Whenever I set up a WordPress site, the first thing I do is to install a set of must-have plugins in my arsenal. No matter what kind of site you have, be it a blog or a minisite or CMS-style, these are the basic necessity WordPress plugins.
1. Spam Filter Plugin
Hands down, Akismet that comes bundled with WordPress is the best spam filter plugin out there. If you enable comment posting on your website, then a spam filter is a must. You won’t believe just how much junk comments are posted (mostly automatically) on daily basis so save yourself the hard work and install Akismet.
2. SEO Plugin
Just type in ‘SEO’ in WordPress plugin search and you will get no less than 926 plugins (at the time of writing). The most popular of them all are All-In-One SEO Pack, WordPress SEO By Yoast, and Platinum SEO Pack. My favorite right now is Platinum SEO Pack. I used to use All-In-One SEO but there is no option to set noindex/nofollow on each post and page. Maybe I missed something but I just couldn’t find that option and had to install a separate plugin to handle that. Then I switched to Yoast’s SEO plugin, but kept having problem with the site/post/page titles. It was not updated although I have enabled ‘force rewrite’ title option. I don’t know what was wrong with my plugin setup but I’m happy now with the Platinum SEO.
So why SEO plugin is important? Because you can set different title, description, and keywords for each individual post and page as opposed to use a generic ones defined on WordPress settings. And this is very, very important to let search engines know what the post or page is about.
3. Cache Plugin
4. Sitemap Plugin
In my opinion, everytime you set up a WordPress site you must go to Google Webmasters Tool and submit your XML sitemap. Rather than just waiting for big G’s visit, go there and let them know about your site. My favorite is Google XML Sitemaps. Never have problem with it and I can exclude certain pages to be included in the sitemap. Very useful feature if you have pages that should not be found on any search engines such as autoresponder confirmation & thank you pages, download pages, etc.
5. Backup Plugin
Many of the backup plugins only backup database contents. But we need to backup both database and all of the files and images. Of course you can do the backup from your host’s control panel but it’s better if done from WordPress dashboard. For free plugin, XCloner is great. You have to pay for monthly or annual support though. Another great plugin is WP Twin which is created by Jason Fladlien, a well-know (and successful) internet marketer.
Of course there are many other useful WordPress plugins but I think the above is where you should start with every WordPress site.