15 Most Essential WordPress Plugins

Here are the best WordPress plugins (Essential WordPress Plugins) that will add new functionality to your WordPress websites that is otherwise not available in the vanilla version of WordPress software. These are all free and open-source plugins and you can download them from the official WordPress plugins repository.

The Most Essential WordPress Plugins

  1. Search Regex – This adds extremely powerful search and replace capabilities to your blog. You can find and replace almost any kind of data stored on your WordPress site including post titles, excerpts, comments, and meta data. It even supports regular expressions.

  2. Redirection – If the URL of an existing post has changed or if an external site is linking to a non-existent page on my site, I can create redirection rules and automatically forward all the incoming traffic to the right pages. Simple 301 is also a good alternative.

  3. Yoast SEO – This is probably the only SEO plugin you need for your WordPress blog. It helps you create better titles, you can block duplicate pages (like archive pages) from search bots, and it also adds the necessary meta tags required for more search-friendly Google snippets. The new releases also integrate Twitter Title Tags and Facebook Open Graph tags.

  4. W3 Total Cache – This is possibly the best caching plug-in for WordPress and it will definitely help improve your site’s page speed score. I was previously using Hyper Cache but W3 Total Cache does much more – it lets you minify scripts, cache database queries, add expiry headers to static images and more.

  5. 404 Email Notifier – This sends you an email notification as soon as a visitor lands on a 404 page on your WordPress website. The email messages have details about the visitor’s IP address, what browser they are using and the referral URL that led him to that broken link.

  6. SlideShare – This helps you easily embed SlideShare presentations in blog posts with the help of short codes – see samples. Update: This maybe optional as WordPress core itself supports SlideShare embeds through oEmbed.

  7. Smart YouTube – This lets you embed YouTube videos in blog posts using standing video URLs and the embedded player can be customized. It adds a thumbnail of the embedded video in the RSS feed and the same plug-in can also be used to embed videos from Facebook and Vimeo.

  8. YARRP – The related posts plug-in adds links to old stories that may be contextually related to the content of the current article. It also helps expose your archived content to search bots.

  9. WP Optimize – Use the WP Optimize plugin to clean-up your WordPress database tables. It can remove post revisions, trash spam comments and also optimize your MySQL tables so that it works more efficiently and also consumes less space.

  10. Adminer – This will help you manage your MySQL databases from the WordPress dashboard itself. You can run SQL queries, browse tables or perform database optimization. Less complicated than phpMyAdmin.

  11. Authenticator – Enable 2-step authentication for your WordPress blog, similar to Dropbox or your Gmail account. Authy is also a good alternative for enabling 2-factor authentication in WordPress.

  12. WP-DBManager – This plugin will help you backup your WordPress database manually or you can set up a scheduled job for automatic backup and the database files will be sent to your email address at set intervals. Advanced users can use WP-DBManager to run SQL queries against their WordPress database without the phpMyAdmin tool. There are other plugins that can save backups to Amazon S3 and Dropbox.

  13. Debug Queries – Is your blog slow? Use the Debug Queries plugin plugin to determine which MySQL queries are taking more time to execute and thus slowing down the blog. Debug Baris another related plugin org that shows PHP warnings, queries and other helpful debugging information in the WordPress admin bar.

  14. P3 Profiler – Use the profiler plugin to figure out which WordPress plugins are slowing down yor website. It generates a pie chart detailing the time it takes to run each plugin while loading the various pages of your site.

  15. Auto Post Thumbnail – WordPress added support for Post Thumbnail Images in WordPress 2.9 but if you have been using WordPress for long, thumbnails may not be associated with your old posts. Use the Auto Post thumbnail plugin to automatically generate thumbnails for such posts using the first image found in the post content.


Manikandan is Founder and author of codenread. Tech Blogger by Passion | Computer Science Engineer by Qualification