10 WordPress Plugins Every Blog Should Be Using

When it comes to WordPress, there are many things that separate it from the competition. My personal favorite, though, is the WordPress community, which has contributed all sorts of WordPress plugins to anyone using the WordPress software. These are available for free without any obligation.

Many plugins are situational, either for certain types of blogs, or for certain particular functions, and probably don’t have a place on every WordPress blog. There are a few, however, that every WordPress blog should be using in some form.

Here is my list of the top plugins all WordPress blogs should be using, in no particular order:

  • Related Posts – Arguably the most important plugin WordPress has to offer. This plugin shows a designated number of related entries below your post (or wherever you want to place it). This is ideal for anyone, but especially for those that get a lot of search engine traffic. It goes a long way to keep web surfers on your site.
  • Add Related Posts to Your Feed – Adds the above mentioned Related Posts to your feed (requires the Related Posts or Ultimate Tagging Warrior plugin(s) to be installed in order to work).
  • All-in-One SEO Pack – This is the ultimate SEO plugin for optimizing your blog for search engines. It automates the SEO process and gives you control over individual title, tags, and description information.
  • Permalink Redirect – This plugin does a permanent 301 redirect. This will ensure that search engines don’t penalize you for duplicate posts when they index your site (with and without the www, as well as posts that don’t include the trailing /). This plugin now also redirects your site’s default feed to your Feedburner feed and allows you to set up custom redirects.
  • WP-Contact Form – Many e-mail spammers search the web looking for e-mail addresses to use for spam purposes. Having your e-mail address available on somewhere on your website (including in the code somewhere) makes you vulnerable to these people. This plugin creates a contact form that people can use to contact you, so your e-mail address is not displayed. It also includes spam protection and some other optional features.
  • WP-DB Manager – This plugin gives you full control of your database, including how to back it up, restore it, and deleting tables when necessary. If this plugin proves to be to advanced, the alternative is WordPress Database Backup, which allows you to backup your database, but doesn’t make it easy to restore it if something comes up.
  • Google Sitemaps – Generates an XML-Sitemap file of your website that Google, Yahoo!, and MSN will use to index your blog. This ensures Google is aware of all of your new posts, as well as any updates you’ve made to posts that were previously indexed and need to be updated.
  • Akismet – This plugin comes by default with all current WordPress installations, but requires activation. You can obtain a free key to activate it. It will catch most spam and place it in a approval queue so you can view it before it is posted on to your website.
  • Bad Behavior – Prevents known spam bots from accessing your website and is compatible with Akismet (mentioned above).
  • Gamer’s Pack – As video game technology continues to increase, this plugin will be more and more important. This plugin that makes your website easily viewable on the Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, and Sony PSP gaming systems. I’ve also found it helps people trying to view your website on a cellular phone.

So, there is my list. 10 plugins that I feel all WordPress users should use regardless of what type of blog they are running. I intentionally did not include any plugins that use comments, as many blogs do not accept comments, making these plugins not needed for them. My goal with this post was to cover only plugins that should be used regardless of the type of blog is being run.

Is there a plugin that you feel should have been included on this list? Let me know in the comments below!

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  • Ultimate SEO WordPress Plugin: All-in-One SEO Pack

    I’ve talked to several bloggers who spend a lot of time working on optimizing their websites for search engines, and often without good results. This can be attributed to several things, but often times it is the result of a lack of SEO knowledge, or to many SEO plugins that overlap and conflict with each other.

    If you have more than one SEO plugin installed to do various functions for your blog, you have to many SEO plugins installed. WordPress users actually have free access to a very well done plugin called All-in-One SEO Pack, which currently does everything out of the box. I don’t pretend to be an SEO expert, but then again I don’t have to be with this plugin.

    What does All-in-One SEO Pack do exactly? I don’t know how better to describe it than to just say that it does everything! And the best part is that it doesn’t require any coding work.   You can actually control everything from the Options panel of your WordPress SEO dashboard.

    Here is a screen shot of what my options panel looks like:

    All in One SEO Pack Options Menu

    By default, WordPress will use your blog’s tag line for the description and keyword tags. With this plugin, simply enter your homepage information once (name, description, keywords, etc.) and it will automatically add the information provided to your homepage’s meta information. This determines what search engines will display when your blog’s homepage shows up in search results.

    For your individual posts, you will want your meta information to be customized to each individual post you do to help get the most optimal indexing with search engines. This plugin allows you to set everything up to happen automatically, or you can do it manually on certain posts if you wish.

    Here is a look at the menu placed on your Write panel to enter your individual post information:

    All in One SEO Pack Write Menu

    • Titles Tags – By default, WordPress will add your post title as the title tag for the individual post, but this is not always ideal. One thing a lot of successful bloggers do is target their title to their readership, but use a different title tag which targets search engine traffic. When the search engines spider your blog, they pull the meta title tag, not the post title. With this plugin, your Write panel will now display a field to enter a custom title tag that the search engines will use, but your readers will never see your meta title unless they view your pages source.
    • Meta Keywords – By default, WordPress will use your category assigned to your post as the keyword, but we all know this is often not a great indicator of what the post is about. All-in-One SEO Pack also provides a keyword field that you can enter in your own keywords, but it also allows you to automate this process if you wish. Because you can integrate it with the Ultimate Tagging Warror plugin, and UTW allows you to automatically assign your categories as tags, you can actually have this plugin insert your UTW tags (which includes your categories) as your meta keywords automatically. (Be sure to set UTW to not automatically use tags as meta keywords because you will then have duplicate keywords).  This will also go through and update your older posts with keywords.
    • Meta Description – The meta description is the description that the search engines will use when displaying their search results, so this can be just as crucial as your title when it comes to getting web surfers to click over to your website. In the Write panel, this plugin gives you the option of inserting a custom description of your post, but that could be quite tedious very quickly if you write a lot. This plugin also offers another solution that I haven’t found on any other SEO plugins, and that is the ability to automatically insert the first 160 characters of your post as the description.

    Other features include the ability to automatically exclude your sites categories and archives from being indexed (to avoid duplicate content being indexed) without the use of Robots.txt. This is extremely useful for bloggers that don’t know much about making a Robots.txt file to guide the search engine spiders through your blog. You can also set your title formats to look exactly the way you want them to (posts, tags, pages, search results, archives, and even categories).

    How do I set up the All-in-One SEO Pack plugin? It couldn’t be easier. Just upload the plugin and activate it and you’ll be all set to start using it. This also means it is incredibly easy to update the plugin as well, which will be extremely handy because the author releases updates regularly (sometimes several a week). Some may not like that, but I look at that as an author who is committed to making his plugin the best one available.

    I have to say that I couldn’t be any happier with this plugin as it is. It is constantly getting new features and more integration added each week it seems, and it already combines the best of other SEO plugins while and some unique features as well.

    If you aren’t already using it, I recommend you deactivate your SEO plugins and give this one a shot for awhile. If you are using it, I recommend you upgrade to the newest version, as the one you have is probably outdated.

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