WordPress is an incredibly powerful content management system that gets a lot of is usefulness from the wealth of themes and plugins available. Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start with plugins, since there are tens of thousands available and many of them share similar functionality. Here’s a list of must have plugins to help get your new WordPress powered site off on the right foot.
Anything you can do to minimize load time on your website is worth doing. While smaller WordPress sites with good hosting can be pretty fast, once you start piling on posts, comments, pages, plugins, and other features, your performance can take a hit. WP Super Cache takes what would by a dynamically generated page, and renders is as simple HTML instead. The result is a significant reduction in both the time it takes for the page to load, and the amount of work your web server needs to do to serve up the page. With search engines now counting page load time as a factor for search engine placement, WP Super Cache is a must have.
Search engines do a great job finding your content on their own, but giving them a complete map of everything on your site can expedite the process and ensure that nothing gets missed. Google XML Sitemaps creates and updates this sitemap for you. Every time you add new content, the plugin updates the sitemap to ensure search engines find it.
Like it or not, bad things can happen to your blog. That’s why it pays to make regular backups of your content. While you can always manually backup your site, plugins like WordPress Database Backup make the whole process faster and easier. With the click of a button you can save a copy of your database, or even schedule it so that it’s automatically backed up weekly, daily, or even hourly. This can be saved on your sever or sent via email.
Spam is a real problem, especially if you run a website that generates a lot of comments. Weeding out spam and manually approving comments is time consuming and frustrating. Thankfully there’s a plugin for that, and it comes pre-installed with WordPress. While it occasionally misses spam, and may sometimes falsely flag a legitimate comment, Askimet does an incredible job keeping the garbage off your site.
While out-of-the-box WordPress isn’t terrible about Search Engine Optimization, there is a lot of room for improvement. All in One SEO Pack gives you a good basic setup, allowing you to set default settings for the site itself, as well as diving in to manage things like page titles and meta descriptions and keywords on a page by page basis.
By default, WordPress keeps track of every change you make to posts and pages, and saves these as revisions in your database. If you make a lot of tweaks to your content this will add up quickly and before you know if your database will be bloated with tons of revisions. Revision control allows you to tell WordPress how many, if any, revisions to keep. The result is a cleaner, and significantly smaller database.
If you’ve had a blog for a while (especially if you haven’t setup the Revision Control plugin) odds are you’ve accumulated piles and piles of duplicate posts in your database. Not only does this make for an ugly database, but it can slow down your site. Running Better Delete Revision will search your database for duplicate posts and allow you to remove them. The plus with this plugin is that it will also remove related content, such as meta data. The nice thing about this plugin is that, if you have Revision Control installed, you really only need to use it once and then remove it.
There are a lot of social bookmarking plugins out there, and most of them do a pretty nice job. I like Share This over some of the others because of it’s simplicity and the way it nicely integrates without drawing too much attention to itself. Unlike plugins like Socialable (another great plugin)), which connects to every conceivable social network, Share This focuses on the big ones: Facebook, Twitter, and email. Sure, all the other networks are available too, but the push is on the networks your readers are most likely to use.
Comments are an essential part of the blogging experience. It gives readers a chance to ask questions, clarify points, offer different views on the subject, and interact with each other. Done correctly, you could build a community who act as collaborators on your site, complimenting your articles with insightful discussion. Building a community is no easy feat, so you’ll want to facilitate as much back and forth banter as possible. Subscribe to Comments Reloaded notifies a commenter whenever a new comment has been added, allowing for a continued dialog and getting people to return to your article.