Essential Plugins For Any WordPress Installation

USB Plugs

These types of lists are ten-a-penny, so I don’t expect you to see this list as definitive. It is however part of a larger conversation, and I welcome your input on which of these plugins you use all the time, or whether there are some I have missed.

These plugins are plugins that I will install on at least 75% of installations. Some of them however go on every installation without a second thought.

All In One SEO Pack

This plugin has long been the go-to plugin for adding SEO functionality to your installation. If you have any interest in search engines taking you seriously, you need to install this plugin and take the time to write meta descriptions and decent post titles for every post.


Monitors your WordPress installation for exploits and spam injections and lets you know if it finds anything.

Contact Form 7

Every blog without fail should have a contact page, and this is the perfect plugin for creating a secure contact form. Of course, it’s highly extensible and can be used for much more than just contacting the author – you can collect any information you like in a secure form.

Disqus Comment System

WordPress’ default commenting system is really good, but what it lacks is any sort of social aspect. Disqus is really good because people can share their comments, sign in using Facebook or Twitter and “like” a post. Disqus also looks for mentions across social networks.

FeedBurner FeedSmith

WordPress’ RSS feed is pretty good, but really you need to then it into a FeedBurner feed and make the most of it, like permitting subscription by email, adding ads and getting detailed statistics about your feed.

Google Analytics for WordPress

Google Analytics is the most informative and easy-to-read statistics program out there and is provided free of charge by Google. Use this plugin to activate it on your site to find where your visitors come from, what your most popular content is and where visitors are leaving your site.

Google XML Sitemaps

Sitemaps are an easy and essential way of letting search engines know what is on your site and how important you deem each page to be. This plugin builds the sitemap for you dynamically and even lets the big search engines know when it changes.

RSS Cloud

A simple plugin that lets RSS Cloud-ready services immediately know when you publish any new content, so there’s no delay in your information getting out to your audience.

Secure WordPress

Gives you a rundown of essential security measures that you should be taking, highlighting them as red or green, so you can easily see where you need to take action. Perfect for initial setup or a security review.


Social media is a growing force in online traffic and you want to be sure you’re giving your readers ample opportunity to share your story. This little sharebar floats unobtrusively at the side offering little buttons to share to Twitter, Facebook, Buzz, Digg and email.

Theme Authenticity Checker

This plugin scans your theme files daily for suspicious code which may have been injected. If it finds anything, it’ll send you an email and ask you to have a closer look.

Wibiya Toolbar

An extremely handy and customisable toolbar that sits at the bottom of your screen, providing links for sharing content, searching for content, subscribing and community features.

WordPress Database Backup

Backing up your database is an absolute must. I wrote another article showing how to use this plugin to automate your database backups so that if the unthinkable happens, you’re not stuck up shit creek without a paddle.


Seamless and powerful integration between your blog and your Twitter. Even better when paired with WPTouch. If you’re not on Twitter, you’re missing out on a huge traffic source.

WP Super Cache

This acts as both a performance enhancer and a safety net. It markedly reduces the load of requests on your server, making it more responsive and speedier (something that is purported to play a role in search engine ranking now) as well as avoiding a server crash if your post gets a lot of attention in a short space of time (such as a popular post on Digg).


As the world gets more and more mobile, it’s ever more important to offer a mobile site that’s audited for smaller screens. WPTouch does so seamlessly and works beautifully out of the box as well as providing a whole host of configuration options. Very possibly my favourite plugin.

Yet Another Related Posts Plugin

When readers get to the bottom of your post, you need to provide them with other reading options, so they stay on your site rather than heading elsewhere. This plugin looks for similar posts on your blog and suggests these in a list in order of how relative they are to the current post.

Well, that’s my two cents for what it’s worth. Is there anything missing from the list? What plugins do you rely heavily upon?

38 thoughts on “Essential Plugins For Any WordPress Installation”

  1. hashif says:

    Thanks for the list of Plugins, All in one seo pack is a great plugin…

    1. Dave says:

      Yes it is. I didn’t realise quite how important it was until the last few months as I began to really optimise my SEO

  2. Cady says:

    WP Touch seems like a very good idea since I myself don’t want to be limited by only a few optios Thanks for sharing a very informative post

    1. Dave says:

      You’re welcome. What do you mean that you don’t want to be limited to just afew options though?

  3. I prefer to minimize the pluggins as much as possible but I’m going to install Contact Form plugin that I was not yet.

    Regarding Discuss comment system I did not prefer it because it serves comments through JavaScript code and thus comments are not visible to search engines. Moreover I’ve installed commentLuv and KeywordLuv (that you’ve missed in this list) and JavaScript won’t pass the Luv to the commenters.

    1. Dave says:

      Well, while Disqus does use JavaScript to show it’s comments, it synchronizes comments with the WordPress system and automatically displays the WP comment system when the user (such as search engine spiders) does not allow JavaScript to be loaded.

      CommentLuv and co are great plugins, but aren’t right for every WP installation, which was the intent of this list. Unless you’re running a blog, you probably don’t want CommentLuv installed.

    2. Dave says:

      My mistake. I was getting Disqus and IntenseDebate mixed up. ID is fine with search engines, but Disqus causes problems. Thanks for your comment

  4. I prefer to minimize the pluggins as much as possible but I’m going to install Contact Form plugin that I was not yet.

    Regarding Discuss comment system I did not prefer it because it serves comments through JavaScript code and thus comments are not visible to search engines. Moreover I’ve installed commentLuv and KeywordLuv (that you’ve missed in this list) and JavaScript won’t pass the Luv to the commenters.

  5. Kevin says:

    I had never heard of Disqus Comment System–thanks. Are you using it on this blog?

    1. Dave says:

      Not on this blog, but on most of my other blogs, such as I removes it from this site to remove external script loading

  6. Unknown says:

    Very good list I would agree with most of it but some of the plugins are kinda effiy ( depending on the wordpress theme) some people have problems with Wp- Supercache and Wibiya Toolbar.

    My favorite plugin in your list is contact form 7 works wonders and is a must have.

    1. Dave says:

      I’ve actually seen a good number of articles lately about W3 Cache and have been meaning to try it out, but WP Super Cache has always served me well. Haven’t heard of any problems before. Do you use a caching plugin? Which one? Thanks for your comment

  7. Ramona says:

    The only “cannot live without” plugin is Akismet, for obvious reasons.I do have All in one seo pack, top commentators, most commented posts and 2-3 more. I don’t want to put too many though since a blog in the end is the place YOU write and people comment. Not to mention I had issues with plugins conflicting, so I’d rather stay safe

    1. Dave says:

      I’d have to disagree and say that truly essential plugins like All-in-one SEO and a caching plugin of sorts, should be incorporated into the WordPress core, because they are so vital to the running and visibility of your blog. I can certainly appreciate the desire to keep the number of plugins to a minimum though. I keep looking at my list and try to pare it down

  8. Jay Persen says:

    I almost get overwhelmed with the number of plugins now available. I like your list and I usually pick a few more to add to my arsenal. I hadn’t used Disqus but sounds interesting. I waiting for the plugin to write original copy and order me a pizza.

  9. Unknown says:

    I think the list is way overkill and you only need about a third of these. With this many you will spend at least 30 minutes a week updating these plugins and if you have multiple blogs take that 30 minutes and times it by the amount of blogs you have.

    Also wished you could have directly linked to the plugs in so I don’t have to search for them.

    Otherwise good post.

    1. Dave says:

      Well, with the new bulk update feature, I don’t see how updating should take any more than 30 seconds.

      I suppose it would have been helpful to link to the plugins – I just use the search-and-install feature from within the admin panel which I find much easier and so linking to the plugin page does no good, but I suppose there are still people who like to download and upload.

      I appreciate your honest opinion though.

  10. Dave says:

    Thanks for all the wordpress plugin info. I have a few of these already installed, but will definitely add some more of these… Thanks!

  11. Ileane says:

    Hi Dave, I use some of these but some of them are new to me. Which blog do you use the Wibiya tool bar on? I have it on my Blogger blog.

    I use Cute Profiles but I’m going to take a look at Sidebar to see what it has to offer. Thanks.

    1. Dave says:


      I used to have Wibiya on my own blog, but decided to remove it because there were so many external references that it was calling and I was focusing on speeding up my blog. However, a number of my clients have it installed on their sites and it works great for them.

  12. Unknown says:

    This is the definitive list I reckon – I wish I had found it before spending hours searching! A word of advice though – I went plugins mad when I first started, and they can really slow things down if you have too many.

  13. Kimi says:

    Hey Dave,

    Know your site from weblogbetter, great lists above, but too much plugins..

    Wibya toolbar especially, it is slowing down our blog. I would rather choosing the really important plugin to have maximal performance for my readers.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Dave says:

      Hi Kimi,

      I really appreciate you stopping by – I really enjoy reading your posts.

      I have to agree about Wibiya. I wrote that post before I really looked at the diagnostics of my site and saw how much it was slowing it down because of all its external references. It used to be much simpler, but I’ve removed it from my blog for this very reason.

      Really appreciate the input.

      1. Kimi says:

        My pleasure Dave,

        I enjoy your site too, lots of useful informations that i can learn while running my blog.

        See you around, cheers.

  14. icechen1 says:

    I suggest W3-Total Cache as an worthy alternative to WP Super Cache. it offers many more advanced features like CDN support. It also makes my website load faster than WSC does.

    1. Dave says:

      Yes I’ve heard a lot of good things about W3 lately And have been meaning to try it out, but haven’t got round to it. Besides, WP Super Cache still serves me well. Thanks for the input

  15. Unknown says:

    this is a nice list, thanks for sharing. what about the robots meta plugin, do you think it’s essential?

    1. Dave says:

      Thank you. Not really – I create a robots.txt file that covers everything that this plugin does. Saves adding an extra plugin. Where possible, I prefer to do things manually to keep my blogs running fast

  16. Siobhan says:

    Great list! I use quite a lot of these myself. Although I use Headspace 2 instead of All-in-one SEO pack. Yoast has a new SEO Plugin which looks like it might supplant all of them though.

    1. Dave says:

      Yeah, I had heard about this Yoast plugin and I’m intrigued to try it out. Can’t say that I’d ever heard of Headspace though. Does it have something over All-in-one?

      Looks like you’re from Kent somewhere – I’m originally from Brighton in Sussex but live in Florida now :)

  17. claire says:

    YERP plugin is truly amazing. I added it barely a month ago
    and it has done better for my bounce rate. My visitors simply
    browse around for more topics instead of leaving the site

    1. Dave says:

      I’m assuming that you mean YARPP, but yes, I know what you mean. I have had YARPP installed for a while and although it’s not the only contributing factor, my bounce rate is less than 5%. I’m still baffled at it being that low, but I guess I must be doing something right. What sort of a bounce rate do you get (and what was it before you installed YARPP)?

  18. Thomas Frank says:

    A good replacement for Disqus is IntenseDebate. I don’t like it quite as much, but it’s suitable for themes that break Disqus (like mine).

    1. Yes, in my experience, ID is much better than Disqus for many reasons including wider compatibility. Thanks for stopping by

  19. Unknown says:

    Nice list, thanks for sharing. But i think many things can be done by without plugins on of them is Google Analytics.

    1. You’re right. Since writing this list, I’ve adopted a preference to hard-coding features in where possible and not relying on plugins so much. I should do an updated list soon based on my most recent experience with WordPress.

  20. astronyu says:

    Hey Dave, I would suggest you try Livefyre commenting system. It is lightweight and much easier to install compared to Disqus.

    Oh, I’m no means related to the company, it just that I installed it on my blog and really like it.

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