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9 Essential WordPress Plugins That Everyone Should be Using

WordPress is one of the most popular content publishing platforms in the world. It currently powers 14.7% of the top million websites.

Due to this huge number of website owners using the WordPress platform, a large number of free and premium WordPress-related products continue to be created. This is a good thing!

In the WordPress directory alone there are more than 33,000 plugins available at the time of writing this post. Although it is a good thing that we have so many plugins, sometimes it can be difficult to find the plugins that you actually need.

Here are 9 essential WordPress plugins that everyone should be using:

WordPress SEO

WordPress SEO - 1 of the 9 Essential WordPress Plugins

1 of the 9 Essential WordPress Plugins

With more than 12 million downloads, WordPress SEO by Yoast is by far the most popular search engine optimization plugin available in the repository.

The plugin offers various options and gives you ultimate control over your website’s SEO without any technical knowledge needed. The options page is divided into eleven sections: Dashboard, Titles & Metas, Social, XML Sitemaps, Permalinks, Internal Links, RSS, Import & Export, Bulk Editor, Edit Files, and Extensions.

I have been using this plugin for a long time, and I can easily say that it’s the best solution available to WordPress users.

Joost De Valk, the author of this SEO plugin has also released a premium version which includes features such as Google Webmaster Tools integration, a redirect manager, video tutorials, and premium support. The premium version is priced at $89 for single site use and goes up to $329 for 20 sites.

Digg Digg

Digg Digg - 1 of the 9 Essential WordPress Plugins

With so many social sharing plugins available, it is hard to choose the one that works well for a particular website. I have tested numerous social sharing plugins including Digg Digg, Flare, Floating Social bar, and Easy Social Share buttons.

Each plugin has a unique style of displaying social media buttons. There was one plugin that stood above from the rest, Digg Digg. Digg Digg provides an all-in-one solution for displaying social buttons on your website.

Social sharing is an important component of content marketing, however make sure that you are only adding the essential social buttons for your audience.


Normally, I would recommend Backup Buddy (a premium plugin) but when you are starting out, it is better to stick to free resources.

BackWPup is a free WP plugin that allows you to backup your site including files from wp-content and push them to external cloud storage such as FTP, Amazon S3, Dropbox, Microsoft Azure, Google Drive, etc. You can also configure it to schedule the backups automatically.

In addition to its core feature of backing up your WordPress site, you can optimize and repair your database. It optimizes your database so that your site can load faster.

There’s also a PRO version available of this plugin, which includes extra features such as premium support, option to change directories, custom API keys for Dropbox & SugarSync, and much more. Priced at $75 for one domain.

Contact Form 7

One of the most downloaded contact form plugins available in the directory. I have been using it for a long time (2 years to be exact) and still use it for most websites. It works exactly how it is advertised on the plugin page.

With Contact Form 7 you can manage multiple contact forms, all from the WordPress dashboard. The plugin comes with a ton of great features such as Captcha and Akismet spam filtering.

Other alternatives include Gravity Forms, Ninja Forms, and JetPack Contact Form.


optinmonster - 1 of the 9 Essential WordPress Plugins

Often the goal of business websites are to collect leads and improve conversion. For example, UpThemes has one opt-in form on the homepage and two forms on blog pages. Each opt-in form is well-designed and has a clear call to action.

Now, creating an optin form like that is easy. But for people who don’t have any technical knowledge, it can be a daunting task. This is where OptinMonster enters.

OptinMonster is an all-in-one solution for building an email list on your site. You can create highly effective opt-in forms such as sidebar optins, lightbox popups, floating bars, and slide-ins. It uses the built-in WordPress customizer to provide users the functionality to customize the design.

I was able to increase my subscriber growth by 250%. Here’s my complete review of the plugin.

Other alternatives include SumoMe (free) and Hybrid Connect.

Edit Flow

Edit Flow is only essential or a must-have if you’re running a business blog or have a team of writers, though you could use it to improve your own workflow.

The plugin allows you to collaborate with your team by using an organized editorial calendar in your WordPress dashboard. It also allows you to assign custom post statuses, leave editorial notes on posts in progress, manage your editorial calendar, and more.

Here’s the complete list of features:

  • Calendar – A convenient month-by-month look at your content.
  • Custom Statuses – Define the key stages to your workflow.
  • Editorial Comments – Threaded commenting in the admin for private discussion between writers and editors.
  • Editorial Metadata – Keep track of the important details.
  • Notifications – Receive timely updates on the content you’re following.
  • Story Budget – View all of your upcoming posts in a more traditional story budget view, and hit the print button to take it to your planning meeting.
  • User Groups – Keep your users organized by department or function.

nRelate Related Posts

[nRelate has been retired since this article was published here’s an article on alternatives.]

nRelate is a third party related post plugin that is packed with a ton of great features. It supports both thumbnail and textual posts.

One of the best things about this plugin is that it is hosted on nRelate servers, meaning it will not utilize any of your site’s resources. This is a great benefit, most related posts plugins can be very resource intensive.

When I first started blogging, my site was hosted on a shared hosting environment (on Hostgator) and it only had a couple of pages worth of content. Within a few weeks, the site went down because of high CPU usage (caused by YARP).

I am not saying you shouldn’t be using YARP, in fact it was a long time ago, and I am pretty sure the plugin has improved since then. If I had to choose between YARP and nRelate, I will go with nRelate.

W3 Total Cache WP Rocket

WP Rocket plugin - 1 of the 9 Essential WordPress Plugins

Believe, it or not, I wanted to recommend W3 Total Cache plugin because it is free and has been in the market for a very long time.

The reason I am recommending a new plugin, even though it costs $39 – is that it is very easy to setup. It doesn’t have hundreds of options to configure, just a few basic options that you can enable from the settings page. It took me less than 2 minutes to setup and another 10-15 minutes for CDN integration (step by step guide). It is also being used on this site and helped improve site speed by 83%.

Features include: Page caching, minification, Gzip compression, Image optimization, CDN integration, JS loading, and much more.

What must have / essential WordPress plugins do you use?

If you have any suggestions or questions feel free to leave a comment below!

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