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Essential Plugins for Every WordPress Installation

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Gift

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One of the reasons why people gravitate toward WordPress is the seemingly unlimited numbers of open source plugins available. Today, I'd like to go over a few plugins that I think absolutely warrant your attention. I'm sure I've missed some, though, so make sure to chime in within the comments! Hopefully, this article will morph into an absolute monster of a list that can act as a reference for fellow WordPress developers.


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Akismet

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Akismet is quite possibly the perfect spam management solution. It's unobstrusive, manages to catch 99% of spam and is quite easy to get started. An absolute must have!.


Disqus Comments

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Disqus makes commenting easier and more interactive, while connecting websites and commenters across a thriving discussion community. It features the niceties you'd expect like Gravatars, feeds, rating and threading.


Subscribe to Comments

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Subscribe to Comments is a robust plugin that enables commenters to sign up for e-mail notification of subsequent entries. The plugin includes a full-featured subscription manager that your commenters can use to unsubscribe to certain posts, block all notifications, or even change their notification e-mail address!


SEO


All in One SEO Pack

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An exceedingly powerful solution to optimize your website for search engines. It automatically generates meta tags, lets you override a page's title and description among a slew of other features. More importantly, you can pretty much make it work out of the box with minimal tweaking.


WordPress SEO by Yoast

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WordPress SEO is the most complete SEO plugin that exists today for WordPress.org users. It incorporates everything from a snippet preview that helps you optimize your page titles, meta descriptions and keywords to XML sitemaps, and loads of optimization options in between.


SEO Smart Links

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Interlinking within your site is one of the most basic tenets of SEO. SEO Smart Links can automatically link keywords and phrases in your posts and comments with corresponding posts, pages, categories and tags on your blog. Further SEO Smart links allows you to set up your own keywords and set of matching URLs.


HeadSpace2 SEO

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HeadSpace2 is an all-in-one meta-data manager that allows you to fine-tune the SEO potential of your site. It lets you control almost every aspect of your site's meta-data, including advanced tagging and analytics.


Google XML Sitemaps

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This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask.com to better index your blog. With such a sitemap, it's much easier for the crawlers to see the complete structure of your site and retrieve it more efficiently. The plugin supports all kinds of WordPress generated pages as well as custom URLs. Additionally it notifies all major search engines every time you create a post about the new content.


Performance


WP Super Cache

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Once you get beyond a certain size, WordPress can act really slow. Caching your content, as always, is a great solution. This plugin does exactly that. It create static versions of your content which is served instead. Works wonders specially when you're heavily trafficked.


CDN Sync Tool

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Uploads/syncs your static files to a Content Deilvery Network (CDN) with push CDNs such as Amazon S3 / CloudFront and CloudFiles aswell as Origin Pull CDNs such as MaxCDN / NetDNA. You can choose files from your media library, theme directory, WordPress's wp-include directory and plugin directories aswell as new media library uploads.


WP Smush.it

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An excellent plugin that automatically processes any image in the blog through the smush.it service, without requiring any user intervention reducing file sizes and improving performance.


WP Minify

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WP Minify grabs JS/CSS files in your generated WordPress page and passes that list to the Minify engine. The Minify engine then returns a consolidated, minified, and compressed script or style for WP Minify to reference in the WordPress header.


WP-Optimize

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This simple but effective plugin allows you to clean up your WordPress database and optimize it without phpMyAdmin. Also renames any username.


Social


Socialize

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This provides an easy way to selectively add actionable social bookmarks to your posts content or below the post in a 'Call To Action' box. You can add bookmarks either inside the content or in a box below the content.


AddToAny

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This WordPress plugin to help people share, bookmark, and email your posts and pages using any service, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Buzz, Digg, Delicious, and well over 100 more sharing and social bookmarking sites.


Media


Scissors Continued

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Scissors Continued adds cropping, resizing, and rotating functionality to WordPress' image upload and management dialogs. Scissors also allows automatic resizing of images when they are uploaded and supports automatic and manual watermarking of images.


NextGEN Gallery

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NextGEN Gallery is a full integrated Image Gallery plugin for WordPress with a slideshow option. It is a full integrated Image Gallery plugin for WordPress with dozens of options and features which provides a simple administration system at the back end which can also handle multiple galleries.


Monetization


Advertising Manager

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This plugin will manage and rotate your Google Adsense and other ads on your WordPress blog. It automatically recognises many ad networks including Google Adsense, AdBrite, Adify, AdGridWork, Adpinion, Adroll, Chitika, Commission Junction, CrispAds, OpenX, ShoppingAds, Yahoo!PN, and WidgetBucks. Other ad networks can be used as well.


Ad Injection

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Ad Injection injects any kind of advert (e.g. Google AdSense, Amazon Associates, ClickBank, TradeDoubler, etc) into the existing content of your WordPress posts and pages. You can control the number of adverts based on the post length, and it can restrict who sees adverts by post age, visitor referrer and IP address.


Backup


WP-DB-Backup

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WP-DB-Backup allows you easily to backup your core WordPress database tables. You may also backup other tables in the same database.


EZPZ One Click Backup

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EZPZ One Click Backup is a very easy way to do a complete backup of your entire WordPress site. In fact it's so easy to use there are no required user settings, everything is automatic. Just one click and presto, you'll have a complete backup stored on your server. One more click and you can download the entire backup to your own computer.


Analytics


Google Analyticator

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Google Analyticator adds the necessary JavaScript code to enable Google Analytics logging on any WordPress blog. This eliminates the need to edit your template code to begin logging. Google Analyticator also includes several widgets for displaying Analytics data in the admin and on your blog.


WP-Stats-Dashboard

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Display your blog's stats graph plus your blog traffic, social engagement and social influence directly in your dashboard. See how you're ranking on Alexa, check out your Technorati authority, monitor your ranking across multiple sites and much more.


Utilities


Yet Another Related Posts Plugin

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Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP) gives you a list of posts and/or pages related to the current entry, introducing the reader to other relevant content on your site. Using a customizable algorithm considering post titles, content, tags, and categories, YARPP calculates a "match score" for each pair of posts on your blog. You choose the threshold limit for relevance and you get more related posts if there are more related posts and less if there are less.


Organize Series

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The Organize Series WordPress Plugin helps with the organization and presentation of articles/posts you write as part of a series. It helps make it easier for readers of your blog to discover all the series you've written and also to easily find post that are part of the same series.


Custom Field Template

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Custom Field Template adds the default custom fields on the Write Post/Page. You can set any number of the custom field templates and switch the templates when you write/edit the post/page.


Contact Form 7

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Contact Form 7 can manage multiple contact forms, plus you can customize the form and the mail contents flexibly with simple markup. The form supports Ajax-powered submitting, CAPTCHA, Akismet spam filtering and so on.


Redirection

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Redirection is a WordPress plugin to manage 301 redirections, keep track of 404 errors, and generally tidy up any loose ends your site may have. This is particularly useful if you are migrating pages from an old website, or are changing the directory of your WordPress installation.


WP-PageNavi

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Adds a more advanced paging navigation to your WordPress site.


Simple URL Shortener

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Simple URL Shortener is the simplest, yet most powerful URL shortening plugin available, with over 100 shortening services available.


Wrapping Up

As you may have noticed, I've chosen to stick to free plugins. There are, however, plenty of killer paid options to consider -- CodeCanyon, for instance, is the web's largest marketplace for premium WordPress plugins, amongst other sorts of scripts and components.

We've, of course, only merely scratched the surface here. Chime in below with the plugins you use and love on a daily basis, and I'll make sure to keep this list updated weekly. Thank you so much for reading!

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