must have wordpress plugins

As one of the most popular and widely used content management systems, WordPress has quickly grown into a platform that can be used for anything from small single user blogs to high traffic business and e-commerce websites. While the default WordPress instillation provides a variety of great features, it is the wide array of available (and free) plugins that really make WordPress a great solution for many sites. Previously, we posted a great article on WordPress SEO Plugins and I wanted to follow up with a list of other useful plugins that I would recommend installing on your site.

Here’s a quick list linking to each main section on the page (35 total plugins)

wordpress admin plugins

Administration Plugins

Ozh’ Admin Drop Down Menu

Consolidate space in the back end of WordPress by displaying all of your administration links in a smaller and more organized horizontal navigation bar across the top of your screen. This takes up much less space the default vertical menu and makes managing your blog much easier. You can even customize the colors of this admin menu to match your theme.

Download Ozh’ Admin Drop Down Menu


Easily access your database from within WordPress with this all-in-one plugin. You can optimize, repair, backup, or restore your database as well as delete backups, drop/empty tables and run selected queries. You can also schedule automatic backups and optimization of your database.

Download WP-DBManager


Another solution for backing up your database in a much more simple (and less feature packed) version of the above WP-DBManager plugin. This plugin allows you to easily backup your core database tables with the click of your mouse.

Download WP-DB-Backup

WordPress Backup

In addition to regular database backups, you should also backup the important server files for WordPress. This plugin allows you to easily backup theme files, uploaded files/images, as well as your plugins directory all within the WordPress backend. You also have the ability to send the backed up zip file to your email.

Download Wordpress Backup

Role Scoper

For multi user blogs that require advanced permissions for specific user groups and/or content sections, the Role Scoper plugin is a must. Most notably, this plugin allows you to easily customize access to specific pages, posts, or categories as well as giving the ability to set very specific permissions to your different user groups. In addition to these two basic functions, this plugin is loaded with a wide variety of additional capabilities.

Download Role Scoper

Broken Link Checker

This is a great plugin that simply checks your posts for any broken links (both internal and outbound) and notifies you on your WordPress dashboard if you have a broken link. From there, you can easily edit or remove the link.

Download Broken Link Checker

wordpress security plugins

Security Plugins

Bad Behavior

An easy solution for blocking link spam and bad robots before they are even able to reach your site. Prevent unnecessary link spam, keep your site’s load down and your site log clean with the Bad Behavior plugin.

Download Bad Behavior

Login LockDown

This WordPress security plugin will record the IP address and timestamp for every failed login attempt and then temporary lock out an IP address if it has too many failed login attempts within a certain amount of time. This will prevent attackers from any brute force password discovery attempts.

Download Login LockDown

WP Security Scan

Very simply, this plugin will scan your WordPress instillation for any potential security flaws or vulnerabilities and then suggest corrective actions. This includes passwords, file permissions, database security, version hiding, admin protection/security, and much more.

Download WP Security Scan

Spam Plugins


Probably the best comment spam plugin out there which blocks most spam comments and files them under "Spam" in your WordPress comment admin screen.

Download Akismet

SpamShiv Spam Protection

We all know that putting email addresses on your website is usually a bad idea these days because automated bots can now detect them and spam your inbox relentlessly. With SpamShiv, you no longer have to worry about publicly displaying your email address on your WordPress site. This plugin will detect any email addresses listed on your site and then mask them from email harvesting bots.

Download SpamShiv Spam Protection

Really Simple CAPTCHA

A simple CAPTCHA plugin that works in conjunction with the widely used Contact Form 7 plugin. While this isn’t the most secure CAPTCHA out there, it does prevent most unwanted/spam submissions and integrates quite easily into your WordPress site.

Download Really Simple CAPTCHA


Social Plugins

DISQUS Comment System

Provide added functionality for your comment section with the DISQUS comment system. This plugin integrates seamlessly with WordPress  and actually syncs with the default comment system. For one, this plugin allows users to login with their Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo (and more) accounts to post comments. Additionally, you can pull in reactions/comments from various social sites including Digg/Reddit comments, Retweets, and more.

Download DISQUS Comment System

Gigya Socialize

The Gigya Socialize plugin uses social APIs to authenticate users from Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Google, Yahoo, LinkedIn, and AOL. Allow users to register and login into your site with their own social account.

Download Gigya Socialize


The sociable plugin displays various social sharing and bookmarking logos below your posts allowing readers to easily share posts on their favorite social sites. You can choose from 99 different social bookmarking logos to display.

Download Sociable

Add To Any

As an alternative or addition to the above sociable plugin, the Add to Any plugin provides an easy and compact way for users to share your posts. Save space on your website and give readers a tool to easily share or bookmark your post on over 100 different social sites.

Download Add To Any

TweetMeme Button

Adds the popular Retweet button to every post. The plugin also provides easy customization and integrates seamlessly with WordPress.

Download TweetMeme Button

Facebook Share Button

Similar to the above TweetMeMe plugin, the Facebook Share plugin adds the popular Facebook share button to your posts. 

Download Facebook Share Button

Wibiya Plugin

The Wibiya plugin gives you the ability to easily add the Wibiya Toolbar to your WordPress site. This toolbar displays across the bottom of your site and gives users the ability to search, translate, share, and much more. Additionally, you can customize the look and color of the toolbar to match your site as well as track the toolbar usage through your Wibiya account.

Download Wibiya Plugin

wordpress usability plugins

Usability Plugins

Dunstan-style Error Page

Easily create an effective and useful 404 error page on your WordPress site with the click of a button.

Download Dunstan-style Error Page

Smart 404

The smart 404 plugin helps reduce 404 errors by automatically redirecting users to the correct post or page when they mistype a URL.

Download Smart 404

Lightbox Plus

The Lightbox plugin provides a much cleaner, more user friendly and stylish way to display images on your site.

Download Lightbox Plus

Outbound Links

Keep users on your site by forcing all outbound links to open in a new window.

Download Outbound Links

Yet Another Related Posts Plugin

Increase your page views and time on site by displaying related posts on your site.

Download Yet Another Related Posts Plugin

WordPress Popular Posts

Easily display your most popular posts on the sidebar of your site with the WordPress popular posts plugin.

Download WordPress Popular Posts

Feedburner Feedsmith

An often overlooked plugin, Feedburner Feedsmith will detect all alternate feed ULRs for your WordPress site and redirect users to your Feedburner feed.

Download Feedburner Feedsmith

Search Everything

The Search Everything plugin gives you additional control over the default WordPress site search as well as gives users additional search capabilities to help them find the content they are looking for.

Download Search Everything

SEO Plugins

Please view our previous post on WordPress SEO plugins for a complete list of great search engine optimization plugins.

Advertising Plugins


Rotate ads on your site, display certain ads only during specific time periods, track impressions and more with the Ad-minister plugin.

Download Ad-minister

Ozh’ Who Sees Ads

Control who sees certain advertisements and under what conditions with Ozh’ Who Sees Ads.

Download Ozh’ Who Sees Ads


Easily display and manage 125×125 sidebars ads with the WP125 plugin.

Download WP125

Amazon Reloaded for WordPress

Looking to make some extra cash on your site? Use the Amazon Reloaded plugin to easily find and add Amazon affiliate links to your posts.

Download Amazon Reloaded for WordPress


While not the primary use of GoCodes (intended to create custom and branded shortened URLs), this plugin allows you to easily mask affiliate link URLs by displaying a much cleaner and more friendly version to users.

Download GoCodes

Other Plugins

WPtouch iPhone Theme

In one of the most impressive plugins out there (in my opinion), the WPtouch iPhone Theme transforms your blog into a great looking mobile site. Keep mobile users on your site with this simple and stylish mobile plugin.

Download WPtouch iPhone Theme

Contact Form 7

One of the most widely used and simple (yet customizable) contact form plugins available. In conjunction with the Really Simple CAPTCHA plugin listed above, this is a great solution for most WordPress sites.

Download Contact Form 7

PollDaddy Polls & Ratings

Easily create and manage PollDaddy polls from right within your WordPress dashboard.

Download PollDaddy Polls & Ratings

If you have any other WordPress plugins that you use, be sure to add them in the comment section below.


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