World Cup Winning WordPress Plugins

soccer
photo by jbelluch

I’ve gotten into watching all the World Cup soccer/football games going on the last few weeks. More than one cheer was heard down the hallway at work when the US scored in extra time to win their group and move on to the next round of play. I’m thinking of getting the marketing group vuvuzelas.

I was asked today to review a WordPress site a relative just launched. It was very nicely done, but I noticed that they were missing what I think to several crucial plugins that any WordPress installation should have installed. So, I decided to put together a winning 11 plugins for WordPress. They all play their position well and contribute to your website winning (or at least getting out of your group.)

Here’s the list in random order.

All-In-One SEO
One of the best SEO plugins available, this plugin makes short work of creating all the META tags you need. It generates tags automatically from the tags of your post, or allows you on the post entry page to customize any of the META tag it has access to, such as description and page title. Mostly, it’s a set it and forget it tool. Link.

Google Analyticator
This plugin adds in the necessary Google Analytics tracking code, which is helpful, but it’s the extra stuff this plugin does that’s nice. It will automatically track outbound links, downloads and more without having to install any other code. Perhaps the best feature of this plugin is that it can add graphs and stats to your dashboard page, which is incredibly helpful. Link.

Google XML Sitemaps
This plugin creates handy sitemaps and lets Google, Bing and others know when your site’s been updated. You can take the sitemap created by this plugin and enter it in the Google Webmaster area so Google knows exactly where to look to find what’s new on your site. Another set it and forget it plugin. Link.

Use Google Libraries
Google hosts many AJAX and javascript libraries as part of it’s AJAX Libraries API. Included in that bit is jQuery, which many many sites use. Letting Google host jQuery for you may speed up the loading of your site, since chances are your site visitor has been to some other website using Google’s version so it should be cached already, not to mention the fact that Google hosts all sorts of versions of jQuery and their nice and compressed. Link.

W3 Total Cache
I’m a big fan of WP-Super-Cache, but if you’re looking to take your caching and content delivery to the next level, check out W3 Total Cache. Not only will it cache and minify your files for quicker delivery, it will automatically move and deliver much of your static content (javascripts, CSS and more) from the CDN of your choice, including Amazon S3, SimpleCDN, Limelight and more. Link.

WPTouch iPhone Theme
This plugin automatically makes your site’s content look nice on mobile devices. It’s the best plugin for mobile devices – so much so that it’s used by all WordPress.com blogs. That’s a pretty good endorsement for a plugin. Even though it is simple, it does give you a bunch of advanced options to tweak the presentation of your blog on a mobile device. Link.

WP Security Scan
WordPress has gotten more secure over time, but no software is ever perfect. This plugin provides you a set of tools to make sure common security holes are closed and file permissions are set correctly, ensuring that your blog is locked down as much as possible. Link.

Akismet
Akismet is installed by default on every new WordPress installation and all you need to get it running is a WordPress API key. That takes a few seconds to get and this plugin does a very good job at keeping the spam off your blog. Link.

Automatic WordPress Backup
This plugin will backup your databases and other content and move it to Amazon S3. That piece of mind is worth the few pennies a month storage at Amazon will cost you. Set it and forget it. I blogged more extensively about backing up your WordPress installation a few months ago. Link.

ShareThis/AddThis
Many themes are now starting to have sharing tools built in, but these plugins make it very easy to add sharing tools to each post or page on your site. I like AddThis as they give you some analytics and other data about the sharing people are doing, including how they are sharing and what they are sharing. Data = good. Link.

WordPress Automatic Upgrade
WordPress has very much improved their upgrade process, but I like what the Automatic Update plugin does when it comes to updates. It will backup your databases and files, turn off plugins and put your site in a maintenance mode before doing upgrades. It updates files, reactivates the plugins and turns your site back on.

Am I missing any key plugins that you think are mission critical?