The anatomy of 16 great SEO blogs

logoFor those of you who’ve not been following my blogging journey over the last few months (Welcome, I’ve been waiting for you) I recently wrote a piece reviewing the first 12 months of

Amongst other things I listed a couple of goals for 2013, one of which was to move from the platform to my own hosted site (and this is it!). I think that the offering is exception at no cost but there were a few limitations I couldn’t live with any longer.

Thankfully, with some gentile guidance from Chris at hitreach the transition was pretty smooth so massive thanks to him  for being so supportive and understanding..


One of the most daunting parts of moving to your own wordpress site for those with little experience for me has got to be the plugins. I mean, you often know what it is that you’re wanting to do and there’s a plugin that’ll do just that, but if there’s one there’s probably 100. Which is the best?

On the other hand there are plugins for things you never even thought you needed, but you do. How do you find these?

According to the WordPress plugins page there are currently just over 24,000 plugins available for your blog.

Holy crap.


What I decided to do was to simply ask some smart folks what they were using, I figured if it’s good enough for them I should probably at least consider it so I duly shot of an email to a few industry peers.

Responses came back within minutes. (damn, those guys are good)

I’ve collated the responses from 16 individual sites (almost 200 plugins between them) in this posts and tried to give some insight into the plugins they’re using and to see if there are any obvious choices I should be making for my new home.

I did this mainly for myself, but since you’re here, I hope it can be of some use to you also 🙂

Number of plugins

First things first, how many plugins is a reasonable amount? It’s very tempting when you see all the shiny things on offer to fill your boots and just get anything that looks interesting, have a play, and then probably never use it again.


Quite a broad range as you can see, the site with the lest number of plugins has just 3, whilst the one with the most has a huge 25 in total. On average most are sitting around the 5 – 10 range which feels about right, but at the end of the day I guess you should only have as many plugins as you need.

Plugins by Category

The next thing I was interested to see was exactly what all these plugins were doing. Overall there were 130 distinct plgins being used and I simply didn’t have time to categorise them all. Instead, I took the 30 most popular plugins and broadly categorised them into 10 distinct areas.


Perhaps not too surprising that the category of WordPress management which includes things such as redirects, backups and coding plugins comes in top of the tree here. Even less surprising is that in a survey of SEO blogs, the SEO category does quite well.

Top 5 plugins

One thing which became clear early on as I was collecting this information was that a handful of plugins were extremely popular within the group. The top plugin features on almost 70 % off the blogs whilst the 5 most prevalent is still featured on more than 40% of them.

  • Akismet (Antispam) Featured on 69% of blogs

We can’t stand spam. Who can? You have better things to do with your life than deal with the underbelly of the internet. Automattic Kismet (Akismet for short) is a collaborative effort to make comment and trackback spam a non-issue and restore innocence to blogging, so you never have to worry about spam again

WordPress SEO is the most complete WordPress SEO plugin that exists today for users. It incorporates everything from a snippet preview and page analysis functionality that helps you optimize your pages content, images titles, meta descriptions and more to XML sitemaps, and loads of optimization options in between.

  • Digg Digg (Social) Featured on 44% of blogs

Make it easy for your readers to share your articles. The Digg Digg bar makes it as easy as pie.

The Google Analytics for WordPress plugin allows you to track your blog easily and with lots of metadata.

If you value simplicity and flexibility, Contact Form 7 is a great choice. It allows you to flexibly design the form and mail. You can manage multiple contact forms as well. In addition, it supports many features  including AJAX submitting, CAPTCHA, Akismet spam filtering, file uploading, etc.

Other popular plugins

Aside from those listed above there were quite a few categories where a number of plugins seemed to be quite popular and are probably worth considering:


Big thanks to the folks who took the time out to share their plugins with me, they’re all people I respect and have a lot of time for their own blogs, you should check them out…

Alessio Madeyski – Chris Dyson – Chris Gilchrist – Dan Shure – Emma Still – Geoff Kenyon – Jason Acidre – Jon Cooper – Kane Jameson – Michael Kovis – Nick Eubanks – Patrick Hathaway – Wayne Barker – Rand Fishkin – Sean Revell – Ryan Mclaughlin

Feel free to chip in with any plugins I’ve missed in the comments below guys, always looking to hear recommendations to enhance this blog.

Post by Gaz Copeland


  1. Yo man, really like the redesign. Looking very slick now.

    Are there any plugins that were only used by one person? I think that would interest the class?

    • Definitely. Only 1 or 2 plugins I use were listed on here, so there’s some gems hiding.

      • StokedSEO says:

        Hey both, thanks for stopping by!

        Actually over half of the near 200 plugins are only used by one Blog, which was totally surprising. There were just too many for me to mention!

        It does give me an idea to show the spread of plugins though so thanks for that, was looking for an excuse to get a pie chart in there 🙂

  2. Hey Gaz, good round up. Good choice going for Genesis, I am a fan. They have a load of good plugins they developed. In particular I like Simple Edits

    Among other things, it allows you to replace the annoying WP copyright statement in the footer (without getting down and dirty in the code).

  3. Never mind all that! How many people kept the “Hello Dolly” plugin activated – that’s where the real data lies!

    But seriously, nice redesign. Seen a lot of people using the Genesis Framework, how have you found it so far?

    • StokedSEO says:

      Yeah credit to Chris for Genesis, he slapped it on for me when he built the test site. He’s a nice chap really.

  4. Hey Gaz!

    nice post. Thanks for asking me to participate. It was a pleasure, and not only for the 100 pounds you gave me.

    take care.

  5. Hey Gaz –

    The new website looks great.

    I’m with Sean, I would be curious to know who the plugin outliers are and who’s using them?


    • StokedSEO says:

      100 + of the near 200 plugins were only featured on one site, just too many to mention!

      Thanks for stopping by Nick

  6. Cheers Gaz

    I’m surprised only 63% use Yoast! I thought this plugin was industry standard??!

    • Lots of people haven’t made the transition from All-in-one since that’s what most of us were comfortable with up until 2011/12 or whenever Yoast was released. I didn’t realize until recently how simple the transition is from All-in-one to Yoast.

  7. The new site looks sweet! Would love to see more adoption of Disqus, but at least it got a mention here.

    • StokedSEO says:

      Hi Ryan,

      Yeah I definitely want to check out Disqus soon, I think Alessio has it and it seems pretty sweet.

  8. I forgot to say, Gaz. congrats on the new blog design.

  9. Hey Gaz, thanks for sharing these results (and including me). The top 5 plugins used don’t surprise me, but I’m with Sean on seeing some that were used only once. Really like the new skin on your blog as well!

    BTW, what is up with paying Alessio so much? I got screwed…. I did it for free!

    • StokedSEO says:

      To be honest, even Rand did it for free. It’s only Alessio who got paid, but he’s the main attraction on the post right? so it’s money well spent….


  10. This really is a great list. WordPress is our favorite. Thanks for posting!