WordPress is by far one of the most popular blog management systems. To extend its functionality, you will need to locate and install various plugins. With thousands of plugins available in the WordPress directory, this task seems pretty challenging. This is why I decided to make a list with the top 10 plugins without, which you just can’t start a blog.

WordPress SEO by Yoast

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This is by far the most superior WordPress SEO plugin and I highly recommend it to anyone using this CMS. The plugin allows you to configure almost all of the onsite SEO factors including META element templates, XML sitemap, robots.txt and also set indexation attributes for each one of your publications. One of the features I like most about the WordPress SEO plugin is the Page Analysis tab available under ever post.

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Once you publish your content, the plugin will analyze it for your focus keyword and give you list with very good recommendations including use the keyword in the image ALT tags, keyword usage on the page, titles, sub-titles and other elements of the website. This will help you ensure that all pages on your website are optimized properly, following the best practices.

WP Super Cache

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I know that there are many other quite useful caching plugins, but the WP Super Cache is, at least according to my experience, the most lightweight caching plugin there is. Furthermore, to configure it, you don’t have to spend hours trying to figure out which setting does what, but instead just a couple of minutes and you will start to see how your website loads faster.

What I like most about WP Super Cache is the simple configuration options – you can start with the easy config, where you choose whether to enable cache or not, as well as the main caching method. After that you can tweak the advanced configuration to improve the performance of the plugin. WP Super Cache is great for websites running on shared hosts.

Advanced Social Widget – MailChimp Edition

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Although this is premium plugin available in codecanyon.com, I strongly recommend it to anyone trying to build up a list with email subscribers. As the name suggest the Advanced Social Widget will allow you to create a sidebar widget, which will allow your visitors to easily subscribe to your email list and find you on your most important social media profiles. To configure the plugin you only need to generate API key for your mailchimp account, add links to your social network profiles and style it. More information about the Advanced Social Widget, you can find here.

Advanced Social Status

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Advanced Social Status does almost the same thing, except the Mailchimp Subscription form. It allows you to make a list with all your social media profiles and list it in the sidebar. What makes this plugin very useful is the amazing design of the social status widget displayed in the sidebar. The configuration for this plugin is rather simple – you must only insert links to your profiles for each one of the supported social networks and choose whether to display them or not. For more information about the Advanced Social Status plugin visit CodeCanyon.

Shareaholic

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Nowadays, you just can’t start a blog without including social sharing buttons on all your posts. The best way to do that is with the Shareaholic sexy bookmarks. This plugin is free and allows you to insert social sharing buttons all over your post’s content – before the content, after the content and even have a top bar moving with the user while he reads the content of your website. However, please remember that if you use different custom post types for displaying various content on your website like portfolio, slides, projects etc., you should disable the sexy bookmark plugin by adding custom field with value 1.

Subscriber Popup

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Another very effective and often underestimated method for getting lots of new email subscribers is by implementing a subscriber popup on your blog. There are many plugins that can serve for that purpose, but unfortunately those that come free, very often have limited functionality. For my blogs I am using premium Subscribe Popup plugin, which allows me to create simple email subscription form and keeps all of the subscribers that arrived via this medium in separate database, which you can easily export for use on various email marketing clients.

If you do not want to spend money on Subscriber Popup, you can always try some of the free versions available in WordPress.org. Before installing, make sure the chosen plugin supports the email marketing solution you will be using to push your emails.

NextScripts: Social Networks Auto-Poster

Once you finish up with the initial plugin set for your blog, you have your SEO, load time and subscription options covered. Now it is time to take care of your content promotion – the best way to do that is by automation. the NextScripts: Social Networks Auto-Poster allows you to do just that – promote the content you publish on your blog to some of the most popular social networks in the world like Facebook, Twitter, G+, Pinterest, Delicious and much more.

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The NextScripts: Social Networks Auto-Poster is generally free, but some of the publication modules require additional fees, most particularly the Pinterest and G+ options. Still, even with free setup the plugin will allow you to syndicate content to more than 10 different social networks and build up strong following there.

Login LockDown

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Although, WordPress is known as one of the most secure content management systems, there is still the risk of someone taking over your website. To avoid this serious risk, simply install the Login LockDown plugin. It protects your WordPress login against multiple failed logins from single IP address as well as many other security threats. The best thing is that in order to get started with the Login Lockdown plugin, you only need to adjust a couple of basic settings, like number of retries after which the IP will be banned and so on.

Zemanta

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If you are looking for a way to automate the insertion of featured images, related articles and tags, you definitely need to install the Zemanta Editorial Assistant plugin. It allows you with just a couple of clicks to insert feature image, image in the content, tags and related articles after the post’s content. Furthermore, you can specify particular content sources to be used by the system every time you write an article. All images that are provide with the Zemanta Assistant have Creative Commons license and can be used freely on blogs.