10 Essential WordPress Plugins

iThemes Security

iThemes Security is my number 1 pick for securing a WordPress site. Not only does the handy wizard walk you through the process of securing your site against bots, hackers and malware but it also includes a backup facility to back your entire site up. The backup file is then saved to the local file system or sent to an email address of your choice.

SEO Ultimate

SEO Ultimate is a recent discovery for me. For years I have used WordPress SEO by Yoast which is a fine plugin but lacks a few features that SEO Ultimate does have. SEO Ultimate’s Deeplink Juggernaut is especially useful on large sites as it gives you the ability to link any anchor phrase on any page straight to your desired target page without having to manually edit every page individually. There’s also a code inserter so you can automatically add code to the header and footer and before or after each article on your site. The 404 monitor also shows you what pages are being hit on your site and causing 404 errors so you can address those. It really is the ultimate SEO toolkit for WordPress.

Contact Form 7

Contact Form 7 makes making contact form a breeze. The plugin supports all possible combinations of form elements allowing  you to create complex data capture forms very simply. You can even make the elements accessible for impaired users as required by EU regulations.

Black Studio TinyMCE Widget

Black Studio TinyMCE Widget is one of my favourite widgets. This handy little plugin allows you to add a widget in any sidebar that has the WordPress wysiwyg editor enabled for easy editing of your widget’s content. No more inserting HTML codes by hand in your widgets!

TinyMCE Advanced

The TinyMCE Advanced plugin unlocks the full power of the WordPress visual editor, which is a cut down version of Moxiecode’s TinyMCE wysiwyg editor. TinyMCE Advanced allows you to define your own toolset for the visual editor window. Want to add an easy table creation tool? Done! Want to add font control to the editor? Done! Just drag and drop your required features on to the toolbar and save.


Autoptimize shrinks your HTML code, CSS and Javascript files so they load faster. Many other plugins promise this facility but this is the only plugin I’ve found that works 100% of the time and does not break a site in the process.

EWWW Image Optimizer

EWWW Image Optimizer is a free alternative to Smush.It and does everything Smush.It does including bulk lossless optimization of media files and other images outside of the uploads folder.

Velvet Blues Update URLs

I use Velvet Blues Update URLs on almost every WordPress site I build. If you build a site on a development server like I do then roll the site out on to a live server you may see that some of the live site’s content still links to the development server. Oh dear. Velvet Blues Update URLs will scan your content and links for the URL you input and replace it with another URL of your choice so you don’t have to edit every single page, image or link manually.

Google Analytics by Yoast

Google Analytics by Yoast is quite simply the best plugin I have found to add Google Analytics tracking codes to your site. The plugin is regularly updated so you can be sure you have the latest tracking codes on your site, add reports and see helpful GA dashboards in your WordPress dashboard.

Easy Bootstrap Shortcode

If you’ve ever built a WordPress theme with Bootstrap and want your clients to be able to add columns and the other goodies that Bootstrap brings to your site then you’ll need the Easy Bootstrap Shortcode plugin. The plugin adds a menu of shortcodes to your WordPress visual editor which makes adding Boostrap enabled content to your site as easy as 1-2-3.

What plugins are in your essentials list and why? Let us know in the comments section below.

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