New to the blogosphere? You should know that WordPress is king when it comes to running a blog. The vast majority of bloggers use WP to run and manage their blogs. In fact, more and more webmasters running non-blog websites elect to use WordPress for their sites every year.
One of the best parts of using WordPress as your CMS (content management system) is that you have thousands of plugins at your disposal. But what are plugins?
Simply put, WordPress plugins allow you to add additional functionality to your site. This could be something simple like allow commenters to subscribe to the comments, or it could be complex like an image slider with tons of customizable options.
With the use of plugins, there's not much you can't do with WordPress.
They're easy to install as well. You can search within your WP dashboard for new plugins and find them without ever leaving your site. Most of the time, I like to find useful plugins elsewhere on the net, and then search for them on my WordPress install.
When you find the right plugin, there's literally a one-click install. Then, all you have to do is click “activate" and your new plugin is operating on your site.
The Essential Plugins
There are a few plugins that almost every site should install right away. These are plugins that make your site perform better, and they're absolutely free.
1) WordPress SEO by Yoast
WordPress SEO is a plugin that helps you setup your blog or site for the search engines. There's not a single piece missing from this rock-solid plugin.
The SEO plugin lets you customize the link structure for your site, which pages get indexed, and much more.
2) CBNET Ping Optimizer
A lot of people don't realize just how often WordPress pings. In case you're not familiar with pinging, it's simply an alert to the search engines that you have added new content to your site. It helps them find it and index it.
At first this seems great, and it would be if WordPress only sent out a ping when you publish new content. However, it also pings every single time you update a post. Many bloggers like to make lots of small adjustments to fine-tune their posts and end up sending out way too many pings. This can actually have a negative impact on your search engine rankings.
You can use Ping Optimizer to limit this function or turn it off entirely.
3) Header and Footer
One more plugin that I've found extremely useful over the years is called Header and Footer. It allows you to add code into your site's header or footer section without ever having to actually deal with the site's theme code editor.
This comes in handy all the time. For instance, when you install Google Analytics (which you should) you are given a few lines of code that you need to add into your site's header. It's easy to mess this up and waste time trying to get it right.
You can skip all that fuss with Header and Footer. All you have to do is locate the header section and paste in the code, then you're good to go.
The sheer amount of plugins and they're overall quality for the WordPress CMS is incredible. The open source blogging software has allowed thousands of developers to make their own plugins and help webmasters all over the world improve their sites.
If you elect to use WordPress for your blog, lookout for great plugins because they're going to transform your blog.