This article lists some of the best WordPress plugins you can use to enhance your blog or website. They are the essential plugins that I instantly install when working with a new WordPress website.

Do you have any essential plugins? Why not share them in the comments at the end of the article.


Plugin Source: BackWPup

You should always do regular backups of your website. Several times I have been saved by this even if it was just to recover an image that got deleted by mistake.


I personally use BackWPup because it has all the features I need:

  • Scheduled Backups
  • Separate file and database backups
  • Control over what gets included/excluded in a backup
  • Ability to split up backups into smaller chunks. e.g. images done separately
  • Email notification of a backup
  • Backup transferred to your DropBox (and other places)

As soon as I install a new WordPress I add this plugin and set up monthly backups for the Files and the Database which get sent to my DropBox account.

Contact Form 7

Plugin Source: Contact Form 7

Most websites need a contact form and I find this one relatively simple to set up while giving you full control of it's layout and fields. You can also create multiple forms.

Make sure you test each form after setting them up. Several times I have found that a new client has a broken form and they never realised.

I'd recommend some slight alterations to the way the standard form code is put together.

<p><label for="name">Your Name (required)</label ><br />
    [text* name] </p>

<p><label for="email">Your Email (required)</label ><br />
    [email* email] </p>

<p><label for="phone">Phone Number (required)</label ><br />
    [tel* phone] </p>

<p><label for="subject">Subject</label ><br />
    [text subject] </p>

<p><label for="message">Your Message</label ><br />
    [textarea message] </p>

<p>[submit "Send"]</p>

The first change is to alter the field names to simpler more recognisable ones. This helps browsers do their auto fill stuff and improves the users experience. The second change is to wrap the field labels in label tags that refer to the field name. This helps in accessibility (e.g. for visually impaired users).

I always set things up so I can track form submissions as goals in Google Analytics. The first step is to make the form submission trackable. To do this you need to add code like this to a forms Additional Setting:

on_sent_ok: "ga('send','pageview',{'page':'/form-contact-page-submitted','title':'Contact Page Form Submitted'});"

The code in red should be set to represent a fake page on your website that you wish to represent a successful form submission. Use different values for each form so you can track them separately. After adding this code go into Google Analytics and add a Goal using the same page value.

Contact Form DB

Contact Form DB

Plugin Source: Contact Form DB

Every once in a while emails get lost. I've had a few clients thank me when their email system went down and this plugin enabled them to access the lost emails from form submissions. After installing you can see all Contact From 7 form submissions from it's link in the sidebar.

Google Analytics by Yoast

Plugin Source: Google Analytics by Yoast

You want to track your visitors, and Google Analytics is what most people use. This plugin makes it easy to add the required tracking code.

I typically enable Track outbound click and downloads and set it to enable Universal Analytics (Make sure Analytics is also set to use Universal Analytics). No harm in enabling Universal->Enhanced Link Attribution as well.

If you conform to Google's Privacy Policy requirements then you can switch on Demographic tracking in Google Analytics (Admin->Property Settings) and check the box in this plugins Universal tab.


WordPress SEO by Yoast

Plugin Source: WordPress SEO by Yoast

This plugin adds a lot of features that enhance the ability to Search Engine Optimise WordPress. It has quite a few settings which you should review to get the most out of this plugin.

Enable and fill in the Social section so your website looks its best when shared on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

Enable your sitemap and submit it into your Google Search Console .

If you show breadcrumbs then enable rich snippets via the Internal links section.

Most importantly the plugin lets you edit the SEO title (title tag) and meta description for your posts and pages. Try and always fill these in as they are used by search engines to promote your pages. If you don't fill them in then the plugin will auto create them. This is OK but manually customised content is always the best.

Refer to my articles on Page Titles and Meta Description for details on why they are important and help in getting them right.

All In One SEO Pack is another good SEO plugin. Don't use both.


Plugin Source: Redirection

Over time pages disappear or move. A savvy SEO will add a 301 Permanent Redirect from the lost page to a relevant page that still exists. This is to improve a users experience as well as to help the search engines update their index in your favour.

This plugin makes it easy to add those redirects.

As a starting point I suggest you go into your Google Search Console account and check for crawl errors. Any Not found error report may be a good candidate for a redirect.

iThemes Security

iThemes Security

Plugin Source: iThemes Security

After dealing with several hacked website I started to install security plugins as soon as possible. This is one of the most thorough ones. It does need setting up and I suggest you go through all the issues it identifies and fix as many as you can.

In settings make sure you have a notification email entered. And backup your website before playing around with this plugin.

Wordfence Security

Plugin Source: Wordfence Security

This security plugin keeps an eye on your files and notifies you if they have been tampered with. Great for quickly detecting if you have been hacked. In the options make sure your email is in there then run a scan to see if your website is fine.

You can also use it to block spambots which are bots that cause Google Analytics to track fake users. In the Advanced blocking add this line to the Referrer field, give it a name like Spambots and click the blue button


W3 Total Cache

Plugin Source: W3 Total Cache

To be honest I generally don't bother with this plugin. However, if your site is getting sluggish it can help fix that.


Plugin Source: InfiniteWP Client

It is important to keep WordPress and all your plugins up to date. I manage many websites so I use InfiniteWP to help me automate that process. It can also be used to create backups but I'm comfortable with BackWPup

It's complex to set up as you have to host it yourself, so probably only worth it if you have to manage a lot of websites.

If you have installed iThemes security then make sure you check it's setting for Add InfiniteWP Compatibility

ManageWP is another option that is simpler to set up but is not free.