13 of the best WordPress plugins

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The beauty of WordPress is the number plugins available to add a little extra to your blog. I’m often asked which ones I use, and how I achieve certain effects, so here are the 13 WordPress plugins currently installed on davidairey.com.

Update: 12 May 2010
This post was published in April 2008. I’ve since changed many of the plugins I use, and you can view an updated list here: WordPress plugins on davidairey.com.



Akismet checks your comments against the Akismet web service to see if they look like spam or not. You need a WordPress.com API key to use it. You can review the spam it catches under “Comments.” To show off your Akismet stats just put in your template. See also: WP Stats plugin. By Matt Mullenweg.

All in One SEO Pack

All in One SEO

Out-of-the-box SEO for your WordPress blog. By uberdose.

cforms II


cforms II offers unparalleled flexibility in deploying contact forms across your blog. Features include: comprehensive SPAM protection, Ajax support, Backup & Restore, Multi-Recipients, Role Manager support, Database tracking and many more. Please see the VERSION HISTORY for what’s new and current bugfixes. By Oliver Seidel.

Commentluv (broken link removed, 2014)

comment luv

Plugin to show a link to the last post from the commenters blog in their comment. Just activate and it’s ready. Currently parses with wordpress, blogspot, typepad and blogs that have a feed link in the head section of their page. By Andy Bailey.



Forwards all feed traffic to Feedburner while letting through some important User-Agents. By Steve Smith.

Google Sitemaps

google sitemaps plugin

This generator will create a sitemaps.org compliant sitemap of your WordPress blog. Configuration Page by Arne Brachhold.

Highlight Author Comments

highlight author comments

Automatically applies a distinctive style to comments by the post’s author. By Rob Marsh, SJ.

Homepage Excerpts

daily blog tips

Homepage Excerpts By Daily Blog Tips.

Subscribe To Comments

subscribe to comments

Allows readers to receive notifications of new comments that are posted to an entry. Based on version 1 from Scriptygoddess By Mark Jaquith.


wp cache

Very fast cache module. It’s composed of several modules, this plugin can configure and manage the whole system. Once enabled, go to “Options” and select “WP-Cache”. By Ricardo Galli Granada.



Track your blog stats. Based on Stephen Wettone’s SlimStat, Jeff Minards’s plugin, Markus Kammerer’s wp-shortstat rewrite. It can be used upon an existing wp-shortstat database: includes an import tool to upgrade your database. Note: disable wp-shortstat plugin, if enabled. By Mr. Coolmann.

WP 2.3 Related Posts

related posts

Generate a related posts list via tags of WordPress 2.3 By Denis, PaoPao.

WP AJAX Edit Comments

Ajax Edit Comments

Allows you and your users to edit their comments inline. Admin and editors can edit all comments. By Ronald Huereca.

What are your favourite plugins?

Update: 12 May 2010
I’ve since changed many of the plugins I use, and you can view an updated list here: WordPress plugins on davidairey.com.

77 responses

  1. I’m also using many of those you listed. One that I’m using on my newest blog is called Simple Tags. It does an awesome job at managing and suggesting tags. Tons of options and features… kind of the opposite of simple when it comes to the settings, but super easy to use.

  2. Erm.. I believe you should include WP Database Backup in this list. Just in case anything goes wrong like the old days.

    And Lightbox :) Is it considered as plug in? Cheers~

  3. Admin Drop Down Menu
    Better Comments Manager
    Chunk Urls for WordPress
    Comment Relish
    Head META Description
    NextGEN Gallery
    Search Meter
    Sideblog WordPress Plugin
    SRG Clean Archives
    Ultimate Google Analytics
    WordPress Database Backup

    There the ones I have installed on mine that you don’t have listed. I have all the ones you listed already installed except slimstat.

  4. I use most of the ones you listed along with:

    Robots meta
    Google Analytics for wordpress
    RSS footer (to add a link back to my blog)
    I also use a plugin for my personal blog that displays my recent posts in my Facebook profile page.

  5. Doug,

    It’s very simple with the ‘related posts’ plugin, although I do wonder how many clicks those feed links get. If there’s a way to figure it out I’d love to know.


    I’ll take a look at your ‘simple tags’ recommendation. Thanks.


    The video comments were discovered earlier when I was browsing my feed reader. It’s novel, although I’d need to be very interested in the article to create a video comment (this is coming from someone who has yet to create a video podcast, so I’m sure it’s more appropriate for others).


    I make a point of backing up my files using my host providers. It’s a simple one click save, so I didn’t see the point of adding another plugin (unless you know something I don’t?).


    wp-cache is listed above, and is certainly worth a recommendation. Did you have it installed before or after your issues when traffic forced your site down, or was that to do with your ISP? Thanks for showing your plugin choices.

  6. Ben,

    The ‘related posts plugin’ is still called by the 2.3 version (on the author’s website anyway). What WP version do you run?


    Funny you should mention your Facebook profile. My latest posts show up there too, but I don’t need a plugin for it to work. RSS footer sounds like one I could use.

  7. I’m running version 2.5 on all the sites I manage. Suprisingly I had no compatability issues with either themes or plugins when upgrading even though the admin side of things has changed greatly. If you havn’t seen/used the new version of the admin dashboard I would thoroughly recommend checking it out as it’s much improved (including a much cleaner login page).

  8. David,

    What a great list. And now I don’t have to bug you each time I want something new ;-)

    Thanks to previous emails, (if my memory serves me) from you I have:
    Homepage Excerpts
    WP AJAX Edit Comments

    I don’t have:
    Highlight Author Comments (but I will now)
    cforms II (I use WP-ContactForm)
    wp-cache (ditto on adding this one too)
    WP-SlimStat (I have several others but I’ll play with this one too)


  9. Ben,

    That’s great you didn’t have any upgrade issues. I’ve checked out the admin panel in my wordpress.com blog, and it’s certainly an improvement.


    You don’t bug me, not at all. I’m glad to be able to help. :)

    The ‘cforms II’ plugin is fantastic, and helped greatly with the questionnaire I sent you. ‘Highlight author comments’ can be done using code, but the plugin is small in size, and I’m certainly no coding expert. ‘Slimstat’s nice. I’ve used it for a while now for quick checks. I also use Google Analytics, but less often, as it’s so much more indepth.

  10. Like you I’m using
    All in One SEO Pack

    and also

    Enhanced WP-ContactForm
    Slimbox Plugin

    I’ll definitely take a look at WP-SlimStat and the others suggested asap.

  11. I recently set up a very simple, non-blog website using WordPress and found it very easy to get running nicely through plugins.

    I used All in One SEO to give the site SEO without much work.
    I used the Featured Content and Fancy Zoom plugins from http://www.wpelements.com to give some nice image effects.

    It was very helpful to be able to set up a regular website using WordPress and save a good deal of time by using free themes and plugins to get the basic functionality running smoothly.

  12. Regarding your comment to Rafie and the backup. I have that plug in installed and it automatically sends me a backup everyday to my other email address. Saves you clicking each time you want to back up. You know that you have a back up every day.

    I had WP-Cache installed before the problem (it was just my hosts were sucky). What do you use for the Google Search Function? Your search is way more accurate then the default one. How did you get it set up?

  13. cforms II is the best! More plugins I like:

    Comment Inbox Mark Jaquith.
    Google Analytics for WordPress by Joost de Valk.
    Head META Description by Kaf Oseo.
    SEO Title Tag by Stephan Spencer, Netconcepts.

    Thanks for sharing yours David.

  14. pmpfan, Tom,

    Thanks for sharing the plugins you use.


    All in One SEO combines a number of separate plugins, which is handy. As you can see from my list, it’s the only one that concentrates on SEO here, and I’m doing quite well in search engines.


    What was the website you set up? I’ve often considered using WordPress for more static sites, simply due to its ease of content management. Glad it all worked out for you.


    So you don’t use Akisment at all? What are your spam levels like in comparison? I’d not previously seen the article you linked to, but I’ve not had any issues with the two WordPress sites I run.


    In your Google account admin, there should be a link for creating a custom search engine. You’ll find plenty of instruction there. You’re right how the search results are much more accurate than the WordPress facility.


    You’re very welcome. I don’t think I’ve seen ‘comment inbox’, or ‘Google Analytics for WordPress’, so thanks for listing them. I believe your last two on the list are included within the All in One SEO plugin.

  15. David: With regards to your comment to Doug about the Related Posts plugin.

    I see that you have Google Analytics installed?

    Have you tried the Site Overlay feature in the Content tab of the sidebar?

    It brings up your site in a new window and overlays it with stats including how many times each link has been clicked.

    It would do exactly what you want it to do.

  16. Hi David,

    Just looking through this post and the range of WP plugins look great and I am thinking of moving to WP. However, I am not a coder and wondered if I am going to able to do this with little (or no) knowledge of databases and php – am I going to be able to manage this or am I wasting my time? Also, is it hard to set up your own WP templates (or create your own)? I would want the template to be inkeeping with the rest of the look of my site but again wonder if I am going to be able to manage this?



  17. As a commentor, of course I love CommentLuv!! (edit: ha! and can’t forget Ajax Edit Comments!) I didn’t realize that the special author comments is a plugin. I’ll look into that one for my redesign!

    And I do love Vivien’s Fighting Spam Without Captcha, even though it’s not a plugin. I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to NEVER deal with spam!!

  18. Cat, yes, that is a really excellent bit of code there. I haven’t had a single spam bot comment since I did it. Just remember to update your wp-post-comments file when you update WP! I forgot to do that this time and wondered why it had been a few days since I received any comments, but my spam went up… oops!

  19. Great list and great additions from the list of comments above. I’ve added this post to my del.icio.us page. My site redesign still hasn’t gone live yet … “real” work keeps getting in the way :-) … but it uses WordPress for the first time, and I am on the search for gallery or photoblog plugins. Have looked at lots but none that I’m happy with yet!

  20. Shaun,

    Yep, I use Google Analytics, although what I’m talking about with Doug is the related post links within my RSS feed (so the links you’d see in your feed reader at the foot of my posts). I’m guessing the site overlay would only work on your personal site, and not Google Reader, for instance. Regardless, I’ll have to check out the site overlay feature, as I’ve hardly used it.


    I’ll keep that one in mind for when installing others, thanks.


    WordPress is very easy to pick up, and you don’t need much coding skill at all. Plugins are mainly installed by uploading them to a specific folder, then clicking ‘activate’ in your WordPress admin.

    What will be the biggest challenge for you is making the blog look like your static website. One option is to move the static content into your WordPress theme, so everything’s kept together in one, although you’d know what’s most suitable.

    Jacob C,

    The Google search works well. Nice job.


    The ability to edit comments has proved a real winner, and it’s helpful when I’m leaving messages on blogs with it installed (those pesky typos). Thanks for linking to Vivien’s post. Nice reminder to update the code with WP upgrades too.

    Jacob S,

    Interesting that you prefer Spam Karma2 over Akismet. You mention ‘Live Comment Preview’ – that’s something I’ll definitely look into, as I’ve often thought it useful when leaving a comment on blogs that use it.


    I totally understand when other things take priority over personal design. Really looking forward to your first WordPress launch though, no pressure! ;)

    You’ll have to let me know when you find a gallery plugin you like. That’s another feature I’ve thought of using.

  21. David: Thats a very good point actually. I hadn’t thought about pages not viewed on the site itself. I think it will still work but only in RSS readers that have Javascript enabled, I know mine does and i’m sure most do but there will be a significant number that don’t which will make the figures inaccurate :(

    It should still give a useful indication though.

  22. wow this was a whole lot of plugins. i only use a handful in my site.. mainly to combat spam. but i’ll definitely be looking at these ones.

  23. Good list of plugins, though I honestly do not understand why everyone uses and propogates wpcache2, when WP Super Cache is an improvement on top of it and is much better from a technical view (the former loads the PHP engine for serving files, while the latter doesn’t).

    Also, stat plugins (except those of GAnalytics, Statcounter and other such externally hosted services) stress out the MySQL database quickly, so you’d be in trouble in case of a digg or stumbleupon success.

  24. Shaun,

    Thanks again for the tip. I’ll give it a shot.


    Upgrading always seems a chore, so thanks for mentioning the automatic upgrade plugin.


    Thankfully I don’t have much of an issue with spam, but it’s always good to know of other spam protection plugins.


    Happy to help!


    I’d looked into WP Super Cache before, but read a few comments that un-nerved me. If it’s 100% reliable, and doesn’t cause any site issues, I’d definitely use it ahead of WP Cache 2.

    Thanks for the tip about stat plugins. If there’s any great traffic that happens to come my way I’ll be sure to deactivate (although wouldn’t it only run if I request it via the admin?).

  25. David – excellent list, and almost all of them are part of my standard install.

    The only one I would take issue with would be CformsII. I know its versatile and probably the best out there – but its not as plug and play as I like it when it comes to styling.

    And I could do without the CForms logo and link back.

  26. Great list, I found that I had most of them and a few extra. A couple of my favourites are:

    Google XML Sitemaps

    Personalised 404 Error Page

    IP 2 Nation

    @Shaun – Upgrading to WordPress 2.5 will give you automatic plugin updating embedded within wordpress.

    It also gives you gravatars which I used to have as a separate plugin.

    @Vinny – Edit the cforms.php file and delete the logo & link if you don’t like them.

  27. Vinny,

    I agree how the cformsII needs some coding knowledge to change the look. For functionality however, I’ve not found any better, and highly recommend it.


    I’d not heard of IP 2 Nation before, but couldn’t access your link for some reason. I have a 404 page, which you can see here: 404. No need for a plugin, but I was having some issues with it in the past, so probably would’ve checked out your recommendation.

    Recently I’ve seen discussions warning people off Gravatars due to their security and privacy issues (which seem non-existent). I don’t know too much about it, but removed commenter avatars a month or two back.

    Thanks very much for leaving your thoughts, and also for replying to Vinny.

  28. David, I didn’t realise there was a problem with Gravatars (I was just thinking of adding them to DWB).

    And here’s another plus for Commentluv. I’m not sure if it’s been mentioned yet so apologies in advance …

    When you follow comments via email you get the pleasure of receiving links to those leaving comments direct to your box. I’ve found more than a few decent blogs just from your comment feeds alone.

    I haven’t been big on commenting in the past but that’s changing. And with more people using Commentluv, the better it’ll be.

    So here’s to Commentluv and spreading the love.

  29. David you should get Chunk Urls for WordPress – it shortens peoples urls so they don’t go outside the comment box. If you notice in this post, there is a big blue link coming out of the comment area.

  30. Apologies, the previous link for IP 2 Nation was incorrect, here is the correct one.


    I get people from all over the world on my blog, this plugin puts a mini flag next to their name when they leve comments.

    I’d not heard of a privacy issue wth gravatar, now that automattic owns gravatar and wordpress (of course), I’d hope they’d close any security holes.

  31. Cat,

    Here’s a comment on the blog of Jeremy Adam Davis that mentions Gravatars and privacy. It’s the first I’ve heard about it, but interesting all the same. Great to know you’ve found some decent blogs from my comment feeds. The readers here certainly publish some excellent articles.


    Web links flowing outside the comment box was on my mind, so thanks for mentioning the WP Chunk plugin. Winner.


    Good of you to correct the link. I’ve seen that used on a few blogs, and wondered how it was done.

  32. Thanks David. It was an interesting read. In saying that, I agree more with your reasons for not using them (I read all the comments), than that comment. Maybe I should be more wary, but I just can’t believe that guy can do much damage with the little information he’d get from my signing up for gravatars (which I already have for other blogs, just not DWB).

  33. Great post David.

    I love the Commentsluv plugin, and in addition find the keywordluv plugin a fine additon to the commentsluv plugin.

    It gives you a keyword related link to your website after you’ve commented… very cool. It’s a perfect win-win situation for someone willing to comment on a blog.


  34. I use most of the above. I also use an Excerpt Editor plugin.

    Steve: I have 2 blogs, both with custom designs. The one at http://www.jigsawinternet.com/blog only uses WordPress for the blog and was designed to fit in with the rest of the site which is a static site at the moment. And also http://www.fluffypig.com which is fully powered by WordPress. Both ways are relatively easy once you understand WordPress a little, the documents on their own website and very helpful. I have got ‘creating custom WordPress templates’ down on my list of tutorials to blog about over at fluffypig.com in the future though!

  35. these days i’ve been upgrade to WP 2.5, i think this is a non recommendable move since many plugin seems not working with this WP version yet; nice list you have david, btw why not changing from wp-cache to wp-supercache, the supercache work better (n faster) IMHO.

  36. Cat,

    I think you’re right (about privacy issues with Gravatar). I signed up for it, even though I don’t show them here. It’s not a big concern, just thought I’d bring it up.


    I like the idea behind keyword luv, but am not sure how effective it would be. I found that ‘dofollow’ attracted A LOT of comments purely for the link back. So many messages were left with keyword-rich names. I find it a little impersonal, and the comments weren’t much more than two word responses.


    Excerpt editor? Hmmm. Will have to see what it’s about. Thanks for replying to Steve.


    I’m pretty sure all the main plugins are now compatible with WP 2.5. As for Super Cache, I was warned off it in the past, but perhaps for reasons that have since been remedied.

  37. Excerpt Editor is brilliant.

    I spent ages reading the WordPress codex and playing around with the excerpt tags but found it slightly limited and couldn’t get it exactly how I wanted it.

    I tried a few plugins and this was the best by far (http://www.laptoptips.ca/projects/wordpress-excerpt-editor/). It allows you to make custom excerpts for individual posts which is great and it dosn’t strip the HTML from them. You can also have your excerpts displaying differently on your home page than your archives or search etc…

  38. Hi Shawn,

    I’ve also been playing around with excerpts this week. After fussing with plugins, I finally gave up and hard coded WP (depends on using ‘more’ ). It also doesn’t strip the HTML. And since upgrading to 2.5, the more tags don’t send out partial posts in feeds (David pointed that out to me).

    What it doesn’t do (unless I’m wrong) is allow the latest post to display in full.

    But the messing around after it’s all in is minimal so I guess I’m ok with it.

    (off to read about your plugin)

  39. cat: You can have the latest post displaying in full and all others as an excerpt by using an “if ($count == 1)” display the_content, else display the_excerpt.

    Thats how I did it and had it working fine, I just didn’t like having no control at all over the excerpt.

  40. Thanks Shaun. I’ve made a note to try and see if I can get it to work. At the moment I don’t know where to add that in.

    Actually, today I got so frustrated with plugins, I jumped in and started on the guts of WP. Because unless it’s straight forward code, I usually have other people do it.

    But my ‘other people’ is plum wore out.

  41. David,

    A great list. I was already using some of the ones listed, but it’s great to have the basis of a ‘definitive’ list from someone who has spent longer in the blogosphere.

    Thank you!

  42. Shaun, Cat,

    Great to read your continued discussion. Thanks.


    I’ll definitely have a look at the ‘slimstat’ upgrade.


    You’re very welcome. My installed plugins change quite often. For instance, since publishing this post I no longer use Daniel’s ‘homepage excerpts’ plugin. Instead I’ve chosen to display all my homepage articles as excerpts, as I feel it tightens the design a little.

  43. Apologies if this has already been mentioned, i havn’t read the comments again and I may have missed it previously. But I have just started using Plugin Central (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/plugin-central/)

    It allows you to install plugins directly from the dashboard so no need for FTP and even better, you don’t even need to download the files to your computer. You just enter the url to the zip file and it installs it automatically from that!

    You can also install plugins to more than one blog and even move them from one blog to another!

    It makes updating much easier and you can even update all your plugins at the same time.

  44. My Favorite plugins are feedburner feedsmith, akismet of course and zdstats my homemade GPL statistics plugin for wordpress.

  45. These plugins are awesome, for an already awesome blog software. I want to point out that it’s just as important to uninstall unneeded plugins, as it is to install the right plugins. Some plugins may conflict with each other and cause problems or performance issues.

    Also, if your site is getting Dugg or Slashdotted, you may want to disable some of the more dynamic content plugins.

    I also nominate Defensio and Google Analyticator as really good plugins. Defensio yields me better spam blocking than Akismet and Google Analyticator provides me precise control on my blog stats.



  46. This is a good post. I am planning to publish my own wordpress based blog in December so some of these resources will come in handy I am sure. Thank you for the post.

  47. bubble,

    How’re you getting on with your WordPress blog? Still on track for next month? I hope it’s going well.


    I’ve not actually had much need for such a filter, as the commenters who have previously had comments moderated are very good in that respect. Thanks for bringing it to my attention, though.

  48. I also have many of the plugins that you mention. I really like Who Sees Ads plugin for my adsense. It makes inserting adsense into my posts so easy.

  49. Hi David

    I was wondering do you also use a plugin for the google custom search you have at the top of your site ? I’ve tried a dozen plugins but can’t find the way to have a pop-up style search results like you have.

    Thanks for your time.

  50. These are definitely some of the best wordpress plugins today. thank you for sharing. I also like google analytics, tubepress and sticky post plugin too.

  51. Hi David,
    I’m a newbie to wordpress, and was excited about the cforms plugin… but I’m battling to install it, any suggestions?

    I downloaded the latest version, created a zip, and when I press install it says that its already there, and that my install failed… but when I go to plugin it’s not there… so frustrating!

  52. Emma,

    To install the plugin:

    – download the plugin to your computer
    – unzip the file
    – upload the folder resulting from unzipping the downloaded file to your ‘wp-content/plugins’ directory on your site
    – when file is uploaded go to the plugins page in the WordPress admin area and activate from there.

  53. Thanks Karl.

    Emma, if you’re still having problems my advice is to ask on the WordPress forums. The moderators and forum members have helped me out in the past, and you shouldn’t have to wait too long for a reply.

  54. Thanks for posting your list of best wp plugins. I’m using the commentluv and subscribe to comments plugin. I also use the google xml sitemaps and all in one seo plugins.


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