A plugin is a small program written by a third party that can be integrated into an application for increased functionality. In a nutshell: plugins turn your blog from something ordinary into something sophisticated and optimized for maximum traffic. In this lesson, we'll take a look at how to customize your WordPress blog with essential plugins!
There are over 2,000 plugins available for WordPress that allow you to do everything from managing spam, creating an events calendar, improving tags, viewing statistics, and much more.
You can find the full list of available plugins at http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/
One of our favorite plugins: The All in One SEO pack
Automatically helps you to avoid duplicate content found on typical WordPress blogs.
Automatically optimizes your titles for search engines
Allows you to override any title and set any META description and any META keywords you want.
Automatically generates META tags
Allows you to fine tune anything you want.
Is backwards-compatible with a lot of other plugins, such as Ultimate Tag Warrior, Auto Meta, and many others.
How to install the SEO pack on your blog
This same process can be used to install other WordPress plugins, and we’ll be listing a few other stand-outs at the end of this lesson.
Login to the admin area of your WordPress blog. From the Dashboard, click the Plugins option from the side menu, then 'Add New'.
From here, you can choose to search and install straight from the plugin database or upload a plugin you downloaded yourself:
Finally, once you have a plugin installed, you must activate it to start using it (or deactivate it if you want to stop using it for a time)!
Other Recommended Plugins
Adsense-Deluxe allows you to place Google ads within your blog, either as part of your template, or within each post, while ensuring you don’t break Google’s 3 adblock rule.
This plugin will create a sitemap of your WordPress blog that is Google compliant. A Google Sitemap allows you to keep your blog as up-to-date in Google as possible.
Feedburner Feed Replacement
This useful plugin forwards your feed traffic to feedburner.com. What this means is that you can take advantage of Feedburner’s many cutting-edge features for subscriber analysis and feed presentation.
Gravatar allows users to create a global avatar that is associated with their email address and follows them from blog to blog, appearing beside their name whenever they make a post. It’s another way of adding more personality to your blog.
Head META Description
Many search engines, such as Google, display your description meta data in their search results. The problem is, WordPress usually uses the exact same meta data for each and every page on your website. By installing this plugin, you’ll ensure that you have a dynamic description meta tag for every entry you post on your blog, automatically generated based on the page content.
This plugin is essential for SEO purposes as it lets you put the title of your blog posts before the blog name, rather than after, which is the default.
This plugin automatically displays a list other related posts alongside each post; it’s a great way of getting your readers to spend more time on your blog.
Spam has got to be one of the most exasperating aspects of running a WordPress blog. It seems like the moment you’ve set up your blog, you start getting incoming spam comments almost immediately, which is why you need to install the Akismet, a plugin that eliminates a LOT of your comment spam problems. Fortunately, you usually don't need to do anything more than just Activate this plugin, as it ships with all recent versions of WordPress.