This article is now out of date. Since many of the plugins below are no longer maintained, we cannot recommend their use any longer. We’ve written a new article to replace it: Top 5 WordPress plugins.
We spend a lot of time in the back end of a WordPress system. Whether we are helping clients with changes or technical support, or making changes or additions to our own sites there are several wordpress plugins we use to make our lives easier. A lot of these plugins are quite popular and you will have likely heard of them, but hopefully there are some here that make your lives a little easier as well.
Here is an overview of the main plugins that we typically use on every WordPress hosting install. They are in no particular order:
All in one SEO pack
This is definitely my favourite SEO plugin. I have tried a number, including SEO Titles and Platinum SEO Pack and neither of which have the same capabilities that the All in one SEO pack has. Although Platinum comes close in functionality, I’ve had issues with it not updating or displaying properly, your mileage may vary.
All in one SEO allows you to easily change your post and page-specific title and meta tags. It also lets you control internal nofollow links, which I find quite useful when structuring my sites.
Google Analytics for WordPress
Google Analytics for WordPress is a must have if you want to track website visitor behaviour and integrate your website with the free Google Analytics software. This plugin gives you an easy way to add your Analytics code to your web site while giving you a few advanced options such as tracking outbound clicks and not tracking logged in administrator users.
Contact Form 7
This is the most powerful free WordPress plugin I have found when it comes to easily generating contact and submission forms. Contact form 7 lets you generate contact forms with any field name, type, and style you’d like, while providing a short code to insert the form inside any of your WordPress pages.
If your theme does not have a contact form built in, this is a great starting point to integrating a contact form in a few clicks.
Widget logic is a great little plugin we stumbled upon a couple years ago. It gives you the ability to display certain widgets only on certain pages, posts, categories, etc. You can add a widget and make it display just on your home page, or just on your contact page, for example.
It is a little more advanced, as you will need to use the WordPress Conditional Tags, but they are not too difficult to figure out. We control almost all of our widgets with this plugin on this site.
WordPress Database Backup
If you are not backing up your WordPress database you should definitely pick up this tool. It lets you easily create backups of your WordPress installation and either store them on the local server, download them, or send them via email. You can even set up a backup schedule so you don’t have to worry about your content.
All of our servers have nightly backups in case of an emergency, but it is always a good idea to do your own local backups as well.
Broken Link Checker
The broken link checker is equally as useful to a business site as it is for a personal blogger. This plugin tracks all your internal and external links to check for any problems with them, whether a 404 not found, or 500 internal server error, etc. It has an easy to use dashboard that lets you view any issues and remove the links with a click of a button.
This is great if you are linking out to articles that are no longer available, or if you have recently changed the structure of your website and forgot to redirect some of the old links.
A simple plugin that allows you to use PHP within your WordPress posts and pages. The plugin has not been updated in a while, but it is working as of WordPress 3.1 when this post was written. Just install and insert your php code.
Code markup is a great plugin for people looking to display code on their pages or in their post. An example of its use is on our post about integrating flickr on your website where we displayed the required code using this plugin.
These are the themes that we typically install on every WordPress site we manage. There are other plugins that we may need to use on a case by case basis, but the above list is a great foundation.
If you have any favourite plugins that were not listed above, please let us know!