10 WordPress Plugins to Install by Default
Having installed and configured thousands of WordPress web sites over the years, our list of WordPress plugins to install by default changes from time to time. This particular list however has been pretty much the same for a very long time, except for the addition of 2 new official WordPlugins for 2011.
This post is part of the:
100 Things you Need to Know about WordPress Series given by Anthony Montalbano and myself at WordPress Ann Arbor.
1. Akismet Akismet is the world’s most popular anti-spam plugin, created specifically for fighting “blog spam”, “comment spam”, etc. It’s an official WordPress plugin, and to use it all you have to do is signup for a free WordPress.com account and use the free API key to register it. You can download Akismet here, or just install from the “Add Plugins” dialogue of your WordPress dashboard.
2. Hotfix Hotfix is also an official WordPress plugin (which is awesome). It allows you to update core WordPress files without actually having to go to the next version. Case and point, let’s say you’re stuck at WordPress 3.0 because one of your plugins isn’t compatible with WordPress 3.1 (yet). You could use the Hotfix plugin to update the WordPress core files and get the security patches you need to make you safe, without upgrading fully to 3.1. Then you can upgrade to WordPress 3.1 once you know all your plugins work properly. You can download hotfix here, or just install from the “Add Plugins” dialogue of your WordPress dashboard.
3. Jetpack JetPack is an official WordPress plugin that gives you several services at once. Visit the official JetPack URL and you’ll see that once JetPack is installed you can use WordPress.com stats, a twitter widget, gravatar hovercards, wp.me shortlinks, sharedaddy, and even the “After the Deadline” plugin! You can also use LaTeX markup, and special shortcode embeds for videos and stuff from YouTube, Vimeo, Slideshare, etc. You get ALL this functionality just by installing Jetpack!. You can download JetPack here, or just install from the “Add Plugins” dialogue of your WordPress dashboard.
4. Revision Control WordPress has a great revisioning system, but it’s endless. Meaning if you update a post or page 100 times, you have 100 revisions stored in the database. There’s no way to limit them natively in WordPress at all. With the Revision Control plugin installed, you can limit revisions to any number you would like (personally I use 3). You can download Revision Control here, or just install from the “Add Plugins” dialogue of your WordPress dashboard.
5. Subscribe to Comments Subscribe to Comments is probably the most famous plugin (core WP programmer) Mark Jaquith has ever written. Ordinarily when you leave a comments on a WordPress web site, the only way to know if someone has responded to you or left a new comment – is to either revisit the page or follow the RSS feed. I for one, cannot monitor the RSS feed of every single page post I’ve ever left a comment on. Enter Subscribe to Comments, which (once activated) shows a checkbox to “subscribe to comments” when you leave one. It also has a built in system that allows (from links in comment notification emails) people to unsubscribe at at any time. You can download Subscribe to Comments here, or just install from the “Add Plugins” dialogue of your WordPress dashboard.
6. Contact Form 7 Contact Form 7 has been downloaded more than 3.6 MILLION times from the official WordPress plugin repository. This is the official Contact Form 7 website. It’s definitely the most widely used Contact Form plugin for WordPress, and it has a TON of extension plugins that you can use in conjunction with it. So many, in fact – I’ve written a long blog post detailing them on my other blog WordPress Directory: 11Different Ways to Extend the WordPress Contact Form 7 Plugin. You can download Contact Form 7 here, or just install from the “Add Plugins” dialogue of your WordPress dashboard.
7. Error Reporting One thing about of the more mainstream web hosts is that they don’t save PHP error files. And when they do save them – you probably have no idea unless you find them in FTP by accident in different directories. Error Reporting is a WordPress plugin that saves an error file every time an error is generated in PHP, and you can view the errors from the WordPress dashboard plugin settings page. In addition, you can limit the errors to be saved for the last XX days. I install this plugin on every client’s web site, so if they have problems in the future and call me – I’ll have something to go by to track it down. You can download Error Reporting here, or just install from the “Add Plugins” dialogue of your WordPress dashboard.
8. Login Lockdown When a hacker or spammer is trying to break into your web site, they will often use automated tools that try and do it via ‘brute force’ (over and over again) until they break your password and get in. Once you install the Login Lockdown plugin – you can limit the amount of failed logins that are possible before their IP address is locked for a period of time (before they can try again). Also all failed logins are logged by the plugin for review later. You can download Login Lockdown here, or just install from the “Add Plugins” dialogue of your WordPress dashboard.
9. Secure WordPress Secure WordPress is great plugin that offers some “set it and forget it” security features. You can deactivate tooltip and error messages to the WP login page, and remove the “version of WordPress” in all areas. You can also remove update messages and links for non-admins, and it even helps block bad queries. You can download Secure WordPress here, or just install from the “Add Plugins” dialogue of your WordPress dashboard.
10. All in One SEO Pack / Google XML Sitemap / Robots Meta To get your WordPress web site listed in the search engines and ranked well, you have to have the foundations of a good SEO plugin, a robots.txt file (and management for what pages get indexed), and an XML sitemap that’s registered with search engines webmaster tools. To accomplish this we use All in One SEO pack, Google XML Sitemaps, and Robots Meta.
Although slightly advanced (due to all the setup and features), we give honorable mention to another plugin you might want to check out WordPress SEO by Yoast. The WordPress SEO plugin combines some of the features found in All in One SEO and Robots Meta in one plugin. I did want to mention that a lot of people like this plugin for the Google search preview (showing what your page or post will look like in actual search results). You should know that this is only accurate if Google uses your exact Post Title and meta description (or first 135 characters of content). Google used to strictly use these, but now (because people game the search engines for rankings) Google is using random text from the web page as much as 50-60% of the time, rendering this feature a little more useless everyday. The rest of the features, however, are great! All of these plugins can be installed by going to the “Add Plugins” dialogue of your WordPress dashboard.
Do you need specific functionality within your website? We build custom plugins for WordPress for clients, and can create one for your specific needs as well.