7 Incredibly Essential Plugins For WordPress Blogs & Websites

After you install WordPress for the first time, get your template nicely in place, you might begin to wonder where all the extras are. The WordPress core itself is quite powerful as a CMS, but where the real power comes in is the expandability. Plugins are the default way to expand the core functionality of the WordPress engine and there are thousands of great developers working on new ones and improving their old ones every day.

Before you leap in and develop your own, here is my list of 7 must have plugins which I install straight up on any blog or website I own/design for clients. Some of these are important even if you’re not looking at using WordPress as a blogging site and all should be at least considered.

1. Login LockDown

A must have plugin for all blogs and websites using WordPress.

Bad-Neighborhood seem to specialize in tools for webmasters with a focus on security. Login LockDown is a plugin for securing your login form on the wp-admin page.

“Login LockDown records the IP address and timestamp of every failed WordPress login attempt. If more than a certain number of attempts are detected within a short period of time from the same IP range, then the login function is disabled for all requests from that range.”

After 3 unsuccessful attempts within 5 minutes the address range is blocked for 1 hour by default. Which is another reason to not use your admin account for normal editing.

This plugin is especially handy for blocking brute force attacks which can be a common experience for WordPress webmasters.

2. WordPress Database Backup

A must have plugin for all blogs and non-static sites using WordPress. Though I’d argue this should be run at least once during every upgrade of a static site.

Backing up data can be a true pain in the ass, and something easily forgotten if left up to your brain to remind you.

While some people like to have “backup days” scheduled on their calendar, I like to automate as much of the process as possible so I don’t even have to think about it unless I have to.

The WordPress Database Backup plugin does exactly that. Scheduling the backup process and even emailing the backup file to you after it’s done. Restoring is easily achieved with phpMyAdmin or manually with mySQL. Thankfully, I haven’t had to do this yet, but this allows me to sleep at night.

3. Ultimate Google Analytics

A must have plugin for all blogs and websites using WordPress.

This seemingly obvious choice of plugins by OraTransplant is one of the best Google Analytics plugins I’ve used. It is highly configurable giving you maximum control. Probably not recommended for newbies, but that said, it’s not too complicated that they can’t learn.

Some of the extras include outgoing link tagging, tracking downloads (especially handy for free reports/eBooks you might be giving away), mailto links, optimal placement of required javascript so as not to delay the loading of your page and literally loads more. You will need to have a Google Analytics account, and I recommend you get familiar with it’s reports as they can be infinitely useful.

4. All-In-One SEO

A must have plugin for all blogs and websites using WordPress.

SEO can be confusing at the best of times. Why bother? Just install this All-In-One SEO plugin and most of your worries can be taken care of. It’s a must have for all blogs and websites using WordPress.

Titles, descriptions, keywords, and it even handles noindex-ing your duplicate content. You can tweak elements on a per post basis as well so you can get that title tag just right.

Note that this plugin only takes care of your on page SEO efforts. You should still work on link building, social media, commenting and all the other usual SEO type things.

5. Google XML Sitemap Generator

A must have plugin for blogs using WordPress.

For a small static site this might not be as important, but I would still argue that using a sitemap at all times can only be beneficial. It helps the search engines index your content faster and gives a little meaning to how things are tied together. This plugin updates your sitemap and submits to the engines when you make any changes to your site via posts or pages. It’s quite configurable, so you can scale that back if you want.

Even though it says Google XML Sitemap Generator, it’s actually compatible with all the other major engines including Yahoo!, MSN, and Ask.

6. FeedBurner’s FeedSmith Plugin

A must have plugin for blogs using WordPress.

FeedSmith was the creation of Steve Smith, which handed over the reigns to his original Ordered List Feedburner Plugin to Feedburner in May 07, from there it was merged into the Google family when Google bought Feedburner.

The plugin redirects HTTP requests for the default WordPress RSS feed supplied with WordPress to your more easily managed FeedBurner feed. This way you don’t miss any subscribers, and every one of them are accounted for via FeedBurner.

7. Contact Form 7

A must have plugin for all blogs and websites using WordPress.

A nice flexible contact form plugin. Features spam filtering and CAPTCHA which is awesome. I’d recommend having a contact form on any website, WordPress or not. It’s important for your users to be able to contact you.

“Just another contact form plugin. Simple but flexible.

  • Supports multiple contact forms.
  • You can customize form and mail contents with simple markup.
  • AJAX submitting with jQuery Form Plugin.
  • Spam filtering with Akismet.
  • Bot prevention with CAPTCHA.”

This plugin is too easy to use, and allows you to place contact forms on any post or page you like.

***BONUS NUMBER 1!*** 8. WP-Cumulus

Not a must have plugin, but a pretty cool addition to any blog using WordPress.

WP Cumulus is a nice spin (no pun intended) on the standard tag cloud widget that comes with WordPress. I think it’s quite awesome looking, functional and usuable for users of all internet knowledge. The plugin for those nerds that love tag clouds and things that spin around and around and around and around.. ok you get it.

***BONUS NUMBER 2!*** 9. AddThis

Not a must have plugin, but a pretty cool addition to any blog using WordPress.

The AddThis group have put of this very cool plugin for their social bookmarking/sharing widget. It adds the AddThis bookmarklet to the base of your posts and a host of other configurable places. Very easy to use and install.

So that’s my list. I’m using all of these with the latest WordPress install (2.7 at the time of writing) with no problems at all. Most of these plugins are updated regularly and come with a huge fan base. You can install most of the plugins here with the exception of Feedsmith from your WordPress dashboard (just click on Add New under the Plugins menu), which is extra handy for lazy ones like myself.

D you have an extra cool plugin you’d like to share with everyone? Why not include your essential plugin suggestions in the comments! Feel free to plug your own plugin too.. 🙂

Josh Kohlbach

Josh is a software entrepreneur from Brisbane, Australia. He spends most of his time helping e-commerce store owners. This is his personal blog where he shares his thoughts and other tidbits on online business and life in general.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Salwa

    Hi there,

    Thank you for putting this list together of wordpress plugins. I have been looking for some of these.

    1. Josh

      No problems Salwa! I’ve always kept this list handy whenever I’m setting up a site, they’re sort of my default plugins I gotta have, thanks for the comment.

  2. PamelaPets

    I love it! That is way cool man! The steps weren’t that complicated too, which is great.

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