What follows is a complete list of WordPress plugins that work behind the scenes to add new functionality to these sites that’s otherwise not available in the vanilla version of WordPress.org.
These are all free and open-source plugins and you can find them in the WordPress plugin repository.
The Best WordPress Plugins for your Website
1. Search Regex – This adds extremely powerful search and replace capabilities to your blog. You can find and replace almost any kind of data stored on your WordPress site including post titles, excerpts, comments, and meta data. It even supports regular expressions.
2. Redirection – If the URL of an existing post has changed or if an external site is linking to a non-existent page on my site, I can create redirection rules and automatically forward all the incoming traffic to the right pages.
3. Bing 404 – If someone lands on a 404 page for which redirection is not yet enabled, this plug-in will display links to relevant article on the error page. For example, a 404 page like labnol.org/googledocs will have links to my Google Docs articles.
4. WordPress SEO – This is probably the only SEO plugin you need for your WordPress blog. It helps you create better titles, you can block duplicate pages (like archive pages) from search bots, and it also adds the necessary meta tags required for more search-friendly Google snippets.
5. W3 Total Cache – This is possibly the best caching plug-in for WordPress and it will definitely help improve your site’s score as far as page speed is concerned. I was previously using Hyper Cache but W3 Total Cache does much more – it lets you minify scripts, cache database queries, add expiration tags to static images and more.
6. FB Open Graph – This plugin will insert the necessary Open Graph meta tags to your blog’s header so that you blog posts look good and have the right snippets when they are shared on Facebook or Google Plus.
7. 404 Email Notifier – This sends you an email notification as soon as a visitor lands on a 404 page on your WordPress website. The email messages have details about the visitor’s IP address, what browser they are using and the referral URL that led him to that broken link.
9. Smart YouTube – This lets you embed YouTube videos in blog posts using standing video URLs and the embedded player can be customized. It adds a thumbnail of the embedded video in the RSS feed and the same plug-in can also be used to embed videos from Facebook and Vimeo.
10. YARRP – The related posts plug-in adds links to old stories that may be contextually related to the content of the current story. It also helps expose your archived content to search bots.
11. WP Optimize – Use the WP Optimize plugin to clean-up your WordPress database tables. It can remove post revisions, trash spam comments and also optimize your MySQL tables so that it works more efficiently and also consumes less space.
12. WP-DBManager – This plugin will help you backup your WordPress database manually or you can set up a scheduled job for automatic backup and the database files will be sent to your email address at set intervals. Advanced users can use WP-DBManager to run SQL queries against their WordPress database without the phpMyAdmin tool. There are other plugins that can save backups to Amazon S3 and Dropbox.
13. Debug Queries – Is your blog slow? Use the Debug Queries plugin plugin to determine which MySQL queries are taking more time to execute and thus slowing down the blog. Debug Bar is another related plugin org that shows PHP warnings, queries and other helpful debugging information in the WordPress admin bar.
14. Auto Post Thumbnail – WordPress added support for Post Thumbnail Images in WordPress 2.9 but if you have been using WordPress for long, thumbnails may not be associated with your old posts. Use the Auto Post thumbnail plugin to automatically generate thumbnails for such posts using the first image found in the post content.
15. Regenerate Thumbnails – When you change the default size (height and width) of post thumbnails (or featured images) on your blog, you can use this plugin to regenerate thumbnails with the new dimensions.
16. Google XML Sitemaps – Since you want Google and other search engines to know about each and every page of your WordPress website, you need an XML sitemap and this plug-in lets you generate one in a click.
17. XML Video Sitemap – The plugin generates an XML Sitemap for your WordPress blog with all the YouTube videos that are embedded in your blog posts. I am also using XML Sitemap for Images and XML Sitemap for Mobile.
18. Date in a Nice Tone – This plugin offers an alternate way to display dates in your blog posts. It displays the amount of time – like “a few days ago,” or “in the last month,” or “over a year ago” – that has passed since a post or page was published.
19. SyntaxHighlighter Evolved – If you regularly embed code snippets in your WordPress blog posts, this plugin will help you highlight the syntax of the source code in different colors for more comfortable reading. Supports all popular programming languages.
20. Pubsubhubbub – This will help you beat content scrapers using Fat Pings. When you publish a blog post, it will instantly ping Google and that is a strong signal to the search engine that you are the original author.
21. WP-Associatizer – This plug-in will automatically rewrite any Amazon URLs in your posts to use your Amazon Associates ID.
22. Template Tag SC – WordPress offers numerous template tags – like wp_list_pages() or wp_tag_cloud() – that you can use in your theme files. The plugin will help you insert the sam template tags directly in your blog posts or pages using Short Codes.
23. Login Logger – This plugin logs the IP address and the exact date & time when a user logs into your WordPress dashboard. It also keeps track of any unsuccessful login attempts. Use this plugin in combination with Limit Login Attempts to automatically lock out users after they have made ‘n’ unsuccessful login attempts.
25. Advanced Excerpt – The post excerpts in WordPress are fixed at 55 words and often displayed with [...] ellipsis at the end. This plugin lets you to specify a custom length of excerpts, you can get rid of the ellipsis and the excerpts can be configured to have full sentences so that there are no weird cuts.
WordPress Plugins – Retired but Useful
The first version of this list was published in 2010 and since then, I have removed or deactivated a few WordPress plugins. Here’s why:
1. WordPress.com Stats – I am using Google Analytics to track site stats and therefore it doesn’t make sense to have another tracking program for the same goal.
2. Akismet – The comments on this site are powered by Disqus and they seem to offer decent spam protection on their own.
3. WordPress PDA – This plugin helped serve the mobile version of this site based on their browser’s user agent. Digital Inspiration now uses a responsive design and thus the same site is served to both desktop and mobile users.
4. WP-Paginate – The paginate plugin provide better navigation and also helps search engines find and crawl deep content on your site. The new design of this site has pagination built-in and therefore this plugin is no longer necessary.