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Top 25 WordPress Plugins You Should Be Using

by Jon Ochs

When I first started blogging there wasn’t the wide selection of great plugins available that we have today. The problem is that there are now so many plugins available that it can be hard to know which ones really work, or are the best fit for that bit of functionality we are looking for.

You can spend the time to go through all the reviews for each plugin, but I have found that many of those with few comments, and even those with a few negative reviews, are misunderstood and actually great plugins. It was hard to keep this list to only 25, but more than that could be a bit overwhelming (both for me writing this, and for you reading it).

You will also want to keep in mind that as you add more and more plugins to your blog, it can tend to slow things down a bit. I try to keep my active plugins count to around 20-25 to keep things running lightning fast and I only use plugins that have been properly coded for optimal performance.

I have put together the below list of my top recommended plugins (in no particular order) to provide you with a shortcut to getting your blog in shape.

Accelerate your WordPress blog today by adding incredible functionality with these recommended plugins:

Google XML Sitemaps Plugin

Having an XML sitemap is an important part of your SEO strategy. This plugin automates the creation, maintenance and submission of any updated content on your blog to to all the major search engings. Installing and using this plugin will help your blog’s posts and pages get indexed quickly and stay current.

Check it out: Google XML Sitemaps Plugin

W3 Total Cache Plugin

W3 Total Cache improves the user experience of your site by improving your server performance, caching every aspect of your site and reducing the download times. Combine this plugin with a powerful fast theme from Woo themes or Thesis, and your blog becomes noticeably blazing fast.

Check it out: W3 Total Cache Plugin

All In One SEO Pack Plugin

One of the most recognized plugins for optimizing your blog for the search engines. If you’re not using it already, you should be! This is a must have plugin that allows you to customize all aspects of your blog’s SEO performance.

Check it out: All In One SEO Pack Plugin

WPTouch Plugin

WPtouch automatically transforms your WordPress blog into a mobile theme for those browsing using their mobile phones or iPad type devices. The admin panel allows you to customize many aspects of its appearance, and deliver a fast, user-friendly and stylish version of your site to touch mobile visitors, without modifying a single bit of code (or affecting) your regular desktop theme. Mobile users can even choose to switch to the non-mobile version of your site with the touch of a button.

Check it out: WPTouch Plugin

Comment Notifier Plugin

The Comment Notifier plugin adds a checkbox in your comments section to allow readers to subscribe to the thread of individual posts. They will then be notified of any additional comments on that post via email. This improves readership and loyalty.

Check it out: Comment Notifier Plugin

YARPP Plugin

This plugin will allow you to display a selection of related posts with featured image at the bottom of every post. Just by adding this, you are almost guaranteed to increase your visitor time on site statistics, and as we all know, more time on site means more conversions. I used to use the LinkWithin plugin for this functionality, but I got tired of having to register for every blog I was using it on. I have found this plugin to work better anyway.

Check it out: YARPP Plugin

Premise Landing Pages Plugin

If you are in need to adding landing pages, squeeze pages or sales pages to your WordPress blog, there is no better way to easily build and manage them than with Premise. This plugin allows you to create beautiful and fully customized landing pages and sales pages in minutes. The cost is minimal, especially when compared with the time saved.

Check it out: Premise Plugin

Backup Buddy Plugin

When it comes to backing up your website, this is one thing you don’t want to ignore. On several occasions I have lost complete websites overnight due to server issues or just plain bad web hosting companies. When it comes to backup utilities, there are many available. However, there is only one solution that allows you to restore your “entire” WordPress blog with just a couple mouseclicks.

There are many free backup plugins available for WordPress, but they really only backup the WordPress database, so although you may be able to save all your posts and page content, you will spend days trying to re-install and re-configure all your plugins and theme settings.

Do yourself a favor and invest in Backup Buddy–the only real complete backup solution for WordPress.

Check it out: Backup Buddy Plugin

Broken Link Checker Plugin

There is nothing more annoying to your blog visitors than finding dead links and getting that dreaded 404 Error page. This plugin will check your posts, comments and other content for broken links and missing images, and notify you if any are found. In addition, you can also use the 404 To Start plugin if you want to send any 404 Errors to the home page of your blog.

Check it out: Broken Link Checker Plugin

Popup Domination Plugin

Popup Domination is a by far the best popup list building tool for your WordPress blog. This plugin is easy to install and configure in minutes, and it integrates perfectly with all the major list management companies (Aweber, iContact and more). There are a large number of customizations available and it truly will more than double your opt-ins.

I am currently using in on several of my blogs, and feel that my investment was returned within the first few days I began using it.

Check it out: Popup Domination Plugin

Akismet Plugin

Akistmet…. Well, there is not much to say about this one. Plain and simple, it comes pre-loaded with WordPress and you should be using it. It is the best solution for stopping spam, especially when combined with the power of the SI Captch Anti-Spam plugin (also mentioned in this post). You will need to register at wordpress.com for a free API Key to activate Akismet.

Check it out: Akismet Plugin

SI Captcha Anti-Spam Plugin

This is another “must have” plugin that does a great job of blocking comment spam. It simply adds a small captcha requirement to the comments form on your posts. If you are getting a lot of spam comments on your blog, install this little baby and put an end to it right now.

Check it out: SI Captcha Anti-Spam Plugin

cbnet Ping Optimizer Plugin

The cbnet Ping Optimizer plugin saves your blog from excessive pinging. By default WordPress will ping the notification services every single time you make an edit to a blog post. This can cause your blog to be blocked or even banned from the notification services. Save your blog from getting tagged as a ping spammer by installing this plugin.

Check it out: cbnet Ping Optimizer Plugin

Contact Form 7 Plugin

If you are in need to a basic contact form on your blog, there is no simpler way to add one than with Contact Form 7. With just a few clicks you can have a customized form to fit your needs. If you have more specific form needs that cannot be handled with this free plugin, I highly recommend the Gravity Forms Plugin.

Check it out: Contact Form 7 Plugin

Redirection Plugin

If you use any affiliate links on your blog, or if you would prefer to shorten some of your longer links within posts or pages, then this plugin is exactly what you need. It will basically shorten those long URLs to a more manageable short version. The nicely added bit of functionality is that it also allows you to track each link individually; so you can see how many times it has been clicked.

Check it out: Redirection Plugin

Simple Tags Plugin

A while back I wrote an article that showed how to use the Google Wonder Wheel tool for collecting effective blog post tags. Now that the Wonder Wheel is no longer available, I have found this plugin to be an even better and faster way to generating relevant keyword tags for posts. Check out this post and video I recently did about this plugin.

Check it out: Simple Tags Plugin

Google Analyticator Plugin

If you are using Google Analytics, I have found this to be the best, most stable and easiest plugin for integrating your analytics into your blog. You can view your latest analytics stats in your dashboard and it takes less than a minute to set up.

Check it out: Google Analyticator Plugin

Social Sharing Plugins

When it comes to social sharing plugins, many bloggers tend to go overboard and over-decorate their blog with too many sharing options. The bottom line is that if you focus more on creating content that others naturally want to share, and less on trying to get them to share mediocre conent, you will have much better results. I personally like to include the Simple Facebook Share Button Plugin, fbLikeButton Plugin and the TweetMeme Retweet Button Plugin to display in my posts. Other than that, people who like to bookmark via the loads of bookmarking sites don’t need a specific button to do that. If you are already jumping on the Google + bandwagon, you can also include the Google +1 Button Plugin.

WordPress Popular Posts Plugin

This plugin installs a customizable sidebar widget that displays the most popular posts on your blog. It is a great tool for highlighting your most traffic-getting content. There are a number of plugins that have similar functionality, but I have found that this one just plain works.

Check it out: WordPress Popular Posts Plugin

Comment Redirect Plugin

This is a nice little bit of added functionality that allows you to redirect users who just left a comment to another page on your blog. This could be a thank you page, or a specific offer. I have had good results with this on a couple of my blogs where I sent first-time commmenters to a page that invited them to also connect with me on Facebook or Twitter.

Check it out: Comment Redirect Plugin

CommentLuv Plugin

This plugin gives those who comment on your posts and pages the ability to gain a backlink to their most current blog post upon leaving a comment. This can encourage more comments on your blog and create a more friendly community atmosphere.

Check it out: CommentLuv Plugin

Be sure to share this post with your blogging friends and drop me a comment below to let me know how they worked for you. Also let me know if you have other plugins you really like.

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