Having created websites for several years now, I have found that having the proper tools with which to do your job make all the difference in your overall experience. The right tools will effect a higher level of quality and professionalism on your site. Of the tools that I have used that I have come to appreciate the most are the WordPress and Joomla content management systems. The nice thing about both of these content management systems is the fact they are both highly customizable platforms. Both platforms boast extremely large libraries of modular plugins that are available for download free of charge. Thus, one has the ability to take the functionality of their website in just about any direction in that all of these plugins are ready-made. After all, that is what modular means.

This article is about the top twenty essential WordPress plugins that I would highly recommend to anyone using the WordPress CMS. Keep in mind that these are listed in alphabetical order, not order of importance.

1) Add Widgets To Page. This plugin gives you WordPress blog the ability to add Widgets to your articles and not just to the sidebar. So for instance if you want to install a widget where other bloggers can submit potential guest posts, you can add this widget to an actual page where there is plenty of room for them to work as opposed to them having to write a blog post in the sidebar.

2) All in One SEO Pack. Instead of trying to keep up with basic SEO on your WordPress blog manually, the all in one SEO pack places fields for your Title, Description and Keywords meta tags at the bottom of your new post page. You can even drag it up and place it right beneath where you write so that you do not forget you basic SEO tags and every article gets optimized.

3) Chap Secure Login. Hide your password from over-the-shoulder snoops just taking a look out of sheer curiosity. This plugin cloaks your letters and characters so that they will not be recognized by uninvited visitors.

4) Feedburner Feedsmith. This plugin detects every route that one may use to access your WordPress feed and channels them all to your Feedburner feed. The nice thing about a Feedburner feed is that it can be monitized with AdSense, if you are interested in that type of thing.

5) Google XML Sitemaps. This is a great one. his plugin will automatically build a sitemap for you and submit it to all of the major search engines each and every time your site is modified. Functionality includes prioritizing which pages are crawled as well as feedback as to whether sitemap submission was successful or not. Definitely check this one out.

6) GTranslate. Why limit your guests to those who read your language exclusively? After all, we are all on the World Wide Web. There are more languages out there than any one of us can count. This plugin boasts the ability to translate your WordPress posts in to 58 of the most commonly spoken languages and 98% of internet users as of the date of this post. The only drawback is that sometimes, people will leave comments in other languages.

7) Hal HTML Widget. If you want to customize your sidebar with some HTML for a specific purpose such as an opt-in form or rotating ads, this makes it easy for those of us that want to go this route.

8) Login LockDown. This is a great plugin that assists in protecting against those brute force attacks where some script on some server in some country decides it is going to crack your installation. This plugin reduces the number of login attempts from a specific IP range to a small finite number. This one is definitely essential.

9) NoFollow Free. By default, WordPress adds the no-follow attribute to all commenter URL’s. This is great if you are worried about leaking PR but bad if you are worried about deterring SEO conscious visitors. This plugin removes the no-follow attribute allowing you to show a little “link love” to those who comment on your blog.

10) Ozh’ Better Feed. This plugin adds a custom footer to your feed. Great for adding messages or links to post footers. This plugin makes your individual post footer highly customizable. This is a great plugin for syndication as the links will show up on the sites of webmaster who “scrape” your feed and post it on their website.

11) Page links to. I know that is a rather plain name, but this plugin gives a great functionality. It allows you to directly link to a webpage off of your site with a 301 or 302 redirect if you do not want to pass on your Page Rank. Great for linking out, especially if you are selling links.

12) TweetMeme Retweet Button. Are you part of the Twitter craze? Even if you are not, many people are and many fellow tweeters are looking to pass along useful information to their followers. The TweetMeme Retweet Button allows your visitors to easily post a link to your article to their Twitter as well as TweetMeme account. This gives your article great potential to go viral.

13) WordPress Database Backup. This one really needs no explanation. It is an unfortunately reality that databases are corrupted, servers fail, hackers hack, sometimes we accidentally hit the delete button and then save. Always back up your website on a regular basis. No excuses.

14) WP-ContactForm. This very important plugin makes you accessible to your readers. Sure you will get a little spam through your contact form, but on occasions you will get legitimate questions and offers from other businesses and potential joint ventures. You may get link exchange requests and you may be made aware of new services available to bloggers from firms anywhere in the world.

15) WP-CopyRightPro. This is one of my favorite plugins in that is disables the ability of the visitor to highlight, right-click, and copy the text on your webpage. This goes a long way to protect your work from individuals looking post it on their own site. This plugin was actually shown to me by a good friend of mine.

16) WP-Cumulus. OK. This plugin is really for aesthetic reasons only. It takes your tag cloud and turns it into an impressive looking flash version itself. Now, you can interact with the tags as they float in a rolling fashion. This gives your blog more of a professional look in my opinion. One nice thing about it is the fact that it is readable by crawlers and the tag links are easily followed by advanced search engines such as Google. This is a great help when it comes to getting you site completely indexed.

17) WP-SpamFree. With the rise of blog commenting as an SEO tactic as a means to gain back-links so many years ago, SPAM has become one of the fore-front issues facing bloggers. The sheer number of SPAM comments can literally overwhelm your blog if you are not prepared for it. Many comment posters are automated bots. Comments can easily number into the thousands if a keen eye is not kept on the pending comments que. This plugin automatically checks comments against an algorithm written to detect spam-like comments. The majority of SPAM comments are filtered out on the front end. Any that slip through will have the option of having their IP address blacklisted. This is a great plugin.

18) WP EzineArticles. This plugin allows you to easily submit your blog posts to the EzineArticles directory. This accomplishes several things at once. First, EA editors check your article for copies on the internet, thus informing you as to whether or not they have been copied by others. Additionally, the resource box automatically gives you back-links, so there is automatic SEO benefit. Finally, since your article is submitted to an article directory, you gain additional traffic.

19) WP OnlyWire Auto Poster. Social bookmarking is a great way to get traffic to your website. The WP OnlyWire Auto Poster auto-submits your posts to around 39 different social bookmarking sites. Like WP EzineArticles, this plugin assists in gaining back-links as well as driving additional traffic to your website.

20) WP Security Scan. This plugin also needs no explanation in that it simply scans your code as a means of detecting any malicious code that may have found its way or have been inserted into you script. Another must-have.

So there you have it. Twenty essential WordPress plugins that will greatly enhance the security, functionality, usability, retain-ability, survivability, sustainability of your blog among other things. Hopefully, you gain as much from these plugins as I have.

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