Top 12 Essential Wordpress Plugins
Plugins are the backbone to a self-hosted WordPress blog. They help with SEO, sharing buttons, widgets, video embedding, audio embedding, Google Sitemaps and so much more.
Wordpress is amazing in itself considering how easy it is to use, but Plugins make the webmaster's job EVEN easier.
I've spent years trying to find the perfect plugins for my websites. I've gone through a lot of crappy ones, have stuck with a lot of great ones and I'm always finding new ones.
The plugins I'm about to recommend are the top 12 that I put on EVERY WordPress blog that I create because they are the essential plugins to get your WordPress functional. There are other plugins that are specific to genre's or depending on what you're trying to do with your website, but these are just the basics.
The best part about these plugins are, they're all free.
1. All in One SEO Pack. There are dozens of SEO plugins and I have used several of them. But as much as I tried to branch away from All in One SEO Pack, the more I realized that it was a mistake. All in One SEO Pack is simple & effective, all you'll ever need from an SEO plugin.
2. CommentLuv. This great plugin gives a little back to your commenters. It shows a little 'commentluv' icon under the commenting box below your post so that whenever someone puts in their URL, it shows their latest post, giving them some extra exposure and a nice little link back.
3. cbnet Ping Optimizer. Every time you 'update' your blog after publishing it, it sends a ping to the search engines, if you do it too much, you're tagged as a ping spammer, which is bad. This plugin prevents that from happening.
4. Comment Redirect by Yoast. This is a nice feature, as it directs all new people who leave a comment on your blog to a specific page that you designate. It could be a brand new page that simply says 'thanks for commenting!' or you may want to redirect them to another page on your site. I use it to thank my new commenter and to encourage them to follow me on Twitter & FB. This page is not seen in the menu, only when a new person comments.
5. Contact Form 7. This is just a really easy contact form solution. Most themes don't come with a contact form already installed (unless you purchase a theme that does come with it), but this is easy to customize and easy to use. You can also make multiple contact forms.
6. Digg Digg. This is a great social sharing plugin. You can either have it as a floating sidebar (which is recommended, as it stays with the reader the whole time and allows them to share whenever they want), or you can have the buttons appears on the top or bottom of your post. Or you can allow for all three or just two or just one. It has A LOT of sharing options and is very customizable. I've tried a lot of sharing plugins, but this is by far the best. It's fantastic!
7. Do Follow. WordPress is naturally no follow in comments, so this plugin takes that no follow away and makes it do follow.
8. Google XML Sitemaps. Having a sitemap on your site is important for Google to properly crawl your website. With this plugin, all you have to do is install and you're done! It automatically creates the sitemaps for you without you having to life a finger!
9. Twitter @Anywhere Plus. This plugin puts a little box at the end of your post which allows people to click one button and share your post immediately to Twitter. It's really helpful for those that want a real simple click.
10. What Would Seth Godin Do. This plugin displays a custom welcome message to new visitors and old, it's completely customizable and a nice little addition to your blog to make your visitors feel welcomed.
11. Custom About Author. This plugin displays an author profile at the end of every post. There are options to create profiles for custom authors; which is great for guest bloggers who do not have an account on your WordPress site. This is also great because you can add in your social networks, which most other author boxes don't have. Plus, this custom author box plugin is SUPER easy to use and customize.
Yes, having a lot of plugins does have the potential to slow down your website, but it does also depend on the quality of your server/host. I have about 26 plugins (and counting) on this blog alone and it doesn't seem to effect the speed too much (if at all).
There are a ton of other useful plugins, so, what say you?:
What are YOUR favorite plugins?