How to Use WordPress: 5 Best WordPress Plugins

In the last article, How To Use WordPress: How to Install WordPress Theme , we went over getting your WordPress theme installed, so now what? Before you start posting to your new blog there a couple more things you will need to do, the first of which is installing and configuring plugins. Plugins are add-on components that enhance the features and performance of WordPress. In this article I am going to review 5 of the best WordPress plugins that are critical to making your blog not only look good and perform well, but also to assist with getting your blog noticed by the search engines.

By now you have probably scanned over the WordPress.org website and probably have taken a look at the plugin page. If you are just getting started you are probably wondering what plugins you need and what plugins you don’t need. Like choosing a theme, one of the first things you will notice is that there are often times 4 or 5, sometimes even more, plugins all claiming to do the same thing or to be the best WordPress plugins. How do you determine which ones will work for your blog and which ones you really need.

Choosing a plugin is like choosing a theme. Outside of the WordPress plugins listed below, if you are looking for a specific plugin I recommend looking at a few factors. First, has the plugin been updated recently and is it compatible with the current version of WordPress. Next you will want to look at the support forum for the plugin to see how well and how quickly issues are resolved. Is the developer actively involved in the community or did they release the plugin and disappear. You can also look to see how many other plugins the developer has released to get an idea of how active they are in the community.

Best WordPress Plugins

1. JetPack JetPack is a feature-packed plugin developed by the WordPress team. Although it is a single plugin, it is packed with many options. A couple of the options you will want to take advantage of are Sharing, Stats, Google+, and Publicize.

2. Yoast WordPress SEO This plugin is probably one of the best WordPress plugins out there for search engine optimization. The plugin not only automatically generates sitemaps for your site and submits them to Google and Bing, but it also allows you to customize titles, meta descriptions and keywords, and focus keywords for your posts and pages.

3. W3 Total Cache You will want your blog to be fast and with the W3 Total Cache plugin your pages will be delivered significantly faster to your readers with minimal configuration on your part.

4. Google Analytics Dashboard Without knowing who your visitors are, what they are searching for, and how the interact with your blog you will be steering blind. Not only does the Google Analytics Dashboard plugin integrate your site with your Google Analytics account, it also builds stats directly into your admin dashboard so you don’t have to continually check your Analytics dashboard.

5. Regenerate Thumbnails If you ever decide to change themes, or need to make adjustments to the images on your site, this plugin will handle the dirty work for you. With the Regenerate Thumbnails plugin whenever you change themes you can adjust all your images to fit your new theme with a single click.

 

Why Didn’t I List WordPress Plugins for Comments?

When making this list I debated whether to include a comment plugin, but opted not to. My reason is simple. Some people prefer the standard WordPress comment system, others prefer the likes of Discus, others prefer Facebook, and yet others prefer Google+. They are all good and choosing one should be your choice and preference. That’s not to say you absolutely need to install the plugins listed above, but I would definitely install them before choosing a comment plugin.

So there you have it. My 5 best WordPress plugins recommendations.

Have a plugin, or recommendation for a plugin, that is not listed here? Leave a comment.

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