19 Essential WordPress Plugins That Every Professional Website Should Use
Pretty bold title, huh? Well, I've been a fan of WordPress for years. I'm an avid supporter of the robust and highly intuitive blogging platform and have contributed to the WordPress community over the past few years by launching a professional WordPress themes website, creating a useful plugin (Twitter ReTweet) for Twitter/WordPress integration, and advocating the use of WordPress to clients and friends alike.
That being said, here are 19 WordPress plugins - all compatible with the latest version of WordPress (2.7.1 as I write this post) - that every professional WordPress website should consider using. I've segmented the plugins into categories in an effort to make the list easier to digest.
Integral Admin Tools
Google Analytics for WordPress
Not much needs to be said about Google Analytics for WordPress. It was created by the one-man WordPress plugin machine known as Yoast. It is by far the best Google Analytics WordPress plugin available. The ability to track all outgoing link clicks makes this plugin worth the install for that reason alone.
Depending on the nature of your website, this may not be necessary. However, if you plan on executing any PHP code within your WordPress posts or pages, this plugin will make that possible. Highly useful.
Hands down the most aggressively thorough WordPress spam-fighting plugin I've ever used. In my opinion, this plugin is superior to the Akismet plugin which comes bundled with WordPress. Unlike Akismet which requires you to obtain a WordPress.com API key before using the plugin, WP-SpamFree works out of the box.
Everyone should have this plugin installed on their website.
WP Security Scan
Per this plugin's description, WP Security Scan:
Scans your WordPress installation for security vulnerabilities and suggests corrective actions.
And it certainly does as advertised. If the security of your website is important to you, download this plugin (especially if you don't have a firewall protecting your website).
Admin Management XTended
For WordPress power users (people who publish a high volume of posts/pages, use scheduled posting, rely heavily on categories and tags). This plugin provides a quick and streamlined solution to editing post and page information by eliminating the need to have to click the Edit link each time the user wants to make a change to a post/page's information.
This plugin will save you a lot of time.
If you're familiar with web development, then you know that your data is stored within a database. In case of a catastrophic failure, corrupted data, or an act of sabotage by a hacker, it's always a good idea to have a backup of your database information. My company uses a hosting company (Rackspace) which automatically backs up both our files and databases on a daily basis. However, few hosting companies will include this service with their hosting packages unless you pay for it (sometimes they don't even offer it).
If you can't get your hosting company to backup your database information, then make sure you have a copy of WP-DB-Backup installed. A database backup should be created every few hours or every few days (depending on how often your WordPress website is updated).
Don't skip database backups. You will regret it.
WP Super Cache
If your WordPress pages are slowly loading, WP Super Cache will probably help. This is an absolutely brilliant and extremely useful plugin for anyone interested in increasing the speed at which posts and pages are loaded on their WordPress website.
This plugin has the ability to create static HTML files so that, instead of performing several database queries each time a page is loaded, a page's information is queried once and then saved as a static HTML file. Basically, the data is cached on the server.
And don't worry - there is an option within the plugin which allows you to flush the cache each time a post or comment is published.
This plugin is highly recommended.
Amazon S3 for WordPress
Does your WordPress website use a lot of images in posts? If so, Amazon S3 for WordPress is something that you should definitely consider using. This plugin sets up a seamless integration between an Amazon S3 account and the file upload component within WordPress. This is a great way to lighten the load on your web server and also cut down on bandwidth usage by allowing Amazon S3 to store your website's media.
Highly recommended for people who use a lot of images in their posts.
All in One Video Pack
This is a highly versatile video plugin which has tons of great features. Here is a brief blurb from the plugin website on WordPress.org:
This is not just another video embed tool - it includes every functionality you might need for video and rich-media, including the ability to upload/record/import videos directly to your post, edit and remix content with an online video editor, enable video responses, manage and track your video content, create playlists and much more... And Kaltura covers all hosting and streaming costs for FREE up to 10GB.
In addition, you can upload, record from your webcam, and import all rich-media directly into your blog post.
Bottom line: If you use video for your blog, you should be using this great plugin.
All in One SEO Pack
There are tons of different SEO plugins available for WordPress. Having tested most of them, All in One SEO Pack gives you the most flexibility and options.
This plugin is highly recommended for anyone concerned about search engine optimization.
Another extremely useful SEO plugin. This plugin gives you advanced control over the robots meta tag. Robots Meta has a long and detailed options page which allows you to take control over everything from the robots meta tag to nofollow tags.
This plugin is a great tool that can be used to help avoid duplicate content issues, sculpt Google PageRank, and much more.
Definitely worth the install if you're concerned about fine-tuning your WordPress website's SEO.
Google XML Sitemaps
Another extremely handy WordPress SEO plugin. XML sitemaps are very useful for SEO and for search engine page indexing in general as the sitemap(s) acts as a blueprint for your website's content, making it easy for the search engines to crawl (and potentially index) all of the quality pages on your WordPress website.
Google XML Sitemaps will automatically generate an XML sitemap in a format supported by Google, Yahoo, MSN, and Ask. This plugin automatically pings the search engines you specify each time a new post is published.
Another highly recommended SEO plugin. Download it.
WordPress SEO Pager
This plugin benefits both visitors and search engine spiders.
Visitors don't need to click through several Previous and Next links to get to the page they are looking for. One or two clicks and the user can easily navigate to the page he/she is looking for.
Search engine spiders can quickly crawl through the pages in your website by using paginated page links. The faster the search engine spiders can crawl through your site, the better.
Communication and Discussion
Subscribe to Comments
Increase and amplify the discussion on your WordPress website by giving your visitors the ability to subscribe to a post's comments. An e-mail will be sent to anyone who subscribes to the post, and it's just as easy to unsubscribe to the comment notification e-mails as it is to subscribe to them.
By far one of the most popular and most useful WordPress plugins created to date. Get it now!
Contact Form 7
Taken directly from the plugin's page on WordPress.org:
Contact Form 7 can manage multiple contact forms, plus you can customize the form and the mail contents flexibly with simple markup. The form supports Ajax-powered submitting, CAPTCHA, Akismet spam filtering and so on.
Make it easy for your visitors, readers, and prospects to contact you. Install this plugin!
FD Feedburner Plugin
Another great plugin which allows you to monitor another useful metric on your website - RSS feed subscribers.
Simple and seamless integration between your WordPress website's RSS feed and your Feedburner account. Simple, effective, and easy to configure.
Twitter for WordPress
Twitter continues to grow in popularity, so I think it's safe to assume that it's here to stay. Twitter for WordPress gives you the ability to easily output your latest tweets on your WordPress website.
Increase your transparency by broadcasting to your visitors what you're saying on Twitter!
This plugin is a great all-in-one solution to social media bookmarking and sharing. This plugin has been around for a while, but continues to get better. It's a very good alternative for people who don't want to take the time to design their own custom social bookmarking spot before or after their posts.
Tip: Don't go overboard with the number of bookmarking options you display under your posts. Also, it's best to only display the Sociable bookmarks on single post pages. Doing so on a page that lists multiple posts looks pretty tacky and unprofessional. Use this plugin sparingly!
A very flexible WordPress advertising plugin. This is an all-in-one solution to advertising within WordPress. No matter what ad network you're using, chances are this plugin supports it.
Taken directly from this plugin's page on WordPress.org:
This plugin will manage and rotate your Google Adsense and other ads on your Wordpress blog. It automatically recognizes many ad networks including Google Adsense, AdBrite, Adify, AdGridWork, Adpinion, Adroll, Chitika, Commission Junction, CrispAds, OpenX, ShoppingAds, Yahoo!PN, and WidgetBucks. Unsupported ad networks can be used as well.
Are we missing any essential WordPress plugins for professional WordPress websites? If so, leave a comment below. If your suggested plugin proves to be useful, we will include it in our list and give you credit for the suggestion within the post.