There is no doubt that plugins are one of the most exciting features in wordpress. But with literally thousands of free and paid plugins to choose from, one can easily get overwhelmed especially if you are just starting out on blogging. With that in mind, I have compiled a list of ten free wordpress plugins I find to be essential for any blog. All these plugins are designed to add a different functionality to your wordpress blog.
1. Google XML sitemaps
XML sitemaps are very important if we want our blogs to be indexed faster by search engines. That said, a plugin that helps us 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.
Spam is the last thing we all want on our blogs. That said, Akismet is the industry standard when it comes to protecting your blog from spam. It essentially identifies and blocks comment and track-back spam. Akismet works by combining information about spam captured on all participating blogs, and then using those spam rules to block future spam. This means it gets stronger with each spam captured.
3. Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin
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 acknowledge that Akismet deletes some legitimate comments before they get a chance to see them. GASP adds a checkbox to your comment form asking users to confirm that they are not a spammer.
4. Digg Digg Social
With social media so important in today’s Internet, a wordpress plugin that allows your readers to easily share your posts is always useful. Sociable allows you to automatically add links on your posts, pages and RSS feed to your favorite social bookmarking sites.
5. Google Analytics for WordPress
They say the best way to know your audience is through your traffic stats, and this is basically what google analytics provides. If you want to keep track of your wordpress blog using google analytics, then this plugin makes it easy for you to add Google’s web tracking script to your blog. It also offers a host of features like automatic Google Analytics site speed tracking, outbound link & downloads tracking, and so much more.
6. All in One SEO Pack/ Yoast SEO
If you want to optimize your wordpress blog for search engines, then 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.
7. 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.
8. Contact Form 7
It’s always important that we make it easier for our readers to get in touch with us. The 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.
9. WordPress Database Backup
It’s essential that you 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 that you offer 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.
Well, there are thousands of plugins some which perform the same functions as the ones above. Also, the plugins you use depend on how you want your blog to be. It’s always good to try out and see which ones work out better for you.