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WordPress – http://www.wordpress.org/ – is quite simply an awesome tool.  It started a few years back as a platform for bloggers to get started on and it has morphed into a fully functional content management system (CMS); and that’s just the “out of the box” implementation.  Once you delve into the world of plugins, widgets and other functionality modifications you can really do some amazing things.

According to the WordPress  website, “Plugins can extend WordPress to do almost anything you can imagine.“  I won’t go that far, but from a development standpoint I can tell you that these plugins make our work life MUCH easier.  There was a time when we’d need to reinvent or engineer each and every solution for each new client.  But with the advent of WordPress Plugins that’s no longer the case.

These days, more often than not, there’s a plugin that can help us solve most web development issues.  However, there’s a group that I nearly always include when setting up a new WordPress instance:

  • Google Analytics – This one isn’t a “plugin” perse but it’s something vitally important to your success on the web.  How’s your site doing? Where are you getting visits from?  What keywords are you ranking for?  Are you stacking up to your competitors?  Google Analytics is an outstanding free analytics tool and there are a variety of WordPress plugins that will interface with it.  Simply do a search for “google analytics” from your plugin installer screen within WordPress.  You’ll need to sign up for Google Analytics account here: http://www.google.com/analytics/
  • Akismet – Spam sucks.  This takes care of it for you.  Invariably going to be found by spammers.  And if you’ve done some good SEO work (or hired us 😉 ) it’ll be that much quicker that you’re found.  This plugin cuts down on your spam comments drastically.   It’s free, but you’ll need to sign up for an Akismet API key.  http://akismet.com/
  • Google XML Sitemaps – A sitemap is an important tool that allows search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing to find your website. This free plugin will create them for you.  You can set it so a new sitemap is generated every time you add a new post or page.  For more info on the importance of sitemaps visit http://www.sitemaps.org/
  • All in One SEO Pack – There are a couple of SEO (search engine optimization) plugins out there that are simply tremendous.  I prefer this one, but Platinum SEO is also a winner.  Quite frankly it comes down to which one you prefer.  In either case, you want your website to be found and this plugin will help that happen.  Among other things, it allows you to customize titles, keywords, URL formats, etc. Very effective and better yet, completely FREE.

There are definitely others out there.  I didn’t go into e-commerce, social media sharing  or photo galleries here, but rest assured that there are some great options available to you if you’ve got a site that needs them.

Have I left one of your favorites off the list?  Talk to me Goose… let us know what we missed!

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