Typically on this blog, we write for WP savvy people (you probably are one if you know what WP stands for). You’ve already created your websites, know a few things about SEO and have all your major balls juggling nicely.

But let’s go back to basics here for a moment. Number 1: WP stands for WordPress, and today we’re going to talk about plugins. We’ve seen Top Ten lists here and there, but do you really know what other site builders actually use to get results time and again, and love?

Five months ago, the following question was posted on LinkedIn’s WordPress discussion board: “Dear WordPress Geniuses, what plugins do you find yourself using on every site you design? Name your top five and tell me why you find them so necessary.”

A grand total of 97 comments followed. We went through them all, and with a little excel magic we learned which plugins were most used. Some of the results may surprise you.

1. Google XML Sitemap – 32 mentions

Okay, so this one was a given. If you don’t have this plugin, open up a new tab and get it right now. It helps the major search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask, etc.) to better index your blog. And we’re all about that, aren’t we?

One small catch: the newest release – 3.2.4 – is not compatible with the multisite feature of WordPress 3.0 yet. Try the Beta version if you’re playing in multiside mode. The Beta version also supports network activation. But, the 3.2.4 does work with all WordPress versions since 2.1.

2. All in One SEO – 23 mentions

Pretty much does what it says in the title. Overall, this one optimizes your WordPress blog for search engines. A few of the nifty features include automatically optimizing your titles for search engines, generating META tags automatically, you can leave it alone to do it’s thing or customize the heck out it, and it avoids the no-no of duplicate content that so often plagues WordPress blogs.

3. Contact Form 7 – 23 mentions

A simply way of managing contact forms. It works well with Akismet, in that Contact Form 7 will send a sender’s data to Akismet for spam filtering. If Akismet judges it to be spam, Contact Form 7 sends no mail and you will see a response message with an orange border line.

Okay, small aside here: if you’re following along this far, great. If you’re having a little difficulty, or want a more detailed explanation of how exactly to set-up the essentials in your WordPress site, check out this completely free, no-strings-attached ebook.

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And now back to the Top Ten:

4. Akismet – 19 mentions

I’d install this one just for the name. And then there’s the added benefit of there being a free version, and an awesome spam-killer.

5. NextGen Gallery – 12 mentions

For all the image-heavy blogs, this is a good one: custom templates for your theme, ability to move images between galleries, sortable albums, a watermark function, and much more.

6. TinyMCE Advanced – 8 mentions

TinyMCE is a platform independent web based Javascript HTML WYSIWYG editor control released as Open Source under LGPL by Moxiecode Systems AB.
TinyMCE has the ability to convert HTML TEXTAREA fields or other HTML elements to editor instances. TinyMCE is very easy to integrate into other Content Management Systems.

7. Gravity Forms – 7 mentions

Another form manager…having a little diffculty finding how it differs from Contact Forms.

8. Google Analyticator – 6 mentions

A nice little plugin that adds the necessary code to enable Google Analytics logging on any WP blog. It eliminates the need to edit your template code to begin logging. There are also quite a few widgets for displaying Analytics data on the blog and in the admin.

9. Google Analytics – 5 mentions

This is what I meant by surprising results. GA is an amazing way to analyze your traffic data…so why wasn’t it mentioned more in the LinkedIn discussion? GA gives you all the information you can handle to write better-targeted ads, increase your conversion rate and strengthen your strategies.

10. WP-DB-Backup – 5 mentions

Again…why this essential plugin only got 5 mentions in 97 responses baffles me. It does exactly what it says: backs up your WP database tables, core and otherwise.

Runner Ups

Mentioned More Than Once

  • Sexy Bookmarks
  • Viper’s Video Tags
  • WordPress Stats
  • WP Database-Backup
  • BackupBuddy
  • Configure SMTP
  • Greg’s High-Performance SEO
  • Tweetmeme
  • Verve Meta Boxes
  • Widgets Reloaded
  • WPTouch
  • AntiVirus
  • Automatic WordPress Backup
  • Calendar Plugin by Kieran O’Shea
  • Custom Field Template
  • Delete-Revision
  • Digg Digg
  • Feedburner
  • GZIP Output
  • Headspace
  • Maintenance Mode
  • Media Tags
  • My Page Order
  • Ozh Admin Drop Down Menu
  • Pagemash
  • Really Simple CAPTCHA
  • Redirection
  • Secure WordPress
  • Simple-tags
  • Smart 404
  • Stealth Login
  • Twitter Tools
  • WordPress Database Backup
  • WP Exploir Scanner
  • WP Stats
  • WP-DBManager
  • WP-PageNavi

What Plugins Do You Use?

So there you have it. These are the go-tos for the pros and novices alike. Tell me, readers…anything YOU love but don’t see on this list?