It really cannot be understated how important it is for blogs to have installed a majority of the essential WordPress plugins.
Unless you operate a private, unlisted blog that gets no traffic, this is paramount!
Especially if you own a business and operate your blog as your central hub, getting hundreds or thousands of hits per day… then of course you may already know and have these essential WordPress plugins installed.
One of the advantages of using WordPress for blogging is its flexibility and functionality.
While this gives us a vehicle to add fantastic feature rich content, and create a traffic ready and track-able central hub, it also opens doors for some destructive forces.
But those forces can also be dealt with and catastrophes averted by the use of these few essential WordPress plugins.
This list is one which makes my blog more secure, and as potentially high ranking as it cam be be!
My Top Essential WordPress Plugins
I have categorized these and then put two stars by the ones I think you can’t live without no matter what, a single star by the other essentials, and then there are some extras that are still very highly rated.
Blog Security Plugins
These are absolutely the essential wordpress plugins because they will safeguard your blog against damage or loss by spambots or hackers. If you do nothing else, install these plugins first!
Akismet – Without a doubt the most necessary (why WordPress.com includes it by default). Any blog can be targeted by seriously bad spambots that will put links to very unseemly places on your blog unless you take measures to stop them!
Conditional CAPTCHA for WordPress – keeps your Spam folder from filling up with hundreds of spam caught by Akismet – as you do need to check here for occasional false positives, it is really a chore when you have pages and pages of trash to sort out! Let this plugin do the dirty work for you.
There are other similar plugins but you should at least have one that will act as a layer on top of Akismet which doesn’t catch all spambots! One that I use is the Growmap Anti-Spambot Plugin which asks your commentator to click a check box before they are allowed to submit their comment.
WordPress Database Backup – This is so essential in the event that by some catastrophe, corruption or unforeseen eventÂ you lose your blog. You can automatically set this plugin to back up your posts and content on an automatic schedule. This is also easily manually accomplished via the click of a button. Very important to back up before upgrades and blog moves!
And here are some that I have not used but that you might also consider -
Bad Behavior is one that I have not tried, but could prevent denial of service attacks by preventing bad bots from ever even reaching your site.
But a list of top essential wordpress plugins would not be complete for just enhancing security when there is so much more functionality available!
SEO Enhancing Plugins
A list of essential wordpress plugins would not be complete if they didn’t assist you as one of the keys to improving your SEO.
Google XML Sitemap – The purpose of site maps is getting your pages crawled. This file is used by Google to crawl your pages. In other words, it will help your pages to be seen within a coulple of days.
All in One SEO Pack – Allows you to ensure that the most important parts (tags) of your page are set for the maximum possible SEO. For example, if your title is worded in a way so not to emphasize your keyword phrase in the beginning, you can edit the <TITIE> tag here. Some themes do supply this functionality but if you have one that does not, then I highly suggest you have this.
Google Analytics for WordPress – you really don’t want to go without knowing how your blog is doing with traffic Another alternative for this which I also use is the StatCounter plugin; it gives you all the same statistics as Analytics, but right in your dashboard and in a much easier to read format.
SEO Pressor is a seriously powerful SEO companion, doing the job of an SEO coach sitting within your editing session giving you crucial pointers for your on page SEO. It has helped me to finally reach Google’s page One for some very competitive keywords. with the help of some content syndication to accomplish the off page SEO.
There are a few more important ones to go in this category.
First is the Broken Link Checker which will find dead links whose destinations have after time been moved or deleted, whether in comments or in your old posts.
One more optional plugin will enhances your SEO by giving readers a reason to stay longer, the ‘Outbrain’ plugin. You see the icons at the bottom of this post which link to other posts here? That’s it! I actually see lots of traffic originate from those buttons!
Now if you aren’t into social media (what? then possibly the last few social media boosting plugins won’t be as essential for you, but truly, if you are looking to own a high traffic blog, then these are just as necessary as the initial few for your SEO if you understand the impact of social media on your SEO.
Social Media Boosting Plugins
These plugins will ultimately help your SEO by boosting your social visibility, and the benefits that come with getting comments, votes and back links.
Digg Digg – great for getting people to syndicate your content while reading your post! Buttons are bigger and there is a floating option as well. This is still my favorite social bookmarking tool for it’s flexibility, and it includes everything from LinkedIn to the Facebook Like button.
Comment Luv – For anyone commenting on blogs (especially ones with the ‘do-follow’ plugin installed), this is a great way to thank them by giving them a valuable back link to their own. Comment Luv works with their blogs feed to post a link to their latest post under their comments.
Do Follow – This is a plugin that removes the default setting ofÂ ‘No Follow’ from your blog so that your links and commentators links are followed by the search engine crawlers, boosting your SEO (as long as your destination links are relevant) and theirs.
Subscribe to Comments – This allows people who have commented on your blog to know when you have replied – a great way to engage your readers and keep them coming back!
Facebook Fan Box puts a Facebook Fan page box on your side bar, and includes a like button.Â But there is a new breed of plugins that use the XFBML interfaces that allow plugins to enable users (once they ‘Like’ your page) to interacts with the blog via their Facebook account, like adding a comment to the profile post which includes a link to your post……
Although a bit more complicated, the Simple Facebook Connect (I know, an oxymoron) is a base plugin that allows ad-ons that provide a more feature rich environment. More about this (where I found out about it) is at HyperArts How to Add Facebook’s XFBML Like Button & Social Plugins to Your WordPress Posts). So why don’t you see one of these on my page you may wonder? Well, for now I am still working on my Fan page!
Going Beyond the Top Essential WordPress Plugins
Ok, that about does it. But there is just one more that I think bears mention. This plugin isn’t as essential depending on your blog’s theme, but if you have one which displays the entire post inline, it helps with aesthetics and readability- WP Limit Posts Automatically
So, if you do not have all of these essential wordpress plugins, then go get them now and improve your blog!