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10 WordPress plugins that every website needs… and others that may come in handy

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WordPress is an incredibly powerful platform on which to build any website (read why here). It’s got a lightweight installation so that it doesn’t come with anything extra that it doesn’t need, but there are many incredible plugins which have been developed over the years which are now so useful that as soon as you get your WordPress site up and running, you should look to install these plugins to make your website even more functional and usable:

1. All-in-one SEO Pack

This plugins has many options for renaming titles, adding keywords, descriptions to your pages and posts. It works pretty good straight out of the box, and you may want to tweak a couple of settings here and there, but this plugin is great for getting your site recognised by all the search engines.

I actually now recommend WordPress SEO by Yoast instead of AIOSEOP. It is far superior and has more powerful options.

2. Auto Tags

Have you ever had trouble trying to think what tags to write? Worry no more. Not only does this plugin automatically add tags to your post by reading what you’ve written, but I’d say that it’s also better than me, because it reads it and looks for what’s important to search engines. You can always add to what it suggests if you like, but it’s a great starting point.

3. Contact Form 7

This plugin makes neat little contact forms so that your readers can get in touch with you, without ever having to disclose an email address. It’s as simple as pasting a piece of code onto a page.

4. FD Feedburner Plugin

Having your RSS feed readily available is great, but converting that feed into a Feedburner feed is even better because it allows your readers to subscribe by other methods that just RSS, for those who aren’t yet on the RSS bandwagon, or have since jumped off!

5. Google XML Sitemaps

These days, it’s essential to ensure that your website is listed on major search engines and that you submit a sitemap so that it knows how you value all of the different pages and to give a complete listing of your website. This plugin creates the sitemaps for you very easily.

6. Sociable

Sociable is a simple little plugin that has become extremely important in this past year or so as social media has exploded. This plugin puts a configurable list of buttons at the bottom of your post, so that people can share your articles with their friends using whatever service they prefer, whether that be MySpace, Facebook, Twitter or even some of the more bizarre ones.

7. Subscribe To Comments

This adds a little checkbox after the comment posting box, so that those who leave comments on your post can receive an email when the post is further updated by others. This encourages commenters to return and continue in conversations and discussions.

8. WordPress Database Backup

While we hope that you would never need this plugin, accidents and crimes do happen, and you could find yourself with a very broken website very easily. I set this plugin to run in automatic mode, so that it sends me a backup of my database on a regular basis. That way, if something ever does go wrong, a restore is possible.

9. WPTouch iPhone Theme

With the exponential rise of internet-ready mobile devices and iPhones in particular, you should be preparing your site to be viewed on potentially thousands of small screens, where your standard view is not as quick to load, nor as easy to navigate. The guys over at Brave New Code have done a truly professional job of making a mobile template for your device that doesn’t interfere with your standard installation. To see it in action, just check out my site on your mobile phone!

10. Yet Another Related Posts Plugin

YARPP looks through your site and finds similar posts, and places them at the bottom of each post, so that after finishing reading an article, your readers are inclined to read about other similar topics that may interest them.

Other useful plugins

While the above plugins are an absolute must for any WordPress installation, there’s some others that I find very useful that perhaps don’t suit every single site, but could be a great addition to your site:

Backtype Connect – Show other comments about your blog from across the web
Easy AdSense – Best AdSense manager for AdSense users
FeedWordPress - Create posts from any RSS feed
Google Analytics for WordPress – Keep track of your site stats with GA
Highlight Author Comments – Distinguish your comments from others
Post Teaser – Entice readers to read the full post from the front page
Recently on Last.FM – Show readers what you’ve been listening to
TweetMeMe Button – Encourage readers to RT your article
What Would Seth Godin Do – Encourage new readers to subscribe to your RSS feed
WordTwit - Automatically post your new blog posts to Twitter
WP-reCAPTCHA - Fight spam by adding reCAPTCHA to comment forms

Do you have any plugins that I’ve missed that you think are essential to new WordPress installations?

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Dave has been tinkering with WordPress for many years, and he now shares his WordPress knowledge here on Do It WIth WordPress to help others realise its impressive power. He can also be hired to help with your WordPress needs. Dave, who is British, is married to his best friend, Marti, with whom he has a beautiful daughter, Ellie. When he's not dabbling with WordPress, he's probably eating Triscuits or hummus, watching an indie film or British TV show, spending time with friends or family, or exploring the world.

8 Comments

  1. I’m currently using all but the Auto Tags. I’ve never heard of that but it sounds really nice, I’ll be checking it out. Sometimes I worry that I’ll have too many plugins and slow down my blog.

    • Yes, I’ve actually moved away from using Auto Tags, because you’re relying on computers to do the tagging for you, whereas really, you should be doing it yourself, so that you can really target and categorise your post. I’ve also been trimming down the number of plugins I use for the same reason and it’s really helped to speed up my blog.

      • I had installed the sharebar plugin which puts a cool little floating bar on the side of your article encouraging people to share on their social networking sites and it killed my speed. Every time a new page loaded that plugin had to get info from Twitter, Facebook, Digg, etc. so that it could show how many times that particulat post had been liked, tweeted, dugg, etc. It is a cool plugin and nice because sometimes people don’t read the whole article to get down to the bottom where sharing icons usually are, but it was just slowing me down too much. I figured that it wouldn’t do much good to have people share my site if it took 10 seconds for the page to load.

        • Yes I too had the same problem with Sharebar, so I got rid of it. I went with sharing buttons at the bottom of the article as well. My theory was that if people liked the article enough to share it, chances are they’d read the whole thing, or at least search for the buttons to share, which are almost always at the end of the article.

  2. Nice list of plugins but Auto Tags is what i was looking for so many days. Have to check that, will it work with my website.

    • There’s no reason why it wouldn’t work with your site. It’s kind of a cheats way out. I’ve avoided using it these days as I think it’s better to hand write your tags.

  3. Nice list of plugins, one thing you can add is some plugin to back up databases which I think very important and I think Google Analytics should be given more prominence especially if you are looking to expand your website

    • Agreed. I actually updated this list in a more recent post, where I included Google Analytics for WordPress and WP-DB-Backup, but I’ve realised that as my experience grows, the plugins that I deem essential evolve, based on my own capabilities to code their features and a broadened understanding of what is and what is not important.

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