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April 23, 2008

Project WP, Part 2: Eight dead essential WordPress Plugins

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In the first part of Project WP, we installed WordPress and set it up for our convenience to improve visibility and attract more visitors. Today, we’re going to look at 8 absolutely essential plugins that significantly contribute to our efforts of creating a successful WordPress blog.

Part 2: Eight dead essential WordPress Plugins

WordPress is a fantastic platform for bloggers. If you’ve been thinking about getting into blogging, but you don’t know what awaits you, rest assured, for we are here to help. In the course of this series, we’ll take it step by step and explain how to create your own blog - with your very own custom theme. This involves the design part as well as the part working with PHP and CSS.

In this part of Project WP, we will share with you the 8 absolutely necessary WordPress Plugins that we install on every new WordPress blog we create - be it a project of our own or a job for a client.

Installing a WordPress Plugin

It’s easy, so we’ll breeze through this and get to the good part quickly:

  1. Download the plugin Zip file we provide you with
  2. Unpack the Zip
  3. Upload the unzipped plugin via FTP to your WordPress plugin folder, located on your server at wp-content/plugins
  4. Activate the plugin in your WordPress Admin in the Plugins tab
  5. Access the settings of the plugin at the specified location, usually in the Settings tab

That’s all you need to know about installing plugins in WordPress.

Moving on, here come our 8 dead essential WordPress Plugins for you! Each one includes a link to the plugin page as well as a direct download link - in case you’re in a hurry

On a side note: WordPress comes with two pre-installed plugins, Akismet and Hello Dolly. The latter is a superfluous gimmick, but Akismet is very useful to help prevent spam. You need to register with wordpress.com for free to get an API key in order to use it.

1. All In One SEO Pack

Go to the Plugin PageDownload this WordPress Plugin directly from the source

Search Engine optimization (SEO) is necessary, if we want our blog and its content to be found by search engines such as Google and Yahoo. This plugin adds a lot of juice to the standard functions of WordPress, hence it’s an essential plugin for us. It adds Meta description and keywords; it eliminates a major flaw of WordPress - duplicate content (search engines can downgrade your domain for that); the structure of your post and page titles, etc. Very useful.

2. WordPress.com Stats

Go to the Plugin PageDownload this WordPress Plugin directly from the source
A classic. This isn’t as thorough and detailed as third-party analytics services (such as Google Analytics or Clicky), but it provides your blog with quick stats, showing you how many hits your posts got, where they came from, and where they went.

You’ll also need a WordPress API key to use this plugin, which you get when you make a free account at wordpress.com.

3. WP Super Cache

Go to the Plugin PageDownload this WordPress Plugin directly from the source
When traffic increases, it’s a good idea to take care about using as little bandwidth as possible to deliver content. This pluging does just that: it caches WordPress’ PHP scripts, generating static HTML pages and serves them instead. This reduces bandwidth and speeds up loading time. After activating the plugin, it will be in off mode until you choose to switch it on in the Settings panel.

To read more about the pros and cons of this plugin, visit the author page here.

4. Google XML Sitemap Generator

Go to the Plugin PageDownload this WordPress Plugin directly from the source
The name says it all: this plugin creates an XML sitemap for your WordPress blog and places it in the root directory. Sitemaps are not necessary for Google indexing your site, but recommended, as the error rate is smaller and it makes the crawling process more efficient.

Also, take a look at the free Google Webmaster Tools to analyze and improve the way Google sees your websites - including sitemaps.

5. WP Automatic Upgrade

Go to the Plugin PageDownload this WordPress Plugin directly from the source
A wonderful plugin that upgrades your WordPress to the newest version. Although it’s called “automatic”, you always stay in control of the upgrade. I just frees you from the task of downloading the newest release, backing up your WordPress core files and database, and installing the new version.

After activating this plugin, you can access it from the Manage tab in your Wordpress Admin.

6. Subscribe to Comments

Go to the Plugin PageDownload this WordPress Plugin directly from the source
This plugin adds a check box in the comment section of your posts, giving your commenting readers the option to receive email updates on new comments in that post. Because it’s so simple for your reader to opt in, chances are high that they will choose to subscribe and return to your blog later.

You can adjust the settings of this plugin in your Settings tab and manage the subscriber list in the Manage tab.

7. No Self Ping

Go to the Plugin PageDownload this WordPress Plugin directly from the source
This little plugin works without any configuration and simply prevents your posts from pinging within your blog. It only affects trackbacks to older posts on your own blog: if you link back to older entries, and you don’t like the automatic trackbacks, this plugin should help you out!

8. Feed Footer

Go to the Plugin PageDownload this WordPress Plugin directly from the source
This plugin adds static fields to your RSS feed’s footer. You can place what you want in there, for it’s HTML enabled. Use it for a copyright notice, a sticky “About” text, a picture, or even ads.

Okaaay.

There you have it, a list of our 8 dead essential WordPress Plugins that provide the necessary functionality for every one of our projects and jobs. We’re pretty sure that you’ve already heard of them if you have been using WordPress for a while. If WordPress is new to you, rest assured, for in the next part of Project WordPress, due this Friday, we’ll give you an additional list of 10+ highly recommended plugins for WordPress.

And having accomplished that, we’ll finally be ready to advance to the next pillar of Project WP: the blog layout and style. We’ll take a basic theme and customize it completely, using PHP and CSS. Stay tuned!

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2 Comments here!

1. Brooke May 19, 2008 at 18:59

The first plugin I install is always the PHP code widget
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/php-code-widget/

It’s just as it sounds, lets you execute php through a widget, great for all those plugins that aren’t widget-ready. No need to alter your sidebar.php file.

2. sandrar September 10, 2009 at 15:45

Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

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