When I setup my first WordPress website, I was overwhelmed with all of the WordPress plug-ins available.
I read numerous articles: Best WordPress Plugins, 55 of the Best WordPress Plugins, Top 10 SEO Related WordPress Plugins and the list went on and on. There seemed to be a war going on about who could create the definitive list of Word-Plugins.
When you are starting out with your blog, your focus is quality content and optimized SEO. You most certainly DO NOT need 55 WordPress Plugins or 10 different plug-ins for SEO purposes.
I start all blogs off with the following 8 WordPress plug-ins and rarely find occasion to add others, except for the bonus plug-in below:
WordPress Plugin #1: Akismet
You do not even need to install this plug-in as it comes with WordPress. Akismet blocks spam. You’ll know your site is getting some Internet Action when your Akismet spam queue starts to fill up!
WordPress Plugin #2: All in One SEO Pack
This is an absolutely essential tool for great WordPress SEO. WordPress is beginning to integrate many of the All in One SEO Pack elements, but they are not quite there yet. The All in One SEO Pack allows you to manipulate all of the information in the HTML Head section, which is vital for positive SEO.
WordPress Plugin #3: FeedBurner FeedSmith
Feedburner, now owned by Google after they paid exorbinant amounts, allows you to distribute your content via RSS, or Real Simple Syndication. This is a standard used by many to automatically download Internet content that they like and is essential for all blogs.
WordPress Plugin #4: Google XML Sitemaps
We have all heard “google loves blogs.” Well, we could also say that “google loves blogs even more when they have the Google XML Sitemaps installed.” This tool automatically notifies the search engines each time your blog is updated. Again, an indispensable tool.
WordPress Plugin #5: ShareThis
This tool easily allows people to socially bookmark your article or email it to a friend. On most of my sites, I set ShareThis up to default to emailing the article to a friend because most non-technies have no idea what social bookmarking is.
WordPress Plugin #6: Subscribe To Comments
Allowing readers to comment on your blogs enables a discussion of the posts that you have written. However, given the default setup, a user will make a comment and then be gone for good. With the Subscribe To Comments, people are automatically emailed when there are more comment updates. This invites the original person back into the discussion. To see a feedback loop in action, visit the page entitled The Movie 21, Variable Change, and Monty Hall and look at all of the comments. The subscribe to comments plug-in can be witnessed at the bottom of the page where you see the Notify Me of Follow-Up Comments choice.
WordPress Plugin #7: WordPress.com Stats
WordPress Stats provides valuable traffic information for website analysis. It is not the only package that does this but I like it. Remember, in the beginning, you will not receive a lot of traffic so don’t keep checking your stats all the time. Spend your time creating great content.
WordPress Plugin #8: WordPress Related Posts
One of the essential challenges of any new blog is getting inbound links, and specifically, getting inbound links optimized for your page keywords. Take a look at this page titled Ten Best Valentine Gifts For Sports Lovers. At the bottom of the page, we see the Related Posts tag working beautifully. There are links to each of the other articles on the site using the exact title of the article, which should be very keyword rich. This is the best type of inbound link that you can get!
WordPress BONUS Photo Plugin: Lightbox 2 Plugin
This is an extremely cool photo plugin. It allows visitors to click a thumbnail and expands in a somewhat artistic fashion. Check it out in action at Punta Del Este, Uruguay: Summer on The Gold Coast where you can see South American Girls in Bikinis go from thumbnail to full size.
These are the 8 WordPress Plug-ins that you need to get started on your WordPress Blog.
Of all of these, I would say that the related keywords is the best. That way, when people finish the article they have more to read…from your site.