There are literally hundreds of plugins available for the WordPress users to customize every aspect of their blogs. This is the essence of having such a large community following that is always there to built plugins on new ideas and enhance the existing ones. This is the luxury of extensive customization afforded by WordPress and is the reason that WordPress is the most popular CMS although simpler and less featured than some of it’s competitors. But having such a large repository of plugins also has a drawback from a users perspective, because he can never be sure which plugins to use to optimize and customize his website according to his requirements. But I am sure that you will agree with me that despite such a large choice in the plugins that are available for WordPress, there are only a handful of them that are essential to optimize the website and enhance the experience for the visitors and more importantly tune the SEO aspects of the blog so that the blog can earn some real money. This is precisely the objective of this article to pinpoint only the minimum number of plugins that are really required to enhance and tune the different aspects of your blog. I am sure that you will agree with the importance of most of the plugins that I have listed here(if not all).
This plugins fetches those colorful avatars of users commenting on your blog from their MyBlogLog profile and displays them along with the comments from the users. Even if a user is not registered this plugin will display a generic avatar. When clicked on a commenter’s avatar it will take directly to his profile on the MyBLogLog. It may not be vital but it sure will bring liveliness to your blog and make it much more interesting to read comments along with the distinct gravatar for a commenter that virtually may be portraying his personality.
I am sure that some commenters will thank you a lot after you install this plugin because not every one wants the burden to continuously peek in the comments section of a post that interests him on your blog just to see that if a new comment is posted. Using this plugin they will be able to subscribe to the new comments on a post/story via their email address. Whenever a new comment is posted they will be notified through email. It may be particularly useful for popular posts which have lots of comments and users are posting comments on that story for a longer period of time.
You can use the more directive in your post to split the post and user then have to click on the more link to read the rest of the story . But a side effect to it is that your post is also split in the feed that is generated from your blog even if you want it or not! This may not be the desired behavior for some bloggers as they just want to split posts in their actual blog not in the feed generated from it. There is no easy way in WordPress to disable this behavior unless you use the Full Text Feed plugin. Actually the use of this plugin depends upon the preference of an individual blogger that if he/she wants to show the full contents of the blog in the feed or want to force the user to click on the more link in the feed to view the full contents on his actual blog. I use this plugin on my site, because I feel that RSS subscribers to my blog deserve the full contents. It is a just a matter of opinion however. Please note that some bloggers may be forced to use partial feeds to avoid the nasty web scrapping sites that are so prevalent these days.
7. Simple Tags
This plugin has a large feature set but every thing it does has to do something with the tags as implied from the name. Its utility might have decreased a bit after the introduction of native tagging support in the newer WordPress 2.3 version. But still it has a lot to offer and it builds its advanced features on the buit-in tagging support of newer WordPress. Some of the features are:
- Auto tags
- Auto link tags in post content
- Importer for embedded tags
- Type-ahead input tags / Auto completion
- Click tags
- Edit mass tags (more than 50 posts once)
- Dynamic Tag Clouds with colors with Widgets (random order, etc)
- Possibility to add related posts inside RSS
It may cause performance hit on some blogs because of the large feature set but the latest version does have some performance improvements.
wp-cahce builds static pages from the contents of your blog and serve a cached static page if it is available to improve performance rather than to process the PHP code and compile the whole page again by fetching the contents from the linked My SQL database. This can reduce load on the database as well and more importantly it will be able to serve hundreds of more pages than without the wp-cache, because it will be able to serve static cached pages in many cases rather than to build the pages from scratch dynamically. If your site attracts a lot of traffic on the daily basis or you are expecting a Digg effect then this plugin will ensure that your blog is not collapsed under the massive load from a large spike in traffic directed to your site.
It cannot be over emphasized that you must backup your WordPress installation on regular basis. To some people this apparently may seem a chore to waste time on the backup when there is no apparent need. But I can tell you that you never know that when something worse happens and then you will badly regret why you have not backed up when it was time. There are two phases to the complete WordPress installation backup, first is the backup of all the website installation files and the second aspect is the backup of the MySQL database. You can backup site’s files locally using an FTP client. For the database you can use the WordPress Database Backup plugin. Although you can use the PhpMyAdmin interface to do this as well but I think for many people this plugin may be much more convenient to use. Particularly because it provides some useful additional features such as scheduling for the database backup task and emailing the backup to your provided email address. By default it only selects the core WordPress MySQL database tables for backup but you can add additional tables for example tables added by the installed plugins in your WordPress installation.
If you want to monetize your site than SEO is critical and this where All in one SEO Pack comes in. For many users this may be the only plugin that they need to optimize their site for the SEO and hence increase the traffic and boost their earning potential. It will automatically optimize your site’s page/post titles , home title, home description, category titles , search title and many more for the SEO. No need to do these things manually as before. An important point is that it can automatically set noindex attribute for the categories, archive and optionally for tag archives that may be useful to instruct goolge bots to not index them, this way google bots will not detect duplicate content on your site and hence index your site properly.
The plugin will detect all ways to access your feed (e.g. http://www.inspiredgeek.com/feed/ or http://www.inspiredgeek.com/wp-rss2.php, etc.), and redirect them to your FeedBurner feed so that you can track every possible subscriber to your blog. It will forward for your main posts feed, and optionally your main comments feed as well. So this way you know the actual amount of your FeedBurner subscribers.
This plugin generates an XML-Sitemap compliant sitemap of your WordPress blog and automatically submits this to major search engines. This sitemap will help the search engines in spidering your site and hence ensure that your website is properly indexed by these search engines. This format is supported by Ask.com, Google, YAHOO and MSN Search. Many aspect of the sitemap generation can be customized from the options panel.
Well this plugin needs no introduction and the fact that it comes packaged with the WordPress installation files speaks volumes for its importance. This plugin actually uses Akismat online webservice against which it checks all the comments made on your blog to evaluate that if they exhibit characteristics of a spam comment and if yes marks them as spam. Millions of blogs around the world are relying on to it fight the evil spirit of spam. As I said it comes packaged with the WordPress installation you only need to give it your blog’s API key to properly activate it.
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