Update: Check out the 2015 edition of our Best WordPress plugins list.
As 2011 nears its end, WordPress consolidates its place as the world’s number one open source CMS. You might already be planning a NYE resolution for starting a blog in 2012, or revamping your company’s website. One of the first questions people ask is what plugins they should install on their WordPress blog.
Having the right plugins in place can give you a big head-start and can help you achieve all the functionality you every dreamed of. Today we therefore take a look at some of the plugins that will be hot in 2012. Most of these plugins have already been around for quite some time, and have been fine-tuned to perfection by their respective developers.
For those having a blog, this is a top priority. You definitely don’t want a spam-infested blog, as this will make your site look cheap as well as increase the time needed to manage and weed out all those comments. A blog which does not have adequate spam protection can soon be inundated with thousands of spam comments. Our top recommendations in this area are:
Akismet is probably the world’s most popular spam filter, and is free for personal use. It works by connecting to Akismet’s servers and comparing a comment’s content to identify patterns that reveal a spam comment. You will need an API key to start using Akismet, which you can get from here.
Get Akismet – Free plugin
Bad Behaviour is an open source solution for eliminating link spam, and is available natively for multiple platforms including WordPress. It works in a different way than Akismet but will complement it and act as a gatekeeper by preventing spammers from even gaining access to your site.
Get Bad Behaviour – Free plugin
Speed / Caching
W3 Total Cache
The leader in caching technology for WordPress. Take some time to read about caching technologies and how to set up this plugin, the drastic cuts in loading time that follow will amaze you. You can also take a look at our post about speed optimisation for WordPress.
Get W3 Total Cache – Free plugin
The undisputed king of WordPress backup plugins, BackupBuddy offers automatic offsite file and database backups. Possible backup destinations include FTP, Amazon S3 and Dropbox, among others. Definitely worth the price you pay, backups = peace of mind.
Get BackupBuddy – Premium plugin
Search Engine Optimisation
Optimising your site for search engines is likely to be one of your top priorities, so make your life easier and download this plugin, developed by SEO legend Joost De Valk. You can set up site-wide settings and also optimise page by page, as well as create XML sitemaps and a slew of other features. This plugin also helps you write better content. WordPress SEO forces you to choose a focus keyword when you’re writing your articles, and then makes sure you use that focus keyword everywhere.
Get WordPress SEO – Free plugin
Analytics / Visitor Statistics
Get Google Analyticator – Free plugin
The Popularity Stats plugin is a handy plugin for WordPress which quickly reports the popularity of a website by checking with a number of website sources. The Popularity Stats tool includes details about a websites:
- Google PageRank
- Alexa Rank
- Inbound Links
Get Popularity Stats – Free plugin
Based on ideas in an excellent post by Avinash Kaushik this plugin calculates the following:
- average number of posts per month
- average number of words per post
- average number of comments per post without your own comments
- average number of trackbacks per post
- average number of words used in comments to posts
and it calculates the same data for the last month, and for each author too!
Get Blog Metrics – Free plugin
RSS / Syndication
Feedburner is the best RSS feed manager for your site. You can sign up to this Google-owned service at www.feedburner.com
You will then want to redirect your RSS feeds page to the Feedburner URL assigned to you. This is where this plugin comes in. Instead of having to do any hardcoding to your theme, all you need to do is paste the Feedburner URL in the plugin’s settings page, and you’re good to go.
Get Feedburner FeedSmith – Free plugin
Feed Stats for WordPress
Feed Stats for WordPress is a plugin that allows you to view your FeedBurner feed stats from inside of the WordPress admin interface.
Currently, this plugin allows you to view the following types of statistics:
- Reach (see the FAQ section for more information about this)
- Item Clickthroughs
- Item Views
Contact Form 7
Contact Form 7 can manage multiple contact forms, plus you can customize the form and the mail contents flexibly with simple markup. The form supports Ajax-powered submitting, CAPTCHA, Akismet spam filtering and so on. With over 5 million downloads to date, it is by far the most popular free contact form plugin for WordPress.
Get Contact Form 7 – Free plugin
Gravity Forms is hands down the best contact form plugin for WordPress. It can be integrated with E-commerce plugins like Cart66, and offers many advanced features which no other contact form plugin can offer. If you want more than a basic form, spare yourself some time and go directly to Gravity Forms. Anyone who has tried it knows the feeling of using something that just works intuitively straight out of the box. You won’t regret the money spent on this one.
Get Gravity Forms – Premium plugin
Custom Post Types
Easy Content Types
The Easy Content Types plugin is by far the easiest and most intuitive way of creating new custom post types. This plugin will completely remove the difficult task of manually creating custom post types, taxonomies, and meta boxes. It also features time-savers like shortcodes for displaying the custom post types on the front end of your site.
Get Easy Content Types – Premium plugin
The absolute leader when it comes to multilanguage plugins. Have no doubt when researching plugins that can help you manage multilingual versions of this site. This plugin is easy to use and has fantastic support.
Get WPML – Premium plugin
Cart66 is an e-commerce which is very easy to setup, and also has integration with Gravity Forms for customised product options. There is a premium version and a free version which is good enough to start out with.
Get Cart66 Lite – Free plugin
Share your posts with Twitter, Facebook, and a host of other services. You can configure services to appear as icons, text, or both. Some services have additional options to display smart buttons, such as Twitter, which will update the number of times the post has been shared.
The following services are included:
Additionally you can define your own custom services.
Get Sharedaddy – Free plugin
WP To Twitter
WP to Twitter posts a Twitter status update from your WordPress blog using your URL shortening service to provide a link back to your post from Twitter.
The plugin supports a default message template for updating or editing posts and pages, supports your custom post types, and also allows you to write a custom Tweet for each post which says whatever you want, using a selection of custom shortcodes to generate your text.
Get WP To Twitter – Free plugin
SharePress is a WordPress plugin that helps you communicate with your tribes on Facebook and Twitter by automatically publishing your WordPress posts the moment they become live on your site.
Get SharePress – Free plugin
Facebook Page Publish
“Facebook Page Publish” publishes your blog posts to the wall of your Facebook profile, page or application. Posts appear on the wall of your choice as if you would share a link (there is NO “published via Application” notification). The authors gravatar, a self-choosen or random post image, the title, author, categories and a short excerpt of your post can be shown.
Decide yourself when and what posts to publish. Supports local and remote publishing based e.g. on the post category.
Get Facebook Page Publish – Free plugin
Broken Links Checker
A very useful plugin that checks your whole blog for any broken links, and gives you the chance to fix them from its interface directly. Definitely a must have plugin if you have a blog with many posts!
Get Broken Links Checker – Free plugin
Think we’ve missed out on any essential plugins? Let us know in the comments section!
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