WordPress is a fantastic tool for publishing your content on the web ? although it is ostensibly a blogging tool it has now developed to become almost a fully fledged content management system (CMS). Having sung the praises of WordPress it must also be pointed out that it has areas of weaknesses. Fortunately WordPress is extensible through the use of plugins ? small pieces of code / software that enhance the basic functionality of WordPress.

This article exams seven of the key plugins that you can add to your WordPress site to enhance its functionality. Plugins are very simple to add ? simply go to your admin page, click on plugins then click add. The plugins outlined in this article can all be added to your site using this straightforward method. To find the actual plugins mentioned here simply type in the name of the plugin to the search box that appears after you have followed the simple steps listed above.

1)????? Advertising manager

A plugin that allows the flexible placement of adverts within your blog, I use it for managing adsense, click bank and other adverts.? Very flexible and really takes the pain away from managing site advertising

2)????? All in one SEO Pack

Probably one of, if not the, most important plugins you can use. It radically overhauls the ability of WordPress to manage page titles, meta tags (particularly description and keyword tags). ?Although WordPress provides reasonable facilities to carry out search engine optimization on your site you will be leaving a lot on the table SEO wise if you do not install this plugin.

3)????? Automatic SEO links

This plugin automatically searches you posts as they are published and creates hyperlinks to either other internal pages from your site or to external pages dependant on the rules you have created. It can create these links based on single words or phrases, the target can be specified (i.e. does the link open a new window etc) and a title can be set for each link (appears during a mouse over of the link). A fantastic tool for ensuring that you have a good internal linking setup within your site and also for linking to such things as affiliate sites to help generate revenue for your site.

4)????? cbNET Ping optimizer

Out of the box WordPress can be setup to send out ?pings? every time you update your blog, however there are some weaknesses with this inbuilt system. These weaknesses include sending out pings when a post is created even though it has been scheduled to appear at a future date rather than immediately and also sending out pings when existing posts change ? this can lead to too many or inappropriate pings being generated. ?cbNet Ping Optimizer overcomes that problem and provides a more flexible and robust pinging platform ? a must have plugin.

5)????? Contact Form 7

Every site should have a contact form to make it easier for users to get in touch with you ? ContactForm 7 does exactly this in an easy to administer and flexible fashion. There are other ways of achieving the same functionality but none are as straightforward as this.

6)????? Embed iFrame

From time to time it will be necessary to embed external content into your blog ? a nice way to do this is to use an iFrame. Unfortunately WordPress does not allow you to use such functionality and hence the need for the Embed iFrame plugin. It is not fancy but it does exactly what is says on the tin and adds an extremely useful piece of functionality to WordPress.

7)????? Google XML sitemaps

Having a sitemap can contribute to an improved search engine ranking. The Google XML sitemaps plugin is an extremely configurable and powerful automatic site map generation tool. It can be configured to regenerate the site map every time there is an update to your site, the contents of the sitemap can be specified, the output type can be set and many other factors are also configurable.

Of Course these are not the only plugins available; there is an extremely large and varied range out there for you to choose from. We will be producing more articles that look at other plugins that add useful features and functionality to your WordPress installation.

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All the best from

Ian

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