In the context of WordPress, a “plugin” is a little piece of code you can install to improve the functionality of your WordPress site. If you’ve shied away from WordPress plugins because you’re unsure of how to use WordPress plugins or because you’re not sure how they will affect your site, here are ten great plugins that will improve your site’s usability and make it more search engine-friendly.
Akismet is a must-have for all WordPress sites. The most basic of WP plugins, Akismet blocks spammy comments and thereby saves you time. This spam filter plugin should be the first one you install on your WordPress website.
Google XML Sitemaps
This plugin is another must-have for anyone who wants search engine traffic. The xml sitemap that this plugin generates makes it much easier for the major search engines to index your blog. The added bonus of this plugin is that it notifies major search engines that you’ve updated your site every time you create a new post.
Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP)
Two keys to website success are loyal readers and readers who visit multiple pages. In other words, what you don’t want is someone who visits your site just one time, reads one post, and then never returns again.
The Yet Another Related Posts Plugin, or YARPP, aims to solve this problem by introducing visitors to your site to other content that might also interest them. In creating a list of related posts, YARPP considers post titles, the content of the posts, tags you add to each post, and how you categorize your content. Once it’s analyzed this information, it displays related content in a format that you can control and modify.
All in One SEO Pack
The All in One SEO Pack is exactly what it sounds like: it’s a plugin that helps you optimize your WordPress site for search engines. One WP expert calls the All in One SEO Pack “one of the most simply effective tools for SEO” (Source: BestWPPlugins.net). It generates META tags automatically, provides SEO integration for e-commerce sites based in WordPress, and optimizes your titles for SEO.
WP Super Cache
As your WordPress site grows, it also slows down. This is because the coding behind WP is relatively complex, leading some detractors to call it a “CPU hog”. However, by using a caching plugin, you can speed up the pace at which your site loads and operates. WP Super Cache is one of the most popular plugins that solves this problem by caching your WP pages as static HMTL. A reviewer on Tutorial9.net called the WP Super Cache “747% better than no cache”, a statistic based on the requests per second, the time per request, and the transfer rate at which a WP site runs with the WP Super Cache plugin.
Sociable adds links to social bookmarking sites, making it easy for readers to bookmark your content and create buzz around your site. Sociable is a great way to get people talking about your blog and get your content noticed by new audiences.
Simple Tags is a great SEO plugin with very deep capabilities. It uses Yahoo! Term Extraction API, Tag the Net, and other terms to suggest tags for your content that are popular search terms, thus increasing the likelihood that a well-thought-out tag will bring search engine traffic to your site. If you decide you want to change a tag, you can edit tags en masse, changing up to 50 tags at once. These SEO features are just the beginning of what this plugin can do.
WP to Twitter
When you use services such as Tweet-u-Later and WP to Twitter, you will be able to keep your Twitter posts updated using very little of your time. In the case of WP to Twitter, every time you update your WordPress blog, a short Bit.ly URL link to the post will be automatically posted to Twitter. Since Twitter is the second most popular social media site after Facebook, keeping your Twitter status updated is important to the buzz you build around your website.
SEO Smart Links
Google likes to see links that have keywords in them, and linking keywords to other relevant content on your site is one easy way to get search engine attention. SEO Smart Links makes your job easier by automatically self-linking to other posts on your site by seeking out the right keywords. You will definitely see your traffic improve thanks to this plugin.
Last but not least on our list is the Share This plugin. Share This makes it very easy to submit your post to places like Twitter, Facebook, Digg, SumbleUpon, and other social media sites. It’s not the only social media plugin, but it’s definitely one of the easiest to use.
Those are my picks for 2013. Which plugins are your favorites? Drop me a line below and tell me what you use on your WP site.