Plugins are what make WordPress the powerful CMS it is. They add more functionality to your basic WordPress install. However, with thousands of free and paid plugins to choose from, you can easily get overwhelmed especially if you are just starting out.
To help you with your selection, I have compiled a list of 10 free WordPress plugins I find essential for any blog. All these plugins are designed to add a different functionality to your wordpress blog and can be installed or downloaded from the Wordpress plugins repository.
Spam is the last thing you want on your blog. But fret no as there is Akismet. Akismet is the industry standard for keeping spam away from your WordPress blog.
This plugin identifies and blocks comment and track-back spam. It works by compiling information about spam captured on all participating blogs, and then uses that data to block future spam. That means it gets stronger with each spam captured.
Also read: 7 Best Akismet Alternatives
Google Analytics for WordPress
The best way to know your audience is through your traffic stats, and this is basically what google analytics provides.
Google Analytics for WordPress makes it easy for you to add Google’s web tracking script to your blog so that you can easily monitor your blog traffic using Google analytics.
It also offers a host of other features like automatic Google Analytics site speed tracking, outbound link & downloads tracking, and so much more.
All in One SEO Pack
If you want to optimize your WordPress blog for search engines, you definitely should be using this plugin. All in One SEO Pack automatically optimizes your WordPress blog for search engines-helps you insert the right meta keywords, define your home description, post title, etc.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a newbie in SEO or an expert; this plugin saves you a substantial amount of time you dedicate to your blog’s SEO.
W3 Total Cache
The developers of W3 Total Cache describe it as “the most complete WordPress performance framework”. Simply put, this plugin improves your readers experience by improving the performance of your server, caching your site, reducing page load time, and so many other features.
Google XML sitemaps
XML sitemaps are important if you want your blogs to be indexed faster by search engines. That said, a plugin that helps you easily generate a sitemap for our blogs will always come in handy. Google XML sitemaps also notifies all the major search engines-Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask.com-every time you create a new post.
Contact Form 7
It’s important that you make it easier for your readers to get in touch with you. Contact Form 7 WordPress plugin makes it easier for you to set up a contact form on your blog. One great thing about it is that it provides flexibility when it comes to designing your contact form.
WordPress Database Backup
It’s essential to always backup you WordPress blog since you never know when something might go wrong. WordPress Database Backup makes it easy for you to backup your database-gives you the option to save the backup on your server, download it to your computer or have it emailed to you on a regular basis.
With more and more people accessing the Internet from their smartphones, it’s important to have a mobile-friendly version of your blog. WPtouch formats your site with a mobile theme for visitors on Apple iPhone /iPod touch, Android, Blackberry Storm and Touch, and other touch-based smartphones.
With social media so important in today’s Internet, a WordPress plugin that allows your readers to easily share your posts is useful. Sociable allows you to automatically add links on your posts, pages and RSS feed to your favourite social bookmarking sites.
GASP stands for GroWMap Anti-Spambot Plugin and it could be used as an alternative to Akismet. I decided to add it to the list due to its simplicity and effectiveness in fighting comment spam.
Well, some blog owners also complain that Akismet deletes some legitimate comments before they get a chance to view them. GASP adds a checkbox to your comment form asking users to confirm they are not spammers.
There are thousands of plugins some which perform the same functions as the ones above. Also, the plugins you use will largely depend on the functionality you want for your blog.
So, which plugins do you primarily use?