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:
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?