WordPress is the most widely uses blog publishing platform available today and it achieved that status for a few reasons. Possibly the best cited reason is because WordPress has evolved in to arguably the most powerful personal publishing platform freely available. It is open source, has a theme engine and is capable of using plugins to extend or add functionality. Here are a few plugins worth using immediately after completing a fresh WordPress install.
- Akismet is a blog comment spam catcher. When a comment is submitted to a blog its content is compared against the huge Akismet database and graded based on a number of factors. If the comment is deemed spam then it will be marked as such and not published to the blog. Akismet is hands down the best way to eliminate spam comments from a WordPress blog.
- All in One SEO Pack is the perfect addition to any WordPress blog, offering out-the-box search engine optimization without the need to manually hand-jam those confusing meta tags and whatnot. Let the plugin do all the hard labor while you sit back and focus on what truly is important – valuable content!
- Broken Link Checker periodically checks all posts for broken links and missing images and notifies publishers via the WordPress dashboard when either are found. The admin panel for the missing links and images is nice too, allowing for easy fixing of links and images or discarding such messages.
- Contact Form 7 does just what it sounds like – facilitates the easy creation of contact forms. What Contact Form 7 does so well is its configuration panel, allowing for complex forms to be added rather than just a bland, simple form. Built-in captcha support is nice too, especially with all the spambots these days.
- Custom More Link allows publishers to customize the built-in “read more” link in WordPress. If you have ever desired the link to say something other than “read more” then this is exactly what the Miso Soup Chef ordered. There is substantially more flexibility than I envisioned, making this plug-in a very useful gem.
- Google XML Sitemaps automatically generates a sitemaps.org compatible sitemap of a WordPress blog, allowing Google to more quickly index the content. One notable side affect is that when this plugin is used and configured properly, almost immediately upon publishing a story it will become available in Google Reader.
- No Self Pings stops trackbacks from appearing on your own site when you link to articles on your own site. One would think this to be default WordPress behavior, but unfortunately it does not work that way and hence why this plugin is so valuable.
- OpenID allows the use of OpenID for account registration, authentication, and commenting and even comes with the wicked ability to have a blog act as an OpenID provider, turning WordPress author URLs into OpenIDs.
- WP-DB-Backup is designed to allow publishers to schedule unattended database backups to be completed automatically or on an as-needed basis. Performing database backups is an essential task and should be completed periodically and this plugin helps facilitate such banal yet vital chores.
- WP-PageNavi is one of my favorite plugins because it essentially removes the standard “next” and “previous” links WordPress uses by default and replaces them with a more advanced and useful navigation system. Ever seen the 1, 2, 3 nav boxes at the bottom of Flickr? This recreates that same affect but with WordPress.
- WP Security Scan is a simple plugin designed to test your WordPress installs security settings. In this day and age you can never be too serious about security so this plugin is essential to ensure your site is not made an example of by script kiddies and whatnot.
- Yet Another Related Posts plugin is the most customizable related posts plugin of its kind around. One of the best features is the ability to display related posts in RSS feeds, thus enhancing the value of a blogs feed by providing potential alternate content for readers to click-through to read.
So there you have it – the TechMiso list of 12 essential WordPress plugins. Are there any you think we missed? If so, what are they and what do they do?