top 10 themes, it’s the 25th-100th rankings that I find interesting.

For example, Hello Dolly which ships with WordPress and is activated by default after installation is ranked 27th this week. Last week, it ranked 38th meaning a lot of new installs of WordPress have taken place. This indicates that even though a lot of customers disable the plugin at some point after installation, it remains active on many sites hosted by GoDaddy.

One of the largest jumps I’ve seen so far is the Image Widget plugin by Modern Tribe. It was ranked 95th last week and 31st this week. It would be interesting to know why a lot of new WordPress installs are activating this plugin on GoDaddy hosted sites this week versus last week.

The Hot 100 is a valuable resource and I encourage you to see if your favorite plugins and themes made the list. Although it’s specific to GoDaddy, do you think the data is valuable? Would you like to see other large webhosting companies provide a glimpse into the most active WordPress themes and plugins used across their network?

7 Comments


  1. “During lunch, we discussed a number of topics from the efforts to change the company’s image, to ideas that help the WordPress community.”

    So what was the verdict on how to change the company’s image?

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    1. This is a typo on my part. I’ve edited the post to say from the efforts made to change the company’s image. At the time, the company had already made some significant strides towards changing its image and we discussed those.

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  2. Certainly an interesting idea and neat to look at, though I think there’s room for improvement in making the data more useful.

    Firstly, the current ranking method is very susceptible to large fluctuations as it is based on exactly a week period; there’s no cumulative or rolling effect. This is quite apparent when you look at the large number of “Last Week: N/A” that are present every single week. Any given week – on its own – is a decent snapshot of activity, but trying to plot any trends is difficult when you can see an item shoot into the #2 spot from “N/A” one week, then be gone from the rankings the week after. I would suggest something like a rolling daily ranking of the past X days’ activity, or having historical rankings contribute to the current rankings with a decaying relevance over time. This would hopefully stabilize the rankings, and make more useful trend analysis possible.

    Second, a graph to plot the movement of the plugins/themes on the chart would also be very handy. Having to go back and load each week to check a particular item’s progress is quite time consuming. Though the ranking volatility would need to be addressed first; such a graph wouldn’t be particularly useful with items constantly jumping on and off the rankings week to week.

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    1. I think there’s room as well but is there a line in the sand between showing people too much data and keeping some of it behind the scenes for their eyes only? This is the first public roll out so I bet based on feedback, the team will make changes to make the site more useful to the public. I’m hoping that instead of visiting the Plugin or Author URL when clicking on a plugin link, it loads a nice page instead with historical stats on the site. Maybe something similar to the layout of plugins on the WordPress directory but in the style they have now.

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      1. I think there’s room as well but is there a line in the sand between showing people too much data and keeping some of it behind the scenes for their eyes only?

        That is a good point, and I was mostly commenting with the assumption that the data/tool is 100% for public benefit. I still maintain that the “weekly snapshot” format isn’t very useful for trend analysis, but obviously if they were to improve their data collection method they aren’t obliged to provide the extra data to the public.

        Thinking about it a bit further, if the current version generates enough interest they could monetize and paywall certain views/data points/tool functions.

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  3. Does the high ranking for the Default theme mean there’s still a lot of WP installs on GoDaddy that are running versions older than 3.0?

    How that particular ranking happens has me curious as all get-out :)

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