7 Must Have WordPress Plugins I Cannot Live Without

We all have our favorite WordPress plugins – some are quite niche that we may only use on a site or two when the circumstances permit and there are other great WordPress Plugins that we use more freely as they often have a more generic purpose that is required on most types of websites.

Over the past three to four years using WordPress, after many years of coding, I have my little arsenal of WordPress plugins that I often pre-load with a new install.  The exceptions being GravityView, which is dependent on the type of site I am building and whether I need to present any form data back to the users.  Also, ThirstyAffiliates, which is obviously only used on my affiliate sites and finally Lucky Orange which is used when I really need to study the movements of a site’s visitors.

More recently, I have had to turn my back on my go-to backup plugin – UpdraftPlus – as I have been migrating some of my sites to my favorite Managed WordPress Host, FlyWheel.  FlyWheel has the backup infrastructure in place as part of their managed hosting features (all included in the $15 monthly fee) making UpdraftPlus redundant.  I still get to use UpdraftPlus on some of my other sites and almost insist my friend’s and client’s use it on their sites to.

Anyhow… here are my seven favorite plugins that I certainly could not survive without. 

Backup & Restoration Plugin

1. Updraft Plus

UpdraftPlus is the only backup plugin I use on my own personal sites.  UpdraftPlus is the industry leader in the plugin space (Highest rated at WordPress.org) with some notable contenders like iThemes BackUpBuddy & Securi.

UpdraftPlus has been noted to backup sites as large as 100GB – although they do remind you that your host needs to have the capability.  For most people like you and I, our sites are a walk in the park.

UpdraftPlus lets you schedule your backups to your chosen location, both locally and remote. It is multi-site compatible and UpdraftPlus makes it easy to restore, recover & migrate your site when you need to.


Best Alternative: BackupBuddy

Caching Plugin

2. WP Rocket

Hands down the best caching plugin that I have used and I have used plenty.

There is often plenty of debate about whether purchasing a caching plugin has any benefit when there are so many great free caching plugins out there and there is some point in this.

I actually use WP Fastest Cache for simple, no frills, no outside of the box type websites.  It is perfect BUT as soon as I have a site that is resource intensive, uses extensive Javascript/Jquery/Ajax etc, I find that WP Rocket gives me the precise control to a manage these elements at a Global, page and post level. 

Their documentation and support is also the best in this niche.

Free Alternative: WP Fastest Cache

Forms PluginS

I am cheating and grouping these two plugins together as I use them hand-in-hand on most sites.

Gravity Forms for data collection and database storage, registration & mail integration etc and then I use Gravity View to provide a front end view of data that needs to be collected on the front-end of your site AND presented on the frond end.  This is an example of how I have used GravityView.


Gravity Forms is the most notable forms plugin, for good reason but has some strong competition with WP Forms, Ninja Forms, Caldera Forms and Formidable Forms

For me, I choose Gravity Forms because the third party integrations suit my needs to a T.

Best Alternative: Ninja Forms or WP Forms

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As I just mentioned, Gravity View allows you to cleanly present data on the front end of your site.  It could be a list e.g. Business Listing or a profile (resumes, user profile, event etc).  I don’t think any plugin has made something so difficult so easy.  You can even add multiple filtering options to your data.

I was sold on GravityView as soon as I saw the song and dance number on the main page.  If you haven’t seen it, check it out here.

Affiliate Plugin

4. Thirsty Affiliates PRO

ThirstyAffiliates actually has a free version of the plugin that provides a lot of the core functionality however for the $49 for a single site (12 mths support/updates), $79 (3 site) or $149 Unlimited it is worth the price of admission.  The time I save managing links is ten fold – easily and the additional capability goes without saying.  But I will anyway…

The pro version not only allows you to cloak links (ie pretty links) it also adds another layer of intuitiveness where you can automate keyword linking, utilize the Amazon API, setup specific links based on Geolocation (after all why show a deal that is US only to your visitors in Australia and vice versa), detailed statistics reports and you can even schedule links…the list goes on. 

Best Alternative:  Pretty Links

Optimization Plugin

5. Lucky Orange

There was a post recently in one of the Divi Facebook groups asking what are your latest favorite plugins.  Others had gone down the WP Rocket and Imagify path (two of my favorites) so I added this plugin, Luck Orange.  Great name.  Great Plugin.

First advice – just trial it… 14 days free and you can usually extend this if you want additional play time.  In a nutshell, it records the movements of your visitors from clicks to heat maps so that you can optimize your site to meet your visitors’ needs.  The analytics are detailed and you can even talk to the user via chat whilst they look at your site (with permission of course).  A bit creepy but can be used well if to genuinely help or seek feedback but I would avoid doing so to push sales – that would be spammy.  Highly recommend taking this one for a test drive.

Best Alternative: Crazy Egg

Analytics Plugin

6. Monster Insights

Fantastic plugin for the analytically challenged – actually that’s a bit harsh.  I am an analyst by trade so enjoy digging deep into Google Analytics but having MonsterInsights on my site allows me to have data at my fingertips when I am working on the site.  More a convenience than anything else.

If you are not up for analysing data in Google Analytics or creating custom dashboardsin Google’s data studio then MonsterInsights does all the heavy lifting for you.  Insightful, Simple and within your WordPress Dashboard.


Free Alternative: Google Analytics Dashboard for WordPress

SEO Plugin


SEOPress is one of the newer SEO plugins on the block.  With the WordPress SEO Plugin space having been dominated primarily by Yoast and All in One SEO Pack it is good to see others marking their mark – particularly The SEO Framework and also my preferred, SEOPress.

SEOPress is a feature rich SEO Plugin that still remains lean and fast.  It has the core features of the other SEO Plugins and also includes Google Structured Data, keyword suggestions, a backlink checker, Google Analytics stats & Google My Business Meta data.  You need to check out all of the features here

Everything included for the ridiculously low price of $39 (AND that includes Unlimited Licenses).

Best Alternatives: All in One SEO or The SEO Framework

What are your favorite plugins that you can’t live without?  Do you use any of the seven plugins that I have listed?  IF so, very keen to hear your thoughts?

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