19 WordPress Plugins NO WordPress Site Should Be Without

Take your blog from zero to hero with these 19 amazing free WordPress plugins. No WordPress blog should be without them! Bookmark this page and refer back to it whenever you install WordPress.

19 Awesome WordPress Plugins To Supercharge Your Blog

WordPress is a great piece of software. As a blogging and lightweight CMS it’s brilliant, but with just a few simple plugins it can be extended into a truly amazing platform. These are the 19 plugins I think no site should be without.

19. WordPress SEO

WordPress out of the box is already technically quite a good platform for SEO, this was true when I wrote my original WordPress SEO article in 2008 and it’s still true today, but that doesn’t mean you can’t improve it further! … WordPress SEO forces you to choose a focus keyword when you’re writing your articles, and then makes sure you use that focus keyword everywhere.

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Everyone and their dog knows about this plugin these days, but this list would be incomplete without it! A fantastic plugin to help you work on the SEO of each page of your website or blog, helping make sure you’ve got your keywords into the relevant parts of the page. It’s not the be-all and end-all of SEO, don’t make the mistake of thinking it magically makes your site an SEO goldmine; It doesn’t. But definitely a good starting point.

18. MediaRSS

MediaRSS is a way of embedding media into your feeds. The specification at http://search.yahoo.com/mrss/ provides for many kinds of media: audio, video, etc. This plugin is equipped to locate img tags in your posts and generate XML code that can be used by feed readers.

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No configuration or fuss, just sits in the background and does what it says on the tin.

17. Permalink Editor

This plugin adds two areas of functionality: Global page, category or tag permalink structures and individual custom permalinks.

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I use this mainly for the “Permalink Alias” feature it provides, which allows me to specify a short permalink for a page (e.g. /best-plugin) that works alongside the longer permalink I’ve specified in WordPress SEO (e.g. /blog/the-best-wordpress-plugin-in-the-world). It doesn’t play especially nicely with WordPress SEO from Yoast as they both allow you to modify the permalink for the page, but if you click the “Edit” button rather than clicking the permalink itself then you shouldn’t have too many problems. If Yoast adds a permalink alias feature to WordPress SEO then I’ll stop using this plugin, but until that day, this one will remain on my list of awesome plugins.

16. Dublin Core for WordPress

Adds the following Dublin Core metadata elements to posts and pages:

Site name as DC.publisher
Site URL as DC.publisher.url
Post title as DC.title
Permalink as DC.identifier…

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Dublin Core is a standard set of metadata elements for websites that is great for SEO. Just ask WooRank, who mark websites down for not being Dublin Core enabled.

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15. Highlight Search Terms

Highlights search terms using jQuery when referer is a Google, Yahoo, Lycos, Bing, Ask, Baidu and Youdao search engine or within WordPress generated search results. This plugin is a light weight, low resource demanding and very simple &hellip

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Nice simple plugin for highlighting search phrases that people used when coming into your site from Google or other search engines. It even works with your site’s internal search engine. You will need to write some CSS to specify how to highlight text, so use it with PC Custom CSS.

14. PC Custom CSS

This plugin enables you to use any custom CSS code with any theme.

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Adds a “Custom CSS” link under the “Appearance” menu that lets you dynamically add new CSS to your site without editing the theme. Plain and simple, just the way I like it.

13. MyGeoPosition.com Geotagging: Geotags / GeoMetatags / GeoFeedtags / GeoMicroformats / Maps

Create geo-posttags, geo-metatags, geo-feedtags, geo-microformats and maps for posts and pages. Display the geotagged location in form of a map before, after or within the post. An easy-to-use geopicker map with search, drag & drop and optional auto-locating functionality helps entering locations.

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Quite a title, huh? Rolls off the tongue. Despite the awful name, this is a fantastic plugin. It allows you to create maps and all sorts, but I use it mainly for the geotagging features which is good for SEO.

12. Enable Media Replace

This plugin allows you to replace a file in your media library by uploading a new file in its place. No more deleting, renaming and re-uploading files!

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A god-send for when you need to replace images. Sooner or later you’re going to need to replace an image on your website with another and, out of the box, WordPress makes this a hellish task. Enable Media Replace adds in a piece of functionality that should exist in the base build of WordPress: The ability to overwrite an existing image on the site with a different image.

11. Recent comments widget with excerpts

This plugin creates a widget similar to the default recent comments widget. Instead of the format “username on post title,” the widget will display “username said comment excerpt.”

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Great for helping keep your blog fresh. A comment on any post will freshen any other page on your site, making your site truly dynamic and thus great for SEO. This plugin differs to the default comments widget shipped with WordPress in that it adds excerpts of the comment to the page too.

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10. Yet Another Related Posts Plugin

Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP) gives you a list of posts and/or pages related to the current entry, introducing the reader to other relevant content on your site. Key features include: An advanced and versatile algorithm, Templating, Caching, Related posts in RSS feeds, Disallowing certain tags or categories, Related posts and pages.

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Places a list of related posts onto your blog entries, and doesn’t require interfering with your theme. It could do with some more configuration options (being able to hide relevancy would be nice) but otherwise is probably the best option out there.

9. 404 Redirected

Redirection is a WordPress plugin to manage 301 redirections, keep track of 404 errors, and generally tidy up any loose ends your site may have. This is particularly useful if you are migrating pages from an old website, or are changing the directory of your WordPress installation.

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A few months after putting this site live it had grown from one page to about 10, and I wished to move them around, rename some for SEO purposes, add more, and implement a blog (this blog, to be precise). After doing so the entire site structure had changed and I dropped almost completely out of Google for about 2 weeks.

The problem, Webmaster Tools was telling me, was that I had a large number of 404s on the website from where it had tried to index the old pages so I thought I would create links to the new pages to appease the Google beast. Turns out though that there is a nifty free plugin that will do it for you: 404 Redirected.

This is by far one of my favourite plugins for WordPress and I suggest it should be installed without a second thought on any and all WordPress websites immediately after installing WordPress itself!

8. Category Posts Widget

Category Posts Widget is a light widget designed to do one thing and do it well: display the most recent posts from a certain category.

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This is a lovely simple little widget that does its job really well. As the name suggests it shows posts from a specific category in a widget. I use this for showing featured content, as I covered in my Howto: “Featured Posts” Widget In WordPress post.

7. Fast Secure Contact Form

This plugin allows a webmaster to easily create and add contact forms to WordPress. The contact form will let the user send emails to a site’s admin, and also send a meeting request to talk over phone or video. An administration panel is present, where the webmaster can create and preview unlimited forms.

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Want to allow your visitors to contact you directly from the website? Don’t want to have to sign up for an account on another website to do so? Don’t want spam? Just use this then, it does everything you could need it to and more. A brilliant plugin.

6. Google XML Sitemaps

This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask.com to better index your blog. With such a sitemap, it’s much easier for the crawlers to see the complete structure of your site and retrieve it more efficiently. The plugin supports all kinds of WordPress generated pages as well as custom URLs. Additionally it notifies all major search engines every time you create a post about the new content.

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This is another piece of functionality that I feel WordPress should have straight out of the box. This is the best of the XML Sitemap plugins I’ve looked at. In case you don’t know what an XML Sitemap it, it’s a file read by the likes of Google to tell them what pages exist on your website. Search engines use this information to discover content on your site more easily.

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5. Raw HTML Capability

Lets you disable automatic formatting like smart quotes and automatic paragraphs, and use raw HTML/JS/CSS code in your posts without WordPress messing it up.

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WordPress has a feature that is both useful and annoying: Automatic paragraphs. In my opinion, when I use the HTML editor, I should be allowed to write HTML without the software interfering with it. WordPress thinks otherwise; It is the opinion of WordPress that it should take care of all of my paragraphing needs.

Wrong!

It can be useful when writing a blog entry, such as this one, to not have to worry about the paragraph tags—just pressing twice instead—but for pages where you want to embed any kind of HTML it can wreak havoc. Really they should have three editors: Visual, HTML-lite, and HTML. In HTML you control everything. In HTML-lite WordPress controls some stuff. And in Visual WordPress does it all.

This plugin allows you to selectively disable this ridiculous paragraphing feature. Again, no install of WordPress should be without it.

4. Regenerate Thumbnails

Regenerate Thumbnails allows you to regenerate the thumbnails for your image attachments. This is very handy if you’ve changed any of your thumbnail dimensions (via Settings→Media) after previously uploading images or have changed to a theme with different featured post image dimensions.

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Everyone has to resize images on their site at some point. In the words of Tyler Durden, “Nothing’s static, everything’s evolving…”. It’s only when you add an image to WordPress that it creates the different sizes of image, so if you need a different thumbnail size in the future then you’ve got a problem.

When I changed the size of my posts’ thumbnail images recently I needed to recreate all of the thumbnails. That’s where this nifty little plugin comes in. Dead easy to use, start it running and wait while it works its magic. It even has a nice progress bar to tell you how it’s getting on.

3. Search Meter

If you have a Search box on your blog, Search Meter automatically records what people are searching for—and whether they are finding what they are looking for. Search Meter’s admin interface shows you what people have been searching for in the last couple of days, and in the last week or month. It also shows you which searches have been unsuccessful. If people search your blog and get no results, they’ll probably go elsewhere. With Search Meter, you’ll be able to find out what people are searching for, and give them what they want by creating new posts on those topics.

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Great for monitoring searches on your site and reporting them back. I use the popular searches feature to create links to search phrases to help Google find plenty of links to my content.

2. …and Search Fixer

Search Fixer makes “pretty” search links work properly. A pretty search link usually looks like this: http://example.com/search/waldo Because of a bug in WordPress, pretty search links with spaces in them do not work. Search Fixer fixes that bug.

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This is needed if using the “Popular Searches” widget of the Search Meter plugin. Without it the links in the widget won’t work due to a bug in the WordPress core code. Once that bug is fixed this plugin won’t be necessary any more.

1. Ultimate Security Checker

#1 SECURITY PLUGIN for WordPress! We’re the only plugin that gets updated regularly to protect against the latest threats! Why trust your work to a plugin which hasn’t been updated in months or years?

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Essential stuff after installing WordPress. Check your security and fix any serious issues.

Others…?

These are my top 19. I did think about a twentieth to round it off, but I didn’t come up with anything… What would you add to the list? Comment below!

About Matt Lowe

Matt Lowe is a WordPress web designer / developer based in Newbury, Berkshire. After 8 years of doing the nine-to-five for other companies and watching them make the same mistakes over and over he set out in business on his own, forming Squelch Design to help businesses get online and make money.

15 comments on “19 WordPress Plugins NO WordPress Site Should Be Without

  1. This was a very informative post Matt. I had heard of some of these plug-ins before but many I have not. I have been using all in one Seo for a long time so I’m curious to see how WordPress Seo compares to it. Thanks for the tips.

  2. Hey,

    Thanks for sharing such an excellent plug-in list. I was just searching for information about Dublin Core, but what i found instead was an added bonus.

    Although I’ve seen a couple of the plug-ins you reviewed, i have found some gems that my blog really needs.

    • Well yes… This is an old post now and, at the time, Dublin Core was supposed to be the next red hot thing. Some still think it is, extending the standard metadata model forwards towards a more semantic web.

  3. Cheers for that, the 404 redirect one is how i found your post as i’ve suffered a few issues after moving my site around from its first creation,

    many thanks

  4. Hi, Thanks for this list, I had some of these, but has given me a really good starting point to ad some new plug ins to my website.

    • Yoast is the first item on the list! But this list is so old that it wasn’t called Yoast SEO at the time, it was called WordPress SEO. I’m afraid I’ll never endorse JetPack: A plugin that collects together other plugins is a poor design paradigm. And the enforced-linking-to-Automattic in order to use the plugin’s features makes it, to me, a complete and utter no-go. I host my own site because I don’t want to share my data with Automattic. Most of the features I’d ever want from JetPack can be found in other places, and often they’re better alternatives.

      In fact this information is so old I’m not sure I would stand by many of the plugins listed here any more:

      Permalink editor – I’d generally recommend leaving your permalinks alone as much as possible, editing them is a potential recipe for a headache further down the line.

      Dublin Core – The world has well and truly moved on, there’s little point in installing this one.

      Highlight Search Terms – This is a feature that people don’t tend to go for so much nowadays. It’s had its day.

      PC Custom CSS – I’ve had problems with this plugin in certain environments. Also, if you know how to write CSS then you should also know that you should be doing so inside of a child theme. That’s not to say that custom CSS plugins don’t have their uses, but ordinarily I’d steer away from any custom CSS plugin.

      mygeoposition.com geotagging: geotags / geometatags / geofeedtags / geomicroformats / maps – Not used this one in a long time, but it was decent enough the last time I used it. However stylistically it’s not great and as I recall it’s not at all responsive. Ordinarily you’d be better off using an iframe embed tool to embed a shared Google Map.

      Yet Another Related Posts Plugin – Known to cause high load issues on busy websites.

      Fast Secure Contact Form – Can’t say I’ve used this one in years now. You’re better off, if you know what you’re doing with HTML, using Contact Form 7.

      Google XML Sitemaps – No need for this one, just use Yoast.

      Raw HTML Capability – I want to punch my past self in the face for recommending this one. For the past few years I’ve had a very simple rule: If you can’t do it in the TinyMCE Editor don’t do it! That means writing shortcodes for any HTML capability you should need but cannot insert with the TinyMCE tools. Raw HTML in the post editor only ever leads to headaches.

      Ultimate Security Checker – Not a bad plugin, but there are much better options out there now. Try Sucuri instead.

      At some point I will have to write a follow-up to this post to bring it up to date with current trends.

  5. What a great list of plugins. I’ve been looking for one along the lines of what Optinmonster does but hadn’t been able to find one that was recommended highly enough. Thank you

  6. Great list… I only knew 5 of them! I’ve been using them for a while… they do work just fine!
    I want to ask something about SEO plugins, please tell me can I use two SEO plugins at same time. I want to use Yoast and Easy SEO plugins.

    • It would depend on how well engineered the plugins are. If they’ve been written to be aware of the other plugin then they might be able to co-exist. But personally I’d suggest picking the one you prefer and using only that one, I think sooner or later two SEO plugins will start causing problems. Most likely sooner rather than later.

  7. I have the backup and askismet and dofollow of course .. the others I don’t. Time for a revamp on those old wp tutorials on your site? The extra one’s I have arem one for a sitemap and one for a contact form the other two are security plugins. I was not sure about any of the seo plugins so left them alone but will be checking the above out.

    WP Security Scan
    Exploit Scanner
    Fast Secure Contact Form
    WP Archive-Sitemap Generator

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