Top 10 plugins for a WordPress newbie

I am officially a WordPress ‘noob’. My site has been live for eight whole days and I’ve a staggering two previous posts under my belt. “Steady on there,” I hear you say. Well that’s not the half of it – I’ve already got 10 plugins installed. And activated!

The WordPress Plugin Database can be a daunting place for the uninitiated. There are hundreds of the little PHP scripts just waiting to be bolted on to your site, and it can be a mystery what half of them do. Even if you know exactly what you need a plugin for, often there can be dozens of them doing seemingly the same thing.

So where does the newbie start? I personally just jumped in, spent hour upon hour of searching, experimentation and trial and error. To help save you the hassle I have gone through, I am listing below my top 10 WordPress plugins one week in.

10. PingFix

As a WordPress noob, I didn’t know what a ‘ping’ was, or what it did. Now I do – WordPress automatically notifies popular Update Services that you’ve updated your blog by sending a ping each time you create a post.

PingFix enhances the built-in ping functionality by pinging only when publishing new posts, not when editing older posts. This prevents excessive pinging which many Update Services may interpret as spam.

Get PingFix now.

9. FeedList

FeedList is a simple little script that allows you to insert any RSS stream anywhere into your site. For instance, you can include your del.icio.us bookmarks, your Diggs, or even the BBC News in your site. This can be used as part of your template (in your sidebar) or placed directly into a blog posting.

Get FeedList now.

8. Another WordPress Meta Plugin

For some reason the standard WordPress install puts no meta data (keywords and descriptions) in your HTML headings. No good if you want people to be able to find your site through search engines.

The rather imaginatively titled Another WordPress Meta Plugin allows you to specify keywords and descriptions for every blog post or page. For category pages keywords are made up of all the keywords from every individual post on that page, after removing the duplicates. This should ensure a unique set of keywords for every page.

Get Another WordPress Meta Plugin now.

7. Ultimate Google Analytics

Google AnalyticsIf you love stats, and who doesn’t, then you’ll love Google Analytics. It crunches numbers like you’ve never seen numbers crunched before. There are pie-charts, bar-charts, and funky little maps that tell you how many people from Azerbaijan are visiting your site. Best of all, it’s free!

The Ultimate Google Analytics plugin automatically inserts the tiny bit of code that allows Google to count all your visitors and create all those lovely charts. It also allows tracking of outgoing links and downloads, which some of the other Google Analytics plugins don’t.

Get Ultimate Google Analytics now.

6. Secure and Accessible PHP Contact Form

I love it when I get an email from a complete stranger. I really do. That’s what the Internet is all about – connecting with people. I don’t like it so much when that complete stranger then sends dozens of emails trying to sell me pharmaceuticals of a dubious nature.

The Secure and Accessible PHP Contact Form allows you to effortlessly slip a contact form into your site to enable those strangers to get in touch, whilst preventing those pesky spammers from peddling their wares. It offers 16 individual abuse countermeasures and is also customisable, so you can make it fit in with your site’s ‘look and feel’.

Get the Secure and Accessible PHP Contact Form now.

5. WP-Print

Don’t you hate it when you try to print a web-page and the first page comes out blank, the second page only displays the navigation column, and then the main content comes out but is so wide that the last word on every line doesn’t fit on the sheet? You can guarantee your readers will hate it when it happens to them on your site.

The WP-Print plugin enables you to insert a link to a printer-friendly version for each of all your blog entries and pages, with all navigation and styling stripped down.

Get WP-Print now.

4. Google Sitemap Generator

More search engine goodness here. XML-Sitemaps were invented by Google in 2005 as an easy way for webmasters to inform Google of pages on their site that can be indexed. In November 2006, Yahoo! and Microsoft also decided to support the XML-Sitemap format, making it a pretty important standard.

The Google Sitemap Generator creates and keeps updated the all important XML file, and automatically pings Google and Yahoo! each time you add a new post.

Get Google Sitemap Generator now.

3. ImageManager

As mentioned in this previous post, image management in WordPress sucks. No two ways about it.

ImageManager provides an interface for browsing and uploading image files, and integrates simple image editing capabilities such as crop, rotate and re-size. So say goodbye to the native WordPress upload tool.

Get ImageManager now.

2. Category Tagging

Tag CloudCategories are soooo 2005, man. Today it’s all about the tag.

WordPress’ categories can actually be used like tags simply by applying multiple categories (or tags) to each post. The Category Tagging plugin allows you to easily slip a tag cloud into your blog. It also offers a cool little hook that displays related posts containing the same tags as the post being read.

This is an excellent way to enable your visitors to browse deeper into your site in a relevant and useful way to them.

Get Category Tagging now.

1. Sociable

Today in this world of Web 2.0, social networking is all the craze, and the way people search for and consume news and information increasingly revolves around social bookmarking sites like del.icio.us and Digg. A completely democratic system for delivering news where popular and reputable articles receive more ‘votes’, and consequently move to the top of the news roster.

Like young rock stars dream to be on Top of the Pops, young bloggers dream to be on the homepage of Digg. For this to happen you need to enable your readers to quickly vote for your post with the minimum of effort on their part.

See those cute little icons at the bottom of this post? They are links to various social bookmarking sites and they are powered by my number one plugin for a WordPress newbie, Sociable. This plugin supports an amazing 61 individual sites and is an essential plugin for all WordPress users, new or not.

Get Sociable now.

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23 fantastic comments

Great list!

Glorious Plugin-Overview. All the Things I looked for! THANK you very much!

> The rather imaginatively titled Another WordPress Meta Plugin …

ROTFL. I know people who call the name outright silly.

Just the info I was looking for. Thanks for compiling this informative list.

Great list. Some I will be installing right now.
My faves are: Akismet (obvious, but indispensable), Subscribe to Comments, and, of course, Dofollow.

Thanks Rob. This list was written a few days into my WordPress life when everything was a learning experience. I must confess since then a few plugins have slipped out of that top ten and a few additional ones have crept in.

Maybe, now that I’m no longer a novice (but by no means an expert), it’s time for an updated top ten?

I’d love to see the new list if you do. Anyway, you certainly caught on quickly to WordPress plugins. I’m only just beginning to get to grips with them!

Nice listing :) , even though I’m just using the number 1 out of those there are definitely some great plugins mentioned there. Have used the number 2 as well for a while, but it became a bit too cluttered for me with a lot of tags being small because they were rarely used and a handful jumping out as major, my tags aren’t spread out enough to make it look nice :) .

Psycho – I no longer use Category Tagging actually. If I was to rewrite the list I’d replace it with a dedicated tagging plugin.

I would add Akismet and Bad Behaviour plugins to this list, it’s an effective solution against comment spammers.

Alex – When I wrote this article I’d been blogging for about a week so hadn’t experienced any spam. But now, you’re right, Askimet is invaluable.

Thanks for the comment.

Wow, I didn’t realize that these were available. I have been using blogger and I think I will be switching to WP pretty soon!

Thanks for such a great list of plugins, this list are so helpful for the new guy.

Thanks

Vic

No problem Vic. Many thanks for stopping by and commenting.

great! i have been searching for the Category Tagging.nice !

Muchas gracias por tu lista. Hay muchas listas con Plugins, pero siempre estoy encontrando neuvo plugins que me gustan.

Bastian – No problema – Despite the name of this blog… I don’t actually speak Spanish :oops:

Hi Aaron
The ILSB plugin is installed and working great.
I am waiting to upgrade to wp2.3 until compatability issues are sorted out with Just Another WP meta plugin. I see that you still have your description metatags working. Are you still using that plugin? Did you have problems with it during the upgrade?
Mark

Hi Mark

Thanks for using ILSB :)

This list needs updating actually – I think I’ll post an updated list of plugins soon. I’ve moved on from Just Another WP Meta Plugin, and instead now I just use Head META Description plugin.

It’s quite a basic meta plugin and there may well be more flexible options out there, but for now it does just what I need it to.

Thanks Aaron
Looking forward to your updated list. IMT I think I will give wp2.31 a go and try head META plugin because there is likely to be some delay with Just Another wp meta plugin as its author is busy at the moment.
Mark

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Nice Collection! Thx for the Post.

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