I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, but I’ve recently had to build a new WordPress site from scratch, and I’ve also had a couple of friends ask my advice on how to get their own sites up and running – so I was spurred into action.
This list is my ten “essential” plugins, that I think every wordpress site needs, and they all get installed straight away on any new site I build, so here they are in no particular order…
Akismet checks your comments against an online web service to see if they look like spam or not – and if you ask me it does a great job. If your site gets in any way popular then you will need this plugin. It comes bundled with WordPress so there’s really no excuse for not enabling it.
Google Analytics for WordPress
A great plugin from the WordPress expert Joost de Valk – this allows you to easily add Google Analytics tracking code to your blog. You can download it here.
Google XML Sitemaps
Probably the most difficult to set up properly of the lot, Headspace2 describes itself as a “meta-data manager on steriods”. By default WordPress generates meta descriptions and keywords itself, but it often can’t do a great job (After all – you can probably summarise your article better than a computer – right?). Headspace2 lets you set sensible defaults for page titles, and meta-tags, and then offers you to override them for each post allowing you to put in meaningful descriptions, and keywords, and set SEO-friendly titles.
This plugin offers an easy way for you to control your robot meta tags. For the uninitiated this means you can choose which of your archives (Date, Author, Category, Tags etc.) can be indexed by Google – allowing you to choose the scheme that makes most sense or your site navigation.
This is a fairly simple little plugin that takes care of hiding bits of information in the background of your site that might otherwise make your site easier to attack – and no one wants to deal with a hacked site do they! Get it here.
Another simple plugin – it adds social bookmarking buttons to your post so that your readers can share your musings with their friends, colleagues, and the rest of the Internet too. It offers a great selection of social sites, so you’ll be sure to find a set that match your business.
This plugin allows your readers to subcribe to updates via email – receiving an email every time there is a new post or page. This is an essential plugin if your audience is non-technical and wouldn’t know their RSS from their elbow …
Subscribe To Comments
If people comment on your posts, then they’re starting a dialogue – one that you’ll want to continue. This plugin lets people receive notifications when other comments are made against a post they’ve commented on. There are other options for this sort of functionality (Disqus, Intense Debate etc.) – but this is a good option that works well.
An excellent tool that lets you join up your twitter following with your blog, turning blog posts into automatic tweets, and letting you feature your tweets in the sidebar of your blog. You can get the plugin from here – although I’d also recommend checking out my previous post about how to track your twitter traffic so you can tag the tweets it produces with Google Analytics and you can see how effective it’s being.
If you get all of these installed and set up you’ll have the basic of an SEO friendly blog which will allow your readers to interact with you how they want – now you just have to write engaging content!