10 Must-Have WordPress Plugins

There seems to be a large number of new bloggers who are realizing that WordPress is the blogging platform of choice for nearly every successful blogger out there and in turn are making the switch from the free blogging sites to a self-hosted WordPress blog. Good move! As a matter of fact, it's probably one of the best decisions you can make as a young blogger, especially if you ever plan on monetizing your blog.

Due to this increase in new WordPress users, I've decided to compile a list of ten must-have WordPress plugins. Even some of the veteran bloggers might pick up a few ideas from this list.

1. Sidebar Widget Easily the most useful plugin for WordPress. This plugin allows you to change and customize the way your sidebar looks without editing the PHP files, which can be very complex and complicated for the new blogger. This has a striking similarity to the Blogger way of changing your sidebars in the template layout section, so all of those that had a Blogger blog will feel very comfortable with this one. One disclaimer comes with this one “ you must be using a widget compatible theme in order to use this plugin. I highly suggest using a widget compatible theme anyway, but especially for this. Download Sidebar Widget

2. Google Sitemap Generator This plugin is a very important one to have enabled on your blog. If you ever plan on having Google indexing your blog in an efficient, steady pace, then you need to have this plugin! It automatically creates a new sitemap for Google every time you add, edit, or create new content on your blog. This will get your site indexed a lot faster and again, it's definitely a must have. Submit your sitemap to Google. Download the Google Sitemap Generator plugin.

3. WordPress Database Plugin This built in plugin that comes with WordPress could possibly be a blog-saving miracle! Often, when new and veteran bloggers tweak and tinker with their files, something might happen that hoses your entire blog, and if you don't have a backup file ready to upload, you'll be out of a ton of lost time. If you need to, download a copy of WordPress Database Plugin.

4. Sociable Plugin This one is highly recommended. These days, social networking and bookmarking sites can account for a great deal of your daily visitor count. Whenever you write a great article, it's in your best interest to share, bookmark, digg, stumble, or plug it to the world! The only catch is that when someone reads a great article of yours, you want to make it easy for them to do this. That's where sociable comes into play. With the Sociable plugin, you can make it very easy for the reader to submit your story with the click of a button. It appears at the end of each post, and you can customize the heck out of it in your options screen. It's my personal opinion that this plugin is a must-have. Download the Sociable Plugin.

5. Adsense Deluxe For any bloggers who use Adsense (most do) to monetize your blog, then this plugin is one that will help insert Adsense or YPN (Yahoo publisher network) ads into your posts. If you don’t already know, having an ad inside your post is one of the best placements, conversion wise that you can implement. This plugin manages basic and advanced options for inserting these ads into your posts. I couldn’t do without it, as it makes managing Adsense so much easier. Download Adsense Deluxe.

6. Related Posts For an easy way to keep those old post pages alive, you should really consider downloading the Related Posts plugin. This plugin will find other blog posts that are related to the current one and add links to the related posts underneath the current post that the reader is viewing. At the end of the article, if the reader enjoyed it, they can click one of these related post links and it gives them the chance to read similar ideas and writing. This will generate extra page views, as well as open up the door for more backlinks to old posts to keep them alive in the search engine rankings. A must-have for sure. Download Related Posts

7. Popularity Contest Looking for a way to guide readers in the right direction as far as what the most popular posts are to read? Then you need the Popularity Contest plugin right away! By tracking page views, feed views, comments, and trackbacks, Popularity Contest assigns each post a rating based off of your most popular post. After a post has a rating, you can display the popularity in a number of different ways. You can put the percent popularity in each post, display your top X posts somewhere on your site, or just keep the statistics to yourself by viewing the popularity page which is added to your WordPress administration interface. Very easy to customize, and very handy to have. Download Popularity Contest.

8. WordPress Contact Form With Spam Protection
Every blog should have a way for readers to contact them directly. Having a Contact Me page is very important and without one you could be missing out on a lot of opportunities that could arise throughout the life of your blog. This contact form is especially nice as it comes with spam protection, which is running rampant through the internet these days. I highly recommend this one for many different reasons. Download the Contact Form Plugin.

9. Akismet
Speaking of spam, even if you're blog has been alive for merely a couple of weeks; comment spam can really start to pile up. Without a good spam protection plugin, you'll be spending more time bulk moderating comments than you will writing articles! Have you ever wondered what that plugin called Akismet is that comes installed with your WordPress theme? It's only the best spam protection in the world! I highly suggest you enable this plugin sooner than later, as it will save you a ton of headaches down the line. If for some reason you don't have it, or accidentally deleted it, you can download Akismet.

10. Subscribe to Comments There are a lot of times that your readers will leave a comment and they want to track all the responses to it. However, they might also being trying to track the status of their comments on several other blogs at the same time, so it’s important that you give them the easy option of subscribing to comments! This plugin simply installs a checkbox that a commenter can check to subscribe to everyone's comments for a particular post. This makes it easy for them to check back on a regular basis, and also it keeps them coming back to your blog, which we all know is very important. One evil option that is available is the ability to have the box checked by default use at your own discretion! Download Subscribe to Comments Plugin.

In conclusion, there are dozens of other great plugins out there that are available, but these will get you going in the right direction. Whether you're looking to monetize, organize, or super-size your blog, the plugins above will definitely help you in your quest to do so.

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