The main reason I love WordPress so much, other than as a content management system, is the mass of plugins that are available for it. The last time I checked there were over 17 thousand available and it would appear that it doesn’t matter what you want to do, there is normally a WordPress plugin to do it.
These amazing plugins make optimising, maintaining and developing your blog very easy as they require minimal technical expertise. However they are not all great and I’ve lost many hours trying different ones out to see it they are worthwhile.
Below I have listed the top plugins I use in my blogs and personally recommend.
The All in One SEO Pack has always been my favourite SEO plugin until recently. Once installed it presents you with all the boxes you need to maximise your basic on-page SEO. Assisting with title tags, meta descriptions, meta keywords and title formats for every page and post on your blog.
This is the SEO plugin that I now prefer as it offers everything that the All in One SEO Pack does. But it allows you to configure the nofollow, noindex, noodp and noydir attributes for every page and post as well, giving you far more control of your blogs on-page SEO.
This Plugin helps avoid Comment Spam but filtering it against its own database of known spammers. The service is free to personal blogs and lets you review the spam it catches under your comments admin screen. You will need an Askimet.com API key which you can get with a quick sign up
Mashable was probably the first place I saw the floating Sharebar used and since then have loved it. It comes with the basic Facebook, Twitter, Digg etc, but you can add Google+, Linkedin and others easily in its setting page.
If you use reCAPTCHA’s as part of your Google account, this is probably the easiest way I have ever seen to add a basic anti-spam contact form to your site. Simply install the plugin add your reCAPTCHA codes and paste a shortcode on any page to display your contact form.
MBP Ping Optimizer
Avoid getting your blog banned from Ping Services with MBP Ping Optimizer. Configure your blog to only Ping when you create new content and not when you edit it. Also if you schedule posts they will only Ping when published live and not when placed in a cue.
If you are looking to place Affiliate links on your blog, no one likes to see big ugly URL’s messing up your content. Pritty Link Lite is the free edition of Pretty Link Pro, which allows you to cloak your URL’s into a tidy format that looks professional on your site.
If you use AWeber as your email auto responder to allow your readers to subscribe to your email list, then this plugin makes adding opt in forms to your side bar very simple. Once you have configured your AWeber Web Form install this plugin, login to it and drag the widget to the side bar. It will let you choose and display your opt in without having to paste code and create custom widgets.
I love this plugin! It displays a chosen number of related posts under the current post using their featured image as a thumbnail link. It looks great and helps retain your reader by enticing them to click on other posts on your blog.
If you want to add an image gallery, manage photos or have slide shows on your blog?NextGEN Gallery is the best plugin I could recommend, unless you had a custom template built for you. It fully integrates with WordPress to give you dozens of options to display your images and maintain your galleries.
Simply limits the number of login attempts to your blog from a single IP range within a specific time period. By default its set to lock out an IP range if a user fails 3 times inside a 5 minute window. But these settings can be altered to suit and provide better security for your site.
Avoid losing all your hard work by backing up your blog regularly! This plugin literally is a WordPress Database Manager as it gives you the functionality to backup, restore, optimize, repair, run queries and maintain your blogs database.
If you don’t have a plugin to manage what search engines are indexing, then there is no easier way that to use Robots Meta. It gives you full control of what pages, posts, categories, tag, author pages are visible to the search engines and amends your robot.txt file to enforce it.
Improve the performance of your blog and user experience by caching every aspect of your site. W3 Total Cache installs and operates in the background to reduce page load times, down load times and deliver your content quicker to the screen.
I cannot think of a simpler way to create a sitemap for your blog than to use Google XML Sitemap. The plugin has a few basic options to configure then it places an XML file on your webserver, which it updates every time you post to your blog. This will help to get your site better indexed with all search engines, not just Google.