WordPress is a very powerful and flexible blog/content management system, but the thousands of plugins really help to extend the basic functionality. Here are 13 essential plugins that you should immediately install after finishing the WordPress installation.
This one should be a no-brainer. Akismet uses their web service to check the comments on your blog to see if it looks like spam. The plugin is developed by the creators of WordPress, so it’s integrated nicely and is included in the WordPress install. All you need is a WordPress.com API key to get it up and running.
Custom More Link
One thing that always bothered me about the the read more tag in WordPress is how when you click into the full article, it jumps down to where the more tag was inserted. This plugin allows you to get rid of that and completely customize the link.
Different Posts Per Page
Let’s say that you want to display 3 posts on the homepage, 10 posts on the category pages, and 20 on the archives. If you want to avoid touching any of the template coding, you can just use this plugin to customize the number of posts that are displayed per page.
Google XML Sitemaps
While the plugin is called “Google” XML Sitemaps, the automatically generated sitemap is actually also supported by Ask, MSN, and Yahoo. It’s nice to be able to customize a few settings and then never having to think about your xml sitemap again.
No Self Pings
Trackbacks are a great way to allow people to link to and discuss your blog articles, but this can also include your own site when you link to your own article. It would probably be better to use a related posts plugin for those, so this plugin is useful for filtering out your own trackbacks.
If you are moving from an existing website into WordPress, your URLs will probably be different. This plugin is useful for adding 301 redirects to make sure that users can end up in the right place. You can also keep track of 404 errors or create other redirects with full Regular Expression support.
The regular WordPress search leaves a lot to be desired. This plugin fills that desire. You can perform full text searches on all posts, pages, comments, and other meta-data. The search index is automatically updated whenever you add or edit content, so you never have to worry about it being out of date.
Subscribe to Comments
You should always give commentors a way to follow their comments. This plugin provides a simple checkbox that commentors can check to receive emails whenever anyone else comments on the post. This has already been built into the core of the WordPress.com blogs, and it will probably eventually make it into the core for WordPress.org as well.
Backup your WordPress database on demand or schedule recurring backups. It is always good to have a backup plan in case anything goes wrong, so setup a recurring backup and be done with it. You may not ever need to use the backups, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Instead of using the WordPress default previous and next links, this plugin adds a more advanced navigation. You can also completely customize the display of the pagination.
Instead of using primes for quotes ( ′ & ″ ) use real quotes instead ( ’ & ” ). This plugin will automatically correct quotes and apply additional typographic enhancements. Sometimes it’s the small details that count.
WP Security Scan
The WordPress team does a great job of addressing major security issues as they arise, but there are other steps you can take to secure your site. This plugin will run a scan and help you take the additional protection steps needed.
WP Super Cache
The WP Super Cache plugin generates static html files to speed up the loading of your site. If you tend to have large spikes in traffic, this is a must have plugin to help your site from going down. There is also legacy support for the WP Cache plugin if you don’t want to serve html files.
These are just a small subset of the essential WordPress plugins to get you started on a site. What other important ones do you recommend?
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