WordPress was created as a blogging platform in 2003 but has since evolved into the most popular Content Management System in the world.  As a result, it’s estimated that 22% of all new websites built today are powered by WordPress.  It is free, easy to use, and offers thousands of third-party themes and plugins, all of which makes it an incredibly versatile publishing platform.  In fact, DentonSolutions.com is built on WordPress, as are the sites of many of our clients.

Since we spend so much time with WordPress we’ve had a chance to try out lots of the plugins available and some are great but many are not so great.  We’d like to try to save you some time and list all the plugins we like and use in our own WordPress projects.  If we’ve left out any good ones please leave a comment and let us know!

“Required” WordPress Plugins

These are the plugins we include with any new WordPress deployment.  We highly recommend all of them!

  • Akismet – A great spam filter.  Free for personal sites, keys for business sites start at $5/mo.
  • All in One SEO Pack – Adds meta Title and Description fields to each page/post, performs additional SEO for your site.
  • FD Feedburner Plugin – Redirects your blog’s RSS feed (and optionally comments feed) to Feedburner.
  • Google Analytics for WordPress – Adds Google Analytics tracking code to every page of your site/blog.
  • Google XML Sitemaps – Creates an XML sitemap for submission to Google, Yahoo!, bing, etc. which helps SEO.
  • SEO Slugs – Removes words like “a”, “in”, and “the” from post slugs to improve SEO.
  • SEO Smart Links – Automatically creates links within your content to common posts, pages, categories, and tags.
  • WordPress Backup – Backs up everything except for the database of your WordPress install – uploads/images, themes, and plugins.
  • WordPress Database Backup – Backs up the WordPress database (where all of your posts, pages, and settings live).

Optimization Plugins

Every now and then our hosting provider will complain that a site we manage is exceeding the maximum resources allocated for its particular hosting environment.  Before upgrading the hosting package for that site, we first use these plugins to optimize the site as much as possible and they usually buy us some extra time before we’re forced to upgrade.

  • Better WordPress Minify – Optimizes site load time by reducing the number of files required to display your site.
  • DB Cache Reloaded Fix – Reduces database queries, the most resource-intensive operation of a WordPress site.
  • Use Google Libraries – Leverages Google’s Content Delivery Network (CDN) to speed up Javascript load time.
  • WP Super Cache – Creates static versions of your site’s content to reduce database queries and increase page load time.
  • WP-Optimize – Allows you to remove spam/trash comments, post revisions, and more to clean up your WordPress database.

Social Plugins

We live in a social world and if you’re not providing your website’s visitors with ways to share your content then you’re missing out on additional site traffic and exposure.  We suggest using these plugins to make it easy for your visitors to engage with your brand.

  • Add to Circle Widget – Allows visitors to add your Google+ profile to their circles with a single click.  If you’re viewing this article on DentonSolutions.com, look to the right!
  • AuthorSure – Links your WordPress site to Google in order to give your blog authors and contributors credit in Google search results for the blog posts they write.
  • Basic Facebook Social Plugins – Adds the “Like” button to your pages/posts, adds the “Like” box as a widget, and more.  Again, on DentonSolutions.com look to the right!
  • SEO Facebook Comments – Adds comments made through Facebook onto your site as regular WordPress comments – good for SEO.
  • ShareThis – Adds social sharing buttons to the bottom of each page/post – includes dozens of networks.
  • Topsy Retweet Button – Adds a “Retweet” button and Tweet counter to the top of each of your posts.

Miscellaneous Plugins

These are additional plugins use often but didn’t fit into any of the above categories.

  • Fast Secure Contact Form – Best contact form there is for WordPress – many features and easy to use.
  • Twitter for WordPress – Embed a stream of your recent tweets into your site.
  • Ultimate Tag Cloud – Creates a tag cloud widget – more frequently-used tags appear larger.
  • WordPress Related Posts – Generates a list of related posts based on a post’s tags.
  • WPtouch – One of the best plugins available for making your site mobile-friendly very quickly.