The following is a list of my most used WordPress plugins. I have been working with WordPress since 2012 and since then many plugins have come and gone, but these are the one’s I keep coming back to for their reliance and longevity. If you are a WordPress user, you will likely recognized many, if not all, of these plugins since most of them have been around for at least 5 years or more.
Jetpack (Free | Paid)
The first on my list is Jetpack. I will admit I did not start using this plugin until years into its existence. It was after they really stared shipping really useful features that it became worth for me to try it on a few sites. After getting the hang of it and getting past its massive configuration and initial settings it just became invaluable.
Wordfence (Free | Paid)
After many trials with different security plugins I found that none could match the power of Wordfence. It may not have all the features found in other ‘Swiss Army’ knife of types in the Security plugin field, but the features that it does have are well thought out developed. The plugin has been around since 2012 and the free version is more than enough for most cases (simple blogs and personal sites). It is simple enough to quickly start protecting your site in just a few clicks. Check it out at Wordfence.com
SEOPress (Free | Paid)
You could use Jetpack for analytics, but why when you can have a dedicated plugin doing the heavy lifting. One of the things I appreciate about this plugin is that it will not clutter your dashboard or bombard you with promotional banners. The interface is clean and it provides a great user experience when configuring the plugin, something that was lacking in other SEO plugins (like one that shall not be named). The free version handles all my SEO needs, but upgrading is not a bad ideal if you are a small business and need more features, like measuring your sales with more advanced analytic, and for $49/yr it is an easy decision.
Akismet Spam Protection (Free)
This is one of the oldest plugins in my toolbox. I still use it to control spam in any of my sites where comments is allowed. I have yet to find anything else that rivals Akismet for Spam control.
I am thankful to John Godley who created and have been maintaining this plugin for so many years, and makes it available 100% free! It is the best plugin I have found that allows you to manage and create 301 redirects in an easy and intuitive interface. I use this plugin on all my websites and it helps me manage all re-directs in one place. If you have used this plugin and found it useful, like I have, consider making a donation to support John’s work.
TinyJPG (Free | Paid)
When I think of image optimization, TinyJPG is what comes to mind. I have tried other solutions in this space, but they are either overly complicated with too many features, or they fall short. TinyJPG provided the perfect balance of features and usefulness and functionality and it just a work horse when it comes to handling all image compression. You get a limit of 500 compression per month which, in my case, is more than enough to compress the occasional images used for a blog post. One of the features I like is its ability to compress the images in the background and it will then provide a report showing how optimized your website is. Enough said, just get it and try it.
For any site requiring custom post types or custom fields, I reach for Pods. I have been using it for years and it has always helped me build all the custom features that are often demanded from client sites. There is no project I can’t tackle with Pods and that has made it a must-have for me.
HappyFiles (Free | Paid)
I use Happy Files to organize everything inside WordPress into individual folders. The folders are actually taxonomy terms the plugin creates to categorize your files. Anything from media files to posts and pages get placed in their own folder, which can be nested, to make your dashboard much tidy-er for a better experience. It is just a great plugin to have to help unclutter your WordPress dashboard. A bonus for me is the ability to upload and sanitize SVG files, which is something that can’t be done in WordPress by default.
Easy WP SMTP (Free)
I wish WordPress did a better job at sending emails, but unfortunately it doesn’t, and that’s were this plugin comes in. Easy WP SMTP helps you send emails from your WordPress site reliably. Once configure it just works and you wont have to think about it again. This plugin is part of every WordPress site I build.
Contact Form 7 (Free)
I have used many different form plugins over the years, and most of them have unnecessary complexity and a heavy price tag. I admit that for certain projects it is necessary to have the functionality and complexity offered by those form plugins. But when you just need a simple contact form, its hard to beat Contact Form 7. Its been around since the beginning and that is for a good reason. It is the OG among form plugins for its utility, simple configuration, and reliability.
Relevanssi (Free | Paid)
There are many options for search, but the one I keep coming to is Relevanssi. It’s worth the small effort it takes to install and configure this very useful plugin to have and enhanced WordPress search. Just install it, select the post types and taxonomies you want to index, the operator for your search (AND | OR) and that’s it. There is more options if you want to fine tune it, but that’s it if you want to get it up and running quickly. One of my favorite features is the ability to highlight search results.
Better Search Replace (Free | Paid)
Finally, I will wrap up this list by mentioning my most used utility plugin, the Better Search Replace plugin. Basically, this plugin will help you update all the URL’s strings in your WordPress database which is an essential step in the migration process. With this plugin, I have migrated countless WordPress websites. From local to production, or simply from host to host, this plugin will help you get the job done.
That’s it. These are my most used WordPress plugins. I have installed and tried many plugins in all the years I’ve been working with WordPress but these are the one’s I keep coming back to for all my projects, even to this day.
If you like and have used any of the plugins in this list let me know in the comments area.
Hope this has helped you discover or even re-consider one of these tried and true, battle tested WordPress plugins for your next project.
Note: None of the creators of these plugins are affiliates or sponsors, or contacted me regarding being listed on this post. This list is solely based on my own experience using these plugins.