Top 5 Must Have WordPress Plugins

If you are starting or already are maintaining a WordPress blog, you must have these plugins mentioned here.  There are hundreds, if not thousands of plugins by now.  But eye-candy isn’t going to make your blog popular.  You need the right tools.

If I was the distro manager for WordPress,  I would include all five of them in the off-the-shelf installation of the blog. If you are familiar with how to add plugins on WordPress, then do not sleep until you get all five of these up and running.    The process for adding plugins is very simple, and I’ll add some information on that at the bottom of this post.  But first, here’s the five must have plugins for your blog:  (drum roll please….)

1. Akismet
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.   I can’t tell you how much grief this has saved me.  There are the occasional false positives, but honestly, who wants to run a blog these days without some kind of spam filter?   Get it now and make your life easier.

2. All in One SEO Pack
Out-of-the-box SEO for your WordPress blog.  Unless you are writing a blog exclusively for your family and friends, you will need all the SEO (search engine optimization) help you can get.  This is the most-downloaded plugin in the WordPress planet.  That means even if it doesn’t really help, if you don’t have it, everyone else does.

3. Google XML Sitemaps
This plugin will generate a sitemaps.org compatible sitemap of your WordPress blog which is supported by Ask.com, Google, Microsoft Bing, and YAHOO.  This is another no-brainer.  Let the search engines see your blogs in real time.

4. ShareThis
Let your visitors share a post/page with others. Supports e-mail and posting to social bookmarking sites.   There are several competing services that offer this, but these guys do it well, and it’s super simple to include in your blog.  They are soon becoming the ubiquitous social bookmark tag on the internet.  Your readers will start using it instantly, and that means qualified viral traffic.  What could be better?

5. WordPress.com Stats

We have Google Analytics running on our blogs too, and that’s great.  But WordPress knows the blog business. They have the exact stats you need and want to see on a regular basis.  You will need an API key for this app, which you can pick at WordPress.org (you can use the same key as for the Askimet spam filter above).

Review on how to add plugins

Go to your admin panel, and click on the plugins tab on the left side after “Appearance”.  Search for the plugins  mentioned above, and have WordPress install them automatically.  The process should run without a hitch.  If you do run into problems, they usually stem from security on the plugins folder (wp-content/plugins).  The plugins page does a good job of walking you through the process, so I will leave that to the experts.