If you’re in the business of launching and running websites and you’re platform of choice is WordPress, you’re no doubt aware of the thousands of plugins available. This myriad of plugins offer solutions for improving your blog’s performance, adding features that would be hard to self-code, and ensuring your blog is visible and user-friendly. However, it can be easy to bloat your website or blog with too many plugins. I try and limit my plugins those that add practical value. With that said, here are 12 essential plugins that I believe every WordPress blog should have.

1. Akismet

This one comes default in many WordPress installations probably because it’s value is unmatched. Put simply it’s the one-stop spam-stop shop. It does a great job at eliminating spammy comments and helps keep your blog squeaky clean so you don’t ever have to worry about spam again.

2. All in One SEO Pack

What good is blogging if nobody can find your work. This handy plugin is the most complete SEO plugin available. Among other things, it generates META tags automatically, creates search-engine friendly URLS and assists in highly customizable SEO campaigns.

3. Contact Form 7

Contact Form 7 can manage multiple contact forms, plus you can customize the form and the mail contents flexibly with simple markup. The form supports Ajax-powered submitting, CAPTCHA, Akismet spam filtering and so on. You won’t miss Contact Forms 1 through 6.

4. Google XML Sitemaps

Another handy tool to assist in search-engine optimization. This plugin creates a custom XML sitemap of your site and submits it automatically to search engines. This allows for the search engine crawlers easier access to your content which means more visibility on the valuable Google search results pages.

5. Subscribe to Comments

Help keep your loyal commentors informed with this handy plugin. When enabled, it will allow readers to subscribe to comments via email notifications. This is great for bloggers who are interested in lengthy debates that rage on through the comments section.

6. WP-DB-Backup

Backup is essential for any and all websites. This plugin makes backing up your WordPress quick and easy. You can setup routine backups and have them emailed to yourself for safe-keeping. If you’re not using this or a similar backup solution, you’re asking for trouble.

7. WordPress Popular Posts

This simple plugin installs a widget that can be placed on your sidebar or other widget-ready area to display the most popular posts on your blog. Use this is a means of keeping readers on your site and interested in what’s popular.

8. WP-PageNavi

Simply adds a more advanced and elegant page solution for your blog. Make your page numbers attractive with this minimal plugin.

9. WP Google Analytics

If you’re like me, you can become quickly obsessed with tracking analytics and statistics on your blog. This plugin allows you to quickly and easily integrate Google Analytics, a free and useful tool for tracking your visitors, within your WordPress template.

10. Yet Another Related Posts Plugin

When a reader reaches the bottom of the article, help retain their clicks by providing other articles on similar topics. This plugin presents all related posts based on a very useful and adaptable algorithm that works great out of the box.

11. Theme Switch

If you’re in the process of upgrading your theme, this plugin is truly essential. It allows for administrators to switch to an alternate theme for viewing without the general readership being affected. So build and preview your new template while your current design stays untouched. I used this extensively on the redesign of my site a few months ago.

12. Advanced Text Widget

Finally a catch-all plugin that puts a handy tool in your widget arsenal. The advanced text widget allows you to include any type of content (including HTML and PHP) in a sidebar widget. I use this for simple blocks information but it’s uses are limitless. When nothing else meets your widget needs, drop it in and code away.

Let Me Hear Your Favorites

These are only a dozen of the many plugins that I use on this site. I’m always on the lookout for new and better plugins to make my job easier.¬† What essential plugins could you not live without? Do you have any tips or tricks for any of these plugins I’ve mentioned? What are your favorite plugins? Leave me a few suggestions in the comment sections below.

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