Regardless of whether you are running a simple personal blog or using WordPress as a full-featured corporate content management system (CMS), you should seriously consider adding all of these plugins.
These plugins help you control spam, optimize your site for search engines, track site visits and other metrics, allow you to display related posts throughout your site based on what each user is currently reading, provide a mobile optimized version of your site, allow users to join your site with the existing social networking and/or email ID’s, and more.
1. Add to Any – Add Social Networking Share and Email
This plugin lets you easily add links for your users to share your articles on tons of social networking sites and through email. You can choose to highlight certain social networking sites and then have all the rest under a popup windows.
2. Akismet – Stop Comment SPAM
Akismet checks your comments against the Akismet web service to see if they look like spam or not. You need a WordPress.com API key to use it. You can review the spam it catches under “Comments.”
3. All in One SEO Pack – Optimize Your Site for Search Engines
Out-of-the-box SEO for your WordPress blog.
It allow you to change how the titles of your posts display, can automatically build meta descriptions and keywords based on the assigned categories and/or tags for your posts, and even lets you specifically set the post title, description, and keywords for individual posts or pages. It has some ther nice built-in SEO optimization tweaks as well.
4. Google Integration Toolkit – Track Your Site Visits and Other Valuable Metrics
Integrate Google services (Analytics, Webmaster Tools, etc.) with Your Blog.
This plugin adds the necessary Google Analytics code to your website. If you aren’t using that yet, you need to. Its the most comprehensive offering out there. It provides valuable insight into where your website traffic is coming from, how long people are staying on your site, what they are viewing and clicking on, etc.
It also supports Google Adsense ads, but I’m not using that feature on this site.
5. NuRelm Get Posts – Show Related News Articles on your WordPress Pages
Adds a shortcode tag [get_posts] to display a list of posts.
WordPress doesn’t have the ability to link page hierarchy to news article hierarchy. However, most WordPress sites would benefit from this. Most sites featuring products or services typically have related news categories for each of those products or services. Personal bloggers often do this as well in describing the various things they are passionate about. This is a very simple plugin that lets you specify a list of related posts on each of your pages.
For example, we have a WordPress page for each of our Facebook applications and also a related news category for each. With this plugin we can display related news articles for each individual Facebook application right on that applications feature page.
6. Subscribe To Comments – Let Users Subscribe to Article Comments via Email
Allows readers to receive notifications of new comments that are posted to an entry.
How many times have you gone to a website and commented on something and didn’t bother to go back and see additional comments that were made. This plugin solves that problem by letting your users subscribe to get email notifications when someone else comments on the same article.
7. WordPress.com Popular Posts – Show off your most Popular Articles
Shows the most popular posts, using data collected by WordPress.com stats plugin.
Pretty much all WordPress sites, whether commercial or personal, typically have a handful of articles that are very popular and drive most the traffic to the site. Why not show these articles off to every person that looks at your site? This plugin will let you do just that. On this website, we display popular content in our footer, but you can place it in your sidebar if you want.
8. WordPress.com Stats – Track Site Visits and Other Metrics Without Leaving WordPress
Tracks views, post/page views, referrers, and clicks. Requires a WordPress.com API key.
You might be asking why I’m recommending this after the rave review of Google Analytics above. Well, the reason is because this plugin works right in your WordPress dashboard for immediate viewing of your popular articles, search terms, etc. Its also required for the plugin above that shows popular posts.
9. WordPress Mobile Edition – Optimize your Site for Cell Phones and Touch Phones
Show your mobile visitors a site presentation designed just for them. Rich experience for iPhone, Android, etc. and clean simple formatting for less capable mobile browsers. Cache-friendly with a Carrington-based theme, and progressive enhancement for advanced mobile browsers.
Mobile web browsing is close to exceeding desktop web browsing these days and your full WordPress site will be slow and look like garbage on a cell phone. This particular plugin even shows an optimized version for touch phones, like the iPhone, Blackberry Storm, and Andriod devices.
Returns a list of related entries based on a unique algorithm for display on your blog and RSS feeds. A templating feature allows customization of the display.
Its definitely a best-practice to display related articles to the user currently reading one of your articles. The better the matching logic, the more likely the list of articles will be interesting to that reader. This plugin does a great job of matching articles and it also uses a caching system for top performance.
Since this article specifically is my list of plugins that I think every WordPress site should have, I’m recommending one of these plugins so that your users don’t need to sign up directly for “yet another site”.
Both of these plugins support logging in with Google, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and tons of other social networking and email sites. Both work quite well and will significantly increase the number of registered users on your site. I prefer the Gigya plugin, but really only because it has more advanced Facebook Connect capability than RPX and lets developers do more with the data should we chose.
12. “Bonus Plugin” — XtremelySocial Facebook Invitations Theme Template
If you are using Gigya (or any other plugin that support Facebook Connect features), you can have a nice page that lets users invite their Facebook friends to your site. Please check our our article, How To Allow Users To Invite Facebook Friends On Your WordPress Site. Its easy to install and won’t tax your server. Please note that RPX does not support true Facebook Connect features, so this won’t work with that.
Future Article: Add Social Networking Capabilities to Your WordPress Site
We will be covering plugins for more full-featured social networking functionality in a separate article. If you are chomping at the bit for this right now, here are a few plugins worth taking a look at:
- Facebook Connect WordPress Plugin by Socialable.es
- WordPress Facebook Connect Plugin unofficially developed by one of the Facebook Developers
- WordPress Multi-User (MU) with BuddyPress – Adds full-on social networking and community features
- Mingle - Adds social networking features such as friends and activity streams to your site, but does provide login capability using Facebook or other social network ID’s.
I’m using a pretty heavily modified version of the Sociables.es plugin as it was the most comprehensive framework to start with. I tweaked the main code quite a bit and added full modules for displaying a user’s entire news stream/wall and displaying a list of all of a user’s Facebook friends. I’m trying to work with the developer to roll some of this functionality into his plugin or to work in logic that let’s myself and others add functionality to the plugin.