The Best 15 WordPress Plugins The Newbie Blogger Needs

WordPress is an awesome website building platform that is relatively easy to learn, within days even the most timid internet user can have a professional looking blog and website up and running. With WordPress there is no need for HTML or JavaScript coding skills. Everything is created with an easy to use 'plug n play' style system. I guess that is why they call the add-ons 'plugins'.
Once you have WordPress installed onto your server a default theme will be visible, this is usually the 'Twenty Eleven' theme, if you do not like this theme all you need to do is change it. We will talk about how to change themes in another post. For now, the default theme is good enough to start your newbie blog.
WordPress functionality may seem a bit basic at first and it is, but even the basic theme can look great if you use it well, once you start to add the plugins then the magic can really start. Plugins can turn your blog from just a one or two video posts to a complete video style website or it can become a photo gallery. You can add podcasts, sales pages, and ecommerce stores. The possibilities are endless. Anyway, I better not get you either too excited or frazzle your brain with 'too much to learn syndrome'.
I will take it easy and start small. I am going to give you a list of plugins that I think every new blog owner should know about and install before you go into the seriously good plugins. Some are essential and some are, well you guessed it, not. These are in no particular order
1. Akismet- Great plugin that stops spamming comments and deletes automatically saving you the time and annoyance of having to go through the comments left by people pushing porn or Viagra! Akismet is usually pre-loaded into WordPress and should be found in the plugin section. This will need a key for it to be enabled and you will need to register with Akismet to get a key. It used to be available from but unfortunately they have stopped doing that. [Essential]
2. Contact Form 7 - Great plugin this, adds a contact form (if you hadn't already guessed) to your site. You simply add in your email address that you want emails sent to, and any other info you require then copy and paste the simple code it gives you into a page. Give the page a name like hmmm 'Contact Me' hit publish and you are done. [Essential]
3. EzineArticles - This is a cool plugin, when you write a blog post, before you put links or pictures into it you can hit a couple of buttons and send your fresh article straight to EzineArticles for distribution. Now article marketing used to be big but since Google have taken a bit of a dislike to article sites I am not sure how powerful article marketing is; however, it can still be good for you if other websites and newsletters to take your article with a link to your site and use it.
4. Google Privacy Policy - This is a must if you want to monetize your site with Google AdSense. They will not add any adverts to a site that doesn't comply with their terms and a site must have a Privacy Policy. This sorts it all out, similar to Contact Form 7, you copy a bit of code and post it into a page and hit publish. Job done. [Essential]
5. Google XML Sitemaps - The best way to describe this is by using the plugin description itself 'This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and to better index your blog' I couldn't have put it better myself.
6. CKEditor for WordPress- This is great for copying and pasting from Word etc, keeping the text and font formatting. Better than the standard default text editor in WordPress. It gives you more choice and control when writing your blog posts or importing pictures. This is not an essential plugin really, more a preference.
7. cbnet Ping Optimizer - This stops the over excessive 'pinging' of your website to search engines. WordPress by default will 'ping' your blog posts to help them get index by the search engines. If you are like me, you will create blog posts by adding bits, publishing it, taking a look, editing it, updating it etc. etc. This can go on time after time after time. Every time you hit 'Update' WordPress will send a new 'ping'. You may think this is good, it is not. Too much 'pinging' can in fact go against you. Google may think you are spamming and trying to get index really fast for naughty reasons. So you could in fact be punished for excessive pinging. Installing this plugin is a must. [Essential]
8. Share and Follow - This is a social share plugging that adds all those lovely Social Media and bookmarking buttons at the top/bottom of posts allowing people who like your posts to share and bookmark them (obviously) There is also a 'Follow Us' bar where you can add your Twitter and Facebook links so your site visitors can easily join up and follow you on the popular Social Media networks.
9. Yoast SEO - Search Engine optimization is a must for websites to help them get higher rankings in the search engines, this great plugin checks your posts before you publish them to see if they are written as best as they can be with your chosen keyword for them to have a better ranking in places like Google. Alternately you can use All in One SEO Pack plugin. I prefer the Yoast personally. [Essential]
10. Digg Digg - Another Social Media plugin that allows your site visitors to ReTweet or Share your posts. Digg Digg has a great funky floating bar that runs up the side of your posts. I run this alongside share and follow.
11. Statpress Reloaded - This is great little plugin for showing you how many visitors you have had to your site, where they came from, what page they looked at, what search terms they used etc. Once you have activated it, it is up and running unlike Google Analyticator plugin which requires you to set up a Google Analytics account and get an ID password before you can use the plugin. Statpress Reloaded is straightforward and fast working. [Essential]
12. WPtouch - Awesome plugin that automatically turns your site into a smart phone friendly version. Most smart phones these days can view normal websites well and the new version of WordPress seems to adapt automatically when viewed in phones, however saying that. WP Touch makes your site look a lot better and arranges your posts into an easier to read list. Install, give it a try, if you do not like it deactivate it and delete. Not a problem
13. Related Posts Thumbnails - This cool plugin allows related posts to be seen on the side bar and at the bottom of your posts with the featured image, giving your reader something else to see, possibly capture their attention and have them clicking through to your other posts keeping them where you want them, on your site!
14. WP Photo Album - Another excellent plugin that gives a greater visual dimension to your blog. This plugin allows you to upload loads of photos, create albums and galleries. You copy some code into a page, give it a title and hit publish to create picture galleries within your site. It has several widgets that can be placed into the sidebar creating a picture of the day/hour, a slide show of pictures and a top ten pictures section giving your site an incredible visual experience.
15. FeedWordPress - This is for the lazy people who don't like creating their own content. Plugin this baby and it will pull content via RSS from the websites that you choose and place them onto your blog as posts. As long as they have an RSS feed of course. Great for news type of blogs. Use this alongside your own content then you have a winning combination. Regular posting of content is good in the eyes of search engines, they don't normally like duplicate content but if you use it wisely it can do you good. The only drawback is that you must choose the websites that you pull your feed from wisely otherwise your site could get populated with rubbish.

By Tim M Lowe

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