WordPress is the biggest and most popular blogging platform around and it’s my personal favourite due to fact that it’s easy to install, easy to use and the vast range of plugins available are simply awesome.
Plugins are an easy way to enhance your blog with new features and other changes which would otherwise be difficult for those who are not knowledgeable in PHP programming. The WordPress Plugin Directory contains thousands of free plugins which can be installed instantly through the WordPress admin panel.
My 6 Essential WordPress Plugins
I use WordPress for most of my sites, only because I get one-click installs with most of my hosting accounts and I enjoy marketing more than building websites. This is a list of the plugins that I install right after my WordPress installation is ready – I use all of these on all of my sites and they’re fantastic.
Akismet is an anti-spam prevention plugin for your WordPress comments.
It works by checking each comment submitted on your blog against a blacklist which is used across the entire Akismet network. From my experience, it catches close to 99% of all SPAM comments.
Akismet is free for personal use and pretty cheap for businesses and enterprises. It comes installed with all new installations of WordPress so you will just need to head over to the Akistmet website to grab yourself an API Key before you will be able to start catching SPAM from your blog comments.
2. WordPress SEO by Yoast
WordPress SEO by Yoast is the ultimate SEO-in-a-box plugin for the perfect on-site optimisation.
It enables you to optimise your page titles for better rankings as well as create the perfect meta descriptions to increase CTR from search engines. It also allows you to add social metadata, XML sitemaps and create a breadcrumb for better internal linking. You can also edit RSS feeds and inject text / links.
3. Google XML Sitemaps
Google XML Sitemaps is the perfect plugin for creating an XML sitemap which can be submitted in Google’s Webmaster Tools and make it easier for them to discover the content on your website.
The SEO plugin by Yoast does allow you to create an XML sitemap but I don’t like it too much and prefer to install this extra plugin for a better sitemap which has many more options such as auto-priority based on number of comments among others. You may think the Yoast one is just fine, though.
4. Yet Another Related Posts Plugin
YARPP is a great for increasing internal linking to your great content and providing value to your visitors by offering them relevant and related posts to the content they’ve just finishing reading.
It works on a weight system which can be defined by you in the settings page.
You can choose which parts of a post to use when matching related content, including titles, body text, categories and tags. You can also choose a match threshold between 1 and 5 with 5 being the more restrictive and delivering less matches, and 1 providing more results which are less related.
5. WP to Twitter
WP to Twitter will automatically post your newly published posts to your Twitter account.
It’s an extremely powerful plugin which enables you to automatically shorten links with a number of services including Su.pr, Bit.ly and Goo.gl. You can even use your own if you have the capability.
You can select exactly what you want the plugin to post, and when – posts, updated posts, pages, updated pages, links and custom post types (if you have them). It can also tweet the tags of the post as hashtags if you’d like to potentially reach more people with all of your posts.
Shareaholic is the ultimate social sharing buttons plugin.
It will bring a whole new world of opportunity to your blog in the form of social sharing buttons from a number of platforms which can be specified by you along with many different styles.
You can choose from 4 different themes, 7 different heading styles, 3 different sizes, 2 different styles and 3 different counters (if you want them). You can see how these look at the top and bottom of this post – the top buttons are using counters without a heading, and the buttons below the post are using a heading.