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May 26, 2012

5 WordPress Plugins You Simply Can't Live Without

In 2011, in excess of 100,000 new WordPress blogs were created every day. It's a staggering rate of uptake that lends itself nicely to the cumulative total blog count of almost 74 million worldwide. There's no doubting the popularity of this self-publishing platform. 

The real question lies in how to make the most from your blog and hopefully make it stand out in the crowd. While any great site relies on providing quality content that is as unique as it is relevant, plugins can do a great job of making a good blog better.

Google Analytics for WordPress 

A WordPress essential for keeping track of your performance, this plugin does all the things you can do with your regular account. It's simple to use yet has useful advanced features for experienced bloggers. It attracts regular updates so security and functionality is tighter than a photo finish.

Google XML Sitemaps 

This plugin is a must for those serious about effective SEO. With a multitude of options and simplicity of use, it's a firm favorite that allows the Google crawler bots to wind their way around your site faster than a spider on heat. The faster your site can be crawled, the more pages you get indexed by the god that is Google. More indexed pages means more page views. It's that simple.

SEO Smart Links 

Unless you've been in an antisocial bubble for the last year or so, you'd have figured out that the recent changes to the Google search engine algorithm have placed a high value on content that is shareable. Start the ball rolling with this nifty plugin that automates the benefits of SEO without you having to do much at all. It interlinks keywords between posts and comments with additional related content on your blog. As I said, nifty.

WP Super Cache 

You think you're okay if your pages load within the much touted two-second time window? Think again. The two second rule went out almost as quickly as flared jeans. Modern Internet users are all about the milliseconds. If your page isn't up and ready for them to devour within the blink of an eye, they're out of there. This rather awesome plugin works by generating static html files from your dynamic blog avoiding the heavier load times of PHP scripts. It means that if some of your great content makes it to the front page of Digg, your blog is going to cope just fine with the extra traffic. How you deal with the fame is another matter entirely.

Askimet 

There's a good reason this plugin has been downloaded over 10 million times and that's because it's really rather good. It's important to leave your blog open for comments if you want to enter into "the conversation," but it's a sad fact that by doing so, you're leaving yourself and your blog wide open to spam. Askimet checks the comments received on your blog and ditches them without hesitation if they appear to be spam. Super.

With almost 20,000 available plugins available, it can be a tough call to select a top five. One blogger's treasure can be another's trash. What are your essential WordPress plugins?



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