Are you serious about your blog - getting natural traffic, building reader relationships, and / or earning a significant income blogging? If so, and if you use WordPress (the only blogging platform I recommend), then I hope you'll find these WordPress plugins useful in improving your blog. While I periodically use others depending on the blog, these are my must-have WordPress plugins:
Who doesn't love Akismet? This is a comment spam filter to weed out all the nasty spammers trying to build links at your expense (including the often unsavory types). No need to download anything - Akismet comes with your WordPress installation. Just activate it and follow the instructions.
This plugin allows you to add meta descriptions, keywords, or any other meta tags you'd like to your blog homepage, categories, and even custom meta tags for individual post pages. If you're an SEO-junkie, you might care about such things. The meta description in some cases is also the description that shows up in search results. While the developer site says it's compatible up to version 2.3, I've been using here just fine and dandy with 2.6. - Download it.
Feedburner Feedsmith Plugin
If, like me, you like to run your blog feeds through Feedburner, this is a nice addition. You won't have to manually update your feed links. Just install the plugin, enter your feedburner feed URL in the settings, and your RSS feeds will re-route to your Feedburner URL instead. Sweet. I love simplicity. - Download it.
WordPress Automatic Upgrade
This has to be, by far, my favorite WordPress plugin. I only started using it recently, because I was hesitant about trusting a plugin to update my installations. What did I ever do before it? I run a lot of WordPress-driven sites and blogs. In most cases, I install through my host automatically through Fantastico, but occasionally I have to do a manual installation (like when Fantastico isn't up-to-date, and I need to install a new blog). So when upgrades come around, some are easy, and some are a royal pain in the pettuti. I'm completely in love with this plugin. It lets me back things up, and then do the upgrade, all from my wordpress admin with no hassles. Once in a while it doesn't reactivate all of my plugins, but a quick check fixes that in no time - beats manual upgrades any day! You need this plugin, especially if you run multiple blogs. Download it. Seriously.
aLinks / SEO Smart Links Plugins
OK. These are two plugins. I use aLinks on this blog. I love it. It's uber-cool. It lets you assign specific keyword phrases to specific URLs. For example, I could set the keyword phrase "Web writing" on my All Freelance Writing Posts to automatically link to my Web Writer's Guide blog or e-book page. You can also decide how many times to let the link appear in each post (so you don't have a link every time that phrase appears - only the first time). So what? Why does that matter? Well, it lets you easily (and effortlessly after setup) interlink your own blogs, cross-link blog posts, add affiliate links if you regularly mention a book or product, etc. Cool, yes? One apparent problem - OK two. First, it doesn't seem the download site is live anymore (and it's not being supported I guess either). Second, people have said it slows down their admin or doesn't let them login. On 2.6.2 I've had no issues whatsoever with it. However, since you can't get it, and since the concept is just wonderful for anyone looking to increase revenues or improve reader metrics with more pageviews per visit, I found a substitute for you. I haven't tried it yet. I will though eventually on one of my other blogs, and if I like it as much, I'll install it here too. In the meantime, it's called SEO Smart Links. Download it and tell me what you think!
Have any other to-die-for plugins to share? Post a link to them in the comments with a description of what they do.