I want this question to turn into a more of a wiki because people often have this question.

What do you think are some useful and must-have plugins for a wordpress-based site?

Currently, I'm in the early stages of setting up a blog and I'm looking around for great plugins and some good tips. Please do include one or more. Also, if it's already there, upvote it.

  • Hi @Muhammad* - It's not really a question that can be answered because someone should pick a plugin based on what they need, not based on it just being easy for a beginner. If you asked "What's a good plugins for a beginner to set up a eCommerce store" for example that would be easier to answer. – MikeSchinkel Nov 1 '10 at 10:18

These are all plugins that I've used, and while I'm sure there's a lot of good plugins I've missed, but these are ones I've had experience with and would recommend as enhancing your WordPress blog.

  • Akismet - this is included with WordPress and is (in my opinion) one of the essential plugins you will need once you start to receive pretty much any traffic - the bots won't be far behind. While it's not perfect, it goes a reasonably good way towards expunging the spam.
  • All in One SEO - Does what it says on the tin. Some of the <meta> tags generated are ignored by many search engines now but most of the options inside of here will benefit you in some way or another.
  • Contact Form 7 - Makes it really easy to add a contact form to your site, with the field that you want, not necessarily the 'standard' ones. For more advanced needs, it's possible to configure multiple forms. Offers easy integration with reCAPTCHA and Akismet.
  • FD Feedburner - Feedburner is a really great tool for gauging statistics related to your feeds. This plugin handles the redirection of your feeds to Feedburner, and requires next-to-no configuration.
  • Google Analyticator - This plugin makes it easy to add Google Analytics tracking to your blog, and includes dashboard integration. Also supports link tracking, so you can see the direction in which people left your blog.
  • Google XML Sitemaps - Generates an XML sitemap of your sites contents. It's possibly one of the best ways to ensure that Google (+ others) indexes all of your sites content. Sitemaps are automatically built when changes are made, and search engines are pinged, which notifies them of the changes. It also has a pretty comprehensive set of options, meaning you can change almost everything about the generated sitemap.
  • W3 Total Cache - W3TC is an awesome plugin for helping WordPress scale. It packs some pretty impressive features, including the redirection of your resources to a CDN (along with syncing the two) and the static-caching of your posts.

Ah yes... our favorite topic ... :) (not to mention millions of bloggers who wrote one time or another about "their favorite essential wordpress plugins" :)

I found this top 1000 list of authors with accompanying plugins by W shadow: http://w-shadow.com/files/top-1000-plugin-authors.html

If I go from top to bottom I think the list represent just the question you ask.

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