13 Sexiest WordPress Plugins

I decided to post a list of the WordPress plugins that I’ve found to be the most useful, a majority of which I use on my own site.
To see a list of plugins to avoid, see my other post.

1) WP Google Sitemap Generator

This one is by far the most important if search engine rankings are important to you. Once you install the plugin, it will automatically generate the sitemap.xml file that Google and Yahoo use to efficiently index your site. While I’ve always had good search engine rankings, my traffic doubled in January after adding this plugin, with triple the hits stemming from Google searches.

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2) Adsense-Deluxe

If you’re looking for a better way to display your Google Adsense ads, this plugin may be benficial to you. You can store several different types of Google ad units, then call them by adding a simple HTML tag to your posts, varying with each different unit that you store.

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3) Akismet

I can’t tell you how annoying comment spam is, and how many I find in my moderation queue every week. Akismet is pretty good at identifying spam comments and keeping them from bombarding your blog…it also ‘learns’ to identify spam based on what you tell it.

You should already have this plugin as it comes by default with WordPress, but if not you can download it here. You will need a WordPress API as well, which you can obtain here.

4) Ultimate Tag Warrior

Ever envy those sexy tag clouds you see on other blogs? You can always make your own, but for WordPress, Ultimate Tag Warrior is the best way to create your own customizable tag cloud. It can be implemented into your site’s sidebar with one of the many simple codes provided, and it automatically updates every time you add a new tag or category.

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5) Sociable

This plugin easily allows your visitors to add you to over 60 social networking sites with the a click of a button. You can customize which sites you wish to include in the selection, as well as where the list appears. You can see an example of this below each of my posts.

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6) WP-Cache

Working for a webhosting company that spends a major focus on server monitoring, we send out a lot of notices to customers whos WordPress sites are just killing the server. WordPress itself is lightening fast, but factor in all the plugins, images, and traffic, you’ve got yourself one slow-ass site. One of our system admins started recommending WP-Cache to customers, and it seems to have really helped both on the server end and the speed of the customer’s website itself. It basically does just what the name suggests — it caches commonly-accessed pages to avoid excessive and repetitive use of the database.

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7) SRG Clean Archives

If you have a large website with a lot of articles that you want visitors to be able to find quickly and easily, you might want to implement an archives page. SRG Clean Archives will generate a pretty list of all your articles organized by month, and allow you to display them as a separate page or on an existing on. If you need an example, you can view my archives page.

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8) Counterize

This plugin allows you to display tons of different stats on any part of your site with a simple HTML tag. You can choose which ones you want to display, as well as adjust the context in which they are shown. While I stopped using this plugin in favor of writing my own (for dignity purposes), it would look something like how I have my hits displayed in my sidebar.

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9) Download Manager

If you are offering downloads on your site, whether it be themes, plugins, scripts, etc., you might find it valuable to track how many download you are getting. By adding a simple URL extension to your download target, you can have the Download Manager track and log who is downloading your files. You can also control who is allowed to download them, and how often.

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10) WPG2/WP-Forum

Nothing really annoys me more than when someone adds a gallery to their site that links off into something that does not look like part of the site at all. When people have galleries, shopping carts, etc. that are all linking to parts run by different web applications, the end result is the appearance of an Angelina Jolie-type family. It just doesn’t fit together. WPG2 is a wordpress-Gallery2 bridge that is used to display images from a separate Gallery2 installation within a single page. Similarly, if you are using forums you’ll find the WP-Forum plugin to be a tasteful way to add phpBB-like functionality to your site. If you have other software that you’re in favor of using, you could probably find a WordPress bridge for that as well.

Download WPG2 from Author

Download WP-Forum from Author

11) Subscribe to Comments

Wouldn’t it be nice to know when someone responds to one of your comments on one of the bazillion blogs you read? This plugin will give your visitors an option to subscribe to comments, and receive an email when someone posts a new one. You can also see who is subscribing to comments on your blog.

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12) Fancy Pullquotes

This obviously isn’t the most vital and functional plugin, but it can add a whole lotta sexy to your blog posts by pulling out select words and placing them as large blockquotes off to the site. The version I’m using is slightly modified, but you can download the original from here.

13) wpPHPmailer

What most people don’t know is that the vast majority of php software will use the mail() function by default which sends mail out as the php user “nobody.” Nevertheless, this function has now become the feature most commonly blocked by major hosting providers. The reason we started blocking php mail() is that a customer’s software can become exploited and send out thousands of emails past our regular hourly sending limit because exim doesn’t limit the mail sent from the php user “nobody.”

On another note, some email providers are now blocking mail that comes from ‘nobody’ or marking it as spam, which can also cause your mail server to be blacklisted. Try sending yourself a message from your WordPress admin panel then look at the email headers when it is received. Most likely you’ll see the original sender as nobody@yourmailserver.com.

phpMailer is a popular php-based mailing agent that has been tweaked into an easy-to-use WordPress plugin to allow you to send mail via SMTP. I highly recommend using this as an alternative to the native php mail handling of WordPress, whether your host blocks nobody mail or not.

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