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I know you’re probably confused by the sheer volume of plugins available for WordPress, and which of them you actually need. Believe me it’s very easy to wind up a with WordPress site which is crammed full of plugins you don’t use, and probably can’t even remember installing in the first place.
So what I want to do with this blog post is highlight the plugins/types of plugins which you absolutely do need, and then anything else you choose to install is up to you.
Even if you blog your little heart out you have to understand there are literally millions of other blogs out there right now, and if you want to compete with them for the first few places in Google
you’ll need to use at least a little bit of search engine optimization. I’ve been using the ‘All in One SEO‘ plugin for well over 5 years now, and I love how easy it is to use and the fact that it works so well. Other bloggers are huge fans of the SEO Yoast or SEO Ultimate plugins, but I found they were overloaded with more features than I’d ever need.
Every aspect of your WordPress site is stored in a database, and anyone who has ever worked with larger databases knows that they eventually become corrupt. The very last thing you want to have happen is for your WordPress site to get trashed, and have no way of recovering all of the data you’ve just lost – potentially including hundreds of blog posts. So instead of having to constantly worry about how safe all your data is just install a data backup plugin instead. Something like BackWPup Free will cover most of your needs, plus it can back your blog up to a Dropbox account for an added layer of security.
The whole idea of having a blog is that when people find it they’ll want to share it with other people. In the early days just having a blog was enough to make people want to share it, but these days you have to work a little harder to get a social mention, or two. One of the very first plugins you should install on any WordPress site is one which allows visitors to share your blog with other people as easily as possible. My personal favourite plugin for this task is Shareaholic, but there are dozens of others out there.
Staying in Contact
Even if you’re not going to be actively generating leads with your blog you’ll still need to give your visitors a way to stay in touch with you. My favourite plugin for this is Contact Form 7 but there are plenty of other plugins out there for performing the same function. Another very popular contact form plugin is Gravity Forms, although Contact Form 7 is free – I’m just a bit of a cheapskate like that.
Performing a link redirect in HTML, or via the .htaccess file, on a site is usually very straightforward. Unfortunately when you want redirects to work in WordPress you’re going to need a specific plugin for that. The two plugins I use for link redirects are the Quick Page/Post Redirect plugin, and I also use Pretty Links Lite for when I want to do a bit more tracking on custom/affiliate links. You may not need both of these plugins on every single WordPress site you deploy, but I can promise you that you’ll definitely need one of them.
Just remember that unless you have a specific reason for installing a plugin then don’t – you’ll thank yourself afterwards. Otherwise you’ll wind up with a bloated WordPress installation, and you’re also putting your site at risk by allowing out-of-date, or unsupported, plugins to linger in the background.