I have installed a few WordPress blogs since I know this blogging platform. I have tried and install many different plugins as all blogs were different and had different aims. WordPress has the power to provide you tools for all kind of websites, from the traditional blog to the online shop.
However there are a few plugins that I always install at first. I believe them to be the core of WordPress. Who knows, maybe one day we will find them included in every WordPress installation!
So what is important for a website and for its webmaster? At first I’d say monitoring, don’t you think?
Knowing who comes, when and from which browser is something important to me. And of course, what feels better than seeing your number of visitors growing after an interesting post? For that reason I always install two monitoring plugins with every WordPress installation.
Yes, RSS feed is important. Even more if you have a blog. Of course you could let it as it is and check the amount of subscribers in Google reader, but FeedBurner will tell you so much more about your readers. So I always set up a Feedburner account, and then I install Feedburner Feedsmith, the plugin by Feedburner.
For the rest of the monitoring, Google analytics does a great job for me! Clear, complete, it offers varieties of settings to know everything about your readers. The last update the google team offered us brings again more functionalities to a good web stat software.
Thus for your website you will need a Google account and a Google analytics plugin. There are many and I personally use a simple one, but you can have a look at the other possibilities, it looks like some of them have real advanced settings.
So you can now see who is coming to check your website, who is subscribing to check the updates. Nobody came yet? Why not spread the word about your new great website?
2. Spreading your website
Once your website is ready, you may want the whole world to know about it. A few plugins will help you to do that.
Creating a sitemap of your website will obviously help the search engines to crawl the whole website content. Google XML Sitemaps WordPress plugin does more: every time you create a post or edit an existing one your sitemap is changed and all major search engines are informed about it. That will definitely help your website to appear among Google results faster.
To finish with Google, there is one last thing I do on Google pages when I set up a blog: I sign it on Google Webmaster tools. There you can set all Google results preferences and see when and how Google bot crawls your website.
Nowadays another way to look for information or to browse good articles is social bookmarking. Digg, Delicious, Technorati and many other social bookmarking websites allow every user to “vote” for articles and websites they like. If they appreciate browsing through your websites content, why not helping them to share it with the other members of their favourite social bookmarking network?
With Sociable you can choose between dozens of different bookmarking websites to display at the bottom of your posts or everywhere on your website. I personally install it on all blogs as it is a useful service to offer to your readers at the bottom of the posts. I also install WP related posts on some blogs, as it is again a useful tool to propose to your readers after they read a post entry. It is important to remember that a lot of your readers arrive to your blog on a post page and not on the welcome page. Consequently it is always better to propose them something else to do after they read your post; sharing it with others, go read another post or comment are three different choices for different readers. You can also add a link to your RSS feed as it can be a third opportunity!
All In One SEO
As you are at it, why not optimizing your website for all search engines? The first thing I do after setting up a WordPress installation is changing the permalink structure to something more “pretty”: I personally use the following structure: /%category%/%postname%/ You can check the codex for more information about permalinks.
Then I always install the very same SEO plugin, All In One SEO Pack. It helps you optimizing your titles, your META tags, …
So it is done, you are now ready to welcome visitors!
It is great to be well known but it also has its consequences. If you don’t pay attention you will quickly find out that a successful website attracts all kinds of spammers, hackers, … Luckily WordPress can protect us (knock on wood!) with regular updates to avoid any possible hack.
But as you can never be too careful, a few plugins help you look after your website.
Installed by default on every WordPress installation, it has worked great for me so far. You can find some others around but Akismet does the job I am sure. I always activate it with my WordPress installations.
You never know what can happen to your blog. Backup your database every day is a must i my opinion. It can avoid you many problems the day your website goes down.
WP-DB Backup does the job by proposing either an immediate backup or scheduled backup that can be sent by mail or stocked on the FTP.
WP Super Cache
On high traffic pages or in cases when there can be some high dugg pages, I always install WP super cache. It is in my opinion a good insurance that the reader will never suffer from low speed loading pages. After all, isn’t it the main reason for all of us to leave a page?
WP Security Scan
Another great tool to protect yourself from hackers is WP Security Scan. This great and indispensable plugin will scan your WordPress installation for security vulnerabilities and suggests corrective actions. That is another “Must” for every WordPress installation.
Now you know what are the mandatory plugins to me? Have I missed something? Let me know your opinion!